Reality Check #2 — The (so-called) President is not intelligent enough to be President — Part Two

In the previous post, your Truthteller outlined several major indicators of Trump’s lack of a functioning intelligence. By “functioning intelligence”, we mean the intelligence needed to perform as an executive. The executive in charge of our national government, namely the President, requires a “functioning intelligence” capable of managing far more than, say, the global enterprise managed, for example, a CEO like Rex Tillerson.

After less than one month of a Trump-misled administration, we have enough data to conclude that Donald Trump is demonstrably incapable of doing the job less than 25% of American citizens selected him for. A few examples:

  • Smart executives pick their deputies, senior managers, and advisors carefully, based on their proven successful experience, and on the size of their brains, not on the size of their bank accounts, or their “loyalty”
  • Smart executives who publish “Executive Orders” or similar directives actually read them before signing them in front of millions of citizens
  • Smart executives arrange “photo ops” after they have fulfilled a promised task, not when they are merely announcing it, and how “great” it will be whenever it’s done — correction, make that if ever it’s done
  • Smart executives don’t promise a vast project costing over ten billion dollars and then, without so much as an admission of inept accounting, quietly double the expected cost to over twenty billion a few weeks later
  • Smart executives don’t deny reality, period.

A smart executive in a public job has to pay special attention to the moods and sensitivities of their followers, along with those needed to build a broad consensus for governing.

Trump fails at these political, public relations tests for executive intelligence even more dismally than he flubs the daily demands of administration:

  • Smart people who hope to succeed in office don’t lie several times a week, nor are their lies so easily proven to be falsehoods
  • Smart people who dream of being re-elected don’t act like a fool, or a charlatan, or a con artist on a daily basis
  • Smart people do not attempt to communicate serious ideas and policies and strategies via social media
  • Smart people who expect to be respected by the people they hope to lead publish their tax returns
  • Smart people who expect to be respected by the people they hope to lead divest themselves of their assets when taking public office
  • Smart people who expect to govern don’t take every opportunity to destroy any possibility of earning a consensus upon which to build a governing coalition
  • Smart people who expect to be respected by the people they hope to lead don’t go out of their way to demean and denigrate whole swathes of people, in effect denying them any right to have any say in their governance.
How, many ask, can Trump continue to be so visibly, demonstrably, unstoppably stupid? How can he expect to lead the country?

The answer, fellow citizens, is he doesn’t. Trump is only interested in leading the 25% or so of Americans who voted for him. The rest of us can either get out of his way, or get rolled over by his destruction-bent mob.

For the present, all we can do is hope the military and security commanders surrounding this bloated disaster of a Chief Executive are prepared to perform an act of supreme patriotism should Trump’s stubby finger ever get close to launching a nuclear first strike, and arrest the mad, mentally dangerous, would-be warmonger on the spot.

Draining the swamp, and…

…replacing it with a new luxury fishing pond for lobbyists, Trump loyalists, big corporations, and Republicans of all stripes. No, not those stripes. At least not yet. Anyway, prisoners don’t wear stripes anymore. Nowadays they wear bright orange jumpsuits.

Trump is leading by example in this stampede to corruption, by:

  • Continuing to refuse to show us his tax returns — without those, we’ll never know if, where, and how he’s using the powers and prestige of the Oval Office to curry favors and cash from his overseas “partners”
  • Resisting the demands of even his own adherents to put his business assets in a truly blind trust — Trump says by law he doesn’t have to do what all modern Presidents have done in order to minimize the potential for conflicts of interest
  • Pushing for a so-called “infrastructure plan” that would actually be little more than a giant tax-cut for his pals in the construction industry
  • and today, we learn that he plans to appoint an IRS Commissioner that will go easy on him in any audit he can’t avoid while he’s President.

So now we know that he’s draining the swamp only to make way for his own scheme for graft on an international scale, in sums that could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, or more.

Jobs? The only jobs Trump’s concerned about are power positions for his adult children and his son-in-law.

As for ethics, Trump’s clearly not concerned with those annoying directives.

He’s grabbed us by the unmentionables, folks, and set it all up so that we’ll never even know how much he’s gotten away with.

Blind trust? Rather, trust, blinded.

 

Words matter

In directly calling half of Trump supporters names and labeling the other half as defeated or hapless, Hillary Clinton has managed to do in a few minutes what we who support her would never have thought possible: she’s put her candidacy at risk. One of the oldest rules in campaigning is go ahead and attack your opponent but never attack their followers. Her unforced error will have consequences.

Progressives and Democrats are rushing to her defense, but the damage is done:

  • Where Trump stupidly attacked one Gold Star family, Clinton has labeled millions of voters as bigots of one form or another
  • She’s seriously undermined her own campaign’s ability to stay on offense against Trump, since anything they say about Trump will now be turned back on Clinton — “Yes, he’s unstable, but Hillary is mean“, just the sort of “logic” ignorant Americans use in deciding whom they want as a leader
  • She has confirmed what many millions, including many more millions who are not Trump supporters, will describe as her elitist leanings, by taking in millions from rich, hip, snooty, laughing liberal New Yorkers while trashing average folks
  • She’s indelibly stained her claim to be a unifier of our people instead of a divider — every time she or her supporters say that from now on, the other side will say, justifiably, “Yes, but only of the liberal left, not all Americans”‘
  • She’s given cause to millions of doubting Republicans to accept Trump after all, as Deplorable as he is
  • In communications terms, she’s replaced her message of lifting up with one of putting down
  • For many thousands of her volunteers, she’s taken the wind from their sails; for others, she’s made it harder to support her enthusiastically, since these people have relatives and parents and neighbors who will number some percentage of Deplorables among them
  • She’s succeeded in making herself even more unlikable, not easy to do when one is already disliked by nearly two thirds of the electorate.

Where are we now?

My assessment is based on experience, not numbers, since we won’t see any on this momentous mistake for several more days. But it’s a safe bet to predict:

  • Clinton will win the election. Her version of Romney’s “47%” won’t cause her to lose, because she’s in a far stronger position
  • The Trump supporters will be much more energized, raising turnout for him, but the absence of a ground game and a limited TV budget will limit his team’s ability to fully exploit her predicament
  • Her ability to slam Trump in the Debates is now severely impeded, since, by labeling his supporters so broadly, everything she says can be undercut with a one-liner attacking her sincerity
  • So yes, she’ll win, but, her margin of victory, state-by-state, will lose one or perhaps two points, on average — not enough to lose the state’s Electoral Votes, but enough to lose a tight Senate contest, or enable a shaky Republican House member to barely retain his seat.

And it’s in the House where the true cost of her remark will be felt. Her decline in the general popular vote will make it difficult to gain more than half the 30 House seats needed to have an effective first half of her term.

Words matter, as the Clinton campaign has so often reminded Trump after one of his offending insults, comments or rants. This one remark of hers, whether one thinks it justified or not, will define and limit her victory, and, by weakening her Presidency, will change our history.

Polls panic 2 — The cheat goes on

I’m trying to get back to the important work, patient readers, but the Silly City media just won’t give us a break. I’m forced to add another example of polls-reportorial excess by the TV media.

The CNN coup

This morning CNN, with its pollster partner ORC (Opinion Research Corp, a slightly pro-Republican-biased organization) has Trumpeted a new national poll of likely voters showing Trump leading Clinton by two points. What a headline coup! What an audience grabber! So much so that the New York Times and others immediately grabbed for the CNN coattails, repeating their story.

What somehow escaped notice was that ORC actually reported not one, but two new pools, both taken in the period September 1-4. The second one sampled registered voters, and showed Clinton on top by three points. This result is much more closely aligned with the consensus average of all national polls, which, to repeat, has Clinton in front nationally by three to six points.

But who can blame the bosses at CNN and their ORC pals? If all your media competitor polls show Clinton leading, how much more audience-attracting to be able to claim she’s suddenly running behind?

(Interested readers can download a PDF with the ORC poll results from the polling organization. It’s free, and no registration is required.)

To add to the daily poll confusion, within a few hours of CNN’s “big” story, NBC announced its own new poll (of registered voters) showing Clinton maintaining her six-point national lead. LOL. Want a different result? Just change the channel.

Who’s actually leading?

Truthteller’s readers will already know my firm conclusion that Clinton is headed for an Electoral Vote tsunami. This morning we have two fresh takes on Clinton’s imposing lead, both getting down into the all-important state-by-state nitty gritty.

NBC News published their latest analysis of Clinton’s position in the Battleground states. And WAPO, the Washington Post gives us a fresh new way to visualize the contest across all fifty states. Do check out this graphic display of where the 538 EVs are, at least as of Labor Day!

A word of caution for the week

The five-point spread between the two ORC polls is of technical interest. But this gets us back into the muddy waters of likely versus registered, and I’ve wasted enough of our time on that for now. Anyway, my work, slowly marching toward November, is turning up evidence that the 2016 cycle will see a major upset in the way pollsters view the “likely” folks.

Very briefly, our working assumptions about the differences in voting behavior between “likely” and “registered” voters are not reliable in a year when we have two third parties, a very frustrated electorate, and two widely disliked candidates, one of whom is completely unqualified to be President. To make matters even more problematic:

  • Pollsters are noting the unusually high proportion of Labor Day “undecideds” this year
  • The no-shows on the Republican side alone could throw numerous state contests into the blue column
  • A full quarter of the Republicans who voted for Romney in 2012 (and who thus qualify as “likely” this cycle) say they will not vote for Trump, which alone makes every “likely” poll suspect
  • A large cadre of Sanders supporters deciding to stick with Stein or Johnson would not hurt her in the crucial Battleground states, but could cut her totals in blue states where she needs every vote to increase the Democrats’ chances of taking back the House.

I’ll be quoting polls of course, when relevant. But I’ll be focused on the registered variants mostly. They’ll prove to be very close to the final results in November, especially on the state-by-state level.

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.