Is Trump More Embarrassing or Dangerous?

by Alex Knepper

I fell in love with presidential politics during the 2004 race and have been writing about it ever since. I love the presidency. I love presidential campaigns. I think the president is always a vital player in corralling his party behind a coherent, purposeful agenda.

Since the inauguration, I been caught in a lull as a political writer, largely because, as I suggested in previous articles, President Donald Trump makes me less angry than depressed. Unlike all but a couple of past presidents, Trump is anything but a vital player, and is incapable of becoming one. He is worse than useless; he entered office as a lame duck and still has nothing to brag about but his victory over Hillary Clinton, whom Republicans quite obviously miss very much. Trump has spent the entirety of the last six months wielding his unique reverse-Hand-of-Midas ability to turn everything into shit — which he then proceeds to fling at everyone. It’s “damn good for CBS“! But I didn’t get into politics to cover it like a paparazzo.

Trump Embarrassing

A president who maxes out at a 45% approval rating and is stuck mostly in the 38-42% range is incapable of wielding leverage. He is neither feared nor loved. Leaders of Trump’s own party casually dismiss his proposals, and he has so alienated the other party that he cannot possibly form viable non-traditional coalitions, despite running last year, in a sense, against both parties. For the last half-year it has been almost like America doesn’t have a president. At best, Trump can hope to become a bill-signing machine for the Congressional GOP. But with nearly every plank of the Republican agenda stalled despite the party controlling nearly every conceivable part of government — the presidency, the Senate, the House, the Supreme Court, governorships, state legislatures — there is in a sense little to write about. Each time I try to write something about an event like Trump’s classless, clownish speech to the Boy Scouts, I am stopped by the sentiment I expressed at the end of last year that I refuse to spend the next four years in perpetual anger and irritation. The healthiest way I can react to Trump’s hijinx is to ignore them. Continue reading

Reporters’ Russia Remorse Rings Hollow

by Alex Knepper

Although I am glad to finally see the topic receive the acknowledgement it deserved two months ago, I must confess that I find media hyperventilating over the not-news that Russia meddled in our presidential election to be a bit perplexing. Little new information has come to light: it was clear in the fall that Putin was working to disrupt our electoral process — to weaken a likely President Clinton, and to exploit the crisis of faith in our institutions. Both candidates thought the specter of Russian interference was important enough to at least mention — although — alas — predictably, one of them thought it was actually a wonderful thing that Putin’s lackeys could be willing to hack into the private communications of Clinton associates. So it is no great shock that Russia is likely behind the WikiLeaks e-mail leaks.

Russia APEC
It is clear that some would like to take advantage of these non-revelations to promote the belief that Trump’s victory was somehow illegitimate. In my mind there is little doubt that Clinton received a raw deal during the general election, with the e-mail leaks being among the most unfair obstacles she faced.  But our Constitution stipulates when elections are held and how they are conducted, and Trump won — fair and square. Nobody — not the FBI or CIA, not the president, not the press, not the people — can guarantee that the timing of events and fortune will always be simply fair to the nominees. Clinton is embarrassing herself by endorsing the imprudent and unprecedented idea of delivering intelligence briefings to presidential electors regarding Russia in advance of the official presidential vote. Her frustration is palpable. But if the so-called mainstream press is feeling a bit of remorse, they should blame themselves twice for every time they blame Putin: if reporters had treated the WikiLeaks saga as intolerable criminal foreign meddling in the first place rather than as an opportunity to engage in scurrilous gossip about the woman they thought would be the next president, we might not be having the kind of conversation we are having right now.

Hillary Clinton for President: There is No Alternative

by Alex Knepper

Although Hillary Clinton’s historic primary victory has turned out to be decisive, there is undoubtedly a streak of joylessness to it. Her major victories were concentrated in the three ‘Super Tuesdays’ of the calendar, while losing constantly in the caucus-heavy lull periods, making the path to the nomination feel like a bit of a long slog at times. Between this, her seeming inability to escape the constant drip-drip-drip of harmful new information about her use of a private server while Secretary of State, and an unusually ideological and tenacious opponent, being a Clinton supporter has often felt like — how to put this? — less a reason to be excited than a responsibility.

Before we proceed, let us not forget that the final outcome of this race has been clear for some time; at least since the first Super Tuesday, in which Clinton swept the South — and that any candidate but Bernie, who, unusually, owes nothing to the Democratic Party and has hated it for decades, would be out by now. Ultimately, Clinton will have won over 55% of the popular vote, command a pledged-delegate lead in the 300-400 range, and hold the near-entirety of the Mid-Atlantic, Southwest, and Deep South, as well as most of the country’s major states, including NY, FL, TX, IL, PA, VA, and even MA. Her victory would have been even more decisive had it not been for Bernie’s string of non-representative caucus victories. Consider that Bernie won Washington state by 50 points but that Clinton actually won the state’s non-binding primary. Hillary also won Nebraska’s non-binding primary, despite losing the caucus and hence losing in the state’s delegate count. Who is really the candidate with the silent majority?

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