Sanders, Trump and the Summer of Spun Headlines

Beware of headlines based on politicians’ feelings rather than their actions. “The Clinton Campaign Is Afraid of Bernie Sanders” is the banner above a July 7 story at the Atlantic, which offers no evidence of such fear. Peter Beinart writes that the Clinton campaign is avoiding direct criticism of Sanders, preferring to let surrogates like Sen. Claire McKaskill attack the Vermonter as too leftist, but that’s sensible strategy having nothing to do with panic or fear. “Hillary Shoves Bernie into Lake Winnipesaukee”—now that would be an action-packed headline showing real fear on the part of the Democratic front-runner.

I’m also skeptical about “GOP Leaders Fear Damage to Party’s Image as Donald Trump Doubles Down,” the July 8 Washington Post story about “increasingly worried party leaders…urging the presidential candidate to tone down his inflammatory comments about immigration.” Such comments include: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” (The Post has dutifully “fact-checked” such statements, concluding, “there is no evidence immigrants commit more crimes than native-born Americans.”)

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The Post quotes “one GOP state party chairman, speaking on the condition of anonymity so he could be frank,” who says of Trump, “He’s already done some damage, and it could be substantial going forward.” But identifiable leaders such as Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus have been more circumspect. The Post reports, “Reluctant to engage publicly and having developed a friendship with Trump in recent years, Priebus decided to call the candidate and quietly ask him to soften his pitch, said GOP donors familiar with Priebus’s thinking.” And the New York Times reported on Friday—using another feelings headline, “Can’t Fire Him: Republican Party Frets Over What to Do With Trump”—that “there has been a striking absence of public denunciations of Mr. Trump from leading Republican candidates for president and the party’s top officials in Washington.”

Trump is playing a familiar role 16 months ahead of the next presidential election. He’s speaking for some of the angriest and most alienated voters in his party, much the way Michelle Bachmann did four years ago. His candidacy is sure to hit a wall (and his participation in early debates may speed up this process), but the party’s xenophobes, as well as those who still believe in Obama birth-certificate conspiracy theories, won’t be able to say they were never given a voice. When Trump finally ends his quest, probably before the New Hampshire primary (so he can insist he would have won it), he will blame the media for “distorting” his views. By that time, most of his supporters will have drifted to one of the less inflammatory Republican candidates, looking for someone who can win in November rather than a loudmouth like Trump.

According to the Times story, “Republican Party leaders agonize over the prospect that Donald Trump will mount a third-party candidacy that could undermine their nominee. They fear insulting the white working-class voters who admire him.” I don’t know how “agonized” Republican leaders really are about the remote chance Trump will waste money running as an independent. But I’m sure these leaders are grateful to the New York Times for helping them to stroke Trump’s ego and to pay their respects to the “voters who admire him.” Trump is unlikely to win any delegates to the Republican National Convention, but he’ll always prize the headlines about party leaders worrying, fretting and agonizing over him.

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Beth Cioffoletti
2 years 4 months ago
Donald Trump is probably one of the hottest (maybe the hottest) media story around. Articles and analyses about him, one way or the other, get a lot of hits and generate more revenue for those outlets. It is fascinating to watch (and read). I'm still looking for some good insight into this phenomena, what it means. What would Marshall McLuhan or Walter Ong SJ have to say about this?
ed gleason
2 years 4 months ago
Trump is too cheap to self finance a run as a third party candidate. He fast fades after the debate..because he will be asked how he destroyed Atlantic City.... and ."ISIS is building hotels in Iraq" ???
Joshua DeCuir
2 years 4 months ago
Has Hillary's campaign returned Trump's donations yet?
Tom Maher
2 years 4 months ago
Peter Beinart's July 7, 2015 Atlantic magazine post titled "The Clinton Campaign is afraid of Bernie Sanders" plainly deals with the very grim political prospects Hillary Clinton's Presidential primary campaign faces. Significantly, as the Atlantic post states, Bernie Sanders has been steadily closing the polling gap he had with "front runner" Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire such that they are now even. New Hampshire was the only early primaries state that Hillary won in 2008. As of now Bernie Sanders is ahead and still gaining in New Hampshire and Iowa and other early primary states. Beinart as a very loyal Democrat is giving a gentle nudge to the Democratic party -- Hillary, the "front runner", despite her connections and largest campaign funding of any candidate, will very likely lose worse in 2016 than she did in 2008. As it now stands Hillary is losing to Bernie Sanders who would not likely be electable in a general election due to his extreme fringe left-wing stands on issues. For example, in early July to undermine Hillary's base of support, Sanders advocated paying reparations to blacks to gain black votes in the primary -- something which is politically untenable. Hillary is in the process of losing the Democratic Presidential primary race to someone who is unelectable outside of Vermont. The author of this post fails to recognize that "front runner" Hillary Clinton is indeed losing and the consequences her loss will have on all Democrats running for federal offices in the 2016 elections. Time to develop a plan "B" for the likely event that Hillary's campaign will collapse once again as it did in 2008. The post also fails to recognize the power and effectiveness of Donald Trump's bid for Republican Presidential nomination. The editorial opinions of the New York Times does not at all decide Republican primaries. And neither do the Republican donor class who are indeed very upset with the major urgent issues that Donald Trump has raised very effectively according to the polls in key Republican primary sates. Futilely, key Republican donors and insides have attempted to have the RNC arbitrarily stop Trump's participation in the upcoming Republican Presidential primary debate and have the RNC suppress Trump's ideas and issues. But Trump even in these early weeks of his campaign has gained significant voter appeal and momentum that can not be stopped. Smearing Trump as the Chamber of Commerce and certain media such as the New York Times and Washington Post have done has only made Trumps even more attractive to Republicans and independents. Trump is a real political force to be reckoned with. And Trump thrives under attack and is at home with and empowered by controversies No one is better prepared or able to deal with the significant issues he has raised in his campaign and prevail. It is foolish for the New York Times to speculate that somehow Trump would want to run as a third party when right in front of him is a huge opportunity to influence the terms and outcome of the first televised debate only a few weeks away in early August. Trump will be at that debate and has an elaborate and compelling case to make about American acting as a sovereign nation in control of its borders and its foreign policy and not to be taken for granted. Basically Trump will not allow a "third term" for Barack Obama domestic and foreign policies. Trump will forcefully turn the upcoming debate into a televised forum on how to deal with the many problems the nation faces as a decisive and effective chief executive would. This will indeed have great support among most Republicans as the polling data already shows and by most American who would like to see the nation much better off. Republican Party donor class and insiders have no control over the 2016 primaries or elections. It a very insulated view to underestimate the power, effectiveness and credibility of Donald Trump to deliver numerous very constructive and effective messages on how the nations urgent problems can be readily solved by strong and effective leadership. What a break from the inept polices and leadership of the Obama administration. Trump will invigorate and decisively shape the Republican party platform for the 2016 elections.
Chuck Kotlarz
2 years 4 months ago
“…inept polices and leadership of the Obama administration.” According to Forbes magazine, Obama's economy out-performed that of Ronald Reagan. Under Clinton and Obama, the stock market soared. The Dow Jones more than doubled for each. For Bush 1, the market had a small increase. The Dow was lower when Bush 2 left office than when he arrived. In five years (2009-2013), Obama added over four million private sector jobs. In eight years (2001-2008), Bush 2 added less than 400,000 private sector jobs. When Bush left office, the federal deficit hit 9.8 percent of Gross Domestic Product. The Congressional Budget Office reported the deficit for the 2014 fiscal year at 2.7 percent of GDP -- lower than its average for the last 40 years of 3.1 percent. During Reagan's presidency the annual deficits averaged 4.2% of GDP.
Tom Maher
2 years 4 months ago
July 13, 2015 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey shows the civilian labor force participation rate declined again to 62% of the labor force, a continuous seven year downward trend and a forty year low. This shows that jobs are not being created to keep pace with the growth of population. This statistical trend also shows a significant and growing part of the labor force not getting any paycheck. Especially hard hit are the younger people more and more of whom are entering the workforce for the first time at a later and later age. Nothing on the horizon suggests any improvement in job creation that will catch up with population growth. All forecasts are that the economy will continue not to be able to create enough jobs to keep up with population growth and the civilian labor force participation rate will continue to decline month after month indefinitely. The U.S. economy's ability to create jobs is not performing up to reasonable and expected standards needed to employ young people. Adequate job creation is just not happening and is getting worse. Significantly more jobs need to be created to allow a much higher percentage of the workforce participation especially among young people. Young people need to have jobs, get paychecks and be part of the economy rather than have a growing part of the labor force jobless and on public assistance. This is but one of the many blighting trends of the American economy that can and should be stopped and reversed promptly.
Chuck Kotlarz
2 years 4 months ago
History can guide us in many areas. Since 1961, private sector job growth with a democrat in the White House is nearly twice that of republicans. Perhaps equally important, the private sector does not have to be the only source of jobs. Beginning in 1933, nearly three million eighteen year olds went to work in FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corp. From 1933 to 1942, the eighteen year olds fought forest fires, planted three billion trees, built over 40,000 bridges and 125,000 miles of road, and completed many other infrastructure and conservation projects. In 1942, the initial CCC recruits turned twenty-six (the average age of a US WWII soldier was 26) and America began its first full year of WWII combat.
Chuck Kotlarz
2 years 4 months ago
Yesterday, in Las Vegas, Trump repeated his charge that Mexico was sending violent offenders to the U.S. US violent crime perhaps has no link to crime in Mexico. El Paso, Texas has been ranked the in the top three large US cities with the lowest crime rates since 1997. Juárez, Mexico had been ranked the most violent city in the world three years in a row. Juarez lies across the border from El Paso.
Chuck Kotlarz
2 years 4 months ago
How will the religious right react to Trump’s comment, “…when he (Pope Francis) starts talking about feeding the poor, that is totally dangerous and irresponsible”?

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