First Clinton-Trump Debate and Low Expectations Redux

Judging 2016 by historical standards hasn't worked out well thus far.

In my early morning post on last night’s debate, I linked but didn’t discuss Matt Yglesias‘ post, “This is everything that’s wrong with how television covers the election.” He begins by referencing this MSNBC pre-debate graphic:

msnbc-debate-graphic

The whole piece is worth a read but the gist comes down to this:

  • Is it actually important whether the president of the United States makes funny jokes? Are the downside risks of an unfunny president large or small? I think if you consider it for a minute, the answer is that this pretty clearly does not matter.
  • Granting that Clinton has not done a stellar job of informing the mass public about what she would like to do as president, doesn’t it matter that an interested citizen can easily access detailed information about her plans, whereas Trump needs to “fill in gaps” not about public knowledge of his proposals but their basic existence? There is, for example,a $1 trillion ambiguity in his tax plan.
  • Even if Trump does manage to “show humility” during a 90-minute live television broadcast, would a reasonable person familiar with his past 40 years in the public eye reach the conclusion that he is a humble person with a sense of his own limits and shortcomings? I’m going with no on this. The fact that we’re in late September and we’re still talking about how he should “stop lying” and have policy proposals is a big tell here.

Objectively, he’s of course right. But so was MSNBC. While the media no doubt contributes to the “horse race” environment that Yglesias and others lament, it’s simply a fact of life that human beings judge their political candidates partly on likability.

Leaving aside issue preferences, Clinton is leaps and bounds more qualified than Trump to be president. Not only does he have zero governing experience but he’s demonstrated over the course of a long public life and more than a year running for president that he’s a pretty horrible human being—mean, racist, misogynist, lazy, and other unflattering adjectives come readily to mind.  He’s run the most undisciplined campaign by any major party nominee in my lifetime—and almost certainly ever—saying things that would have sunk almost any other candidate on a near-daily basis.

And yet he’s within two-and-a-half points.

Among the many reasons I’ve written so much less of late than has been my habit since starting this site in January 2003 is that, not only do I not have a candidate in this race that I can support with even a modicum of enthusiasm but I feel that I’ve completely lost any ability to judge how campaign events will impact the race.  While I agree with Doug Mataconis and most of the blog’s commentariat that Trump objectively lost last night’s debate handily by any normal standard, I’m not at all sure that he lost in a way that mattered. That is, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if his poll numbers stayed about the same or even rose after that bizarre performance last night. Again, he’s said and done dozens of bizarre things since launching this campaign—including in previous debates—and risen in public affection every time.

Going in with incredibly low expectations—fully expecting him to be unprepared, unmoored from reality, and to utter obvious lies—I was actually mildly surprised at how well he did in the early going. My reaction mirrored Ross Douthat‘s:

Donald Trump won the first 25 minutes of the first presidential debate. He was too bullying and shout-y, too prone to interrupt, but he seized on an issue, trade, where Hillary Clinton was awkward and defensive, and he hammered away at his strongest campaign theme: linking his opponent to every establishment failure and disappointment, and trying to make her experience a liability rather than a strength.

In response, Clinton stumbled through a series of politician’s tics — trying out a canned phrase (“trumped-up trickle-down”), urging people to go to her website and read her campaign book, reaching for the wonders of solar panels when the discussion turned to jobs, and urging the fact-checkers to get to work on her opponent rather than filleting him herself. He seemed passionate; she seemed stilted. His message seemed clear (if, yes, demagogic); hers seemed like a career politician’s bob and weave.

But then the rest of the debate happened, and Trump simply couldn’t keep it up. As one might have surmised from watching how he handled tough questioning in the primary debates, he lacked the … well, stamina to talk about policy in the sustained way required of a one-on-one presidential tilt. So he ended up serving up word salad more and more as the debate wore on, until Clinton’s stiltedness sounded like eloquence by contrast.

While the “stamina” dig is a cute reference to one of Trump’s unfounded criticisms of Clinton, the real culprit is sheer laziness. Chuck Todd and company:

Last night’s first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was a night of contrasts on policy (trade, taxes, “stop and frisk”) and personality. But maybe the biggest contrast of all was on the candidates’ preparation — or the lack thereof. After a shaky start, Clinton was mostly prepared, disciplined, and methodical in her attacks. By contrast, after landing some early blows on trade, Trump was mostly winging it. And this exchange epitomized the difference:

TRUMP: You know, you’ve seen me, I’ve been all over the place. You decided to stay home, and that’s OK [appearing to refer to Clinton’s lack of campaign events]. But I will tell you, I’ve been all over. And I’ve met some of the greatest people I’ll ever meet within these [African-American] communities. And they are very, very upset with what their politicians have told them and what their politicians have done.

CLINTON: I think — I think — I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing.

As NBC’s Benjy Sarlin and Alex Seitz-Wald write, “In a battle of preparation versus instincts, preparation won in a major way.” And it produced arguably the most lopsided debate we’ve seen in covering presidential politics.

I was talking earlier today with a neighbor, a professional Republican operative who is reluctantly supporting Trump after having worked early on for my preferred candidate, John Kasich. (Her husband, also a Republican pol, likewise is swallowing Trump even though he was a Jeb guy.) She likewise saw Trump losing but saw glimpses of a winning candidate and has hopes that he’ll learn from this and rebound in the second debate. My response was that Trump has thus far displayed no indication that he’s interested in learning.

Again, though, I’m less sure than I once was that it matters.  I maintained for months that there was simply no way such a lousy candidate would win the Republican nomination. Eventually, I conceded that the GOP is broken but there was no way this guy would resonate with the American people. His polling on the issues, on trustworthiness, on such things as “Should this guy be in charge of our nukes?” are historically bad. And yet he’s within swinging distance of winning. The expectations are low and they probably got even lower last night. People are looking for an excuse to not vote for Hillary. They’re looking for an excuse to blow the whole thing up and start over.

Yes, substance should matter. Experience should matter. Seriousness should matter. And it probably will. But it might not.

(Oh: Trump failed on all three of the absurdly low but probably right MSNBC thresholds. Clinton did some of 1 and gamely attempted 3.)

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2016, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. An Interested Party says:

    I was talking earlier today with a neighbor, a professional Republican operative who is reluctantly supporting Trump after having worked early on for my preferred candidate, John Kasich. (Her husband, also a Republican pol, likewise is swallowing Trump even though he was a Jeb guy.) She likewise saw Trump losing but saw glimpses of a winning candidate and has hopes that he’ll learn from this and rebound in the second debate.

    These people are trying to justify the $hit sandwich they are about to eat…

  2. Tony W says:

    @An Interested Party: Yep. Country First!!

  3. Guarneri says:

    I didn’t watch the debate. But I do have a question. How many of her staff got plea deals last night? None of mine have, but I hear it’s going around. Virus or something.

    Worried.

  4. Aelio says:

    Trump did a spat with Bibi Netanyahu and started talking about Iran nearly all the time when foreign policy was discussed. Call that unforced errors. Trump is basically favored by an audience that favors domestic issues. Few of the Trump voters could even point to Iran on the map. The way that everyone complimented Trump on making NAFTA an issue is another example of why voters want to turn inwards for a change.

    Trump is like a bounty hunter who has all kinds of scars and trophy ornaments. His reputation is about bringing “justice” to his enemies. To have him change gears to become more like the town’s mayor is a major expectation jump. Yet folks hold hope that he could do that too. Maybe like that Philippines president. But they weren’t cut from the same gem stone. When a populist comes from the poor people, they are different. Trump comes from a wealthy upbringing.

    Hey, the Trump campaign is easily moved by polls. So there’s always the chance that he might make it if the polls help just a bit longer.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    I feel that I’ve completely lost any ability to judge how campaign events will impact the race.

    You and me both.

    But here’s what I think will happen.

    1) Trump’s recent poll surge had already stalled, this will leave it stalled at about 43%, give or take.

    2) Gary who? And the crazy lady? They weren’t there, and their numbers will drop a bit.

    3) I’ve always said that Hillary rises when we see her, falls when we remember her. I expect she’ll get a two point bump and be looking at 49ish points, a 6 point edge.

    4) Hillary will run ads on Trump admitting he pays no taxes, on calling Miss Universe a fat pig, and one can only hope, a Trump Garble mash-up, and her battleground numbers will inch up as his inch down.

    The question now is, whither Trump? He knows he lost, and he knows he lost to a woman. Will he listen to Judas Goat Kellyanne Conway and actually make some weak effort at self-education? Or will he tell himself that he needs to go back to his instincts and be a complete rather than only a partial train wreck again?

    So far he’s started off the morning by doubling down on Miss America as a Latina Housecleaner and Fat Pig. So. . .

    Watch Colorado.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:

    In other words, you came here to say:

    1) I’m completely ignorant of the facts.

    2) But a guy at my club had a dull witticism that I just had to repeat.

  7. Moosebreath says:

    @michael reynolds:

    “Hillary will run ads on Trump admitting he pays no taxes, on calling Miss Universe a fat pig, and one can only hope, a Trump Garble mash-up, and her battleground numbers will inch up as his inch down.”

    I think Hillary should (and likely will by the end of the week) run two ads:
    1. a “greatest hits” of Trump’s words at the debate, including the lines you noted above, plus his temperment line. The things everyone not in Trump’s corner already would just point and laugh at.
    2. a “fact check” of what Trump said at the debate compared to what he said on camera in the past or tweeted. This would include continuing to push the birther argument into this year, the Iraq War support, the climate change hoax claim, etc.

  8. James Joyner says:

    @An Interested Party: @Tony W: I think it’s association more than self-interest. They’re surrounded by good people who are earnestly working for the party’s nominee and Trump becomes palatable by extension. Association even by proxy makes changing horses harder. My late wife was COO of a major Republican polling firm, who handled McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012. While I’m not sure I would have left McCain, who I supported in the primaries, over Palin—of whom I was instantly critical—it would have been much harder with my wife working for his pollster. She passed the year before the 2012 election but, even though Romney was a seriously flawed candidate, it would have been an act of disloyalty to endorse Obama under the circumstances. (I don’t know that I would have given inertia and my sense Romney was a good and qualified man. But association changes the dynamic.)

    @michael reynolds: That’s the way I’d bet, too. That’s how these things have always worked in the past. But I wouldn’t be much this cycle.

  9. legion says:

    She likewise saw Trump losing but saw glimpses of a winning candidate and has hopes that he’ll learn from this and rebound in the second debate. My response was that Trump has thus far displayed no indication that he’s interested in learning.

    No, James. It’s not about learning – it’s about accepting reality. The Trump we saw last night was the same Trump we saw in the primaries. It’s the same Trump we saw _before_ the primaries. It’s the same Trump we’ve seen since he first showed up on TV with his name plastered all over everything he owns.

    That is who Trump _is_. It’s who he’s _always been_.

    Anyone who thinks it was ever an act, or that he’s going to magically change into a mature adult, is a gullible moron. Period.

  10. al-Alameda says:

    @Guarneri:

    I didn’t watch the debate. But I do have a question. How many of her staff got plea deals last night? None of mine have, but I hear it’s going around. Virus or something.
    Worried.

    Did you ever find out who murdered Biggie and Tupac?

  11. dmichael says:

    @James Joyner: “,,,Trump becomes palatable by extension.” WTF does that mean? Your Republican associates seem to be willing to vote for a demonstrably incompetent and dangerous candidate for president because of what, loyalty to the Republican Party? It’s not about themselves or about the Republican Party; it’s about this country. Maybe y’all should get your priorities straight.

  12. Scott F. says:

    @James Joyner:

    Honestly help me out here, because I just don’t get it. Association with “good people who are earnestly working for the party’s nominee” makes it acceptable to be associated with electing “a pretty horrible human being—mean, racist, misogynist, lazy, and other unflattering adjectives come readily to mind” to lead our country?

    I’m having no problem with Trump’s core supporters – those who have blinded themselves to who Trump is because they really like what he’s selling. I think they’re dupes, but it’s hard to get too upset with the victims of a sham.

    But, these people who are “reluctantly supporting” or “swallowing” Trump, fully aware of what a despicable creature he is and how blatantly he is lying to them? I have nothing but contempt for them and their “loyalty”.

    “Blowing it all up” will not go well for the vast majority of the country. The glibness it takes to even consider this option is beyond my understanding.

  13. Jc says:

    a professional Republican operative who is reluctantly supporting Trump after having worked early on for my preferred candidate, John Kasich. (Her husband, also a Republican pol, likewise is swallowing Trump even though he was a Jeb guy.) She likewise saw Trump losing but saw glimpses of a winning candidate and has hopes that he’ll learn from this and rebound in the second debate.

    Current GOP in a nutshell. No spine. how can I take any professional as a serious human being when they back this obviously unqualified buffoon.

    saw glimpses of a winning candidate and has hopes that he’ll learn from this and rebound in the second debate

    For someone to be in the arena professionally, I can’t believe they could be this gullible and lost. I hold a person like this with more disdain than some guy from backwoods USA who likes Trump because” he says what other peoples won’t and is not a politician” At least they recognize him for what he is, not for what they think he will never become

  14. James Joyner says:

    @legion: I don’t think that she’s expecting a fundamental change in his character. But he rather clearly hasn’t prepared for the debates in a conventional sense. Even Trump should have come with zingers and canned responses to the obvious debating points.

    @dmichael: I have been anti-Trump since the very beginning of the race. But I know a lot of good and smart folks who think Trump is a flawed candidate but one who would be leaps and bounds better than Clinton. Probably the majority of the military officer corps is in that camp, for example. Professional party types are similarly surrounded by smart and good folks. While they may personally have misgivings about Trump–and my neighbors do–they’re able to convince themselves he’s not THAT bad.

  15. Andrew says:

    @Scott F.:

    It really is a amazing to watch somoen justify why they have to vote for Trump.
    The lengths and hoops to make that shit sandwich palpable…wow.

    Clinton at least gives some sherbet to help clean the palate, now and again.

  16. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner:

    “But I know a lot of good and smart folks who think Trump is a flawed candidate but one who would be leaps and bounds better than Clinton.”

    The problem many of us have trouble wrapping our heads around is how someone can believe that and still be described as both “good” (i.e., someone with the interests of the country as a whole at heart instead of making decisions for personal benefit) and “smart” (which would include accurately evaluating the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses and not, for example, believing Clinton is far worse than Trump on issues like personal honesty). Can you help us understand their thought processes?

  17. gVOR08 says:

    @Jc: Even very capable and intelligent people are prone to motivated reasoning. Heck, they might be better at it. And salaries and professional relationships are at stake.

  18. Jen says:

    I know a lot of good and smart folks who think Trump is a flawed candidate but one who would be leaps and bounds better than Clinton. Probably the majority of the military officer corps is in that camp, for example. Professional party types are similarly surrounded by smart and good folks. While they may personally have misgivings about Trump–and my neighbors do–they’re able to convince themselves he’s not THAT bad.

    This is called the “willing suspension of disbelief” and it is necessary for readers of fiction and fantasy novels to completely enjoy what they are reading. Applying this to a presidential campaign is incredibly foolish.

    He has shown, time and again, that he IS EXACTLY “that bad.” He does not understand the military. He does not understand the economy. He does not understand the Constitution. On what planet is this “not that bad”?

    I do understand what you are getting at re: your neighbors. There’s psychology at play here, and it’s disturbing. Trump has become normalized in Republican circles. This obnoxious, toxic idiot is being normalized.

  19. michael reynolds says:

    @Scott F.:

    You are absolutely right. People who knowingly support evil cannot by definition be anything but evil.

  20. legion says:

    @James Joyner:

    I don’t think that she’s expecting a fundamental change in his character.

    I would respectfully disagree… Trump’s entire shtick throughout this campaign has been that he is “winging it” – relying completely on instinctive responses to whatever situation he’s put in to (presumably) keep people guessing as to what he’s going to say or do. The problem is that, as far as interacting with human beings like a mature adult goes, his instincts _suck_. They always have.

    How he treated Clinton last night was the same way he treated the other Republicans during the primary. Frankly, it’s also how he treated everyone on every episode of The Apprentice, and from all accounts it’s how he’s treated everyone around him his whole life. He simply doesn’t “come with zingers and canned responses ” – he never has. He comes with insults, abuse, and bullying. When he’s pressed on any subject he says the most flattering thing to himself, without any regard to truth or even plausibility. And to hold out hope that he will suddenly change that in the last week of September is like sitting on the Titanic and hoping a heat wave will melt the iceberg.

  21. Andrew says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I did have similar thoughts. However, it seems more along the lines of how a subordinate handles orders from someone higher in rank or title. As if free will has been abandoned.
    I would go the other way with your assessment of evil, and go with stupidity. Hanlon’s Razor. Which is just as dangerous.

  22. James Joyner says:

    @Jen: @michael reynolds: You’re describing roughly 45% of the American public. Part of the problem is that Dems have been being the “Republicans are stupid and evil” drum for so long, with mainstream candidates, that it’s not effective now that we have one.

    @legion: I don’t disagree. I wrote him off as a non-starter from the beginning of the race. I’m now trying to understand why he’s still within 2.5 points in the national polls.

  23. @James Joyner:

    I think it’s association more than self-interest.

    Association and identity. People deeply identify as Republican or Democrat, and that is hard to give up, especially when there are only two viable choices. This means that changing means not only giving up a long held identity but adopting the opposing one. This leads to a lot of rationalization.

  24. Jen says:

    @James Joyner:

    Part of the problem is that Dems have been being the “Republicans are stupid and evil” drum for so long, with mainstream candidates, that it’s not effective now that we have one.

    Point taken, but please remember that Republicans have been trashing the Clintons for 30 years now, and that is part of why many of them cannot fathom voting for her, even though she is clearly and demonstrably the better candidate.

    I think there’s another element of magical thinking at play with Republicans–they seem to be investing a whole lot of faith and confidence that somehow divided government will neuter Donald’s more toxic ideas or proposals. While from a budget perspective that is likely, it does nothing to contain him on foreign affairs, or shooting his mouth off at some cabinet secretary or calling another world leader fat or….I could go on and on, but I think my point is made.

    It is monumentally foolish to assume that he’ll be any different IF he manages to get elected. While I don’t expect the general voting public to take that much detail into account, I DO expect Beltway Insiders to be a little bit more pragmatic and, well, smart about this.

  25. @James Joyner:

    But I know a lot of good and smart folks who think Trump is a flawed candidate but one who would be leaps and bounds better than Clinton. Probably the majority of the military officer corps is in that camp, for example. Professional party types are similarly surrounded by smart and good folks. While they may personally have misgivings about Trump–and my neighbors do–they’re able to convince themselves he’s not THAT bad.

    I know folks that fit this description as well. And it concerns me and I continue to try and figure out how to deal with it.

    At best, Trump is an egotistical know-nothing feeding his ego who is cavalierly using xenophobia, bigotry, and extreme nationalism as the cynical basis of his campaign and who hired a campaign CEO who is a white nationalist.

    At worst, Trump is an egotistical know-nothing who has more authoritarian tendencies than any candidate I can think of (perhaps ever) who is purposely using xenophobia, bigotry, and extreme nationalism as a conscience basis of his campaign and who hired a campaign CEO who is a white nationalist.

    It is radically disturbing to me that “a lot of good and smart folks who think Trump is a flawed candidate but one who would be leaps and bounds better than Clinton.” Even acknowledging HRC’s flaws, this is a one disturbing assessment.

    I had hoped Trump would lose big to hopefully a) forestall this evolution in the GOP, and b) provide some evidence that many people aren’t willing to tolerate this kind of candidate, but it appears not to be the case. It also raises unpleasant questions about how ” a lot of good and smart folks” are willing to vote for now, and in the future.

    I find it sincerely troubling.

  26. Kylopod says:

    @Aelio:

    Trump did a spat with Bibi Netanyahu and started talking about Iran nearly all the time when foreign policy was discussed. Call that unforced errors. Trump is basically favored by an audience that favors domestic issues. Few of the Trump voters could even point to Iran on the map.

    Trump has made some effort to consolidate neocon and pro-Israel Republican voters who have been very lukewarm toward his campaign. (He’s gotten unusually low support from Republican Jewish donors. Sheldon Adelson officially endorsed him earlier this year but since then hasn’t given him a penny.) Furthermore, many of the most fervent anti-Trump Republicans have consisted of neocons, particularly Jewish ones.

    There are several reasons for this. The alt-right stuff obviously hasn’t helped ingratiate him to even right-wing Jews. And while I myself wouldn’t characterize Trump as “anti-Israel,” he has repeatedly taken the sorts of positions that many on the right often unfairly characterize as anti-Israel, as when he when he refused to pledge to keep Jerusalem undivided.

    So he occasionally throws bones to the Zionist Right. His speech at AIPAC earlier this year pretty much hit all the right buttons. There and elsewhere he has used his opposition to the Iran Deal as a focal point (though he’s been far from clear about what he’d do in its place, and like his anti-trade tirades it often comes down to vague promises to make a better deal, rather than opposing the very notion of making any deal with Iran).

  27. reid says:

    @James Joyner: My mind is boggled. Supposedly intelligent people desperately trying to find some shred of decency in Trump so that they can delude themselves that he’s okay to vote for after all. Well, as is plain to a lot of people, he IS a horrible person and a horrible candidate. How in god’s name can you possibly begin to think that he would make a decent president? This sort of thinking is what gave us Bush II, who seems like a saint and scholar by comparison, and look how much of a disaster he was. Just how low does the GOP have to sink?

    Personally, I think a Clinton presidency will be very much a continuation of the Obama presidency, and I’m quite okay with that. Especially compared with the possible lunacy of both a GOP presidency and congress.

  28. @James Joyner:

    Part of the problem is that Dems have been being the “Republicans are stupid and evil” drum for so long, with mainstream candidates, that it’s not effective now that we have one.

    I have been thinking about this and while I do see that one could make a “boy who cried wolf” argument here to some degree I also think that this lets a lot of people off the hook.

  29. Ben Wolf says:

    @Jen:

    He has shown, time and again, that he IS EXACTLY “that bad.” He does not understand the military. He does not understand the economy. He does not understand the Constitution.

    Don’t think that’s correct. Trump understands a lot; about people and about power. He doesn’t know much in the form of facts and figures, but no one gives a damn about that in an American president. He understands voters will respond strongly to a fiercely delivered moral vision.

    Clinton knows much, thinks in logical lines. But people and power aren’t logical and that’s why she’s struggling. She doesn’t really get human psychology and its need for social identity over hyper-individualistic identity.

  30. Loviatar says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Association and identity. People deeply identify as Republican or Democrat, and that is hard to give up, especially when there are only two viable choices.

    I agree, however I would add one yuuuge additional factor. Republican’s unwarranted sense of victimization. Look how James framed his excuse/justification/reasoning for so called intelligent/moderate/professional Republicans supporting Trump.

    James Joyner

    Part of the problem is that Dems have been being the “Republicans are stupid and evil” drum for so long, with mainstream candidates, that it’s not effective now that we have one.

    As you can see, they have settled on the old wife beater excuse; why do you keep making me hit you.

  31. James Pearce says:

    @James Joyner:

    Even Trump should have come with zingers and canned responses to the obvious debating points.

    That “you’ve been fighting ISIS your whole adult life” was a canned zinger. When he didn’t get a response to it, he repeated it as if it hadn’t been heard.

    Most of his zingers didn’t work because they were stuck in the right wing bubble. At one point, he said something like, “We already invested in a solar company. It was a disaster.” As a political observer, I went, “Aha! He’s talking about Solyndra.” But he didn’t elaborate and quickly moved on.

    I’d venture to bet that millions of people watching the debates had no idea what the reference was. It was nerd obscure.

  32. JKB says:

    Donald Trump won the first 25 minutes of the first presidential debate.

    And really, that’s all he needed to move toward winning the election. The “undecided” by definition aren’t political junkies. If they tuned in to the debate, they only did for a bit, probably at the beginning. They aren’t really interested in the false promises of any politician, but rather to take a look on the emotional side. I expect, 30 minutes in, they tuned out. And having no sparks, I expect the other debates to have low viewership.

    Question: And after calling Americans “Deplorables” does it really help that Hillary called all American’s racists? Those looking for a reason to vote for Trump, saw a relatively mellow Trump and they got the “I hate Americans” Hillary, as representative of the DC old guard, who are responsible for the need for change.

  33. reid says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Excellent post. Just had to say that.

  34. @reid: Thanks.

  35. Thor thormussen says:

    Part of the problem is that Dems have been being the “Republicans are stupid and evil” drum for so long, with mainstream candidates, that it’s not effective now that we have one.

    Those mean ol Dems kept crying wolf, so how was I to know a wolf was gonna show up?????

  36. Loviatar says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It also raises unpleasant questions about how ” a lot of good and smart folks” are willing to vote for now, and in the future.

    I find it sincerely troubling.

    And this is why I call out James Joyner and those like him.

    Its also why I get frustrated at their enablers, those that rush to their defense with “oh they aren’t like that personally”, “oh, its my mother in-law and I know she is really just misguided.”

    Well guess what if they vote for Trump, they are like that.

  37. M. Bouffant says:

    This is a rather frightening statement:

    But I know a lot of good and smart folks who think Trump is a flawed candidate but one who would be leaps and bounds better than Clinton. Probably the majority of the military officer corps is in that camp, for example.

    Tell me, how does the officer corps feel about the possibility of Commander-in-Chief Trump ordering them to blow Iranian boats out of the water if Iranian sailors “taunt” U.S. ships? Letting Japan & South Korea have nuclear weapons? “Take their oil?” Waterboarding & worse? Killing the families of alleged terrorists? Are these truly leaps & bounds better?

    Spouting the “military intelligence is an oxymoron” line is one thing, but is there no simple common sense left in the officer corps?

  38. M. Bouffant says:

    This is a rather frightening statement:

    But I know a lot of good and smart folks who think Trump is a flawed candidate but one who would be leaps and bounds better than Clinton. Probably the majority of the military officer corps is in that camp, for example.

    Tell me, how does the officer corps feel about the possibility of Commander-in-Chief Trump ordering them to blow Iranian boats out of the water if Iranian sailors “taunt” U.S. ships? Letting Japan & South Korea have nuclear weapons? “Take their oil?” Waterboarding & worse? Killing the families of alleged terrorists? Are these truly leaps & bounds better?

    Spouting the “military intelligence is an oxymoron” line is one thing, but is there no simple common sense left in the officer corps?

  39. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    But I know a lot of good and smart folks who think Trump is a flawed candidate but one who would be leaps and bounds better than Clinton.

    The fact that they believe this makes them not good and smart. Boiled down to, what you’re saying is “I know a lot of good and smart people who believe in, and are planning to do, a tremendously bad and stupid thing.” If we can’t judge them by their actions, then what makes them actually good and smart? Good and smart people tend to actually do good and smart things, you know…..

  40. M. Bouffant says:

    Ooops. Not sure how that happened, as I got the “Looks like you’ve already ..” page, but it still posted. Feel free to delete the dupe, & this as well.

  41. michael reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It’s been a shock. I’m not exactly naive or overly-generous in my judgment of my fellow Americans, but to my astonishment it seems I have not been cynical or disparaging enough.

    It’s the banality of evil. If you don’t take care it’s easy to find yourself swept up in something that takes a much darker turn than expected. You think you’re going to a nice anti-communist rally and you end up at Kristallnacht.

    There was a poll the other day which I’m too lazy to search for which showed that while most Americans disprove of racism they don’t think racists are bad people. What a frightening insight into American moral obtuseness.

  42. bill says:

    trump is spontaneous and doesn’t need a stack of flash cards in front of him to jaw with anyone. i liked how he brought up the feds enabling of our economy to keep it afloat vs. seeing if it’s actually well enough to remove the training wheels. it has been going on too long and it’s killing us.
    hillary was stiff and still looked like she was preparing for a debate. even her quips seemed overly rehearsed and planned. she was blinking like a mad woman when trump was talking, anyone else catch that? other than that she said nothing to reassure anyone that she could make our country better than trump could. but she gets extra points for standing up for 90 minutes plus not going into a coughing fit- probably couldn’t pass a drug test after that though!

    maybe the next mod will ask some tough questions, maybe not.

  43. legion says:

    @James Joyner: To that quandary I can only suggest that people – in general, present company excluded – suck.

  44. Davebo says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It’s called rationalization. And it’s running rampant right now among the sane members of the GOP.

  45. al-Alameda says:

    @bill:

    i liked how he brought up the feds enabling of our economy to keep it afloat vs. seeing if it’s actually well enough to remove the training wheels. it has been going on too long and it’s killing us.

    Since the Great Recession of 2008, unemployment has declined from 10% to 5%, inflation remains low, and the equities markets have been strong – so how is this killing us?

  46. george says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You are absolutely right. People who knowingly support evil cannot by definition be anything but evil.

    I think that’s all of us then; I doubt there’s a person alive who hasn’t sometimes supported convenient evil. Drive a car despite what we know about climate change and toxins? Fly in an airplane (same as car but far more extreme)? Buy clothing or electronics built by people working under hellish conditions? Live in a continent stolen from another people? Walk by people on the street who desparately need help (ratonalized as someone else’s problem)? As Hamlet says, by rights we all deserve whipping.

    Trump is far worse than Clinton (who’s pretty well in the average range of evil for a major politician), but if you’re framing this as evil vs non-evil I think you’re dreaming. I don’t think there’s ever been a major political leader who hasn’t done evil things.

  47. Loviatar says:

    @michael reynolds:

    but to my astonishment it seems I have not been cynical or disparaging enough.

    Dude, welcome to the dark side.

    It’s the banality of evil. If you don’t take care it’s easy to find yourself swept up in something that takes a much darker turn than expected. You think you’re going to a nice anti-communist rally and you end up at Kristallnacht.

    This is a point I’ve tried to make here multiple times.

    There seems to be a wanting, a need, to bend over backwards, to give the benefit of the doubt to some real evil assholes in this country. Men in power (Ryan, McConnell, Cruz, Sessions) who through lack of interest, not caring about others or actual malignant intentions are out to do you and your loved ones harm. I don’t know what you would call such people, I call them evil. Not in the monstrous Stalin, Pol Pot , Hitler way, but in a petty, grinding, demeaning day-to-day way that impacts every aspect of your existence.

  48. Loviatar says:

    @Loviatar:

    The banality of evil.

    Dem to GOP: ‘Prove Me Wrong’ That Leaving Flint Out Isn’t Motivated By Race

    Kildee, who is white and represents majority-black Flint, was upset that funding for Flint’s lead-contaminated water crisis was not only not included in the must-pass continuing resolution that Republicans drafted in the Senate, but that Republicans also rejected an amendment to add it to the water resources funding bill late Monday evening in a party line vote, again throwing its future into question.

    Included in the funding bill was money to help flood victims in Louisiana.

  49. Barry says:

    @An Interested Party: “These people are trying to justify the $hit sandwich they are about to eat…”

    This is the key. James, this is why people are justifiably pissed off about the ‘grading on a curve’.

    The only reason that Trump is this close is that the media looked at how bad he was, puked, wiped their faces and worked very hard to sell him as a plausible president.

  50. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “I think it’s association more than self-interest. They’re surrounded by good people who are earnestly working for the party’s nominee and Trump becomes palatable by extension. ”

    Meaning ‘we’re paid to sell this sh*t sandwich’.

  51. Mister Bluster says:

    So Bill wants to drug test President USA candidates after a debate. To be fair Trump should have to piss in a cup too.
    He had to be on some kind of hallucinogenic to say “China should solve that problem for us. China should go into North Korea. China is totally powerful as it relates to North Korea.”
    Trump wants to stop and frisk everyone to be sure that we’re not playing pocket pool as we walk down the street.
    He’s a pervert!
    I think Trump should have to stop and be frisked everytime he walks out the door in the morning and everytime he gets out of his limo.
    Might even find his brains.

  52. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “I have been anti-Trump since the very beginning of the race. But I know a lot of good and smart folks who think Trump is a flawed candidate but one who would be leaps and bounds better than Clinton.”

    I’d like to see those, if I add the qualification ‘honest’.

    ‘Probably the majority of the military officer corps is in that camp, for example.’

    That’s old, by now. These are the same guys who’d spit on a Democratic Vietnam vet in his wheelchair, while endorsing any guy who racked up a bunch of deferments for this, that or the other.

    ” Professional party types are similarly surrounded by smart and good folks. While they may personally have misgivings about Trump–and my neighbors do–they’re able to convince themselves he’s not THAT bad.”

    As I said – add ‘honest’ to that list, and it’s empty.

  53. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “Part of the problem is that Dems have been being the “Republicans are stupid and evil” drum for so long, with mainstream candidates, that it’s not effective now that we have one.”

    Don’t even try to blame your party’s screw-ups, corruption and eager evil on us.

  54. Hal_10000 says:

    I was talking earlier today with a neighbor, a professional Republican operative who is reluctantly supporting Trump after having worked early on for my preferred candidate, John Kasich. (Her husband, also a Republican pol, likewise is swallowing Trump even though he was a Jeb guy.) She likewise saw Trump losing but saw glimpses of a winning candidate and has hopes that he’ll learn from this and rebound in the second debate. My response was that Trump has thus far displayed no indication that he’s interested in learning.

    These people remind me of women (and men) I’ve known who stay in a bad marriage because they think they will improve. They’ll be better once the kids come along. They’ll be better once the job is sorted out. It’s really hard to accept that this is who they are.

    I think you hit the nail on the head, though, with why many Republicans are reluctantly voting Trump. Much of my family is voting Trump even thought they admit he’s a horse’s backside. They have just been Republicans for so long, it’s hard to imagine voting for the arch-Democrat, Clinton. I have the advantage of having left the party ten years ago, so it’s not as wounding. I’ve suggested Johnson as a middle ground and at least some are warming to that.

  55. Mister Bluster says:

    @Loviatar:..welcome to the dark side.

    Mick and the boys had something to say about that a few years back.

    So if you meet me
    Have some courtesy
    Have some sympathy, and some taste
    (Woo woo)
    Use all your well-learned politesse
    Or I’ll lay your soul to waste, mm yeah
    (Woo woo, woo woo)

    Pleased to meet you
    Hope you guessed my name, mm yeah
    (Who who)
    But what’s puzzling you
    Is the nature of my game, mm mean it, get down
    (Woo woo, woo woo)
    https://www.google.com/#q=sympathy+for+the+devil+lyrics

  56. Loviatar says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    ahh, I see you’re a man of wealth and taste.

  57. An Interested Party says:

    I also think that this lets a lot of people off the hook.

    Indeed…people like those neighbors that James was talking about…it really is incredible what some people will rationalize…

    Question: And after calling Americans “Deplorables” does it really help that Hillary called all American’s racists? Those looking for a reason to vote for Trump, saw a relatively mellow Trump and they got the “I hate Americans” Hillary, as representative of the DC old guard, who are responsible for the need for change.

    You’re obviously more delusional than Trump…when, exactly, did she call all Americans racists and when did she present an “I hate Americans” message?

    she was blinking like a mad woman when trump was talking, anyone else catch that?

    No…you need to check your own vision…maybe you have cataracts or something…

    but she gets extra points for standing up for 90 minutes plus not going into a coughing fit- probably couldn’t pass a drug test after that though!

    Uh huh…meanwhile, he was sniffling like he just walked away from a table full of blow…

  58. gVOR08 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It also raises unpleasant questions about how ” a lot of good and smart folks” are willing to vote for now, and in the future.

    I find it sincerely troubling.

    2020 is stating to scare me spitless.

  59. Hal_10000 says:

    Another thing: IF Trump loses, give it about ten years and a huge number of Trump voters will say they voted against him.

    Actually, that might be true if he wins as well.

  60. grumpy realist says:

    @James Joyner: Because a sizable percentage of the American populace want to act as bullying as Trump, be as rich as Trump, cheat on their wives like Trump, refuse to pay for contracted work like Trump, and in general, be as much of a jackass as Trump is?

    Trump has never had to control himself. He’s never had to concentrate on learning how to learn anything. He’s wallowed in an arena (real estate) where blustering and bullying are sufficient to get the job done….except that have you noticed that no one in NYC does any work with Trump?

    He’s going to do the same thing to the US as Brownback has done to Kansas, and the Republicans are going to claim when the whole thing crashes down that “it’s the liberals’ fault.”

  61. barbintheboonies says:

    I listened to the right wing wacko radio talk shows this morning Lars Larsen an Rush, they believe Trump did very well. I only listened to see how they would spin it, and I think they convinced their listeners that he did well also. I knew it, people are not going to change their minds no matter how nuts it gets.

  62. Mister Bluster says:

    @Loviatar:..a man of wealth and taste…

    In my opium dreams

  63. Slugger says:

    How does one go from working for Kasich to being in Trump’s corner? Not two weeks ago Kasich said that it was unlikely that he’d vote for Trump. Is this person just a play for pay operative?

  64. Senyordave says:

    I’m shocked to see so little mention in the debate stories of Trump’s ludicrous defense of his birtherism. He is proud of it! This racist piece of garbage wants to be president after stoking the fires of the birther movement for a full five years after President Obama produced his birth certificate. At least it accomplished one thing, blacks know his history and where he stands. In saner times his birther stance would have disqualified him immediately.

    Trump has shown he is a racist. If you support him you are supporting a racist. If you support a racist you are a racist.

  65. Senyordave says:

    I don’t personally know anyone who is a as bad a person as Donald Trump. I don’t know anyone personally who would mock a person who has a severe disability. I don’t know anyone personally who has misused charitable funds (AKA stealing from a charity). I do know people who are probably as racist as Trump, but they are closet racists. I don’t know anyone who routinely cheats people they do business with.

    Thomas Friedman said it best:

    Donald Trump is a disgusting human being. His children should be ashamed of him.

    And he might be president. And look at the people he surrounds himself with. Christie, Guiliani, Jeff Sessions (racist), Steve Bannon (runs Breitbart, a website that has become a kind of clearinghouse for white supremacists)

  66. michael reynolds says:

    @george:

    What an interesting point. You caused me to walk through my own life and ask whether I have done evil. And then to ask myself whether I’m rationalizing my answers.

    I’ve certainly done things I am not proud of. I’ve committed various crimes, for example. Been a selfish bastard at times. Certainly lied at times.

    But I didn’t find your examples compelling. I don’t think I’m evil for driving a car that gets 20 MPG rather than one that gets 35. A rational man can look at the decision to own a lower mileage car and see that there is only the most attenuated connection between that act and some potential downstream harm. One could make the point that my car is better than most higher mileage cars at avoiding fatal accidents. That’d be pretty thin gruel, but so is drawing a line between me driving and Melanesians drowning. And it would of course be absurd to try and pick a particular MPG rating that forms the line between good and evil.

    Living in a country stolen from other people? Sadly that describes every square inch of planet earth. And there is no practical way to reverse the matter without creating more evil.

    Passing by a beggar? In fact I seldom do, but I know rationally that my charity may do as much harm as good. Is the recipient a degenerate alcoholic and did I just buy them the fatal drink? In any event, that’s a sin of omission, not commission.

    To me the essence of evil is to use force or the threat of force to compel behavior from someone in the absence of some very powerful reason. In effect, it’s denying the humanity of another person, holding your own will as more important, erasing another person’s rights. But that’s also pretty close to a working definition of the effects of racism or misogyny or any form of bigotry. You’re denying someone else’s rights on the basis of race or sex or class, or whatever excuse, but always it comes down to core evil: I take from you. I deny your rights. I frighten or intimidate you. I hurt or rape or kill you.

    Small scale evil goes on all the time. Man beats wife. Child is molested. Murder. But if you really want large scale evil, evil that kills millions not just a few, you need a belief system. You need an ideology. You can’t murder millions unless you have a system of thought in place that unites bad people behind a great and evil cause. Communism. Naziism. Jihadism. If you want to destroy not just one man’s freedom but the freedom of millions, you need an ideology, a system that places you on top and someone else on the bottom.

    That’s why what Joyner’s neighbors are doing is evil. It’s not Trump per se, I mean it’s insanely irresponsible to let that man near nuclear weapons, but the evil part is the ideology he pushes however disjointedly. Trump is a white supremacist. Ask any American Nazi, they know what he is. He’s a racist. And a misogynist. He believes in a world where white men have a natural right to rule all lesser humans.

    That is evil. That is the basic computer software of evil. That is where you get a Middle Passage and a Trail of Tears and a Holocaust. Right there at the point where you decide that another person is less entitled to life and liberty than you are.

    When Joyner’s neighbors work for a man they know to be a racist or misogynist they are contributing to the spread and empowerment of evil. They become partly responsible for every act that follows from their betrayal.

    The GOP has the option here of rejecting the last 50 years of Republican dog-whistle racism and misogyny. They could turn it around. But they don’t, they do what our neighbor-folk did: rationalize and sell their souls for a buck. They take a paycheck to advance a cause they know to be evil.

  67. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Trump … believes in a world where white men have a natural right to rule all lesser humans.
    That is evil.

    George Lakoff talks about this natural order of things being a component of Strict Father Model framing, which is the way conservatives look at the world. In this view you’re accusing essentially all conservatives of evil. I don’t believe this is your intent.

    I see a lot of stuff lately about how liberals should be more respectful of conservatives. And they’re right. Most of the conservatives I’ve known are quite decent, respectable people. They’re conscientious in their jobs, don’t abuse their pets, and within the constraints of the SFM they’re good parents and spouses. But when it comes to public policy, they’re simply wrong. They are wrong, as you point out, because they’ve bought into an ideology that is out of touch with how the world works. They’re wrong largely because of the conservative entertainment complex that sells them this ideology.

    This is where I disagree with James. Trump is not uniquely evil. As I’ve said before about the Tea Party, Trump didn’t cut taxes contributing to our huge inequality, Trump didn’t deregulate the banks and run huge deficits in good times, Trump didn’t mismanage Afghanistan, Trump didn’t invade Iraq. The Republican establishment did those things. How many people have died, will die, in the ME because of G. W. Bush’s country club + neocon ideology? The banality of evil.

  68. Jenos The Penitent says:

    Judging 2016 by historical standards hasn’t worked out well thus far.

    I, too, love finding historical precedents for current events. Like most people, I need the comfort of finding patterns and thinking that it gives me some grasp of the situation, and through that some illusion of control.

    But I’ve finally given up that intellectual comfort food in this case. This election is like no other in history is no many different ways that trying to find some precedents that will give us some clue about what might happen. There’s simply no telling what’s going to happen, and what the consequences of those happenings will be.

    I’m sitting back and enjoying the ride. Because I don’t see any other alternatives.

    Come and join me, if you like. Even if for just a little while. It’s remarkably liberating.

  69. Mister Bluster says:

    essence of evil

    Noah Cross: I don’t blame myself. You see, Mr. Gittes, most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place, they’re capable of ANYTHING.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppGd-2nEOVQ
    Thank You John Houston RIP

  70. Monala says:

    @An Interested Party: I think he’s referring to Lester Holt asking whether implicit bias by police officers leads them to react with more violent force with African Americans. Clinton responded that we all have biases, and therefore we need to come together (police and communities) and work together on these issues.

  71. Modulo Myself says:

    Regardless of how evil the act may be, voting for a candidate, as an act, is pretty easy to give up. Drugs, booze, or cigarettes–those are hard. Driving a car–hard. Money–hard. Lust and desire–really hard.

    But your party’s candidate is an appalling moron–screw you if you recognize this and yet can’t stop being the member of your political party.

  72. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Indeed! Wish I had more than one thumbs up to give.

  73. Modulo Myself says:

    As far as good people go–it’s clear, or should be, that it’s possible to fight and die for bad causes. The Confederacy, Nazi Germany or the Bolshevik Revolution and the Soviet Union–they all inspired people who were capable of wisdom and kindness to go willingly into death in their defense.

    But they are also good people who cheered on rocks being thrown at King when went to Chicago, or cheered some dumb Georgia cracker pouring cement into a public pool rather than let black people swim in it. These are the people who tried to keep neighborhoods in the 70s all-white, and who lied on police reports in order to cover up a cop shooting a black man in the back as he’s fleeing.

    There’s no sympathy for that type of good person and there never will be. Their actions do not translate beyond the conformity of their times. And that will be the verdict on Trump’s voters if he’s elected. The idea that twenty years of voting for the GOP makes it impossible to stop is not going to hold.

  74. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Mister Bluster: No, that’d take a cavity search, and you can’t do that on a city street.

  75. michael reynolds says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    That is an excellent point.

  76. Loviatar says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Modulo Myself

    There’s no sympathy for that type of good person and there never will be.

    michael reynolds

    That is an excellent point.

    So michael reynolds in your opinion is James Joyner still a good person?

  77. Mister Bluster says:

    …cavity search…

    If Trump wants his constituents to connect with him he will demand that he be screened at the airport before he boards his plane.
    The TSA has been practicing on 10 year old girls so they should be able to handle the oaf.
    http://reason.com/blog/2016/01/06/why-isnt-this-tsa-agent-who-groped-a-10

  78. george says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Perhaps you’re simply a much better person that I am; a lot of evil comes from intention and knowledge. For my part, I know I’ve done a fair amount of evil.

    And in my case what I list as evils are, in fact, evil, because I know better. I know climate change is very real, I understand the physics and the experimental results, yet I often drive when I could cycle or walk. Why do I do something that contributes to what I know will be a great disaster? Simply because its more convenient to drive. I’ve flown to save myself the inconvenience of a two day train trip. I’ve seen people on the street who desperately need not a handout (I agree that’s just enabling their problem), but rather someone to take them to a restaurant and buy them a meal (I’ve done that a few times, typically fast food, and its a strange feeling, a bit like E.E.Cummings poem though of course not as dramatic, but by far most of the time I make some excuse to myself and carry on rather than spending the five minutes it would take).

    I’d say most of the evil most of us do are in the small day to day things that go a long way to creating an atmosphere where someone like Trump can gain a foothold. I’ve been nasty or indifferent to people too many times to count, I’ve been judgmental … well you get the idea. And as much as I’d like to agree with you, I can’t convince myself that those actions actually aren’t evil. My experience is that evil isn’t solely about controlling others (though that’s an interesting theme, I think Tolkein based his writing on it), but more often is about selfishness, in seeing suffering and turning away because it doesn’t directly affect me. Most evil isn’t dramatic, its banal (as Arendt pointed out).

    When you get to major politicians, it gets worse. I think Obama is a good politician (in the moral sense as well as in terms of efficiency), but his drone attacks, done in such a way that weddings get bombed, is simply evil, and has resulted in the deaths of tens of innocents … I’m too lazy to go through all the politicans, but I doubt you could come up with one who hasn’t done evil things (some more than others of course; starting Iraq war over lies about WMD is far worse than drone attacks, or the Vietnam war over the Tonkin Gulf incident).

    Putting an election like this in terms of evil vs non-evil makes it a caracture, nothing in life is so binary. And actually that kind of presentation probably helps someone like Trump get elected, because it sounds so biased that no undecided person will take it seriously, and might even be swayed the other way in reaction to how unfair it sounds, because most people have been in situations where what we were doing has been unfairly simplified and villified.

    I keep recalling being in the peace movement in university, marching against the cruise missile etc, and hearing people shouting out that we were all hippy communists who should move to Moscow. And of course the local newspaper would find the two or three members of the march who were in fact hippy communists interview them as representative for all of us – so we were all evil Stalinists or Maoists who wanted to put anyone who disagreed with us against the wall. And contrasted against us were the balanced statements of concerned citizens, their good vs our evil. It was a gross simplification then. I think it still is now. Not because we were angels, but because both the “peaceniks” and the people worried about the USSR were both good and evil.

  79. Jenos The Penitent says:

    @Modulo Myself: So, when is it not only acceptable, but morally necessary to stop these “good people,” by any means necessary? At what point is it to accept that these Confederates/Nazis/Communists/segregationist racists are no longer worthy of the respect and consideration that we give to our fellow citizens? At what point is their sheer inhumanity and evilness so dangerous that they must be prevented from achieving power, no matter what it takes? At what point do we have to take actions to protect ourselves, our fellow good people, and humanity from being dominated by these evil-doers?

    If we’re dealing with new Hitlers, then there really is no choice. They must be stopped.

    No matter what it takes.

  80. grumpy realist says:

    @george: What Trump is promulgating (and which is why he is so dangerous) is the idea that Rules Are For Other People. He’s Leona Helmsey in trousers.

    Why in the heck should we all hang together and contribute, each our own mite, when there are people like Trump running around bragging loudly about how he never contributes anything, is a freeloader on the system, and has no guilt about doing so?

    In Trump’s mind, those of us who follow the rules, who pay for services rendered, who act professionally and deliver on our promises because That’s What a Professional Person Does–he thinks we’re acting like chumps. Dopes. Stupids. Easier to promise the marks what they want, and then go your own way. They don’t have enough money to sue you in the first place, amirate?

    He’s against the very idea of America. And those who support him because they want to “stick it to the authorities” don’t seem to understand that. Or worse, don’t care.

  81. C. Clavin says:

    @george:

    who’s pretty well in the average range of evil for a major politician

    Explain exactly how.

  82. C. Clavin says:

    This story about the Machado woman from the beauty pageant is going to kill Trump.
    He wasn’t just a jerk. He was abusive. He harassed her. And he’s not smart enough to stop talking about it.

  83. MarkedMan says:

    James, looking at your comments about the senior officer corps supporting Trump is depressing. I wasn’t surprised to find out that the evangelical leadership’s “morals” and “values” and “ethics” were all just mouth noise, that all their talk about how Bill Clinton was just morally unfit was really just a case of “we can use this against the guy on the other team”. But I had the view that the military was more diverse and that their talk about duty and honor and doing what’s right for the country had some actual spine behind it, and wasn’t just their own slightly different version of mouth noise. But it seems that when faced with a crystal clear decision they still can’t back down – they put their own egos and their loyalties to the party over loyalty to their country.

    I envision that a lot of this comes about from sitting around bars telling each other tales about how right they are and how everyone else is blind and stupid and creating a self reinforcing circle that, absent input from contrary opinions, causes the members to constantly one-up each other about just how awful Hillary is, everyone knows it, until they’ve created a monster in their heads. They would look foolish to back down, and looking foolish is too much to bear.

    This kind of behavior is an actual instance of “both sides do it” or rather, every group is capable of it. I first saw it from a Feminist group that observed in a bookstore in San Francisco. I look back to some of the crazy radicals from the 60’s, and certainly the micro-aggression crew that exist now, and see that same feed back loop that leads them to sometimes dangerous foolishness. Outside of politics I’ve seen it in the way certain cults (Amway, Moonies) actually train their members to deal with negative viewpoints from the outside. And of course if, or more likely, when, I’m caught up in it myself, almost by definition I can’t see it.

    But this case is pretty clear cut, and it’s not “both sides do it”. Their is no widespread delusion about Hillary on the Democratic side.

  84. wr says:

    @Hal_10000: “Another thing: IF Trump loses, give it about ten years and a huge number of Trump voters will say they voted against him.”

    Ten years? Ten minutes…

  85. @C. Clavin:

    This story about the Machado woman from the beauty pageant is going to kill Trump.
    He wasn’t just a jerk. He was abusive. He harassed her. And he’s not smart enough to stop talking about it.

    I concur about your basic assessment, but it isn’t going to kill him. If something like this was enough to derail him it would have happened with his criticism of McCain, or of the disabled reporter, or of Megyn Kelly, or of the Gold Star family, etc.

  86. @Jenos The Penitent: Seems to me that what people are trying to do is provide reasons why Trump shouldn’t be president. You know, argumentation with facts and such.

    No one is talking about mass deportations (except Trump).

    No one is talking about religious tests (except Trump).

    Yes, the good/evil talk creates its own kind of problems, but you have no high horse upon which to sit.

    Trump’s campaign was founded on xenophobia and have been constructed of white nationalism, misogyny, and bigotry. You are free to defend that (as you have).

  87. On a more general note, there is a difficult argument to be made vis-à-vis Trump and those who will vote for him. Calling them evil is not helpful and overly simplifies a complex dynamic, especially in a system that really does force us to choose between two options.

    The psychological constraints on this means that a lot of rationalization and motivated thinking will lead to people voting GOP regardless of who the candidate is. There is a literature in political science that notes that who the candidate is/the quality of the candidate/the campaign don’t matter as much as we think they do. I think we are seeing some of this now.

    Nonetheless, there are real problems here, and we need to find a way, as a country, to address them.

    I think it is possible to underscore the evil that Trump promotes, and trying to get the public to understand why it is evil, without simply calling anyone who will vote him as evil. That is not a very persuasive route to take, now is it?

  88. barbintheboonies says:

    What really is scary here, if he does become president, it will not take much to set him off. Maybe the Christian right, was right about some Devil leader destroying the world. They thought it was Obama, maybe they were off a bit.

  89. Moosebreath says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    “I think it is possible to underscore the evil that Trump promotes, and trying to get the public to understand why it is evil, without simply calling anyone who will vote him as evil. That is not a very persuasive route to take, now is it?”

    Not disagreeing with you, but there’s a whale of a difference between calling them evil and calling them good and smart, as James did.

  90. C. Clavin says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Tipping point. It has to come.

  91. Thor thormussen says:

    My takeaway from this election is that we’ve gotten lucky so far. If 40% of the public is stupid enough to vote for Donald Trump it’s amazing a nation can hold together successfully for a few decades in the first place.

    We have big challenges: global warming, overfishing, dead zones, antibiotic resistance, plastic pollution, etc. If almost half the nation is too stupid to make this basic decision, there is zero chance we’ll solve these problems.

  92. Thor thormussen says:

    But I know a lot of good and smart folks who think Trump is a flawed candidate but one who would be leaps and bounds better than Clinton.

    No you don’t.

  93. michael reynolds says:

    @george:

    I think you’re equating the concept of sin with evil. In Catholic tradition (and most others) sin comes in various levels of seriousness. Most of what you’re talking about would count as a venial sin – minor, forgivable, evidence not of evil but of imperfection, or perhaps immorality. But no, driving is not evil. And if we define evil to encompass anything sinful, anything short of perfection, we end up watering down, normalizing and in the end destroying the concept of evil.

    If driving a car that gets 20 instead of 35 MPG is evil, then what is supporting a racist, fascist, woman-hating pig you know should never be president? I’m sorry, but you’re equating shopping bag choices with joining the Brown Shirts. That’s more hair shirt than useful moral judgment.

    This election is good vs. evil. It’s not just a question of what you think of Hillary or Trump, but what goal you and I as voters are pursuing. If you support a racist movement, that is evil, period. Joyner’s neighbors aren’t even “Good Germans,” the good German trope refers to average Germans who could claim not to be aware. Joyner’s neighbors are much worse than that. They know full well what they’re doing. They know full well that they are selling their souls, betraying their country out of laziness or cupidity. They are doing evil, and they almost certainly know it, but simply lack the backbone to resist.

  94. barbintheboonies says:

    @Thor thormussen: I agree and that is why I believe we need leaders who are willing to give up on the BS stuff and focus on the important issues. We need regulations, but not too extreme. We need to get religion out of government all together. We need to solve our own country problems before we solve everyone else’s. In other words, a more moderate approach. Neither side can have it all. .

  95. Tillman says:

    ITT: if all you know about someone is a caricature of their political opinions, you can instantly judge them as good or evil.

  96. Jen says:

    @MarkedMan:

    James, looking at your comments about the senior officer corps supporting Trump is depressing.

    I have been thinking about this since yesterday, and I have a feeling that a lot of this attitude is driven by the false assumption that Trump, standing in for Any Named Republican President, would be more likely than a Democratic president to get rid of the sequester that they believe is hamstringing the military. This ignores the role that the Tea Party despots had in it, of course, but I honestly think this is more about dollars than about sense.

    ETA: http://breakingdefense.com/2016/09/four-service-chiefs-say-they-cant-defend-us-under-sequestration/

  97. michael reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    That is not a very persuasive route to take, now is it?

    I’m not sure. Sometimes you just have to blurt out the truth and hope it works. I’m a fan of those moments when a politician says something true but unpopular. I think of Reagan’s Evil Empire speech. God knows I’m no Reagan fan, but he spoke the truth despite denunciation by the punditry. The USSR was an empire and it was evil. And in the end I think that statement of truth helped (slightly) to bring the Soviet Union down.

    Trump represents a deep evil that we have not yet purged. He is an evil man doing evil things for evil reasons. The people who support him cannot pretend not to be tainted. Persuasive or not, it’s true.

  98. Tillman says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Sometimes you just have to blurt out the truth and hope it works. I’m a fan of those moments when a politician says something true but unpopular.

    “Oh, he’ll bring up Carter’s ‘crisis of confidence’ spee–”

    I think of Reagan’s Evil Empire speech. God knows I’m no Reagan fan, but he spoke the truth despite denunciation by the punditry. The USSR was an empire and it was evil.

    …a speech that basically condensed decades of anti-communist propaganda as a mode to urge escalation of the Cold War counts as “true but unpopular”? It fails at least one of those adjectives.

  99. Thor thormussen says:

    Americans killed hundreds of thousands of innocent iraqis. And don’t even care.

    Maybe Donald Trump is the punishment god deems appropriate.

  100. Loviatar says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    That is not a very persuasive route to take, now is it?

    I’m a people person. I believe people drive ideology not the other way around. You understand the person and you’ll understand their ideology. The modern Republican party is made up of the stupid and the evil. Those with any lick of sense and decency left the party after Bush II proved for once and for all that their ideological theories were catastrophically wrong.

    What we have left are two groups; the stupid, those who through happenstance of birth, laziness or pure stupidity has not informed themselves enough to know that the Republican party of the 2000s is not the Republican party of 1950 or even 1980. In fact it is closer to the NAZI party of the 1920s and 1930s. Which leads us to the evil part of the Republican party. They know, they know that a sizable portion of their base are misogynistic, bigoted, greedy racist assholes, however they don’t care. Why? Because either they themselves are misogynistic, bigoted, greedy racist assholes or they are willing to use that base for their personal profit no matter who else gets hurt. Thats evil.

    Now how do we persuade the Republican base to rejoin America. Patience, talking and education has gotten us nowhere, they went from Bush II an incurious idiot, to McCain a deranged warmonger, to Romney a greedy soulless technocrat. They’ve now selected Trump who combines the worse of each of the previous three candidates without any of their redeeming qualities. My belief, they don’t want rejoin America, they’re pining for an America that has passed and more importantly never was. You can’t persuade against a dream.

    So my question to you Steven L. Taylor or anyone else who cares to answer: Why should we try?

  101. Pete S says:

    @barbintheboonies: I think if you agree with Thor then you cannot be looking for someone who thinks only about the US first. All of the issues he mentions are global in nature and will require international co-operation.

  102. Pch101 says:

    While I agree with Doug Mataconis and most of the blog’s commentariat that Trump objectively lost last night’s debate handily by any normal standard, I’m not at all sure that he lost in a way that mattered.

    I have to agree with you. Clinton behaved well and she avoided making any gross errors, but she failed to offer a branding message that would provide a vision to or generate much enthusiasm among the voters. Competent but not exciting.

    The fact that she’s better than the other guy is good enough for me personally, but there is a percentage of the electorate that will need more convincing. Hence, the likelihood that she will win the popular vote, but just barely

  103. Loviatar says:

    @michael reynolds:

    If driving a car that gets 20 instead of 35 MPG is evil, then what is supporting a racist, fascist, woman-hating pig you know should never be president? I’m sorry, but you’re equating shopping bag choices with joining the Brown Shirts. That’s more hair shirt than useful moral judgment.

    THIS

    Joyner’s neighbors aren’t even “Good Germans,” the good German trope refers to average Germans who could claim not to be aware. Joyner’s neighbors are much worse than that. They know full well what they’re doing. They know full well that they are selling their souls, betraying their country out of laziness or cupidity.

    Even more so, THIS.

    I’ve met “Good Germans” most of them were cowards who choose to go along with evil. To do anything else was an inconvenience.

  104. Mikey says:

    @Loviatar:

    So my question to you Steven L. Taylor or anyone else who cares to answer: Why should we try?

    I used to be a Republican. I stayed one even after Bush (43). I voted for both McCain and Romney.

    And now, in no small part because of many conversations with liberal friends who didn’t dismiss me as “stupid or evil,” I am no longer a Republican, and I will be voting for Mrs. Clinton this election.

    Thank goodness my friends didn’t just throw me away with “why should we try?”

  105. Moderate Mom says:

    @An Interested Party: Actually, she was blinking constantly.

    I watched the debate with a friend and we both commented on how strange it was that she was either constantly blinking, or looking down, or looking side to side. There were very few occasions that she looked directly at the camera.

  106. gVOR08 says:

    @Thor thormussen:

    If 40% of the public is stupid enough to vote for Donald Trump it’s amazing a nation can hold together successfully for a few decades in the first place.

    I debate this with myself, but I think the public has always been thus. But two things have changed.

    When I became politically aware we had a handful of major newspapers, I think the tag line was The Seven Sisters, and three networks. They ranged only a little left or right of a consensus center. Now we have what’s left of the MSM, a small lefty media, and a RW media that is a sizeable and profitable industry. The Conservative Entertainment Complex has created a whole alternate universe which, from constant repetition, the 40% accept as reality.

    We also had two political parties that offered large, overlapping big tents. But starting with Nixon’s Southern Strategy, one Party has forsaken any intellectual or moral integrity and embraced the CEC alternate universe. As I recall history, the Founders didn’t fear “the mob” per se, they feared some faction of the elite stirring up the mob. They were right.

  107. Pch101 says:

    @MarkedMan:

    looking at your comments about the senior officer corps supporting Trump is depressing.

    Evangelical Christians make up much of the officer corps. American conservatives tend to either support some elements of racism or else are indifferent to it.

    Christian fundamentalism in this country is often linked to some form of bigotry — after all, the Bible was used to justify slavery during the antebellum era. Catholic workers they ain’t.

    So this isn’t surprising. The conservatives fundamentalists who oppose Trump are largely motivated by Trump’s lack of commitment to the pro-life movement, not by his views on race and immigration. As insipid and dim as they are, the Jenos and Bill characters who post here really do represent a large chunk of the electorate.

  108. barbintheboonies says:

    @Loviatar: They also have my mother in law who is and has been a Republican all her life as was her very religious Baptist family. Nothing can sway her. She only listens to what she wants to hear. She thinks anyone who votes against pro life is evil. She is convinced Romney was just a very good business man. She loved ole Ronny. She does not like Trump but believes he is better than Hillary. She hated Bill Clinton because he was a cheating pig. She is a good person otherwise, just brainwashed. She sits in front of the TV and watches Fox news at least 8 hrs. daily. Not much for her to do now that she is 90. My brother in law, (married to my sister in law) also is like this too, well not as bad. He is a Viet Nam vet. who really should be a Democrat. His wife my sister in law is a public school teacher and he worked for the post office. They made decent livings. Now he`s convinced that the unions are killing our country. It makes you shake your head and walk away speechless just to keep peace in the family. I did try to say a few things, but was cut up with angry speeches. I had to leave it alone. He is a practicing Catholic and goes to church every Sunday. He is also a very good father and husband. It is very confusing.

  109. Loviatar says:

    @Mikey:

    And now, in no small part because of many conversations with liberal friends who didn’t dismiss me as “stupid or evil,” I am no longer a Republican, and I will be voting for Mrs. Clinton this election.

    You write this as if I should give you a cookie for doing something special. No what you did was what most humans do, THINK about their actions and then THINK about the consequences of those actions. I’m sorry, if you voted Republican after Bush II then yes you were stupid, just not as stupid those still voting Republican.

  110. barbintheboonies says:

    @Loviatar: I would not call them cowards, they faced unimaginable things, and were afraid not only for themselves, but for their families. Look at us we have so much in front of us too, and we are not on the front lines pulling the evil doers out of their ivory towers and putting them in shackles. The rules do not apply to them. The guards are on their side, funny what money can do. Money and fear

  111. Mikey says:

    @Loviatar:

    You write this as if I should give you a cookie for doing something special.

    No, I wrote it because I’m an example of someone who was persuadable, someone not just to be discarded with “why should we try.” And now you just blow it off with a truly assholish response.

    You’re every bit as bigoted as any hardcore Trump supporter. Your bigotry just has a different object.

  112. Loviatar says:

    @Mikey:

    You’re every bit as bigoted as any hardcore Trump supporter.

    Yes I am.

    After 50+ years of putting up with your assholish responses, its going to take awhile for me to be forgiving.

    Sorry thats life.

  113. An Interested Party says:

    I watched the debate with a friend and we both commented on how strange it was that she was either constantly blinking, or looking down, or looking side to side.

    Perhaps she did all of that to keep herself from laughing at so much of what Trump had to say…

  114. barbintheboonies says:

    @Pete S: You will get more people on board if you are reasonable. If we stay polarized we will get nowhere.

  115. Mikey says:

    @Loviatar: You know, I’ve been around for 50 years myself. And even at my most conservative, I never found excuses to reduce people to one-dimensional, worthless caricatures.

    I am sorry for whatever happened in your life that leads you to do that.

  116. CSK says:

    @Moderate Mom:

    Have you ever been under television lights? They’re brutal.

  117. Jen says:

    @CSK:

    Especially if you wear contact lenses, which I believe she does. I can’t believe anyone is fixated on this, but that’s what we’ve come to. {shrugs}

  118. Kylopod says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    If something like this was enough to derail him it would have happened with his criticism of McCain, or of the disabled reporter, or of Megyn Kelly, or of the Gold Star family, etc.

    It’s not about whether the story permanently damages him, it’s about timing. The electorate has got about the attention span of Dory the Fish, which means they (or more accurately, the swing voters who matter) react to the news cycle; if Trump has a bad one, his poll numbers drop, then later they forget he ever said those things. Had the Khan attacks occurred on Nov. 1, it’s a virtual certainty he’d lose the election. The only reason his poll numbers have somewhat recovered is that they’ve had time to, as other matters have come to dominate the news since then.

    Similarly, while he proved he was a sexist pig a long time ago, he does himself no favors by reminding voters of that fact at this crucial point when almost everyone has started paying attention to the election.

    Furthermore, you’re lumping together the primaries and the general election. His attacks on Megyn Kelly, McCain, etc. may not have killed his nomination chances, but they helped create his toxic brand that have made him the most unpopular nominee in history. If he loses, all those controversies will be seen as having been contributing factors, and even if he somehow manages to win, it will be largely in spite of all that stuff, not because of it.

  119. Steve V says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    She hated Bill Clinton because he was a cheating pig.

    How does she feel about Newt Gingrich and other Republicans who are cheating pigs?

    This is the amazing part to me. Partisans will give flawed people on their side endless breaks, while viewing the same conduct in someone on the other side as completely disqualifying.

  120. Loviatar says:

    @Mikey:

    Actually my life is pretty good.

    What has and continues to anger me is what you and other “conservatives” like you have done to the people I care about. My family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances even strangers all have suffered for 50+ years just because they happen to not look or love or think or believe like you. So yeah I have anger issues with conservatives.

    And now you’re telling me I should be appreciative because you’ve decided to vote for that “woman” over a patently unqualified cheeto colored idiot.

    OK, Hallelujah thank you for your vote.

    P.S.

    You know what I should be more appreciative, previously you had voted for the patently unqualified pasty idiot. So yes you have improved.

  121. @Kylopod: At this point I just don’t see any specific error by Trump being enough to sink him (now, the sum may do it).

  122. Stonetools says:

    @Loviatar:

    You know I have similar racial background to you ( I think) and I understand your anger. There’s a lot for us to be angry about. But we are a minoriy and we need to persuade other folks to achieve a majority .We can’t do that through anger alone. That too is reality. Just sayin’.

  123. Tillman says:

    @Loviatar:

    It’s so hard to convince people by calling them and their beliefs evil, I guess they can’t be convinced at all.

    By the way, how naive do you have to be to believe most people think about their actions and the consequences before doing them?

  124. Stonetools says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It’s horrible that Trump can convince 40 per cent of American voters that he is acceptable for President. The good thing is that so far it looks like his ceiling is about 43 per cent. All we need to do now is to persuade the 10/15 per cent so called ” independents” to do the rational thing instead of the ideologically comfortable thing and vote for Hillary ( yes, I’m looking at you, Doug).
    Dunno if they’ll do this. So many have bought into the caricature of Hillary as one of history’s greatest monsters that I’m not sure they’ll come around.

  125. An Interested Party says:

    I can’t believe anyone is fixated on this…

    Indeed, that anyone would focus on that more than the ridiculous things Trump said displays an extreme case of misplaced priorities…

  126. CSK says:

    @An Interested Party:

    It’s all part of the obsessive need on the part of the Trumpkins to “prove” that Clinton is at death’s door. If she nods, it’s a symptom of Parkinson’s disease. Blinks? She’s had a stroke!

  127. MarkedMan says:

    Can someone rescue me from spam purgatory ?

  128. James Pearce says:

    @Loviatar:

    My family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances even strangers all have suffered for 50+ years just because they happen to not look or love or think or believe like you. So yeah I have anger issues with conservatives.

    Sounds like you have issues distinguishing exactly who is responsible for your anguish, and instead of doing the hard work of dealing with your problem and moving on with your life, you’ve chosen to lash out at people you don’t know on the internet for the crime of thinking differently than you.

  129. Loviatar says:

    @Tillman:

    By the way, how naive do you have to be to believe most people think about their actions and the consequences before doing them?

    Until proven wrong (Jenos, JKB, etc) I consider anyone commenting on this blog intelligent and well informed. I believe an intelligent, well informed person should make intelligent, well informed choices. If they don’t then that lends credence to my stupid or evil theory.

    Does that make me naive? maybe

  130. Moosebreath says:

    @Steve V:

    “How does she feel about Newt Gingrich and other Republicans who are cheating pigs?”

    Including Trump. I said roughly a year ago in a comment at this site that if Trump goes after Hillary on Bill’s adultery, she should respond “My marriage has been strong enough to survive a bit of adultery. Yours have not. Twice so far.”

  131. barbintheboonies says:

    @Steve V: I know right They just do not listen to that I am at a loss as you are.

  132. Loviatar says:

    @James Pearce:

    Sounds like you have issues distinguishing exactly who is responsible for your anguish,

    No. I know its people like you. If not directly then due to your attitudes which enable those who wish to harm those I care about.

    #mrdontbelieveinwhiteprivilege

  133. Andrew says:

    Even those at FoxNews do not want these online polls being used as proof Trump won the debate.

    “As most of the publications themselves clearly state, the sample obviously can’t be representative of the electorate because they only reflect the views of those Internet users who have chosen to participate,” Dana Blanton, Fox News’s vice president of public-opinion research, wrote in the memo to the channel’s politics team, which was obtained by Business Insider’s Oliver Darcy. “Another problem — we know some campaigns/groups of supporters encourage people to vote in online polls and flood the results,” she wrote. “These quickie click items do not meet our editorial standards.”

    “News networks and other organizations go to great effort and rigor to conduct scientific polls — for good reason,” Blanton added in the memo, which was sent Tuesday afternoon. “They know quick vote items posted on the web are nonsense, not true measures of public opinion.”

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/on-media/2016/09/fox-news-online-polls-228836

  134. CSK says:

    Just when I think the paranoid conspiracy theorists can’t get any loonier, they prove me wrong.

    Want to know why Trump had the sniffles? Because the Clinton campaign and their cohorts in the “enemedia” impregnated his microphone with histamines before the debate, that’s why.

  135. Mikey says:

    @Loviatar: I think you’ve misread my intent, here. I’m certainly not seeking your appreciation.

    If there’s any appreciation due, it’s from me, to the people who never dumped me into a bucket labeled “stupid or evil,” but instead considered me worth the effort even at my most boneheaded.

  136. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Would you be interested in a semi-serious answer, or are you content with your little stereotypes and profiling?

    Here’s one little hint, a bit of wisdom I picked up from another observer: Trump supporters take him seriously, but not literally; Trump haters take him literally, but not seriously.

  137. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Loviatar:

    At least we’ve established that you are part of the problem.

  138. Tillman says:

    @Loviatar: I just think things can be more complicated than stupid or evil. It doesn’t excuse stupidity or evil, but we become more like the people we claim to despise when we constantly run after them down the slope. Crying the righteousness of our politics doesn’t help as polarization is a systemic issue and not a one-sided affair.

    Unless we start living in an authoritarian state (or the dreaded superdestroyer one-party state), persuasion is the most legitimate game in town.

  139. CSK says:

    What did I just say about paranoid conspiracy theorists? It happened again. At Lucianne.com, via The Gateway Pundit, they now have proof that HRC sent hand signals to Lester Holt to cut Trump off during the debate.

    @Jenos The Deplorable: Jenos, the kooks I referred above are Trump’s most ardent supporters. They believe a body double emerged from Chelsea’s condo on September 11, 2016. They’re fwcking crazy. This is what Trump attracts.

  140. Aelio says:

    Here’s one little hint, a bit of wisdom I picked up from another observer: Trump supporters take him seriously, but not literally; Trump haters take him literally, but not seriously.

    In studying how evil grew up in Germany, they mention how in a very paternalistic society, abuses coming from the top were supposed to be taken quietly. Trump is an abuser in some ways. But society is diverse enough that if we invert the numbers a bit a say that 60% of society would be supportive of Trump, there would still be the 40% that would be annoyed by him. I think that in Germany, they had it more skewed than that and perhaps about 90% of society would have been supportive of Trump in a given time and era. The Internet for example is an enabler of diversity for better and for worse. The Internet also harbors abusers on the other hand. It is hard to keep the “40%” quiet.

    Maybe Trump wanted to make America less diverse. But like in the UK when they voted for the “Brexit”, they were promptly asked to leave the EU. If Trump managed to win and he wanted to take America away from the world by comparison, other countries would be OK with that too. Bye bye NAFTA and other international treats. America is solo. Bye bye international space station. Bye bye Europe. Bye bye NATO. Now it’s just America and perhaps Israel in a duo.

    The UK is “Brexiting.” And America would be “Trumping”. Not literally though.

  141. michael reynolds says:

    @Loviatar:

    Where you and I differ is that I believe in redemption. If one sees that one has been wrong and you change your ways then you are washed clean in the blood of the lamb.

    Okay, I’m joking about that last, I’m not religious. But there is a practical dimension, a rather savvy dimension to some of Christ’s teaching. We want person X to move from A to B. We should make that easy, not hard. Barriers to joining B should be very easy to clear. And that means when a former foe joins you – whatever the reason – you welcome him and order pizza.

    There can be conflict between moral position and tactics. Do I believe Joyner has had reason to know that he was supporting a fundamentally racist party? Well, I’ve been telling him that for about 8 years now, so yes. And yet, he has eschewed Trump. And in the process he has come to a more nuanced appreciation of the role race plays in the GOP and America.

    That’s good. Right? One less vote for Trump, one more middle-class white dude a bit more attuned to his privileges. Now, should I spend the next 8 years reminding him that he was wrong? Or should I welcome him to the anti-fascist side?

    I have no more tolerance for left-wing intolerance than for its right-wing counterpart. There is a very strong commissar impulse among some on the left. Personally I am not interested in enforcing purity standards, I’m interested in outcomes. I want to win. I want more people on my side. I don’t think that means I should be mealy-mouthed or avoid giving offense, but it does mean I should take some care to avoid shooting the enemy soldiers who are trying to defect and join me.

    So, do I welcome reformed Republicans with open arms? You’re damned right I do, because the end-game here is not my sense of moral perfection, the end-game is to protect minorities and women and, by extension, my country, my constitution and the cause of human civilization. This is not about me, my identity or my emotions or my self-image, it is about human liberty.

  142. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable:

    haters

    “haters” kind of works when 13 year old girls use it on Facebook to describe other kids that don’t like them.

    When adults – so called – employ it? Not so much…

  143. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable:

    Trump supporters take him seriously, but not literally

    Sort of like Germans took Hitler’s anti-semitism. And that turned out OK.

  144. anjin-san says:

    @CSK:

    Let’s not forget about the battery that’s been surgically placed in Hillary’s brain and her anti-seizure glasses.

  145. gVOR08 says:

    @Andrew:

    These quickie click items do not meet our (FOX News) editorial standards

    FOX has editorial standards? Who knew?

  146. michael reynolds says:

    I’ll say this, though: I don’t think I will forgive a Trump voter. The line has been drawn. There is no longer deniability. A Trump voter knows he’s voting for a white supremacist, misogynist bigot. There is consciousness of guilt and plenty of time to work it out. If you get to November 8 and cast a vote for that pig then to my eyes you might as well be a child molester. You’re dead to me. And yes, I have told my extended family just that.

  147. CSK says:

    @anjin-san

    Quite so. BUT…doesn’t the fact that she wasn’t wearing her anti-seizure glasses at the debate prove that it was the body double who participated in the debate and not the real HRC? Hmmmm?

  148. Scott says:

    @anjin-san: I was going to say that she cheated by receiving information through her contacts and the blinking was just her scrolling through the data..

  149. CSK says:

    This is interesting. Trump told a rally in Melbourne, Florida, that he “held back” at the debate because he didn’t want to embarrass Clinton.

  150. anjin-san says:

    @gVOR08: @michael reynolds:

    I’ll say this, though: I don’t think I will forgive a Trump voter.

    There is something to this. I have been grappling with watching people I have known for almost half a century post vile racist garbage on FB over, and over, and over. On one shoulder sits the sentimental fondness I have for someone I was friendly with when I was growing up. On the other, the voice saying “You don’t want/need people like that in your life today”

  151. An Interested Party says:

    Trump supporters take him seriously, but not literally…

    Ahh, so when he says racist/sexist $hit, it should be taken as a joke, like performance art or something…yeah, there’s somebody who should be our next president…

  152. Mikey says:

    @An Interested Party:

    And the foreign leaders and diplomats Trump would deal with as President…should they take him seriously, or literally?

    I mean, what could possibly go wrong…

  153. Steve V says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable:

    Trump supporters take him seriously, but not literally

    Yowza. Right after I just said partisans will excuse any sin committed by someone on their team.

  154. Andrew says:

    @gVOR08:

    It is a start.

  155. Andrew says:

    @CSK:

    Well…one of the key points needed for Trump to take the debate was “humility.”

    Maybe he thinks by covering his ass with a lie such as saving Clinton the embarrassment (which would be a first for him and his Co.), Trump thinks that is enough humility?

  156. CSK says:

    @Andrew:

    Naw. I think that statement was the best rationalization he could come up with for the fact that he’s pig-ignorant and woefully unprepared. “I didn’t want to embarrass her by showing off my profound knowledge of foreign and domestic policy.”

  157. Andrew says:

    @CSK:

    Yes, that is obvious.
    I am just trying to understand why he said it. But, I let go of that rationale when I left grade school.

  158. Mikey says:

    @Andrew: My understanding is Trump was referring specifically to bringing up Bill Clinton’s infidelity.

    How he thinks that would help is a mystery to me–however much women may disagree on matters political, I’d wager they are just about universally against being blamed for their husbands cheating.

    It may be Trump thinks he can bring up Bill’s infidelities and then go after Hillary for what the right thinks were her attempts to “destroy” the other women, but I think even that would create more sympathy than enmity for her.

  159. Andrew says:

    @Mikey:

    Again, true.

    Trump is the type, as we all know, that loves talking down about others and their households. Yet, can not stand it when someone does the same to him. Even when he is guilty of the same. If not more so.

    People in glass houses and all that. It’s just too bad Trump has a gigantic tower made of glass. Figuratively and literally.

  160. Scott says:

    The thought of Trump, Giuliani, and Gingrich denouncing infidelity and bad treatment of women is just flabbergasting. Nothing more needs to be said. Hillary and Bill’s reaction should be none at all.

  161. CSK says:

    @Andrew:

    I think he needed to say something to his supporters to assuage any anxiety they might have that he totally screwed up the debate. He’s not that smart, but he’s shrewd enough to know that they’ll swallow anything he says. And also, perhaps far more importantly for his self-image, he couldn’t allow himself to be perceived as having been beaten by a girl, could he? “She won only because I was nice to her.”

  162. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable:

    Trump supporters take him seriously, but not literally

    So you can’t believe a word he says…yet you take him seriously?
    What a f’ing maroon.
    You friggin’ crucify Obama because he said you can keep your Doctor…..which by and large IS true.
    But ~70% of the things that comes out of Trumps mouth are lies…and you are all in…carrying a man-crush for the Cheeto Comb-Over.
    You have all the principles of a gnat. And a brain to match.
    http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/

  163. barbintheboonies says:

    I hope we do not have a problem that we had with redistricting, and not having enough machines for people to vote from. Those long lines ended with people turn away as the poles closed

  164. Andrew says:

    @CSK:

    Which then lends to the theory Trump will come out swinging in the next debate. Tact is not exactly his strong suit. And from the articles be printed all over, Trump does and can not prepare too well. Meaning “Balls to the wall” type attitude next time, me thinks.

  165. Jen says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    Long lines and polls closing is, in my opinion, the most solid and reasonable rationale for extending early voting. To Republicans, shutting out voters due to long lines is a feature not a bug.

    @Andrew:

    I am very much wondering about how Trump will handle the next debate. It’s a town hall format, with “undecided voters.” If he comes out swinging in a room full of people, too aggressively, he will look like a bully and could lose the audience very quickly.

    All of the people whining about the moderator not asking certain questions of Hillary should realize that any decent candidate who is adept and well-versed on the issues could have pivoted to bring up those points. Clinton did. Trump did not. He simply does not have the smarts to do so–nor the attention span to study up and learn.

  166. CSK says:

    @Andrew:

    He won’t prepare, because he doesn’t think he has to prepare, and he’s too lazy to formulate any kind of coherent policy stance. He’s been very successful so far running on ugly little soundbites.

    I think it’s a pretty sure bet that he’ll screw up the remaining debates.

    But that’s okay by his fan club. They’ve already decided the debates are totally rigged in Clinton’s favor.

  167. Andrew says:

    @Jen:

    Trump does not come across as one who really cares about how he comes across. You are either on board or you are not. Plus, he is used to surrounding himself with people who do what he says all the time, and never tell him no. A main reason why he lashes out at moderators or journalists who do not fall in line with his center of the universe thinking.

    At 70 years old, it may be a tiny bit too late to change how he sees the world.

  168. Andrew says:

    @CSK:

    We shall see. But, if history is any indicator. It’s not Trump that has to change, but everyone and everything else. So, I agree.

  169. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    But ~70% of the things that comes out of Trumps mouth are lies

    It’s amazing actually. POLITICO did a thing a few days ago where they looked at everything Trump said for a week, which amounted to five hours of speaking. They listed 87 “misstatements, exaggerations, falsehoods” for a lie every 3.25 minutes. But being innumerate, they misstated their conclusion. They meant to say a new lie for the period every 3.25 minutes. Presumably during that five hours he was repeating earlier lies. So it’s probably more like a lie a minute. Given that his speaking style involves talking for long periods without actually saying anything, it’s gotta be higher than 70% lies. Probably starting with, ‘It’s great to be here in Dubuque.’

    But the CEC bubble let’s his followers believe this is all a media plot.
    There is a coordinated effort by the media elites and Hillary Clinton to shamelessly push their propaganda and distract from Crooked Hillary’s lies and flailing campaign. All of these ‘fact-check’ questions can be easily verified, but that’s not what blog sites like Politico want people to believe. Mr. Trump is standing with the people of America and against the rigged system insiders, and it’s driving the media crazy. We will continue to speak the truth and communicate directly with the American people on issues they care most about, and we won’t let the dishonest, liberal media intimidate us from speaking candidly and from the heart. A Donald J. Trump presidency will make America great again.- Jason Miller, Sr Communications Advisor to Trump.

  170. Jen says:

    @Andrew:

    Trump does not come across as one who really cares about how he comes across.

    Oh, I agree. I think his campaign handlers might though…

  171. Andrew says:

    @Jen:

    No doubt. It is not like we will find out. I am sure they have all signed non-disclosure agreements.

  172. anjin-san says:

    @CSK:

    It might be more nefarious than that. Joss Whedon fans may remember the Buffy Bot…

  173. @Jenos The Deplorable: You are free to answer as you see fit.

    Here’s one little hint, a bit of wisdom I picked up from another observer: Trump supporters take him seriously, but not literally; Trump haters take him literally, but not seriously.

    That is nonsense masquerading as cleverness.

  174. michael reynolds says:

    “I’m sad to see that my personal life has become your fodder, Donald. I’ve had very well-publicized problems at times in my marriage. It hurt. It was very painful, doubly so because I wasn’t granted the privacy to cope in private. I would say it’s low and just frankly slimy to see you trying now to capitalize on my personal pain, but you’re a man who ridicules the handicapped, so what can anyone expect of you? Fortunately, Bill and I worked things out. We stayed together because we love each other, even with our faults. I didn’t just trade Bill in for a younger model.”

  175. Moosebreath says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Using that response would do a good job if explaining were the object. If getting under his skin were, I still like @my response from above.

  176. Jen says:

    @Andrew: Which is completely UNFAIR as I think I would enjoy a good tell-all book.

    Maybe one of them is creative enough to pull it off as fiction, like Primary Colors. A roman à clef of the Trump campaign would be a best-seller. I hope that isn’t covered by the agreement.

  177. barbintheboonies says:

    @michael reynolds: You have to give it to Hillary just how tough she was when her personal life was open for all the insensitive morons. She is a class act. She gave up so much of her life for Bill it`s her turn. Trump never sacrificed anything and cares more for himself than anyone else.

  178. Andrew says:

    @Jen:

    He would sue just for the attention. Since everything revolves around that head of his, um, hair of his. Even if the main character was a fat, bloated, blow hard, who had purple hair. To Trump, it would be him.

  179. CSK says:

    @Jen:

    Oh, a roman a clef about the Trump campaign would be sensational. I don’t think it would be covered by an NDA, but then, Trump sued his first ex-wife Ivana for putting her name on For Love Alone, her ghostwritten novel about their marriage.

    Simon and Schuster paid Ivana’s ghostwriter for that epic one million dollars.

    Sign me up! I can prostitute myself for that price. And, actually, you wouldn’t believe how many serious writers put in a bid to do Ivana’s book. As one of them told me: “Who wouldn’t, for that kind of money?”

  180. Blue Galangal says:

    @gVOR08:

    gVOR08 says:

    FOX has editorial standards? Who knew?

    That was my takeaway too.

  181. dmichael says:

    @michael reynolds: I repeat what I said to you some months ago: Please sign on, even if as a volunteer to write speeches, talking points and provide strategy for the HRC campaign.

  182. M. Bouffant says:

    @Mikey: Why would anyone w/ the merest of facts before them have to be “persuaded”?

  183. @Jenos The Deplorable:

    Trump supporters take him seriously, but not literally;

    Also in re: the above. I thought that Trump’s most endearing quality was that he was “a straight shooter” who says what’s on his mind, political correctness be damned.

    Now you are telling me not to take him literally?

  184. Moosebreath says:

    And yet another endearing quality of Trump’s — he takes bad news so well:

    “In a conference call with surrogates Wednesday afternoon, Trump aides made clear the Republican nominee is upset that his allies publicly acknowledged they pushed him to change his preparation and tactics before his next bout with Hillary Clinton. And he wants them to stop it immediately.

    The message was “not subtle,” a source familiar with the call said.

    Trump wants his supporters to make an energetic defense of his performance and refuse to concede that he didn’t nail it.”

    Yep, that’s the guy we all want as our leader — the one who is convinced his poop smells like roses, and will fire anyone who says differently.

  185. Andrew says:

    Anyone else watch Tiny Toons?

    http://tinytoons.wikia.com/wiki/Montana_Max

  186. Andrew says:

    @Andrew:

    Personality

    Monty is a bullying, spoiled, rich kid who throws world-class temper tantrums. Monty possesses a nasty personality and a very short temper, and uses his wealth for his own amusement, often to the discomfort or belittlement of others. His pastimes include counting his capital, landscape deforestation and rabbit stomping. He also owns heavily polluting industries that make things like elevator buttons and holes. Some episodes feature Plucky fighting those factories as The Toxic Revenger (pun on The Toxic Avenger).

    Monty enjoys cheating in all forms of competition; oppressing the weak, terrorizing the timid, masterminding hostile takeovers and watching the compound interest rate climb past twenty percent. Monty is bossy and abrasive and hates fair play, honesty and people who stand up to him. He delights in using his vast fortune to bring misery to others, particularly Buster and Babs. He’ll spend any amount of money to spoil their fun, but most often winds up bankrupting himself in the process. Monty is the perfect foil for Buster. The sawed-off bully’s temper is matched only by his greed, and Buster is always able to bilk some fast bucks out of Monty.

    Deep down, Monty is very insecure and sometimes fears no one likes him. He’s right, of course, and occasionally feels the need to call “Acme Rent-a-Friend.” Although he yells most of the time, sometimes we get glimpses of the real kid beneath the temper. He lives in the grandest mansion in Acme Acres. The grounds include swimming pools, tennis courts, stables and the like. It’s the kind of place that would make Donald Trump envious. It has signs which read “Poverty Stinks,” and “Charity Workers Will Be Shot.”

    The fact that the description mentions Trump is hilarious.

  187. michael reynolds says:

    @dmichael:

    Thanks. I did that briefly, producing media for the DLCC (Legislatures) and even won a tiny prize. Then I realized just how boring it would be hanging out with those people. Wearing a suit. Remembering people. That’s when I decided, ‘Yeah, time to go back to writing.’

  188. An Interested Party says:

    It would be really hard to argue that so much of what is written below does not apply to Donald Trump…

    His manic speeches and penchant for taking all-or-nothing risks raised questions about his capacity for self-control, even his sanity.

    …was known, among colleagues, for a “bottomless mendacity” that would later be magnified by a slick propaganda machine that used the latest technology…to spread his message….“was so thoroughly untruthful that he could no longer recognize the difference between lies and truth”…a “swamp of lies, distortions, innuendoes, half-truths and real facts.”

    …an effective orator and actor…adept at assuming various masks and feeding off the energy of his audiences. Although he concealed his anti-Semitism beneath a “mask of moderation” when trying to win the support of the socially liberal middle classes, he specialized in big, theatrical rallies staged with spectacular elements borrowed from the circus…”adapted the content of his speeches to suit the tastes of his lower-middle-class, nationalist-conservative, ethnic-chauvinist and anti-Semitic listeners”…peppered his speeches with coarse phrases and put-downs of hecklers. Even as he fomented chaos by playing to crowds’ fears and resentments, he offered himself as the visionary leader who could restore law and order.

    …increasingly presented himself in messianic terms…though he was typically vague about his actual plans. He often harked back to a golden age for the country…the better “to paint the present day in hues that were all the darker. Everywhere you looked now, there was only decline and decay.”

    …repertoire of topics…was limited, and reading his speeches in retrospect, “it seems amazing that he attracted larger and larger audiences” with “repeated mantralike phrases” consisting largely of “accusations, vows of revenge and promises for the future.”…propaganda must appeal to the emotions — not the reasoning powers — of the crowd. Its “purely intellectual level…will have to be that of the lowest mental common denominator among the public it is desired to reach.” Because the understanding of the masses “is feeble,”…effective propaganda needed to be boiled down to a few slogans that should be “persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.”

    He benefited from a “constellation of crises that he was able to exploit cleverly and unscrupulously” — in addition to economic woes and unemployment, there was an “erosion of the political center” and a growing resentment of the elites. The unwillingness of…political parties to compromise had contributed to a perception of government dysfunction…and the belief…that the country needed “a man of iron” who could shake things up.

    …ascension was aided and abetted by the naïveté of domestic adversaries who failed to appreciate his ruthlessness and tenacity…revulsion at…style and appearance…led some critics to underestimate the man and his popularity, while others dismissed him as a celebrity, a repellent but fascinating “evening’s entertainment.” Politicians, for their part, suffered from the delusion that the dominance of traditional conservatives…would neutralize the threat of…abuse of power…“his conservative coalition partners believed either that he was not serious or that they could exert a moderating influence on him. In any case, they were severely mistaken.”

    …had a dark, Darwinian view of the world. And he would not only become…“a mouthpiece of the cultural pessimism” growing in right-wing circles…but also the avatar of…a turning away from reason and the fundamental principles of a civil society — namely, “liberty, equality, education, optimism and belief in progress.”

    It would seem that Godwin’s Law really can’t be applicable when certain comparisons are so incredibly accurate…

  189. george says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Sure, Trump is horrible, he’d be an absolute disaster as president. I’m not defending him, I’m simply saying that painting it as good vs evil is a huge simplification, and that if people insist on that stark binary choice then I’d argue that there isn’t a single person on the planet who doesn’t fall on the evil side of the line.

    But its not binary, so I see no problem in saying that Trump being far more evil than Clinton (I’d put Trump at 0.5 Hitler’s and Clinton at 0.01 Hitlers), but that doesn’t make Clinton (or Sanders or any other politician) good in an absolute sense, only in a relative sense.

    Moreover, people support politicians or party’s for a variety of reasons, and my own history with the peace and environmental movement and the assumption that everyone in the movement was a Soviet sympathizer makes me suspect that lumping all Trump voters into a single category, as if there was one unified motive behind all of them, is simply wrong. People just aren’t that simple, uniform, or even self consistent.

  190. george says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Sure. Take her voting to give Bush the right to go into Iraq, despite her having to know that it would lead to war, that the war would be a disaster, and no WMD would be found there. She’s a very intelligent person, and wouldn’t have missed something that huge numbers of people were pointing out. However, it was a completely normal political reaction; she was the senator for New York and doing anything else would be political suicide.

    How about her acceptance of the drone killings? There’s no moral defense of the way that was implemented, but politically it would be untenable for her to go against Obama on that, so she simply ignored it instead of say resigning in protest (which is what most non-politicians would do if they were part of an organization repeatedly killing tens of innocents).

    Or the Libya intervention? Overthrowing another country’s leader is pretty standard in power politics (at least for super powers), but it certainly isn’t right, whether done by Clinton or Bush (and again, I’d vote for her over Bush without hesitation, but I’m not pretending some of what she does isn’t the normal political evil).

    There are of course many more like that; every politician of note has such a list. Like I said, she’s in the middle of the pack for American politicians (though for a lot of countries any major American politician would be on the far end of the evil scale, simply because most countries don’t have the power to rain death down on others like a super power does).

  191. george says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I’m not a catholic, but my understanding is that even minor sin is understood to have its ultimate source in evil (the fall). That there are degrees of evil is pretty much accepted by everyone, but that evil can come out of anything but evil is a much less common philosophy. If you mean someone can do evil acts without being evil then sure, no one is completely evil or completely good. In fact most of us are both simultaneously, often in the same action.

    Put it this way. Pushing someone into a raging current is more evil than watching someone drown without caring enough to bother throwing them the nearby life preserver, and its possible that catholism would say the second isn’t a serious sin, but I suspect that’s not a common viewpoint. I would argue that few of us do the first, but most of us do the second (walk by someone or some group desperately struggling without giving aid) repeatedly.

    You say there isn’t much difference between a 20 mpg and a 35 mpg car, and I agree. But there’s a huge difference between riding a bicycle and taking a car when its done for convenience and not out of necessity. Basically as far as I can see taking the car means holding my own comfort and convenience ahead of the disaster I know I’m contributing to, and I have a very hard time seeing that as anything other than evil. Its not a great evil, but its still evil. What else could it be? It is, in fact, a variation of what you’re condemning Trump voters for doing – putting their own convenience ahead of others. Perhaps its even worse, since a lot of them don’t seem to realize the harm that can come from Trump, whereas I understand very well the harm that comes from driving.

    Well, I’ve long since come to terms with the fact that some of what I do is evil; most of us do. The problems come when people see the evil in others but not in themselves. Most of the worst excesses, political and otherwise, come out of that, out of some variation of the end justifies the mean, some variation of doing horrible things because we are on the side of right, some variation of the binary split: we are good, they are evil.

  192. Andre Kenji says:

    Trump is your typical Third World Right Wing Demagogue. That Trevor Noah segment where he compared Trump to African Dictators was spot on, someone could do the same video with Latin American Caudillos/Coroneis.

  193. barbintheboonies says:

    @Andrew: That is truly frightening.

  194. Gustopher says:

    @george:

    How about her acceptance of the drone killings? There’s no moral defense of the way that was implemented, but politically it would be untenable for her to go against Obama on that, so she simply ignored it instead of say resigning in protest (which is what most non-politicians would do if they were part of an organization repeatedly killing tens of innocents).

    The invasion of Iraq killed on the order of a hundred thousand civilians. Cruise missiles and pinpoint bombing? Hundreds. Drone strikes? A mere handful. It puts another, less destructive tool in our arsenal.

    I’m not saying that we should be killing civilians at all, but from a harm reduction standpoint, this is a vast improvement.

    Sometimes, pragmatism wins out over moral perfection.

  195. DrDaveT says:

    @Gustopher:

    The invasion of Iraq killed on the order of a hundred thousand civilians.

    You keep forgetting — in the GOPosphere, that (a) didn’t happen, (b) isn’t news because they weren’t Americans, and (c) they were all towelheads anyway.

    I keep coming back to my conclusion that the GOP motto is “it isn’t real unless it’s personal”. Homosexuality is an unforgivable sin, until it’s my son or daughter, in which case I can be loving and accepting. Killing someone specific, deliberately, is horrible (unless it’s Osama bin Laden); killing thousands of anonymous soldiers is just breaking some eggs for that tasty omelet. Denying one white student admission because of affirmative action is unconscionable; denying thousands of black kids any real education at all is just economics.

  196. David M says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Killing someone specific, deliberately, is horrible (unless it’s Osama bin Laden); killing thousands of anonymous soldiers is just breaking some eggs for that tasty omelet.

    Part of why they can get worked up over 4 deaths at Benghazi after a decade of cheer-leading the glorious Iraq adventure.

  197. Jen says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Trump doesn’t yet seem to grasp that he needs to expand his base of supporters to bring in new voters who are not yet sold on his temperament, policy positions or readiness to be president.

    If this is accurate, he just isn’t that bright.

  198. Eric Florack says:

    @Andre Kenji: Donald Trump is not a right-wing anything. That’s why he’s having such trouble with the base.

  199. Mikey says:

    @M. Bouffant:

    Short answer: Human.

    Long answer: Because political allegiances are based on many things besides facts–cultural factors, upbringing, experiences, habits, all these contribute. And research indicates people presented with facts will often dig even deeper into their established positions. Being confronted with “you’re wrong and here’s why” elicits a defensive response.

  200. Moosebreath says:

    @Eric Florack:

    “Donald Trump is not a right-wing anything. That’s why he’s having such trouble with the base.”

    This is entirely wrong. It’s the Republican base who loves Trump. The squishes who you have been trying to drum out of the party for years are the ones who hate him.

  201. Pch101 says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Donald Trump is not a right-wing anything. That’s why he’s having such trouble with the base.

    Well, that certainly explains why Trump won the Republican nomination (**cough cough**).

    Once you’ve figured that one out, go enter [no true scotsman logical fallacy] into your favorite search engine.

  202. Thor thormussen says:

    Eric, one day you’re going to get tired of the way intelligent people look at you when you say these things, and you’ll maybe reconsider some of your media selection choices.

  203. george says:

    @Gustopher:

    Sure. But that pragmatism is based on the pragmatism that its okay to start a war in any case (and Clinton was one of those giving permission to do that).

    Again, I’m not equating Clinton with Bush, let alone Trump (who’s an order of magnitude worse than Bush – Bush I think really believed in what he was doing, mistaken though I think it was). I was just giving the requested examples that Clinton is quite willing to do the normal political evils; where else but in politics (and I include the military as part of politics since the decision to go to war in America is political) would killing tens of innocents with drone strikes be acceptable?

    Bush was much worse than what Clinton has showed – he’s caused more evil than most, while Clinton has just showed the normal evils for a major American politician. Its just that evil remains evil, and saying that Trump is serveral orders of magnitude worse than her means its much better that she be president, but it does not mean that she does not do evil at times too.

    I am simply concerned by the white hat/black hat thing I see going on. It was there all through the sixties, seventies and eighties (my side good, other side evil), but then seemed to be replaced by an understanding of how people really don’t fit into such simplistic schemes. Now its coming back.

    Because of course people who vote differently than me do so for the worst possible of reasons – and if they give reasons which aren’t awful that’s just to cover their sinister hidden motives. I remember that so well: all peace marchers, even if they say they just wanted the killing to stop, were secretly plotting Soviet domination. All capitalists, even if they said they wanted fair conditions for their employees, secretly wanted to grind workers into the dust.

  204. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:Also in re: the above. I thought that Trump’s most endearing quality was that he was “a straight shooter” who says what’s on his mind, political correctness be damned.

    Now you are telling me not to take him literally?

    I offered you an alternate interpretation, one that might help foster a discussion. You came back asking me to defend your shallow, simplistic stereotypes. As I told michael reynolds, I feel no overwhelming compunction to fulfill your scripted role for me.

    Instead, I’ll ask you a question about your incredibly vapid observation there, and it should be easy for someone of your intellect and accomplishments and credentials.

    You’re dealing with a group of people who hold a great deal of anger and contempt for the media and the polls, and express that quite frequently. Why are you treating as Gospel the things that they are saying to reporters and pollsters?

  205. Mister Bluster says:

    @Jenos The Joker!: your scripted role for me.

    Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
    You are a funny guy!
    How audacious of you to think a couple of Einsteins would have any interest in “scripting your role”.
    Whatever that means…

  206. rob says:

    @george:

    “Take her voting to give Bush the right to go into Iraq, despite her having to know that it would lead to war, that the war would be a disaster, and no WMD would be found there. She’s a very intelligent person, and wouldn’t have missed something that huge numbers of people were pointing out.”

    Except for the fact that she’s clearly intelligent, I don’t agree with any of that.

    On Oct 22 2002 when the vote was taken, I don’t think that very many people knew that Bush was so eager for war. (That shoe didn’t drop for me until Rice gave that “Don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud” interview.)

    Clinton can not be reasonably faulted for thinking in Oct 2002 that Iraq may have still have had WMD. People just don’t remember how murky the Iraq WMD issue was back in the early 2000s. It really didn’t become clear that there weren’t any WMD there until sometime in early 2003.

    Who could have predicted that the post-War occupation would be so badly done? Sure it’s easy now to see that the Bush Admin was completely incompetent, but that understanding is mostly informed by events that happened long after that Oct 22 vote.

    Basically, hindsight is 20/20.

  207. anjin-san says:

    Janos! You left the other thread in such haste… I was really hoping you would finish your critique of the Arizona Republic’s endorsement of Clinton 🙂

  208. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @anjin-san: Did I miss you saying something of substance?

    Silly me. You NEVER do that.

  209. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable:

    Wow, you are counterpunching with the skill of a… a… Donald Trump! 🙂 🙂

  210. Gustopher says:

    @rob: also, the vote was 77-23 — which means her “no” vote wouldn’t have made a difference. I would be surprised if that wasn’t a part of her calculations. Why take a politically dangerous position that will affect nothing?

    One of my problems with Clinton is that she is too cautious. She doesn’t take bold positions, she takes safe positions. She doesn’t inspire as often as she could. She’s an incrementalist.

    Trump takes bold positions. They happen to be terrible positions, but they are bold.

  211. gVOR08 says:

    @rob:

    Clinton can not be reasonably faulted for thinking in Oct 2002 that Iraq may have still have had WMD.

    The administration is responsible for intelligence collection and analysis, not Congress. Bush and Cheney knew they were faking the intelligence. The British, who had their own intelligence, knew Bush and Cheney were faking the intelligence. It’s unreasonable to expect Hillary to have known they were faking the intelligence.

    There was a real bum’s rush to go to war. Fighting it would have required a heroic level of political courage, and would have failed. So I can understand why she voted for the war, actually to authorize war ostensibly to support negotiation. That said, I’d be happier with a good deal more reluctance to resort to violence. On the other hand, the alternative is Trump, which is to say there is no alternative.

  212. Andrew says:

    @Gustopher:

    One of my problems with Clinton is that she is too cautious. She doesn’t take bold positions, she takes safe positions. She doesn’t inspire as often as she could. She’s an incrementalist.

    Trump takes bold positions. They happen to be terrible positions, but they are bold.

    While I can agree with you that Clinton seems to be the chief of the Waitandsee tribe. And in some situations that is not something positive. Sometimes it pays off. Just like everything else. Where you are bold, or passive, or a complete zealot.
    Trump is a hammer. He sees everything as a nail. Bold as he may be. He is completely one dimensional. He is a bold checker player. Even his unpredictable-ness is predictable.

    I find most do not like Clinton as she knows how to manipulate, is shrewd and calculated. Her life in politics has done this. If she was a man she would be winning in a land slide. Then again, Trump would not be her opponent, but I digress.

    I do not like Clinton, but she knows what she is doing. Trump… can we say the same?

    (Bertrand Russell has really been in my head lately.)

  213. An Interested Party says:

    Instead, I’ll ask you a question about your incredibly vapid observation there…

    Oh my, so now it is “vapid” to point out the obvious fallacy in another’s statement…

    You’re dealing with a group of people who hold a great deal of anger and contempt for the media and the polls, and express that quite frequently. Why are you treating as Gospel the things that they are saying to reporters and pollsters?

    Ohhhh, so it’s all a colossal scam…nothing these angry people are saying should be taken seriously? Well, that does seem appropriate for a lot of Trump voters, so maybe you do have a point there…

    One of my problems with Clinton is that she is too cautious. She doesn’t take bold positions, she takes safe positions. She doesn’t inspire as often as she could. She’s an incrementalist.

    George W. Bush wasn’t too cautious…he took bold positions…none of that seemed to work out too well for our country…perhaps there is something positive to be said for incrementalism…

  214. Tyrell says:

    I happened to be channel.cruising and caught most of the interview with Gary Johnson and William Weld. They actually discussed issue, not things like Miss Universe. If Johnson had been in the debate Monday night, he would have won easily.

  215. stonetools says:

    @Tyrell:

    Are you for real? Gary Johnson couldn’t name a single foreign leader when asked in that interview. And apparently that dunderhead is the best the Libertarian Party has to offer.

    Oh yeah, wait a second, it’s Tyrell posting. Never mind.

  216. @Jenos The Deplorable:

    I offered you an alternate interpretation, one that might help foster a discussion. You came back asking me to defend your shallow, simplistic stereotypes. As I told michael reynolds, I feel no overwhelming compunction to fulfill your scripted role for me.

    You do play a role, to be sure, but it is of your own making, not mine or anyone else’s.

    The thing is: you have offered no alternative explanation. As usually you hint that perhaps you have a theory, argument, or something, but you try to be clever instead of just saying what you allegedly mean.

    For example:

    You’re dealing with a group of people who hold a great deal of anger and contempt for the media and the polls, and express that quite frequently. Why are you treating as Gospel the things that they are saying to reporters and pollsters?

    What is this supposed t mean? Are you suggesting that people are lying about their support for Trump just to screw with the media? If that is your hypothesis, I would suggest you saying so in a more straightforward fashion. Of course, it would help to have evidence to underpin such a claim.

    In truth, there is no reason to suggest that the polling now is any less accurate than it has been in the past. (Although I don’t recall bringing up polling in this thread, so again, I am not sure what in the world you are tying to say).

    Also: you are using the word “stereotype” like it is a new word you just encountered, but aren’t sure what it means. In the comment you were responding to I stated:

    No one is talking about mass deportations (except Trump).

    No one is talking about religious tests (except Trump).

    That isn’t “stereotyping” it is pointing out things the man has stated he supports.

  217. @Tyrell: I have to admit, Johnson has not been demonstrating the types of skills that would have helped him in a debate.

  218. Mikey says:

    @Gustopher:

    Trump takes bold positions. They happen to be terrible positions, but they are bold.

    There’s a fine line between “bold” and “stupid,” and Trump clears it regularly with leaps that would get him Olympic gold in the long jump.

  219. Gustopher says:

    @An Interested Party: Incrementalism is more positive than charging off in the wrong direction.

    But, I can’t help feeling cheated. The Republicans get to be voting for a massive wall, and the Democrats get to vote for tiny changes around the edges, a few people on the Supreme Court, and whatever you can implement from the executive branch to make some things less unfair.

    I want something big, even if we all know it will never get through congress. National oversight of police training, perhaps, or health care vouchers for everyone under 18, or enormous chipmunks that shoot laser beams out of their eyes and eat CEOs for breakfast — something. Reach for the stars, and then give us incrementalism when in office.

  220. Pch101 says:

    @stonetools:

    Gary Johnson couldn’t name a single foreign leader when asked in that interview.

    By now, he has probably placed a phone call to the now-famous world leader Aleppo.

  221. An Interested Party says:

    …a few people on the Supreme Court…

    This alone has the potential to be very big, depending on who ends up on the court and what cases they decide…

  222. Andrew says:
  223. george says:

    @rob:

    On Oct 22 2002 when the vote was taken, I don’t think that very many people knew that Bush was so eager for war. (That shoe didn’t drop for me until Rice gave that “Don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud” interview.)

    Clinton can not be reasonably faulted for thinking in Oct 2002 that Iraq may have still have had WMD. People just don’t remember how murky the Iraq WMD issue was back in the early 2000s. It really didn’t become clear that there weren’t any WMD there until sometime in early 2003.

    Who could have predicted that the post-War occupation would be so badly done? Sure it’s easy now to see that the Bush Admin was completely incompetent, but that understanding is mostly informed by events that happened long after that Oct 22 vote.

    Basically, hindsight is 20/20.

    I disagree. Note that 21 senators and 176 representatives (including 6 republicans) were enough aware to vote against the resolution. And many more academics and people on the street (there was already alot of criticism and even a few protests) foresaw the Iraq Resolution leading to war – and belief in finding the WMD was already partisan, note that the inspectors themselves were skeptical that there were such weapons hidden there. It was already very controversial, to the extent that 1 GOP senator and 6 GOP representatives voted against it (as well as a significant proporton of the Democratic congress). Given that so many saw quite clearly what was coming, I’m left with the conclusion that either Clinton isn’t as intelligent as suggested, or she saw it but decided to go with political expediency.

    I agree that it was harder to predict how badly the occupation was mishandled (though the pentagon calling for double the troops that Rumsfeld wanted to supply was suggestive), but that was secondary, given that Bush shouldn’t have been given permission to go in in the first place.

    Its not hindsight when a significant proportion (as in almost half her party) correctly predicted the outcome.

    Again, I’m not blaming her for the war, that was Bush’s doing. And she could well have been thinking the vote is going to pass in any case, I might as well do the politically convenient thing. Which is, as I said early, the standard action for major politicians, a set to which she belongs.

  224. DrDaveT says:

    @george:

    I agree that it was harder to predict how badly the occupation was mishandled

    I disagree.

    Among professionals, the impossibility of winning the occupation was what horrified so many the day the invasion was announced. Who cares if you can beat Saddam Hussein’s army? What are you going to do with Iraq, once you own it, sort of? Another India? Another Philippines? Another Algeria? Nobody with a gram of understanding thought that it would be possible to establish a democratic government there without decades of thankless groundwork to build the institutions and expectations that could support it.

  225. Rick DeMent says:

    @Gustopher:

    Democrats get to vote for tiny changes around the edges, a few people on the Supreme Court …

    … and district courts and appellate courts. You make this sound so trivial. The reason I admire conservatives is becase they seem to get that the federal court system, state government, even local government has substantial impact on all of use and they go out and vote. They may have a tendency to primary a perfectly good conservative candidate over marginal issues but once the (R) is next to their name they are out there in the general.

  226. al-Alameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    I happened to be channel.cruising and caught most of the interview with Gary Johnson and William Weld. They actually discussed issue, not things like Miss Universe. If Johnson had been in the debate Monday night, he would have won easily.

    I will say this, if the debate was among Sarah Palin, Donald Trump and Gary Johnson, then, yes, Johnson would probably be a winner. I was somewhat embarrassed for Gary Johnson, he fell far short of my expectations.

  227. michael reynolds says:

    @DrDaveT:

    without decades of thankless groundwork to build the institutions and expectations that could support it.

    So, not impossible, just hard. Hard like Germany, Japan, Austria and Italy were hard in 1945. Four militaristic, fascist states, all four now peaceful and democratic.

    Hard. Not impossible.

  228. michael reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Have you ever read the book Flatland? It’s a little thing but very eye-opening. It describes the interactions between a two-dimensional creature and a three-dimensional creature. The 2-D creature is stunned to realize that Mr. 3-D can see ‘around’ his walls, even see right through Mr. 2-D himself.

    That’s every interaction with Jenos. He draws his little 2-D arguments and actually imagines he’s built an impregnable wall – a wall which any 3-D observer can effortlessly scale.

  229. michael reynolds says:

    @al-Alameda:

    You don’t think the best way to deal with climate change is to wait 4 billion years when the sun will swallow up the earth? What’s the matter, too impatient to wait for a lousy 4 billion years?

  230. Moosebreath says:

    Proving that everything old becomes new again, a group is going to be flying planes which tow anti-Trump ads at this weekend’s football games in some swing states:

    “A plane will tow a “Trump Says Women R Pigs. Disagree? Vote” banner over Lincoln Financial field [in Philadelphia] from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., says UltraViolet Action, a feminist advocacy group that plans to buzz college stadiums in other swing states with the same message.

    The banner, a reference to the Republican nominees record of sexist remarks, will also be flown over the Rutgers vs. Ohio State game in Columbus; the Wisconsin vs. Michigan game in Ann Arbor; Northwestern vs. Iowa in Iowa City; and the Virginia vs. Duke game in Durham, N.C.”

  231. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Hard like Germany, Japan, Austria and Italy were hard in 1945. Four militaristic, fascist states, all four now peaceful and democratic.

    Again with this nonsense. Germany, Austria and Italy had only been fascist states for twelve years in Germany’s case, seven in Austria’s, and twenty in Italy’s, and prior to that had been mainstream European parliamentary democracies. Their societies didn’t have to be remade as much as re-set to their earlier setting, and this change was also easier because they were stitched back into a network of other similar Western European democracies. Japan, too, while not part of the European tradition, had a decades long experience with parliamentary democracy up to the war. All countries had also been subject to six years of brutal and punishing total warfare which had led to the complete destruction and delegitimization of the fascist apparatus, and moreover had robust social structures to take the place of their overthrown governments’. Iraq lacked all of those features.

    Beware of facile, uninformed, and historically ignorant comparisons to WWII. In most of your cases they are wildly off.

  232. al-Alameda says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You don’t think the best way to deal with climate change is to wait 4 billion years when the sun will swallow up the earth? What’s the matter, too impatient to wait for a lousy 4 billion years?

    Ha!
    Well, I was not planning to vote for Gary Johnson, however I did expect that he would be able to name one, at least one, world leader.

    Climate Change? I suspect that many conservatives actually do believe that ‘man-made’ climate change is indeed happening, the problem is that they do not want the people, through the federal government, to pay for mitigating actions.

  233. CSK says:

    Well, the latest from TrumpWorld is that

    1) He’s engaged today in the very important and certainly exceedingly statesman-like activity of Twitter-feuding with Alicia Machado.

    2) He’s claimed that he’s going to make attacks on Bill Clinton’s sexual shenanigans the centerpiece of his campaign.

    3. And had one of his top aides in Florida, Healy Baumgarden, bail on him because she doesn’t like the direction in which the campaign is going.

  234. Andrew says:

    @CSK:

    Do not forget the video that was just released with Donald under oath explaining his views on immigrants!

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2016/09/trump-deposition-video-release-schedule-228953

    D.C. Superior Court Judge Brian Holeman said in an order issued Thursday evening that fears the testimony might show up in campaign commercials were no basis to keep the public from seeing the video.
    “This Court finds that Plaintiff has not demonstrated that any subject video deposition contains scandalous, libelous, or other unduly prejudicial material warranting denial of media access,” Holeman wrote. “The public shall not be held captive by the suggested eventuality of partisan editing in a manner unfavorable to Plaintiff or the deponents.”

  235. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    Also in re: the above. I thought that Trump’s most endearing quality was that he was “a straight shooter” who says what’s on his mind, political correctness be damned.

    Now you are telling me not to take him literally?

    In my opinion, the key to understanding that is the fact that all people are significantly driven by the need to reduce uncertainty. This goes doubly for conservatives who, as a rule, are constantly worried.

    “Sneering liberals” who “think they are better than you” give people the feeling that they may be laughing at you behind your back even when they are nice to you. So no matter how reasonable their arguments are, they must be treated as dishonest no matter what they say.

    Trump on the other hand is a “straight shooter”. It may be all lies but that’s irrelevant since he’s clearly not hiding anything when talking. He may be ignorant and a bullshitter but he’s not deceitful in the sense of trying to be sneaky. What you see is what you get. And if you don’t notice the lies it’s your own fault since they are in full view.

    As an aside this is also partly the reason why conservatives are so allergic to even minor Clinton scandals. The ongoing “admit only what can be proven” that comes natural to her as a lawyer drives conservatives nuts even when it only concerns trivialities. They always assume that there must be more and more serious stuff when someone behaves that way.

    As long as Trump gives off the appearance that he is buying his own BS, the typical conservative will take a Trump over a Clinton. It may not be a fully satisfactory choice, but it’s an emotionally safe one. And most of the remaining uncertainties (what will Trump actually do, in detail) will only affect populations groups to which you do not belong. So as long as you are white, choosing Trump makes sense to a degree.

  236. barbintheboonies says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius: A president needs to be able to hold some things back, will Trump be able to do that. I wouldn`t trust him.

  237. Tony W says:

    @gVOR08:

    The administration is responsible for intelligence collection and analysis, not Congress. Bush and Cheney knew they were faking the intelligence.

    As did anybody with a radio periodically tuned to NPR.

    I’m not letting Clinton off the hook that easily for her vote, but she does regret it and says she’s learned her lesson.

  238. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    ΩYou don’t think the best way to deal with climate change is to wait 4 billion years when the sun will swallow up the earth? What’s the matter, too impatient to wait for a lousy 4 billion years?

    Note that Doug has stopped pushing the idea of Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party as an acceptable alternative?
    The additional exposure of Gary Johnson has revealed that he is not a serious candidate for President, either. Really, there is only one serious candidate left running for President-a truth that must be painful for a Clinton heating right winger like Doug to accept.

  239. Barry says:

    @Gustopher: “Trump takes bold positions. They happen to be terrible positions, but they are bold.”

    ‘Strong in evil’ is not good thing, IMHO. I understand that others might think differently.

  240. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Beware of lecturing people who know more about the topic than you do, Rafer.

    Germany, Austria and Italy had only been fascist states for twelve years in Germany’s case, seven in Austria’s, and twenty in Italy’s, and prior to that had been mainstream European parliamentary democracies.

    What? Prior to Hitler was the Weimar Republic. Which lasted a grand total of 15 stumbling years. Before that they had a Kaiser – German for ‘caesar’ or ‘tsar,’ not ‘president.’ Before that there was no Germany.

    The notion that Japan had anything approaching a real democratic tradition in the 1940’s is ridiculous. The Diet was created in 1889, and how much of the population could vote? 2%. Everything the lower house passed had to be approved by an unelected upper house composed of (surprise!) the old feudal families. And then there was the god-emperor. And the military which had no hesitation about killing politicians it did not like.

    The idea that their centuries-old traditions of warrior castes and emperor worship was somehow easy to translate into pacifism is even more absurd. When we occupied Japan we dictated huge, far-reaching changes in society, and it worked.

    Your argument that occupation was easy because both Germany and Japan had been devastated by years of war is also questionable given the relative forces and populations. Occupying Japan was a far bigger challenge than occupying Iraq. Japan had a population of 71 million, ours was 131 million, a ratio of 2:1 give or take. And we were simultaneously occupying much of Germany, Austria and Italy.

    Iraq, by contrast, had about 25 million people at a time when we had 300 million. Call it a 10:1 ratio.

    So no, not by any rational standard was it impossible to successfully occupy and transform Iraq. It was quite possible. It was just hard. It would have required planning and assigning resources and convincing the American people. Hard. Not even close to impossible.

  241. anjin-san says:

    American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880 – 1964

    Highly recommended – provides a lot of information about the remaking of Japanese society after the war.

  242. I will say this on comparisons of Germany/Japan and Iraq: the occupying forces in Japan and Germany were not governing territories wherein they had to both subdue the territory AND prevent internal war. The task in Iraq was several magnitudes higher due to the fact that they had to subdue the Hussein regime but then they had to deal with basically warding off civil war. This is a different type of circumstance.

    Michael is totally correct that if the goal was re-shaping Iraq, we went in ill-prepared and ill-equipped.

    I would recommend Larry Diamond’s “Squandered Victory” on that count.

  243. DrDaveT says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Occupying Japan was a far bigger challenge than occupying Iraq.

    No, I have to disagree about that one.

    When the Emperor surrendered, Japan surrendered. The same cannot be said for the Iraqi government, even after Saddam Hussein was fished out of his hole in the ground.

    Japanese culture is a uniquity; the Japanese did not perceive themselves to be a part of any larger group, nor to have important ties outside Japan. In contrast, all of the principal power blocs in Iraq — Sunni, Shiite, Kurd — had ties to large and active groups of like-minded people in other countries. Not to mention the whole global Islamic brotherhood thing.

    As you note, Japan’s democracy was recent, shallow, and limited to the ruling classes. This nevertheless puts it miles ahead of the democracy that Iraq had never had, in any form.

    Japan had no historical resentment against colonial rule, since they had never been a colony.

    Japan had no overwhelmingly valuable natural resources that could be expropriated by an occupying power, such as (say) enormous oil reserves.

    Japan is an island nation; it has no insecure borders with unstable neighbors.

    The list goes on. This is not to say that building democratic institutions in Japan was easy — but Iraq was going to be harder, by a lot.