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  • Imagine, for a moment, the once unthinkable scenario that Washington Republicans are beginning to contemplate:  The GOP convention in Cleveland with Donald Trump as the nominee. 
  • A Trump-topped ticket is a mouthwatering prospect for Democrats, especially when it comes to retaking control of the Senate. And if Hillary Clinton can win the presidency, which Democrats seem to believe a Trump nomination would almost guarantee, Democrats would only need to retake four seats, not five, to win control of the Senate. 


    “Donald Trump just blows it open for our side,” a national Democrat told me.  “Both because I think you’ll see a lot of people come out to vote against him and also because of the position he’ll put Republican nominees in, which is not a place they want to be.” That “place” is trying to campaign in their home states while Donald Trump is making outrageous headlines across the country every day.  Do they support what he supports?  Will he take them down if they disagree with him?  Are they for the wall?  The database?  Bombing the *&%# out of ISIS? 


    The states where Trump could do damage to sitting Republican senators is lengthy.  GOP incumbents are up for re-election in seven states that President Obama won in 2008 or 2012– Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.  Even though Trump is leading the Republican field for the nomination in New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Ohio, his unfavorable poll numbers among all registered voters top every candidate for any office of either party, including Clinton, who is nobody’s idea of a bipartisan vote magnet. 

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  • Ohio Gov.John Kasich today would not commit to supporting frontrunner Donald Trump as the party’s nominee, saying that he did not expect the real estate mogul to win. 

     “I think he’s very divisive and I do not believe he will last,” Kasich said when asked if he would support Trump if he wins the Republican primary.

  • “Somebody who divides this country, here in the 21st century, who’s calling names of women and Muslims and Hispanics and mocking reporters, and says, ‘I didn’t do it,’ but he did do it, it’s just not going to happen,” said Kasich. 

  • Jacksonians love leaders who mercilessly squash America’s enemies without getting too entangled overseas. One such leader was Ronald Reagan. Taking power after the humiliation of the Iran hostage crisis, Reagan convinced Jacksonians that he had restored American strength and honor by invading Grenada, bombing Libya, and rebuilding the military. But, like them, he had little patience for sending American troops into messy situations abroad. And when hundreds of American Marines died while serving as peacekeepers during Lebanon’s chaotic civil war, Reagan quickly brought the rest home.  Another Jacksonian favorite was Joseph McCarthy, who told Americans that battling the Soviet Union did not require costly foreign deployments or complex international alliances. America could keep itself safe simply by rooting out communists at home.

    Trump is now a third. He’s distinguished himself from his establishment GOP rivals by opposing costly interventions in the greater Middle East. He’s said the wars in Iraq, Libya, and even Afghanistan were mistakes. He’s scorned democracy-promotion, saying he prefers dictators like Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad to the chaos that follows. And when Vladimir Putin began bombing Syrian rebels last month, Trump responded, “Let Russia take care of ISIS. How many places can we be?”

  • Most importantly, like McCarthy, Trump has responded to Americans’ fear of foreign threats by arguing that the real menace lies within. Since the Paris attacks, while the “serious” GOP contenders have proposed establishing no-fly zones and arming Kurdish rebels in Syria, Trump has focused on registering Muslims and closing mosques in the U.S. while insisting that he “watched ... thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrate 9/11. He’s turned the terrorism debate into an extension of the immigration debate that powered his candidacy this summer. And among Jacksonians, his message is resonating for the same reason McCarthy’s did: Because if the core problem is treason at home, not geopolitics abroad, then solving it is cheaper and simpler. Instead of solving the world’s pathologies, you simply expel them from your midst.

  • Being told we’re losing out can be oddly reassuring, especially if we’re told it’s an unfair fight. Being a victim to some nefarious other “side” grants moral righteousness, perhaps even moral impunity. It also absolves us of responsibility for our own inadequacies.

    More important, such messaging can also elevate the status of the messenger, who by convincing the public of its own weakness can position himself or herself as a potential savior, as the only one who can successfully lead the charge against those evil, undeserving victors and bullies on the other side.

    Tell everyone to buck up, that their country is already great, that their economy is already improving, that their political mission is already succeeding, and you’ve ceded the premise you need to argue that you and you alone can turn things around.

  • “This is the pattern — the pattern is he says something insulting, offensive, outrageous; the media pays attention, then he claims we all misunderstood him; the media pays attention again,” she said on “Fox News Sunday.”

    “This is the pattern perhaps of an entertainer. It’s certainly not the pattern of the leader,” Ms. Fiorina continued. “Apparently Donald Trump only feels big when he’s trying to make everyone else look small. Of course, in the end, he looks the smallest of all.”

  • Donald Trump, in his presidential (and perhaps Russ Feingold in his senatorial) race, speaks directly to the voters’ imagination. This is nothing more, or less, than political hypnosis. The “hypnosis hypothesis,” even better than Byron York’s “brief theory of Trump’s outrageousness,” may explain Trump’s persistence as the Republican front runner.


  • Dilbert creator Scott Adams said Friday afternoon that if Donald Trump survives the ongoing controversy about whether he made fun of  New York Times reporter’s disability, he will be a lock to win the presidency.


    “If he survives this one, he’s invulnerable,” Adams said.

  • What many of these liberals need to realize about Trump is how he appeals to a large portion of Americans who believe they no longer have a place in this country, as evidenced by the previously mentioned Reuters/Ipsos poll.


  • As shown by President Obama’s comments on this constituency opposing his refugee policies, our leaders prefer to dismiss these people as bigots and, according to Oprah Winfrey, hope they die out soon
  • While some of our elites might like to reassure themselves that they can defeat Trump with ludicrous accusations of fascism, his populist-nationalist message is resonating with many people who feel that our leaders have abandoned them.


    If these scared pundits would like to defuse The Donald’s appeal, it’d be more wise to address the anxieties of the “silent majority” than to affirm Godwin’s law of every Internet discussion eventually leading to Hitler.

  • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Saturday reframed his claim that he saw Muslims in Jersey City, New Jersey, cheering the attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001 by asserting the sentiment was shared worldwide.

    “Worldwide, the Muslims were absolutely going wild,” the real estate mogul said at a campaign rally in Sarasota, Florida.

  • What we have seen and heard from Mr. Obama during the Syrian crisis — self-righteousness without self-reflection, taunting, exasperation that others don’t see the world just as he does, the inability to work constructively with his opponents — have been hallmarks of his presidency. The man who promised to strengthen our political culture has further disabled it.

  • Today our political discourse barely allows us to think clearly about, let alone rise to meet, the enormous challenges we face at home and abroad. Trust in government has reached one of its lowest levels in the past half-century. Americans are deeply cynical about the entire political enterprise; they are losing faith in the normal democratic process.

    This creates the conditions for the rise of demagogues, of people who excel at inflaming tensions. Enter Donald J. Trump, who delights in tearing down the last remaining guardrails in our political culture.

  • Mr. Obama is hardly responsible for Mr. Trump, and it’s up to my fellow Republican primary voters to repudiate his malignant candidacy. Not doing so would be a moral indictment of our party. But in amplifying some of the worst tendencies in our politics, Mr. Obama helped make the rise of Mr. Trump possible.

  • Bush, who Trump has repeatedly assailed as being “low-energy,” did praise the Republican front-runner’s media strategy, saying he's played reporters “like a saying outrageous things and garnering attention.”


    The former Florida governor also called Trump “smart” and reiterated his pledge to support the eventual GOP presidential nominee. That said, Bush said he’s confident that Trump will eventually fade.


    "Anybody is better than Hillary Clinton. Let me just be clear about that," Bush said. "But I have great doubts about Donald Trump's ability to be commander in chief. I really do."


    “I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt to see how the campaign unfolded. But if you listen to him talk, it's kind of scary to be honest with you, because he's not a serious candidate,” Bush said. “He doesn't talk about the issues at hand that are of national security importance for our country. To keep us safe is the first priority of the president. And he's all over the map, misinformed at best and praying on people's fears at worst.”

  • The American public no longer adheres to standards of personal decorum or protocol (or common decency) in such a way that would punish Mr Trump's narcissistic behavior. The irony is that conservatives, ostensibly guardians of traditional values like humility, prudence, and discipline, are the vessel for this post-family values politician.

    Today, working-class whites increasingly feel like the American Dream is leaving them behind economically, culturally, and demographically. Liberalism — the election of Barack Obama, the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) and our apparent impotence abroad, rioting in the streets and unrest in the cities, and political correctness run amok (on college campuses, and elsewhere) — also contribute to the backlash that is buoying Mr Trump. (If they preach diversity, the logic goes, then we will preach deportations. If they preach political correctness in the form of speech codes, micro-aggressions, and “trigger warnings”, then we shall preach the other extreme —straight talk, with no self-imposed limits.) When we’re frustrated and fed up, we sometimes overreach just to prove a point. Donald Trump is the embodiment of this tantrum.

  • He is projecting an image of a strongman in a time of weak men. As Bloomberg Politics’ Mark Halperin has said, Mr Trump is adhering to an old Bill Clinton maxim which says “candidates have a better chance to win over voters by being strong and wrong than by being right and weak.”

  • Mr Trump knows that if he shows no sign of fear or self-doubt that people will tend to believe what he says. So Mr Trump says outlandish things with so much conviction that people are prepared to put aside their doubts about whether they are true and just believe him. (I’m reminded of Matt Damon’s line in the TV show 30 Rock: “If you walk briskly in a pilot’s uniform, you can go pretty much anywhere.”)

  • The story line around Donald Trump’s “rise” has got the narrative wrong. It mistakes the man for the movement. While we do need to reckon with what Trump himself means for U.S. politics, we need to reckon even more urgently with what can now be called the “Trumpists,” a solidly right-wing ethno-nationalist voting bloc that has been growing since the mid-1990s.
  • What points to this story? The numbers capturing the ebb and flow in the belief that Barack Obama is a Muslim and the crisis over the president’s birth certificate. Those are the ones to watch.

  • The Trumpists are our equivalent of Britain’s U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) and France’s National Front, both anti-immigrant, nationalist parties. For the past five years, Trumpists have clocked in at about 20 percent of the electorate, if one tracks numbers of committed “Obama is a Muslim-ists.” This makes them even more powerful than Britain’s UKIP, which won 12.6 percent of the vote in May’s parliamentary election. These numbers put the Trumpists on par with the National Front in France, which in March elections took 25 percent of the vote to the 32 percent that went to the center-right party of Nicholas Sarkozy.

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  • The subject of Trump came up at a recent Beverly Hills lunch hosted by former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Rockwell Schnabel.  

    Seated around the table in the private dining room of the Hotel Bel-Air were several of the West Coast's most powerful Republican donors, including Ronald Spogli, the venture capitalist and former ambassador to Italy under President George W. Bush; his business partner Bradford Freeman; and Riordan.  

    A story that circulated after the lunch was that the donors engaged in a hypothetical question: "If it was Donald Trump running against Hillary Clinton, who would you vote for?"  

    One version has it that most of the Republicans at the table put their hands up for Clinton. 

  • The problem is that the university campus is already one of the most exquisitely racially sensitized contexts a human being will ever encounter in America—a place where, for example, comedians such as <!--  --> Chris Rock<!--  --> have stopped performing because audiences are so P.C. In what way exactly will further workshops, teach-ins and classes on “racial sensitivity” create real change?
  • The question for today’s campuses has become: What is considered unspeakable? Where do we draw the line? There are indeed some truths that civilized people would not dispute: that women should have the right to vote, that genocide is wrong. Critics who pretend university culture is open to “free speech” about all ideas are being disingenuous. These students aren’t so much trying to shut down free inquiry as they are assuming that, on this topic, it has already happened. “Racism is wrong,” they know—and we all agree. “Therefore, when it comes to that which I find offensive as a person of color, civility and discussion are beside the point.”
  • When intelligent people openly declare that logic applies only to the extent that it corresponds to doctrine and shoot down serious questions with buzzwords and disdain, we are dealing with a faith. As modern as these protests seem, in their way, they return the American university to its original state as a divinity school—where exegesis of sacred texts was sincerely thought of as intellection, with skepticism treated as heresy.

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  • Dear President Eisgruber,


    We write on behalf of the Princeton Open Campus Coalition to request a meeting with you so that we may present our perspectives on the events of recent weeks. We are concerned mainly with the importance of preserving an intellectual culture in which all members of the Princeton community feel free to engage in civil discussion and to express their convictions without fear of being subjected to intimidation or abuse. Thanks to recent polls, surveys, and petitions, we have reason to believe that our concerns are shared by a majority of our fellow Princeton undergraduates.

  • This dialogue is necessary because many students have shared with us that they are afraid to state publicly their opinions on recent events for fear of being vilified, slandered, and subjected to hatred, either by fellow students or faculty. Many who questioned the protest were labeled racist, and black students who expressed disagreement with the protesters were called “white sympathizers” and were told they were “not black.” We, the Princeton Open Campus Coalition, refuse to let our peers be intimidated or bullied into silence on these–or any–important matters.
  • First, we wish to discuss with you the methods employed by protesters. Across the ideological spectrum on campus, many people found the invasion of your office and refusal to leave to be troubling. Admittedly, civil disobedience (and even law-breaking) can sometimes be justified. However, they cannot be justified when channels of advocacy, through fair procedures of decision-making, are fully open, as they are at our University. To adopt these tactics while such procedures for debate and reform are in place is to come dangerously close to the line dividing demonstration from intimidation. It is also a way of seeking an unfair advantage over people with different viewpoints who refuse to resort to such tactics for fear of damaging this institution that they love.

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  • The consequences for civil society are important. But the aftermath has implications for college costs and postsecondary opportunity, as well.


    College execs typically respond in the way they know best: by promising to layer new deans, services, and centers onto an already enormous administrative apparatus. Ironically, protests against the administration will almost certainly grow the ranks, power, and budget of administrators, and somebody will have to pay for the additional overhead. More often than not, students will be stuck with the bill; higher tuition prices, in turn, may further depress access for needy students.

  • College execs typically respond in the way they know best: by promising to layer new deans, services, and centers onto an already enormous administrative apparatus. Ironically, protests against the administration will almost certainly grow the ranks, power, and budget of administrators, and somebody will have to pay for the additional overhead. More often than not, students will be stuck with the bill; higher tuition prices, in turn, may further depress access for needy students.
  • But crises—bad press, student protests, competition from rival schools—provide a more immediate reason for colleges to gin up additional administrative positions. Whether an additional dean and some support staff will “solve” the problems on campus (they almost certainly will not), hiring them signals to campus activists and the media that leaders are doing something

  • Like all far-left political movements, the new PC has shown a tendency to devour its own. That is, PC crusaders often save their most vindictive attacks for people who were formerly leftists in good standing. The response so far from professors and administrators who come under attack has generally been to fold, apologize, and try to make amends. But history shows that this kind of process can’t go on forever; there must be an endpoint somewhere down the line. PC activists probably imagine the endpoint to be a harmonious world ridded of triggers and unsafe spaces. But this, like Marx’s notion of a dictatorship of a stateless society, is an ideological fantasy. More likely, PC will collapse under the weight of its own excesses. Haidt doesn’t expect this to happen anytime soon, though:


    It’s going to get much, much worse over the next couple years and at that point some universities may start changing policies. By that point, many or maybe most American parents won’t want to send their children to the top universities, and there will be an enormous market opportunity for second-level universities that offer a much less coddled campus culture.

    We’ve said before that there are two campus crises—a crisis of political culture, and a crisis of affordability. These crises could converge if high-profile PC incidents make the American public question whether the existing college economic model, complete with its massive diversity bureaucracy, is actually worth it.

  • One of the central demands repeated by protesters at campuses across the country has been for university administrators to transform campuses into “safe spaces,” where students are protected not only from physical violence but also from ideas that they find threatening or offensive. However, the “safe spaces” envisioned by these protesters seem to matter only when the interests of those who share their political persuasions are affected.


      There has been conspicuously little attention paid to incidents of anti-Semitism reported, for example, at Hunter College, where students supportive of Israel were chased away from a rally blaming high tuition fees on “Zionist administrators,” and where protestors shouted “Zionists out of CUNY” (the City University of New York), by which they meant Jews.

  • Where are the cries for safe spaces for Jewish students faced with such blatant intimidation?


  • The hypocrisy of protestors demanding protection from potentially offensive ideas while simultaneously insulting and harassing people who fail to demonstrate adequate levels of enthusiasm for their agenda should be obvious to all. But too few university administrators and faculty call out these hypocritical students for their double standard.


  • Why do so many students see themselves as so vulnerable to the slings and arrows of outrageous texts, arguments, comments? Why so fearful?

    A pattern is clear: Too many students doubt that their community is, or can be, strong enough to stand up for itself, entertain arguments and strive to persuade opponents. The extremity of their reaction suggests that they lack confidence that reason and values are on their side. They may well resent the fact that, after decades of civil rights reform and feminism, they still have to argue against people who “don’t get it.”

    One can only speculate about the forces that drive this crisis, but odds are that we are witnessing a cultural mood that cannot be reduced to political-economic considerations. There’s a generalized anxiety when one has always been supervised, as this generation has. Moreover, students suffer under mountainous debt loads. Professional work is being destabilized. Careers dissolve into serial jobs, or the insecure “gig economy.”

  • When movements lose their belief in a larger community that can prevail, they lose their momentum, dwindle into closed circles, become more suspicious, more indiscriminate in welcoming enmity.
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