Tuesday, July 30, 2019

After Trump, America Needs a Nap; Polls Show "Sleepy Joe" Recovered From June Debate Performance

Joe Biden
A few months ago, President Donald Trump coined the nickname "Sleepy Joe" for Joe Biden.  Trump meant it as an insult, that the former Vice President could not match the frenetic, constant news-making that has been the hallmark of the Trump administration.  Meanwhile, Biden's Democratic opponents for President make a similar, albeit more polite, claim.  They advocate for polices that greatly expand the size and role of government.  They argue the 76 year old Biden can't provide the energetic change voters want.

And they would be wrong.  Americans aren't clamoring for new expansive government programs that takes the country closer to socialism.  Americans aren't looking for an energetic leader who leads an administration that is constantly in action, or in Trump's case, turmoil.  Instead Americans are looking for solitude, peace and quiet, a return to normalcy, decency and civility. Not only has the time for Biden to be President not passed him by, this may well be the perfect time for his brand of politics.  After Trump, America needs a nap.

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The polls, even among Democratic partisans, seem to confirm that.  Following July's debate, Biden's poll numbers slipped while California Sen. Kamala Harris, who attacked Biden over his opposition to forced busing (not sure when busing became popular even among "progressives"), gained traction.  A month later, the numbers have reverted to their pre-debate status.  Three polls released today (Emerson, Politico/Morning Consult, The Hill/Harris X) have Biden at 33, 33 and 34 respectively.   Quinnipiac's poll, released yesterday, has Biden at 34.

But Biden's numbers are not the only ones that reverted to the previous norm.  Let's look at the result for the second tier candidates in the Emerson, Politico/Morning Consult, The Hill/Harris X, and Quinnipiac polls:

Sanders: 20, 18, 20, 11
Warren: 14, 13, 12, 15
Harris:  11, 12, 9, 12

Political commentators continue to peddle the narrative that support for Sen. Elizabeth Warren is growing.  The polls just do not show that.  Warren's poll numbers are stagnant and have even dipped some in July.  Harris, meanwhile, is once again struggling to hit double figures.

Although Sen. Bernie Sanders' political obituary has been written by those numerous analysts touting Warren, the fact remains that Sanders remains a modest few points ahead of Warren in virtually every poll.  The good news for Sanders is that he is fending off the challenge from Warren.  The bad news is he appears to have a solid ceiling on his support even among hard core Democratic partisans. 

The nature of news coverage is to promote conflict and to make political races seem more competitive than they actually are.  No doubt the coverage from this week' debate will feature prominently at least one "break out candidate" (remember how Julian Castro was crowned a debate "winner" and new star; his 1% in numerous polls say otherwise), as well as perceived debate winners and losers.  And polls may, briefly, show movement from the debate.  I'm just not convinced there will be a significant long-term change in the polls from this week's debate. 

Bottom line is the Democratic electorate wants to nominate the most electable Democrat and that person is "Sleepy Joe" Biden.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Challenging the Absurd Notion that Donald Trump is a "Patriot" Fighting for American Values

The news the last few days has focused on President Trump's "Go Back" tweet and its aftermath.  To recap, Trump tweeted that four female Democratic members of Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashia Tlaib of Michigan, should go back to their country of origin if they are going to criticize American policies.  Three of the four women Trump targeted are natural born U.S. citizens.  The fourth, Omar, was a Somalian who became an American citizen via the naturalization process, i.e. the legal way which
Trumpers claim to support.

Since the initial tweet, , Trump has doubled down on his attack, attempting to recast his comment more about "The Squad's" supposed lack of patriotism rather than the young women's ethnicity/race.  All four of the women, as AOC often remind us, are "women of color."

Historically, the"go back" slur was employed by white supremacists to demonize African-Americans who fought the status quo of segregation.  So, naturally,  the mainstream media immediately discussed ad nauseam whether Trump's tweet was evidence of his being a racist.  A secondary media focus has been whether the Trump attack is part of a clever campaign strategy by the President as he pushes toward re-election in 2020.

Let me address both of those points.  Of course, Trump, is a racist.  Anyone who has studied Trump's long history in New York, beginning in the 1970s when Trump and his father would redline New York apartment complexes to prevent blacks from moving in, knows the disdain Trump holds for non-whites.  In Trump's defense, he is no doubt a bigger sexist than he is a racist.  Is that a defense?

I get the bigger chuckle out of the nonsense that Trump's "send them back" rhetoric is part of some grand re-election strategy.  Really?  When this started, members of "The Squad" (which may be the worst political nickname ever) were fighting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi who they accused of being against them as "women of color."  That was just a microcosm of a larger battle within the Democratic Party between those who want the party to move to the left and those who advocate a more moderate, and presumably, electable approach. Trump's rhetoric ended Democratic infighting and reunited the party.

But "Send Them Back" motivates Trump's base we are told and, thus, is great strategy!   But Trump's cultish followers are already fully motivated and, no doubt, will be turning out in droves in 2020.  Trump's rhetoric doesn't change that dynamic.  No, what Trump's comments did is motivate Democrats to turn out and drive suburban Republicans away from supporting the GOP.  Trump tried nativist, xenophobic attacks in 2018 and that worked out very badly for the GOP which experienced historic losses in that election.

The assumption for the "Send Them Back" attack, that our President is a patriot who is fighting for our country, is absurd.  As candidate and President, Trump has expressed open hostility to the notion of the rule of law, free speech, law enforcement, separation of powers and checks and balances, an independent judiciary, the independence of the Justice Department, a free press, etc. Trump routinely mocks the notion of America being a beacon of freedom around the world and has turned his back on defending human rights.  He has attacked American allies while giving aid and comfort to America's enemies, even the most ruthless dictators who routinely kill political opponents and journalists.  And let's not forget that Donald J. Trump openly courted and accepted the assistance of a hostile foreign power to win an American election, and has pledged to do so again.

The notion that Trump is a "patriot" is laughable.  Being older, I recall Jane Fonda attacking the United States during a visit to North Vietnam.  Like, "Hanoi Jane" Trump has displayed open hostility toward American values and institutions, far more than those four members of Congress he says need to leave the country.   Trump is not a patriot. Far from it.