Editors' Blog

Lemme Help

If you're surprised that Donald Trump isn't apologizing for mocking a reporter's physical handicap and doesn't seem to be paying any price for it, let me help. Half of rightwing politics is about resentment over perceived demands for apologies. Apologies about race, about fear of Muslims, about not being politically correct, about not liking the losers and the moochers, about Christmas, about being being white. This will hurt Trump about as much as going after Megyn Kelly did. Remember: his biggest applause line at the first GOP debate came for calling Rosie O'Donnell a fat slob.

About half the juice of far-right politics in this country is rooted in refusing to apologize when 'elites' or right thinking people reprove you for not being 'politically correct.'

"It's Alive. It's Alive ..."

Read the editorial and news pages today and you'll find a mix of hand-wringing and demands about an uncouth and outrageous outsider who is threatening to wrest the Republican party from its rightful owners. Liar, racist, clown, fascist, vigilante. There is no shortage of labels for Trump being bandied about in late November. But they're all negative - at least in the mainstream press. He seemed to be losing steam in the face of a surging Ben Carson. But then the country's politics, especially on the right, pivoted hard toward fear and rage against Muslims in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks. And with that and a series of Carson stumbles, Trump stormed back into hefty leads basically everywhere.

This report in The Washington Post gives us a look at the waiting game members of the GOP donor class are playing, resisting calls to spend money on a Stop Trump movement because they remain convinced that GOP base voters will eventually reject Trump's brand of politics. The article raises a number of interesting themes, which we'll return to. But for now the most notable is the focus group data suggesting that there's basically nothing Trump can say or anything that can be revealed about him that will sway his supporters.

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What Matters

For all of those writing articles announcing that Donald Trump has now officially become or embraced "fascism", I regret to inform you that there's really no clear definition of fascism, much as the harder left and right has imagined otherwise for decades. In any case, labels hardly seem relevant. What is relevant is that roughly a third of the voters Republicans will need to win the presidency next year now support Trump - this version of Trump, a candidate running a campaign which is increasingly open in its racism and militant in its nonsense.

Thinking About the Syrian Refugee Nonsense

There are so many levels of nonsense tied to the current hysteria about accepting some ten thousand Syrian refugees into the United States. But here's one. And it's a big one. If you want to be scared and xenophobic, at least apply some level of logic. To hear the current debate, you'd think the United States is a hermetically sealed immigration Ziploc bag. And now we're letting in 10,000 refugees from a war zone crawling with violent jihadists. Let's set aside the reality of that claim for the moment. Are these really the only flows of immigration to the United States? I just the Visa office's record of non-immigrant visas issued last year by the United States.

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Here's What To Watch

As I noted last night, Trump isn't some sideshow or joke in the GOP nomination race. You may think he's a joke personally. But he's bringing to the fore the central issues and drives currently motivating Republican base voters. That doesn't mean I think he's going to be the Republican nominee, though. I'd say for the first time, in the last two or three weeks, he has opened up a real path to the nomination. But I would say it is still quite unlikely. That's why the real race to watch right now is between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

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You probably didn't hear about it but it's probably the most important thing that happened yesterday. Outgoing Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear restored the voting rights of 100,000 Kentuckians.

That's Why We Do This

At TPM our coverage of politics has always tended toward the bizarre and outrageous in American politics, what we in-house sometimes call 'The Crazy'. Some of this is just a product of my interests and obsessions about contemporary politics and American history, ones that shaped how I built the organization and people I hired who in term helped define what we do. But this is only part of it and not that part which I think is important. We cover the weird, dark, outrageous and surreal in our politics because these things are much more important than most people - especially most political observers - care to admit. I thought of this when I read this high-minded and starchy editorial in yesterday's Washington Post, the upshot of which is that while they've tried to do the right thing and ignore Donald Trump's clown car campaign, they simply can't do it anymore. The time has now come to stand up to Trump's bullying! And, the Post insists, Republicans must now do so too.

Here's an extended quote from the editorial ...

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Things Can Always Get Worse

I doubt I need to tell you that it's an incredibly dangerous development that a jet fighter of a NATO member country, Turkey, appears to have shot down a Russian fighter jet operating over a sliver of Turkish territory on the Syria-Turkey border. Allegedly. (Happily for all involved, the pilots appear to have ejected safely from the plane.) It is well worth asking what exactly the Turks were thinking and how far this decision went up the chain of command in Turkey. That said, what's not getting a huge amount of attention is that Turkish and Russian jet fighters got into a dog fight or an aerial confrontation of some sort and the Russian fighter got shot down. Maybe that's random chance. But I doubt it.

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The Real Story Behind Trump's Cheering Muslims 9/11 Fever Dream

You've probably seen this firestorm which has erupted about Donald Trump's claim that he watched thousands of Muslim residents in North Jersey celebrating as the Twin Towers fell fourteen years ago. We just published a fascinating piece on it. Needless to say, nothing remotely like that actually happened. And since it didn't happen, Donald Trump definitely didn't see it. Neither did Ben Carson, who also claimed that he saw the video today. (It's frankly amazing that the whole GOP primary race is now dominated by a demonstrably absurd claim.) But what's really interesting is that it's yet another case where Trump has reached into a subterranean stew of urban legend, rumors and conspiracy theories that have been bubbling along for years and forced them into the mainstream dialog. There were rumors in the days and weeks after 9/11 that something like that has happened. Here are the origins of some of those rumors, the genealogy, if you will, of Donald Trump's latest nonsense.

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