Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Has Donald Trump made a Todd Akin-level mistake?

Donald Trump insists that the judge hearing the class action lawsuit against "Trump University" should be removed from the case because he is "Mexican," later amended to the claim that his "Mexican heritage" makes him incapable of giving Trump a fair trial.  Now, the Speaker of the House has described Trump's comments as "textbook racism."  Mark Kirk, the incumbent Senator from Illinois, has withdrawn his endorsement, although he cites Trump's temperamental unsuitability to hold the nuclear codes.

Remember, also, that nobody has more to lose from a Clinton presidency than Paul Ryan, who will be forced to raise the debt ceiling without concessions, thereby incurring the wrath of the "knuckleheads" (John Boehner's term) who ousted the previous speaker.  That's the guy referring to "textbook racism."

Has Trump made a Todd Akin-level mistake?

Does anybody remember Todd Akin?  I do.  Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) pulled off what I consider to be the greatest strategic maneuver in modern political history.  She faced reelection in 2012, and was written off as a sure-loser given her politics and the dynamics of the state.  So, she decided to intervene in the Republican primary to try to give herself the easiest opponent to beat.  She picked Representative Todd Akin, who is, let's just say, about one neuron short of a synapse.

McCaskill ran ads, in the primary, telling Republican primary voters that they shouldn't support Akin because he is too conservative.  Did I mention that she did this during the Republican primary?  Too conservative...

Akin won the primary, and McCaskill got the opponent she wanted.  Then, Akin opened his mouth, and this came out...



And thus did Claire McCaskill secure her reelection in a contest she had no business winning.  After that point, Akin was toast.

Has Trump entered Todd Akin territory?  Jonathan Bernstein is even suggesting that the Republicans could dump Trump at the convention.  But, it is worth pointing out that nobody has more reputational reason to hope that Trump doesn't get the formal nod than Bernstein.  Bernstein repeatedly insisted that The Party Decides is absolute, proven gospel truth.  In other words, party elites always get their way in presidential nominations.  And Bernstein insisted this long after it was clear that Trump had the nomination locked up.  Will the Republicans dump Trump?  No, but they might run away from him as fast as possible.

Republicans are now in a tough bind.  Trump will continue doing things like asserting that only white judges can hear his cases, plural.  And the rest of the party leadership will continue to be asked to either defend or renounce the things that Trump will say.  The party will have a hard time unifying if Republican leaders are regularly asked to defend Trump's rhetoric.

The question is whether or not they remain more divided than the Democrats.  All other things being equal, the more divided party tends to lose.  That's just a minor factor in presidential elections because most of the time, both parties unify.  Trump makes that really hard for Republicans.

That brings us to Sanders-- a blathering moron and a hypocritical, whiney little cry-Bernie who can't do math and doesn't understand that he lost the race long ago.  (In the past, I have pointed out his indifference to math and economics, accused him of being more Tea Party than Ted Cruz, equated him with the Black Knight from Monty Python & The Holy Grail, and pointed out that his inability to defeat Clinton debunks the central premise of his campaign. If you are reading this blog, you are accustomed to my Sanders-bashing.  I really just don't have a shred of respect for the guy, and never did. Damned goo-goos...).  Anyway, does Sanders go the way of Ted Kennedy in 1980, or Hillary Clinton in 2008?  Ted Kennedy kept sulking after he failed to take the nomination from Carter, and the party probably suffered a bit for it.  Not as much as the girl he murdered in a drunk-driving accident, but Carter did lose.  HRC eventually got on board with Obama, the party unified, and Obama won.

At this point, I don't know.  Sanders is an idiot, and predicting the behavior of idiots is hard for those of us steeped in rational choice theory (microeconomics).  However, we know that Republicans will either have to rally behind someone they keep having to denounce as racist, or let Clinton win.

Buckle up, folks...

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