Pivoting, Trump Style

If “pivot” means do a one-eighty, then of course a pivot by Trump has to be twice as great. And sure enough, he’s done a full 360 turn, taking him and his unfortunate watchers full circle, where we can expect him to be just as mindless and ignorant as before, but with teleprompters and a ramped up volume.

Proof? Just a few days after bringing on his new campaign leadership team, we see the “new” Trump on full-throated display, as he shouts his meaningless or outright lying claims from behind teleprompters. I mean, readers, he literally shouts, as if his voice and tone were somehow going to be anything but scary to those his campaign needs to be persuading at this late stage.

“Believe me!” he yells at African-Americans, “I’m your friend! I promise you! Trust me!” he insists, in spite of the history of the Republican Party, which has totally ignored the needs and issues of Black Americans for the past forty years and more.

Of course, we all, I hope, understand that Trump’s not really “outreaching” to all those Black voters safely not seated in his rally audiences; he’s speaking to on-the-fence White voters, ostensibly re-assuring them that he’s not really the racist his sociopath mouth has projected these past 15 months. His real message? He’s suggesting he can make up wholesale lies, undersigned by a phony promise of support for African-American concerns, then sell it to them because, as he and his white-supremacist pals will tell you, these ignorant Black voters will believe anything.

They won’t, Donald. Especially coming from you, who’ve made your racist notions and bigotry clear to all who care to listen. And, more to the point, the 95% of Black voters who support Clinton won’t simply walk away from her; they remember how she and her husband have advocated for all America’s minorities for all those same decades of Republican disdain and hate-based neglect.

Enter the Chief Executive Hatemonger

As if we needed more evidence of Trump’s willful determination to raise his campaign’s level of irrational hate and ignorance, we note how he’s turned over the leadership role to Stephen Bannon, the boss and ideological head of Breitbart News.

Trump has named Bannon as the “Campaign CEO”, although it isn’t clear what a political-type CEO might be–in our mind the “CEO” of a political race is the candidate. But in a case like this one where the candidate appears to have no brains, or will to work, or patience with campaigning, maybe turning all this boring detailed stuff over to an experienced political operations manager is a typically brilliant Trumpian move.

Except…

Stephen Bannon has exactly zero experience in directing a major political campaign, much less in turning one around that’s drifting toward the rocks. What he does have is years of experience in publishing hit jobs targeting Hillary Clinton. And years of experience running hard core right wing racist, xenophobic web sites. And a radio show specializing in promoting conspiracy theories. And the first name of Steve, to go with all those other Steves Trump recently named to his “Economics Advisory” team, even though their history is one of ripping off economies, not fixing them. Bannon’s an ideal Steve for Trump, in short.

For sure, Bannon’s a perfect choice for managing a web-based 80 day hate-burst directed at Clinton, the liberals and progressives backing her, and the huge group of Republican establishment and moderate sell-outs and traitors undermining Trump. But he’s suspect as an actual manager of a full-on national campaign team. Meaning Trump needed to also appoint an experienced political campaign manager.

Step on down, Kellyanne!

Polls going down? Leading Republicans racing for the exits? Women still strongly opposed to the man who would be il Douche? Time to turn up the nasty. Adios, Reince, Ryan, and Mc-Mc-McConnell; Bye bye, Mr. Manaflub; hello, Ms. Kellyanne Con.

Kellyanne Conway! Wow, someone with polling and campaign strategy chops! Now, we’re talking! And talking. And talking. And talking. Which she does really well, provided she is not forced to say anything factual, answer a direct question, or give a rational explanation of Trump’s latest idiotic rant or thoughtless comment. She is really something at saying nothing!

Which explains why Conway is far and away the star performer among Trump’s media surrogates. She’s so accomplished at spreading misinformation on the cable news channels that it’s surprising Trump would pull her off the air. Oh, but he needs a campaign manager, right.

But the problem is, she isn’t one. She’s a mid-rank pollster who’s never managed a campaign of any size, much less a national one. Her role will be the latest in a long, unsuccessful line of Trump whisperers, riding on the plane with him, calming his inner Beast. “Everything’s good, Mr. Trump! Forget those dozens of mean, biased polls; look at these two!…See?! The sun’s coming up, Mr. Trump! The rally tonight in Beyond Hope, Florida, will be a great success, I just know it will! But please try not to speak quite so loudly this time over the teleprompters, OK?…Yes we can sleep at Mar-a-Lago, tonight, poor tired baby.”

What we’re witnessing is supposedly a “new” Trump campaign, but what we’re actually seeing is the same old campaign, namely the non-campaign presided over by Lewandowski, then Manafort. Neither Mr. Hate nor Ms. Sunshine is going to be paying any serious attention to campaign financing, implementing a ground game, or getting the loose-lipped candidate prepped for the debate with one of the true barracuda debaters of our era.

And no, in case you’re wondering, Roger Ailes may try to coach Trump a bit before Clinton slices him up like a pouting, whining, overripe orange persimmon, but Ailes is not going to allow himself to be closely connected with the campaign; he knows it’s basically a lost cause, and he doesn’t need that after being booted from Fox.

The net result? No effective campaign means no change in the likely outcome, which Dr. Sam Wang, the best election pollster for this Truthteller’s money, this morning says is a 95% probable win for Clinton.

Yeah, yeah, I know: “We mustn’t be over-confident! He could possibly make a come-back! Florida isn’t a lock!” The first being wise, and the third being true, for now, but the second being nonsense. Confidence comes from rational, detailed analysis, assisted by solid data if one is lucky or persistent enough to have it. Overconfidence reflects the absence of qualified analysis. A comeback? A great horse may be able to make up three or four lengths with a powerful stretch run, but an inferior candidate is not going to succeed in walking back the mountain of stupid, hateful, insulting, lying, self-destructive words he’s shouted for over a year. Especially if he has to waddle all the way.

The unkindest cuts of all?

As the Trump campaign slips closer to the edge of a deadly drop into the dustbin of American political history, a chorus of Republican leaders are doing their best to hasten his decline.

Before the Republican convention in Cleveland, many Republican loyalists, the so-called Never Trump movement, had worked tirelessly to deny him the nomination. After he won it, most assumed these anti-Trumpers would either go away grumbling, or get behind his candidacy. We all could see that Trump was supported by about two-thirds of his Party members, but none could have anticipated what the Trump dissidents would do, or say. Their position re: the campaign and candidate would, most of us figured, become a minor footnote, as the disgruntled “establishment” folks retired to the sidelines to lick their wounds.

Not so fast…

Toward the end of the Democrats’ convention, Trump’s essential shallowness, egomania, and mendacity was harpooned by the eloquence of a Gold Star father. Trump being Trump, he reacted immediately and stupidly, picking a useless fight where approximately 75% of the country was backing the calmly determined father of a true war hero.
That Trump political unforced error seems to have been the last straw for the establishment Republicans, seething quietly in their summer vacation haunts.

The first salvo received little attention from the media. On August 4th, the National Review magazine, the hard-line right wing Republican bible, published a detailed story undermining the Trump campaign’s most important single reason for voting for Trump instead of Clinton. The article’s author, Ian Tuttle, calmly explains that voters should vote against Trump even if that means Clinton will appoint one or more U.S. Supreme Court justices! Tuttle says, in effect, the country will be worse off under a President Trump, than under a President Clinton, even with her power to select nominations to the Court. SCOTUS picks

Then, a few days later came an open letter signed by fifty of the Republicans’ most senior foreign and national security policy experts, saying they will not vote for Trump, and that his election would be extremely dangerous for the country. dangerous Trump

On Wednesday, August 10th, the highly respected Reuters/IPSOS polling unit published a national poll showing that one in five Republicans, or 20%, want Trump to drop out of the race. Another ten percent are leaning that way. These people are the “base” the experts love to talk about. Time and again, you’ll hear them opining “Trump needs to be expanding his base,” and similar pap. The truth is that Trump is actually eroding the Republican base, as this poll illustrates.

Another letter, this one from seventy Republican political leaders, begged the Republican National Committee to cut off funding for the Trump campaign, and give the money to down-ballot candidates fighting for survival in the expected Democratic landslide in November. Cut off Trump funding

Mind, it’s August, with twelve weeks of campaigning to go, yet these worried partisans warned the RNC:

“We believe that Donald Trump’s divisiveness, recklessness, incompetence, and record-breaking unpopularity risk turning this election into a Democratic landslide, and only the immediate shift of all available RNC resources to vulnerable Senate and House races will prevent the GOP from drowning with a Trump-emblazoned anchor around its neck,” according to a draft of the letter obtained by POLITICO.

The party faithful aren’t just frustrated with Trump’s bullying, lying, insults, and general campaigning incompetence. They find plenty to fault, such as Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, in defiance of over forty years of American political practice. Now, senior-level Trump supporters, including his own running-mate (!), are demanding that Trump release his tax returns.

Even the pro-Republican, Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal has turned on Trump: from endorsing his candidacy in the late Spring to warning now he’s about to have the Party support rug pulled out from under him. Abandon Trump

The WSJ says it better than we can:

“If they can’t get Mr. Trump to change his act by Labor Day, the GOP will have no choice but to write off the nominee as hopeless and focus on salvaging the Senate and House and other down-ballot races.” Ouch!

And many of those down-ballot Republicans aren’t waiting. From Senator Kelly Ayotte to (probably) fifty or more ultra-obstructionist right-wing Congressmen, plus many life-rafts of local and state Republican office holders, are desperately trying to delink from Trump/Spence.

The dump Trump parade among Republicans is so crowded the Clinton machine is not just running TV ads quoting Trump himself in his endless stream of self-wounding comments and lies; they’re running ads quoting Republicans who are opposed to their party’s candidate.

In fact, there are so many anti-Trump Republicans bad-mouthing Trump now that the Democrats haven’t needed to run ads featuring the many Trump-damning video sound bites of Joe Biden, Senator Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Sherrod Brown, or Michelle Obama yet. These powerful message-mates of Hillary Clinton can be saved, no doubt to be served up fresh in the tsunami of anti-Republican attack ads coming in mid-September, just before the first debate.

But amongst the mob of Republican ship-jumpers and Trump back-stabbers one cut has, so far, been the unkindest of all: Paul Ryan and his ruling right-wing clique in the House of Representatives have put Evan McMullin, their Congressional policy chief of staff, up as an independent Conservative candidate against Trump. McMullin is already seriously undermining Trump’s chances in Utah, and will likely assist Clinton in Colorado, where she doesn’t need the help, and Nevada, where she does.

That’s right, Ryan is secretly backing his own dark horse against Trump, whom he has, however reluctantly, “endorsed”. Hey! He never said he exclusively endorsed Trump, right? Looks very much like in the art of this deal, Donald the Greatest was played, his big brain notwithstanding.

Whew! Just mid-August, and already a blood feud! Unfortunately for the Republicans, almost all the bleeding so far is amongst their own factions and membership. How much of this inwardly-directed anger will result in the loss of Electoral Votes, or Senate seats, or House districts, or state offices? Oh, and future Supreme Court chairs?

It’s still too early to say, of course. But for rational voters who seek a progressive path forward for America, it’s not too early to hope.

Battleground update — Trump’s mud slide

Donald Trump’s amazingly inept “campaign” of mud-slinging, off-the-cuff threats, insults, lies, and incoherent rants has done what no Presidential run in history has ever been able to accomplish. In just two weeks, he’s managed to lose some 50 to 60 Electoral Votes. He’s personally flipping battleground and even solidly “red” state EVs to the Democrats at a rate of about four a day.

With 12 weeks to go before Election Day, Trump’s already facing an electoral defeat not seen in this country in decades. Can he reverse his negative trend? It’s an open question. Going by the national and battleground state polls, the bleeding is serious.

2016 EVMAP 001 - DY0812 REVd
Map note — Base map courtesy 270towin.com. The base (“consensus”) map for this update post may be accessed at Consensus as of 20160812. Our updated Truthteller forecast map is at Truthteller November Forecast as of 20160814. You can share our maps as you wish or modify either to create your own analysis. Enjoy!

Here are the highlights as of today, Saturday, August 13th, as reflected in our updated Battleground Scorecard map:

  • The biggest takeaway of the past two weeks is the least dramatic one on our map, namely the unshakable blocs of dark and medium blue in the West, North Central states, and the Northeast. Clinton held 216 Electoral Votes four weeks ago, and has kept them all, while adding the ten EVs of Wisconsin as it moved from medium to dark blue. With just 44 more votes needed to reach 270, Clinton has moved from great shape to even better shape.
  • The most quantitatively significant change is the gradual solidifying of Clinton’s leads in the rust belt states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin. The thirty-eight Electoral votes of these three states are vital to Republican hopes for reaching 270 votes; should they all fall to the Democrats, as we now predict they will, then the Presidential contest is effectively over.
  • But the real shocker that has emerged in the past two short weeks is the potentially devastating Clinton blowout in the Sun Belt. From Arizona in the West to the Southeastern states of North Carolina, Georgia, and, potentially, South Carolina, the Clinton juggernaut threatens to effectively flip much of the very core of the southern Conservative stronghold that has anchored Republican strategies for decades. With a total of fifty-one EVs unexpectedly in play, Clinton could be locking up not just the 2016 race, but setting the table for a strong re-election bid in 2020.
  • The selection of Gov. Mike Pence as Trump’s running mate appears to have had the unintended side effect of putting Indiana in play. The Dems have a strong chance of not merely nabbing the open Senate seat with Evan Bayh’s bid, but possibly taking the state’s eleven EVs in the bargain.

In addition to these major developments, Republican weaknesses in Missouri, Kansas and Utah are emerging. These local problems would probably have been minor had Trump not been selected. Instead, the antipathy by more than half of voters to Trump, with his name at the top of every Republican ticket in the country, could well make these and similar local difficulties much harder to overcome.

Our summary of the current situation will be augmented with details from our updated forecast over the coming week or so — provided the Donald does not run reasoned discussion of the campaigns off the rails again, with a new crazy claim or unsubstantiated conspiracy theory.

For now, here’s our updated November forecast:

Clinton/Kaine – 411 Electoral Votes

Trump/Pence – 127 EVs

So, reader, you tell me: is the “battle” for the Battleground States already over?

To this Truthteller, it certainly appears so.

A Comedy of Terrors — Part Three

With apologies, readers, an overdue conclusion to this brief series:

My intent in this post was to contrast the dark world projected by Trump with the positive vision of Clinton and her stupendously qualified convention speakers. Then, as has happened to me and other commentators throughout this year, Trump’s motor mouth swamped my draft of “Part Three” with his unbelievably stupid attack on the parents of Captain Humayun Kahn, who died a hero’s death in Iraq in 2004.

Trump’s irrational, insensitive, unpatriotic reaction to Mr. Khizr Kahn’s stunning few words in his brief speech to the DNC just a few hours before Clinton’s acceptance speech on the last night of the convention, quickly proved to be the orange blowhard’s biggest error yet.

Like most, I was shocked; not so much at his lack of empathy and care for the incredibly brave, selfless Captain’s still-grieving parents, but at his utter lack of political smarts in launching such a self-destructive assault, one that will doubtless go down in U.S. election history as one of the three or four greatest self-inflicted campaigning disasters ever.

I confess in despair I put this post aside temporarily, and went back to my primary concern, the scale of Clinton’s coming victory, and whether or not it could give the Democrats control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Just as well I did, in retrospect.

For in the following two weeks, Trump has gone from unforced error to unforced error. Which, given the clownish nature of his inept campaign, should simply be funny at this point. But his post-convention performance has been anything but.

His reaction to being asked pointedly by Mr. Kahn if he, Trump, had even read our Constitution was to rage that Mr. Kahn had no right to ask him such a question, suggesting that Trump had in fact not read the document! Still grumbling about his utter humiliation by the dead war hero’s grieving parents, Trump lumbered on for several inconsequential rallies, and then suggested that “Article 2 people” might have to put a stop to President Clinton and her Supreme Court nominees.

This was classic Trump. First, tell an outright lie: Clinton wants to destroy Article Two, and take everyone’s guns away. Then rant a stream of fearspeak: for example, that we won’t have any way to defend ourselves when the home invaders come. Um, excuse me? Ohhh, right, he means the Black and Hispanic bad guys, or the Islamic terrorist secretly living in your trailer park. Then blame Clinton for the imminent attack on your family; along with every other bad thing that might happen anywhere on the planet should we foolishly elect her.

Side note to Agent Orange:

That last sentence is an example of sarcasm, Donald. You may want to make a note for future instances where you have to try and persuade us that you have been misrepresented by the evil, crooked, rigged media. Oh, and a compliment: “home invasion” is a super way to load your made-up charge against Clinton with racist innuendo.

What’s that, Donald? No, that was not a compliment, dummy: that was sarcasm. See above.

And as if that call to someone else’s arms was not enough for one week, Trump felt compelled to invent his biggest whopper yet, to try and cut off media and practically every other semi-thinking person’s negative reaction to his flippant suggestion that Clinton be assassinated.

Now, to get people of all stripes to stop talking about his seditious Article Two statement was not going to be easy. He’d need a really major charge to put forth in the national court of public opinion.

And as we all now know, Trump made up a really big one.

Thanks to his inventiveness with lying, we’ve all learned that President Obama and Secretary Clinton were — who could have imagined it?! — the founders of ISIS.

Yes, I know, the old Trump switch and bait move, just more stupidly and ineptly done this time. But it wasn’t merely laughable, reader.

Intentionally or not, over the course of 48 short hours, Trump has accused the President and Secretary Clinton of treasonous behavior. And he has called the fanatics among his well-armed supporters to be ready to set things to rights. All the while insisting to his ignorant supporters that the election is “rigged”.

Do you read this the way I am?

With his comedic, clownish jibes and lies, is Donald Trump attempting to put events in motion that could result in the murder of Hillary Clinton and others? Knowing now that he cannot win this contest, could his chaotic, adolescent, resentful, disordered brain be whispering to him that he must, to avoid being beaten by a woman, make sure that if he cannot win, then she must not, either?

A Comedy of Terrors, indeed.

Your Truthteller wants to know: Could Trump self-dump?

After a terrible convention, a disastrous acceptance speech, a week of classic (meaning ill-worded and unfunny) Trump tweets, an unremitting, unapologetic assault on the parents of a dead Muslim-American war hero, and a flat “serious” economic speech touting — no, it’s not possible! — rehashed establishment Repub economics, topped off by Trump’s slyly “joking” invitation to “Article Two types” to assassinate Clinton or any Supreme Court Justice she may earn the opportunity to nominate, one would think even Trump would have had enough. Especially since all four weeks’ worth of these wounds had been self-inflicted, to the wailing chorus of hundreds of senior, patriotic members of the Republican Party, busily and publicly disavowing him and his blowhard, bullying, befuddled, threats and scare tactics. It was obvious: Agent Orange’s poisonous campaign to steal the Presidency right out from under the noses of the largely ill-informed older white working class guys who’ve been bamboozled into supporting him was finally imploding.

We’ll put this apparent collapse of voter support for Trump, his out-sized, hateful ranting, and his inconsistent, illogical, and undefined agenda into quantitative terms in the update of our Battleground States Electoral Vote map this weekend.

Numbers and likely November election results aside, the past eight weeks of Republican fiascoes raises a question that few of us could have imagined posing as recently as the middle of June:

Is it possible that Trump could do what he’s vaguely threatened to do earlier in the year, and simple withdraw from the contest?

All my instincts shout “No way!” But my instincts have failed me often when it comes to guessing the likely behavior of this caged, crazed, crippled beast.

With a normal, rational, public-spirited person, we could make a well-reasoned list of the pros and cons facing him as he views the collapsing dream of personal glory from his penthouse windows high in the sky. I mean a really tough list of reasons for continuing or walking away from the contest. Full disclosure: I’ve started such a list, that being a basic first step in the kind of Delphic forecasting I specialize in.

But Wednesday, as Trump shouted that President Obama and his then-Secretary of State were, holy hairspray!, the founders of ISIS!, thereby demonstrating once again that this buffoon has no concept of rational thinking, planning, or even the most rudimentary command of facts, I was struck: what are the chances any of us normal folks could make any list that would give us a clue to what he will do?

And even then, at this late point in a campaign riddled with failed Republican attempts to get on track or stay on message, who could be sure that, after saying he’ll do something, Trump won’t soon turn about and do the opposite? It seems obvious that he’s happier to see his “allies” and the general establishment types squirm than actually doing any meaningful, focused work to win the election.

So once again we see Reince Priebus and the Republican National Committee scurrying en mass to a meeting in Orlando in the hopes of putting a leash on this overgrown orange wildebeest. Surely the few remaining rational Republicans must be saying, now he will change.

The outcome of this crisis meeting won’t be different, dear political flyweights; it will be more of the same chaos. How can I be so certain? Hint: the meeting will not include Humpty Trumpty himself.

Instead of righting the non-campaign, the meeting will doubtless bring Trump and his hangers-on one step closer to the real decision point, namely, the point where he decides to stay in the race and see himself re-branded as America’s Greatest Loser, or walks away just before the first debate and finding himself labeled forever as the Bully Who Was Afraid To Fight A Woman, or simply fails to show up for the debate, claiming the whole thing is “rigged”, and heads for the first hole of the nearest Trump golf course.

I cannot be sure at this point if he’ll continue or quit, and if the latter, how or when.

But I can be sure of this, Donald: you’ll be ending this sorry excuse for a campaign hiding in a hole, and it won’t be deep or large enough for you to conceal your failures, and it won’t be far enough away for us to ever forget what a colossally unsuccessful con-artist you turned out to be.

 

Trump’s bump vs. Clinton’s climb

With both conventions behind us, we can now estimate Trump’s and Clinton’s polling bounces. Clinton is at eight to ten points over Trump nationally, and his number appears to be trending lower than July 19th, the beginning of his convention, which of course, was supposed to raise his numbers. We expect Clinton to climb higher by next week, perhaps by as many as 3 points, which would put her at approximately 14 to 15 points, net, above Trump, assuming he continues to slip.

What is complicating the post-convention analysis this year is the timing of the Democratic convention, which was scheduled in part to effectively suffocate any bounce from the Republican show in Cleveland. The Dem ploy has worked, probably far more successfully than the Brooklyn planners had dare hope. A further analytical complication is the contrast in mood and tone of the two conventions, with Trump’s gloomy vision driving the GOP’s four days versus four days the following week filled with Clinton’s positive messages, presented by the biggest stars in American politics. Finally, there was the exceptionally high quality of the Democrat’s production versus the sloppy, demoralizing Trump show–which he had bragged would be the “greatest!”, and now says he had nothing to do with.

These factors all doubtless contributed to Clinton’s steep climb just days after the Philadelphia convention ended. But we also need to account for the undeniable and still unfolding impact of the speech by Mr. Khizr Kahn, father of war hero Captain Humayun Kahn. His forthright challenge to Trump’s values, patriotism, and understanding of the Constitution on Thursday evening the 28th was one of the most powerful seven minutes this country has ever witnessed in a political campaign.

The stuns of August

Traditionally, presidential campaigning has been relatively quiet in August. With the Rio games due to start tomorrow, this August was expected to give the candidates and their teams a post-convention break. But it now looks as if August will see campaigning at the same pace as the earlier part of the year. The Clinton team is smelling the chance to lock up her victory even before Labor Day, the traditional start of the high-intensity phase of national campaigns. All this suggests August will be a rough test for the Trump cause.

Trump’s August problems actually began on July 28th, with Mr. Kahn’s speech. It’s evident even without a pollster survey that the Dem’s bounce owes possibly as much as a third of its 8 to 10 point margin over Trump to Mr. Kahn’s moving story, and to his courage in throwing down the ethical gauntlet to Trump. More importantly, Mr. Kahn’s words and his wife’s stoic bravery seem to have grabbed American hearts and minds on all parts of the political spectrum, especially among the military communities. Serving men and women, their families, veterans, Gold Star families–all appear to be questioning their traditional loyalty to the Republican ticket, thanks mainly to Khizr Kahn.

Your Truthteller does not see this pro-Clinton trend in the military vote going away anytime soon. She had already established her national security chops, and materially strengthened them with an extraordinary red, white and blue-colored convention. Then Mr. Kahn makes his bold challenge to Trump’s very humanity, and, like the adolescent he is, Trump thoughtlessly attacks the Kahn family. Instantly the Republicans try to distance themselves from Trump yet again, but it’s too late: immediately, stories are re-circulating about Trump’s draft-dodging in 1968, his overblown claims of assisting veterans, and his lack of concern with his fellow New Yorkers who were affected by 9/11.

The media and pundit-class tend to focus on the story, but the real impact of this incident could be a serious decline in Republican support by potentially millions of military votes, especially in Virginia, North Carolina!, South Carolina, and, double Yikes!, Georgia–with its sixteen electoral votes.

Then, August 2nd, the Trump cause was dealt another major blow when Meg Whitman, a deeply conservative superstar and one of the most successful businesspersons in the U.S., announced she’d be voting for Clinton, and supporting her run with cash as well. Unlike Trump, Ms. Whitman is a real billionaire, times two, and a rising power in Republican political circles. The Trump people should be cowering, since, in her campaign to win the Governor’s office in California, she spent $144 million of her own money. If she goes on the campaign trail, a pairing of her on the stage with Bill Clinton in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, and of her with Tim Kaine in Spanish-speaking Nevada, Arizona, Colorado and Florida, would make for major coverage by the cable news networks, sucking the available time away from Trump’s same old, same old, bluster-burdened, boring rallies.

This is about to be war

Speaking of the rallies game, Trump’s team had to have been discouraged to see Clinton and her top-level surrogates charge out of the gate after the convention with a well-targeted, thoroughly professional tour. She has above a dozen highly respected surrogates ready to go forth into the battleground states on her behalf, starting with the President and Michelle Obama. When it comes to crowd-motivating oratory, the Republicans have no one of the caliber of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Sherrod Brown, not to mention Bill Clinton, from Hope, Arkansas. Adding Whitman, a half dozen other strong Senators, and, we hope, Mr. Khizr Kahn to the list will create a barnstorming juggernaut the likes of which have not been seen in this country in its history. And cable TV will be compelled to cover every rally and bus stopover.

Add in Clinton’s formidable and fully-funded ground game, which will not be spending August at the beach, and which counts among its working partners the unions, the registration drive forces of Voto Latino and the NAACP, the emerging Bernie Sanders permanent army of young volunteers, and the forces of NARAL and Planned Parenthood and a dozen similar activist organizations–an incomparable alliance.

As to funding, the Trump people may have found a way to deliver small contributions to his campaign, but that money cannot in two short months magically create a polished, brainy, experienced back-office computer operation like the one supporting Clinton and the down-ballot Dem candidates.

As if the Clinton jump-off in early August were not scary enough to Trump and Republicans, there is the turmoil within the Trump campaign team, the openly expressed dismay at Trump’s inability to manage or motivate an effective campaign organization, and Trump’s amazing gift for insensitive comments, mis-communication and disastrous ad-libbing. If we can be certain of nothing else this August, we can predict he will create several situations during the month that will require back-tracking, unforced errors that will focus the media on questions of his incompetence and lack of fitness for the Presidency. These situations will alienate additional great swathes of potential voters, further driving his numbers down. His inept manner of campaigning has so far prevented him or his team from launching any effective attacks on Clinton. We predict this strategic floundering will continue at least through August, and well into September.

Orange Crush by September?

Should August unfold more or less as we’ve predicted, then Clinton should enter September with a commanding eight to fifteen point lead in most of the battleground states, as well as the rest of the country. The race won’t be over, of course, but she will riding the crest of a winning wave, possibly even a landslide, possibly even a landslide capable of producing thirty or more flips of House seats along with the retaking of the Senate. Meanwhile, her combed-over opponent will still be trying to learn enough to face her in a rigorously grown-up debate, one centered on real issues, not childish and shouted insults. If we weren’t more concerned about the damage he could do as President of the country, we’d actually feel a little sorry for him. Very little.

Mr. Kahn vs. Mr. Con

Millions of voters now agree that the most stunning seven minutes so far in this political year occurred Thursday night at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, when Mr. Khizr Kahn called out Donald Trump for his bigotry and disrespect of the Constitution. Amazingly, Trump’s response included the claim that Mr. Kahn had “no right” to criticize him! Let’s review the basic facts of the dispute.

Mr. Kahn’s First Amendment right

As a common citizen of this country, Mr. Kahn had every right to challenge Trump’s understanding of our Constitution. He did so based solely on Trump’s own statements and evident ignorance of our most basic legal document. Loving his adopted homeland and all its core values, Mr. Kahn bravely and honorably stood before the American people and raised the specter of Trump’s ignorance with specific regard to the document he would be promising to uphold if he should ever become President.

We love to celebrate those like Mr. Kahn who “speak truth to power” on our collective behalf. He challenged Trump in a direct, clear, justified manner that no so-called journalist has had the courage to do, even when given the grounds and the opportunity.

Trump’s cultural and religious bigotry, and his anti-female problem in full view

Mr. Trump is free to hate Mr. Kahn for exhibiting such patriotic heroism, but he is not free to tell lies about the incident, or to dismiss Mrs. Kahn as a Muslim woman who was “not permitted to speak” on the convention stage. He is free to be a boring con man, and continue to demean and insult Muslims, immigrants to this country, minorities, and women in general. But he spews his venom at families who’ve lost one or more sons or daughters in defense of this country at great risk: our people do not easily forgive the slander of our armed forces, the very people who defend us all, including rich, spoiled, over-bearing blowhards like Donald J. Trump.

And he is not free from the indignation of his fellow citizens, including those who fought not to harm this nation but to enter into it, and share the rights and, especially, the responsibilities of residence and citizenship.

Labeling Mr. Kahn’s critique as “political”

Mr. Kahn did not “politicize” his son’s death; Donald Trump did that, when, instead of apologizing to Mr. and Mrs. Kahn and the rest of the nation for his offensive, callous, vindictive statements over the past fifteen months, he accused the Kahns of speaking out solely to “attack” him. Trump conveniently forgets he is now just another politician, and still does not understand that every attempt to challenge his lies or his bullying or his anti-American behavior and statements becomes “political”.

Trump’s weak responses to a critique like Mr. Kahn’s show he is incapable of defending himself with reason instead of blather and bluster and whining excuses. No surprise, then, that he is desperately looking for an excuse to avoid debating Senator Clinton!

The Trump campaign’s blatant attempt to link Mr. Kahn’s critique to Islamic Terrorism and ISIL

Mr. and Mrs. Khan’s moving, sincere, and completely accurate critique of Trump and of his unfitness for the Presidency has proven to be a major blow to his campaign. Trump and his handlers have crudely and illogically attempted to smother the Kahn’s criticisms under the blanket of Islamic terrorism, for example, pretending that the Kahn “attack” on Trump is somehow inspired by Islamic hatred of America.

The Kahn’s calm, reasoned, truthful words are of course the direct opposite, motivated by their deep love of their new homeland, its values, all its people–even cowardly Republicans–and, especially, its hallowed Constitution. To attempt to taint this honored couple with some fake link to a cause they abhor and actively fight against in their community simply proves that Trump and his advisors are unthinking goons and liars.

Trump’s attempt to cheapen the Kahn’s sacrifice

Trump’s notion of personal and family sacrifice was and is appalling to almost everyone. His absurdly lame attempt to equate his years of making money, playing golf, and flying around in a private jet to the loss of a treasured child in the service of the country is a blatant example of his utter lack of values.The irony is that Trump’s lack of humanity was exactly how Mr. Kahn described him; then Trump proceeds to validate the accuracy of Mr. Kahn’s characterization just a few hours later! This man may have a big brain, but somehow it seems to have taken early retirement.

Of all Trump’s pathetic attempts to weasel on his outrageous claims and accusations, this has to be the most damning, exposing as it does his complete lack of humility, wisdom, fairness, concern for others, and compassion. As if we needed more proof of Trump’s fundamental unfitness for any public office, he has again demonstrated all his weaknesses, given us yet another example of his utter lack of empathy, and exhibited his childish inability to apologize for his hurtful, untrue, and bigoted counterclaims.

A note to Trump

You are a phony, Donald Trump. Your claims are lies, your words are smoke, your promises are empty. Mr. Kahn has rightly reminded us that at the center of your being, there is nothing.

Your idea of sacrifice is being busy with one woman and thus being prevented from hitting on another. Your idea of sacrifice is settling a court case on your lawyer’s advice instead of utterly ruining your opponent for life. Your idea of sacrifice is to spend a year trying to become the most powerful person on the planet instead of playing billionaire games and suing people who call you out.

Yes, building those casinos only to see them fail due to mismanagement or downright fraud involved sacrifices but your workers, contractors, and investors made them, not you.

If you were a serious candidate, spending the hundreds of hours to learn the history of the world the rest of us live in, and America’s role in keeping it safe, then perhaps we could call that a sacrifice, since it is apparent you hate to read, cannot stand being taught policy by your betters, and have enormous difficulty understanding even the most basic facts.

If you were a serious candidate, and revealed your tax records for the past ten years, we might be able to call that a sacrifice, since you would be revealing what a braggart, fraud, and miserly man you really are.

If you were a truly patriotic candidate, you would stop trying to win by inciting discord and fear, and try to win by listening to the needs and dreams of the voters. If you showed us your thought-out plans to address the real problems in this country and its economy, well, we could possibly call that a sacrifice, since it’s evident you hate having to listen, and very likely hate even more having to deal with other’s needs instead of gratifying your own.

But I am describing a different Trump, one that exists only in the fantasies of the Republicans who have kowtowed to your sick vision for our future. You, the Trump who cannot stand criticism or being denied his every desire is not going to change. The facts, I fear, are that you do not care about the country, or any one of its citizen’s needs. Nor, as Mr. Kahn calmly argues, have you any empathy for those you would presume to govern.

You attack anyone who points out your con game, your ignorance, your many business failures, or your lack of fitness for the job of Commander-in-Chief by attacking those who see through him. Calling the criticisms of your behavior and incompetence “political” is the oldest dodge in the book.

We’ve all read that book, Donald, along with the hundred others needed for a full understanding of the challenges of governing this great country, books you’ve obviously avoided over your seven decades of pampered existence.

We hear your attacks on the Kahns, these fine new American citizens. We hear your bigotry and racism. We hear your sour, self-serving twaddle, little man, and we shall show you what we think of your words in November, when you’ll earn the ignominy you deserve.

How to honor the Kahn family, the true heroes of this election year

Mr. Kahn’s crystal clear understanding of this pathological liar, shallow narcissist, and dangerous potential dictator calls us to stop him from becoming President. We need to vote in such numbers that will allow The Democrats to secure a majority in the House of Representatives as well as the Senate, and give Senator Clinton the backing for her and Bernie Sanders’ program for a fairer and faster growing America.

Overheard in the Capitol, via Moscow

climate, warming, hoax, republican

Denyin’ Paul: “Senator? Did you get one of these memos from the RNC? The one saying I was to use BorisYellsin as my new code name?”

Mumblin’ Mitch, looking around and then realizing the Speaker is speaking to him: “Ahhh, uh, yup. Mine is BorisGoodenuff. I think it’s from an opera, but I never actually heard one, so I can’t take a position on that.”

Denyin’ Paul: “There you are. You’re late, Reince. Now, what the duck is this crap about?”

Blinders Reince: “Please, Paul. Not so loud. Somebody might be listening. Mr. Manafart insisted we need to have approved secret code names from now to see copies of the Campaign policy positions, if they ever develop any. Mine is ‘Doestooyessky’; pretty literary, no?”

Denyin’ Paul: “Dammit, Priebus! We’re about to lose the House, thanks to Trump and his slimy Manafool. And this is what they’re doing up there in the gold-plated penthouse?”

Blinders Reince: “Please, Paul–from now on Mr. Manafault is to be called ‘Rasputin.’ And The Donald is to be called ‘Ivan the Terrible’, OK?”

Mumblin’ Mitch: “Harrrumph. Are those names from the same opera?”

Denyin’ Paul: “Not an opera, you fumbling twit; more like a song and dance team in a comedy burlesque show. But, at least those two names fit. C’mon Priebus! What the duck do we need all this silliness for?”

Blinders Reince: “First, so we can communicate with the Campaign. They’re all switching to these code names.”

Denyin’ Paul: “Great! So now I’m supposed to send my emails under this stupid name?”

Blinders Reince: “Emails?! Boris, you can’t still be sending stuff out using email?! Have we learned nothing from Hillary?”

Mumblin’ Mitch: “He is. Sending emails. I got one this morning from him announcing the Labor Day Clinton Bash bash. Oh, and we’ll definitely be there, Paul–I mean Boris, but I’m not too sure about the American flag design Speedo you sent over yesterday; it’s maybe two sizes too large.”

Blinders Reince: “Look, Mr. Speaker: from tomorrow on, unless your messages show your new code name, no one will even bother reading them.”

Mumblin’ Mitch: “No one reads mine now, Mr. Chairman. I mean Yessky.”

Blinders Reince: “That’s ‘DoestooYessky’, Senator.”

Mumblin’ Mitch: “Ahhum, you mean Borisgoodenuff’, if you don’t mind, Doestoo.”

Blinders Reince: “Good enough for blocking Obama nominees and precious little else, you fumbling doofus.”

Denyin’ Paul: “Enuff! The meeting will come to order. Period. You can tell the Campaign I’m not having anything to do with this charade. It all sounds like something Manaflub’s Russian friends dreamed up.”

Mumblin’ Mitch: “No! You can’t mean that, Mr. Yellsin, surely?”

Denyin’ Paul: “Well, Reince?”

Blinders Reince: “Ummm…”

Denyin’ Paul: “Dammit, Preibus, I’ve got votes to delay, and bills to block! This whole scheme seems like a sure fire way to hand over all our secret Republican communications to Putin and his goons.”

Blinders Reince: “Ahhh….”

Denyin’ Paul: “Wel!?”

Blinders Reince: “It’s…it’s just a way of building the relationship, Paul, OK? So that when we win in November, they’ll know where we stand. If we ever do.”

Mumblin’ Mitch: “Oh! Well that makes perfect sense to me. This way Mr. Manafort’s friends in Moscow will be able to see which communication is from which of us! Very efficient! I better go and ask the staff to come up with some position I can say I took last year.”

Blinders Reince: “Wait! Dammit! Look what Murdoch just had his New York Post rag publish! Old nude soft-porn modeling shots of Melania!”

Mumblin’ Mitch: “Ooooh. Golly, she looks, ahum, kinda naked.”

Blinders Reince: “Why would he do that to his own candidate? As if we don’t have enough to deal with. Now these hot nude pics.”

Mumblin’ Mitch: “Ahumpff. Sorry Mr. Yessky, but with all due respect, I wouldn’t care to take a position calling these frumpy pics ‘hot’. No disrespect. Still, it’s strange that Mr. Murdich would stab Ivan the Terrible in the front like this. Oh, sorry! Does Mr. Murdoch have a new codename, too?”

Blinders Reince: “Yes, it’s ‘Katherine the Greatest’, and don’t make any jokes about him choosing to be a queen.”

Mumblin’ Mitch: “I won’t, but I’d sure like to know why he’s doing this to Melania and Ivan.”

Denyin’ Paul: “It’s obvious, Senator: whether Mrs. Ivan is hot, or not, the pictures scandal is hot enough to push the whole duck-up with the Kahn family off the front page.”

Blinders Reince: “But it says here that the Donald, I mean Ivan, apparently doesn’t mind about the pics.”

Denyin’ Paul: “Of course not. First, publishing these old pics will generate some sympathy for her, meaning for Ivan, too. Second, Ivan probably spends an hour looking at them on the nights she develops a vicious Slovenian headache. And more importantly, Ivan knows that Rupert, I mean the Queen, knows bawdy media better than everyone, meaning the stupid TV people will glom all over Melania’s live body and stop focusing all our attention on Captain Kahn’s dead one.”

More from the front lines of the Battleground states

A quick follow-up to yesterday’s Battleground analysis — please ignore our smug expression:

The New York Times this morning published its confirmation of our reasoning regarding Trump’s thin chances in November. The Times also acknowledged that Georgia and Arizona are especially vulnerable this year, thanks in no small part to Trump’s racist and anti-Hispanic jibes. That’s important: even should Trump miraculously win Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida, he’d go down to defeat if the Dems flipped either Arizona or Georgia.

But Trump is not going to win all four of those vote-rich traditional swing states. He’s behind in all four as I write, and his insistence on re-running his Primary campaign shows no ability to attract voters other than the disgruntled whites who already support him.

The Times also reminded us of Trump’s lack of a ground game, and his campaign budget shortfall. We have three months of door-to-door, hand-to-hand campaigning in these four of the five traditional most hotly contested states. (As noted in our post yesterday, Virginia has been all but conceded to Clinton by the Trump campaign.)

The Clinton campaign ground game is extremely well funded and well organized, with thousands of experienced staff and volunteers in each of the states at issue. This core of supporters won all four of these states for Obama in 2008, and all but North Carolina in 2012. They have the edge again in North Carfolina this year, thanks to the stupidity of the right-wing state officials, coupled with a growing Black base. Trump’s deep unpopularity with the large number of educated whites and other professionals makes his challenge even tougher.

A side note on the missing Trump bump:

If you blinked last week, you missed it, because it’s already over. He managed to get even with Clinton early in the week, but by today, Sunday, the accumulating momentum of the marvelously produced Dem convention, with its panoply of lucid, sincere, patriotic speakers, has crushed his little pimple. The three best polling sites for a “snapshot” or “who’s on top now?” view all have Clinton on top again, by as many as six points. Nate Silver’s 538.com “Now” projection shows Clinton’s national lead today at thirteen-plus! This, before Clinton’s post-convention bounce has even had a chance to show it’s strength, relative to Trump’s.

OK, OK. We know that the convention bounces are transitory, so let’s not make too much of them. We also know that the gloomy Republican convention was shoved even more deeply into the shadows by the stunning, warm, optimistic Democratic show. But a few weeks from now, people will be talking about Rio, and will have forgotten the contrast between would-be Dictator Donald, and Hillary, President Obama, Joe the Scranton guy (!), Michelle (!!), Bill, Chelsea, and Khizr Kahn, the father of Captain Humayan Khan.

So, yes, we need to be realistic about the limited value of polls this far out from October. But we should also remind ourselves that this election is unique in recent American history. A big challenge for Clinton was and is to persuade a doubting electorate that she deserves their trust. The performance of her party in Philadelphia was a huge step forward toward this key objective. The male pundits tend not to place much stock in such emotional gains, but the women take them to heart, I predict, and will quietly add the scenes over the last two weeks to the long list of Trump insults, adolescent anger, and outbursts of sheer stupidity we’ve all witnessed for a year.

And none of us who saw Mr. Kahn’s heartfelt speech, with its direct challenge to Trump’s very humanity, will forget it. This humble, grieving couple managed to distill the choice between a con artist and a dedicated leader more clearly than any ten hours of TV ads and pretty video biographies ever could do.