Saturday, August 17, 2019

Barring Death, It's Trump

Asked by Vanity Fair whether there is a chance President Trump will drop out of the 2016 race, Anthony Scaramucci replies

Yes. He’s gonna drop out of the race because it’s gonna become very clear. Okay, it’ll be March of 2020. He’ll likely drop out by March of 2020. It’s gonna become very clear that it’s impossible for him to win. And is this the kind of guy that’s gonna want to be that humiliated and lose as a sitting president? He’s got the self-worth in terms of his self-esteem of a small pigeon. It’s a very small pigeon. Okay. And so you think this guy’s gonna look at those poll numbers and say—he’s not gonna be able to handle that humiliation. And by the way, he is smart enough to know that that entire Congress hates his guts.

Scaramucci deserves credit for making a bold, unpopular prediction. It also is inaccurate.

It doesn't matter that the entire Congress hates Donald Trump. He hates the members of Congress, too, just as he dislikes, or has contempt for, immigrants, blacks, veterans, evangelicals, and women (unless they spell their name "I-v-a-n-k-a.")

Donald Russia won't drop out because if he does, he's likely to be prosecuted. He almost certainly will if he is succeeded by a Democrat, a likelihood if he doesn't run. A Republican president might pardon him, but can do so only for federal crimes, and would face the near-certainty that his political future would die with its issuance.

He won't drop out because if he loses, he will blame the defeat on a) the Electoral College (whatever the margin of defeat there or in the popular vote); b) "fake news"; c) voter suppression (irony notwithstanding); d) voter "fraud"; e) foreign interference (irony notwithstanding, again); f) Hillary Clinton.   (I know what you're thinking: what would Hillary Clinton have to do with it? Answer: "Clinton."); g) any combination of the preceding.

He won't drop out because it's never "gonna become very clear that it's impossible for him to win." The low-hanging fruit explanation: nearly everyone counted him out in 2016, from announcement of his candidacy till Election Eve, and he still won.  The politically incorrect explanation: if the economy tanks, pundits everywhere will maintain that he cannot win and will be wrong.

Approval of Donald Trump's performance would be enhanced by a strong economy in the fall of 2016. However, his popularity depends less on the state of the economy than would the approval of any other President. He was elected even though the economy- at least by traditional and conventional standards- was fairly strong in November 2016.  His ceiling always low, his cellar remains unusually high.

There were many reasons Donald Russia captured the nation's zeitgeist three years ago.  It was primarily the veneer of authenticity as he expressed the hostility, bitterness,and rage of whites- especially but not exclusively male- toward any one of a number of groups of Americans.  (Look angry, bluster, yell loudly, swear a little for extra points, and you must be sincere.)

We haven't yet hit the bottom of that well of resentment, and might not until and unless voters believe their financial situation is so endangered that they are even more vulnerable than at present to targeting of scapegoats. And there is no one who can fill that need better than Donald J. Trump.

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