The Wrong Stuff

It has been clear for some time now that Donald Trump is mentally unfit to be president of the United States. This observation has little to do with recognizing his profound lack of knowledge, expertise, or interest in the job, to say nothing of his gusto for dousing America’s smoldering racial and religious divisions with kerosene, or his penchant for looting the government’s coffers for his own private gain. All of that is true, and supports the years-long insistence from Democrats and half-hearted, anonymous leaks from timid Republicans that Trump is fundamentally unable to perform even the most minimal functions of the job. What has become increasingly clear since he took the oath of office, however, is something even more serious—Trump is exhibiting significant mental deterioration and instability. Continue reading

Advertisements

Donald Versus Sarah

This country may finally be about to have a long-needed conversation about how gender bias is affecting the 2016 presidential campaign. Not only is one nominee running to be the first woman president in our nation’s history, but perhaps the central feature of the other’s identity is misogyny. The electorate is producing an unprecedented gender gap. And the grossly unequal coverage between a serious candidate carrying the burden of proof and a halfwit speaking at a fourth-grade reading level while shielded by wealth and masculinity raises troubling questions of implicit sexism that should cause self-reflection for every media personality. Gender is arguably the defining aspect of the entire 2016 race.

But before we delve too deeply into the treatment of Donald versus Hillary, let’s consider a different political contrast that proves the same point: Donald versus Sarah. Because Donald Trump’s closest comparison for any major party candidate seeking national office is Sarah Palin. That would be the Palin who was torn apart in 2008 for her ignorance and stupidity, for her lack of experience, for her petty retributions, for her suspect spending habits, and for her lack of transparency. And this would be the Trump who is similarly (if not more so) shady, senseless, inexperienced, thin-skinned, and opaque. Trump’s raison d’etre in this campaign is cultural resentment against coastal elites, thinly masking an ugly streak of white grievance. That was Palin’s calling card, too. Yet, while Palin was widely considered a dangerous laughingstock by the national press, Trump gains legitimacy by the day. This despite Palin’s second billing compared to Trump’s pursuit of the oval office. Continue reading

Down-ballot Doldrums

With another set of astonishing state poll numbers out this week, the ultimate outcome in the presidential race seems pretty well determined. Sure, history says that in a normal election cycle Republican nominee Donald Trump should be expected to gain back some of the percentage points lost after his disappointing convention and the Democrats’ successful one, but even standard tightening will likely leave him well short of victory (not to mention that normal events should not be presumed when it comes to Trump). For goodness sakes just look at the latest NBC/Marist poll numbers from four alleged battlegrounds, now swing states in lazy media usage only. Yes, in Florida Clinton is “only” ahead by 5 points, within striking distance should Trump resuscitate his campaign. But in states right at the tipping point of national averages, Clinton leads Trump by 9% in North Carolina, 13% in Virginia, and a remarkable 14% in Colorado. These are hardly outliers, either, though they are on the high side of current polling. The Real Clear Politics average for these states now has Clinton ahead by 8% in Virginia and 11% in Colorado. For comparison, in 2012, Barack Obama won Colorado by 5%, Virginia by 4%, and lost North Carolina by 2% as he was claiming a national popular vote mandate of nearly 4%. If Clinton holds on in Colorado and Virginia, along with defending two other traditional Democratic-leaning battlegrounds in which she has double digit leads (Pennsylvania and New Hampshire), her path to 270 electoral votes is without obstacle.

Assuming one cares about life after the election—as opposed to participating in presidential election hype as a cathartic identity exercise or a tactic for combatting summer dog-days boredom—then the real drama of the next three months is how these numbers will affect down-ballot congressional races. Continue reading