Thursday, September 24, 2015

Articles that explain the Trump phenomenon:

Scott Adams (Dilbert), 9/10/15
Sharyl Attkisson, 9/12/15
William Sullivan, American Thinker, 9/20/15
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., The American Spectator, 9/23/15
Mark Leibovich, The New York Times, 9/29/15

Mark Leibovich, The New York Times, 9/29/15
Donald Trump Is Not Going Anywhere
Where does his political adventure end? 
"I have no idea.  But I'm here now.  And it's beautiful."

"I don’t worry about anything,’’ Donald J. Trump told me aboard his 757 as we were flying to the recent Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. He was dividing his attention between the brick-size slice of red-velvet cake he was annihilating and the CNN commentator on the 57-inch television who at that moment was talking about Trump, as most commentators have been at pretty much every moment for the last three months. The commentator, Dylan Byers, was saying that Trump now ran the risk of ‘‘jumping the shark’’ because voters were becoming so familiar with his act. ‘‘Nah,’’ Trump said, smirking at the screen. As the real estate and reality-­show tycoon sees things, this is all win-win for him. Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal wrote something to this effect recently, Trump told me, explaining that even if he loses, ‘‘he goes back to being Donald Trump, but even bigger.’’       

The Trump campaign may be a win-win for Trump, but it is a monstrous dilemma for a lot of other people. It is a dilemma for the Republican Party and a dilemma for the people Trump is running against. They would love to dismiss him as a sideshow and declare his shark jumped, except he keeps dominating the campaign and the conversation, and they have no clue whether to engage, attack, ignore or suck up in response. It is a dilemma for the elected leaders, campaign strategists, credentialed pundits and assorted parasites of the ‘‘establishment.’’ They have a certain set of expectations, unwritten rules and ways of doing things that Trump keeps flouting in the most indelicate of ways. And, of course, it is a dilemma for the media, who fear abetting a circus. This is why The Huffington Post announced in July that it would publish stories about Trump only in its ‘‘entertainment’’ section, so that when it all ended, as it surely would soon, the website could remain pristine and on the side of the high-minded. A similar sort of worry prevented me from writing about Trump throughout his rise this summer. Initially, I dismissed him as a nativist clown, a chief perpetrator of the false notion that President Obama was not born in the United States — the ‘‘birther’’ movement. And I was, of course, way too incredibly serious and high-­minded to ever sully myself by getting so close to Donald Trump.

I initially doubted that he would even run. I assumed that his serial and public flirtations with the idea over several election cycles were just another facet of his existential publicity sustenance. I figured that even if Trump did run, his conspiracy-­mongering, reality-­show orientations and garish tabloid sensibilities would make him unacceptable to the polite company of American politics and mainstream media. It would render him a fringe player. So I decided not to write about him, and I felt proud and honorable about my decision.

In June, Trump, who is now 69, actually declared that he would run for president. The big crowds, soaring poll numbers and magazine covers started a few weeks later, and I began to wonder if I had been too rash in disregarding him. The problem was that having decided not to write about him, I couldn’t start now. What were the chances that he would still be around by the time I was done? He kept touching supposed third rails — calling illegal immigrants rapists and criminals in his announcement speech, questioning whether John McCain was really a war hero (‘‘I like people who weren’t captured’’) and seeming to suggest that a moderator of the first Republican debate, Megyn Kelly of Fox News, asked him uncomfortable questions because she was menstruating.

And yet his lead in the polls kept growing. He was impolite company personified, and many Republican voters were absolutely loving him for that. They seemed to be saying en masse that even if Trump could be crass and offensive at times (or, in his case, on message), could he possibly be any
worse than what politics in general had become?

I encountered the phenomenon up close at the first Republican debate, on Aug. 6 in Cleveland. I positioned myself in the post-­debate ‘‘spin room,’’ the area where campaign surrogates spew their customized nonsense to media types. The candidates themselves almost never venture in. But suddenly, at the end of the night, a literal stampede was rumbling toward a far corner of the room, where Trump had crashed this assembly of polite company. I have seen many press scrums, but never like this. It was scary. People were tripping, falling and being shoved out of the way. Cameras were dropped. What I saw was polite routines and traditions breaking down as the American political order reoriented itself around a new center of gravity. As the shouts and cries intensified, I found myself being drawn toward the bedlam.

In the months since, Trump has grown into a kind of one-man chaos theory at the center of a primary campaign in disarray. The solemn party leaders desperately want him to go away; the consultant and donor class feel irrelevant (because they largely are to Trump); even Fox News, with which he episodically feuds, seems rattled. At the first sign that, after an uninspired performance in the second debate, Trump’s poll numbers were stalled, pundits on the left and the right rushed to declare yet another ‘‘beginning of the end’’ for Trump. And still he leads in every poll, and it’s October, and it keeps going. Where does this end? I kept asking Trump this as we sat around his office and rode around in limousines and airplanes. ‘‘I have no idea,’’ he always said, sometimes modifying the noun with a big, unclassy profanity. ‘‘But I’m here now. And it’s beautiful.’’

It was early September when we met for the first time in his 26th-floor office in Trump Tower. When I walked in, Trump had the legendary college basketball coach Bobby Knight paying homage to him over speaker­phone. Knight, who had never met Trump, apparently called him out of the blue to offer his support. I was slightly dubious about how ‘‘out of the blue’’ this really was, given how perfectly it was timed to my arrival, but Knight delivered a stirring tribute regardless. ‘‘No one has accomplished more than Mr. Trump has,’’ Knight raved after Trump informed him that a reporter was in the room. Trump nodded and motioned to the ­phone and made sure I had my recorder running. ‘‘What a great honor, man,’’ Trump said. ‘‘I will talk to you soon, and I won’t forget that you called. Thanks, Bobby.’’

Trump is 6-foot-3 and looks taller in person than you might expect, in part because he is all head, hair and flattened, squinty expressions behind the tables and lecterns where we typically experience him. He was standing behind a desk cluttered with papers, piles of recent magazines with him on the cover and a Trump bobblehead doll. ‘‘You ever see guys with nothing on their desk?’’ he said by way of explaining his messy one. ‘‘They always fail. I don’t know what it is. I’ve seen it for years.’’

Trump motioned to the gallery of magazine covers on the wall next to him, which included an issue of Playboy from 1990 (‘‘And that’s when it was really Playboy’’) and another of Trump on the front of The New York Times Magazine in 1984. ‘‘I’ve had much more than 15 minutes of fame, that’s for sure,’’ he said. Trump can be hyper-­solicitous of the press. His orbit is largely free of handlers and is very much his own production, down to his tweets — which he types or dictates himself. I asked Trump if his campaign conducted focus groups. I knew what his answer would be but asked anyway. ‘‘I do focus groups,’’ he said, pressing both thumbs against his forehead, ‘‘right here.’’

Getting close to Trump is nothing like the teeth-­pulling exercise that it can be to get any meaningful exposure to a candidate like, say, Hillary Clinton. This is a seductive departure in general for political reporters accustomed to being ignored, patronized and offered sound bites to a point of lobotomy by typical politicians and the human straitjackets that surround them. In general, Trump understands and appreciates that reporters like to be given the time of day. It’s symbiotic in his case because he does in fact pay obsessive attention to what is said and written and tweeted about him. Trump is always saying that so-and-so TV pundit ‘‘spoke very nicely’’ about him on some morning show and that some other writer ‘‘who used to kill me’’ has now come around to ‘‘loving me.’’ There is a ‘‘Truman Show’’ aspect to this, except Trump is the director — continually selling, narrating and spinning his story while he lives it.

With me, Trump toggled often between on and off the record, one of which seemed only marginally more sensitive than the other, but with enough difference to indicate that he is capable of calculating from word to word and knowing where certain lines are. At one point, Trump declared himself to be ‘‘semi off the record’’ (it wasn’t that interesting, or even semi-­interesting). He kept browbeating me to ‘‘write fairly’’ about him, meaning that I should do a full and proper rendering of the Trump Phenomenon — the full degree to which it is, as he so often says, yooooge. Otherwise it would be ‘‘disgusting,’’ as it was recently when a reporter described a ‘‘smattering of applause’’ that he received at an event in Iowa, when in fact it was much more than a ‘‘smattering’’ — trust him. ‘‘I don’t do smatterings,’’ he said, spitting out the word.
As I surveyed the magazine covers on the wall and endured his running boasts, I wondered aloud whether Americans might not prefer a more humble brand of chief executive, feigned or otherwise. ‘‘Nope,’’ he sneered. ‘‘They want success. They wanted humility in the past. They wanted a nice person’’ (for the record, he added, ‘‘I am a nice person’’). But what they really want is someone who can win, as Trump always does. ‘‘We’re going to have so many victories, you will be bored of winning.’’

I asked whether he had ever experienced self-doubt. The question seemed to catch Trump off guard, and he flashed a split second of, if not vulnerability, maybe non­swagger. ‘‘Yes, I think more than people would think,’’ he told me. When? ‘‘I don’t want to talk about it.’’ He shrug-­smirked. ‘‘Because, you know — probably more than people would think. I understand how life can go. Things can happen.’’ This was a rare moment when Trump’s voice trailed off, even slightly. He then handed me a sheet of new polling data that someone had put on his desk. ‘‘Beautiful numbers,’’ he said, inviting me to take them with me.

A curious feature of the mob scene that has surrounded Trump at most public events since August is that people keep handing him money to sign. I first witnessed this on Sept. 11, a day of national mourning. Trump was working his way through the lobby of Rockefeller Center after taping an appearance on ‘‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,’’ and a boisterous crowd had been waiting for him. One building security guard described the commotion to me as ‘‘Justin Bieber level.’’ It consisted heavily of tourists and foreign visitors, many of them young. There were the usual paparazzi, and some shouted questions. But what struck me about this Trumpus Ruckus were the dollar bills. Trump signed one after another, and the recipients clutched and cherished them like winning lottery tickets. ‘‘Look, a hundred-­dollar bill?’’ Trump said, showing me a C-note that a woman from Long Island had handed him to sign. You don’t often see politicians signing money. If asked, some will refuse — I’ve seen Hillary Clinton do this — possibly because it is technically illegal to deface currency. But it is a fitting souvenir from one of the high priests of the nation’s secular religion: aspirational consumerism. Reagan was a capitalist and a free-­market icon, but conspicuous consumption (as people used to call it) was a benefit of American freedom and prosperity, not a national objective or a virtue in itself. Not so much with Trump, who of course owns many beautiful, classy things. There is a certain prosperity-­theology aspect to Trump’s appeal, the idea that you follow a minister because he is rich and has his own plane and implicitly and sometimes explicitly promises that you, too, will be rich.

And yet, throughout his rise, Trump has been labeled a ‘‘populist.’’ I had always equated populism with economic uprisings by the disenfranchised against the privileged. Trump, who grew up in Queens as a son of a wealthy real estate developer, promotes his astronomical wealth, elite academic credentials and ‘‘good genes’’ (‘‘my uncle was a professor at M.I.T., he was the smartest guy up there’’). He is, presumably, the first ‘‘populist’’ presidential candidate to mention his degree from Wharton at a campaign rally in Alabama. Certainly, there have been other rich-guy populists, like Ross Perot. And previous populist movements have, like Trump’s, been driven in part by stoking fear of ‘‘the other’’ (in Trump’s case, his bare-knuckled attacks on the undocumented immigrants who have made the United States ‘‘a dumping ground for the rest of the world’’).

But while populism is often associated with grass-roots movements, Trump’s brand of it flows not from the ground up, as did Obama’s campaign in 2008 or even the Tea Party movement in subsequent years. Rather, Trump’s is pure media populism, a cult of personality whose following has been built over decades. The popularity of Trump’s NBC reality franchise, ‘‘The Apprentice,’’ for instance, made him a potent cultural persona; the power of that persona (the frowning, pitiless boss) might actually outweigh the customary strategic imperatives (message discipline, donor bases) that the political wiseguys like to get all aroused about. In large measure, the core of Trump’s phenomenon is his celebrity itself, which, in today’s America, is in fact as populist as it gets.

Out on the sidewalk of Rockefeller Center, the horde for Trump was edgier and included several protesters. There were chants (‘‘Trump’s a racist’’), taunts (‘‘Donald, you want to deport me?’’) and placards (‘‘You’re not hired’’). A few protesters moved in and shouted within a few feet of Trump as he made his way into the back of his stretch limo for the short drive back to his tower. Seated serenely, he betrayed no sense whatsoever that he had just fled a tumultuous and slightly menacing situation to find sanctuary behind tinted glass. ‘‘There’s something happening here,’’ he told me.

There was pounding on the side of the vehicle as we pulled away. Hope Hicks, Trump’s 26-year-old publicist and a former Ralph Lauren model, sat opposite us; next to her, Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s wiry wisp of a buzz-cut campaign manager, was buried deep in his iPhone. After a few seconds in the quiet of his limo, Trump suddenly seemed deprived of oxygen. He kept opening the window to inhale more pandemonium and sign more magazine covers of himself. ‘‘Donald! Selfie!’’ a woman yelled and stuck her head in. Trump obliged before sealing the window again.

‘‘Our country needs to be glamorized,’’ Trump said, turning to me. Hicks interjected that Bloomberg Politics had recently conducted a focus group of New Hampshire voters, in which a woman used the word ‘‘classy’’ to describe a potential Trump presidency.

As we inched along a side street, Trump said he believed there was a crisis in the way America and the presidency are imagined by customers at home and abroad. ‘‘The branding of our country is at an all-time low,’’ Trump said. ‘‘Now, ‘branding’ might not be the most beautiful word to use, but the fact is the country has been labeled so badly.’’

Trump makes no attempt to cloak his love of fame and, admirably, will not traffic in that tiresome politicians’ notion that his campaign is ‘‘not about me, it’s about you.’’ The ease with which Trump exhibits, and inhabits, his self-­regard is not only central to his ‘‘brand’’ but also highlights a kind of honesty about him. He can even seem hostile to any notion of himself as humble servant — that example of mod­esty that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln strove for.

The idea of a president as Everyman stands at odds with his glamorized vision for the nation. The president should be a man apart, exceptional and resplendent in every way. ‘‘Jimmy Carter used to get off Air Force One carrying his luggage,’’ Trump said. ‘‘I used to say, ‘I don’t want a president carrying his luggage.’ ’’ Carter was a nice man, Trump allowed. ‘‘But we want someone who is going to go out and kick ass and win.’’ Which apparently cannot be done by someone ‘‘who’s gonna come off carrying a large bag of underwear.’’

Hicks pointed out that a few stragglers from 30 Rock were now running on foot after the limo on Sixth Avenue. ‘‘Look at these people,’’ Trump said, turning around to see them. ‘‘It’s literally a little bit sad.’’ The stragglers finally caught the limo at a red light, and Trump opened the window to sign autographs for them. ‘‘How much are you gonna sell this for?’’ he asked.

‘‘America is tired of being pushed into a corner,’’ Matt Yelland, a 60-year-old electrical engineer was telling me before Trump took the stage at the American Airlines Center in Dallas in mid-­September. We were just days from the debate at the Reagan Library, and a crowd of some 17,000 had gathered for a rally. Behind Yelland, a man flashed a ‘‘Silent Majority Is Getting Louder’’ sign, alluding to the old Nixonian notion — the Silent Majority — that Trump has identified as both a campaign slogan and a target market. ‘‘We’re a gentle dog, but we’re tired of being pushed around,’’ Yelland said.

This was a common sentiment among Trump supporters I met, a group that felt worn down from being bullied. Implicit in the campaign’s ‘‘Make America Great Again’’ rallying cry is a yearning for a leader to restore a lost swagger — a return to a less complex, less politically correct and more secure nation. Trump’s war on political correctness is especially pleasing to many of the white voters of the G.O.P. who feel usurped by newcomers and silenced by the progressive gains that women, Hispanics and gays have enjoyed. It also provides a kind of permission structure for Trump to offend in the guise of ‘‘telling it like it is’’ and only enhances the reality-­TV plotline. What will he say next? How will he say it?

Trump’s speech in Dallas, a 70-­minute stemwinder, came out like a zigzagging rocket attack against the many sectors of the political establishment. If, as Mario Cuomo said, a politician campaigns in poetry and governs in prose, we can shove that notion aside in the case of Donald Trump. He campaigns in poetry in much the same way a wild hog sips chardonnay. He ridiculed John Kerry for breaking his leg in a bicycle accident during the Iran nuclear negotiations — so weak and pathetic. ‘‘The people from Iran say, ‘What a schmuck,’ ’’ Trump said of the secretary of state.

But what was more compelling to me about both the speech and the spirit of the room was how nonideological it all was. Other than undocumented immigrants, who represent a go-to boogeyman for the right, Trump’s targets consisted of a bipartisan assembly of the ‘‘permanent political class’’ that Joan Didion described in her book ‘‘Political Fictions’’: that incestuous band of TV talkers, campaign strategists and candidates that had ‘‘rigged the game’’ and perpetuated the scripted awfulness of our politics. ‘‘Everyone knows that what you see in politics is fake or confected,’’ Didion wrote. ‘‘But everyone’s O.K. with that, because it’s all been focus-­grouped.’’

Resentment of this class has built over several years. It has been expressed on both sides, by the rise of insurgent movements like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street (Trump’s railing against fund-­raiser ‘‘blood money,’’ ‘‘bloodsucker’’ lobbyists and Wall Street ‘‘paper pushers’’ would play well across the board). As a reporter in Washington, I, too, have grown exceedingly weary of this world — the familiar faces, recycled tropes and politics as usual — and here was none other than Donald J. Trump, the billionaire blowhard whom I had resisted as a cartoonish demagogue, defiling it with resonance. He tacked not to the left or to the right, but against the ‘‘losers’’ and ‘‘scumbags’’ in the various chapters of the club: the pundits who ‘‘wear heavy glasses’’ and ‘‘sit around the table,’’ the ‘‘political hacks’’ selling out American interests overseas. Karl Rove ‘‘is a totally incompetent jerk,’’ Trump told the crowd in Dallas, referring to the Fox News commentator and chief Republican strategist of the George W. Bush years. The crowd went nuts at the Rove put-down, which in itself is remarkable — the ‘‘architect’’ of Bush’s political ride being abused by a right-­leaning crowd in Bush’s home state.

It was at this point that I began to feel glad I decided to write about Trump, who seemed to have clearly seized on some profound exhaustion with our politics. There’s very little difference between Trump when he’s not running for president and Trump now that he is running for president, except that he makes more public appearances. Trump is the same boorish, brash and grandiose showman we’ve known across many realms. And for some reason, that character has proved an incendiary match with this political moment. It was a repeat of what I saw that night of the first debate, when the whole room abandoned the professional campaign surrogates in favor of the blazing chaos of Trump himself. Was Trump the logical byproduct of a cancerous system in which American democracy has mutated into a gold rush of cheap celebrity, wealth creation and narcissistic branding madness? Or has he merely wielded the tools of this transformation — his money, celebrity and dominance of the media — against the forces that have engendered this disgust in the system to begin with?

Either way, Trump left the rally to sustained applause as two songs played back to back: Twisted Sister’s ‘‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’’ and Aerosmith’s ‘‘Dream On.’’

‘‘There was good energy in that room!’’ Trump told me from the passenger seat of a Suburban as we left the arena after the rally. He exuded the red-­faced giddiness of a teenager who can’t quite believe what’s happening to him. ‘‘You never get a crowd like that without a guitar.’’ He reported that his wife, who watched his speech on cable, ‘‘said I got an A-plus.’’

We were headed to Love Field, where Trump’s Boeing 757 was waiting to ferry us the rest of the way to Southern California for the debate. A small group of gawkers stood along the fence line, snapping pictures of the sleek jet with a big ‘‘T’’ on the tail and a gold-­painted ‘‘Trump’’ on the side. Trump was eager to show me his plane — the conference room and the sleeping quarters, the mohair and silk couches and the gold-­plated seatbelts.

‘‘Do you want to wash your hands or something?’’ Trump asked when I joined him in the main cabin. Trump hates germs (‘‘I am very, very clean’’). He was also hungry. He barreled back to a pantry area arrayed with tin trays of chicken, shrimp, sea bass and chateaubriand. ‘‘Beautiful stuff,’’ Trump marveled over the spread. ‘‘There’s more food than it’s yooooomanly possible to eat.’’ He shoveled big spoons of potato au gratin onto his plate and then turned to the shrimp. ‘‘You like shrimp?’’ he said. He urged me to indulge, just as long as I did not double-­dip in the cocktail sauce. This is a pet issue for him. He was recently at a cocktail party, and they were passing around hors d’oeuvres. ‘‘This big, heavy guy takes the shrimp, puts it in, bit it and puts it in again,’’ he told me. Trump was appalled at the repeat dunking, even in the retelling. ‘‘I said, ‘You just [expletive] double-­dipped!’ He didn’t know what I was talking about.’’

Trump said he was not following any special diet or exercise regimen for the campaign. ‘‘All my friends who work out all the time, they’re going for knee replacements, hip replacements — they’re a disaster,’’ he said. He exerts himself fully by standing in front of an audience for an hour, as he just did. ‘‘That’s exercise.’’ Nor did Trump show much interest in going through the traditional paces of preparing for a presidential debate, which was now 48 hours away. CNN moderators could ask him a million different questions, he said. It makes no sense to lock yourself into a room with briefing books and 20 experts. ‘‘That’s what Romney did, and he was unable to speak,’’ Trump said.

Instead, Trump took his mountain of food and parked himself on a couch next to the big-­screen TV. He spent a good part of the three-hour flight staring up into the giant image of Donald J. Trump giving his speech. He kept flipping between Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, sampling the commentary in tiny snippets. Whenever a new talking head came on screen, Trump offered a scouting report based on the overriding factor of how he or she had treated him. ‘‘This guy’s been great to me,’’ he said when Bill O’Reilly of Fox appeared (less so O’Reilly’s guest, Brit Hume, also of Fox). Kevin Madden of CNN, a Republican strategist, was a ‘‘pure Romney guy,’’ while Ana Navarro, a Republican media consultant and Jeb Bush supporter, was ‘‘so bad, so pathetic, awful — I don’t know why she’s on television.’’ Click to Fox News. Jeb Bush was saying something in Spanish. Click to MSNBC. Hillary Clinton was saying she wished Trump would start ‘‘respecting women’’ rather than ‘‘cherishing women.’’ (‘‘She speaks so poorly, I think she’s in trouble,’’ Trump said.) Click to CNN. It showed a graphic reporting that 70 percent of Latinos had a negative view of Trump. Click to Fox News. Trump asked for another plate of au gratin.

After an hour, as Trump continued to watch himself on TV, I tried to draw out some of the particulars of his big, great plans. We were at the part of the rebroadcast in which Trump was discussing people whose families had been ‘‘decimated’’ by illegal immigrants, the emotional apex of his speech. He described illegal-­immigrant ‘‘rough dudes’’ that join street gangs and commit murder. When Trump is president, ‘‘they will be out of here so freaking fast,’’ he said in the speech. I asked Trump how he planned to round up and eject these thugs. ‘‘Just get ’em out,’’ he said, waving his hand, not looking away from
the screen.

It can be difficult to picture Trump, such a pop-culture showman, presiding over the kinds of presidency-­defining ‘‘moments’’ that require solemn empathy. I mentioned Obama after the shooting this summer at a church in Charleston, S.C., or George W. Bush at ground zero in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks. Empathy, he assured me, ‘‘will be one of the strongest things about Trump.’’ But for now, he is in sales mode, trying to convince people that he can do a job. ‘‘When I’m in that position, when we have horrible hurricanes, all kinds of horrible things happen, you’ve got to have empathy.’’

Trump returned to watching himself on the big screen. He was delivering the crescendo of his speech, about how they were all part of a movement to take back the country. ‘‘We will make America great again,’’ he said. Looking up, Trump was pleased.

"Very presidential," he said.

Donald Trump is a dilemma because of the sheer exhaustion he elicits. Every day, there is a fresh feud, a new provocation, an ‘‘inartful description’’ or a ‘‘disgusting’’ story about him somewhere. Not long after I returned from California, there were indications that the Summer of Trump might finally be ceding to a harsher autumn. His lead showed signs of slipping after the last debate. There were slightly tightening polls. He had resorted to taunting Marco Rubio, who was polling better after the debate, for, among other things, sweating a lot.

Still, Trump kept having his aides send me the latest ‘‘beautiful polls.’’ I talked briefly to him before he went on ‘‘The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.’’ ‘‘We did really well in the Morning Consult poll,’’ he told me. ‘‘I guess you saw that one.’’ I observed to Trump that I had never encountered a candidate who talked so much to me about the latest polls. He knew precisely why that was. ‘‘That’s because they’re not leading,’’ he said. Trump signed off by saying that he hoped my article would be fair and added that there was no reason it shouldn’t be. ‘‘I’ve done nothing bad,’’ he told me. ‘‘What have I done bad?’’

How do you answer that question? Trump might be the single most self-­involved yet least introspective person I have ever met in my life, in or out of politics. I’m guessing he would say this is a good quality in a president. It spares him unglamorous dilemmas. But it’s unsettling to encounter a prospective leader whose persona is so conspicuous and well defined and yet whose core is so obtuse. The Obama political acolyte David Axelrod has likened campaigns to ‘‘an M.R.I. for the soul.’’ If that’s the case, maybe the most fascinating question for Trump is not where this all ends up, but what his expedition reveals about Donald Trump’s soul, if it reveals anything at all. ‘‘Some people think this will be good for my brand,’’ Trump concluded, as deep as he probes. ‘‘I think it’s irrelevant for my brand.’’

My lasting image from my travels with Trump was imprinted on me after we landed in Los Angeles late on the night of the Dallas rally. Trump, who says he regularly operates on four hours of sleep, appeared to be dragging for the first time. His face was flush, and his barreling gait had slowed as he crossed the tarmac into a waiting car. At the last minute, one of Trump’s aides invited me to ride with Trump to Beverly Hills, where he owns a mansion. I had planned on getting a cab, and in fact was eager to be alone and also leave Trump in peace after an 18-hour day. But it was tricky to get to the terminal, where the cabs were, so it was just easier to ride — again — with Trump.

‘‘Don’t speak,’’ Trump instructed me as I sat down next to him in a Suburban. That was fine by me. None of the five staff members and security people in the vehicle said a word. We sat, per Trump’s dictate, in silence for the half-hour drive. It was almost comforting to me that he would take a break from being Donald, the Brand, and turn relatively ‘‘off’’ in my presence; that he could, as much as he ever does, retreat into himself. I wondered what he was thinking about.

After a few minutes, I saw Trump staring down into a phone glowing up into his shiny face. I
checked my phone, too. ‘‘Speech in Dallas went really well,’’ it said in my Twitter feed, courtesy of @realDonaldTrump, who was tweeting next to me in the dark.


R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., The American Spectator, 9/23/15
Donald Amongst the Eggheads
They don't like him for some reason.

Hold on to your the conservative intellectuals are in a stew. One candidate in the race for the Republican presidential nomination is not playing by the rules. He is rude and crude and having a very good time of it. Oh, and by the way, he is leading the field by a lot. He has 29 percent of the vote among Republicans, according to an NBC online survey the other day. His next closest opponent is Dr. Ben Carson with 14 percent and after that Carly Fiorina with 11 percent. Both, incidentally, are new to politics as is the target of the conservative intellectuals’ wrath, Donald Trump. Interestingly the intellectuals are markedly out of touch with the conservative rank and file.
Trump’s rambunctious presence in the race is responsible for a miracle. The conservative intellectuals have finally thrown in with the left intellectuals. Both disrelish Trump, and, if truth be known, they are not very happy with Carson or Fiorina, who with Trump account for over 50 percent of the Republican vote. A year ago these three would be sitting in the politicians’ audience.
Meanwhile Trump is flying around the country having a great time discomfiting the intellectuals and gathering abundant support from conservative voters, independents, and even from the left. How is this happening? Well, Trump speaks boldly. He has taken the measure of the political class and finds it wanting. And he has identified issues that most of the other candidates are too timid to tackle. He is an optimist. Like Ronald Reagan he sees America as a shining city on a hill, and it does not make him wince. My guess is that Trump likes movies starring John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. He is a regular American.
The think tank eggheads bring to politics neatly tailored plans to address such problems as income distribution or the immigration conundrum. Trump clarifies issues. To income distribution he brings plans for economic growth and jobs. To the immigration question he identifies the problem. It is illegal immigration, and the illegals leap to supply him with evidence by murdering and raping the citizenry. Trump’s solution is to build a wall and to return the illegals. As for those immigrants who arrived here legally, they can continue to prosper. There is evidence the legals approve.
Aside from identifying and clarifying issues, Trump spots as issues matters that the establishment politicians hardly notice, for instance, political correctness. Somehow he has perceived that political correctness rankles average Americans. It angers them when political correctness intrudes into school curricula, political discourse, and how government treats its citizens. When Trump speaks out against it, the ordinary American discovers that Trump is their kind of guy. He is also their kind of guy when he speaks out against tax loopholes and for fairness in the tax code. Trump has his finger on the pulse of average Americans. His touch for markets that has made him billions he applies to finding constituencies, and it appears he has been brilliant at finding constituencies or, as he says, “The Silent Majority.” He, and for that matter the other late arrivals to politics Carson and Fiorina, have caused anxiety in the establishments of both parties, to say nothing of the intellectuals.
How is it that Trump anticipates the issues better than the establishment politicians? Well, despite his fortune, Trump is a regular American. I think a lot of Americans recognize this. The best of America is like Trump, optimistic, self-confident, energetic, can-do, and they enjoy a good laugh. Trump has made running for political office fun again, much as Ronald Reagan made running for office fun again after the lugubrious Jimmy Carter. Reagan spoke of “Morning in America.” Trump has trademarked “Make America Great Again.”
How is Trump going to do when the voting begins? I can see him getting at a minimum 25 percent of the vote going into the convention, maybe more. It depends on his ability to develop an organization to get out the vote, his continued anticipation of issues, and his continued ability to address them boldly. If he succeeds, as I think he will, he will have a strong hand to play in the convention. I suspect his strongest opponent will be Jeb Bush, but Carson and Fiorina will also be candidates to reckon with. Then the players will sit down and cut a deal, but remember they will be dealing with the billionaire who wrote The Art of the Deal. I am looking forward to an exciting summer in 2016.


William Sullivan, American Thinker, 9/21/15
Trump the Everyman?

This may sound funny, but a big reason why Donald Trump is being embraced by millions of conservatives is because we can relate to guys like him.  We understand what makes guys like him tick.  And ultimately, we generally just like guys like him. Sure, he’s brash and rude, lacks finesse and couth, has more money than us, and lives a posh lifestyle that most people can never imagine.  But we don’t begrudge him those things.  And we certainly prefer him to the elites in Washington and academia, who presume to hector us about our worldviews and how we live our lives and raise our children, and whose economic ideas are, quite frankly, absurd in the context of reality.
There’s a scene from a 1986 movie called Back to School that captures my meaning pretty well.
Rodney Dangerfield plays Thornton Melon, a successful entrepreneur whose chain of “Tall and Fat” clothing stores have made him a multi-millionaire.  When his son decides to quit college, he decides to enroll in the university to inspire his son to persevere, and to fulfill his father’s dream for Thornton to get an education. 
Dangerfield plays an affable and accomplished slob in the film, much like his real estate mogul Al Czervik from Caddyshack years before, symbolizing the unsung potential in working-class values.  And similarly playing out the “slob vs. snobs” dynamic that was prevalent in many 1980s films, a sufficiently snooty economics professor named Dr. Phillip Barbay has a problem with Mr. Melon’s admittance to Grand Lakes University – admittance gained only because he donated a new building to the college.  So Barbay is pleased that Melon is a student in his economics course, and he’s eager to teach this unpolished oaf that his money can’t buy smarts.
In his first class, Dr, Barbay establishes the tone by explaining that he’s not going to waste the students’ time with a lot of “useless theories.”  They are instead going to “jump right in, and create a fictional company from the ground up.”  “We’ll construct our physical plant,” he continues, “we’ll set up an efficient administrative and executive structure, then we’ll manufacture our product, and market it.”
Barbay:  So let’s begin by looking at construction costs of our new factory.
Melon: [Raising his hand] What’s the product?
Barbay: That is immaterial for the purposes of our discussion here.  But if it makes you happy, let’s just say we’re making tape recorders.
Melon: Tape recorders, are you kiddin’?  The Japs’ll kill us on the labor costs! 
Barbay: Okay, fine.  Then let’s just say we’re making widgets.
Melon: What’s a widget?
Barbay: It’s a fictional product.  It doesn’t matter.
Melon: [Quietly, to his son sitting next to him] Doesn’t matter!  Tell that to the bank, you know?
You see, it’s funny (or it certainly was in 1986, at least) to think that the liberal academic, who has never created any wealth on his own, fancies himself an expert at analyzing costs and building models for revenue growth.  And yet the most fundamental aspects of any business – the product, the demand for said product, and how labor and production costs might impact bottom lines in a competitive marketplace – are “immaterial” in consideration of the more important tasks of building an elaborate “executive and administrative infrastructure” and a massive production plant.  This is the liberal academia’s economic dysfunction, exemplified.
Barbay continues, describing the costs of his fictional plant:
Barbay: You will see the final bottom line requires the factoring in of not just the materials and construction costs, but also the architect’s fees, and the costs of land servicing.
Melon: Oh, you left out a bunch of stuff.
Barbay: Oh really?  Like what, for instance?
Melon: Well first of all, you’re gonna have to grease the local politicians for the sudden zoning problems that always come up.  Then there’s the kickbacks for the carpenters.  [Shot of the students furiously taking notes]  And if you plan on using any cement in this building, I’m sure the Teamsters would like to have a little chat with ya.  And that’ll cost ya.  Oh, and don’t forget a little something for the building inspector.  Then there’s the long-term costs, such as waste disposal.  I don’t know if you’re familiar with who runs that business, but I can assure you, it’s not the Boy Scouts.
These are all practical observations of the reality of doing business in America, but Dr. Barbay silences Melon by telling him that his ideas have no place in the “legitimate business world, and they’re certainly not part of anything [he’s] trying to teach” to his young charges. 
As he begins his lecture again, pondering where to build the fictional factory, Melon loudly says, “How ‘bout Fantasyland?,” which is met by the laughter of his classmates.
Besides being a hilarious scene from one of my favorite movies and starring one of my favorite comedians, it serves as a parable – an interesting contrast that describes how seasoned entrepreneurs and private business owners understand wealth creation and the realities of the business world, and how leftist academic engineers haven’t the slightest clue what is involved in the operation of businesses or how wealth is created.  And while conservatives respect the former, we recognize that the latter live only within the very limited scope of their preferred fantasies.
To use an obvious example, to the leftist academics touting it, there is only one result of a minimum wage increase – wages go up for unskilled laborers.  Yet when reality intrudes upon the leftists’ Fantasyland, other results, which should have been easily predictable, become manifest.  Increases in labor costs drive up the costs of goods and services, which decreases demand and yields lower revenues.  This all takes its toll in the firing, or never hiring, of unskilled laborers. 
In the real world, numbers attest to these outcomes.  “After the 2009 [minimum wage] increase 600,000 teen jobs disappeared in the next six months, even as GDP expanded.  In the previous six months, when the economy was still shrinking, half as many teen jobs were lost.”  Such results are not unique, and certainly not ambiguous.  And yet, somehow, the practical lesson is seemingly lost on the likes of Mr. Obama and his economic policy czars Alan Krueger and Jason Furman, Harvard alums all, who still promote the virtues of raising the minimum wage.
The point is that, in many ways, Donald Trump’s present popularity can be explained by his having captured the same dynamic that made Dangerfield’s character popular among audiences in the 1980s, and likewise made the liberal academic the subject of jokes. 
It’s true that Trump is far from common, but he has far more in common with the common man than any Ivy League politician in Washington.  And Washington has been rife with the latter for decades.  Since Reagan (of Eureka College), the executive office has been perpetually occupied by Ivy Leaguers.  George H.W. Bush, Yale.  Bill Clinton, Yale.  George W. Bush, Yale.  Barack Obama, Harvard.  And the left’s preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton, in 2016?  Yale.
It all raises the question that Mark Steyn asks for us in After America: Get Ready for Armageddon while pondering our “credentialed-to-the-hilt” aristocracy: “If the smart guys [running things] are so smart, why are we broke?”
Like millions of conservatives, I still have a bit of healthy skepticism about the benefits of declaring that Donald Trump is the best choice for the Republican ticket in 2016 and the savior of conservatism.  But one thing is clear.  Trump’s tapped into that energetic, dormant vein of conservatism in a way that no one else has in a long time. 
He is a living testament to individualism, at once both a successful businessman and an obviously flawed human being.  He has real-world experience, lending credence to his executive prowess.  And he is set so starkly in contrast amidst a field that has been perpetually occupied by statist academics and robotic elitists who would presume to be our betters, despite driving us deeper and deeper into their redistributive Fantasyland.
So who can blame conservatives and independents, tired of the status quo, for finding something to cheer for in Donald Trump?


Sharyl Attkisson, 9/12/15
Donald’s Duck: 7 Reasons Why Nothing Sticks to Teflon Trump

From the moment Donald Trump entered the presidential race, the news media and pundits predicted his political demise. Each time his poll numbers went up instead of down, they rationalized it in irrational ways. For example, the news was flooded with Trump’s supposed missteps and guffaws. But when his poll numbers went up instead of down, the pundits claimed it’s because he’d gotten so much “free publicity”—never mind that the publicity had been given with the goal of making him look bad.
I’m not a political analyst. This is neither a defense nor criticism of Trump or any candidate. It’s a political outsider’s nonscientific attempt to explain what continues to befuddle so many. The seven counterpoints to conventional wisdom as to why “Trump can’t win…” are built from conversations with regular folks and nothing more. And here’s a bonus prediction based solely on these anecdotes: if Trump stays in the race, he’ll pick up support from Democrats, independents, African-Americans and women that will continue to befuddle his critics.
Trump can’t win because…
1. Trump doesn’t know the names of terror leaders.
Trump’s supporters think that anybody can memorize names of terror leaders and talking points about strategy. They believe those who do know the names have done a disastrous job on terrorism policy. They think it’s more important to have a leader who will stop following advice that keeps proving wrong than to have someone who can recite names.
2. Trump doesn’t have a plan.
Trump’s supporters believe that politicians who do have plans have messed up things pretty badly. They think Trump’s leadership skills make him more likely to accomplish a goal than a politician who has a plan.
3. Trump isn’t conservative enough.
Trump’s supporters don’t care that he doesn’t walk the party line. In fact, even if they don’t agree with all of his positions, they see his range of views as evidence that he won’t robotically bow to the will of a party above the people. His divergent views also appeal to some Democrats and independents.
4. Trump has flip-flopped.
Trump’s supporters, like many Americans, have changed their mind on issues over the years and it doesn’t bother them that Trump has, too. When Trump is criticized for flip-flopping, it only solidifies the idea among his supporters that the news media is stacking the deck against him. For example, the same reporters have not highlighted Hillary Clinton’s and President Obama’s flip-flops on gay marriage (both said through at least 2008 that they opposed it). Nor have they singled out Clinton’s change of heart on illegal immigration (in 2003, she said she was “adamantly against illegal immigrants.”)
5. Trump personally insults people.
Trump’s supporters don’t think his penchant for insult outweighs the skillset he has to accomplish things that matter. Further, they believe Trump is giving as good as he gets whether it’s Democrats and other Republicans calling his supporters crazies, likening Republicans to terrorists, making fun of his hair, claiming he’s never read the Bible “because he’s not in it,” or saying he is a narcissistic clown.

6. Trump is against immigrants.
Trump’s supporters are wise to the propaganda effort that seeks to conflate illegal immigrants with legal immigrants. They know that Trump has spoken out in strong support of legal immigration, but opposes illegal immigration, as they do.

7. Trump won’t apologize.
Trump’s supporters are sick of the apology culture in which the media and pundits dictate appropriate behavior and demand apologies for perceived transgressions. They think a politician’s apology doesn’t change the deed and is rarely sincere; it’s simply a way of saying “I’m sorry I got caught” or “I’m sorry that what I did hurt my poll numbers.” Trump’s supporters believe his defiance of the apology culture demonstrates he will not be subject to the whims of media demands du jour.


Scott Adams (Dilbert), 9/10/15
Trump Engineers a Linguistic Kill Shot for Fiorina

Disclaimer: For new readers, this is part of my series on Trump’s skills as a persuader. I am analyzing events through the filter of my Master Wizard Hypothesis. The Master Wizard Hypothesis says that Trump is playing three-dimensional chess with a two-dimensional world and he will win the presidency in a landslide. (The alternative hypothesis is that he is nothing but the loudest “outsider” and will flame-out soon.)
I don’t know which candidate would do the best job as president. I am not that smart. But I am impressed with Trump’s game. I write about it for entertainment. Don’t take cartoonists too seriously.
The Fiorina Linguistic Kill Shot: “Look at that face!”
This morning I see that the press is playing rusty trombone on Rolling Stone’s article about Trump and his unkind comments about Carly Fiorina’s appearance. The press is furiously trying to manufacture news out of the quote and doing a good job of it so far.
You won’t appreciate the beauty of Trump’s game until you read the entire article, and that takes too long. But if you do, look for a Master Wizard making a Rolling Stones writer fall in love with him while setting up the writer to transmit the Fiorina kill shot embedded in a sexist-sounding comment.
And the Outragists danced and shouted. As planned.
See the search results on Trump’s linquistic kill shot this morning, below the post here.
All of the chatter from the Rolling Stones article will be about whether Trump’s comments were sexist or not. True to form, Trump is making all of us think past the close. The sale in this case is the idea that Fiorina’s face will be a problem with voters. We accepted that part of his suggestion and went directly to the idea of whether mentioning it is okay or not.
Yeah, that happened.
A kill shot is designed with one necessary element to distinguish it from a mere insult. The kill shot has to put words to what you were already thinking in a vague sense. If you disagree with the main idea in the linguistic kill shot, it has no power. Trump only picks kill shots you agree with on some visceral level. For example…
Jeb Bush does look “low energy.” We agree as soon as Trump says it, even if we had never had a concrete thought about it until he voiced it.
Ben Carson does seem “too nice” for the difficult job of staring down foreign leaders. We agree.
And I’m going to come right out and agree that Fiorina’s face was bothering me. But I never would have voiced that opinion without Trump going first because it sounds terrible. I wouldn’t want to be associated with the thought. [Note to Outragists: The first sentence in this paragraph is the one to take out of context. You are welcome.]
When I say Fiorina’s face bothers me, I am not referring to her looks in general. She looks fit, stylish, and attractive to me. But she does have what I call the angry wife face when she talks politics. Guys, you know the face, which is usually paired with a tone of disapproval. It is your greatest nightmare. It is the face that says you did not do a good job, at whatever.
The outragists in the press will report Trump’s comments as sexism. And by today’s standards, I agree with the classification. But what every adult male who has ever had a relationship with a woman saw was Trump putting words to their own personal nightmares: That face.
Trump will never win over voters who would be incensed by his “sexist” comments. But he can stir-up that crowd and make them carry his message to the rest of the world without paying a penny for ads.
I have no way of knowing this, but I think most voters see a guy competing in a beauty contest and commenting on the beauty of another contestant. People do cast their votes based on looks, and that includes the attitude that a candidate’s face projects. The physical appeal of the candidates – both men and women – is a HUGE factor in any political race. That’s why we don’t elect short, bald, male presidents. It works both ways. Trump spoke the ugly truth.
My guess is that the majority of American voters chuckled at Trump’s comment and muttered to themselves some version of “We don’t have to worry about him lying to us.”
And his popularity grows.

Friday, September 18, 2015

President Candidate Casino, Fox News Special Report All-Star Panel

On 1/23/2015, based on an idea from Stephen Hayes, the Fox News Special Report All-Star Panel introduced the Candidate Casino.  Each panelist is given $100 in chips to wager on the presidential candidates...

Each date represents the bet aggregate of the panelists.

[under construction... more to come...]


Republican:  $100 Rubio, $90 Trump, $45 Cruz, $25 Bush, $20 Christie, $15 Carson, $5 field

Krauthammer:  $40 Rubio, $30 Trump, $15 Cruz, $5 Bush, $5 Christie, $5 field
Lane:  $30 Trump, $30 Rubio, $20 Cruz, $10 Bush, $5 Christie, $5 Carson
Easton:  $30 Trump, $30 Rubio, $10 Cruz, $10 Bush, $10 Christie, $10 Carson


Republican:  $130 Rubio, $70 Cruz, $30 Trump, $30 Bush, $15 Christie, $15 Carson, $10 Kasich

Hayes:  $55 Rubio, $25 Cruz, $10 Christie, $5 Carson, $5 Trump
Goldberg:  $45 Rubio, $45 Cruz, $5 Christie, $5 Trump
Gearan:  $30 Rubio, $30 Bush, $20 Trump, $10 Carson, $10 Kasich


Republican:  $105 Trump, $70 Rubio, $45 Fiorina, $30 Cruz, $20 Bush, $10 Carson, $10 Kasich, $10 field 

Krauthammer:  $25 Rubio, $25 Trump, $15 Cruz, $10 Bush, $10 Carson, $10 field, $5 Fiorina 
Carlson:  $45 Trump, $30 Fiorina, $25 Rubio
Stoddard:  $35 Trump, $20 Rubio, $15 Cruz, $10 Bush, $10 Fiorina, $10 Kasich

Democrat:  $235 Clinton, $65 field

Krauthammer:  $95 Clinton, $5 field
Carlson:  $50, $50 field
Stoddard:  $90 Clinton, $10 field


Republican:  $75 Rubio, $70 Carson, $65 Trump, $40 Fiorina, $35 Bush, $10 field, $5 Cruz

Krauthammer:  $35 Rubio, $20 Bush, $15 Fiorina, $15 Trump, $10 field, $5 Cruz
Catanese:  $40 Rubio, $30 Carson, $10 Trump, $10 Fiorina, $10 Bush
Attkisson:  $40 Carson, $40 Trump, $15 Fiorina, $5 Bush

Democrat:  $140 Biden, $130 Clinton, $30 Sanders

Krauthammer:  $70 Clinton, $20 Biden, $10 Sanders
Catanese:  $60 Clinton, $20 Biden, $20 Sanders
Attkisson:  $100 Biden


Republican:  $75 Bush, $65 Rubio, $60 field, $55 Kasich, $15 Trump, $10 Christie, $10 Fiorina, $5 Cruz, $5 Walker 

Barnes:  $30 Rubio, $25 Bush, $15 Kasich, $10 Trump, $5 Cruz, $5 Fiorina, $5 Christie, $5 Walker
Kondracke:  $40 Bush, $35 Kasich, $25 Rubio
Birnbaum:  $10 Bush, $10 Rubio, $5 Christie, $5 Kasich, $5 Trump, $5 Fiorina, $60 field


Republican:  $80 Bush, $80 Rubio, $75 Walker, $25 Kasich, $15 Fiorina, $15 Cruz, $10 field 

Krauthammer:  $25 Rubio, $20 Bush, $20 Walker, $10 Cruz, $10 Fiorina, $10 Kasich, $5 field
Riley:  $30 Bush, $30 Walker, $30 Rubio, $5 Kasich, $5 Fiorina
Walter:  $30 Bush, $25 Walker, $25 Rubio, $10 Kasich, $5 Cruz, $5 field

Democrat:  $215 Clinton, $65 Biden, $10 Sanders, $5 Kerry, $5 field

Krauthammer:  $50 Clinton, $40 Biden, $10 Sanders
Riley:  $80 Clinton, $15 Biden, $5 Kerry
Walter:  $85 Clinton, $10 Biden, $5 field


Republican:  $90 Bush, $80 Rubio, $75 Walker, $20 Kasich, $20 field, $10 Cruz, $5 Trump

Krauthammer:  $25 Bush, $25 Rubio, $25 Walker, $5 Cruz, $5 Trump, $5 Kasich, $10 field 
Fournier:  $30 Bush, $25 Walker, $20 Rubio, $15 Kasich, $10 field
Riley:  $35 Bush, $35 Rubio, $25 Walker, $5 Cruz

Democrat:  $255 Clinton, $20 Biden, $15 field, $10 Kerry

Krauthammer:  $95 Clinton, $5 field
Fournier:  $80 Clinton,  $10 Biden, $10 field 
Riley:  $80 Clinton, $10 Biden, $10 Kerry


Republican:  $95 Walker, $85 Bush, $65 Rubio, $30 field, $15 Paul, $5 Kasich, $5 Cruz

Krauthammer:  $30 Rubio, $30 Walker, $30 Bush, $5 Kasich, $5 Cruz 
Easton:  $25 Walker, $25 Bush, $20 Rubio, $30 field
Catanese:  $40 Walker, $30 Bush, $15 Paul, $15 Rubio

Democrat:  $235 Clinton, $45 Sanders, $15 Biden, $5 field

Krauthammer:  $95 Clinton, $5 field
Easton:  $65 Clinton, $25 Sanders, $10 Biden
Catanese:  $75 Clinton, $20 Sanders, $5 Biden


Republican:  $100 Rubio, $85 Bush, $60 Walker, $25 Cruz, $15 field, $10 Paul, $5 Huckabee

Krauthammer:  $40 Rubio, $30 Bush, $20 Walker, $10 field
Hayes:  $40 Rubio, $25 Walker, $20 Bush, $10 Cruz, $5 field
Williams:  $35 Bush, $20 Rubio, $15 Walker, $10 Cruz, $10 Paul, $5 Cruz, $5 Huckabee

Democrat:  $245 Clinton, $50 field, $5 Warren

Krauthammer:  $95 Clinton, $5 Warren
Hayes:  $50 Clinton, $50 field
Williams:  $100 Clinton


Republican:  $110 Walker, $95 Bush, $60 Rubio, $15 Christie, $5 Cruz, $5 Kasich, $5 field, $4 Jindal, $1 Trump

Krauthammer:  $35 Rubio, $30 Bush, $25 Walker, $5 Cruz, $5 field
Will:  $35 Walker, $25 Bush, $15 Rubio, $15 Christie, $5 Kasich, $4 Jindal, $1 Trump
Powers:  $50 Walker, $40 Bush, $10 Rubio

Democrat:  $236 Clinton, $49 S. Brown, $15 Warren

Krauthammer:  $85 Clinton, $15 Warren
Will:  $51 Clinton, $49 S. Brown
Powers:  $100 Clinton


Republican:  $100 Bush, $80 Walker, $60 Rubio, $25 field, $20 Cruz, $15 Paul

Krauthammer:  $35 Rubio, $30 Bush, $25 Walker, $5 Cruz, $5 field
Will:  $35 Walker, $30 Bush, $10 Paul, $5 Cruz, $20 field
Pace:  $40 Bush, $25 Rubio, $20 Walker, $10 Cruz, $5 Paul


Republican:  $100 Bush, $85 Rubio, $80 Walker, $10 Cruz, $10 Paul, $10 field, $5 Fiorina

Krauthammer:  $40 Rubio, $30 Bush, $25 Walker, $5 field
Hayes:  $35 Rubio, $30 Walker, $20 Bush, $10 Cruz, $5 field
Williams:  $50 Bush, $25 Walker, $10 Rubio, $10 Paul, $5 Fiorina

Democrat:  $225 Clinton, $50 field, $10 O'Malley, $10 Biden, $5 Warren

Krauthammer:  $95 Clinton, $5 Warren
Hayes:  $50 Clinton, $50 field
Williams:  $80 Clinton, $10 O'Malley, $10 Biden


Republican:  $105 Bush, $80 Walker, $70 Rubio, $20 Paul, $10 Christie, $10 Cruz, $5 Carson

Krauthammer:  $40 Rubio, $30 Bush, $25 Walker, $5 Christie
Goldberg:  $45 Walker, $25 Bush, $20 Rubio, $10 Cruz
Williams:  $50 Bush, $20 Paul, $10 Rubio, $10 Walker, $5 Carson, $5 Christie


Monday, August 24, 2015

List of Anti-Trump Conservative Republican Pundits Predicting and Hoping for Failure and Defeat of Trump Supporters

Cooke (National Review)
Goldberg (National Review)
Lowry (National Review)

[[[ ...National Review, the venerable conservative publication, because of a number of comments made by its writers and editors about Donald Trump. (I should put in a disclaimer high in the story: I worked for National Review from 2001 to 2009 and know, like and respect many of the people involved in this matter.)
To put it mildly, a lot of NR writers don't like Trump.
For example, on June 16, when Trump announced his candidacy, NR roving correspondent Kevin D. Williamson analyzed the event in a piece headlined "Witless Ape Rides Escalator." Williamson called Trump "the most ridiculous buffoon with the worst taste since Caligula." Also: 'a reality-television grotesque with his plastic-surgery-disaster wife, grunting like a baboon about our country's 'brand' and his own vast wealth." And: "not just an ass, but an ass of exceptionally intense asininity." And, of course, a "witless ape."
In August, NR writer Charles C.W. Cooke called Trump a "virus." "A plague is sweeping the land, gathering victims of all shapes and sizes and turning them into fools," Cooke wrote. "Its name — for now — is Trumpism." Cooke has also called Trump "a preposterous little trust-fund wuss" and "a thin-skinned performance artist."
In July, NR's "The Week" feature, written jointly by its staff, said of Trump's candidacy: "'Cometh the hour, cometh the reality-television star,'" or, as Stephen Sondheim put it, "'Send in the clowns.'"
Also in July, NR senior editor Jonah Goldberg called Trump "a low-rent carnival barker." In April, Goldberg hit Trump for hypocrisy in a Twitter exchange over attitudes toward women and added: "I think his hypocrisy is merely the Rose Window of the larger cathedral of Trumpian asininity here." In January, Goldberg said on Fox News that Trump "has a long record of clownishly pretending he'll run for president," and, a moment later, called Trump "a bane of humanity." (Goldberg later said — convincingly for those who follow him — that the "bane of humanity" part was "a bit tongue-in-cheek."
Finally, in perhaps the most notorious hostile analysis of the presidential race so far, National Review editor Rich Lowry said on Fox News in September that rival candidate Carly Fiorina "cut [Trump's] balls off with the precision of a surgeon" in the second Republican debate. Later, Lowry got into a heated Twitter exchange with Trump, saying, "I thought the Carly cut your balls off line might bother you, but you know it's true …" and "A deal for you, Donald: if you apologize to Carly for your boorish insult, I might stop noting how she cut your b**** off."

-Byron York, Washington Examiner, 11/3/15]]]

George Will:
... and $1 on Donald Trump in the hope that he will be tempted to run, be predictably shellacked, and we will be spared ever more this quadrennial charade of his.

Jonah Goldberg: 
Last week, up in New Hampshire, Steve was on a panel and referred to Donald Trump as a “clown.” In response, the famously tough businessman who boasts he can take on Putin, the Chinese Politburo, and the mullahs got very upset. And as any first-rate presidential aspirant would, started relentlessly tweeting like a 14-year-old girl about it...
Here’s me in 2011: Like the scorpion in Aesop’s fables who must sting the frog because that’s simply what scorpions do, the world renowned, self-promoting billionaire-clown must tout himself with passion and narcissistic self-regard. It was only a matter of time, for instance, before he came out with his own fragrance: Donald Trump Cologne by Donald Trump Eau De Toilettes. (You can find it on One customer review is from a woman who discovered the scent as it wafted up from the stock boy at Toys R Us.)
But that’s not the smell that bothers me. It’s the stench of desperation coming up from those rallying around a Trump presidential bid. Still, that was four years ago and my most recent comment about Trump was four months ago. A bit tongue-in-cheek, I called him the “bane of humanity” and chastised the media, including some of my colleagues at Fox News, for taking him so seriously...
I guess Trump’s Olympian self-regard can lead him to never forget a slight, harbor grudges against critics for a very long time, and drive him to engage in childish name-calling late into the night, which are obviously some of the attributes we all look for in a presidential candidate.
A huge ego and a penchant for spite is totally the kind of guy we should entrust the nuclear football to. Still, I take this all very seriously...
Again, if Trump is a tenth as brilliant as he says he is, there’s a really clever scheme hiding amidst all of this juvenile whining, like a shiny pony obscured by piles of manure. The thing is, I’m too dumb to see it. All I see is a guy who’s been preening for attention with bogus talk about running for president for years who’s deeply offended that nobody believes him or cares anymore. Anyway, you can read all of his tweets here. It’s not exactly like reading Jefferson’s diary. If I didn’t find it all so hilarious, I’d think it was just a little sad.

Charles Krauthammer:
Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer during an appearance on the Fox News show "Special Report with Bret Baier” said Trump’s announcement showed “great showmanship” but little else.
"Look, this is a campaign that’s run on know-nothing xenophobia,” Krauthammer said. “It will damage the party,”
During his Fox appearance, Krauthammer used the opportunity of Trump's announcement speech earlier in the day to hammer the Donald.
“It was stream of consciousness,” Krauthammer said. “I think his single most important statement was ‘I am very rich.’ That’s the basis for the campaign.”
Krauthammer criticized Trump for his outlook on Mexico.
“But you know, look, you say, can you take him seriously? Can you really take seriously a candidate who says ‘Mexico is not our friend? It’s sending us immigrants who are criminals, drug dealers, and rapists. Although’ — and this is my favorite part — he says quote ‘Some I assume are good people.’”
Host Doug McKelway, filling in for Baier, commented on Trump’s ego and asked whether they saw contradictions in Trump’s speech.
“The contradictions were flying around that room every second,” Krauthammer responded.
Krauthammer did concede Trump had one redeeming characteristic: “He is very rich.”

Jonah Goldberg:
Poor Donald Trump. 
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. For years, wherever The Donald went, he met people who told him he should run for president. His retinue of sycophants surely saw little to gain from explaining that “birthers,” celebrity worshippers, and devotees of The Apprentice are not a statistically meaningful sample of the electorate.
Nor did it dawn on him that some people say “you should run for president” the way you tell your long-winded uncle “you should write a book.” History is full of failed men who mistook flattery for insight.
In the past, Trump always pulled back from the brink. Why risk his beloved TV show? Why endure the embarrassment of revealing he’s not as rich as he pretends to be? Better to play a Cincinnatus who won’t relinquish his plow — or in this case, his line of cologne. Flirt but don’t commit was the rule. 
But something changed. One too many Twitter followers said, “Do it!” One too many valets whispered, “America needs you” — probably just before asking for a raise. And Trump took the leap — though he hasn’t provided the required financial disclosures yet, which inclines me to think that either he will suddenly find an excuse to retreat or he has a team of accountants trying to figure out how he can simultaneously save face and avoid perjury.
In his announcement speech — the brevity and discipline of which were impressive only by the standards of Fidel Castro or Joe Biden — Trump shouted his certainty that Mexico is sending rapists and other criminals to America, but he could only “assume” (sotto voce) that “some” of those Mexicans are good people.
Many of my colleagues on the right have taken pains to logic-chop Trump’s remarks. And it is true that some number of rapists and drug dealers are illegally crossing the border. Others have defended Trump by noting that what people like about this Lonesome Rhodes in a $10,000 suit is his fearlessness, bluntly tackling issues that other politicians fear to touch. That is a fine point in an indictment of the professional political class, but it is not a defense of Trump.
His goal was to wave the rhetorical bloody shirt. It worked only too well, damaging a party he expresses contempt for daily.
Indeed, Trump’s commitment to the GOP has often been situational. Sure, he has put his money where his mouth is, but he’s as promiscuous with his mouth as he is with the Trump brand. He’s given money to Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, John Kerry, Andrew Cuomo, Eliot Spitzer, and the Clinton Foundation.
Asked to explain why, he said, “You’re gonna need things from everybody.” (One does wonder what Trump hoped to get from the Clinton Foundation.)
This attitude helps explain why Trump is such a fan of eminent domain. The man seeking the Tea Party’s support loves to use the government to seize private land he can’t — or doesn’t want to — buy fairly.
Given the fetid swamp of sanctioned corruption that passes for commerce in New York, it’s no wonder he sees nothing wrong with greasing the skids by funding liberal politicians. But one might expect a person who claims to be a conservative to at least pay some rhetorical tribute to virtue while admitting his vice. Alas, it is axiomatic that the shameless are incapable of exhibiting shame.The great irony is that the man who made his fortune playing the game of influence-peddling and celebrity-mongering forgot that the other players get a turn. Trump has lost his TV show. Macy’s will no longer carry his menswear. New York mayor Bill de Blasio, who governs like a banana-republic demagogue, has declared that he is reviewing Trump’s contracts with the city.
Meanwhile, too many of Trump’s GOP primary competitors, afraid of angering his fans, stand mute or mumbling. Republicans are fielding the best candidates in a generation, but Trump is poised to make them chumps by association. He has no chance of becoming president, but he has the huge potential to deny his alleged party a White House victory in 2016. And when that happens, he will of course stay a celebrity, but he will have traded his fame for infamy, even among those now cheering him on.

Stephen Hayes:
Trump is a complete and utter disgrace. An embarrassment to humanity.

Stephen Hayes:
Donald Trump confirmed two things during a stop in this central Iowa town Saturday: He has no class and he may well run as an independent when he does not win the Republican nomination.
There had been considerable public evidence of both long before his appearance here today at the Family Leader Summit but Trump, who is leading several national polls of the Republican primary, erased any doubt with comments he made about Senator John McCain and a prospective independent bid.
Trump was answering questions from Republican pollster Frank Luntz on stage when he declared that John McCain, who spent six years as a POW in Vietnam, was not a war hero. Trump went on to express his preference for soldiers who weren’t captured, suggesting a belief that prisoners of war have some say in their captivity. Luntz had asked Trump about his reaction to McCain’s comment that Trump had stirred up the “crazies” with his candidacy. When Trump attacked McCain, Luntz asked if Trump was comfortable with that kind of criticism of a war hero.
“He’s not a war hero,” said Trump. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” The comments clearly shocked the crowd at the summit, some of whom reacted with boos and shouts of condemnation.
McCain was shot down flying combat missions in Vietnam on October 26, 1967. He was taken captivity with a broken right leg and fractures in both arms. He was beaten and tortured repeatedly, in part because his father commanded the U.S. Navy in the Pacific.
At a testy press conference after his performance, and as the real-time scorn for his comments dominated Twitter, Trump doubled-down. He pretended that his criticism came because McCain “has not done enough for veterans in this country…I see the veterans. I’m with the veterans all the time. Some of these people wait four or five days just to see a doctor.”
Of course, if Trump had even passing knowledge of the current controversy over care for U.S. veterans, he would understand that some veterans wait literally months before seeing a doctor – not just four or five days. But fact-checking Donald Trump is like picking up after a dog with diarrhea; there’s just not much point.
I asked Trump if he was blaming John McCain for his capture, as his comments implied. “I am saying John McCain has not done a good job,” Trump responded, dodging the question.
When I repeated the question, Trump said: “I am not blaming John McCain for his capture. If he gets captured, he gets captured.”
“Why would you say you like people who don’t get captured?”
Trump: “The people that don’t get captured I’m not supposed to like? I like the people who don’t get captured and I respect the people who do get captured.”
Why would you say that in the context of John McCain: “Excuse me, excuse me. I like the people that don’t get – you have many people that didn’t get captured. I respect them greatly. You’ve got people that got captured. I respect them greatly also. Why – I’m not supposed to respect the people that don’t get captured?
Are you suggesting that John McCain did something to lead to his capture?
Trump: “Of course not.”
Why would you say what you said?
At that point, Trump turned and answered a question about China.
Later, I asked Trump if he would apologize to McCain. “No, not at all.”
And after that, I asked Trump if he had ever read any accounts of McCain’s time in captivity before he suggested McCain is not a war hero.
“It’s irrelevant.”
For those who find it relevant, McCain wrote about his experience in 1973...
Mark Salter, McCain’s former chief of staff who co-wrote several of McCain’s book on his service and the service of others, posted on his Facebook page shortly after Trump’s comments. “Is this a great country or what. Even morons can get rich here.”
Several Republican candidates denounced Trump in campaign appearances or on Twitter...  
RNC spokesman Sean Spicer, in a statement, said: “There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably."
Idiotic statements are nothing new to Trump, who called George W. Bush "evil," who has long advanced birther conspiracies about Barack Obama, and who used his announcement speech to suggest that Mexican illegal immigrants are “rapists.” 
Later in his appearance here, Trump was asked directly by an audience member whether he would rule out running as a third party candidate for president. “No, no,” Trump said. “I won’t go on record as saying that.”
It’s a comment that should surprise nobody, since Trump first flirted with politics as a potential candidate for the Reform Party’s nomination in 1999. Despite his announcement, Trump is not a candidate so much as a carnival barker on an extended ego ride. And if he runs as a third party candidate, he could well deliver the White House to Hillary Clinton – a past recipient of Trump praise and campaign contributions.

Stephen Hayes:
During his speech Trump was asked about Senator McCain's comment calling Trump supporters crazy, with Trump in return saying McCain insulted him.After a series of other reporters asked Trump questions about his feud with McCain, Hayes asked Trump: “You said John McCain—you said you like people who didn’t get captured…”“No, no I do like people who get captured and I like people who don’t get captured—“ Trump started to respond before Hayes cut him off.
“Are you blaming McCain for his capture?” Hayes interrupted.
“I am saying that John McCain has not done a good job—“ Trump began to answer again before Hayes cut him off again.
“No that’s not what you said,” Hayes interrupted. “That’s not my question. Are you blaming John McCain for his capture?”
“I’m not blaming John McCain—“ Trump began to answer before Hayes cut him off again.
“Why would you say—“
“Excuse me,” Trump continued his answer. “If he gets captured, he gets captured. They’re brave men because they were in the field.”
Hayes, still unsatisfied, cut Trump off again.
“You said you like people who don’t get captured—it’s a simple question,” Hayes said.
“I do like people—what? The people who don’t get captured, I’m not supposed to like?” Trump said. “I like people that don’t get captured and I respect the people who do get captured.”
Hayes interrupted yet again.
“Why would you say that in the context of John McCain?” Hayes asked, speaking over Trump.
“Excuse me, excuse me,” Trump started answering again. “I like the people that don’t get captured. You have many people that didn’t get captured. They’re great. You have people that did get captured. I respect them greatly also. What, I’m not supposed to respect the people that didn’t get captured?”
Hayes, still unsatisfied, interrupted again.
“Are you suggesting that John McCain did something to lead to his capture?” Hayes asked.
“Of course not,” Trump replied before Hayes cut him off another time.
“Why would you say what you said?” Hayes asked again.
“Go back to being a pundit,” Trump replied.
This isn’t the first time Hayes and Trump had a hot exchange. In a previous appearance in April, Hayes called Trump a “conservative of convenience” and a “clown.”

Bill Kristol:
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS : And, Bill Kristol, I think it was just yesterday you did a brief interview with ABC News, calling him older, wiser, richer Donald Trump would be better than Hillary.
Still think that?
BILL KRISTOL, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I think he's still older and richer than Hillary Clinton.
Though if she gives a few more speeches maybe she'll catch up. But, no, I don't think that anymore actually. I think it's one thing, he was a controversial character who said some useful things, I think, and brought some people into the Republican tent. But he jumped the shark yesterday. He's dead to me.
He said to me -- no, seriously --
RADDATZ: -- to you --
KRISTOL: -- yes, seriously, no. I mean, he insulted every veteran, every -- certainly every veteran who's a POW, which is -- with these insane statements about how it's your fault that you're captured or shot down. And with total lack of respect for not just John McCain -- that I think other people made this point, Jim Webb, made this point -- for other people's military service and sacrifice.
So I'm finished with Donald Trump. And I don’t think it's going to -- he'll -- and I don't think -- I don't think he'll stay up in the polls, incidentally. Republican primary voters are pro-respect the military. And he showed disrespect for the military.

Larry Sabato:
Political analyst Larry Sabato said Tuesday he has one word for a potential Donald Trump presidency: "disaster."
"He would not really be able to govern because of his bombastic style," said Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, on CNN's "Newsroom with Carol Costello" program. "He's a billionaire. He's used to calling the shots."
The problem with that, Sabato said, is that the president of the United States "must work with members of Congress, must work with governors."
But, he told Costello, it's not possible to know exactly what kind of president Trump would made based on the positions he's taken so far, "because hasn't really taken that many."
"He stressed that he's opposed to illegal immigration," Sabato said. "He's pro veterans. He's against ISIS. Well, what president wouldn't be against ISIS and for veterans?"
When it comes to a president, said Sabato, "you have to look at style. You have to look at personality. Because those things really matter in the most personal office of all, the presidency."
But Sabato said he doesn't agree with a conclusion reached by The Des Moines Register, which featured an editorial asking for Trump to drop out of the race.
In the piece, the newspaper contended that "being electable isn't the same as being qualified, and Trump as proven himself not only unfit to hold office, but unfit to stand on the same stage as his opponents."
"I think they're wrong there about him being electable," Sabato said. "And if the Des Moines register attacks a Republican, it generally helps that Republican. They're a liberal and Democratic newspaper. Or at least they're seen that way by conservative Republicans in Iowa."
Sabato reminded Costello that during Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign, she was leading at one point in the polls in 2011, up against GOP candidates that included Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and John McCain.
"This is a message sending season," Sabato said. "It's the Trump summer. When people get close to voting, they'll get serious, because both of our major parties want to win. If Trump were nominated, it would be a landslide in the Democratic direction. Trump is probably the best and only chance to bring back Congress."
Meanwhile, Sabato said that Trump will most likely be in the Fox News debate on Aug. 6, and in the CNN debate in September, but expects him to start dropping after that.
"The first real votes are cast Feb. 1 in the Iowa caucuses," he said. "Feb. 1. It's [now] July. Think about how many days — no, how many hours, how many minutes there are for Donald Trump to say more outrageous things between now and then."

Daniel Henninger:
Trump in River City
Donald Trump is the Prof. Harold Hill of the presidential election.
In “The Music Man,” Meredith Willson’s great musical, super salesman Harold Hill talks the townspeople of River City, Iowa, into buying trombones, bassoons and drums to form a boys’ band. Then, after the people of River City have committed belief and money to him, he’ll skip town.
Donald Trump is America’s Music Man, and the United States is his River City. Unlike the original, the Trump version isn’t going to have a happy ending.
Like Professor Harold Hill, Donald Trump must know it’s all a fabulous scam. How else to explain that on June 4—just before his presidential announcement—the Donald came to Mason City, Iowa, Meredith Willson’s hometown and the model for River City. And where did Donald Trump address Mason City’s locals? In Music Man Square.
Here’s the Washington Post reporting on the Trump visit to the border at Laredo, Texas: “During a whirlwind visit . . . Trump blazed around in a presidential-style motorcade that included seven SUVs and even more police cars. Local officers blocked off roads, including Interstate 35, for Trump’s entourage.”
From “The Music Man”: “I don’t know how he does it, but he lives like a king, and he dallies and he gathers, and he plucks and he shines and when the man dances . . . the Piper pays him.”
Like Harold Hill, Donald Trump believes he can say anything and get away with it.
He said Mexico has an inferior culture, and later claimed that he’d win the Hispanic vote.
What he said about John McCain should have barred him from public life, but the Donald’s enthusiasts said it was no big deal.
On the “Hannity” show Monday night he attacked Scott Walkerfor not raising taxes. “I looked into Wisconsin,” Mr. Trump said. “Their roads are a disaster, they don’t want to spend any money on roads because he doesn’t want to raise taxes.” He accused the Wisconsin governor of being “divisive, because everyone there is fighting with each other.”
So the Donald would have raised taxes on the people of Wisconsin, and he thinks the Republican governor who defeated the public unions and survived a recall election is “divisive.” No matter. The people of River City are desperate to believe, and so the man who wrote “The Art of the Deal” is leading in the national polls.
Is anything going on here other than clinical egomania?
Yes, and it’s no laughing matter.
The American anxieties Donald Trump has tapped into are real and rational. It is not the Mexican border. It’s what everyone in politics, including Hillary Clinton, knows has been the No. 1 concern of the American people for years: the U.S.’s underachieving economy.
The stark reality of the nation’s growth numbers could not be more clear. The U.S.’s average postwar growth rate is 3.3%, and has often been higher. Across the entire 61/2 years of the Obama presidency it has been about 2%, and often lower. The result is a populace that is becoming resentful, surly and anxious for a way out.
Fewer than 30% think the country is on the right track, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average. A highly cited Wall Street Journal/NBC poll last year found that 76% of adults doubt their children will have a better life than they do. The Great Recession ended in June 2009, six years ago; in May, a Fox News poll found that 60% of registered voters think we are still in a recession.
The labor-force participation rate, 62.6% last month, is at its lowest level in 38 years. In human terms, 432,000 people dropped out of the workforce in June, and nearly two million are called “marginally attached to the labor force” by the government. Why shouldn’t people think we’re still in a recession?
After his 2009 economic stimulus of $831 billion produced so little, Barack Obama off-loaded responsibility for the economy to the Federal Reserve, which has repeatedly overstated its growth projections. For much of the private economy, the Obama presidency has been almost seven years of “Survivor.”
Some conservatives believe the “Celebrity Apprentice” ringmaster has revived an inchoate “radical middle,” upset over “what the country has become.” If so, that’s just one more symptom of the core problem. During America’s dynamic, upward-moving economies of the 1950s, ’60s, ’80s or ’90s, no one whined about what the country had become. They banked it and led happy lives.
Other Trumpified conservatives argue that Ronald Reagan’s economic solutions to Jimmy Carter’s malaise are now irrelevant, which opens the door to Mr. Trump’s shapeless populism.
Here is what Reagan’s tax and regulatory policies produced from 1982-89: an economy that grew by a third and a standard of living, as measured by real disposable income, that grew by 20%. Sounds relevant to me.
Donald Trump’s one idea to reverse America’s Obama-driven descent into a chronically flaccid economic existence is that he would “force” Mexico to erect a fence. While Hillary Clinton this week proposed building a half-billion solar panels. The good people of River City deserve better.

Stephen Hayes:
Trump was a clown-show.

Erik Erickson:
I have tried to give a great deal of latitude to Donald Trump in his run for the Presidency.
He is not a professional politician and is known for being a blunt talker. He connects with so much of the anger in the Republican base and is not afraid to be outspoken on a lot of issues. But there are even lines blunt talkers and unprofessional politicians should not cross.
Decency is one of those lines.
As much as I do personally like Donald Trump, his comment about Megyn Kelly on CNN is a bridge too far for me.
In a CNN interview, Mr. Trump said of Megyn Kelly, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.”
It was not the “blood coming out of her eyes” part that was the problem.
I think there is no way to otherwise interpret Mr. Trump’s comment. In an attempted clarification, Mr. Trump’s team tells me he meant “whatever”, not “where ever.”
The other day, we sent out the agenda for the RedState Gathering. The file had been saved with the “final” tag and the Washington sent it out. But it still had Governor Deal on the agenda and it did not have Donald Trump on it. Obviously, it wasn’t the final.
I called Mr. Trump’s campaign manager and apologized and told him I felt bad for Mr. Trump because he has gotten so much sh*t from so many people and the party itself wasn’t treating the guy at the front of the pack as legitimate.
I think that is true. And I’ve been very sympathetic to Donald Trump because so many of the people who have led the party astray refuse to even treat him as a legitimate candidate.
But I also think that while Mr. Trump resonates with a lot of people with his bluntness, including me to a degree, there are just real lines of decency a person running for President should not cross.
His comment was inappropriate. It is unfortunate to have to disinvite him. But I just don’t want someone on stage who gets a hostile question from a lady and his first inclination is to imply it was hormonal. It just was wrong.
I have invited Megyn Kelly to attend in Donald Trump’s place tomorrow night.

Frank Luntz:
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump may have outscored his fellow candidates in talk-time during Thursday night's GOP primary debate, but Republican strategist and CBS News contributor Frank Luntz said he saw the "destruction of a candidacy."
"Trump was the number one person walking into that debate. Almost all of his supporters (of the focus group) abandoned him because of what he said," Luntz said Friday on "CBS This Morning."
Trump's stand-out remarks included his response to Fox News host and debate moderator Megyn Kelly about comments he's made in reference to women as "fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals" and his insistence to not necessarily support another Republican if he doesn't become the GOP's nominee.
"When you're talking about a Republican presidential nomination, when these people want to defeat Hillary Clinton, that's not the language, that's not the strategy, that's just not what they want to hear," Luntz said.
Luntz gathered a group of Ohioans to watch the debate and used dials to register whether they liked or disliked what they were hearing.
"Make no mistakes, his popularity may even go up slightly, but the negativity around him -- because in the end you still have to be liked by the majority of Republicans to get the nomination," Luntz said.
The group of 13 men and 10 women was split between moderate and conservative Republicans and as expected, Trump made an impression.
"Remember this audience is a Republican audience and they are reacting to Republican language, Republican rhetoric, from Republican candidates, so you take a shot at Rosie O'Donnell, they like it, and they hate political correctness," Luntz said.
After the debate, Trump sent out several tweets, bashing Kelly and Luntz himself.
"I've been called a lot of things in my life but I've never been called a clown and those focus groups are accurate," Luntz said.

Rich Lowry:
By Trump’s own account, he’s the baddest, smartest thing going, except if you ask him a challenging question, in which case he kicks and screams and demands to know how anyone could treat him so unfairly...
Trump handled the ensuing flap with his typical aplomb and class, which is to say he flailed about wildly and hurled witless insults...
If Trump is aware of the fact that there is such a thing as a witty put-down, he is certainly not capable of summoning one. If he didn’t want to be wrong-footed on the biggest stage of the campaign so far, he could have thought about what questions he might have been asked and about possible answers. This is what candidates have done before debates since time immemorial. Trump was satisfied with Plan B: to wing it and, when it didn’t go to his liking, whine like a spoiled child who didn’t get a pony for his birthday.

Stephen Hayes:
Trump isn’t a departure from politics-as-usual; he's a mutant, exaggerated version of it.

George Will:
Donald Trump is a counterfeit Republican:
In every town large enough to have two traffic lights there is a bar at the back of which sits the local Donald Trump, nursing his fifth beer and innumerable delusions.
Because the actual Donald Trump is wealthy, he can turn himself into an unprecedentedly and incorrigibly vulgar presidential candidate. It is his right to use his riches as he pleases. His squalid performance and its coarsening of civic life are costs of freedom that an open society must be prepared to pay.
When, however, Trump decided that his next acquisition would be not another casino but the Republican presidential nomination, he tactically and quickly underwent many conversions of convenience (concerning abortion, health care, funding Democrats, etc.).
His makeover demonstrates that he is a counterfeit Republican and no conservative.
He is an affront to anyone devoted to the project William F. Buckley began six decades ago with the founding in 1955 of National Review — making conservatism intellectually respectable and politically palatable. Buckley's legacy is being betrayed by invertebrate conservatives now saying that although Trump "goes too far," he has "tapped into something," and therefore ....
Therefore what? This stance — if a semi-grovel can be dignified as a stance — is a recipe for deserved disaster. Remember, Henry Wallace and Strom Thurmond "tapped into" things.
In 1948, Wallace, FDR's former vice president, ran as a third-party candidate opposing Harry Truman's re-election. His campaign became a vehicle for, among others, communists and fellow travelers opposed to Truman's anti-Soviet foreign policy. Truman persevered, leaders of organized labor cleansed their movement of Soviet sympathizers, and Truman was re-elected.
He won also in spite of South Carolina's Democratic Gov. Thurmond siphoning off Democratic votes (and 39 electoral votes) as a Dixiecrat protesting civil rights commitments in the Democratic Party's platform. Truman won because he kept his party and himself from seeming incoherent and boneless.
Conservatives who flinch from forthrightly marginalizing Trump mistakenly fear alienating a substantial Republican cohort. But the assumption that today's Trumpites are Republicans is unsubstantiated and implausible.
Many are no doubt lightly attached to the political process, preferring entertainment to affiliation. They relish in their candidate's vituperation and share his aversion to facts. From what GOP faction might Trumpites come? The establishment? Social conservatives? Unlikely.
They certainly are not tea partyers, those earnest, issue-oriented, book-club organizing activists who are passionate about policy. Trump's aversion to reality was displayed during the Cleveland debate when Chris Wallace asked him for "evidence" to support his claim that Mexico's government is sending rapists and drug dealers to America. Trump, as usual, offered apoplexy as an argument.

Rich Lowry:
The loudmouth mogul may be very good at saying words, but coherence and consistency sometimes elude him. Especially when he gets beyond his comfort zone of extolling his own phenomenal awesomeness and calling America’s leaders stupid and the leaders of China and Mexico — the new axis of evil — smart and cunning. After that, it gets foggy...

Frank Luntz:
Donald Trump’s feud with GOP pollster Frank Luntz escalated Monday – with Trump calling on Fox News to fire Luntz from overseeing its post-debate focus groups, and Luntz launching a profanity-laden tirade to describe the real estate showman turned renegade presidential candidate.
In an interview with POLITICO, Luntz said Trump — and Democratic presidential insurgent Bernie Sanders — are “delivering a big ‘f—- you’ to the elites in America.
“And that resonates on both sides,” Luntz said. “But ‘f—- you’ doesn’t solve anything. ‘F—- you’ doesn’t make life any better. ‘F—- you’ makes you feel good, but it doesn’t get you where you need to go. ‘F—- you’ doesn’t make America strong. ‘F—- you’ doesn’t solve anything.”
Trump responded by accusing Luntz of harboring a long-held vendetta because Trump refused to do business with Luntz’s polling firm.
“I caught him cold,” Trump told POLITICO. “And frankly, if I was [Fox News President] Roger Ailes, I’d fire that guy so fast for what he did that his head would spin.”
Monday’s war of words, another chapter in a series of Trump vs. Luntz moments, was touched off when POLITICO asked Luntz about private comments that seem to call into question his objectivity as the man who facilitates the focus groups that appear on Fox News.
Luntz has insisted in an interview with Business Insider he has nothing against Trump and is only interested in accurately assessing the race.
But sources told POLITICO that, in the days before the Aug. 6 Fox News presidential debate where a Luntz-run focus group panned Trump’s performance, the pollster told a closed-door gathering of major conservative donors in Southern California that Trump was dangerous to Republicans and was “turning what we believe into a joke.”
People present at the gathering, which was organized by the political network helmed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, said Luntz argued that Trump is not a true conservative, but is “addicted” to the limelight and is likely to become increasingly enticed by the prospect of launching a third party presidential bid the longer he stays in the race.
Asked Monday about his private comments in Southern California, Luntz declined to directly address what he said at the donor confab, though he did not back away from the substance of his critique.
Luntz said people often “hear half of the comments or they hear what they want to hear and they get it wrong,” but he also called out Trump for stoking voters’ anger, without giving proper solutions.
“There’s something happening out there that is profound, but you gotta be careful; when you tap into it you better have a way to direct it. Trump has tapped into it. Bernie Sanders has tapped into it and they’re doing well, but you’re tapping into fire — that’s how hot the anger is,” Luntz said. “We are in a dangerous political environment that requires a higher standard for the candidates running. It requires them not just to stoke the anger, it’s already there. It requires them to provide the balm of solutions.”
That sentiment echoes Luntz’s presentation at the Koch donor conference. During a discussion called “Winning Messages,” he showed video clips of instances in which he said Trump had successfully connected with voters by tapping into their frustrations, according to multiple sources familiar with the meeting.
Three days after the session, Fox News hosted the first GOP presidential debate, followed immediately by a focus group conducted by Luntz, the members of which roundly criticized Trump’s performance as “angry,” repulsive and “bombastic.”
Trump responded by branding the focus group a “dumb panel” and calling Luntz “a low-class slob” and “a clown” and suggesting his polling is shaped by his failure to win polling work from Trump.
“[Luntz is] a clown. He’s got absolutely no talent whatsoever. He came to my office looking for money. He wanted to represent me in a corporate capacity which I had no interest in whatsover. The last thing I need is focus groups from Frank Luntz who can’t get himself arrested,” Trump said. “When I had no interest in hiring him, he went on to do some negative focus groups on television and frankly, he shouldn’t be working for Fox because he’s a total conflict of interest.”
Fox News did not return requests for comment.
Luntz has denied the allegation, telling Business Insider “You’ve got to understand that I don’t care who wins and loses — I only care that I’m accurate.” Luntz also said that he did meet with Trump, but that it was Trump who approached him first at an event in New Hampshire.
And Luntz specifically defended the objectivity of his focus groups on Monday, pointing to his résumé.
“You’ll have to ask CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, MSNBC, Fox and the BBC — all of them have televised my focus groups. Or President Obama or Vice President Biden — they’ve actually spoken to my focus groups,” he told POLITICO. “Or the dozens of Fortune 500 CEOs who have paid for them. Or POLITICO’s own reporters who have attended them and written about the results for your readers. In each case, they may not always like or agree with what they hear, but they know they need to hear it,” Luntz said.
Luntz did say Trump is dangerous to the Republican Party, because of the possibility he’d run as a third party candidate.
“Trump draws from a lot more Republicans than he does Democrats. And he draws from a group that is not partisan. It leans Republican but it’s not partisan and these are not guaranteed GOP voters if he’s angry and they are angry. So the GOP has to take his candidacy seriously. But even more importantly, they have to take his voters seriously and I don’t think they are doing that as well as they could be,” Luntz said.
When asked if Trump needed to be a more serious candidate, Luntz said to win an election, no, but to be a statesman, yes.
“This is not a game. It’s not a joke. And all these candidates have to take what they say seriously,” Luntz said.
Luntz’s tangles with Trump have helped shape the billionaire real estate developer’s presidential campaign, starting with a run-in at the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa last month.
In an on-stage interview conducted by Luntz at the event, Trump lit into another of his foils, Arizona Sen. John McCain, for whom Trump said he had little affection “because I don’t like losers.”
Luntz interjected “But he’s a war hero!” to which Trump replied “He’s not a war hero … He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK? I hate to tell you. He’s a war hero because he was captured, OK? And I believe — perhaps he’s a war hero. But right now, he’s said some very bad things about a lot of people.”
The comment, which shocked the political and media worlds, drew nearly universal condemnation from Republicans and seemed to threaten Trump’s surprising rise. But it barely dented his poll numbers.
The McCain comments — combined with other intemperate remarks — have soured top conservative donors and officials on Trump, and there was little love for him at the Koch conference where Luntz panned him.
During the “Winning Messages” session, Luntz asked how many donors supported Trump’s campaign, and when no hands were raised, Luntz suggested he was not at all surprised, according to a donor who was present.
In a subsequent session later that day, Luntz conducted an informal applause poll of the donors, which revealed no support among the group for Trump or rival candidates Chris Christie, George Pataki or Lindsey Graham. The Koch network has refused Trump access to its vaunted data services and its events, and he taunted the candidates who made the trip to the donor conference, suggesting they were “puppets.”
But one conference attendee suggested that Luntz’s focus on Trump was not shared by any of the candidates, donors or operatives in attendance.
“Any thought that there was a bunch of restless attention about Trump is not accurate,” the attendee said. “That was just Frank’s opinion. It was only a reflection of him.”

Charles Krauthammer:
“This was not a subject that was on anybody’s mind until I brought it up at my announcement.”
-Donald Trump, on immigration, Republican debate, Aug. 6
WASHINGTON — Not on anyone’s mind? For years, immigration has been the subject of near-constant, often bitter argument within the GOP. But it is true that Trump has brought the debate to a new place — first, with his announcement speech, about whether Mexican migrants are really rapists, and now with the somewhat more nuanced Trump plan.
Much of it — visa tracking, E-Verify, withholding funds from sanctuary cities — predates Trump. Even building the Great Wall is not particularly new. (I, for one, have been advocating that in this space since 2006.) Dominating the discussion, however, are his two policy innovations: (a) abolition of birthright citizenship and (b) mass deportation.
Birthright citizenship.
If you are born in the United States, you are an American citizen. So says the 14th Amendment. Barring some esoteric and radically new jurisprudence, abolition would require amending the Constitution. Which would take years and great political effort. And make the GOP anathema to Hispanic-Americans for a generation.
And for what? Birthright citizenship is a symptom, not a cause. If you regain control of the border, the number of birthright babies fades to insignificance. The time and energy it would take to amend the Constitution are far more usefully deployed securing the border.
Moreover, the real issue is not the birthright babies themselves, but the chain migration that follows. It turns one baby into an imported village.
Chain migration, however, is not a constitutional right. It’s a result of statutes and regulations. These can be changed. That should be the focus.
Mass deportation.
Last Sunday, Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd that all illegal immigrants must leave the country. Although once they’ve been kicked out, we will let “the good ones” back in.
On its own terms, this is crackpot. Wouldn’t you save a lot just on Mayflower moving costs if you chose the “good ones” first — before sending SWAT teams to turf families out of their homes, loading them on buses and dumping them on the other side of the Rio Grande?
Less frivolously, it is estimated by the conservative American Action Forum that mass deportation would take about 20 years and cost about $500 billion for all the police, judges, lawyers and enforcement agents — and bus drivers! — needed to expel 11 million people.
This would all be merely ridiculous if it weren’t morally obscene. Forcibly evict 11 million people from their homes? It can’t happen. It shouldn’t happen. And, of course, it won’t ever happen. But because it’s the view of the Republican front-runner, every other candidate is now required to react. So instead of debating border security, guest-worker programs and sanctuary cities — where Republicans are on firm moral and political ground — they are forced into a debate about a repulsive fantasy.
Which, for the Republican Party, is also political poison. Mitt Romney lost the Hispanic vote by 44 points and he was advocating only self-deportation. Now the party is discussing forced deportation.
It is not just Hispanics who will be alienated. Romney lost the Asian vote, too. By 47 points. And many non-minorities will be offended by the idea of rounding up 11 million people, the vast majority of whom are law-abiding members of their communities.
Donald Trump has every right to advance his ideas. I strongly oppose the idea of ostracizing anyone from the GOP or the conservative movement.
But that is not to say that he should be exempt from normal scrutiny or from consideration of the effect of his candidacy on conservatism’s future. If you are a conservative alarmed at the country’s direction and committed to retaking the White House, you should be concerned about what Trump’s ascendancy is doing to the chances of that happening.
The Democrats’ presumptive candidate is flailing badly. Republicans have an unusually talented field with a good chance of winning back the presidency. Do they really want to be dragged into the swamps — right now, on immigration — that will make that prospect electorally impossible?
Yes, I understand. The anger, the frustration, etc., etc., that Trump is channeling. But how are these alleviated by yelling “I’m mad as hell” — and proceeding to elect Hillary Clinton?

Charles C. W. Cooke
Donald Trump Sounds Like a Drug-Addled Rock Star
Before his bombastic concert-in-the-park performance in Mobile, Donald Trump had come across chiefly as an amusing amateur whose total lack of basic political knowledge and essential reasoning ability had rendered him unwilling to do interviews that he could not phone in from the confines of his office. In Alabama, he broke out, transforming himself in the process into something else altogether. One part Alan Ginsberg, one part Jim Morrison, and one part Roderick Spode, Trump strode onto the Southern stage as might a troubled rock star. This, his insolent upper lip told the camera, was show time.
Attempting manfully to keep up with the spectacle, C-SPAN warned viewers bloodlessly that its closed-captioning system sometimes made mistakes and was therefore not to be trusted. One had to wonder how anybody could have known either way. Words, you see, are for losers. For the overrated. For the establishment. Real candidates leer and emote and strut back and forth.
At times resembling a man who hoped to discover whether methamphetamine or LSD served as the best accompaniment to a mostly whisky diet, Trump stood throughout his pageant in a cocksure fighting pose, breaking his stance only to turn around and bathe in the adulation. When he spoke, he did so as might a half-awake stranger at an underground poetry slam. His thoughts were meandering, irrational, and wholly self-contradictory; his grasp of reality left much to be desired; his aim was to offer up a firework-laden piece of self-serving performance art, aimed squarely at the unserious and the easily led. “I know how Billy Graham felt,” Trump preached before he launched into his quasi-hallucinogenic diatribe. Superficially, perhaps he does. But Graham, recall, was preaching about an external God.
Topics came and went like shooting stars. In the course of just under an hour, Trump took an irony-free shot at the stupid, complaining in mock-sorrow that “we have dummies, we have dummies, we have dummies!”; he explained earnestly why he would no longer be eating Oreos; he grew randomly angry with cyclists, and with a retired thoroughbred racehorse called “Secretariat.” He proposed a 35 percent tariff on goods from Mexico, before incongruously knocking China for its unfair import duties; argued that the presidential election should be held earlier so that he could win it; and supposed that constitutional amendments can be ignored at will. If the mood fell flat, he took to listing countries that the audience was expected to dislike, and to badgering the crowd about the brilliance of his book, which he compared to the Bible. Goo Goo G’joob, Mr. Kite.
His sentences, such as they were, invariably ended up in places that bore no relation whatsoever to their beginnings. His commitment to his sentiments, many of which appeared spontaneously, seemed to be driven in real-time by the crowd’s undulating, fickle, near-braying responses. In place of facts, he offered up falsehoods and wild generalizations, fading any details that he attempted to recall into vague “somethings” and “just abouts.” If, per Mark Twain, those who dislike the weather in New England need only “wait a few minutes” until it changes, so those who found themselves dissatisfied with Trump’s political positions needed only to exhibit a few moments’ patience before their preferences were indulged. In the early 1970s, a psychedelic David Bowie took to writing his lyrics by tearing up poetry, throwing the separated lines up in the air, and reassembling them at random after they had landed. If Trump is even possessed of a speechwriter, his address in Alabama left one wondering whether he had improved at all upon Bowie’s technique.Throughout, Trump made considerable hay of his not being a politician, to the point of boorish demagoguery. Given the scale of the dissatisfaction with Washington, D.C., one can understand why. One cannot, however, comprehend why his audience should not know better than to accept the ruse. In a cynical attempt to tap into latent unrest, Trump has set himself up not merely as another option, but as a veritable messiah who will bring salvation by sheer force of will, and who does therefore not have time to waste discussing details. As Alabama confirmed, it is not merely the case that Donald Trump is no politician; he’s not engaged in politics at all. In style, Trump’s shtick is akin to Barack Obama’s, pre-2009 — but, in the place of faux-moderation and ersatz Greek columns, he is offering mass public resentment and a kickass laser show.
All of which is to say that Donald Trump has matured in precisely the wrong direction, having moved from bumbling dilettante to Dunning-Kruger poster-boy in a single leap. Politics in a free republic consists of modesty, of compromise, and of dull perseverance. It is, by its very nature, the precise opposite of rock and roll. Self-described “conservatives” have historically prided themselves on their aversion to our gaudy celebrity culture and their disgust at the conflation of reality TV and the quotidian workings of the government. They should not abandon this virtuous instinct just because a rich and famous entertainer has donned an oversized hat and pandered to their prejudices for a summer. Not all stars that fall on Alabama should be given access to the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Let us leave Donald Trump to his trip.

Rich Lowry:
The rise of Donald Trump is, in part, a function of a vacuum.
He is thriving in a Republican field that is large, talented and, so far, underwhelming. There’s 17 candidates and nothing on. Except Donald Trump.
Now, this has much to do with the media, and with Trump’s unique qualities as a showman. He has the advantage of not caring, about anything apparently — the facts, his reputation, or, ultimately, winning the presidency. In consequence, he is a free man.
The Jorge Ramos incident was Trump in microcosm. He did what no other Republican politician could get away with (having a security guy manhandle a Latino reporter) and displayed a cavalier disregard for reality by denying he was having Ramos removed, even as he had him removed. But the episode was mesmerizing, and Trump — in his madcap way — was commanding in how he handled it.
If any other candidate had done that or something similar, it would have been a signature event of his campaign, but for Trump it was just another day on the trail, to be eclipsed by some other memorable event tomorrow.
Trump has at least half a dozen such indelible moments — his bizarre announcement, the John McCain diss, the Lindsey Graham cellphone, the Megyn Kelly fight (x2), the Mobile rally — when the rest of the field has almost none. No speech, no policy proposal, no argument, nothing from the other candidates has come close to capturing the imagination of voters, giving Trump the space to loom all the larger.
The weakness starts at the top, or what was supposed to be the top. In the normal course of things, the establishment front-runner provides coherence to the field. Hence, the expectation that the field would have Jeb Bush and a not-Bush, or maybe two. For the moment, this assumption has collapsed, as the current shape of the field is Trump and everyone else.
This is quite the comedown for Bush. His “shock and awe” has turned into getting sand kicked on him at the beach by a loudmouth and bully. It’s not just that Bush is trailing Trump badly in the polls; he has acceded to the terms of the debate being set by the mogul. It wasn’t long ago that Bush swore off talking about Trump, as basically beneath him. Now, he is sniping with him daily.
Before he got in the race, Bush spoke of only wanting to do it if he could run joyfully. Little did he know that he would be joyously grappling with an ill-informed blowhard who takes it as his daily obligation to insult Bush and trample on the pieties he holds dear.
In the argument with Trump over mass deportation, clearly Bush is right. But the split screen with Trump doesn’t necessarily do him any favors. Trump is such a forceful communicator that he comes off as some sort of throwback alpha male, whereas Bush is such an earnest wonk he looks and sounds like a sensitive dad from a contemporary sitcom. It’s like watching a WWE wrestler get a stern talking to from Ned Flanders.
Bush is not a natural performer to begin with (he struggles with set speeches), and he believes his contribution to the race is to be the nonthreatening Republican, which is often indistinguishable from the uninteresting Republican. So while Bush has methodically built the superstructure of an impressive campaign — with fundraising, organization and policy proposals — he has so far barely warmed up an ember among voters.
Scott Walker, in contrast, had a surge early in the campaign. It dissipated over time when his limited preparation on national issues didn’t match his outsized early press exposure. A so-so debate performance and the rise of Trump have continued his long fade to middle of the pack in the latest early state polling (tied for fourth in New Hampshire and tied for seventh in South Carolina).
Walker’s ability to appeal to both the establishment and activist wings of the party had looked like a strength, but now it seems a precarious balancing act, made all the more difficult by a panicky reaction to Trump.
No sooner had Walker pronounced himself “aggressively normal” in the debate than he seemed to opt for just “aggressive” in an attempt to play to the passions tapped by Trump. Who could have predicted that the Midwestern candidate who tells stories about buying shirts for $1 at Kohl’s would have to play populist catch-up with the New York billionaire who travels by eponymous helicopter?
Walker had already changed his mind about immigration, shifting from support for a “comprehensive” approach to strong opposition to amnesty. Trump has pushed him further, and Walker has gotten tangled up on the issue of birthright citizenship.
At the Iowa State Fair, he seemed at one point to say that he was opposed to it. Then, he told John Harwood of CNBC he wouldn’t take a position on it. Finally, on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” he danced around a question on the 14th Amendment before saying that anything that goes beyond simply enforcing our immigration laws is a red herring.
Earlier this week, Walker blasted President Barack Obama for hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping for a state visit, even though as governor he had been friendly to China and obligingly wore a Chinese-American flag pin in an appearance on Chinese state TV.
It’s one thing to play to the mood of voters; it’s another to give the appearance of not quite knowing who you are, which is much more deadly than an August dip in the polls.
As for Marco Rubio, for whom expectations have been so high, he has been the least reactive to Trump. His campaign is still betting on the long game. It believes his natural talent will tell over time, but he doesn’t have a natural geographic or ideological base, and his 21st-century economic agenda — although thoughtful — is not likely to stoke enthusiasm among primary voters.
Ted Cruz may be benefiting most from the Trump surge in his strategic positioning. He has a cogent theory of the case, which is that if he is nice to Trump — and the other outsider candidates — he eventually can inherent his supporters. This makes intuitive sense, although Cruz — exceedingly careful in crafting his words and in calculating his interest — is hardly a natural anti-politician.
It is still August, of course. The rules of gravity say Trump will come back down to earth. The media interest that is so intense now could burn out. His lack of seriousness should be a drag over time, and he will still have to weather more debates and presumably — should he stay strong — a barrage of negative ads.
Even if he fades, though, someone else will have to fill the screen. To this point, No one else has been big or vivid enough to do it.

George Will:
Every sulfurous belch from the molten interior of the volcanic Trump phenomenon injures the chances of a Republican presidency. After Donald Trump finishes plastering a snarling face on conservatism, any Republican nominee will face a dauntingly steep climb to reach even the paltry numbers that doomed Mitt Romney.
It is perhaps quixotic to try to distract Trump’s supporters with facts, which their leader, who is no stickler for dignity, considers beneath him. Still, consider these:
The white percentage of the electorate has been shrinking for decades and will be about two points smaller in 2016 than in 2012. In 2008, Barack Obama became the first president elected while losing the white vote by double digits. In 2012, Hispanics, the nation’s largest minority, were for the first time a double-digit (10 percent) portion of the electorate. White voters were nearly 90 percent of Romney’s vote. In 1988, George H.W. Bush won 59 percent of the white vote, which translated into 426 electoral votes. Twenty-four years later, Romney won 59 percent of the white vote and just 206 electoral votes. He lost the nonwhite vote by 63 points, receiving just 17 percent of it. If the Republicans’ 2016 nominee does not do better than Romney did among non-white voters, he will need 65 percent of the white vote, which was last achieved by Ronald Reagan when carrying 49 states in 1984. Romney did even slightly worse among Asian Americans — the fastest-growing minority — than among Hispanics. Evidently minorities generally detected Republican ambivalence, even animus about them. This was before Trump began receiving rapturous receptions because he obliterates inhibitions about venting hostility.
Trump is indifferent to those conservative tenets (e.g., frugality: He welcomed Obama’s stimulus) to which he is not hostile (e.g., property rights: He adored the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision vastly expanding government’s power of eminent domain). So, Trump’s appeal must derive primarily from his views about immigration. Including legal immigration, concerning which he favors a “pause” of unspecified duration.
Some supporters simply find Trump entertainingly naughty. Others, however, have remarkable cognitive dissonance. They properly execrate Obama’s executive highhandedness that expresses progressivism’s traditional disdain for the separation of powers that often makes government action difficult. But these same Trumpkins simultaneously despise GOP congressional leaders because they do not somehow jettison the separation of powers and work conservatism’s unimpeded will from Capitol Hill.
For conservatives, this is the dispiriting irony: The administrative state’s intrusiveness (e.g., its regulatory burdens), irrationalities (e.g., the tax code’s toll on economic growth), incompetence (Amtrak, ethanol, etc.) and illegality (we see you, IRS) may benefit the principal architect of this state, the Democratic party. This is because the other party’s talented critics of the administrative state are being drowned out by Trump’s recent discovery that Americans understandably disgusted by government can be beguiled by a summons to Caesarism.
Trump, who uses the first-person singular pronoun even more than the previous world-record holder (Obama), promises that constitutional arrangements need be no impediment to the leader’s savvy, “management” brilliance, and iron will. Trump supporters consider the presidency today an entry-level job because he is available to turn government into a triumph of the leader’s will.
This is hardly the first time we have heard America singing lyrics like those of Trump’s curdled populism. Alabama Democrat George Wallace four times ran for president with salvos against Washington’s “briefcase totin’ bureaucrats who can’t even park their bicycles straight.” What is new is Trump promising, in the name of strength, to put America into a defensive crouch against “cunning” Mexicans and others.
Republicans are the party of growth or they are superfluous. The other party relishes allocating scarcities — full employment for the administrative state.
Trump assumes a zero-sum society, where one person’s job is another’s loss. Hence his rage against other nations’ “stealing” jobs — “our” jobs.In 2011, when Trump was a voluble “birther” — you remember: Obama supposedly was not born in America, hence he is an illegitimate president — an interviewer asked if he had people “searching in Hawaii” for facts. “Absolutely,” Trump said. “They can’t believe what they’re finding.” Trump reticence is rare, but he has never shared those findings. He now says, in effect: Oh, never mind. If in November 2016, the fragments of an ever smaller and more homogenous GOP might be picked up with tweezers, Trump, having taken his act elsewhere, will look back over his shoulder at the wreckage he wrought and say: Oh, never mind.

Bret Stephens:
The Donald and the Demagogues
If by now you don’t find Donald Trump appalling, you’re appalling.
If you have reached physical maturity and still chuckle at Mr. Trump’s pubescent jokes about Rosie O’Donnell or Heidi Klum, you will never reach mental maturity. If you watched Mr. Trump mock fellow candidate Lindsey Graham’s low poll numbers and didn’t cringe at the lack of class, you are incapable of class. If you think we need to build new airports in Queens the way they build them in Qatar, you should be sent to join the millions of forced laborers who do construction in the Persian Gulf. It would serve you right.
Since Mr. Trump joined the GOP presidential field and leaped to the top of the polls, several views have been offered to explain his popularity. He conveys a can-do image. He is the bluntest of the candidates in addressing public fears of cultural and economic dislocation. He toes no line, serves no PAC, abides no ideology, is beholden to no man. He addresses the broad disgust of everyday Americans with their failed political establishment.
And so forth and so on—a parade of semi-sophisticated theories that act as bathroom deodorizer to mask the stench of this candidacy. Mr. Trump is a loudmouth vulgarian appealing to quieter vulgarians. These vulgarians comprise a significant percentage of the GOP base. The leader isn’t the problem. The people are. It takes the demos to make the demagogue.
There will be other opportunities to write about the radical affinities and moralizing conceits of Democrats and liberals. For now let’s speak plainly about what the Trump ascendancy says about the potential future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.
It says that we may soon have a conservative movement in which the American creed of “give us your tired, your poor” could yield to the Trumpian creed that America must not become a “dumping ground” to poor immigrants from Latin America, as if these millions of hardworking and God-fearing people are a specimen of garbage.
It says that a party that carries on about the importance of e pluribus unum and rails against the identity politics of assorted minorities is increasingly tempted to indulge the paranoid (and losing) identity politics of a dwindling white majority.
It says that a sizable constituency in a party that is supposed to favor a plain reading of the Constitution objects to a plain reading of the 14th Amendment: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”
It says that a movement that is supposed to believe in defending old-fashioned values and traditions against the assorted degradations of the postmodern left might allow itself to be led by a reality-TV star whose meretricious tastes in trophies, architectural and otherwise, mainly remind me of the aesthetics of Bob Guccione.
It says that a party that is supposed to believe in the incomparable awesomeness of America thinks we are losing the economic hunger games to the brilliant political leadership of . . . Mexico. It says that a movement that is supposed to believe in economic freedom doesn’t believe in the essence of economic freedom: to wit, the free movement of goods, services, capital and labor.
It says that many of the same people who have bellyached nonstop for the past seven years about the cult-of-personality president currently in the Oval Office are seriously willing to consider another cult-of-personality figure on the off-chance he’s peddling the cure America needs. Focus group testing by pollster Frank Luntz suggests that Mr. Trump’s fans could care less about his flip-flopping political views but responded almost rapturously to his apparently magnetic persona.
When people become indifferent to the ideas of their would-be leaders, those leaders become prone to dangerous ideas. Democracies that trade policy substance for personal charisma tend not to last as democracies. They become Bolivarian republics. Donald Trump may be America’s Hugo Chávez, minus the political consistency.
Because the Republican Party has not lost its mind—at least not yet—I doubt that Mr. Trump will be its presidential nominee. A single bad poll could break him. The summer before an election-year summer tends to be a political clown-time. Voters, like diners in a fancy restaurant, may entertain the idea of ordering the pigeon, but they’ll probably wind up with the chicken.
Still, Mr. Trump’s political star is rising in a period when fringe politics, both on the right and the left, are making a comeback in the West. Marine Le Pen in France. Beppe Grillo in Italy. Jeremy Corbyn in Great Britain. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party. Every now and then some of these characters get into office. Look at Viktor Orbán in Hungary, or Alexis Tsipras in Greece.
Republicans like to think of America as an exceptional nation. And it is, not least in its distaste for demagogues. Donald Trump’s candidacy puts the strength of that distaste to the test.

Charles C. W. Cooke:
National Review obtained this exclusive fake transcript.
HH: Joined now by Donald Trump. Donald Trump, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show, it’s always a pleasure to talk to you.
DT: Thank you, Hugh. HH: Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you born?
DT: Okay, fine. [pause]
HH: All right. I’m on with Donald Trump. So, where were you born?
DT: Can you give me a little . . .
HH: I’m asking in which place you were born. It’s not a gotcha question, Donald Trump. You know I don’t do those here.
DT: Well, that is a gotcha question, though. I mean, you know, when you’re asking me about where I was born, this this, that’s not, that is not, I was really small at the time. I wasn’t a politician then. All you need to know about this is that I’ll be so good at births and deaths and all that stuff that your head will spin. I’ll get the best genealogists for everybody, and the gynecologists for the women, who love me by the way and want to vote for me. I think what is really important is to pick out, and this is something I’m so good at, to pick out who is the best; not to, you know, talk about things like where people were born.
HH: Except for . . .
DT: . . . except for Barack Obama who was probably born in Kenya, and Ted Cruz who isn’t actually an American. Yes.
HH: All right, good. Let’s talk about politics. Do you own a gun?
DT: You know, I’d rather not say. I’m quite an introvert.
HH: Introvert?
DT: I was on a stage the other day in front of 20,000 people, 30,000 people — big stage, great crowd, all shouting my name, loved it, media hated it obviously but afterwards they came up and said it was the best rally they’d ever seen, and even the other candidates called me and praised me for my attacks on them — and I was saying to them, these 40,000 people, how I don’t need to tell anybody anything about myself because I’m an introvert. They loved it, couldn’t get enough. Very smart people, all 50,000 of them. None of them politicians. I was saying that they can find out about me in my book, The Art of the Deal, the best book other than the Bible. Excellent book. Publisher wants another one. Offered me a huge amount of money. Huge. They’re all voting for me, the publishers. They’re for Trump in Manhattan.
HH: All right. A lot of Second Amendment defenders care about this question: What do you understand by the term “assault weapon”?
DT: Well, yeah, I think that you know, the word assault weapon, and a lot of people, there’s been a lot of controversy, but I wouldn’t give you exact, I am in favor. I know some people at the NRA and the assault-weapons companies. I’m for assaults. All of them. You name an assault, I want it. Define it and I’ll help. Come to me with an offer.
HH: How about specifics: Should the AR-15 be legal?
DT: Of course. And the AR-16 and AR-17 too. By the way, the other candidates never say that. Professional politicians never talk about those guns. Look, I can’t tell you what guns I have. As I’ve been telling the massive crowds around the country, I’m too private to share my thoughts. But if I did have a rifle, and I do, it would be the most luxurious rifle you’ve ever seen. It would have a big propeller on it, and a torch that shone “Trump” into the sky. And it would look exactly like a wall. Have you asked Jeb Bush if he’s in favor of AR-16s, too? I bet he’s not. He’s a nice guy. He’s a nice guy. Should I say this? Yes. He’s a nice guy. But he’s not going to make America great again if he can’t even talk about AR-16s.
HH: All right. A religious question now. What do you think of Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who is refusing to grant marriage licenses to gay couples?
DT: Well, I’m big into religion. Huge. Huge. I’m into God and Christianity and the flying people and the wafers. All that stuff. Big into the Testaments too. But I mean, the Supreme Court has ruled. Ken David is wrong.
HH: Kim Davis.
DT: Right. I mean, he has to follow the law and do his job, or let someone else do it.
HH: She.
DT: No more gotcha questions please, Hugh. But really, I want to know why people want licenses from Ken in the first place. I had my people look into it, and his licenses are not classy at all. Nobody knows how easy it would be to make a great license. So easy. When I’m president, the licenses will be fantastic. The best. You want a license? You got it. Just come see me. I’ll build you the best license you’ve ever seen: It’ll be gay and powerful, and we’ll make it very good looking. It would be as good as a marriage contract has got to be. I know a lot about this area, obviously.
HH: All right. Who would you want in your cabinet if you became president?
DT: That’s difficult to say. All the candidates want to be in a Trump administration. They tell me, secretly. All the other cabinet sort of people do as well: John Bolton, George Will, Hulk Hogan. They come to my office and they beg: “I want to serve Trump,” they say. But look, I don’t know now. I can’t answer, because in a year they’ll all be dead. I’ll tell you honestly, I think by the time I get to the White House, they’ll all be gone. They’ll be all gone. I knew you were going to ask me things like this, and there’s no reason for it. We have 18 point — er, a lot of debt. Too much debt. I’m against debt.
HH: Let’s move on to foreign policy. Which European country do you consider to be America’s foremost ally on the world stage?
DT: I think Europe is definitely an important country for America. But Hugh, Europe isn’t causing us problems by the way. Our big problem is China. China is just destroying us. China keeps devaluing their currency. China is devastating for us. China has sucked money and jobs out of the United States. Let me tell you, I was at an ATM yesterday trying to take out a lot of money. I can’t tell you how much, but a lot of money. More money than you have. And my account was empty. And in its place on the screen it just said “China,” and there was a Mexican laughing. I have other accounts. I’m fine. Hugely rich, actually. But that’s who these people are. I’m going to stand up to it. I won’t have any Chinese people on The Apprentice.
HH: All right. But, and I hope you understand that I’m asking these questions to see what you know, Europe isn’t a country. It’s a continent and, within it, there is a political and economic union. Is there a particular country you see as crucial to American policy?
DT: No, you know what? I didn’t know that about Europe. But on my first day in office, or before then, right at the day after the election, I’ll know more about it than you will ever know. That I can tell you.
HH: You can’t name a single country in Europe?
DT: When it’s appropriate. I will know more about it than you know, and believe me, it won’t take me long. I will get my Brain Quest cards and my pencils, and I’ll be reading them while taking the oath.
HH: Thank you, Donald Trump. Always a pleasure. Congratulations on your success so far. DT: Truly you are a third-rate lightweight loser. Dumb as a rock.

Jonah Goldberg:
Well, if this is the conservative movement now, I guess you’re going to have to count me out. No, I’m not making some mad dash to the center.
No, I’m not hoping to be the first alternate to Steve Schmidt on Morning Joe, nor am I vying to become my generation’s Kevin Phillips. I will never be a HillaryCon. And I have no plan to earn “strange new respect” from the Georgetown cocktail-party set I’m always hearing about but never meeting. But even if I have no desire to “grow” in my beliefs, I have no intention to shrink, either.
The late Bill Rusher, longtime publisher of National Review, often counseled young writers to remember, “Politicians will always disappoint you.” As I’ve often said around here, this isn’t because politicians are evil. It’s because politicians are politicians. Their interests too often lie in votes, not in principles. That’s why the conservative movement has always recognized that victory lies not simply in electing conservative politicians, but in shaping a conservative electorate that lines up the incentives so that politicians define their self-interest in a conservative way.
But if it’s true that politicians can disappoint, I think one has to say that the people can, too. 
And when I say “the people” I don’t mean “those people.” I mean my people. I mean many of you, Dear Readers. Normally, when conservatives talk about how the public can be wrong, we mean that public. You know the one. The “low-information voters” Rush Limbaugh is always talking about. The folks we laughed at when Jay Leno interviewed them on the street. But we don’t just mean the unwashed and the ill-informed. We sometimes mean Jews, blacks, college kids, Lena Dunham fans, and countless other partisan slices of the electorate who reflexively vote on strict party lines for emotional or irrational reasons. We laugh at liberals who let know-nothing celebrities do their thinking for them.
Well, many of the same people we laughed at are now laughing at us because we are going ga-ga over our own celebrity.
Yes, I know that there are plenty of decent and honorable people who support Trump. For instance, my friend John Nolte over at Breitbart is one. He constantly celebrates Trump because Trump has all the right enemies and defies the conventional rules governing politics and media...
But this is not an argument for Trump as a serious presidential candidate. It is really no argument at all. It is catharsis masquerading as principle, venting and resentment pretending to be some kind of higher argument. Every principle used to defend Trump is subjective, graded on a curve. Trump is like a cat trained to piss in a human toilet. It’s amazing! It’s remarkable! Yes, yes, it is: for a cat. But we don’t judge humans by the same standard.
I’ve written many times how the phrase “power corrupts” has been misunderstood. Lord Acton’s original point wasn’t that power corrupts those who wield power, it was that it corrupts those who admire it. In a letter to a historian friend who was too forgiving of the Reformation-era popes, Acton wrote:
"I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it."
Popularity — which in democracy is a very important kind of power — works the same way. We routinely forgive the rich and famous for sins we would condemn our neighbors for. Trump’s popularity apparently trumps all standards we would apply not just to our neighbors, but to our leaders. A small example of what I am talking about can be found in Ted Cruz’s vow not to criticize other Republicans — if by “Republicans” you mean “Donald Trump.” I have a lot of respect for Cruz, but this doesn’t pass the laugh test. The Texan has been lambasting the entire Republican party for his entire time in office. Some of his critiques are valid, of course. But he has shown not an iota of reluctance to criticize fellow Republicans when it’s in his interest. Cruz isn’t criticizing Donald Trump because, as a smart politician, he wants to woo Trump’s followers when/if Trump eventually falters. Similarly, I’m constantly hearing from Trump fans that it’s “disrespectful” for me to criticize the Republican front-runner — as if these fans would refrain from criticizing Jeb or Rubio or Kasich if they were in the lead.

George Will:
Trump is Malleable Mess.
“I remember, when I was a child, being taken to the celebrated Barnum’s Circus, which contained an exhibition of freaks and monstrosities, but the exhibit on the program which I most desired to see was the one described as ‘The Boneless Wonder.’ My parents judged that that spectacle would be too revolting and demoralizing for my youthful eyes, and I have waited fifty years to see The Boneless Wonder sitting on the Treasury Bench.”
— Winston Churchill in the House of Commons, referring to British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, 1931
Donald Trump, whose promises are probably as malleable as his principles, promises to support the Republican nominee. Some of his rivals for the nomination, disoriented by their fear and envy of him, are making the GOP seem like the party of boneless wonders.
Some, who loudly lament how illegal immigrants damage the rule of law, have found a heroine in Kentucky. A county clerk, whose devotion to her faith is not stronger than her desire to keep her paycheck, chose jail rather than resignation when confronted with having to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court and the Constitution regarding same-sex marriage.
Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker think her religious freedom is being trampled. So does Ted Cruz, who surely knows better. He clerked for Chief Justice William Rehnquist and must remember the 1892 case in which a Massachusetts policeman claimed that rules restricting political activity by police violated his constitutional rights. Rejecting this claim, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court wrote that the officer “may have a constitutional right to talk politics, but he has no constitutional right to be a policeman.”
Trump, the tone-setter of today’s GOP, recently chastised Jeb Bush for answering in Spanish a question that was asked in Spanish. Trump said Bush “should really set the example by speaking English while in the United States.” Trump presumably deplores the fact that a leading Illinois Republican politician in the late 1850s bought one of the region’s many German-language newspapers, and even briefly took German lessons. Abraham Lincoln did so, says Harold Holzer in “Lincoln and the Power of the Press,” in order to “boost his appeal to the most important voting bloc in his region.” Somehow, Americans of German extraction — the largest group of Americans — seem to have assimilated even though Lincoln set a sinister “example.”
In an extended recent riff on how great and loved he is (“Kanye West . . . loves Trump. He goes around saying ‘Trump is my all-time hero.’ He says it to everybody.”) and on subordinate matters, Trump cited, as evidence that “our country is being killed on trade,” this: “They have in Japan the biggest ships you’ve ever seen pouring cars into Los Angeles, pouring them in. I’ve never seen anything like it. We send them beef, and they don’t even want it. It’s going to end, and they’re going to like us.”
Well. Leaving aside Japan’s strange willingness to purchase unwanted beef, most Japanese vehicles that pour into the United States do so from plants in the United States. The vehicles are assembled by Americans using mostly American parts.
So, after Iowa’s evangelicals have plumbed Trump’s theological depths (“When we go in church and I drink the little wine, which is about the only wine I drink, and I eat the little cracker — I guess that’s a form of asking forgiveness”), South Carolinians can evaluate his America-can’t-compete, trade-is-killing-us campaign. There, his woe-is-us narrative will collide with cheerful realities that Republican Gov. Nikki Haley recently described in a Washington speech:
Flat-screen TVs are made in Winnsboro, bicycles are made in Manning (the New Jersey company moved its manufacturing there from China), and five foreign-owned tire companies (Michelin, Bridgestone, Continental, Giti Tire and Trelleborg) manufacture in the state. So do Mercedes and, starting in 2018, Volvo. South Carolina has what Germany does not have — the world’s largest BMW plant, from which vehicles pour at a rate of one every minute.
Recently Trump told MSNBC that, after his speech the day before, “The CNN reporter said it was the single greatest political speech she’s ever heard.” Asked which reporter, he said: “I don’t know her name. But she was wearing a beautiful red dress.” National Review’s Jim Geraghty reports that CNN says neither of its correspondents at the Trump event wore red.
Novelist Mary McCarthy said of playwright Lillian Hellman, “Every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.’” If that was so, Trump is not even an original.
Disclosure: The columnist’s wife, Mari Will, works for Scott Walker.


Donald Trump is a Yuuuuuuuge Wuss

...Why does Trump behave this way? Because he’s a preposterous little trust-fund wuss, that’s why. As was illustrated once again last night, the man is not really a “fighter” or an “alpha male” or an iron-cored “enemy of political correctness.” He’s a thin-skinned performance artist whose peculiar shtick falls to pieces the moment someone useful elects to return a punch.
...It is one thing for a rebellious 3-year old to soil himself at the sign of trouble, and then to shout “Daddyyyyyyyyyyaaa” at the radiator; it is quite another for the prospective leader of the free world to do so. If Trump wishes to police the country’s sharper purveyors of political animadversion — and to carp impotently about “injustice” and “unfairness” — he really shouldn’t be seeking the White House. He should be using his considerable inherited wealth to better fund the anti-Mean Words department at Oberlin. Make America Pathetic Again? Let’s not go there.

Daniel Henninger:
The oddest moment in the second GOP debate was when the first thing Donald Trump did was to launch an assault on Sen. Rand Paul, who was standing about three miles away at the end of the podiums: “Well, first of all, Rand Paul shouldn’t even be on this stage. He’s number 11, he’s got 1% in the polls, and how he got up here, there’s far too many people anyway.” Ummm, what was that all about?
Since that Sept. 16 debate, as measured by the RealClearPolitics polling average, Mr. Trump has lost about a quarter of his support, down to 23% from 30% on the eve of the debate. In this week’s Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, he is at 21%.
It’s not going to get better. The Trump numbers are going to drift sideways, or fall.
A few weeks ago, Mr. Trump tweeted that getting his business out of Atlantic City before the casinos collapsed was “great timing.” The moment has come for the timing master to recognize it’s Atlantic City all over again. For his phenomenal presidential campaign, it’s time to go.
In politics, there’s that famous thing known as Big Mo—momentum. Donald Trump had Big Mo like no one’s ever seen. It’s gone. The odds are he’ll soon be in second or third place, behind someone he insulted as a loser, as the heartless, mocking media will note. He’s not going to enjoy not being on top.
Politics is about winning at the margin. It is about securing a base of voter support and then finding ways to attract additional voters at the margin. In the highly partisan presidential elections since 2000, the Republican and Democratic nominees both have had a base vote rotating in the mid-40s. Then the candidates have to add marginal votes toward the 50% threshold. (In 2000, with third-party candidate Ralph Nader getting 3%, George W. Bush and Al Gore both finished with about 48%, hanging chads and a generation of political bitterness.)
The Trump candidacy is pure base, and Mr. Trump has not built out from that base, which topped out at about 30%. It’s become obvious that this third of angry conservative voters is volatile. Mr. Trump’s famous support base has eroded, dispersing to the other outsider candidates, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina.
More important, it is now clear that Mr. Trump is personally incapable of doing what is necessary to expand beyond his early burst of support. The tax plan he released this week, admirable as a broad outline, is supposed to show he’s getting serious. That’s the problem. His core base didn’t want that kind of serious.
Even at the level of performance art, what’s happening now is the slow-motion disintegration of “Trump.” His candidacy is detouring into weird and confusing fights, such as the “boycott” of Fox News. News reports on the Trump candidacy increasingly note remarks from admirers who essentially say: I really like that he tells it like it is, but I’m not sure he’s a good fit for the presidency.
The pace of volatility in contemporary politics is unprecedented, as a 74-year-old Vermont socialist is revealing to the preordained candidacy of Hillary Clinton. That the improbable Mr. Trump could rise and then flatline in so little time is startling but not surprising. What Mr. Trump ought to recognize is that his place in the 2015 moment—his political legacy—is secure, unless he lets it evaporate.
Donald Trump was the first person to tap into the zeitgeist of disgust coursing through politics everywhere. The fed-up voters of Guatemala have just made a TV comedian with no political experience the top finisher in their first-round presidential vote. In Spain, a referendum last Sunday revealed many in Catalonia would jump off the political cliff to separate from Madrid, their version of despised Washington.
In the 1996 presidential campaign, the Republican nominee, Sen. Bob Dole, coined a political phrase for the ages: “Where’s the outrage?” That’s the question a lot of Republican voters were asking themselves about their declared presidential candidates earlier this year: Where’s the outrage? With Donald Trump’s June 16 presidential announcement, they finally got it.
Mr. Trump’s singular personality is simply at odds with the political skills necessary to carry that mood any further than his mere arrival accomplished. His support is moving to candidates who are variations on the Trump theme. What people saw and heard in Carly Fiorina was your basic straight-razor woman. Her rage looks to be about one degree below boiling. Ben Carson radiates an intelligent everyman’s bemusement at a gridlocked system.
When the primaries arrive early next year, the Trump vote will subdivide further among the other Republican tortoises. If he stays in, Donald Trump becomes another presidential also-ran. With ostentation suitable to his stature, Mr. Trump should retire to a skybox, and enjoy what he has wrought.

Bill Kristol:
"He's not going to be the nominee.  He's not going to be the nominee."