Trump’s CPAC Speech May Have Guaranteed His Re-Election

Reason's Nick Gillespie makes an interesting case but I don't buy it.

A haven’t watched and likely won’t watch President Trump’s speech to CPAC yesterday. Certainly, everything I’ve read about it matched up to Doug Mataconis’ description of it as a bizarre, incoherent rant.

One decided outlier by someone who is not one of the usual suspects, however, is worth highlighting. Reason’s Nick Gillespie declared “Trump Just Might Have Won the 2020 Election Today.”

It’s way too early to be thinking this, much less saying it, but what the hell: If Donald Trump is able to deliver the sort of performance he gave today at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the annual meeting of right-wingers held near Washington, D.C., his reelection is a foregone conclusion.

There is simply no potential candidate in the Democratic Party who wouldn’t be absolutely blown off the stage by him. I say this as someone who is neither a Trump fanboy nor a Never Trumper. But he was not simply good, he was Prince-at-the-Super-Bowl great, deftly flinging juvenile taunts at everyone who has ever crossed him, tossing red meat to the Republican faithful, and going sotto voce serious to talk about justice being done for working-class Americans screwed over by global corporations.

In a heavily improvised speech that lasted over two hours, the 72-year-old former (future?) reality TV star hit every greatest hit in his repertoire (“Crooked Hillary,” “build the wall,” “America is winning again,” and more all made appearances) while riffing on everything from the Green New Deal to his own advanced age and weird hair to the wisdom of soldiers over generals. At times, it was like listening to Robin Williams’ genie in the Disney movie Aladdin, Howard Stern in his peak years as a radio shock jock, or Don Rickles as an insult comic. When he started making asides, Trump observed, “This is how I got elected, by going off script.” Two years into his presidency and he’s just getting warmed up.

Now, a combination of Aladdin’s genie, Howard Stern, and Don Rickles is pretty much the opposite of what I want in a Commander-in-Chief. And a reprise of the vapidity of the 2016 campaign would seem like a sure-fire loser. But I’m not the type of voter who decides elections, either.

First and foremost, Trump was frequently funny and outre in the casually mean way that New Yorkers exude like nobody else in America. “You put the wrong people in a couple of positions,” he said, lamenting the appointment of Robert Mueller as a special prosecutor, “and all of a sudden they’re trying to take you out with bullshit.” He voiced Jeff Sessions in a mock-Southern accent, recusing “muhself” and asked the adoring crowd why the former attorney generally hadn’t told him he was going to do that before he was appointed.

Democrats backing the Green New Deal (GND) “are talking about trains to Hawaii,” he said. “They haven’t figured out how to get to Europe yet.” He begged the Democrats not to abandon the GND because he recognizes that the more its details and costs are discussed, the more absurd it will become. “When the wind stops blowing, that’s the end of your energy,” he said at one point. “Did the wind stop blowing, I’d like to watch television today, guys?” “We’ll go back to boats,” he said, drawing huge laughs when he added, “I don’t want to talk [the Democrats] out of [the GND], I just want to be the Republican who runs against it.”

He railed against Never-Trump Republicans: “They’re on mouth-to-mouth resuscitation,” he said, adding “they’re basically dishonest people” that no one cares about. He joked about being in the White House all alone on New Year’s because of the government shutdown. “I was in the White House and I was lonely, so I went to Iraq,” he said, recounting that when his plane was approaching the U.S. airstrip in Iraq, all lights had to be extinguished for landing. “We spend trillions of dollars in the Middle East and we can’t land planes [in Iraq] with the lights on,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief. “We gotta get out.” He then riffed on the generals he met there who, contrary to the Pentagon brass he dealt with, said they could vanquish ISIS in a week. He claimed to have talked with a general named “Raising Cane,” which might be Brigadier Gen. J. Daniel Caine, but Trump is the farthest thing from a details guy, right? “Sometimes I learn more from soldiers than I do generals,” he said, deftly moving from jokes to more-substantive discussions of policies or issues.

Aside from the bit about the Iraq landing, this is mostly fever swamp stuff. Not to mention the sort of low-rent rhetoric past CPAC conventions would have used as fuel had it been uttered by even a marginal Democratic pol as evidence that the entire party eschewed American values.

You can cover a huge amount of material in two-hours-plus, and Trump certainly did that. After speaking sympathetically of immigrants who want to come to the United States and saying that we need more people because the economy (well, his economy, as he takes credit for it) is doing so well, he immediately dismissed the Guatemalans, Salvadorans, and Hondurans traveling north in caravans across Mexico. In a bizarre display of simultaneous empathy and contempt, he talked at length about how female migrants are being systematically “raped” but also how the caravans were filled with criminals and drug dealers. It was “sad to see how stupid we’ve become” to think that the caravans are filled with good people. As he has been doing since his State of the Union address, he has been laying out a partial, inchoate case for a skills-based immigration program. He explained walking away from the table with North Korea even as he noted yet again that he has a great relationship with the dictator Kim Jong Un. In a long riff on trade policy, he invoked the “Great Tariff Debate of 1888” and how China “and everyone else” had been taking advantage of us until he started pushing back. He took time to talk about how no, really, the crowd at his inauguration was in fact historically large despite all publicly available evidence.

All in all, it was, in the words of Daniel Dale, the Washington correspondent for the Toronto Star, “one of the least-hinged speeches Trump has given in a long time.” It was indeed all over the place but like the weirdly wide-ranging and digressive speech in which he declared a national emergency, it was also an absolute tour de force, laying out every major point of disagreement between Republicans and Democrats (abortion, the Second Amendment, and taxes, among other things) while tagging the latter aggressively as socialists who will not only end the private provision of health care but take over the energy sector too. Those charges take on new life in the wake of the announcement of the GND and comments, however short-lived, by Democrats such as Kamala Harris, who at one point recently called for an end to private health care. And over 100 House Democrats have signed on to a plan that would end private health insurance in two years. For all the biting criticism and dark humor in today’s speech, Trump has mostly ditched the “American Carnage” rhetoric that marked his first Inaugural Address, pushing onto liberals and Democrats all the negativity and anger that used to surround him like the dust cloud surrounds Pigpen in the old Peanuts cartoons. “We have people in Congress right now who hate our country,” he said. “We can name every one of them. Sad, very, very sad.”

So, Nick simultaneously agrees with those of us who think the speech—like the Trump presidency itself–is unhinged and yet thinks it’s going to go over like gangbusters with everyday Americans. I don’t see it. But, again, I’m likely not the best judge of the electorate.

Still, while it’s true that Trump won the Electoral College in 2016 with exactly this sort of approach, it’s also true that he did so against an incredibly divisive opponent who had been subjected to more than a quarter of century of damage from the Republican messaging machine. He’s probably not going to have that advantage again in 2020. (It’s remotely possible that Hillary Clinton will run again; I don’t see it happening, though.)

But maybe he’s got a point here:

But the 2020 presidential race is not going to be decided based on which candidate is more tightly moored to reality. It’s going to be decided, like these things always are, by the relative health of the economy and the large vision of the future the different candidates put forward. As the economy continues to expand (however anemically compared to historical averages) and he continues to avoid credible charges of impeachable offenses, Trump is becoming sunnier and sunnier while the Democrats are painting contemporary America as a late-capitalist hellhole riven by growing racial, ethnic, and other tensions.

Trump isn’t the creator of post-factual politics in America, he is merely currently its most-gifted practitioner (oddly, his ideological and demographic counterpart and fellow New Yorker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may become a challenger to him on precisely this score). Trump may have next to no credibility in profoundly disturbing ways, but American politics has been drifting away from reality for the entire 21st century, when the 2000 election was essentially decided by a coin flip, the United States entered the Iraq War under false premises, and Barack Obama took home Politifact’s 2013 “Lie of the Year” award and dissembled unconvincingly in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations.

That Trump didn’t invent the current situation doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned about it, but if he can continue to perform the way he did today at CPAC, it remains to be seen what Democratic rival can rise to that challenge.

I think it more likely than not that the Democrats will nominate their most ideologically left candidate in three decades, maybe four. In some ways, that’ll be easier to lampoon than the relatively centrist policies of Hillary Clinton. But it may also be that promises of free health care and free college education will appeal to the desperate blue collar voters in the Rust Belt that made the difference in Trump’s election.

Presuming the economy doesn’t go into the inevitable next recession before election day, Trump will indeed have the advantage of a relatively good economy. But the economy was pretty good by those same measures in 2016. The problem remains that working people toward the bottom of the economy are falling further behind. And one imagines they’ll be inclined to blame Trump for that rather than looking to him as a potential Hail Mary savior.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Donald Trump, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor 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. Surreal Norm says:

    In other news, the flag in the photo above has been paid $131,000 by the Trump campaign as a precautionary measure.

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  2. Jay L Gischer says:

    I think it’s significant that long-time conservatives are pointing to many of the things Trump says as not conservative at all, despite him giving the speech at CPAC.

    He loves to talk about how the game is rigged, and how working people are getting screwed over by megacorporations. A good Democratic candidate should be able to take this issue away from him, and point out how little his policies have actually helped those working class people.

    I tend to agree that as a performer, he does well. He gives the audience what they want, entertains them, pumps them up. It’s as an actual president he sucks.

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  3. The column could have been much shorter: an incumbent president with a good economy (especially, assuming I am recalling the model appropriately) in the second quarter of the election year should be considered the favorite.

    The CPAC speech has nothing to do with that.

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  4. Also, to assert the notion that Obama’s “Lie of the Year” (the whole, if you like your health care plan, you can keep it bit) is comparable to what Trump does regularly is to undercut one’s credibility.

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  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    A certain percentage of people – white males in particular – have an innate instinct to toady anyone they see as an alpha male. It’s a daddy thing. It’s not a surprise that a so-called ‘libertarian’ white male would feel all tingly in the testicles as the big orange man ranted at his latest Nuremberg rally.
    The will to obey and follow and cease thinking is strong in some people.

    What it’s not working on is the 50% of voters who consistently say they would never, ever, vote for Trump.

    What’s also consistent is that despite a strong economy, Trump is stuck at 42% and has gained zero ground in two years.

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  6. reid says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Yes, that “lie” was just another attempt to appease the rightwing, tossing them a “both sides” bone. Back then it was silly, now it’s beyond ridiculous.

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  7. Kylopod says:

    I say this as someone who is neither a Trump fanboy nor a Never Trumper.

    Translation: He’s a Trump supporter.

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  8. CSK says:

    Apparently grotesque displays of gibbering idiocy play well with a certain chunk of the American electorate.

    Trump brought this phenomenon to its current high watermark, but Sarah Palin started it with her down-home rootin’ tootin’ word salad. So authentically Amurricun, you know.

    I’d have that flag tested for an STD.

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  9. @Michael Reynolds:

    What’s also consistent is that despite a strong economy, Trump is stuck at 42% and has gained zero ground in two years.

    This gives me some hope he will not have the standard incumbency advantage.

    @reid:

    Yes, that “lie” was just another attempt to appease the rightwing, tossing them a “both sides” bone. Back then it was silly, now it’s beyond ridiculous.

    I 100% agree with this assessment.

    @Kylopod:

    Translation: He’s a Trump supporter.

    He strikes me as part of what I think is a growing “Trump at least got tax cuts through and is the lesser of two evils” trend in the general rightwardverse.

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  10. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll published Sunday shows Trump’s approval rating at 46 percent, up from 43 percent in January. The difference, however, is within the poll’s margin of error of 3 percentage points.

    A wide majority of Republicans – 88 percent – are among those who approve of the job the president is doing, the poll found. Additionally, 60 percent of rural Americans and 60 percent of white Americans without college degrees also approve of his performance in office.

    Meanwhile, 88 percent of black Americans, 64 percent of Latinos and 61 percent of women disapprove of Trump’s performance, the poll found.

    88% of Republicans. They like him better than they liked Reagan.

    (*I don’t actually know what Reagan’s approval numbers among Republicans were while in office, I just believe this is probably true.)

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  11. An Interested Party says:

    Yes, that “lie” was just another attempt to appease the rightwing, tossing them a “both sides” bone.

    I wonder if that’s a libertarian thing, the ridiculous “both sides” arguments…it would certainly make sense considering the tenuous grasp on reality that so many libertarian ideas have…

    He strikes me as part of what I think is a growing “Trump at least got tax cuts through and is the lesser of two evils” trend in the general rightwardverse.

    So what if he has been a disaster in so many other ways, so what if he has been a disaster when it comes to libertarian ideas, at least he pushed through those tax cuts, right? Priorities, priorities…

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  12. SenyorDave says:

    @Teve: Meanwhile, 88 percent of black Americans, 64 percent of Latinos and 61 percent of women disapprove of Trump’s performance, the poll found.

    Keep drumming home his misogyny and racism when you have to start running ads. And remind people about his lack of morals and lying. IMO, some of this election will have to be about how he is morally unfit for the office of POTUS.

    Personally, I don’t believe that Trump will be the candidate in 2020. Even if Mueller’s report doesn’t sink him, I think it will make him look a complete crook. Mueller didn’t take almost two years and employ a significant portion of the FBI’s experts in forensic accounting to come up with a big nothing. If any of his spawn comes under indictment it won’t bother his base, but a lot of independents will have big problem.

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  13. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    … as the big orange man ranted at his latest Nuremberg rally.

    I will openly admit my bias, but that is what I saw as well.

    Grabbing the podium, riffing for over 2 1/2 hours, waving his tiny index finger around, sweating, and spouting mistruths while the audience cheered him on. He fed on the audience and the audience on him.

    He may as well had stated that the wall is nothing more than the first step of American Lebensraum, and they would have carried him out on their shoulders.

    Say what we will here, but the Dem candidate for 2020 better be very good and without an October surprise, as the conservatives have lost their minds and have abandoned the concept of America as we know it.

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  14. steve says:

    James- While Trump absolutely benefitted from running against the second worst POTUS candidate in my life time, you just cannot forget how much the GOP voters are different than what you want to think. They used to claim that they cared about character. They dont. Remember Trump making fun of the guy with the tremors and spasticity? The GOP voters loved that, so that tells you everything you need to know about how much they value character. They sued to complain about Obama lying. Now it is clear they really dont care about lying as they just ignore or actively support Trump’s constant and obvious lies. They supported constant years long investigations of Obama, but listen to them whine about one investigation of Trump. I could go on here, but I hope the point is clear. Trump actually represents the kind of person and politician that the GOP now prefers.

    Steve

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  15. Teve says:

    The Conspiracy Theory President Finds His Comfort Zone at CPAC
    by David Atkins March 2, 2019
    Much has said of Donald Trump’s racism and sexism, his corruption and abject cruelty, and what those unforgivable qualities say about the Republican Party that nominated and elected him. Also frequently discussed is his habit of compulsive lying–and the refusal of his Republican colleagues to hold him accountable for it.

    Less frequently discussed is his penchant for conspiracy theories, which is related to but distinct from his dishonesty. One of the uncomfortable and underreported truths about the modern Republican Party is that it has become reliant on a series of increasingly outlandish conspiracy theories to maintain its ideological coherence in the face of modern reality.

    For instance, the notion that the world’s climate scientists are all engaged in a massive conspiracy to lie about global warming is the ludicrous stuff of street corner doomsday preachers. But it’s essentially the common talking point of the Republican Party because the alternative–that climate change is a momentous crisis requiring major government intervention–is deeply inconvenient to their ideology and donor interests.

    The notion that millions of people vote illegally in American elections is far worse than even QAnon claptrap, but it’s central to the psychological security blanket that Republicans use to assure themselves that they remain the silent majority in an increasingly diverse and progressive country.

    Most recently, efforts by Democrats to help women in the excruciating position of undergoing nonviable pregnancies has led to an entire cottage industry of irresponsible hucksters claiming that Democrats are pushing for literal infanticide.

    Needless to say, an entire political party built around a series of increasingly bizarre and byzantine conspiracy theories cannot end well. It is certain to instigate increasing violence among its adherents and believers, and attract an array of grifters, con artists, and modern day Harold Hills.

    Ground Zero for the conservative conspiracy scam industry is the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC. Long home to the most boisterous carnival barkers on the right, CPAC has for years featured its most outlandish voices in search of headlines and attention.

    It is here at CPAC that the president of the United States, a man who truly began his political career by promoting the conspiracy theory that President Obama was born in Kenya, feels most at home. It is here that the president felt comfortable enough to deliver a two-hour speech, here that he felt most at ease. It was everything you might have come to expect:

    “You know I’m totally off script right now,” Trump said at the beginning of his speech. As his meandering remarks continued, it became clear that his assessment was an understatement.

    At one point, Trump regaled the crowd with a story about a general he said was named “Raisin Caine” (it wasn’t immediately clear who he was referring to). He said he always sits with the pilots when airplanes are landing: “They know what we’re doing.” He boasted about his good eyesight and later added, “I don’t have white hair.” He derided a Hawaii senator as a “crazy person.” And he accused Hollywood of discriminating against conservatives…

    The president repeatedly took aim at Democrats in Congress. “We have people in Congress that hate our country,” he said. “You know that, we can name every one of them. They hate our country.” He then bashed the Green New Deal, jokingly encouraging liberals to keep pushing it because it would benefit him politically. “They should stay with that argument,” he said. “Never change.”

    Trump revived his divisive immigration rhetoric. “They don’t like it when I say it, but we are being invaded,” he said. He disputed government statistics showing that undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born American citizens, calling the data false propaganda” and citing no evidence to support his claim.

    The president also discussed his infamous 2016 appeal to Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, arguing that he was just joking and criticizing the press for taking his comments seriously.

    The president of the United States spent two hours telling a rabid audience of infotainment talking heads and social media influencers that there is a massive internal conspiracy against his administration; that his political opponents hate America; that official government statistics are fake; that the attorney general should have squashed an investigation into his own corruption; that the FBI is engaged in a series of politically motivated prosecutions, and so on.

    This is not only a dangerous precedent for the office of the president. It’s indicative of where the Republican Party is as an institution–and it’s not clear that it will ever find its way out of the darkness.

    After all, the alternative to reliance on conspiracy theories is an acknowledgement of reality: that government intervention is necessary to solve big problems; that most Americans don’t agree with the anarcho-capitalist orthodoxies of Milton Friedman and Ludwig von Mises; that social conservative policy doesn’t match the realities of biology and basic decency; and so on.

    Dealing with reality as it exists would mean that the Republican Party would have to change and undergo a realignment, but there’s no constituency for that in the right-wing infotainment complex–the mostly white, mostly male, mostly rural, mostly septuagenarian base of the Republican Party, which has no interest in changing its ways.

    Don’t expect any changes from the GOP after the real estate shark from New York leaves office. Get ready, instead, for a presidential candidate like Tucker Carlson to be showered with thunderous applause from his adoring fans in the conservative conspiracy movement.

    link

  16. dmhlt says:

    @Surreal Norm:

    In other news, the flag in the photo above has been paid $131,000 by the Trump campaign as a precautionary measure.

    Therapist to Flag: “Show me on this doll where he touched you.”

  17. Kylopod says:

    @An Interested Party:

    So what if he has been a disaster in so many other ways, so what if he has been a disaster when it comes to libertarian ideas, at least he pushed through those tax cuts, right? Priorities, priorities…

    Over the years there have been attempts by a few libertarians to build an alliance with the left. But these usually break down once you get into the philosophical underpinnings of the two camps. Take LGBT rights, for example. The left’s approach tends to be “LGBT people are being persecuted, and we need to stop their suffering,” whereas libertarians tend to think of it more in terms of “It’s none of your damn business who I sleep with or what I do with my body.” I’m not saying there’s anything intrinsically wrong with the latter approach; I’ve framed it that way myself on occasion. The problem is that the whole philosophical framework of libertarianism tends to rest on a me-first selfishness (though they prefer to think of it as a commitment to individualism and self-reliance) that tends to push these issues to the back of the bus. It’s not that they’ve got anything against LGBT people per se, it’s that they’ve got better things to worry about, or so they think.

    That’s how you can get a supposed libertarian gushing over a president like Trump. If you were to ask him, of course, I’m sure Gillespie would rattle off a string of issues where he differs with Trump. He’s got to maintain his ideological street cred. But it’s one thing to argue these issues on an abstract plane, it’s quite another to get passionate about them. Libertarians should be up in arms about Trump’s emergency-declaration, and certainly they don’t agree with either his goal or his means of reaching it. At the end of the day, though, they figure it’ll probably be struck down by the courts anyway, so it’s not something they’re quite ready to blow a gasket over–as opposed to the concrete economic policies they know they’re getting whenever Republicans are in power, which Democrats would curb or eliminate.

    At some level, also, they must realize no candidate is going to win the presidency running candidly and unabashedly on the libertarian platform. If behaving like Trump is what it takes to get them into power and their policy preferences (or at least the closest approximation of them) implemented, they’ll take it.

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  18. Teve says:

    On Twitter a strangely high percentage of pro-trump comments are made by accounts with names like USAWilliam657497634 and PatriotJames8346257932 and the posts read like “Mr. Trump I am happy you are being President of America! Keep up doing great job!” And then like American flag gifs and emojis etc.

  19. Hal_10000 says:

    My thoughts were similar to Gillespie’s. I think people severely underestimate how much Trump’s antics appeal to a certain segment of the electorate.

  20. grumpy realist says:

    @Hal_10000: If the majority of Americans are stupid enough to vote for Trump, we deserve whatever happens to us. Start learning Chinese, guys.

    No empire lasts forever, and the more stupid the average individual, the quicker it falls.

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  21. dazedandconfused says:

    “…deftly flinging juvenile taunts…”

    All that needs to be done is to edit out “reelection”, insert “renomination”, and it makes perfect sense. To guarantee reelection with no clue as to who his opponent is click-bait or masturbation.

    But I repeat myself…

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  22. Kylopod says:

    @Hal_10000:

    My thoughts were similar to Gillespie’s. I think people severely underestimate how much Trump’s antics appeal to a certain segment of the electorate.

    Pure straw man. Gillespie isn’t arguing merely that “Trump’s antics appeal to a certain segment of the electorate,” he is arguing that Trump’s speech at CPAC could singlehandedly guarantee victory in an election 18 months down the line. To dispute that idiotic premise isn’t to underestimate Trump, it is simply to show a modicum of understanding of the way elections work.

    Besides, we don’t have to speculate about the effect of Trump’s antics on the electorate: we have a direct example by looking at his three debates with Hillary. Following each of these debates, his poll numbers took a nosedive. Part of that was due to the Access Hollywood fiasco, but the first debate occurred a week-and-a-half before the release of the infamous tape, and the effect on the polls was immediate and dramatic: his began to plunge, and hers rose. He did ultimately recover, of course–after the turnover of the news cycle and the new focus on Hillary following the Comey Letter–but there is simply not a shred of evidence that the debates improved his position in any way. If he’s such a master impromptu artist who will blow any Democrat off stage, why wasn’t he able to quickly vanquish his weak and uncharismatic opponent?

    As I’ve pointed out before, people have this tendency to analyze elections using the Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, where they assume that whatever happened before the election must have been responsible for the outcome. Trump engaged in his Trumpian antics, and he defeated Hillary; therefore, this reasoning goes, those antics must have caused him to defeat Hillary. The possibility that he won in spite of his antics, that they were a net negative for him, isn’t even considered.

    Trump was, literally, the most unpopular major-party nominee in history. He could not possibly have won if he hadn’t been facing an opponent who was very nearly as unpopular as he was. Yet the myth persists that he won due to his Trumpiness rather than simply due to the fact that he was a Republican running against an exceptionally weak Democratic candidate after two terms of Democratic rule. Let’s put it this way: the fact that he came within a hair’s breadth of losing to the most unpopular Democratic nominee in history (and actually did get 3 million fewer votes) isn’t the sign of a strong candidate, it’s the sign of a lucky one.

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  23. Raoul says:

    I guess the obvious needs to be stated: predictions at this stage of the electoral process are folly. Once the candidates are set we can reasonably speculate but now, no way-which means that yes Trump may win re-election or he may not. A comment about the CPAC speech: it was unhinged but he is always unhinged, so I don’t particularly give any credence to his style just because he babbled for two hours though Fidel would be proud.

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  24. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Concerned Citizen: Well, if it came down to a girl he got pregnant himself, I think Trump would be quite happy to kill that baby.

    And as for not liking socialism, he’s spouting it all the time, right after claiming he hates it and its stupid.

    This is the guy who said he’d give us “something better” than Obamacare. How could that be something that wasn’t socialism? Tarriffs are basically socialist.

    And of course, for all his talk of sticking it to megacorporations, he’s the guy handing out big gifts to them when they just say “Oh, I’m thinking about creating some jobs”. The tax breaks are committed, but the jobs never appear.

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  25. mike shupp says:

    The Gold Standard for political speech, of course, is Mark Antony’s “Friends, Romans, Countrymen — lend me your ears” in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Was Trump as persuasive, or at least REASON-ably so?

  26. Slugger says:

    @Concerned Citizen: Loves his country? Is there objective evidence of that? In the backseat of a car, many guys in my generation would say they loved you; we weren’t serious. He has done no service for his country. He has done a zillion things that materially benefit him. His economic policies benefit his social class. Hugging a flag is nothing; it requires no courage, no sweat, and no money. Guts, sweat, cash, he never expends them selflessly for his country. I don’t expect our leaders to throw themselves into a pyre, but patriotism is meaningless if every action returns profit.

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  27. Mister Bluster says:

    Donald Trump loves Kim Jong Un. The brutal murderous dictator of North Korea.
    “I was really being tough – and so was he. And we would go back and forth,” Trump said.
    “And then we fell in love, okay? No, really – he wrote me beautiful letters, and they’re great letters,”
    All true American Citizens should be concerned about that.

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  28. President Comacho says:

    There is an entire segment of America that is being overlooked. the media talking to Hollywood talking to AOC and her fantasy world talking to media talking to themselves on fringes. A segment That is watching the circus that is the news and metoo and everyone is a victim. And they will elect that clown again if the dems don’t stop w this green deal crap. Biden please step in. AOC please stop talking. The only people listening are already left fringes. They are not voting for a republican. Ever. Trump will win by continuing with this nonsense. Dems will get the assist.

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  29. Raoul says:

    @President Comacho: Let me ask you a question-is it AOC’s fault that certain media covers where she lives, how she transports, who she communicates with or how much she pays her staff? She never publicly released this type of information yet it was covered. I mean we probably could get this information about most congresspeople but we don’t- so who really is at fault. And to be clear there isn’t anything improper about her on the issues I listed.

  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Concerned Citizen:
    You can’t possibly be stupid enough to imagine that Trump loves anything at all, let alone this country.

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  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    The problem remains that working people toward the bottom of the economy are falling further behind. And one imagines they’ll be inclined to blame Trump for that rather than looking to him as a potential Hail Mary savior.

    I think you need to test this theory on Tyrell or someone similar. To the best that I can recall, working people toward the bottom of the economy have always blamed their falling further behind on socialism and Mexicans and affirmative action and undeserving people getting all the breaks and unfair trade practices and the deficit and national debt and Marxism and Democrats. I can’t see why they’d blame Trump that they were falling behind any more that they blamed Reagan when they kept falling behind in 1985.

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  32. wr says:

    @Teve: Isn’t this exactly the same speech that Hugo Chavez used to give for hour after hour? Don’t remember Republicans praising him for that then…

  33. wr says:

    @Hal_10000: ” I think people severely underestimate how much Trump’s antics appeal to a certain segment of the electorate.”

    I think everyone knows how much Trump’s antics appeal to a certain segment of the electorate. The disagreement is over how large that segment is…

  34. grumpy realist says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Sort of like the Brexiters in the U.K. claiming that all the problems that have occurred are due to sabotage on the part of “Remoaners”, rather than the Brexiters’ own incompetence.

    (By the way, it still looks like we’re heading for an accidental Brexit crash-out on the part of the U.K. They still think that the rest of the EU is going to suddenly panic and give them all they want. The fact that England has a shrinking economy and a lot of countries in the world with very long memories about U.K. gunboats and the Opium Wars happens to have totally passed over their heads. )

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  35. KM says:

    @Kylopod:

    Yet the myth persists that he won due to his Trumpiness rather than simply due to the fact that he was a Republican running against an exceptionally weak Democratic candidate after two terms of Democratic rule.

    But the problem now is they are invested in his Trumpiness. The cult has only strengthened in their mindless zeal and dragged in some previous ney-sayers who while disliking Trump personally really, really like where he’s headed. If they could get Wall without Trump, they’d do it in a heartbeat but hey, that’s not the hand they were dealt. What’s more – Trump’s personality speaks to the inherent boorishness a lot of Americans suffer from. Maybe they don’t like *him* but they like how he can just act without consequences, speak horribly about folks and not take the social hit like a normal person would, and basically act out every selfish and cruel fantasy their Id’s can conjure. He’s walking wish-fulfillment – to use a 90’s phrase, he’s “big pimping” and seemingly getting away with it. Who wants to go back to a Romney-type after that??

    Add in that Republicans are *going* to vote for their candidate because they can’t stomach pulling the lever for a (D) and he’s got a more solid foundation this time around. It’s a mistake to assume his unpopular status and reliance on luck / the EC will be an issue. Trump can be flat out, visibly threatening, dangerously cray-cray and Republicans will dutifully re-elect him. Because better an insane Republican then a Democrat in their mind – that’s just how it is. His Trumpiness may not be an asset but it certainly not the liability you’d naturally assume it to be.

  36. Kylopod says:

    @KM:

    Trump can be flat out, visibly threatening, dangerously cray-cray and Republicans will dutifully re-elect him.

    I agree. I wasn’t trying to imply that Trump is bound to lose in 2020. In fact, I’ve been among the more bullish commenters here regarding his reelection chances (I made the case here and here, among other times). I do think he has advantages he didn’t have the last time around, including incumbency and a party solidly united behind him. I don’t buy the argument from Michael Reynolds and others that his 2016 share of the vote represented some kind of ceiling of what he was capable of getting, and that he won’t win over any new voters. My sense is that many conservatives have warmed up to him since he entered office.

    But I continue to believe that his boorishness is a net negative for him. It won’t guarantee his defeat, but I believe it does hurt him more than help him. If he wins again, it’s not going to be because of his unhinged performance art at events; it’s going to be because (a) He’s running for reelection amid a thriving economy (b) The Dem nominee gets damaged enough by the slime machine that once again it leads to a demoralized and divided party, and enough swing voters who reach the idiotic conclusion that Trump is the lesser of the two evils.

    In other words, Trump doesn’t win by being Trump; he wins by reaping the advantages that any Republican in his position would get. I believe that was true in 2016, and it will remain true in 2020, regardless of the outcome.

  37. DrDaveT says:

    @KM:

    But the problem now is they are invested in his Trumpiness.

    This.

    Where are the millions of people who voted for Trump for one seemingly good reason or another, but are now horrified to see that, despite their hopes for him, it turns out that he’s a corrupt misogynistic racist sociopathic child who isn’t competent to manage the coat check at a restaurant, much less a large and diverse nation?

    This is what scares me most — not that Trump turns out to be who he is, nor that the all of the spineless GOP officeholders continue to back him, but that it doesn’t seem to matter to even the allegedly less-deplorable ordinary folks who voted for him. There is no hope for America if we’ve reached a point where half of us are OK with an unmasked Trump.

  38. Teve says:

    @DrDaveT: everybody on my social media has been chatting about this article all day

    the making of the Fox news White House.

  39. Ric says:

    Trump is nearly guaranteed to win. You are day dreaming as much as AOC is about her NGD plan if you think differently. Currently, there is not one Democrat with a chance in hell of beating trump in 2020. Not even close. The left is crazy. You need a centrist Democrat to win. Not the Lefty lunacy that is going on now. The Dems are going to lose hard. I don’t even like Trump per say, but I know that the nonsense and Social Justice trash coming from the left is not going to win the election. The whole country is not California and New York. If the Dems do not move more towards the center and stay away from idiots like AOC , not only will the not win 2020, you can forget about 2024, 2028, 2032….