Thursday, May 26, 2016

No-Lose And No-Win

In one of the many metaphors for the Donald Trump campaign, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee exceeded even his own expectations when discussing the concept of armed teachers in classrooms. He regularly changes his mind on issues but it was particularly impressive when on May 22 he told a GOP News audience "I don't want to have guns in classrooms, athough in some cases teachers should have guns in classrooms, frankly." As if to assure viewers he really is confused (or deceptive), he added  "I’m not advocating guns in classrooms but remember in some cases — a lot of people made this case — teachers should have guns, trained teachers should have guns in classrooms."

Both reversals took place within one sentence and within seconds. It will take Trump a little longer to reverse himself on a proposal he made talking to Jimmy Kimmel Wednesday evening. "So here's the question from Bernie," Kimmel starts, "He asks 'Hilllary Clinton backed out of an agreement, Hillary Clinton backed out of an agreement (wherein Kimmel imitates the voice of Sanders, as well as you or I would of someone we'd never heard) to debate me in California before the June 7th primary. Are you prepared to debate the major issues facing our largest stae and the country before the California primary? Yes or no.'"

Trump replied "yes, I am- how much is he going to pay me." Kimmel followed up and the candidate stated that he would debate "if he paid a nice sum toward a charity." Slate's Ben Mathis-Lilley comments

it's hard to immediately say who this would help. On the one hand, Sanders would likely be ruthless in criticizing Trump's business activities and worldview, reducing the chances that Sanders-leaning independents would move to Trump in the general; on the other hand, an effective performance might help him win California, which would be another party-unification-delaying pain in the neck for Hillary.

Yes- it would help either help (probable) nominee Hillary Clinton in the general election or Sanders himself win in California and maybe, just maybe, snatch the nomination.

It's a  win-win for Sanders, who at age 74/75 would not want his legacy to be that he did not do what he could to barricade Donald Trump from the Oval Office. But it takes two to tango (as it was first worded in 1952 and popularized by President Reagan)  and it's hard to imagine how it could possibly help the all-but-certain GOP nominee.

Trump could win the debate, in which his case he would have bested the guy who is not even going to be a nominee (especially if he gets shown up by Trump).     Alternatively, Trump could lose the debate, even get exposed for the kind of guy he is.   Trump never has gone one-on-one with anyone, a confrontation yearned for by Ted Cruz and prevented by John Kasich. (The first paragraph of John Kasich's autobiography should, but won't, include "the governor who remained in the 2016 Republican presidential race well beyond his de facto elimination and thereby virtually assured the nomination of  Donald Trump.")

Trump has nothing to gain by such a confrontation- and he has quite a bit to lose. He might get shown up by a guy who is an underdog for his party's nomination and who many Republicans view as an old, wild-eyed socialist.  That was part of the reason it took Sanders less than an hour to tweet "Game on. I look forward to debating Donald Trump in California before the June 7 primary."

But that might not have been the only reason.  "If he paid a nice sum toward charity," Trump challenged, and Sanders should accept that challenge.  Opportunities abound. They include relatively little-known charites such as FairTest ("The National Center for Fair and Open Testing). Better-known charities could include The Brady Campaign (To Prevent Gun Violence);; Move To Amend (the Constitution to clarify that money is not speech and corporations are not people); and many others.  Maybe the Vermont Senator should pledge to send a little money to each of several worthy groups.

Imagine the consternation in the Republican Party if its nominee were aiding, however, indirectly, an effort to prevent public school teachers from being undermined; to cut down on gun violence; to promote constructive ways to combat climate change; or to advance reproductive freedom for women.  The "Never Trump" movement is predicated on the notion that Donald Trump is not a true conservative.  The leaders would not be pleased were their Party's candidate to bolster the bottom line of organizations which chip away at corporate control of the government and/or the culture.

By the time this is posted, Trump probably already will have modified his offer or even reversed his position. It's what he does- and otherwise, a mine field awaits.

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