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Reality sets in: Donald Trump’s reality-TV campaign closes in on GOP nomination

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Donald Trump speaking, as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, left, looks on, during Trump's five state primary night event in New York City.

My favorite moment of Tuesday night’s installment of “Let’s Make A President” was watching Van Jones lose it live on CNN. It was hilarious. I’ll give you the quotes after a brief overview of the evening’s developments, which featured a huge, crushing five-state sweep for Donald Trump and an impressive night for Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side.

Bernie Sanders did an amazing thing this year. Despite being too old, rumpled, Jewish and way too far left to be serious contender for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party — a party, by the way, to which he did not even belong (and probably, still, in his heart, does not belong) — he became by force of his arguments, his authenticity, his integrity and his ability to energize young people a serious contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Tuesday night, after losing four of five primaries in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region, Sanders did not concede defeat in his quest, but instead gave a familiar speech about what he stands for and how he has exceeded expectations. I have no interest in suggesting that he needs to go. I hope and expect he will handle that in a constructive way when the time comes.

Love and hate

Clinton, in her remarks after winning the Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware primaries (Sanders won Rhode Island), shifted into general-election mode. “I applaud Sen. Sanders and his supporters,” she said. Then she turned to some developing themes for the general election, including one in which she managed to smuggle in a lower-case reference to the name of her likely November opponent, saying she envisions an America “where love trumps hate.” 

Without any wordplay, she also tried to create a contrast with Donald Trump by saying she wants to lead “an America where we lift each other up instead of tearing each other down.”

Trump spoke last and bragged the most, about how great he had done in the five-for-five sweep, about how he would beat Clinton in the fall — “so easily.”

Twice, he urged Sanders to run as an independent. Clever fox, let’s see if Bernie can figure out why you want him to do that.

When asked about previous remarks that Clinton has succeeded by “playing the woman card,” Trump replied: “If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get even five percent of the vote. The only things she’s going is the woman’s card. The beautiful thing is, women don’t like her. OK?” I’ll leave you to think that through on your own, because I gotta get to Van Jones.

But to get to that, you first have to understand how big Trump’s wins were. The days are over when Trump-phenomenon deniers can say that Trump is succeeding with “a minority of a minority” because he was winning primaries with 30 or so percent of the vote in the crowded Republican field of the early states. That was true, but as the field narrowed, Trump’s support grew. Tuesday night, with the field down to three, Trump broke 55 percent of the primary vote in all five contests, and broke 60 percent in two of them.

Heading into Tuesday night, the punditocracy was still in partial denial of the growing likelihood that Trump would actually win the nomination. The main idea, as you well know, was that he would fall short on the first ballot (when most of his delegates are required to vote for him but after which they are not) and then the Republican establishment would dispense with him by getting them to switch on the second ballot to someone they can stand, or, in the case of Ted Cruz, despise a little less.

But Tuesday night was a big blow to that “cunning plan.” After Tuesday, the smartest odds makers announced that Trump had won enough delegates to either be on track for a first-ballot clinch, or so close to that number that the party could not deprive him of the nomination without insulting and alienating most of their primary electorate.

Acknowledging Trump

Which led, even on the liberal CNN, where Van Jones opines, to the need to acknowledge that, yes, Donald Trump could very likely be the nominee. Jones, who was on the panel where that acknowledgement was made, expostulated thus:

“I refuse to adapt to the absurdity of what’s going on. I just refuse to adapt to it…

“This is absurd. There is something definitely wrong here. We are in real danger where we start lowering our standards of what matters…”

Other members of the panel sought clarification of exactly what it meant to refuse to adapt to it. I would describe his reply as less than concrete on this point. It included a description of how much more qualified John Kasich was to be president, but that Kasich had won “only one state, and, and… pancakes.”

Other members of the panel sought to counsel Jones to acknowledge that the now-undeniable level of support for Trump within the Republican electorate was clear evidence that, that… that it was happening whether he was willing to adapt to it or not. He reasoned back, thus:

Something’s happening out there. It’s real and you can’t deny it and you can’t ignore it. But you should be able to govern. [Presumably he meant that somehow there had to be some minimum standard of governing ability before someone could just become president.] You should be able to speak respectfully. You should be able to pass the standard of a third-grade class before you’re on your way to being president of the United States.

(Real Clear Politics has put up video of Jones’ moment.)

Co-panelist David Axelrod, also a Democrat and an Obama guy, tried finally to comfort Jones by explaining that, rather than wanting someone that can govern, Trump supporters want “a guy who’s gonna punch the system in the nose.”

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Comments (24)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/27/2016 - 10:34 am.

    Obviously, Van Jones is scared

    If credentials and accomplishments are so important to him, where was that speech when the unaccomplished, inexperienced Barack Obama was running in 2008?

    The sad truth is, Obama’s winning of the presidency dramatically lowered the bar for our expectations of all future candidates, which opened the doors for people with similarly thin government resumes.

    Does Jones really think Donald Trump, the successful international real estate developer and employer of blue collar America is somehow less accomplished than anyone else running for president?

    Van Jones is scared because a poll taken by the AFL/CIO showed that the support of their members for Trump exceeds the support for Clinton and Sanders combined.

    “… (in) working-class Americans living in households earning less than $75,000 … Trump was in fact the favored candidate. Of the 800 voters who had decided on a candidate at the time of the interview, about 300 favored Trump. Combined, the two Democratic candidates appealed to fewer workers – 174 chose Clinton and 95 chose Sanders.”

    Donald Trump has twice the support of working Americans than does Hillary Clinton, the champion of the leisure classes. Both of them.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 04/27/2016 - 11:47 am.

      Obama’s Thin Resume

      That Lincoln guy never should have been elected either, he’s the one that originally lowered the bar.

    • Submitted by Bob Shepard on 04/27/2016 - 12:32 pm.

      link to the poll?

      pretty thin universe sampled, no? and a strong conclusion made for such a small sample, in my view.

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/27/2016 - 12:47 pm.

        Working America

        “For five weeks, from December 18, 2015, to January 22, 2016, Working America canvassers reached out to 1,689 likely voters with household incomes of $75,000 or less in working-class neighborhoods outside Cleveland and Pittsburgh in what we call our “front porch focus group” – conducted in person at their front doors.

        Of those we canvassed, 90% voted in 2012. Our goal was to learn what issues and candidates were highest on these voters’ minds, to better understand the role of right-wing rhetoric, and to explore ways to turn their anger and frustration toward more progressive economic solutions.”

        http://workingamerica.org/frontporchfocusgroup

        Working America is the political organizing arm of the AFL-CIO

    • Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 04/27/2016 - 11:14 pm.

      I thought ….

      A couple of months ago you wanted a “real” conservative and now Trump is your guy? Talk about cognitive dissonance.

  2. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/27/2016 - 12:15 pm.

    the military

    Donald Trump is by far the most dovish major candidate for president we have seen since WW II. What I wonder is why we need to pay for the best military in the world if we have made a decision never to use it? Or I guess, use it on a purely mercenary basis.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/27/2016 - 12:41 pm.

      Peace through strength

      “It will be so powerful and so great that we will never have to use it, nobody’s going to mess with us.” – Donald Trump

      Even at a time when the lion lies down with the lamb, I want to be the lion.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/27/2016 - 04:44 pm.

        Seriously?

        Mr. Tester, I would have guessed you would have been the last person to defend Donald Trump’s national security ideas.

        This is the man who was a multi-sport athlete in college and high school, but who got a medical deferment so he didn’t have to be drafted.

        What am I saying, going to a military school was the same as being in the Army, right?

  3. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/27/2016 - 12:18 pm.

    If credentials and accomplishments are so important to him, where was that speech when the unaccomplished, inexperienced Barack Obama was running in 2008?

    People say what they say. Credential and accomplishments matter but other things do too. The Republicans had come close to wrecking the economy back in 2008. Letting them finish the job by electing Sen. McCain was unthinkable. And in 2012, Obama was the better credentialed candidate running against a one term long ago governor of Massachusetts. Republicans now are nominating a candidate with no credentials and no accomplishments at all.

  4. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 04/27/2016 - 03:43 pm.

    I fear Hilary Clinton in the Presidency far more than Trump.

    But neither will get my vote.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 04/27/2016 - 06:01 pm.

      Then you are misguided

      In the race between status quo and apocalypse, status quo wins every time. The problem with the”burn it down to save it” theory is that most times there’s nothing left to save. I dislike Hillary just as much as any other Bernie backer, but I’m not suicidal.

      • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 04/27/2016 - 07:25 pm.

        The real misguidance here is that the 2 party system

        …must be obeyed, no matter the scale of its failures.

        The 2 party system is offering us the best choice they can think of – two of our most despised candidates vying for our highest office.

        The Repulsive or The Loathsome – take your pick – it’s your choice, voters !!

        At least the young are not buying this garbage, not so far anyway. If they can uphold an attention span for 4 or 8 years, there is a chance for significant change in the longer term as their numbers and influence grow.

        In the meantime, it makes sense to reject this nonsense with our votes (not to you, I realize, as you have bought the 2 party duopoly’s algorithm to maintain the status quo).

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/28/2016 - 09:16 am.

          “The scale of its failures.”

          President Trump would be an immense failure. Do you want to see whom he appoints to the Supreme Court, or as Secretary of Homeland Security? As the saying goes, elections have consequences. The consequences of a President Trump frighten me more than the consequences of a second President Clinton.

          A third party, or a new second party, isn’t going to come from a presidential election. It will be built from the ground up, in city councils and state legislatures.

          • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/28/2016 - 05:03 pm.

            At least in the legislature.

            City elections (at least in smaller cities like Mankato tend to be pretty apolitical.
            The state legislature is another matter, and that’s where the Republican strength lies.
            So the near term looks like Republicans continuing to control state houses and governors, while the Democrats control the White House.
            Congress will be an important swing, depending upon how strong the Presidential candidates are (watch the Republicans running from Trump).
            So if there is a third party, it will rise from the ashes of a self immolating Republican Party partying like there’s no tomorrow.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/28/2016 - 03:04 pm.

          The BernieBoys

          are doing what (some of) the young did in the ’60’s, and like them they’ll find out that there IS a difference.
          Sitting it out is half a vote for the candidate you least like.

          • Submitted by Matt Haas on 04/28/2016 - 06:14 pm.

            Not all of us

            As I’ve stated previously, I’ll support Bernie until he says he’s done, but I’m not suicidal. Despite the condescension from others within my party, at the end of the day I am a Democrat, and a liberal, and would rather self immolate, than vote for a psychotic like Trump. This doesn’t mean I agree with Clinton’s positions, nor that I like her as a candidate, but as I stated earlier, status quo, bad as it may be, trumps apocalypse any day.

    • Submitted by Richard Schulze on 04/28/2016 - 06:45 am.

      You don’t make things better by making them worse.

      Letting the Republicans destroy Obamacare and control the Supreme Court for the next forty years would be crippling blows to everything that Sanders is fighting for.

  5. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/27/2016 - 04:07 pm.

    Every poll so far of Clinton vs Trump show Clinton winning.

    Look for unprecedented and non-stop mud-slinging from Trump by affiliated and unaffiliated groups.

  6. Submitted by Roy Everson on 04/27/2016 - 04:07 pm.

    National embarrassment

    As a demagogue appealing to nativist, racist and religious bigotry, not to mention misogyny,Trump will find himself more and more defined as being outside the American democratic value system. Thousands of Republicans already have noticed and will not vote for him. It’s just a matter of time when even those conservatives who contribute to this blog will see it.

    It’s really sad that decades after the turbulent civil rights movement there are so many among us willing to tolerate such evil politics.

  7. Submitted by Ray J Wallin on 04/27/2016 - 07:13 pm.

    Chaos Theory

    This election cycle reminds me of chaos theory, which says the more you try to confine a system, the larger the ‘punch in the nose’ the system will receive when the system self-corrects.

    Congress is broken. Everyone knows it. With senators and representatives serving more terms while spending their time courting donors instead of doing their jobs, the goal has changed from solving problems to holding on tight to what you have. The system has become confined.

    There needs to be a correction. If Trump is elected, maybe it will be the punch in the nose the system needs. If Hillary is elected, Bernie and Trump will still carry their weight into the coming years. Either way, the fallout will be interesting.

  8. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 04/27/2016 - 10:26 pm.

    Nothing makes any sense in the GOP’s parallel world

    Trump announces his foreign policy which was primarily GOP Pablum. The establishment Republicans have done what they can to try and dethrone Trump. They have been unsuccessful. Now they have to pivot to convince voters Trump is a good GOP candidate worthy of their vote. Many of the Republican establishment have said they won’t be going to the GOP convention. I guess they don’t want any of the Trump stink to be associated with them. Fiorina has already been told by the voters she is not the one and yet Cruz announces she will be his VP candidate before he himself has the nomination. Nothing makes any sense in the GOP’s parallel world.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 04/28/2016 - 08:11 am.

      Yes

      It does seem Cruz has confirmed his irrelevance by putting out Fiorina as cable fodder.
      I’m a bit surprised many comments here continue to pick on the GOP, given its current irrelevance, as well. Most seem to agree that Trump does not represent the party, so: “Where’s the Beef?”

      The RNC certainly appears to be meaningless to most everyone. Where will ReiNCe go?

      [and, today we hear that Bernie Sanders has finally let go by letting go of many staffers. That signals no money on his horizon to maintain his campaign.]

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/28/2016 - 02:18 pm.

        Cruz

        is taking a last crack at the brass ring by saying that he could attract the female voters that Trump is determined to repel.
        Probably won’t be enough, but it’s all he’s got.

  9. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 04/28/2016 - 05:02 pm.

    It’s kind of amazing to see here that nobody wants to discuss what really was bothering that CNN guy who couldn’t find a way to “adapt” himself to the horrible prospect of Donald Trump as GOP presidential candidate with a shot at the office of President. It isn’t Trump’s almost total lack of qualifications for the job, in terms of resume (everybody kind of agrees that Trump is not qualified in those terms). It’s the man himself who appalls:

    The hateful man, the intemperate man, the misogynist and bigot, the man who says one outrageous thing after another and then tries to walk it all back when people almost faint in horror and disbelief, so he says both contradictory things at once and gets away with it. The name-calling playground bully, the labeler who thinks he’s so funny assigning ugly tags to all and sundry, the man who is cheapening and demeaning our democratic system with his cynical behavior toward the public.

    That’s what the CNN guy can’t adapt to. And the fact that the American public is so ignorant and blindly angry at something that they buy this faker’s Barnum and Bailey show. Resumes don’t even enter into this, but our group here is taking refuge in resume discussion because . . . we can’t adapt any better to this man’s self.

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