SHITTY MIDAS

As horrifying as his rise has been, from an academic perspective it's hard not to find Trump interesting. One thing I wrote about a while back is the rare opportunity to see a modern American election devoid of ideological content. We also get to watch a campaign and candidate almost literally do everything wrong. Even in situations that are difficult for a campaign to botch, Trump finds a way. He's like King Midas, if everything he touched turned into a rancid heap of excrement instead of gold.

As common as they are in our society, a spree shooting is a pretty easy, routine play for an elected official or candidate. "What a terrible tragedy. My thoughts are with the victims, families, and community. We must (proposal that will never happen but sounds good) to avoid tragedies of this kind in the future." It's very difficult to screw up. Certainly it's difficult to screw up to the extent that your terrible response as a candidate overshadows the event itself. But here we are. He went from bad – congratulating himself on his own brilliance without mentioning the victims – to incomprehensibly bad, which is to say things so stupid that even the NRA has to distance itself from the rhetoric. Ignoring the fact that an armed, on-duty Orlando PD officer was at the club during the event, Trump rambled to a salivating audience:

"If we had people, where the bullets were going in the opposite direction, right smack between the eyes of this maniac," Trump said, gesturing between his eyes. "And this son of a b—- comes out and starts shooting and one of the people in that room happened to have (a gun) and goes boom. You know what, that would have been a beautiful, beautiful sight, folks."

Because what we really want is piss-drunk 23 year olds at "last call" time at a dance club firing a gun for any reason, ever. NRA lobbyists had to hit the Sunday shows to point out, "No one thinks that people should go into a nightclub drinking and carrying firearms. That defies commonsense. It also defies the law. It's not what we're talking about here," and "I don't think you should have firearms where people are drinking." That is, the Republican candidate for president could not manage to make statements about gun rights that the NRA could agree with. That's incredible, if you think about it. Almost impossible to believe. Yet here you have it.

It's also interesting to watch Trump try to use a positive affect toward LGBT people as a means of furthering anti-Muslim sentiment – which is a page straight out of Geert Wilders' playbook for modern far right politics in Europe. One author called this "pro-gay Islamophobia," which is a neat phrase. It's concern trolling about the intolerance toward gays and lesbians in Islam (and, you know, Christianity, but that part gets left out) to further the argument that the religion is somehow incompatible with Western Values. The goal is to make xenophobia and anti-immigration policies more palatable to people who instinctively avoid ultra right wing politics. It's the face of a kinder, gentler neo-Nazism.

We might as well get used to the fact now that the statement "Surely it can't get any worse than this" is bound to be false at any point in this campaign; any assertion that we've hit rock bottom inevitably will end up being retracted and revised.

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53 Responses to “SHITTY MIDAS”

  1. mago Says:

    How low can we go?

  2. Larsmacomb Says:

    Still, as bad as he and his campaign can get, we can still pretty much be assured that he will have 35-40% of the electorate in November. First, there is the "27% factor" of the American population that truly wants all of what he is promising (plus a lot of what Ted Cruz was campaigning on); then, to that you can add at least another 10% who hate Hillary and would likely find reasons to hate Bernie, had he won. Then there are others who have always voted Republican and who just haven't been offended sufficiently to either vote for a third party or abstain.

  3. Paul B Says:

    I find myself vacillating between 'Trump will be gone before the convention' to 'Holy Shit! this clown could actually be elected'…

  4. Glen H Says:

    What worries me is if we haven't hit bottom yet, what candidate will the Republicans run at the next election? Cthulhu ?

  5. HoosierPoli Says:

    I will be FASCINATED to see how the vote goes on this "Maybe we shouldn't sell guns DIRECTLY to terrorists if we can avoid it" bill.

  6. Talisker Says:

    A precursor to Geert Wilders was Pim Fortuyn, another Dutch politician and pro-gay Islamophobe, who was assassinated in 2002.

    Fortuyn was himself gay, and one of his more memorable lines was, "How can I be prejudiced against Moroccans when I've slept with so many?"

    I would love to see Trump assert his tolerance by revealing a history of gay sex with Mexicans, just to watch the GOP's collective heads explode.

    As for the GOP hitting bottom (so to speak), one day they might come up with a candidate more evil than Trump. Even if they really tried, I'm not convinced they could find one more ignorant.

  7. dianne Says:

    I think he will pretend to having meant to lose all along. He's too dim to come up with the idea himself but when it is a blow out, he'll just say he punked the R's on purpose. That would be better than admitting he's a loser.
    The talk of him throwing the election has probably sunk in and given him a germ of an idea to exploit. It won't do much for his brand, though.

  8. Talisker Says:

    @dianne: That would be the rational option for damage limitation, but since when does Trump do that?

    More likely he'd go full Tinfoil Hat on the conspiracy theories. The election was stolen by Hollywood Liberals, or the Bilderberg Group, or a band of magical elves. It would be funny, except most of Trump's followers wouldn't get the joke, and many of them are armed.

  9. Major Kong Says:

    All they've got at this point is "Look! Over there! See those other homophobes!"

  10. doug Says:

    The man is a great salesman (AKA Bullshitter). Anyone wishing to have a career in sales should observe him closely. He could sell polluted ice cubes to Eskimos, I think.

    I have received email from Christian acquaintances that tell me the man is very devout. Now that is a salesman's salesman, folks.

    I have watched his pitches to different groups, and he can bullshit well. I don't think he has a chance to do any better than Romney electorally, unless the D's go full nutz.

    Have a great summer everyone, and thanks Ed for all you do.

  11. Well...mostly Says:

    Interesting? Like Ebola is interesting. Anyone with an eye on NYC the last 40 years knows Trump always finds a way to carve out a new low. It's what he does. Post-election, he'll still be at it. He'll live as long as Sumner Redstone and Phylliis Schlaefly, his apparent mentors. This is not a comfort to sentient beings.

  12. navarro Says:

    i spend a lot of time at a bbs called boingboing, which has an interesting community. one thing i find a little scary there is that the sanders supporters over there, which is pretty much the majority of the community, are incredibly hostile to voting for clinton and respond to the possibility that voting for stein might help elect trump with venom and invective. the most reasoned responses i've gotten there have been of the form "it's the fault of the democratic party for not giving us a better candidate not my fault for voting for a third party candidate without a chance of winning."

    if the dynamic of the election doesn't change much between now n november i'm predicting a national result of 45/43/12–clinton/trump/stein.

  13. Dave Dell Says:

    Interesting times here in the Red Heartland of Nebraska as the Democratic Party undergoes a sea change. Jane Kleeb backed by Sanders supporters has taken the leadership of the State Democratic Party.

    http://journalstar.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/in-democratic-shakeup-jane-kleeb-elected-state-party-chairman/article_b509ca52-07c7-5dd4-9eeb-2a146ded7632.html

  14. Dave Dell Says:

    It has puzzled me that Trump can still borrow money to finance his enterprises.

  15. c u n d gulag Says:

    The GOP:
    Hoist by their own TEAtards!

  16. jtr Says:

    "If we had people, where the bullets were going in the opposite direction, right smack between the eyes of this maniac, and this son of a b—- comes out and starts shooting and one of the people in that room happened to have (a gun) and goes boom."

    Look at that sentence structure. You would put a third grader in remedial English class for saying a sentence like that. This scares me at least as much as any of the "points" Trump makes; there are a lot of people out there who want to vote for a man who literally cannot string a sentence together.

  17. Katydid Says:

    @Navarro: Sanders supporters are planning the "world's largest fart-in" at Hillary Clinton's nomination. I swear I am not making this up: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/worlds_largest_fart-in_planned_for_hillary_clintons_acceptance_speech_in_ph

    Classy, huh?

  18. cekman Says:

    "That is, the Republican candidate for president could not manage to make statements about gun rights that the NRA could agree with."

    And it's not just the guns-in-bars thing. Before that, Trump signaled that he might be willing to go along with the Democrats' call to bar people on terrorism watch lists from buying guns. So Trump managed to wrongfoot the NRA from the left and the right in less than a week.

    "It's also interesting to watch Trump try to use a positive affect toward LGBT people as a means of furthering anti-Muslim sentiment…"

    Which he undermined only a couple days afterwards at another of his Texas rallies where he was introduced by one Pastor Robert Jeffress. Jeffress gave a sermon a few years ago called "Gay Is Not OK," in which he said of gays, "What they do is filthy. It is so degrading that it is beyond description. And it is their filthy behavior that explains why they are so much more prone to disease."

    Increasingly I'm coming around to the Producers theory of the Trump campaign. (Especially since: why the hell is Trump holding rallies in Texas right now? Texas won't go blue until the Reconquista is complete.)

  19. Bosh Says:

    Dave Dell: there were still companies dumb enough to sell insurance to North Korea after it became clear that insurance fraud was a North Korean cottage industry along with drugs and counterfeit currency. There'll always be SOMEONE dumb enough to be suckered in by a contract that looks favorable to them no matter how clear it is that the other side has no intention of fulfilling that contract. I'm sure right now Trump is refusing to pay all sort of hotel and caterers for his campaign and more companies will keep on delivering stuff to his campaign that he hasn't paid for yet.

  20. seniorscrub Says:

    @cekman
    "Increasingly I'm coming around to the Producers theory of the Trump campaign. (Especially since: why the hell is Trump holding rallies in Texas right now? Texas won't go blue until the Reconquista is complete.)"

    Bialystock & Bloom 2016 ????

  21. cekman Says:

    The news just broke that Trump has fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

    I'm ashamed to say I've been reading Politico just to follow the many ways in which the Trump campaign is failing. He's only got 30 full-time staff for the whole country, he's hiring top level staff without informing anyone else who works for him first, he's feuding with the RNC, he's not bothering to talk to donors, he sure as hell isn't spending his own money, he's not investing in data-gathering, he's holding rallies in states he's sure to win, like Texas, and talking about contesting states he's sure to lose, like New York…

    I'm reminded of Alex Pareene's brutal verdict on Rubio's strategy, from Gawker back in December: "The problem with that sort of campaign is that it isn’t one."

  22. Philippa Says:

    Glen H: https://cthulhuforamerica.com

  23. Talisker Says:

    @cekman:

    why the hell is Trump holding rallies in Texas right now?

    Electoral College strategy is for sissies. Trump can go wherever he likes and the whole nation will recognize his greatness.

    Seriously, any of Trump's campaign staff who suggested he visit a swing state instead might have gotten that response. As for why Trump himself wanted to go to Texas, who knows? Maybe he enjoys giving speeches to the gun-toting, Stetson-wearing, wannabe cowboy demographic.

    That said, given Trump's general loathsomeness and vigorous efforts to piss off Hispanic voters, the Democrats just might have a chance in Texas this year.

  24. Steven Frisch Says:

    Having had just about my fill of the case made by the Sandersnistas in California I have to say that in the long run the positions and ideas forwarded by many of his supporters are as dangerous as the Trumpsters.

    It is not that I don't think that we need campaign finance reform, free college tuition, more aggressive action on climate change, an end to foreign military intervention, and to shrink the gap between the rich and the working class; we do.

    However, I have watched as many Sanders followers have advanced a string of increasingly nonsensical excuses for him not winning the nomination. The media was biased, there were not enough debates and not at the rights times, super delegates are unfair (oh, wait..they should shift to Sanders), Clinton won all the old Confederacy states and that shows who she really is, Clinton did not really get 3 million more votes, there was widespread and intentional voter fraud.

    In their effort to advance their candidate some Sanders supporters have adopted every crazy right wing attack on Clinton, from Vince Foster's murder to Huma Abedin being a secret agent of the Saudi government, they could get their hands on and repackaged it on 'progressive' media.

    Oh, well, he didn't make it, the system is rigged, he should either run with Jill Stein or we sit out the election and let Donald J. Trump destroy America because the entire thing is a corrupt one party oligarchy anyway and the faster we slide into anarchy the sooner we reach a utopian dream.

    There is a warning for the future in the irrationality of the Sanders followers. Republicans countenanced irrationality, fear, science denial, and a basic denial of logic in their midst and they got Trump.

    If liberals and progressives are going to stand for something it should start with rationality, logic, enlightened interest, and pragmatism. If we allow fear, conspiracy and irrationality to harbor in our midst we will get a left wing version of the Tea Party that is equally as destructive to achieving progress in the future.

  25. Tim Says:

    I hadn't heard that NRA statement about bars being at least one place they didn't want guns, but I'm glad. I've been having this image of a hot dance club, a couple of hundred people on the floor gyrating and jumping, all of them packing loaded sidearms or rifles slung across their backs, and how that might work out.

  26. Steven Frisch Says:

    Funny when I go into bars in Arizona, Wyoming and Texas people are packing. I wonder if the NRA came out in opposition to those state laws?

  27. J. Dryden Says:

    @ cekman: I read that article, and gave the kind of low chuckle you give when hear that the guy who rolled his truck on the back road while holding a beer in one hand and a blowup doll in the other is suing the county because the dividing lines weren't clearly painted.

    Trump is Sarah Palin. (Not literally, of course, because Sarah Palin is Andy Kaufman, and not even he can occupy two bodies simultaneously.) That is, he is an aggressively ignorant, charismatic child, who believes that because he has succeeded thus far by making gut decisions, he does not and should not have to listen to the people for whom electoral victory is a well-established science. He cannot be managed, because he will respond to being managed with defensive anger and dismissal. The playwrights of ancient Greeks would take one look at him and recognize his downfall for what it is: an expression of his essential character, which he is helpless to change.

    You cannot win, as a Republican, by "firing up the base." You must modify. You must compromise. You must pitch to the soft and mushy middle. The biggest reactionaries who win the presidency–Reagan, Bush–knew this. (Or had this successfully explained to them.)

    But Trump doesn't–can't–do that. He does not persevere through adversity by admitting his errors and changing course. What he does–what he has always done–is to flip the board and quit and take his toys and go home. That's what he does. That's what he's always done.

    The GOP is just the latest Trump venture to fall under this dynamic. Trump starts an enterprise. Investors/supporters follow. Enterprise does well for a short time, then collapses under its unsustainability and the fact that Trump is actually a terrible manager. Trump bails–with his own money/cache intact–and leaves behind a shambles for his investors/supporters to watch helplessly as it collapses around them, losing them everything.

    The dynamic hasn't changed here. Trump's already lining up his out–a television deal. It's not that he intends to fail–I'm sure he'd like to win as much as any narcissist would. But he always leaves himself an escape pod, and it's fueled and ready launch as we speak.

    And the GOP is left holding the bag.

  28. Jim L. Says:

    Thank you, Steven Frisch. I've long considered myself a social democrat, so I was pleased with Bernie's rise. But then his supporters descended into madness — Hillary is the same, maybe worse than Trump! — and that was a train I had to get off.

  29. Matt Bilder Says:

    A truly excellent piece of writing.

  30. Alan C Says:

    @Talisker:

    "Trump can go wherever he likes and the whole nation will recognize his greatness."

    Yes. And I'm sure he gets yuuuuge crowds for his Nuremberg rallies in Texas, so there's that too.

  31. jharp Says:

    "No one thinks that people should go into a nightclub drinking and carrying firearms. That defies commonsense. It also defies the law. It's not what we're talking about here," and "I don't think you should have firearms where people are drinking."

    Pretty sure one can concealed carry in bars in Ohio.

  32. Mo Says:

    Maybe I should re-read Phishing for Phools – the bezzle is an unavoidable part of the package, because we're such a herd of dopes it always pays.

    Or probably simpler to just roll with "There's a sucker born every minute."

  33. jharp Says:

    Can you carry a gun into a bar in Ohio?

    The law prohibits those carrying a concealed weapon from drinking alcohol, however. Ohio Senate Bill 17 allows the owner of a private establishment to decide whether or not to permit firearms inside. Some business have already welcomed the new firearm regulation.

  34. a worker Says:

    http://training.nra.org/nra-gun-safety-rules.aspx

    Never use alcohol or over-the-counter, prescription or other drugs before or while shooting.
    Alcohol, as well as any other substance likely to impair normal mental or physical bodily functions, must not be used before or while handling or shooting guns.

    ———————————

    If you nerds think that a significant number of the 12,029,699* Sanders voters are the kooks you rage-read on your Facebook feeds, maybe you should go outside more.

    yours,

    a guy who campaigned for sanders

    *does not include people who couldn't get Democratic primary ballots

  35. jharp Says:

    Many gun rights supporters say Indiana has taken a common sense approach to gun law–one that relies heavily on personal responsibility when it comes to carrying a firearm. In fact, with few exceptions, it’s perfectly legal to carry a weapon in virtually any public place in Indiana, like a restaurant or a bar. Gun owners can even enjoy a beer while carrying a gun as long as they don’t get drunk.

    “Obviously, it’s not responsible gun ownership to drink to the point of intoxication while in the possession of a gun. It’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for those around you,” said Relford. “But we don’t need big brother to tell us that in Indiana, that’s a matter of personal responsibility.”

  36. Medium Dave Says:

    Someone using "nerd" as an insult in 2016… how quaint.

    Does anyone remember PUMA? In 2008, some die-hard Clinton supporters went through a similar process to the one that we're seeing in die-hard Sanders people now. They made a lot of noise, but the effect on the election turned out to be minimal.

  37. Emerson Dameron Says:

    I loved the idea of Bernie. Clinton seemed to be running a campaign based mostly on neoliberal Boomer narcissism, and I was excited to have someone to vote *for*. Now I hope he and his movement will focus on downticket races and build a real bench for the Democrats.

    @Medium Dave:
    IIRC, the PUMAs completely fizzled around the time Palin came on the scene. I don't think HRC will ever match Obama as a campaigner, but I am confident that Trump will give us way more negative motivation than McCain's worst rage strokes.

  38. Z Says:

    Heee's King Miiiiidas with a cuuuuuuuuuurrrssse…..
    Heee's King Miiiiidas in reveeeeeeeeeerrrrsse!

    There's still time to change the post title, Ed!

  39. X-RWU Says:

    LOL @ at the thought of Trump basically trying to pull that stunt from "The Producers" as in failing on purpose.

    But IMHO, his ploy seems more like that insanity from the movie S1M0NE (the comedy starring Al Pacino as a weird and unlikable filmmaker Viktor Taransky). In that movie, the filmmaker gets a special gift from a late friend: A computer program called "Simulation One" (later nicknamed "Simone"). He uses the program with its fake, digitally-constructed actress to star in all the roles of his films which no self-respecting actress will star in anymore. But then he becomes a victim of his own success as people keep demanding to know more and more about this amazing actress who doesn't actually exist, and the pressure is really starting to get to him. He then tries to make her truly unpopular by making her star in stupid movies to acting like a total jerk, but none of it seems to work and people only like her more for it, thinking she's "bold" and "honest" and such. And it only gets more insane when he tries to "kill" her at the end…
    Yeah, I think that's what Trump's been trying to do: Deliberately flush himself out of the running by saying and doing all this stupid stuff, which is only making some people like him even more.

  40. geoff Says:

    @X-RWU– Trump: "WHAT THE FUCK DO I HAVE TO SAY TO MAKE PEOPLE HATE ME??!!"

    As Matt Taibbi pointed out in Rolling Stone a couple of months ago, TV news has treated Presidential elections as reality TV shows for so long that people shouldn't surprised when an actual reality TV star does so well in one.

  41. Greg Says:

    I am actually curious for some research into the Sanders group, because the supporters of his who seem least well-informed and most stubborn (that I have encountered) all sound like they come from a background as not self-identifying as left- independent, socially liberal libertarians who have enough conscience to be concerned at the failure of capitalism. This may be only my sample set, but they're not terribly well-informed and have little sense of history but can be moved by the populism more than by the socialism. They're not that far from Trump fans, in other words. But as to how much of Sanders' base is these people as opposed to lifelong lefties or even moderate democrats is not all clear to me. Perhaps one of you has some sources to recommend?

  42. Scout Says:

    Steven Frisch – yours was the best summation yet that I've read regarding the total descent of the Bernie Sanders movement into the abyss of crazytown. Very quotable.

    I liked Bernie and even voted for him, but once his movement became mired in sore loserdom and the vilification of Hillary, he lost me. The behavior of the True Bernlievers has actually turned me into a much bigger Hillary fan than I had ever been before.

    If Dumbp wins because these screeching children split the progressive ticket, they are the ones who are going to be living with the fallout a hella lot longer than old people like me will. However, I hope that as many here have predicted, all but the most naive will come around before November.

  43. Katydid Says:

    @Jharp; Indiana might have a point if there weren't hundreds of thousands of documented cases of "responsible" gun owners accidentally shooting themselves and others, leaving their guns in restrooms for anybody to find, dropping their loaded weapons and killing innocent bystanders, and dying when their toddlers grab their guns and shoot them with it.

  44. Steven Frisch Says:

    Scout — the problem with the True Bernlievers is that unlike the True Believers identified by Hoffer they are by and large not a part of the poor or dispossessed, with a few notable exceptions. They are more likely to be younger relatively privileged products of middle class and upper middle class households, college educated, employed and probably not a member of a minority group.

    The bottom line is that if a populist fascist like Trump were to get elected the holdouts in the Sanders movement are not likely to be the ones deported, disempowered, discriminated against or losing status. They are unconcerned about the misogyny of the Trump movement because they believe the courts will protect them.

    The poor and dispossessed are much more likely to be pragmatic because the consequence of losing rights is closer to their life experience. They know that surely it can get worse than "this."

    The hold outs objection is to what Greg identified as "the failure of capitalism," which may have some merit, but failing to identify an alternative form of capitalism and ways to achieve its reform, falls on deaf ears.

    It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to ideals or belief in an ill defined alternative or antipathy to forces who control the Democratic Party or anti-capital sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

    I believe we need a major reform and overhaul of capitalism, let's hope many of our True Bernlievers dust themselves off, dig in and work on that from the ground up.

  45. John Danley Says:

    Not only are there no clothes, there is no emperor. Polarized implosion and its discontents. Midas just lost his fucking muffler.

  46. X-RWU Says:

    Actually, I got a small confession to make: When I first glanced at this blog post, I thought it was "SHITTY MAIDS" (as in the women who clean stuff for you). It took me another look to see it for what it was. Heh.

  47. Scepticus Says:

    According to his latest FEC filing, he has only $1.3 million on hand. And he's charging his campaign $200k/month rent. And he's paying himself as an employee.

    http://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/forms/C00580100/1079423/?platform=hootsuite

    Apparently I'm a terrible judge of character (I liked John Edwards in 2004, look how he turned out), but I've always intensely disliked Trump, as far back as I've ever had an awareness of him. I don't know what to think after skimming the FEC info. It really seems like either he was never authentically running and this is all a con, or he is an authentic delusional narcissist that has somehow swept the rubes along.

  48. James King Says:

    I'm inspired. I KNOW who the rethuglicans will run who is worse than the trumpster.
    I am designing the winning bumper sticker right now. It has the GOP logo and reads
    "Cheney/Satan 2016"

  49. SunilR Says:

    @Steven Frisch: How does this 'If liberals and progressives are going to stand for something it should start with rationality, logic, enlightened interest, and pragmatism,' square with Hillary Clinton's positions?

  50. Noskilz Says:

    Based on what I've seen thus far, I'm wholly unconcerned that he'll win the general election. Staffing issues, fund-raising issues and while most campaigns try to avoid unforced errors, his seems to be almost entirely composed of them. He seems to be hell-bent on suppressing turnout for his own party and doing his best to convince a variety of groups he's keen on ill-using that they probably shouldn't sit this election out. It's probably not impossible, but it does seem rather unlikely.

    I'm significantly more concerned about possible ugliness surrounding his campaign, as he seems to be becoming more erratic and I don't have much difficulty imagining either some of his supporters or some of his opponents going something violently unwise. That's not a stab at both-sides-ism, but a concern that as the rhetoric and fear escalates, associated crazies of various stripes will do something stupid.

  51. quixote Says:

    Steven Frisch's comment about our Leftish Tea Party. Exactly.

  52. quixote Says:

    (Oh arrgh. I pushed all those excellent comments back. There has GOT to be a way to make wordpress deal with that. Surely? Anyway, the first 50 are here.)

  53. Robert Says:

    The one Sanders supporter I know has been a Green since voting for Nader in '00. He re-registered Democrat for the sole purpose of voting for Sanders. Minor correction – that, and complaining ceaselessly about how unwelcome he felt in the Democratic Party.

    He's also a white Southern man who thinks it's unfair that he doesn't get to use the N-word without being thought of as a racist.