Dump Trump? Don’t bet on it

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As Nate Silver points out this morning, betting markets are now giving Donald Trump a 14 percent chance of not being the Republican nominee once the dust settles from the party convention in Cleveland next month.

As the day wore on came news that Trump had parted ways with campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and another top campaign advisor resigned after mocking Lewandowski’s firing on Twitter (Sad!). You would expect these developments to hurt the Trump campaign if there was an actual Trump campaign to hurt.

And buzz continued to surround the “Free the Delegates” ploy to change the rules ahead of the convention so that delegates can “vote their conscience,” as House Speaker Paul Ryan suggested on Sunday, and deny Trump the nomination on the floor.

If any of this is giving you hope that somehow the Republican Party can find a way out of this nightmare of their own making, I have a series of fool-proof real estate seminars I’d like to sign you up for.

For his part, having snatched the GOP away from its establishment leaders (hey, how’s it feel Speaker Ryan?), Trump still manages to talk about the party as if he were fighting against it rather than being its standard bearer.

At a rally a week ago in Florida, Trump unleashed this broadside against what is theoretically his own party:

I mean, I’ve had more opposition from the Republican Party than I do from the Democrats. The Republican Party has to be tough and has to be smart. And if they’re not tough and smart, I’m going to win, but a lot of other people won’t.

The crowd responded with a chorus of boos for the GOP.

No, the Republicans won’t dump Trump because, as Paul Krugman argues in the New York Times today, Trump’s bloated persona has swelled to fill the hollowed out shell of a once proud political party:

Do you remember what happened when the Berlin Wall fell? Until that moment, nobody realized just how decadent Communism had become. It had tanks, guns, and nukes, but nobody really believed in its ideology anymore; its officials and enforcers were mere careerists, who folded at the first shock.

It seems to me that you need to think about what happened to the G.O.P. this election cycle the same way.

The Republican establishment was easily overthrown because it was already hollow at the core. Donald Trump’s taunts about “low-energy” Jeb Bush and “little Marco” Rubio worked because they contained a large element of truth. When Mr. Bush and Mr. Rubio dutifully repeated the usual conservative clichés, you could see that there was no sense of conviction behind their recitations. All it took was the huffing and puffing of a loud-mouthed showman to blow their houses down.

The Republican Party can’t dump Trump because Trump is the Republican Party. Trump may have fired his campaign manager, but who will fire Trump?

Yeah. That’s what I thought.

Trump foreign policy explained


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While Republican insiders were, as Politico put it, “scratching their heads” at the list of names Donald Trump put forward as constituting his foreign policy brain trust, your faithful correspondent has been busily tracking down the real source of the presumptive nominee’s foreign policy agenda.

It’s taken awhile, but I finally figured out where Trump found his blueprint. And boy do I feel safer and more secure as a result.

Here are the lyrics, in case you need a transcript the next time Trump makes a big foreign policy speech.

No one likes us — I don’t know why
We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
But all around, even our old friends put us down
Let’s drop the big one and see what happens
We give them money — but are they grateful?
No, they’re spiteful and they’re hateful
They don’t respect us — so let’s surprise them
We’ll drop the big one and pulverize them
Asia’s crowded and Europe’s too old
Africa is far too hot
And Canada’s too cold
And South America stole our name
Let’s drop the big one
There’ll be no one left to blame us
We’ll save Australia
Don’t wanna hurt no kangaroo
We’ll build an All American amusement park there
They got surfin’, too
Boom goes London and boom Paree
More room for you and more room for me
And every city the whole world round
Will just be another American town
Oh, how peaceful it will be
We’ll set everybody free
You’ll wear a Japanese kimono
And there’ll be Italian shoes for me
They all hate us anyhow
So let’s drop the big one now
Let’s drop the big one now

It’s his party now

Get used to it Republicans, get used to it.

Or perhaps the Speaker of the House thinks he can extract a price from Trump in exchange for his support. In which case, let me suggest how that’s likely to turn out:

Pivoting to the general

On the stage in Costa Mesa, CA, last night.
On the stage in Costa Mesa, CA, last night.

 

Much has been made of Donald Trump’s supposed turn toward repositioning himself as serious and sober as he eyes the coming general election.

Trump’s widely panned foreign policy speech on Wednesday, stripped of his usual blustering insults, misogyny, and gratuitous mockery of critics and rivals, was one supposed signal of the New Trump. Veteran Republican operative Paul Manafort was brought on board the campaign for the express purpose of retuning Trump’s image for the big event in the fall.

But apparently the candidate himself is having none of it, instead returning to the cult-of-personality approach to campaigning that has brought him so much success. And doing so with a vengeance.

Here, according to the Los Angeles Times is what that looks like:

Donald Trump put his roughest edges on display Thursday night in Costa Mesa as he opened his California primary campaign with a raw performance highlighting his hard-line views on illegal immigration and torture while trashing an array of rivals.

The front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination surrounded himself onstage with people carrying banners with photos of family members killed by immigrants in the country illegally. …

After weeks of toying with efforts to tone down his rhetoric, Trump’s kickoff rally for California’s June 7 primary was more in line with the initial declaration of his candidacy last June, when he accused Mexico of sending rapists and drug dealers into the United States.

As the crowd’s rapturous reaction attested, it’s still an approach with strong appeal to a large segment of Republican voters in California. But it’s also the kind of politics that has badly damaged the party’s standing in a state where the Latino and Asian population has risen steadily for decades.

Trump also played to fears of terrorism, blasting President Obama for allowing Middle Eastern war refugees into the United States.

“We’re putting them all over the country by the thousands, and we have no idea what the hell is going to happen,” he said.

Trump repeated a story discredited by historians about U.S. Army Gen. John Joseph Pershing dipping 50 bullets in pig blood and using them to execute 49 Muslim terrorists around the time of the Philippine-American War of 1899-1902. The crowd applauded. Trump said Pershing gave the 50th suspect the remaining bullet to show to his people, and it deterred terrorism for 42 years — up from 25 years in an earlier telling.

Trump went on to criticize Republican rival Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for not embracing the waterboarding of terrorism suspects.

“He’s actually a very weak person, so he didn’t like it,” Trump said. “I’d go many steps further than waterboarding — many, many steps further.”

His torture comments generated another huge burst of cheers.

Given how he campaigns, imagine, if you dare, what his acceptance in speech will sound like in Cleveland this summer. No doubt the “Vichy Republicans” will eat it up.