Friday, April 1, 2016

Trump as a stereotype of Republicans (and his worst week ever in the polls)

Michael Gerson's column is the featured editorial in this morning's Daily Star.

This campaign season has offered an unexpected form of reality television entertainment: watching the light of discovery and calculation in Donald Trump’s eyes when he is presented with difficult policy issues, apparently for the very first time.

Abortion is the current case in point. In the late 1990s, Trump supported the legality of partial-birth abortion. For a few hours on Wednesday, he endorsed criminal sanctions against women who have abortions.

Add to that Trump's characterization of Hispanics as rapists and Muslims as terrorists.

... Trump has chosen to inhabit a cruel and counterproductive parody of toughness. He calls for banning all Muslim immigrants. He would conduct the war against terrorism with war crimes, such as killing the families of terrorists. He entertains the possibility of using nuclear weapons against the Islamic State. This stereotype of strength actively undermines the war against terrorism.

For many of Trump’s supporters, this extreme and unpredictable use of language is part of the appeal. He doesn’t employ the careful words of a politician. He is so appealingly unprepared. So refreshingly ignorant. So disarmingly half-baked.

But the durability of Trump’s appeal creates a conundrum for many Republicans. For decades, some of us have argued that the liberal stereotype of Republicans as extreme, dim and intolerant is inaccurate and unfair. But here is a candidate for president who fully embodies the liberal stereotype of Republicans — who thinks this is the way a conservative should sound — and has found support from a committed plurality of the party.

If the worst enemies of conservatism were to construct a Frankenstein figure that represented the worst of right-wing politics, Donald Trump would be it. But it is Republicans who are giving him life. And the damage is already deep.

I find it hard to be sympathetic. Trumpenstein was not created in a vacuum. The Republicans spent decades feeding their base a toxic brew of hatred and bigotry. After all, "it is Republicans who are giving him life."

Trump's worst week

Trump's shallow bombast may finally be catching up to him. Here's a story from the LA Times which reduces to a single graphic from a Gallup poll.


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