Donald Trump made a rather startling proposal last week out on the campaign trail, but few in the media noticed. Perhaps this was due to the fact that Trump says so many startling things that the media can be excused for not paying attention to all of them. Perhaps it was because it wasn't as incendiary as many other Trump campaign promises. But for whatever reason, his words merit a lot more attention than they're so far getting, especially from all the Democratic presidential candidates. Because, as things stand, Trump is now more progressive on this particular issue than the entire slate of Democrats.
Archive of Articles for August, 2015
The entire Trump phenomenon reminds me of a basic rule from the world of magical/fantasy fiction. It's not quite Asimov's "three laws of robotics," but it's still been used my many authors who write about wizards casting dangerous spells. The rule of thumb among wizards? "Do not call up that which you cannot put down." Don't summon demons or otherworldly forces if you're not strong enough to defeat them, in other words.
Just a warning, right up front: this is going to be a very silly column. As August draws to a close, the official Washington "Silly Season" also nears its end, which is usually when pundits get a bit loopy in general, when writing about the vast and changing landscape that is American politics. I am no different than the rest, and am succumbing to the overwhelming urge to write a trivial piece of fluff today. I state this right up here at the beginning, to give the reader a chance to spend their time more productively -- perhaps by watching online cat videos, or something equally edifying.
The Republican Party is now the party of Donald Trump. That's a pretty astounding statement, but as Trump continues to not only lead in all the primary polls but also to drive the debate for all the other contenders, it would be hard to make the case that Trump hasn't completed what might be called a hostile takeover of the Republican Party brand. This could always change, of course -- nothing is ever set in stone in a presidential race. But for the time being, Trump's not only the party frontrunner, he is actually defining the race for everyone else.
In the midst of the current eruption of nonsense over American immigration policy from out on the campaign trail, I have a few more targeted questions to ask of all the candidates. They're really just extensions of one basic question, really, which would be: "What will your policy towards Cuba be if you become president?" However, since Republicans and Democrats have different basic viewpoints on the issue, it must be broken down into more specific queries in order to elicit useful answers. Both questions, for different reasons, will be tough for Democrats and Republicans alike.
Vice President Joe Biden certainly has got the media talking. All it really took was one leak to Maureen Dowd and a meeting with Senator Elizabeth Warren, and the recurring story in the media is now: "Biden's son Beau made a deathbed plea to his father to run for president again, and he's now seriously considering it." That's a compelling political narrative, to be sure. The Wall Street Journal is even reporting that Biden's now leaning towards running. Now, I have no inside sources of my own, so I have no idea what's really going on in Biden's head, but no matter how likely it turns out to be, a Biden candidacy bears political examination beyond the simple question of: "Will he or won't he run?"
Another week has gone by, and Donald Trump remains the Republican frontrunner in the presidential nomination race. We've noticed that all the inside-the-Beltway pundits who so confidently predicted Trump's imminent and inevitable downfall are now slowly starting to revisit their predictions. This is making them extremely nervous, of course. Some are still finding solace in the "Trump's going to say something any day now that will sink him like a stone" way of thinking, but their numbers are getting smaller as time goes by and Trump defies political gravity once again.
Since I've spent so much time this week examining the Democratic presidential race, I thought I'd balance things out today by taking a look at how the Republicans are doing. It's been enough time since their first debate for any effects to gel in the poll numbers, so we can now answer the question of who was helped most by their debate performance and who saw their support go down as a result. I should mention that all of the data below comes from the Real Clear Politics tracking page.
Could the next presidential election be one where both sides get the candidate who inspires the most passion among the base? It would have seemed almost ridiculous to suggest as recently as last month, but the possibility that America could be given the choice of Donald Trump versus Bernie Sanders doesn't seem so far-fetched nowadays. If these are the choices the two major parties coalesce behind, it'll certainly be one of the most unique presidential elections ever.
Yesterday, I wrote some advice for Hillary Clinton and her campaign. Political pundits are wont to do this sort of thing, of course, but today I'd like to shift gears somewhat and give Clinton some credit for handling a situation perfectly. Hey, I calls 'em as I sees 'em.