Donald Trump

Donald Trump Is the Political Equivalent of the Financial Crisis

He's the culmination of multiple problems and factors, all exploding at once.

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Foter / Gage Skidmore

How to explain Donald Trump? He certainly can't explain himself (not surprising, given his, ah, modest explanatory abilities).

Many have argued, from various vantage points, that he is the fault of Republicans, who allowed nativism to fester within their party, who amped up their anti-Obama rhetoric and oversold their ability to oppose his agenda, who failed to grapple with the economic struggles of downscale Americans and prioritized the concerns of the wealthy donor class. Other have argued that President Obama himself bears some responsibility, or that was a factor, at least inadvertently, a celebrity president who rallied his base in ways that stoked political division, an imperial president who circumvented the political process when it did not suit his ends.

There are other explanations as well: Trump's campaign was powered by his celebrity status and a massive gift of free media, by his own exquisitely developed instincts for generating conflict and controversy, by a certain amount of good luck and the unusual dynamics of the very large GOP field. 

Writing in Commentary, John Podhoretz works another angle, proposing a thought experiment in which the financial crisis occurs not in September 2008, just weeks before the election, but in 2006, with two years left before the next president would be selected.

Now imagine that the meltdown had taken place not in September 2008 but rather in September 2006. Imagine that housing prices and stock prices had fallen in the same way—such that the wealth invested in the 63 percent of home-owned American households and in the stocks owned by 62 percent of all Americans had declined by 40 percent.

Further, imagine that serious proposals arose that the 8 percent of homeowners who had defaulted on their home loans be forgiven their debts—the very proposal in 2009 that led investor Rick Santelli to call for a new "tea party" uprising on the part of the 92 percent who paid their bills on time. Only this time Santelli's comments had been spoken in 2007. Imagine all these things. And then imagine the presidential race that would have followed. Does the rise of Trump and Bernie Sanders suddenly make all the sense in the world? Of course.

Instead, of course, the meltdown happened just before the election, and the ensuing years were taken up with Obama's tentpole policies—the stimulus and Obamacare and Dodd-Frank.

Podhoretz does not mention the George W. Bush administration by name in the column, but it is, of course, a thought experiment in what would have happened if the reaction to the financial crisis had happened under Bush's watch. And so it pairs well with Ross Douthat's column today on the decline of Bushism.

Douthat's piece is hooked to the failure of Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, but it too is an attempt to make sense of a primary race that is now thoroughly dominated by Donald Trump and, to a lesser extent, Ted Cruz. Douthat writes that "in purely ideological terms, what primary voters were rejecting when they rejected [Rubio] was the political synthesis of George W. Bush."

This is essentially correct: Rubio was, more than anything, a vessel for the GOP establishment's hopes, slightly modified to account for the emergence of reform conservatism—a tax-cutting, immigration-friendly, foreign-policy hawk energized by the American ideal and its place atop the global order. His political career was designed to emphasize the elements of Bushism, and he was arguably a better and truer for heir to the Bush legacy than the candidate in the race whose name was Bush, at least in theory, because he carried none of the baggage. He was Bush rebranded.

But it turned out that the rebranded version had plenty of baggage as well. The failure of Republican elites to grapple with the failures of the Bush administration and the dissatisfaction that his presidency created amongst ideological conservatives, who formed the basis for the Tea Party, and amongst less ideological working class voters, is part of what explains Trump's rise.

The truth about Trump, I think, is that there are many relevant factors and many plausible explanations, though I would emphasize that Trump is first and foremost a Republican problem created by Republican failures, built up over time. But there is no single, unifying factor that fully explains his rise. 

In a sense, then, Trump is himself the political equivalent of the financial crisis, the result of a rare confluence of long-simmering factors—some bad actors, some mistaken assumptions, some failures of responsibility, some misaligned institutional incentives, some poor decisions on the part of the public, some avarice and ignorance on the part of elites—all culminating in a kind of full-scale meltdown. And just as in 2008, Trump is proving many experts wrong along the way, and causing them to rethink reexamine just what it is they really know about how the system works, and threatening to destroy the system in the process.

As with the financial crisis, most of the damage done by Trump will (probably) not be truly permanent. But it is severe, and it is likely to remain with us, causing eruptions and anxieties and unexpected aftershocks, for a very long time.

Update: Lee Drutman wrote a smart post for Vox explicating the idea that Trump is the financial crisis of politics that went up a day before this one. I hadn't seen his piece when I wrote this one (the Trump-financial crisis connection is an idea I've been mulling for a while), but I wish I had. He does a more thorough and detailed job of drawing the comparison between the two than I did, and his post is well worth reading.

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  1. Peter, I hope all your DC friends lose their jobs.

    1. There’s not a chance in hell America could be so lucky.

      1. Well, there is a chance – it just would be kinda nasty.

    2. I hope that after they lose their jobs, they treat themselves to a vacation, or a least a three-day spa getaway. Then, I hope they soon receive even better jobs.

      1. I hope that they receive generous severance packages, and perhaps placement assistance. I hope that their families and friends support them lovingly throughout the transition process.

        Wait, are we not supposed to be doing masturbation euphemisms here?

      2. Let’s make it a ‘staycation’ and I’m totally on board.

        1. I hear Pyongyang is lovely this time of year. Make sure to let them know to grab a souvenir banner at the hotel.

    3. Ha! Trump will be great for DC. A guy who doesn’t know anything about the bureaucracy and therefore will be unable to control, and whose only plans are to throw lots more money at it in the form of border control spending, defense spending, and some sort of ill-defined government healthcare system. If Trump is elected, the beltway spending binge will go into overdrive.

      1. Is he supposed to stand up and say “I will completely privatize all healthcare services and healthcare spending”? You probably wouldn’t even get half of the tiny libertarian minority to agree with that position these days. And if last election was any indicator, start talking about healthcare and you might as well concede the election to the democrats on the spot.

        1. How about he detail one are where he’d reduce the size, power, or scope of the federal government?

          1. He has emphatically said several times that he wants to close down many of our overseas military bases and ports, bring troops home, and make some of these deadbeat nations pay for their own defense.

            1. On foreign policy he’s less bad than the other Republican candidates that are occupying themselves by one-upping each other on how many wars they plan to instigate. Kasich has the win though, with his promises to invade Libya, Syria and North Korea while arming the Ukrainians to poke at Russia. Maybe for good measure he’ll promise to invade Iran too.

            2. And then in the next breath he says how he’s going to make the military even bigger than it is.

              1. And then in the next breath he says how he’s going to make the military even bigger than it is.

                Exactly.

        2. The fact that he isn’t saying it during the campaign, and is in fact making promises that are in direct opposition, indicates he won’t even try to private healthcare services or spending. He’s been for some version of socialized medicine his entire life. Why would you think he’s suddenly going to flip?

          1. indicates he won’t even try to private healthcare services or spending

            Since when have campaign promises been worth the paper they’re printed on? I don’t doubt that he wouldn’t be libertarian about healthcare, hell he might even push for single payer but the fact that he isn’t saying one way or the other isn’t proof that he will balloon it or won’t balloon it. I find it odd though, you say that because he hasn’t said one way or the other, that’s evidence that he’ll pursue policies X,Y or Z. Using the same logic, his non-specifics could be evidence that he’ll pursue policies A, B and C.

            There’s plenty to curse Trump about, his non-stance on hypothetical policy proposals is at the bottom of the list.

            1. I didn’t say that he’s hasn’t said one way or the other. He’s made a number of statements in the campaign that he supports some kind of universal health insurance, and before the campaign he was on record in support of single payer. That’s what I mean when I say he “is in fact making promises that are in direct opposition.”

              Even he had said nothing, reducing health spending would be a gigantic political push because. It would require a president to be really really committed to it to have even a prayer of getting it thru congress. When he offers nothing on the campaign trail that so much as suggests that he would be committed to it, it’s a strong tell that it won’t be happening if he’s president.

              1. When he pushes a policy one way or the other, then unleash your dismay. Until then, you’re criticizing policy proposals that don’t exist.

                1. I see. So it’s unfair to criticize him for not proposing policies. It’s also unfair to criticize him for the proposals that are implied by his more general statements. Apparently we’re just supposed to vote on his hair style.

                  1. I didn’t say it was unfair, I said you were committing a logical error because you’re criticizing policy proposals that don’t exist. You even conceded there are no proposals on the table from his campaign and you’re using the lack of a proposal to argue that means he will do X, Y and Z with policy. The one thing does not follow from the other.

                  2. There are some surprisingly decent ideas in his healthcare position paper–price transparency, repealing Obamacare, selling insurance across state lines, and opening up the market to the overseas drug industry. Knowing Trump, though, he hasn’t actually read it and would assert the opposite if asked, depending on his mood that day.

              2. I also have an underlying feeling of dread that he promised AG to Christie for his endorsement. I f he had to off Fatboy anything, my hope would be Secretary of Transportation, or maybe create ‘Buffet Czar’ for him. If anyone is going to police our nations all-you-can-eat buffet’s, it’s Chris Christie.

              3. We already have some kind of universal health insurance. That’s what a mandate is.

        3. We don’ need no steenkin consensus. Give us a few spoiler votes and we will repeal bad laws and taxes at a 10 to 1 mechanical advantage. Any less bang for your ballot is a wasted vote that only prolongs the looter gerontocracy.

          1. I’m surprised you didn’t find some way to make this about religion or abortion.

      2. Why are they running around thinking they’ll lose their jobs? If Trump promised big spending, new regs, and business as usual ON STEROIDS the apparatchiks would be falling all over themselves praising his Holy Name.

        1. The establishment Republicans are scared because they want to actually win the Presidency and not lose Congress, and there’s a high chance that Trump is going to going to lose and bring out an anti-republican vote that will put the Dems back in control of the Senate. But that’s a small slice of DC. The career civil service class, consulting class, government contractor class, lawyer class, etc. are going to do quite well under a Trump administration.

      3. “Ha! Trump will be great for DC. A guy who doesn’t know anything about the bureaucracy and therefore will be unable to control”

        That seems like a clueless statement. Trump has done multiple multi-million dollar real estate projects in NYC. None of those would have been successful if he didn’t understand bureaucracy.

        1. I’m not sure what getting some zoning approvals and building permits has to do with running a 2M person, 400 plus agency, regulatory maze. And he also failed spectacularly in a number of those projects precisely because he didn’t know how to deal with those comparatively small issues. See his Hudson Yards fiasco.

      4. So you think he doesn’t know how to find and hire folks who know how to “rightsize” an organization? Congratulations on buying into “insult” thought thinking. That will make all your thought about Trump easy.

        Meantime, he looks to be a regular issue crude, overly type A business success. His most obvious feature is the entertaining habit of free assosciation on Twitter. Lucky us! And lucky him, it turns out, judging by 2016 election results. We old dinosaurs can adapt or retire. Me happily retired.

        He happens to have a political interest he’s able to indulge. From starting at least as far ago as the Ross Perot period, we see him active. He stayed with that Perot-ism for years by being involved with a NY version of Perot’s Reform party.

        Trump has the same ego issue as all the Pres’s: legacy, the historical variation of Mt. Rushmore, and library named after him, etc. That ego may have him doing his darndist to do what Obama was too focused on “me time” to stay busy with, that famous “first 100 days” to-do list.

        Trump knows he can cap a famous life with a dud presidency, or one filled with accomplishment. You think he’s an idiot that will stumble into and out of office. By all means, continue with mind-easing “insult” thought thinking.

    4. And what evidence do we have to date that Donald Trump will do anything other than expand the DC bureaucracy? Every proposal he’s laid out to date seems to involve a lot more government to implement and a lot more power vested in the government.

      1. Precisely. Trump seems to be like Obama in many ways- people just imprint their preferences on him and assume he supports them, no matter the mountains of evidence to the contrary. I’m truly baffled by the people that think he’s going to take a wrecking ball to the DC bureaucracy while he promises to build some massive wall and expand all kinds of border control measures, to make the military “so big”, and health insurance that covers everyone.

          1. And here I thought it was lulz.

            Did you break $10 on your kickstarter yet? I hear p-B-MJ is the ultimate fuel.

            1. B is dope. For Semiconductors.

      2. If I had never heard a single word about Trump, I’d think it a near certainty that he would expand government power. Like every president since Coolidge has, regardless of party affiliation, rhetoric or circumstances.

  2. As with the financial crisis, most of the damage done by Trump will (probably) not be truly permanent. But it is severe, and it is likely to remain with us, causing eruptions and anxieties and unexpected aftershocks, for a very long time.

    I predict this Top. Man. prediction will be wrong.

    1. Like the prediction that Trump wouldn’t be the nominee?

  3. The financial crisis of 2008 was caused by government backing of mortgages coupled with the Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction and government monopolized ratings agencies – which together inflated the housing market making a bubble inevitable. In other words, social engineering by well-intentioned busybodies. The PC hysteria is caused by the same urge – “People in general are incapable of making the right decisions for themselves, so we need to create government mandates.” Trump is both a reaction to and a continuation of those politics, coupled with the age old appeal of a witch hunt against a vulnerable minority to be scapegoated. For example, the “Great Wall of Trump”: people are incapable of not hiring illegals and giving them free benefits, so that’s we must build a wall and immediately ship them all out.

    1. Not really. 2008 crisis was caused by a locking-up of banks ability to sell those mortgages to others – WORLDWIDE – which in turn grew into banks not settling any payments with other banks. Certainly ratings agencies made it possible for Wall St to bundle up US mortgages to sell to Norwegian pension funds so that US banks could borrow yen to finance a pyramid of new mortgages to crappy borrowers. But that was not some US-only issue. It was a DIRECT consequence of the 1997 WTO agreement on financial services – and the subsequent Basel 1 (1998) and 2 (2004) agreements – which provided global rules for what qualified as Tier 1/2/etc capital for banks. And those supranational agreements were put in place precisely so that TBTF-type banks could ‘self-regulate’ and move beyond the control of governments (which worldwide remain NATIONAL – not supranational).

      The European sovereign debt crises since 2008 are simply a continuation of the exact same supranational agreements. And I suspect the next global banking crisis (which appears to have started already) will have the same cause (Basel 3 is in the process of being implemented).

      1. HAHAHA. The abomination of financial engineering known as the ’30 year mortgage’ is possible only because of the MITD. You know this. It’s amazing to see how tenaciously you will dissemble.

          1. Mortgage interest tax deduction.

        1. The 30-year mortgage isn’t financial engineering. The 30-year mortgage – bundled and cut up into 10 different tranches with different effects/risks under different interest rates – each with its own credit rating and sold to different people in different countries (many of whom had no clue what they were buying and who were being lied to anyway) is financial engineering. And all those tranches also create a potential land title problem when/if the mortgage is actually paid off – and also make it very difficult to either foreclose on a property or prevent a bogus foreclosure.

          And the problem still originated with the WTO and Basel accords. You want to see financial engineering in action – try to decipher Basel 2 – https://www.bis.org/publ/bcbs128b.pdf

          You can’t seriously think that Europeans had some rational desire to buy American mortgages do you?

          1. And for the record, I don’t think mortgage interest should be tax deductible. But that didn’t cause the crisis either.

          2. So it is financial engineering, so what? As long as the people who buy bad investment vehicles actually lose their money and market entry is easy, things are fine. The idea that we can improve financial markets by identifying and outlawing all risky investments, implicit in people blaming the financial crisis on markets, is stupid. In fact, what people attempted with the repackaging of mortgages might have worked quite well and been quite beneficial, and should be tried again. The reason it blew up is largely due to government policies.

            Now, of course, in our knee jerk reaction, getting a mortgage is like a Gestapo interview followed by the government assuming the risk.

    2. No cigar. In the government’s exact words here is what happened: Annual revenues into the Assets Forfeiture Fund (AFF) from forfeited assets increased from $500 million in 2003 to $1.8 billion in 2011, in part due to an increase in prosecutions of fraud and financial crimes cases. Expenditures in support of forfeiture activities such as equitable sharing payments to state and local law enforcement agencies and payments to victims also increased over the
      same 9-year period, growing from $458 million in 2003 to $1.3 billion in 2011. Source: Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund report 2012.
      Search asset forfeiture graphs and you’ll see the thing begins with the doubling of the looting rate in 2007, incompetently dissembled since. At libertariantranslator is a blog that covers this. It’s what Herb Hoover did to force states to help enforce prohibition.

    3. That’s not accurate either. Asset forfeiture and prohibition had a head-on collision inside the Taggart Tunnel. The Fannie Freddie Comet was indeed federal meddling in mortgages after the Hoover Depression, zooming down the tracks with adjustable-rate mortgages on grow houses about to jack up rates with subprime MBOs and other synthetic securities puffing up the derivatives market. Oncoming was the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture & Prohibition Special on a secret mission for CIA, FATF, AML, TF, CFT, DNFBP, IRS-CID, INL, ICRG, GIABA, GAFISUD, FSRB, FIU, FinCEN, EAG agents backed by troopers, sheriffs and other looters hot for a slice of the divvy. Fifteen trillion dollars and 8 years later states are repealing hemp prohibition and reading libertarian platforms.

  4. What will be really fun is if we have a replay of the financial crisis again this summer. Which is not exactly a low-probability event. And, most of the tools that the governments still had to “address” the last one really aren’t available anymore, I gather, so if it happens again, it will be worse, possibly much worse.

    1. Imagine that and another big terrorist attack, both of which are thinkable.

    2. And, most of the tools that the governments still had to “address” the last one really aren’t available

      Bullshit… they can lower interest rates by .25%

      1. Three words: Trillion dollar coin.

        1. Going to need at least a ten trillion dollar coin this time around.

      2. Well, on the regulatory front, they’ve been warning banks to be ready for negative rates.

        1. I’ve been called a conspiracy theorist for saying the same thing for last few weeks. Which isn’t untrue, it is a fucking conspiracy.

        2. Nothing solves a credit crisis like subtracting liquidity from the system.

          Yeah, if credit markets lock up again, telling the banks, etc. that you are going to start confiscating their cash is going to really help.

  5. “Podhoretz does not mention the George W. Bush administration by name in the column, but it is, of course, a thought experiment in what would have happened if the reaction to the financial crisis had happened under Bush’s watch.”

    People forget that the Tea Party Santelli’s epic rant presaged rose up outside of the Republican Party–specifically because they blamed Bush and the establishment Republicans.

    The Tea Party coalesced around Obama’s outrageous abuse of TARP funds–the bailouts, the nationalization of GM, the stimulus package, etc.–and the Tea Party only really started coming into the GOP fold in response to Obama’s pushing ObamaCare and other outrages.

    We should also never forget that the biggest victims of the Tea Party coming into the GOP fold were not the Democrats–but establishment Republicans. The Tea Party has only recently started to solidify its influence, now that John Boehner’s scalp is on their trophy wall.

    If the Tea Party is now thoroughly within the GOP fold, it is probably because of Trump. The only establishment candidate that was sort of in the running was Kasich, and he won’t win another state barring an act of God. Has everyone forgotten that neither Rubio or Cruz were the Republican establishment?

    1. In other words, to think of the political reaction to the financial crisis as a response to the Obama Administration is missing the point. The reaction came from outside the Republican party, and the Republican establishment was its biggest victims. The reaction to the financial crisis did happen under Bush’s watch! It started in July of 2008. If it continued through January of the that year, when Obama took office, it was because Obama continued Bush’s policies that caused the Tea Party to rise up against the Bush Administration–from outside the Republican party.

      1. But the reality is that the Tea Party did quickly allow itself to be coopted for partisan reasons and lost all of whatever initial focus it had on the TARP bailouts. And IMO that was done not because the timing of that was in the transition between Bush/Obama. But because money and crises are really really difficult issues to understand. Tea Party and Occupy started in the same place – inchoate anger by outsider at being screwed over by insiders. And elites/insiders responded by doing what elites/insiders have done since before the Roman Empire when faced with that sort of threat – divide et impera. That strategy works in 2006 – or 2008 – or any year.

    2. The Tea Party coalesced around Obama’s outrageous abuse of TARP funds–the bailouts, the nationalization of GM, the stimulus package, etc.

      The strange thing is that people who support Trump couldn’t care less about these things. Trump praised all of these things at the time, and when I point this out to them (for example on Breitbart), they counter with the other candidates supporting free trade and immigration. That’s it. (Not to mention that even if other candidates don’t deserve a vote, that doesn’t mean Trump deserves a vote, unless you’re making an argument for the lesser of all evils, which isn’t what they do.) All they care about is thinking they are sticking it to foreigners to Make America Great Again. Trump could come in support of universal healthcare and most of his supporters would still probably love him. They want someone who will get rid of all the illegals, possibly curtail the number of immigrants coming in, and in their minds stop all the jobs being lost to the chinks and beaners and whoever else through international trade.

      1. Tea Party prohibitionist fanatics are the root cause of the whole problem–just as in 1929-33–only under a different name

  6. As I said in one of the other 100 Trump articles, Trump is an extreme overreaction to what’s wrong with the politics of this country and to the divisive identity politics the left has been pushing for the last decade. He is America’s anaphylactic shock. Unfortunately, I don’t know if there’s an epi-pen big enough to correct it.

    1. I don’t know if there’s an epi-pen big enough

      If these pix on my phone really are from Epi, its not.

  7. But can Trump be fixed with endless stimulus and permanent zero percent interest rates like the economy was? Or is that more Bernie’s thing?

  8. “Many have argued, from various vantage points, that he is the fault of Republicans, who allowed nativism to fester within their party, who amped up their anti-Obama rhetoric and oversold their ability to oppose his agenda, who failed to grapple with the economic struggles of downscale Americans and prioritized the concerns of the wealthy donor class.”

    They’re wrong.

    If you look at the massive turnout at the primaries, and the traditional Democrat demographics that are supporting Trump (white, middle class, blue collar has been the Democrats’ bread and butter for generations), then the people who’ve failed aren’t the Republicans. The people who are supporting Trump are doing so because they think they’ve been abandoned by the Democrats.

    And I’m going to let you in on a big secret: The reason middle class, blue collar, whites feel like they’ve been abandoned by the Democrats? Is because they’ve been abandoned by the Democrats.

    The progressives, social justice warriors, gay rights organizations, Black Lives Matter, illegal immigrant interests, environmentalists, et. al. have convinced themselves that the Democratic Party is for gays, blacks, illegal immigrants, environmentalists, and other people who hate middle class, blue collar whites for being white, blue collar, Catholic, etc. Why wouldn’t that drive middle class whites into the arms of Donald Trump?

    1. The Democrats haven’t caught on yet for a number of reasons. For one, they’ve embraced elitism as a virtue, and they’re mostly disconnected from their own electorate. For another, they haven’t lost big because of their racially divisive, middle class, blue collar hating stances–since Reagan repeatedly kicked their asses for doing the same thing in the 1980s. The Democrats may not learn anything the first time they lose because of their middle class hating elitism, but we certainly shouldn’t expect them to learn anything until they lose because of it.

      1. The Democrats haven’t caught on yet for a number of reasons. For one, they’ve embraced elitism as a virtue, and they’re mostly disconnected from their own electorate.

        The Superdelegate system in the Democratic party is a shocking display of just this.

        It’s a party that only allows itself to pick the party leaders through mostly elected officials. The Democratic party has become the party of Elected Officials. It’s a weird, circular kind of political machine that ought to scare the bejesus out of anyone paying attention.

      2. And now they have these gems to love: “…the same radical groups involved in shutting down Donald Trump’s Chicago rally last week are plotting a mass civil disobedience movement to begin next month….Democracy Spring, is threatening “drama in Washington” with the “largest civil disobedience action of the century.” The radicals believe this will result in the arrest of thousands of their own activists.”
        They have a list which will show they are peaceful, until they aren’t and we can all blame trump again when someone fights back.
        http://www.breitbart.com/big-g…..e-century/

        1. The more this happens, the more support for Trump.

          Even at Facebook there are people who at risk to their jobs cross out black lives matter and write all lives matter.

          There is a natural American resistance to the Tutsi/Hutuization of America that the Democrats would like.

    2. And I’m going to let you in on a big secret: The reason middle class, blue collar, whites feel like they’ve been abandoned by the Democrats? Is because they’ve been abandoned by the Democrats.

      This really can’t be said more forcefully. The amount of ink and air spent by Democrats directly making fun of this constituency can’t be measured.

      1. And they’re making even more fun of it now, that those people are supporting Trump.

  9. What difference, at this point, does it make?

  10. Donald Trump Is the Political Equivalent of the Financial Crisis

    Hyperbolic, but meh, ok fine. I doubt the DOW will get cut in half if he wins, but whatever.

    Hillary Clinton is the Political Equivalent of the Kirchner Dynasty in Argentina

    HOW DARE YOU COMPARE THIS FINE WOMAN TO SUCH A TERRIBLE NATION DESTROYING REGIME!!!

    The Kirchners were never that bad.

    1. Hey at least Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is actually semi-hot.

    2. I loved watching his “Rock Concert” on tv back in the day.

  11. I imagine a different thought experiment:

    Imagine John McCain had not stopped campaigning and had not flown back to Washington to vote in support of TARP, but had instead denounced it loudly and had flown back to Washington to vote against it.

    McCain could have rallied the nascent Tea Party and increased Republican turnout and defeated Obama.

    1. That’s an excellent thought experiment. Impossible, but excellent. McCain simply couldn’t help himself… it was in his political DNA.

      But had he done it, I suspect he wouldn’t have lost to Obama quite so badly.

      1. McCain simply couldn’t help himself… it was in his political DNA.

        I believe it was our very own sartorial punching bag Matt Welch who pointed out, at book length, that McCain has never shown an ability to conceive of the notion that government shouldn’t take such an expansive managerial role.

      2. He was actually leading until he did that. Not by much. And the Repub base was firmly on record that they opposed it.

        If he had opposed it strongly, I think he would have won.

    2. If he had, he would not have been McCain. His whole political persona was built on giving a middle finger to what the GOP electorate wanted on divisive issues.

      1. But the Media liked him right up until he ran against Obama!

        1. Up until he opened his mouth.

    3. No, he wouldn’t have. He was the Republican nominee saddled with a deeply unpopular Republican president (Bush was mired in the 30s in 2008) and 100% supportive of the deeply unpopular and still ongoing war in Iraq.

      He MIGHT have made it closer by completely abandoning GWB during the financial crisis but I highly doubt he would have won (and it might have discouraged just as many Bush-supporting dead-enders from voting at all). Obama earned almost 15% more votes than GWB did in 2004 which was an enormous hurdle to jump.

      1. GWB didn’t earn any votes in 2004. He stole them from President Gore.

        1. Crap… 2000. Well, he still stole them from President Gore, who would have still been President in 04.

    4. John McCain should suspend what he’s doing and deal with Donald Trump now.

    5. Tea Party and Constitution Party are aliases to disguise the Prohibition Party which since 1928 has been the hand inside the GOP sockpuppet. Replacing those geezers with pro-choice libertarians is the only hope for the Whigs oops, I meant Republicans.

    6. Yeah sure, if McCain hadn’t been a senile idiot, he might have won.

  12. He’s the culmination of the GOP pandering to a base it dispises every election cycle and then promptly pulling the ball away like Lucy once they get their votes and have their comfy position. Unlike Charle Brown who hopes to soneday have sex with Lucy, the voters are eventually going to tell you to fuck off and that is exactly what they are doing. There is no substantive difference between the GOP and DNC establishments. Even the plebs are starting to notice which gives you your current situatio

    1. Lucy doesn’t realize that Charlie Brown is aiming to kick her in the head this time

      1. True dat

  13. Because I’m way late to the threadz, I’d like to give a point to Obama for fucking with the GOP by nominating someone to the court who may actually be qualified, shocking NPR commentators to the point where Nina Totenberg was literally stuttering.

    1. I’m still waiting for him to pull off the rubber mask revealing that he is in truth a brown, one-legged, transgender, illegal immigrant woman of color. Those are the qualities of a true Justice.

      1. you mean catlyn jenner?

    2. Yeah, no. This guy supports bans on gun ownership. No way is he “qualified”, and Obama foolishly gave the Repubs an easy talking point for stonewalling his appointment.

      1. By “qualified” I’m using the term loosely: Experienced, well respected and lacking in an identity politics back-narrative.

  14. “This is essentially correct: Rubio was, more than anything, a vessel for the GOP establishment’s hopes, slightly modified to account for the emergence of reform conservatism?a tax-cutting, immigration-friendly, foreign-policy hawk energized by the American ideal and its place atop the global order. His political career was designed to emphasize the elements of Bushism, and he was arguably a better and truer for heir to the Bush legacy than the candidate in the race whose name was Bush, at least in theory, because he carried none of the baggage. He was Bush rebranded.”

    Rubio wasn’t the Republican Establishment candidate. They might have been rooting for him last week, because they don’t like Trump or Cruz, but he was never their guy.

  15. Of course what all this discussion of whence Trump ignores is that his rise is coincident with the rise of Bernie Sanders on the left. That suggests the matter is more than simply failure on the part of the GOP Establishment. While Trump might be faring more well on the right than Sanders is on the left, it’s hardly difficult to imagine their fortunes reversed if there were a Republican in the White House. My thought is that the whole phenomenon is related to the exponential drop in the cost of communications. Otherwise (in most cases appropriately) marginal voices reflecting the bottom half of the bell curve are able to communicate with one another in a way that even a decade ago would have been unimaginable. As a result, they’re able to form a critical mass that is able to dominate the conversation.

    1. The other thing that helped Trump, which Sanders didn’t get the benefit of, was the lack of a single strong establishment candidate. If the Republican establishment had settled on a single candidate very early in the process, like the Democrats did with Clinton, Trump never could have gotten on such a roll. But the establishment was split among lots of candidates, which let Trump become the front-runner even though he only had a small plurality.

  16. Neal Bush is backing Cruz.

    1. He’s just an employee who fundraises.

      He’s just a salesman who makes calls and gladhands.

  17. Tell you what, I’ll bet that the good citizens of Cleveland, Ohio, are going to be getting increasingly nervous as we get closer to the Republican National Convention in July. If all those foaming-at-the-mouth Trump fans so much as SUSPECT the election might be “stolen” from them, they’re going to MOB the Quicken Loans Arena, and it AIN’T gonna be pretty. Trump is already predicting “riots” if his supporters don’t get their way.

    1. Quicken Loans Arena

      Tell me that’s not a thing.

    2. Trump is already predicting “riots” if his supporters don’t get their way.

      By the way, so did Harvey Milk.

      1. Harvey Milk’s supporters rioted because he was assassinated. Not QUITE the same thing.

        1. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about before he was assassinated, there was something up for a vote and Milk warned that if it didn’t go their way, he wouldn’t be responsible for what happened next, wink wink, nudge nudge.

      2. Not if his supporters don’t get their way, if his supporters feel they are being screwed and their votes are overridden by the party elites.

    3. If I was Cleveland, I’d be less concerned about Trump supporters getting out of hand, than the organized and violent protests of the proggy/commie/SJW left. Those are sure to happen, and might well spark violent counterprotests and a complete riot.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if there was rioting at both conventions this year.

  18. “…there is no single, unifying factor that fully explains his rise.”

    Unless you actually believe those who are in the “movement.” Jobs and the economy is what is feeding this. People no longer, if they ever did, believe that the elected officials care anything about them. Our free trade “agreements” do not help us, they hurt. We need only to see what is happening to our unemployment, underemployment and the types of jobs people are getting out of college, if any. Free trade as well as immigration, which is a good thing, is hurting us in the current way it is being enacted, as long as the monied special interests are pulling the strings, it will not change.
    “More than 5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs were lost between 1997 and 2014, and most of those job losses were due to growing trade deficits with countries that have negotiated trade and investment deals with the United States.”
    http://www.epi.org/blog/fast-t…..wer-wages/

    1. Those jobs went away a long time ago. Of course, we often see delayed reactions: illegals are down in number, and raising wages in China means some production is coming back.

      So now you see $15 minimum wage and building walls as the solution. Its like fighting the last war.

      More arguably, technology is taking ever more jobs.

  19. The financial crisis was caused by GOP stalwarts spitting on the Takings Clause in the Bill of Rights and replacing it with asset forfeiture patterned after plank 12 in the National Socialist platform of 1920. This began with Nixon, Reagan and Bush, wasn’t helped by Clinton and exploded when the George W Bush Administration expanded asset forfeiture into a looter free-for-all to enlist state enforcement of prohibition. Confiscating subprime real estate to resell at police auctions queered that market and was the starting gun for mass-abandonment of variable-rate mortgages and a 15 trillion dollar crash and depression. Asset forfeiture suddenly vanished from GOP advertising, but the damage–as when Herbert Hoover did much the same thing–is done.

    1. Um……..no……….

  20. Destruction of “the system” is, in my opinion, a GOOD thing! I’ve been predicting a meltdown of both political cronyism and crony capitalism for quite a while. Although the Feds have not yet reached the point where they cannot make the minimum payments on the national debt, the Republican Party certainly has reached the end of the line in its present form. If Trump is a bull in a china shop, so what? So what if the rest of the world doesn’t like him? My argument has been, for a long time, that although isolationism isn’t viable, we need to pull back a great deal from the “entangling alliances” that keep dragging us into conflict and getting our best and brightest killed for no apparent reason overseas. Trump is more obviously worse personally, but not worse than what we’ve been trying to survive under for decades. The President is limited in what she can do in any event, an argument that has been used against Bernie “Feel the Bern” Sanders on this forum many times!

  21. Another major reason that Donald Trump’s rise can be laid at President Obama’s feet is the president’s refusal to compromise. By rejecting essentially all of the Republicans’ ideas and offers, and insisting on his own, the president drove a wide swath of voters to Trump as an “anti-establishment” candidate who has not, and will not, compromise on the issues that are important to them.

    Trump is tremendously unlikely to follow through and actually push as hard as these voters hope, but that anti-establishment vibe is one of the most common, and most important, factors in his popularity.

    1. Many Trumpkins voted for Obama, too.

  22. Rubio started his speech by reeling off some of the complaints that have powered the mogul’s movement?anger about immigration and economic insecurity and what Rubio called “self-proclaimed elitists”?

    Rubio had it about right, although he’s too far above the peasants to consider these as actually policies.

    Trump supporters think is perfectly reasonable to have US policy be about what’s good for Americans.

    With illegal immigration, and Muslim immigration, the cries of “Racist Racist Racist” went up, and Trump told the criers to go fuck themselves. He didn’t knuckle under. Similarly, with immigration in general, they think their interests should actually have a seat at the table, instead of just people looking to use immigration to drive their labor costs down.

  23. The most important consideration is the degree to which the American people are ignorant and stupid, and fed up with the bullshit in Washington.

    They know there’s a problem.
    They don’t know what it is, and are completely clueless about how to fix it – so they’ve reached the point of “blow it all up and start over”.

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