Friday, May 13, 2016

Normalizing Trump

The Republicans are falling all over themselves doing it. The corporate media is scrambling to fit Donald Trump's Presidential candidacy into their favorite scripts and to protect their current and future "access" to him, his campaign and (gulp!) his Administration.

Eric Alterman looks at an emerging Pod Pundit narrative: the Meal Libruls are to blame! Of course, aren't they always?

Trumpism and the ‘Liberal Elite’ The Nation 05/13/2016:

When Donald Trump first began to dominate the Republican debates last fall, right-wing politicians pushed the same “blame” button they have hit reflexively just about every day since January 2009. “Let’s be honest,” Bobby Jindal explained to readers of The Wall Street Journal, “there would be no Donald Trump, dominating the political scene today if it were not for President Obama.” Writing on the Journal’s editorial page, neocon Bret Stephens agreed. “Donald Trump is Barack Obama squared,” he insisted, calling both men “epic narcissists who see themselves as singularly suited to redeem an America that is not only imperfect but fundamentally broken.”

As the Trump phenomenon grew and other GOP candidates’ prospects dimmed, a more complex explanation was required. As with global warming, gun control, evolutionary theory, and birth control, Trumpism was discovered to be part of a global media conspiracy. “He’s being treated with kid gloves by many in the media, in the hopes that he’s the nominee,” whined media darling Marco Rubio. “The media knows Donald can’t win the general, that Hillary would wallop him,” added Ted Cruz.
And he notes, plausibly enough in the American political definition of "liberal":

Both blame games — the pundits and politicians who attack liberals to explain the rise of Trump, as well as the Trump voters who believe that immigrants, Muslims, and anyone who can be defined as “other” are responsible for their misfortunes — share one key similarity: a purposeful blindness to reality. The pundits and politicians know quite well that the base of Trump’s support is not liberal. Indeed, it is antiliberal.
Digby Parton looks at how the Trump Republican Party is coming to grips with their new leader (The GOP’s terrifying Trump ignorance: They think they can control him, but that just isn’t going to happen Salon 05/13/2016):

Luke Russert on MSNBC reported that the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senate Committee endorsed Trump with enthusiasm. He also reported that many Republican leaders believe the whole ugly “Mexicans are rapists” and “Muslim ban” stuff was in the past, but they do wonder if he might say something untoward going forward.

To that I say: Of course he will. ...

... the GOP political establishment, led by Paul Ryan, has been concerned with one thing only. They say it doesn’t matter to them what cockamamie policies Trump proposes just as long as he can show them that he has “conservative principles.” They particularly hope that he will tone down all that crazy talk about protecting “entitlements” which grates on them like fingernails on a chalkboard. They can probably relax just a little bit since his “plan”, such as it is, is to get such a tremendous amount of growth from his masterful stewardship of the economy that money is no object.
I've never taken the threat of an actual Republican Party split over Trump seriously. It could still happen. But it's highly unlikely.

Derek Davison and Jim Lobe in Neoconservatism and the Trump Effect Lobe Log Foreign Policy 05/09/2016 looks at how Butcher's Bill Kristol's third-party talk has pretty much gone nowhere.

Ed Kilgore (After the Trump-Ryan ‘Summit,’ Both Sides Can Pretend the Other Is Surrendering New York 05/12/2016) has this take on Trump normalization in the wake of Trump's meeting this week with Paul Ryan:

Like a truce between Roman generals and a barbarian chieftain in late antiquity, the "summit" will probably be regarded by each side as representing the first stage in the other's surrender. For Trump, the very ritual of meetings with the RNC chairman, the House Speaker, the House leadership team, and (later today) the Senate leadership team connotes the conferral of respectability on a figure each and every one of these potentates has almost certainly disparaged in private as a buffoon, an overgrown juvenile delinquent, or a proto-fascist. And for said potentates, Trump's day on Capitol Hill represents his coming domestication. This dance could go on for quite some time before any push comes to shove in a public disagreement. And by then Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party will be stuck with each other for the duration.

On Wednesday, Trump's little-known top policy adviser, the former Iowa politician Sam Clovis, offered a good example of how easy it might be for Trump and Paul Ryan to blur their differences on even the most inflammatory issues. Pressed about whether "entitlement reform" was indeed off the table, as Trump himself seems to have said in debates and on the campaign trail, Clovis allowed as how a Trump administration might actually mosey over in that direction if fiscal circumstances so indicated. I'm sure Paul Ryan was pleased to hear that, and perhaps he was exactly the intended audience for that small but significant shift. Having spent much of the 2012 general election pretending to love Medicare more than life itself after issuing budget after budget proposing to gut it, Ryan knows how to blur his positions as well.

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