Hillary’s Bernie factor

Maureen Dowd, writing in today’s New York Times.

It must be hard for Hillary to look at all the pictures of young women swooning over Bernie as though he were Bieber.

She assumed that the fix was in, that she and the D.N.C. had arranged for the coronation that she felt she was robbed of in the tulip craze of 2008.

Everyone just laughed when Sanders, a cranky loner from Vermont with a nondescript Senate record, decided to challenge Queen Hillary. Clinton and her aides intoned — wink, wink — that it would be healthy to have a primary fight with Sanders and Martin O’Malley.

But Bernie became the surprise belle of his side’s revolutionary ball. And now he has gotten a taste of it and he likes it and he won’t let it go. He’s bedeviling the daylight out of Hillary.

Hillary and her allies are spinning a narrative that Bernie is less loyal to the Democratic cause than she was with Obama. And Trump does delight in quoting Bernie’s contention that Hillary lacks the judgment to be president. On Friday, when he accepted the endorsement of the N.R.A. at its convention, Trump mischievously urged Sanders to run as a third-party candidate and said he would love to have a debate with both Hillary and Bernie onstage.

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Hopeful acceptance of Hillary has shifted to amazed disbelief that she can’t put away Bernie. Given dynasty fatigue and Hillary’s age, many Democrats assumed that their front-runner would come out of the gate with a vision for the future that gave her campaign a fresh hue, instead of white papers tinkering around the edges. She should have been far over her husband’s bridge to the 21st century and way down the highway by now.

Instead, her big new idea is to put Bill in charge of the economy again (hopefully, with less Wall Street deregulation). Again with the two for the price of one. And please don’t deny us the pleasure of seeing Bill choose the china patterns.

Hillary’s Bataan Death March is making Republicans reconsider their own suicide mission with Trump. More are looking at Clinton’s inability to get the flashing lights going like her husband, and thinking: Huh, maybe we’re not dead here. Maybe Teflon Don could pull this off.

Dangerous acceptance of Donald Trump

Writing in the New Yorker, Adam Gropnik highlights the true threat posed by those who are now willingly and enthusiastically embracing Donald Trump.

“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, / As, to be hated, needs but to be seen,” the poet Alexander Pope wrote, in lines that were once, as they said back in the day, imprinted on the mind of every schoolboy. Pope continued, “Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, / we first endure, then pity, then embrace.” The three-part process by which the gross becomes the taken for granted has been on matchlessly grim view this past week in the ascent of Donald Trump. First merely endured by those in the Republican Party, with pained grimaces and faint bleats of reluctance, bare toleration passed quickly over into blind, partisan allegiance—he’s going to be the nominee, after all, and so is our boy. Then a weird kind of pity arose, directed not so much at him (he supplies his own self-pity) as at his supporters, on the premise that their existence somehow makes him a champion for the dispossessed, although the evidence indicates that his followers are mostly stirred by familiar racial and cultural resentments, of which Trump has been a single-minded spokesperson.

Now for the embrace. One by one, people who had not merely resisted him before but called him by his proper name—who, until a month ago, were determined to oppose a man they rightly described as a con artist and a pathological liar—are suddenly getting on board. Columnists and magazines that a month ago were saying #NeverTrump are now vibrating with the frisson of his audacity, fawning over him or at least thrilling to his rising poll numbers and telling one another, “We can control him.’

No, you can’t.

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If Trump came to power, there is a decent chance that the American experiment would be over. This is not a hyperbolic prediction; it is not a hysterical prediction; it is simply a candid reading of what history tells us happens in countries with leaders like Trump. Countries don’t really recover from being taken over by unstable authoritarian nationalists of any political bent, left or right—not by Peróns or Castros or Putins or Francos or Lenins or fill in the blanks. The nation may survive, but the wound to hope and order will never fully heal. Ask Argentinians or Chileans or Venezuelans or Russians or Italians—or Germans. The national psyche never gets over learning that its institutions are that fragile and their ability to resist a dictator that weak. If he can rout the Republican Party in a week by having effectively secured the nomination, ask yourself what Trump could do with the American government if he had a mandate.

The full essay is here.

A Republican on Donald Trump’s foreign policy

Eliot A. Cohen, writing in the New York Times:

Republican foreign policy veterans like me who have vehemently opposed a Trump candidacy have done so on multiple grounds, beginning with his disdain for the norms of the Constitution. But we also believe that Trumpism in foreign policy is dangerous because of its belligerent nationalism, self-absorption, disdain for allies and comfort with the authoritarian leaders of the day.

Mr. Trump’s temperament, his proclivity for insult and deceit and his advocacy of unpredictability would make him a presidential disaster — especially in the conduct of foreign policy, where clarity and consistency matter. His claim that he would compel Mexico to pay for a wall separating it from the United States, his desire to turn alliances with Europe and Japan into giant protection rackets, his proposals to discard both law and basic decency through extensive use of torture and by barring Muslims from traveling to the United States are preposterous; in practice, they would be catastrophic.

How Trump is uniting the GOP

Ross Douthat, writing the New York Times, offers an interesting take on the seeming more or less strong takeover of the GOP by Donald Trump.

Early in the campaign, when it seemed as if Jeb Bush had a chance to coast to the nomination as the standard-bearer of the establishment, it was mostly voices from the professional base — talk-radio voices, Fox News voices and for a time Cruz himself — who worked to build up Trump as a populist alternative, to vouch for him and bring him within their faction’s tent.

Then as it became clear that the most establishment-friendly candidates (Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, even the more right-wing Rubio) weren’t going to hack it, it was the establishmentarians and self-conscious moderates who decided that Trump was a man they could do business with, not like that crazy Tea Partier Senator Cruz.

Which is how Trump ended up as the candidate of Sean Hannity and John Boehner, Ann Coulter and Jon Huntsman, with Rush Limbaugh running interference for him with the grass roots, and various lobbyists doing the same on Capitol Hill.

Of course many converts to Trumpism were motivated simply by expediency, ambition, power worship. But many were clearly motivated by grudges and fears instilled by the party’s civil war, and by a sense that even though Trump might represent a grave threat to their vision of Republicanism, it would still be better to serve under his rule for a season than to risk putting their hated intraparty rivals in the catbird seat.

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For those of us who have long been frustrated precisely by the smallness of those differences, the narrowness of the G.O.P. policy debate, it’s a particularly staggering result: A party whose leading factions often seemed incapable of budging from 1980s-era dogma suddenly caved completely to a candidate who regards much of the conservative vision with indifference bordering on contempt.

Politcal quote of the day

In sum: It would be possible to justify support for Trump if he merely promised a period of chaos for conservatism. But to support Trump for the presidency is to invite chaos upon the republic and the world. No policy goal, no court appointment, can justify such recklessness.

To Trumpism’s appeal, to Trump’s constituents, conservatives should listen and answer “yes,” or “maybe,” or “not that, but how about…”

But to Trump himself, there is no patriotic answer except “no.”

Ross Douthat, writing in the New York Times.

Political quote of the day 2

If Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket, here in Arizona, with over 30 percent of the vote being the Hispanic vote, no doubt that this may be the race of my life. If you listen or watch Hispanic media in the state and in the country, you will see that it is all anti-Trump. The Hispanic community is roused and angry in a way that I’ve never seen in 30 years.

John McCain. Boo-hoo for McCain. He has railed against Hispanic for years.