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Bill Maher on why we could end up with President Trump

Bill Maher, the liberal/libertarian comedian/political satirist with a show on HBO, apparently favors Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton (although he says in the interview linked below that “she’d be a capable leader” and he “wouldn’t be concerned with her blowing the world up”).

But my only reason for troubling you with his views at the moment is to pass along, from this interview with the Daily Beast, his hilarious-but-serious and frighteningly accurate summary of the status of Donald Trump’s “electability,” thus (warning, it’s a tad vulgar):

“I know Nate Silver and lots of other people say it’s impossible for Donald Trump to get elected president, but as I’ve always said: Something is impossible until it isn’t. And so far, Donald Trump has defied everybody’s predictions, and he’s still there, and he only seems to get stronger. The guy eats third rails for breakfast. I mean, what would he have to say? He’s already said, ‘Carly Fiorina, you’re too ugly to be president! John McCain, you’re not a war hero! Hey, would you like to see my impression of a guy with cerebral palsy?’ I mean, what would he have to do, fart in Jesus’ face or call Ronald Reagan a fag? I have no idea what this guy would have to do to make his crowd turn on him. He’s like a movie monster who only gets stronger with the stuff that you’re using to try to kill him. So with this atmosphere, I think anything is possible — and that means Bernie Sanders is possible.”

Of course, many much-less-humorous Republicans are equally alarmed by Trump’s rise to and endurance as the GOP frontrunner. The most recent exhibit, from today’s New York Times, is long-time Republican insider and campaign operative Scott Reed, who has worked for such mainstream Republicans as Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, Bob Dole and George Bush and works now for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has mostly been backing Jeb Bush this cycle.

As Reed explains it, there has been an establishment and an outsider candidate for the Republican nomination in almost every recent cycle. It’s not unusual for an “angry” outsider who is “completely unacceptable” to the party establishment to look strong early in the campaign. But once the field winnows down to an establishment candidate against a “completely unacceptable” one, the insider would always win, fairly easily.

As Reed sees it, the other Republican frontrunner in current polling, Sen. Ted Cruz, is also in the “completely unacceptable” category to the party establishment. The trouble is (from the Times piece):

“In 2016, that formula for stopping Mr. Trump may not work. The chunk of Republicans embracing an angry message, Mr. Reed said, ‘is two to three times its average size.’

“Consider the combined support for Mr. Trump, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, and the former neurosurgeon Ben Carson — all cast by conventional strategists for the ‘totally unacceptable’ role. The three outsiders command two-thirds of Republican support nationally. ‘Establishment’ favorites like Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and John R. Kasich remain political weaklings by comparison.”

Reed just doesn’t have confidence that — even when it unites behind someone “acceptable” — the establishment can beat the outsider, especially if it’s Trump because (again from the Times):

“Mr. Reed has an increasing appreciation for Mr. Trump’s political ability. For all of his rhetorical fireworks, he has driven home his simple vow to ‘make America great again.’

“Mr. Trump ‘is the most on-message candidate of this cycle, by a factor of 10,’ Mr. Reed said.”

The same edition of the Times contains an op-ed, headlined “Why I will never vote for Donald Trump,” by lifelong Republican and former member of the Reagan, Bush I and Bush II administrations Peter Wehner, who starts off the piece by noting that he has voted for the Republican presidential nominee in every election since he reached voting age.

Wehner gives many reasons for the headline pledge: Trump’s willful ignorance on many of the most basic issues every president must understand (Wehner calls it his “indifference to facts”) plus Trump’s boorishness and egotism, plus the long-term damage it would do to the Republican brand to have nominated such a person. And more.

I recommend you read the whole piece, which seems to gather strength as it goes along, but if you want a taste, there’s this paragraph:

“Mr. Trump’s virulent combination of ignorance, emotional instability, demagogy, solipsism and vindictiveness would do more than result in a failed presidency; it could very well lead to national catastrophe. The prospect of Donald Trump as commander in chief should send a chill down the spine of every American.”

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/14/2016 - 05:48 pm.


    I find Nate Silver’s numbers more convincing than vague fears.
    Trump may be able to turn out large noisy crowds, but 30% of Republican voters translates to less than 15% of the electorate. Trump would have to make himself acceptable to another 40% of voters to win an election.
    In short, I could possibly see him winning the nomination (although I think that the odds are against it), but at best he’d be another Goldwater, with similar implications for the Republican party.

  2. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 01/15/2016 - 08:01 am.

    Warmest year, yet. Pacific and Atlantic hurricanes in January. So, why not Trump as president?

    Meanwhile, let’s all go to bomb Iran just because Obama didn’t maintain those Navy boats in proper condition.

    It’s going to be a busy first day for the next Republican president.

  3. Submitted by John Edwards on 01/15/2016 - 07:45 pm.

    Why Trump Wins

    All you have to do is go to the website Bill Maher mentioned:

    This site enables you to see the outcome in 2016 presidential election by altering voting preferences from 2012. You can change the electoral vote on the very top line by moving the votes and the turnouts in the demographic categories right below it. It starts out with 332 electoral votes for Democrats, which was the result of the 2012 election. If you move the
    non-college educated whites to the right—from 66 percent Republican to 69 percent—and make no other changes— Republicans win 282 electoral votes to 256. If you move the black line to the right, so non-college whites are at 69 percent instead of 66 percent, Democrats would have to move the Latinos from 71 to 76 percent Democrat votes in order to eke out a 294 to 244 electoral win. Also, that assumes the college-educated whites still vote only 56 percent Republican and that whites’ turnout remains the same. No way is an Obama-less ticket going to attract more black voters. I can’t see any reason Asians will change.

    Republicans have to turn 63 Democratic electoral votes to GOP. In my view, we will know the outcome of the 2016 presidential election by 8 p.m. CST Nov. 8. It all comes down to who wins Virginia and its 13 electoral votes. Ohio (18) and Florida (29) have to go GOP (or the country is dead anyway.) That puts the total swing at 60, which means the GOP needs four electoral votes from Colorado’s 9, Iowa’s 6, Wisconsin’s 10 or New Hampshire’s 4, which is doable. I see no red state losses after an 8-year Democratic incumbent. If the big three states go GOP, certainly most of these other states will, too. Moreover, any game changers (economy or security) are likely to be work against the Democrats because Barack Obama is still in charge. Personal scandal is still the wild card for either side.

    At this point, I like the GOP candidate, especially Trump because his core is the non-college whites who will turn out, thinking their jobs depend on it.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/16/2016 - 02:49 pm.

      I’m not sure that

      a strong economy could not be a game changer for the Democrats.
      And all of the Republican likely candidates have a lot of skeletons waiting to jump out of their closets, while there’s little about the Democrats (meaning Clinton) that would be news. Repeating 20 year old stories will have limited impact, since most of the people who believe them are already committed Republicans.
      And ‘non-college whites’ are a group that typically has a low election turnout. Trump’s strongest supporters are nonvoters.

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