She Is Bad At This

iamsobadatthis

Hillary Clinton Struggles to Find Footing in Unusual Race

For now, her aides appear to be throwing ideas against a wall to see what sticks, including trying out different monikers after the Democratic National Committee’s “Dangerous Donald” flopped. An internal favorite is “Poor Donald,” with its implication that Mr. Trump, famously defensive about his net worth, is not nearly as wealthy as he lets on.

Let us count the ways that this is stupid:

1. It’s not catchy at all. It has no rhythm. Even if this were the appropriate avenue of attack, there are better options: Deadbeat Donald, Default Donald.

2. It could have an achingly condescending tone. I’m not against condescension if it riles Trump up and can be pulled off, but I’m not seeing it here. It plays as much into her weakness as his. Oh, Donald, poor dear.

3.

4. As Vikram pointed out, this leads to a discussion over whether Trump is worth $x-billion or $y-billion, which is not necessarily a conversation that Trump minds having.

I understand that these things are often trial balloons, but the fact that this made it as far as it did and became any sort of “internal favorite” suggests that we are doomed. And that Hillary Clinton is bad at this, and/or hires people who are bad at this.

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91 thoughts on “She Is Bad At This

  1. This seems like pretty standard Democrat 4th-quarter choke material to me. Despite their sanity, their weakness disgusts me.

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      • Smug worked fine last time. Romney’s smugness may not have cost him the election, but it damn sure helped!

        No, Hillary’s problem this time is that she scares the pants off people who would have voted for her in December.

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  2. I don’t get it. It seems like all she has to do is have distant surrogates make cracks at Trump’s expense to the press. Trump will respond disproportionately as he always does. Continue until the election and let Trump make a bunch of his coverage about what an unclassy blowhard he is while she stays far *far* away from the whole thing and looks like a professional. Why are she and her aides coming up with low-class insults for her and people obviously connected to her to sling? Does she really think that she can out-Trump Trump?

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      • If they’re gonna delegate this vital task to Others later why are they bothering with schoolyard taunts now?

        Apparently either she or her team think this is an Important Issue. Which just shows how bad she really is at retail politics: she’s so bad she doesn’t even know how bad she is.

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        • This seems like test balloons. They haven’t really gone full bore. Not even really close to that yet.

          This is well trodden ground but….i don’t think she is bad at this. I dont’ think she is great at it either. She is okay at it. The controlling narrative is that she is terrible so everything she does must be bad. There has been plenty of stuff where she is clearly aimed at solidifying her base where people freak about how it isn’t going to win over Trumpets.

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          • This seems like test balloons.

            Which is more evidence that she’s bad at this, seems to me. Which is why, as DFrog mentioned, it’s just silly (more than silly!), to try to beat Trump at his own game. She’s bad at it; he’s good at it.

            Plus, if people in her campaign think that she’s gonna sway voters by being better at name-calling than Trump they’re not only wasting resources, they’re actually harming her chances.

            Seems to me. :)

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            • We can get eleven dimensional about this: you can focus group your sensible ideas, the trial balloons are for the really out there stuff. Pick a really awful nickname and put it out there, if people bite then you know the risk is low with your actual choice and you’ve lowered the expectations.

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              • Except that the background microphones pick up all that noise and only acts to confirm the idea that her campaign is neither spontaneous, authentic, or principled but instead that it’s “focus group tested”. Which is already viewed as Hillary’s MO. She’s not gonna get any new voters by presenting a “product tested” rollout, in my opinion. The campaign’s too long for that. Hell, she barely hung on against Bernie!

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                • No she isn’t spontaneous, almost no campaign is. His Trumpness is spontaneous. Who cares if she is spontaneous?

                  Authentic??? Is this the “have a beer with her” kind of authentic? In which case it is already official that she is the least authentic person ever.

                  Principled. Well there we go again.

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                  • greg, she’s terrible at retail politics. She can’t be viewed as terrible if she’s not worse than anyone else, yeah?

                    So, I get that you’re trying to prop her up. But let’s be real here. She’s terrible at retail politics.

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                    • I’m not trying to prop her up. I don’t think she is terrible or great. She is okay. She is average, neither overly talented or incompetent. She isn’t a natural pol, which isnt’ exactly a bad mark in my book.

                      FWIW. She had a line a few days ago about re: Trump about “not needing a bully in the pulpit.” Cute but empty. Trump needs to be mocked not have his strength ( bullyish though it may be) pointed out.

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                      • greg,
                        that line would play better if she wasn’t so skilled at being a bully herself.

                        She’s no Romney, that’s for sure, he was Grade F.

                        Thing is, being Grade C gives her a 1 in 3 shot of beating Trump this time round. (And this from my friend in politics — who works for Clinton)

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                  • greg,
                    Hillary Clinton’s tells are myriad and obvious. Do you like the one where when called on a lie, she merely cackles and lies more?

                    No, people don’t care about “authenticity” (if they did they wouldn’t like the closet racist), and no they don’t care about spontaneous.

                    But a liar starts raising red flags from the get go.

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                • I agree that this is dumb, but is she realistically going to lose any voters with a focus-grouped trial balloon in May? I suspect that vanishingly few voters who haven’t made up their minds already will remember this in November.

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                  • My question is will she gain any voters. I don’t think she will. Especially when it comes to name-calling. Over the course of the Dem primary she didn’t gain any voters, right? So she’s doing something wrong…

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                    • We have the following snaps about Donald Trump’s mother. Please let us know which ones you think are funniest.

                      A) Donald Trump’s Mother is so fat that when she talks to herself, it’s long distance.
                      B) Donald Trump’s Mother is so fat that she left the house wearing high heels and came back wearing flip flops.
                      C) Donald Trump’s Mother is orbited by other, smaller, fat mothers.

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  3. It’s actually worse than all of that, which y’all ar probably too young to remember.

    In the 1992 Dem Conference, “Poor George” was the line everyone giving a speech used to go after then-President George H W Bush. If I recall correctly, Anne Richards in particular used the phrase, like, a million times in her primetime speech.

    So “Poor Donald” isn’t even a new weak idea. It’s a weak idea that the Clinton camp is taking from their first victory a quarter of a century ago and saying, “this worked for us then, so no need to strategize any further.”

    What’s so mind boggling about this is that we’re not really talking 3-D chess here. Trump is astoundingly easy to rattle. Here’s a great example of how a writer from Modern Family got trump to seemingly drop everything he was doing one day to yell at the intertubes. If Cruz had won, you’d have to have some kind of centralized strategy to slowly chip away at him over time, because say what you will about the guy, Cruz is sharp and very, very disciplined. But Trump? Clinton’s people should just let random people outside the campaign know to annoy him on Twitter, and then not address the situation at all — Trump will take it from there.

    She really is terrible at this.

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    • I hate to say this (not because I don’t think it’s true but because of all the BAGGAGE it entails…), but ….

      If Obama (with Axelrod, etc.) were running against Trump, the play would be the long game, just as you’re saying: needle him from time to time, but assume that other people are gonna pick up the direct-attack ball with enough verve that Trump – with the help of some needling from time to time – snaps and goes all self-destructive McCain Suspend the Campaign mode.

      Obama was a great campaigner who understood how to work the margins into his opponents noose. Hillary’s people have always been focused on Blunt Force Trauma. But because they’re so inept they can’t even get that right.

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    • I’m not actually sure that it’s connected or that the connection is relevant or that the discussion matters or anything at all except, if you’re right, which you were kind of once I seem to recall about something… okay, so if you’re right again, Mr. Always-Right, then it’s even worse than you recall, so you’re wrong, but even more right, since “Poor George” was the signature line not of the 1992 winning Dem campaign but of the 1988 losing Dem campaign or to be more precise of the 1988 Dem Convention, after Ann Richards’ famous “Poor George, he was born with a silver foot in his mouth” keynote.

      OTOH, the Dems did come out of that convention with a big polling lead, IIRC, with his famous tank ride and his robotic reply to the question about raping and killing his wife still to come… so… no one really knows what counts how much for what in the end… Maybe without “Poor George” etc., Dukakis would have lost Massachusetts, too. Or maybe without it he would have won 11 states instead of 10. No one can say.

      As for the current campaign, it’d be fine with me if HRC simply ignored DJT’s existence from now to the end of time, other than to declare him beneath contempt, his candidacy an insult to the American People, the Constitution, and the world, and his ascension to the presidency unimaginable – considering the immense responsibilities of the office, undertaken on behalf of the entire world, and the potential of the president to do irrevocable harm.

      In other words, her nickname for him should be ” .” She and her campaign and her party and sane people in general should work on a rational, positive, realistic agenda, and let others deal with Dirty Don or whatever people who have too much time and the dubious interest come up with.

      I’m not sure it would affect the vote much if she followed my preferences, but, of course, “we” won’t let her do that.

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  4. The point of any given effort in politics is to accomplish one of three things.

    1) Get Your People Fired Up.
    You want your people to say “Hells, yeah! I’m voting for my preferred candidate! I can’t wait!”

    2) Get Your Opponent’s People Depressed.
    Sure, most of the people inclined to vote for your opponent are never, ever, going to vote for you. That’s not a problem is you can get them to not vote for your opponent. Make them stay home. Make them say “I don’t care who wins.” Make them say “Both parties suck.” Make them *NOT* vote for their guy.

    3) Get people on the fence to say “hey, you know what? I spent all that time thinking about the World Series and now that it’s over, I can think about the election. Who is running again? Hey. I think I’ll vote for the candidate the people in example #1 are singing the praises of because the people in example #2 are such downers.”

    Which of these three is “Poor Donald” doing?

    If the answer is “well… not really any of them…”, then this is effort that should be abandoned in service of something that successfully accomplishes either #1, #2, or #3.

    Period.

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    • Oy. Mocking donnie does fire up her base. People who hate His Trumpness are gonna love even the simplest knock at him. She has had quite a few other comments recently, about planned parenthood comes to mind, that are all about firing up the base.

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          • I’m sure that everyone who is seeing Hillary and thinking “she’s messing up!” is just a worrywart. They need to understand that Hillary is average at this. Not bad. Plus, she’s totally firing up her side.

            For the record, you can probably dismiss any criticism I have of her as “concern trolling” because I vote third party anyway.

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              • Well, whatever you do, don’t think “what does it mean to be average when you’re at that particular level?”

                Or think “Is her opponent average at this too?”

                Because those questions are *TROLL* questions.
                Which means that the answers are *TROLL* answers.

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                • She is popular in her party, a national party. She has a loyal following that has been around for a couple decades. She only lost in 08 to lightening in a bottle. If it wasn’t for Obama, she would have been prez in 08 since the USS McCain was doomed.

                  Paul was always over inflated and surfing off his dad’s popularity.

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                  • I almost said above that HRC is the Mitt Romney of this cycle, except that she’s likely to become president because she’s not running against Obama (this time).

                    Huntsman did okay, given the hand he was dealt. About average.

                    Perry is kind of a complicated cases. But given that he’s the one guy that in 2012 had a clear path to the nomination and blew it, I’d probably put him towards the bottom. I cut him a bit of slack in that he was winging it with comparatively little preparation, and the back-pain med thing.

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                    • I’m still in “HOLY GUACAMOLE WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING” mode so I am not sure who is going to win…

                      I mean, when I first heard that Trump agreed to debate Bernie, I thought “holy crapola, he’s not going to win with Reagan vs. Carter numbers, he’s going to win with Reagan vs. Mondale numbers” but then he said “eh… I’m not willing to debate Bernie” and I switched back to “maybe *THIS* will destroy his campaign” mode.

                      So, with that in mind, I’m still asking “exactly how *FAR* are we kicking this particular can down this particular road” when it comes to the things that are eventually going to come home to roost.

                      That said, I had hoped that the 3rd Party Kinda People would have taken this opportunity to say something like “Socially Agnostic, Governmentally Atheistic, vote for us and we’ll be the party that you’ll have been thrilled to have been part of dragging to 6%” instead of saying “Let’s talk about the Civil Rights Act!”

                      Though I will say that there’s no better time to have debated whether we should have entered WWII than when the debate over Hiroshima and Nagasaki is going on. So they had *THAT* going on for them.

                      Just not the whole “let’s get naked!” thing. That was excessive.

                      Even for me.

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                      • Reason shown its usual blinders:

                        Whoever wrote the questions did the Party, in my judgment, a great disservice. A C-SPAN audience did not need to see the five candidates pondering out loud whether drivers licences are legitimate. (Among other challenging questions that could serve no other purpose but to embarrass the Party and its candidates in the eyes of any random cable viewer were such pressing, burning 2016 presidential campaign questions so often thrown at Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump as: would you have fought World War I? II? Apologized for bombing Hiroshima? Voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act? Do you think drivers need to be licensed? Should it be a crime to sell heroin to 5-year-olds? I’m enough of a movement veteran that these things just flowed by me at the time, but in retrospect they seem the worst sort of hectoring irrelevances designed to make the Party’s candidates seem like eccentric loons.)

                        It isn’t the questions that make the candidates look like lunatics: it’s the answers. “No, yes, no, yes, yes, yes”, and no harm done.

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                            • The entire purpose of the convention, and the debate therein, is to field the strongest candidate and present the party is as positive a light as possible. This did not do that. It put its own candidates in a no-win situation. Which is why this should not have been done in the manner in which it was, and why the manner in which it was done was a disservice to the party.

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                              • “The entire purpose of the convention, and the debate therein, is to field the strongest candidate and present the party is as positive a light as possible. This did not do that. It put its own candidates in a no-win situation. Which is why this should not have been done in the manner in which it was, and why the manner in which it was done was a disservice to the party.”

                                I think this gets at the nub of it.

                                People’s first hesitation about 3rd parties, the one they have before they really look at the parties closely, is usually “But they can’t win.” And that’s a tough obstacle to overcome.

                                But it’s the second hesitation, the one after the 3rd party is examined — “Wait, these guys aren’t actually treating any of this seriously ” –that’s the real killer.

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                                • Well, at the end of the day, they nominated a team with four terms of gubernatorial experience and all of the compromise that entails. It is as likely as not that neither of the other two tickets will have a total of 16 years of elected service.

                                  There was also a lot of talk among the conventioneers about how excited they were to finally get their time in the sun. That they were finally a Big Deal.

                                  The problem is basically the other half of the party, who are mostly there to… uhhhh… party. So in that sense, asking the questions and booing was totally cool!

                                  The party leaders, though, need to keep their eye on the ball.

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                                • I don’t think that’s correct – or anyway it’s ambiguously phrased, in a way that reflects a common difficulty in partisan politics. “Strongest” candidate might be taken to mean “candidate most likely to get votes,” or it might mean “candidate most likely to advance the authentic libertarian cause.” Some people might believe that “getting the most votes” would satisfy “advance the cause,” but it wouldn’t if the best way for a libertarian to get votes is to deny libertarianism, while what it means to advance or deny libertarianism is something that partisans may also disagree about in any number of ways: For some the amount and type of emphasis to put on relative electoral success vs other aims may become the most important issue of all.

                                  The problem is usually more obvious for fringe parties or highly committed factions in larger parties, but this year we’ve seen the disagreement over which matters most – “principles” or “democracy” (in multiple dimensions) – underlying central conflicts within the major parties.

                                  On some level, the general election itself will address an underlying “crisis of self-definition.” It always does. When things seem in some sense to be falling apart, rules and precedents no longer apply, predictability dies, and so on, the crisis becomes more readily discernible as such.

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                                    • Well, to be libertarian devil’s advocate: Either the non-existence of “a law against,” or the affirmation of “a right to,” does not imply the proliferation of “acts of.” But surely you’ve heard the argument already, so I won’t belabor the point except to say that for a true-believing libertarian, conceding the rationality of this type of objection might amount to conceding the whole libertarian enchilada.

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                                      • Sure, but accentuating the most extreme and potentially (to outsiders) odious example is not good salesmanship. Not just on getting people to vote for you, but getting people to listen to your ideas. In other words, it’s the exact sort of thing you don’t bring up at what ought to be a sales platform.

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                                        • Political principle just can’t survive first contact with reality. I take that as a fundamental (empirical!) truth of the world we all live in. If libertarians want to play the game of First Principles vs. the civil rights act and so on, then that’s on them. But reality is a complicated place, one where the vectors of principle lead to all sorts of ugly places, some completely inconsistent with reality, and perhaps more importantly (on an explanatory level, anyway) individual self-interest. So intentions matter. Or rather, they matter insofar as we attribute intelligence to a particular ideology’s advocate. If we take intelligence outa the equation, then we’re back to political power growing from the end of a gun, even if the supposed intention behind the power is to promote “freedom”. So the rejection of the Civil Rights Act, taken in toto, strikes me as indicating a lack of intelligence on the part of the advocate. Or alternatively suspect intentions.

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                                        • And to someone like me, who self-identifies as libertarian, it signals that US libertarians arent the sort of people i woukd wabt to associate with. Of all government interventions to focus on, to choose one which, for all its imperfections, tackles a real problem that could not be addressed without coercion, signals to me that US libertarians are all about freedom for a particular colour of person only.

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                                  • No, it’s different.

                                    Look, any party can accidentally run this guy. But even if they do, serious ones immediately try to correct the mistake, like the GOP is trying to do with the guy in the link. (And Trump, for that matter.)

                                    You run Bruce Majors for multiple offices over multiple elections, either because you like him or because he’s a warm body and any warm body will do, no matter how Bruce Majors-y the guy is? You have a debate on live television where your base gets drunk and boos candidates saying five year old shouldn’t be allowed to buy heroine, because “hey, s**ts and giggles?”

                                    Then that party is not taking itself seriously. At all. Why should I feel obligated to take that party seriously, if the party itself won’t?

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                                    • But even if they do, serious ones immediately try to correct the mistake, like the GOP is trying to do with the guy in the link. (And Trump, for that matter.)

                                      That assumes the GOP is actually a party worth taking seriously. I mean, institutional power being what it is, the GOP establishment can (try to) marginalize Trumpetarianism as emblematic of or at least a dominant part of Conservatism, but they’ve failed in that attempt. But GOPism (seems to me!) at the national level isn’t a party worth taking seriously in any event.

                                      Except for the institutional power they hold. :)

                                      If libertarians held more – or any! – institutional power, seems to me excluding the Nudistas would be easier than the GOP excluding the Trumpentariat.

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                                    • You aren’t under any obligation at all, RTod! Never implied you were. Indeed, my presumption that you could be under any such obligation might, for certain libertarians, be a very un-libertarian way of viewing politics!

                                      Other realities having intruded, I never went to part 2 of my little-read projected series on why this is in fact a core problem for libertarianism and by extension for all American political parties, roughly in proportion to their commitment to the older (but not oldest!) liberalism rather than the newer (post-WW2) social- or state-liberal one. I imagine that the guy who did the striptease at this typically unconventional convention sees the Libertarian Party more as a vehicle to express defiance of common political presumptions – presumptions about what’s “serious” – than to re-produce them. We can feel chagrined that it leads to missing the moment or what we might hope was a moment, but he’s not interested, I suspect, or, to the extent he sees this moment as a moment, he probably sees it as a moment to let you know exactly what he thinks about conventional politics.

                                      Anyway, as I’ve been assuming was his main point, you can’t accuse him of having a hidden agenda. The larger point, that somehow remains easy to miss even and now especially for many of those previously dedicated to advancing it, is that for libertarians and fellow travelers, following a longstanding and “foundational” American tradition, the political system or the political administrative state (and its conventions, predispositions, etc.) should be de-emphasized and reduced in importance. Producing stink-bomb candidates is a very rational way of seeking or affirming this end. The methodology is hardly restricted to libertarians and self-styled conservatives. It’s typically embraced on the other end of the conventional political spectrum as well, against the existing state and its quo, but in favor of leftist statism.

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                                      • The problem here is set apart from leftist statism. In left statism there isn’t a question of social constructs size, shape or authority within. They are inherently accepted to exist, the only ‘against’ is bound within who controls the constructs, and to this the left chooses ‘social’.

                                        The problem with the Libertarian factions is there are varying degrees of belief on how much ‘social’ construct should actually exist, and within, how much authority should be manifested. The liberal democrats already have constructs to size and authority invested, that their discussions are fine tuned.

                                        The conservatives are a mess as most of their social constructs were brought over from social constructs of the left and retooled to fit their purpose. Really in the right if it is based around individual constructs, there should be few social constructs. This doesn’t work for administering power, because that requires social constructs of collectives, so there they collect, and centralize authority (and punitive recourse).

                                        Libertarians span from moderate authoritarian to anti-authoritarian. You would rarely find ideas of social constructs that are homogeneous. The moderate libertarians will align many ideas, among themselves, and try to align with factions outside their group to further ‘moderate’ their positions, but the rest have their own ideas on what constructs are useful and what level of authority is useful.

                                        At any given time a significant portion of the libertarian group will be trying to subtract authority and social constructs that are currently seen as ‘norms’ so they of course will look considerably different than the two parties trying to escalate the constructs and authority to their preferences.

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                                • “Wait, these guys aren’t actually treating any of this seriously ” –that’s the real killer.

                                  Isn’t this exactly how the GOP – and others… – view Trumpeters?

                                  Add: Trumpetismo? Trumpetarianism?

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                                  • The difference between candidates discussing the size of their genitalia at a debate and a man performing a striptease instead of delivering a speech certainly seems to be more a matter of degree than kind.

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                          • That would mean the problem wasn’t the questions — the problem was the party, or more specifically the party’s platform/beliefs.

                            Which makes sense, given any really popular ideas with large support would generally get snapped up by one of the two major parties (the poor, sad, fate of most third parties). What you’re left with is popular but politically untenable, fringe, or unpopular ideas.

                            I mean there’s upsides — pot is slowly legalizing, and goodness knows Libertarians have been pretty on the front of that issue. (OTOH, I think they have a fairly wide-spread legalization platform that goes WAY past the public’s acceptance zone. Pot was fighting more historical inertia than anything else. That was the easy sell. The milder party drugs like E, probably doable. But the harder stuff? Heroin, cocaine, etc? That’s….that’s going to make pot look like it was a no-brainer that everyone signed onto as soon as someone said “Hey, why is this illegal when beer isn’t?”)

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  5. For the record, I think that every single democrat will keep his or her clothes on at the convention.

    So, in that at least, the Democrats are doing better than the Libertarians.

    Which, of course, means that she shouldn’t be criticized about anything at all, ever.

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  6. Seems ridiculously preliminary to me; a whole lot of squawking about nothing.

    Trump isn’t even the formal nominee yet so if one had any great material one sure as hell wouldn’t deploy it now. I wouldn’t dare, after this primary cycle, to think that anything is definite or that Trump is doomed- you all may be right in your denunciations of Hillary’s et all’s competence but I think it’s awfully early to tell. I would note that there’s enormous incentive for the various media avenues to amp the volume up on the drama on this. There’s also a certain degree of incentive for the conservative contingents Trump just got done outmaneuvering to push the narrative that their opponents suck at fighting Trump as well.

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    • North,
      When one third of Hillary’s staffers want to quit because they think she’s going to lose (1 in 3 odds of her winning against trump)… Well I’d say its not awfully early to tell.

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      • No doubt the gnomes on her staff told you that. You shouldn’t listen to the Illuminati Kimmie, they just tell you what you want to hear.

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        • Who said I know the Illuminati? I don’t.
          I do know a person who finds it amusing to issue orders from within a black hood and some voice changing equipment (and not actually being present for the Very Important Meeting).
          But only the Freemasons put up with that sort of bullshit.

          Kim would like to remind everyone that not believing in Kim is probably both wise and essential to hearing more entertaining stories.

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