Trump is staggering. He’s plunging in the polls, and his behavior has become erratic and unhinged. I don’t mean he’s being crude, infantile and wrapped in a world of fantasy—he’s always like that. Rather, I see him as suddenly incoherent, fumbling with threats and catchphrases as if he were locked out of his house at night, frantically trying one key after another to see if any will work.
Here’s my theory: throughout his career, Trump has been resolutely self-defining. He selects his issues, positions and attributes (clever deal-maker, hardass boss, financial/sexual/political winner, tough guy warrior for patriarchal values, underdog rebel against the Establishment) to construct a persona of his own choice. He takes the initiative.
2016 was a great year for him. While much was wrong with America, none of it was urgent in a screaming you-can’t-look-away-from-this sort of way. There was plenty of political space for Trump to define what he thought the country should be focused on and why he would be the one to fix it. The media provided invaluable service, making a big deal of every tweet, boastful claim or rally-fueled hyperbole. Through them, Trump told us what the election was about: the invasion of dangerous immigrants pouring through our undefended borders, the humiliation of the America by China, and the haughty, corrupt elitism of Democratic politicians. Even by disputing his take on these things, the media reinforced the notion that these were the main issues facing the country.
What has collapsed for Trump, finally in 2020, is not just the economy, the health of the population or the racial order, but his ability to determine what the issues are: he has lost control of the narrative. This is not because the Democrats have beat him at his own game. On the contrary, they are as clueless about these things as they’ve always been. His problem is that we are facing real crises that demand our attention whether we want them to or not. Trump has almost no influence over what politics are about in an election year; the pandemic, the economy and the revulsion against racism and police violence define the political moment on their own. This is why he seems to be flailing: his entire career has been based on his projection of his needs onto the world, and he has hardly any capacity to respond to the demands of others.
Bad news for Trump: we don’t know how long the current challenge to the racial order will last, but the pandemic and the economic crisis will be with us well beyond November. They will call the shots. Trump can blather about some other fantasy issue being the real problem, but few will listen.
History Will Judge the Complicit
Why have Republican leaders abandoned their principles in support of an immoral and dangerous president?
Story by Anne Applebaum
What has collapsed for Trump, finally in 2020, is not just the economy, the health of the population or the racial order, but his ability to determine what the issues are: he has lost control of the narrative….
[ While the argument is important and convincing, we need to realize that this is a highly active presidency and administration and continual changes in government structure are being made and will be difficult to turn around because the changes cater to Republican policy objectives.
Indeed, the focus on the personality of the president allows a range of structural changes that are being made to go virtually unnoticed. ]
Why have Republican leaders abandoned their principles…?
By Anne Applebaum
[ I would argue that the domestic policies of this president are directly in line with those of Republican leaders and Republicans in general. The problem of an Anne Applebaum or John Bolton are on international affairs or American militancy; for these old-style Republicans only increased American militancy will do and they were concerned about declining Republican interest in militarism before Trump:
July 5, 2014
The Next Act of the Neocons
Are Neocons Getting Ready to Ally With Hillary Clinton?
By JACOB HEILBRUNN ]
June 14, 2020
The White House won’t support extending expanded unemployment benefits past July, a top aide says.
The Trump administration does not plan to back the extension of expanded unemployment insurance benefits beyond the end of July, citing concerns that workers are opting to take the generous benefits instead of going back to their jobs.
Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said on Sunday that the White House would support new incentives to bring people back to work rather than push to renew the additional $600 in weekly jobless benefits when it expires at the end of next month….
We cycled through our finite set of Godots and we are back to doing a Nixon vs LBJ.
We are depressed realizing we are stack right back where the previous generation left us, no better off and in the same mess.
Ran out of can kicks.
Fat Donnie™ has 120+ days to make it all about him.
June 10, 2020
Ending Emergency Unemployment Insurance Supplements
By DEAN BAKER
The Republicans have been working hard to ensure that the $600 weekly supplement to unemployment insurance benefits, which was put in place as part of the pandemic rescue package, is not extended beyond the current July 31 cutoff. They argue that we need people to return to work.
They do have a point. The supplement is equivalent to pay of $15 an hour for someone working a 40-hour week, and this is in addition to a regular benefit that is typically equal to 40 to 50 percent of workers’ pay. The supplement translates into an even larger hourly pay rate for workers putting in shorter workweeks, which was the case for most laid off workers in the restaurant and retail sectors.
It is hard for employers in traditionally low paying sectors to match these pay rates. Even those of us who are big proponents of higher minimum wages would not advocate a jump to more than $20 an hour at a point when businesses are crippled by the pandemic.
However, there is also the point that we don’t want workers to have to expose themselves to the coronavirus. That was the reason for the generous supplement. We wanted to make sure that workers, who in many cases were legally prevented from working, did not suffer as a result.
There is an obvious solution here. Suppose we reduce or end the supplement in areas where the pandemic is under control.
This would not be determined by some Trumpian declaration that the pandemic is over, but by solid data. The obvious metric would be positive test rates. Suppose that the supplement was reduced or eliminated in states or counties where the positive test rate is less than 5 percent. (This may not be the right rate.) This would mean that workers going back to work would face relatively little risk of contracting the virus. It would also give states incentive to conduct vigorous testing programs, as well as other control measures, in order to get their positive rates down.
Our unemployment insurance system is badly broken and it would be desirable to have more generous benefits, and also to focus more on work sharing, as other countries have done. We can recognize this point and still agree that an arbitrary supplement to all benefits is not the right long-term fix even if it was very good policy in the pandemic.
I heard my first Donald Trump jokes in 1989 when visiting NYC to see my brother who worked on Wall Street.
Who would have thought a mentally unbalanced charlatan would be such an awful leader?! Quite a surprise.
A traitorous bigot, narcissistic pathological lying cretin. He will not be missed. Seriously, what sort of human scum runs a fake “college”?
Maybe the GOP can cook up something beyond permanent warfare, the southern strategy and more tax cuts for the 1%. JFC.
Lol, replace eveything Trump campaign was ticketing for in 2016 and replace Democrat with Republican elitism, you get the same thing. Lil Don’s 600000000 loan from China is a globalist handout.
I think the personalities of Trump and Biden no longer matter: the level of polarization of the USA electorate is a more important factor now.
In other words, the reaction to the protests of independents will determine the results on 2020 elections.
From this point of view the current situation is a mixed bag for Neoliberal Dems: protest are partially genuine protests against the level of inequality caused by neoliberalism, partially are an attempt to exploit legitimate grievances in order to topple Trump (CHAZ in Seattle looks like a kind of a new Maidan and clearly were at least partially city council and the governor supported.)
The USA version of Hongweibings toppling statues definitely play into Trump hand: radicalization of protests gives Trump an advantage to present himself now as the only “law and order” candidate, the “Silent majority” candidate, a la Nixon.
The key weakness of Neoliberal Democrats is the level of hypocrisy in their support of protests: Pelosi (and Schumer) looks like a wolf in sheep clothing donning African scarves. Along with Bill Clinton they did a lot to deprive Afro Americans of the social security benefits they enjoyed under the New Deal Capitalism, and putting them in jails for minor infections with the law (Biden was the key player here)
One minor point: exaggerated threats is the way Trump operate. He like poker players use bluffing as a part of the game strategy. It’s like he is trying to determine some limits for each situation and sense how far he can go, as well as putting the opponents off balance provoking them to overreact,. Then he retreats to a more reasonable position.
I would assume that the 2020 election will be a choice between two platforms, not between two candidates. And Trump now represents “law and order” platform. While Biden is forced to represent “change we can believe in” platform. And Democrats already burned all the bridges.
Please note that Biden political history is the history of a staunch neoliberal, completely hostile to the interests of the majority of the USA population and, especially, Afro Americans and white working class (aka deplorable). As such he will now look as hypocrite no matter what he say.
Good finding. Thanks a lot !
Please stop. Your trollish posts, besides being historically inaccurate, are poorly written.
The emerging second C-19 wave is going to be centered in Trump country — the old south and southwest.
So it will really hit Trump voters. So what will they do in the election? Stay home? still vote Trump?
Who knows, but I’ll just bet it will be a negative for Trump. Maybe the Republican strategy of suppressing the vote will really hit the Republicans with a vengeance. I can’t think of a more deserving development.
Don’t worry. Likbez’s comments and others like them will not cost us the election. The electorate need not like a party for it to broadly win an election. All a party needs to do to win is be standing on the right side of the room when the other party goes up in fire.
Peter Dorman is correct about why Trump is in trouble, but there is still more.
Trump chose to be a political arsonist then Covid-19 opened a door unleashing a backdraft that has so far consumed the US economy and all the tolerance of black and liberal voters for their abusers. We were not the first to be aggressive and divisive, but we will be the last – at least for a while.
@Ron (RC) Weakley June 15, 2020 1:03 pm
> Peter Dorman is correct about why Trump is in trouble, but there is still more. Peter Dorman is correct about why Trump is in trouble, but there is still more.
Won’t these riots create a wave of revulsion among the silent majority and consolidate Trump’s support base?
That’s what make me wondering: is the faction of the elite driving these BLM riots are those who support Trump?
Terrify people and threaten the existence of police is a good way to get close to 100% of elderly white voters out of their Covid-19 lockdowns on election day.
Doesn’t this suggest that Antifa and other groups operating within the protest movement are actually linked to agencies in the Deep State?
Is not it easier now for Trump to offload all the destruction of the economy and Coronavirus recession on Neoliberal Dems which are supporting the rioters.?
June 14, 2020 2:38 pm
We cycled through our finite set of Godots and we are back to doing a Nixon vs LBJ.”
We can always count on Matty boy to write the most clueless comment of the year!
“Won’t these riots create a wave of revulsion among the silent majority and consolidate Trump’s support base?”
Even dumber than what Matty Young wrote. And I thought that was impossible.
I should not waste my time, but, Likbez, Antifa is linked to “agencies in the Deep State”?
No. There is not “Antifa,” so, sorry, there is no link between the nonexistent It and the paranoiac “Deep State.” Sorry.
“Doesn’t this suggest that Antifa and other groups operating within the protest movement are actually linked to agencies in the Deep State?”
Antifa is a “group” in the sense that atheists are a “group.” Yes, they both are names for personal philosophies that have their adherents, but that doesn’t make them “groups.”
And “Deep State” is nothing more than a Steve Bannon trope to gin up anarchy. It’s right out of the Lenin handbook.
“…Won’t these riots create a wave of revulsion among the silent majority and consolidate Trump’s support base?…”
[Something like that, but literal Silent Majority generation is fast following the Greatest Generation. Protests are in fact moving some never Trump white conservative voters over from Biden, to backing Trump. That part sucks. The only good thing about Biden was that he could capture some moderate conservatives among Southern Democrats and Northern Republicans, more likely non-voters than Trump voters.
OTOH, lack of consolidation has never been a big problem for Republicans since Reagan or even as early as Nixon. From Teddy and Taft all the way through Goldwater and Rockefeller, then Republicans had sometimes experienced failure to consolidate. Since then though the majority of disaffected voters are would be Democrats that cannot stomach the neoliberal aftertaste. ]
“…is the faction of the elite driving these BLM riots are those who support Trump?
Terrify people and threaten the existence of police is a good way to get close to 100% of elderly white voters out of their Covid-19 lockdowns on election day.
Doesn’t this suggest that Antifa and other groups operating within the protest movement are actually linked to agencies in the Deep State?…”
[Here in Richmond, VA, we know that we have had insurgents agitating the protests and escalating violence from out of town and even out of state groups from both the radical right and radical left wing nuts. In response to fake “protestors” throwing stuff at police then police have tear gassed peaceful protestors and shit does get out of control easy enough.
The jackass quotient is way too high and the policy understanding is way too low for me to get involved. Then I am 71 YO, 25 years a smoker before 2013, and still 50 pounds overweight, so not really wanting to flirt with Covid-19.
Making this election about police on black violence should be an adequate means of getting out the vote to trounce Trump and the Republicans, but without any real cogent policy direction then it will not take long to lose the next election. The Democratic Party will never be in a position to solve the problems of racial discrimination as long as the Democratic Party depends upon the problems of racial discrimination to win elections. It is a Catch-22 dilemma that MLK only solved in the last year of his life before he was snuffed out by a world of ignorance.]
@Ron (RC) Weakley (a.k.a., Darryl for a while at EV) June 16, 2020 4:00 pm
> the Democratic Party depends upon the problems of racial discrimination to win elections. It is a Catch-22 dilemma.
Yes. Thanks you. This is clearly Catch-22 situation as the global crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization is overlaid on the current racial riots and COVID-19 level of unemployment.
I do not pretend that I see it right. Only time will tell. But here is my view:
IMHO the developments of neoliberalism in the US generated a social system radically different from the neoliberal utopia of the benign rule of the financial oligarchy over politically neutered by free-market ideology and brainwashed “homo homini lupus est” neoliberal rationality population. Which should passively submit to the “depoliticized” version of the National Security State and act strictly as a consumer and passive voter.
Kind of replay of the political reality of Stalinism (with the neoliberal deification of “free market” and competition as the replacement of Marxism; in both case playing the role of state-enforced secular religion questioning of which is a punishable heresy )
Unlike Stalinism, Neoliberalism enforces its secular-religious doctrine on a new “inverted totalitarianism” level with minimal physical repression of dissidents. MSM brainwashing, defunding, ostracism and shunning are the main tools.
The use of external enemy as the scapegoat is the same under both Stalinism and late neoliberalism with the accusation of being a “foreign agent” as a natural part of the dirty fight of various factions of oligarchy for power.
But generally, this is more of the “Brave New World” model than the “1984” model. See https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/13/books/review/which-dystopian-novel-got-it-right-orwells-1984-or-huxleys-brave-new-world.html
Despite Hayek’s hope about politically neutered population ruled by financial oligarchy neoliberalism intensified the rancorous resentment already present in modern culture.
Now we see a kind of return of the repressed under neoliberalism violent social protests that the neoliberals always opposed, and which they deformed with the injection of a heavy doze of identity politics.
As a result, we now have clear resurgence of the far-right nationalism and simultaneously the rise of “woke” far left with its radical feminism, anarchism, LGBT, and a one-dimensional “anti-racism” (strictly white vs black as it if is the only one in existence and black racism a la South Africa or Rhodesia does not exists ).
In a way, this is a return to the very dangerous and unpredictable social situation that existed in late 1920th on a new level, but without Marxists as a political player. A very dangerous level with elements of Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.”: Toppling of statues is not that different from book burning.
Pelosi wearing an African scarf looks like a failed attempt of neoliberal Dems to get it under control of a monster that they created via identity politics.
Neoliberal political culture and systemic impoverishment of the lower 80% of the population create the economic conditions for enduring racism and glaring economic inequality.
Add to this identity politics, used as the “divide and conquer” strategy for the political isolation and partial cooptation (despite clear oppression on the part of neoliberals) of the white working-class (“What’s the matter with Kansas” effect ) and the mixture becomes clearly explosive.
Identity wedge worked beautifully for several decades, but now it looks like it got out of control and provoke a clash of far-left with far-right nationalists in a real 1920th fashion. https://www.gopusa.com/man-shot-in-albuquerque-as-armed-citizens-try-to-defend-conquistador-statue-from-rioters/
The US financial oligarchy is no less evil than either Italian or Kosher-Nostra mafia. They are completely ruthless. And that means that they still might be able to swipe this under the rug: one way, or another. Racial protests, or coming to power of radical far-right does not threaten their power, but possible disintegration of the state in Ukrainian Maidan fashion clearly does.
So how events will unfold in completely unclear. I just try to provide my 2c within the adopted framework of analysis.
Understood and in some certain context accepted. I just have great faith in our learned mediocrity that dictates that nothing much will really happen and nothing much will change more than the slow gradual learning from our experiences will allow. In my view there is not so much a silent majority as there is a vast majority of people living their daily lives that mostly get drowned out by the chattering classes in matters of state.