Sex, Dice, and the Trump Tapes

by Corey Robin on October 9, 2016

Yesterday, the Washington Post revealed that it had obtained a videotape featuring Donald Trump bragging, in the most graphic and ugly terms, about women he’s groped, harassed, demeaned, and more. Within 24 hours, the tape seems to have transformed the political landscape, with legions of Republican leaders now calling on Trump to step down from the ticket.


Across social media, people are wondering why this particular story has proven so explosive for Trump. Given that everyone already knew the vileness of his views on women and the viciousness of his behavior toward them—not to mention Muslims and Mexicans—what’s so different about this story?

I suspect it’s the profanity. People forget this, but one of the things that most hurt Richard Nixon during Watergate was the release of the White House tapes. The transcripts were laced with what was politely called in the media “expletive deleted,” and even though some of the expletives were rather mild, it made Middle America sick to think that their straight-laced president might be slinging “fuck” and “shit” with all the abandon of an unwashed hippie.

But I also think it matters, a lot, that the New York Times, rather than relying on coy evasion, went all in and actually quoted Trump, in its article, using words like “fuck” (“I did try and fuck her. She was married”), “tits” (“She’s now got the big phony tits and everything”) and “pussy” (“grab them by the pussy…You can do anything”).

Thinking back on Watergate, remember when Carl Bernstein woke Attorney General John Mitchell in the middle of the night to tell him that the Washington Post was going to run a story the next morning saying that Mitchell was the head of a secret slush fund to spy on the Democrats? Mitchell warned Bernstein that Post publisher “Katie Graham’s going to get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if that’s published.” In the movie version, Ben Bradlee, played by Jason Robards, tells Bernstein not to include that quote. “This is a family paper,” he says.

Not anymore.


In the end, I don’t think the tape is going to be the nail in Trump’s coffin.

I’ve been saying for months that Clinton is going to destroy Trump. Back in March, I wrote, “There is a silent majority in this country. And it hates Trump.” But if this latest revelation has any effect on the election, it won’t be the tape; it’ll be the apology, which Trump issued last night.

Misogyny is not an issue for Trump’s base. And it may be that profanity isn’t either. But weakness is, as Jodi Dean taught us in a memorable post from August of last year. With this apology, Trump will be thought of as a wimp, a weakling who caved into the forces of feminized political correctness.

Of all the commentators on the RNC Convention this past summer, only Lauren Berlant caught the full tenor of anti-PC ideology among the ranks of Trump’s supporters. This tape was Trump’s moment, to borrow Berlant’s terminology, to demonstrate just how a free man he is. But with that apology, he only shows that he, too, has been captured and tamed by the forces of PC.


That said, it’d be a shame if the tape were used merely to delegitimate Trump. After all, Trump really has nothing to answer for here; we’ve known all along that he speaks and acts like this. The real crew that needs to answer for this tape is the Christian Right.

Throughout the campaign, white evangelicals have overwhelmingly supported Trump—often with higher majorities than Romney got from them. Despite Trump’s obvious flouting of the sexual puritanism they claim as their brand. And as of last night, their leadership was still firmly behind Trump.

Rather than discredit Trump, this tape should destroy that movement, its leaders, and the cottage industry of enabling journalists and academics who’ve told us for decades that we need to take “people of faith”—by which they mean white evangelicals—more seriously.


But tonight the story is whether the tape will force Trump to step down.

I have my doubts. To put it more pointedly: it’ll never happen.

This is a party whose leadership was incapable throughout the primary of keeping Trump off the ticket. Now that he’s demonstrated that he’s the party’s top vote-getter, and has been crowned as its leaders, how will they force him to step down?

And why would Trump, for his part, voluntarily agree to do it? He’s never been accountable to the party leadership. He won, despite their opposition to his candidacy. He doesn’t owe them a damn thing. And in the world he comes from—not real estate, remember, but reality TV—this kind of shit show is just a good night of sky-high ratings.

Even if he did step down, I don’t see how it would change the outcome of the election.

It might actually be a disaster for the GOP if Trump stepped down. It would only confirm that the party is the three-ring circus it has seemed to be, completely incapable of selecting a responsible leader.

Frankly, I think Clinton’s margin of victory would be even higher if Trump did step down. Trump’s voters, his fervent base of support, would be absolutely devastated. And what kind of mass constituency does Pence have? Half the time, I can’t even remember his name and have to look it up.

But if it did happen—and it won’t—it would be an even bigger confirmation of my “Trump is the George McGovern of the Republican Party” thesis.

After all, the McGovern campaign also saw a head of the ticket forced to step down after a public controversy. Missouri Senator Thomas Eagleton had been McGovern’s VP candidate, until it was exposed in the media that he had been hospitalized for depression, and McGovern removed him from the ticket. The result was the same as what I described above with respect to Trump: it only confirmed people’s sense that this was a campaign, and a party, that was not in control of itself.


The only thing that’s interesting about all this maneuvering to get Trump off the ticket is how legalistic, almost quasi-constitutional, it is.

The presidency, as any high school civics student can tell you, is supposed to be the agent of constitutional efficacy, the one institution in the American firmament, as Hamilton understood (“energy…unity…duration”), that truly could act on behalf of the whole.

Yet here we are, less than 20 years after Bush v. Gore, confronting yet another massive political, quasi-constitutional, crisis, centered around…the presidency.

Presidents may not be Green Lanterns, but, damn, do they generate a considerable amount of constitutional chaos.


I would be remiss if I didn’t note here the panic among Clinton supporters that all this talk of Trump’s possible stepping down has provoked.

On Facebook, quite a few people seem genuinely unnerved by the possibility that Trump would step down, leaving Pence or some other improbable figure (John Kasich?) to rally the Republicans to victory. With just five weeks to go until the election.

Here’s a message for my Clinton-supporting friends: You can’t scream for months that Donald Trump is a unique threat to humanity, different from all other Republican threats we’ve seen, going back Goldwater, and then, when it seems like we might finally and happily be spared this unique fascist threat, panic. Just because you fear that it would mean your candidate won’t win. That kind of response undermines everything you’ve been saying these last few months.

When I pointed this out on Facebook and Twitter, several intrepid souls tried to counter that though Trump was a unique threat, he offered the Democrats the possibility of not merely winning an election but destroying the GOP along with him.

Now I’ve been on the record as saying that if the Democrats had played their cards right, this could have been a realignment election, in which the GOP was thoroughly repudiated.

Even so, wanting Trump to remain on the ticket, just on the off chance that it might destroy the GOP, seems like an awfully big risk, an awfully dangerous rolling of the dice, for Clinton supporters to take. After all that they have said about Trump being a fascist.

It makes them sound like none other than Ernst Thälmann, the German Communist they love to invoke (as a cautionary tale against the left), who famously said, “After Hitler, our turn.”



hellslittlestangel 10.09.16 at 3:02 am

I worry about Trump dropping out not because somehow that might cause Clinton to lose, but because Trump at the top of the ticket will do the most damage to the Republican party.

Stay strong, Little Gloves.


js. 10.09.16 at 3:04 am

I would be remiss if I didn’t note here the panic among Clinton supporters that all this talk of Trump’s possible stepping down has provoked.

Honestly, who are these idiots? I’ve been following reactions almost obsessively (tho I’m not on Facebook), and this is *not at all* what I’ve seen.


Bob Zannelli 10.09.16 at 3:07 am

It’s really crazy to think that Trump is no worst than former republican candidates , though significantly , he isn’t unique in being a danger to the country from the GOP given the clown car in the recent GOP primary. If we avoid the “Trump as President” bullet this time we are going to be facing , in all probability , more and more genuinely dangerous candidates. This is very upsetting to the official left wing narrative that there is no real difference between the two political parties. We may rightfully lament the corporatist nature of the democrats, but sanity suggest the battle to be fought is the one that is related to the most immediate danger.


Omega Centauri 10.09.16 at 3:15 am

Its all academic arguing over we want Trump to drop out or not. We don’t control that outcome, we will just get what we get.

The tape doesn’t prove he’s physically abused women, just that he likes to brag as if he did. Now, he probably did, and I suspect that now that the dynamics have changed women who were abused but keeping quiet out of fear will start coming out of the woodwork. Thats what we saw with Cosby, and Ailes, once a couple of victims come forward, then other victims calculus regarding their safety versus getting even changes.


Doug newkirk 10.09.16 at 3:17 am

What Bradley (in life) and Robards (film) said was To it the words “her tit”. They ran the rest of the quote.


Tabasco 10.09.16 at 3:36 am

But, but Hillary cannot beat Trump. Only Bernie can beat Trump. Or so many commentators on this blog said during the primaries. It turns out that Hannibal Lecter could beat Trump.

Trump won’t quit. It’s not in his character to withdraw gracefully. And even if he does, there is the complication that voting has already begun in some states. This will be an annihilation of the Repubs, whose voters will stay home. This is why so many Repubs are repudiating Trump. They are trying to save their sorry asses.

But it won’t work. Hillary will win 380 electoral votes, the Dems will take the Senate, and the House is in play.


harry b 10.09.16 at 3:50 am

If we had a ‘like’ button I’d have pressed it for Tabasco’s first para. And I hope the final phrase is true. The local coverage of the Wisconsin event which Trump didn’t come to made it look like a Wake.

Actually…. Trump was always going to lose. This enables him to create a narrative that enables him to blame the Republican leadership for his defeat (they lost their nerve and turned against and destroyed him).

I haven’t noticed anyone panicking about Trump stepping down. I’m inclined to agree with Corey that his doing so would create complete shambles, which is one reason I suspect that so few Republicans are actually calling for him to do it (another reason being that they may be craven but they’re not idiots, and they know he won’t).

I’m curious whether the never-Trumpers will get any credit at all ever, from anyone, for being on the right side of this? Probably not.


Lord 10.09.16 at 4:04 am

The Christian Right also love to forgive the repentant, especially when they have God’s blessing, money.


Anarcissie 10.09.16 at 4:06 am

If the Republican Party is destroyed, the people who make it up will not be destroyed, and their ideas and feelings and energies and resources will not be destroyed either. Instead, they will be freed up to cohere in new and different ways. ‘The repressed returns, in monstrous form.’


Saurs 10.09.16 at 4:09 am

other victims calculus regarding their safety versus getting even changes.

How do victims of sexual assault “get even,” I wonder. Who is measuring, and what is being measured that one achieves “even.”


MIJ 10.09.16 at 4:12 am

As the Ryan rally in Wisconsin demonstrated today Trump’s core supporters are undeterred by the tapes and what will likely follow. If he is somehow forced out the Republicans risk all those folks staying home or worse, coming to the polls to vote against the RINOs that drove him out.
Trump’s ego won’t allow him to quit. More likely he will see this as an opportunity to solidify the anger of his supporters that will allow him to garner months of attention after the election.
What the Democrats have to do is drive home the point that Trump is not some aberration that slipped through the primary process. Trump is the direct result of forty or more years of Republican cynicism and the party’s willingness to cater to people’s worst fears and instincts in pursuit of a reactionary agenda. Trump is the paranoid style come home to roost much the same as Goldwater was the natural result of preying on people’s fears.
Does anyone seriously doubt that if the election was close that Republicans would be falling all over themselves to excuse, downplay, or otherwise sweep Trump’s behavior and comments under the rug?
Politics is, at least to some degree, about winning elections. But winning for its own sake without the slightest shred of support for the idea of governing is cynical demagoguery. Gingrich particularly raised winning to the exclusion of purpose or principle as an end in itself. Trump’s elevation to the head of the ticket exposes that hypocrisy, especially for the Christian Right, and no amount of rats jumping ship as the deck chairs slide under water excuses or ameliorates the fact that the Republican Party set the table and created the conditions which now exist.
Trump, for all his piggishness, misogyny, racism, and general sociopathy is not the problem. The Republican Party in its entirety owns every bit of this.


Nick 10.09.16 at 4:13 am

This is a good analysis, but it really goes off the rails at #6. ‘Panic in Hillary supporters’ — really? Who are these Hillary supporters who are panicking? Name them, please. I support the Democratic ticket, I’ve read news articles, blogs, and Twitter, and I see hilarity, satisfaction, a sense of being proved correct, and relief.

There’s something very disingenuous, at this late date, in using the term ‘Hilary’ supporters, instead of Democrats. Besides, you say the very same thing that they are saying: “If the Democrats played their cards right . . .” means “nominate Sanders to take down Trump.” Well, the Democrats HAVE played their cards right, Trump is a smoking ruin, and some random people on Facebook are nervous that he or the Republicans are going to try some unprecedented maneuver to reset the game. What you thought could happen is taking place, and you’re criticizing people who are both hopeful and worried, like most people who watch politics. The same thing would have happened if Sanders had played the cards right.


Rich Puchalsky 10.09.16 at 4:14 am

No matter how this ends, it will all be the fault of the left somehow. Tabasco’s shot at Bernie supporters at #5 makes fun of them for saying that only Bernie can beat Trump, but on the other hand if anyone here said that HRC was almost sure to win, they were told that they didn’t appreciate the fascist threat that everyone had to pitch in to stop at all costs.


Alan White 10.09.16 at 4:20 am

Harry and Tabasco, I agree in the actual world that likely Hillary will prevail. But close possible worlds worry me. If The Donald were to resign this weekend, placing Pence at the top, Nate Silver’s charts tracking events would not be incompatible with Hillary plunging in polls (especially given new emails crap) and male/white people/independents giving Pence a very big bounce. I think given The Donald’s ego, this is not likely. But if you place his resignation in the antecedent of a counterfactual conditional, close possible worlds with a months’ time frame worry me.


js. 10.09.16 at 4:24 am

Signing on to all of Nick @11.


Corey Robin 10.09.16 at 4:33 am

Nick at 11: ‘Besides, you say the very same thing that they are saying: “If the Democrats played their cards right . . .” means “nominate Sanders to take down Trump.”’

I’m not sure why you would say that. In that very sentence you quote, I link to two earlier pieces of mine. Read through those pieces, and nowhere will you see anything like “nominate Sanders to take down Trump.”

What I say, quite clearly, in those posts is that the Democrats had an opportunity in this campaign, regardless of who the nominee was, to use Trump to destroy the Republican Party as a whole. They very clearly have not taken that opportunity. Clinton has in fact done the opposite.

This was not a post about Bernie at all. Which is why, if Tabasco’s comments about Bernie are directed at me, he’s entirely off base. I’ve said from the get go that Clinton can beat Trump (and was never of the belief that Sanders would necessarily do better against Trump). Indeed, a coupe of months ago, I got slammed on this very blog for claiming that Clinton would destroy Trump. I’ve been absolutely sure of that all along.


Nick 10.09.16 at 4:40 am

My apologies, I didn’t mean to misconstrue your argument, and it’s only #6 that I disagree with. I still don’t think it makes sense. Firstly, the Democrats can’t destroy the Republican party — that’s not how party politics work. If they did, they would become more conservative, and less acceptable to their left wing.

Trump has destroyed the Republican party — it had nothing to do with the Democrats at all, except to the extent that we nominated a woman to stand against him which he did not take with grace or delicacy. There is a core of 35-40% of Republican voters (my estimate, could be different) who are going to support him through thick and thin. What are their leaders going to do to save this election? Throw Trump under the bus and piss off this 35% who will vote for him and screw the downballot races? Or will they stick with their core voters and lose every single person who finds ‘grab them by the pussy’ revolting?

This next month is scoundrel time, as Lilian Hellman put it. Trump was nominated because of deep divisions in the Republican party, and those divisions are going to play out now, as people start voting. Democrats don’t have anything to do with it.


Tabasco 10.09.16 at 4:55 am

Corey @ 15

My comments were not directed at you. They were directed at people who looked at the Clinton v Trump , and Bernie v Trump polls, and said that not only was Bernie a better person with better policies than Hillary, but that the pragmatic argument for Hillary was misguided because Trump would beat her, whereas Bernie would beat him.

Also, don’t worry too much about the missed opportunity to destroy the Republican Party. After this election, there are two ways they might go. One is to engage in a serious reflection, like the Dems did after Dukakis, and change themselves. The other is to destroy themselves in a civil war. Nate Silver says the probability of the second option is 99.9%.


kidneystones 10.09.16 at 5:01 am

Point 2

“With this apology, Trump will be thought of as a wimp, a weakling who caved into the forces of feminized political correctness.” Maybe.

But this seems completely wrong to me, and I am a Trump supporter. There’s no point in going into the PC controversy other than to note that for many in the Trump base forcing Donald to debase himself (again, after already debasing himself on tape) will only remind Trump voters (and many independents) that Bill Clinton has yet to apologize for anything he and Hillary did to Juanita Broderick, or Ms. Flowers.

The general response among Trump supporters (the little I’ve seen) has seen the tape as part of a coordinated effort by the media and the HRC campaign to deflect from Hillary’s disastrous record in advance of the upcoming debate and to prep viewers for some gutter politics from the ‘neutral’ moderators.

More informed viewers will be familiar with Jesse Jackson’s infidelities, Gingrich’s, and a host of others and see the media frenzy as another example of temporary and selective prudery. The NYT tried extremely hard to find women Trump has ‘abused’ and the entire exercise blew up in their faces.

If the exercise is now checking for skid marks, I suggest we’re all living in glass houses of one kind, or another. There will, of course, be some here who have never speculated aloud about the size, shape and efficacy of the body parts of others, or divulged descriptive details of personal, or second-hand experiences.

You’ve never said: ‘he fucked me, he grabbed my boobs, or she would/wouldn’t —….”

You never visit Radar, TMZ, or the Daily Mail to check up on the news. You think Chelsea Handler is a yuppy store and the degradation of women in rap music a ‘cultural difference.’

And if we’re talking about taking the private public, you’ve never said, or written, that you’d like to torture, or kill anyone you know, or a stranger – such as a major political figure. You’ve never privately, or publicly, wished anyone dead. You find Donal Trump contemptible, but find a way to forgive Bill Clinton’s serial exploitation of young women ‘understandable.’

In short, you got nothing.

And the Trump base see you for the hypocrite you are.


Socratic Me 10.09.16 at 5:16 am

Shorter kidneystones:

“We embrace rape culture and demand you accept it as well, lest you be called hypocrites. And we still can’t figure out why a woman would call us despicable.”


Tabasco 10.09.16 at 5:36 am

@ 18

Yes, politics is full of double standards. Also winners and losers; on which subject, do you still think Trump will win?


kidneystones 10.09.16 at 5:49 am

19@ Yes. My view is that Trump supporters aren’t going anywhere and that anything he says is going to irrelevant to those looking for change. His 2005 remarks matter less than his 2016 buffoonery.

As noted above, and on the other thread on the topic, the only folks excited by the latest OMG moment are the folks who already believe Trump has disqualified himself. The timing of the release strongly suggests HRC is somewhat/extremely concerned that the leaked speeches are going to play some part in the debate and she’s arming her media outrage machine for some deafening shrieking.

Unfortunately, for the Democrats a boarded up store and a closed factory on a windy street in late October speaks louder and with an insistent urgency that few can afford to ignore – these people don’t care about you, or your problems.

The economy is slowing and the latest jobs report suggests things are getting worse for all but the already secure and affluent.


Tabasco 10.09.16 at 6:19 am

Trump’s base isn’t going anywhere. But the base is not going to deliver him 270 electoral votes. Electoral college arithnatic is so sterile, so unpassionate, so boring. But that is how elections are won and lost. Tell us where he gets his 270 EVs.


John Quiggin 10.09.16 at 6:29 am

I think this really will destroy the evangelical right. They’ve backed Trump, knowing who he was (one of them was photographed with him in front of a Playboy trophy) with the sole justification that he would appoint Supreme Court judges who would overturn Roe v Wade. If that had worked, they would have been able to retain some standing (God moves in mysterious ways etc).

But now it looks just about impossible. Even if the Repubs scrape a narrow majority in the Senate (unlikely) I doubt that they will be able to maintain solidarity for a position of rejecting any new appointment from either Obama or Clinton. So, the Falwells will be seen as having sold their souls and received not even a mess of pottage in return. Given the prosperity gospel orientation (overt or not) of nearly all evangelicals, that failure shows them to be damned.


kidneystones 10.09.16 at 6:31 am

21@ No. Any other commands?

I’ll point out that the polls also predicted the Leave campaign would win right up until Remain lost. You add a lot to most conversations. Less so when you argue that the outcome of an election held in November is determined by polling numbers in October.

My view, and this has not changed, is that if Trump is within 5 on election night there’s a good chance he’ll win. If he’s ahead, or even, he wins.

Your job, of course, and that of the other those planning to lick the glove, is to convince Trump voters that all is lost.

And that’s the problem with your strategy. You’re talking to the wrong people and saying the wrong things. See if you can figure the rest out for yourself.

You’re no fool.


kidneystones 10.09.16 at 6:39 am

@ 23 Completely wrong on my part. Multi-tasking is never a good idea. (I’m listening to my favorite dramatization of the French Revolution, the 1989 version for the bicentennial. Fantastic. Great for the ear and a largely accurate account: (subtitles in English available) Highly recommended. But I digress.

Leave looked to lose right up to election night, but for a tiny blip when Leave crept a percentage point or so, ahead. If people without jobs and hope stay home, Hillary wins.

Only the affluent and secure can afford four more years of more of the same only worse.


js. 10.09.16 at 7:03 am

I think this really will destroy the evangelical right.

Weirdly, I’d make a bet that the _evangelical right_ comes out unscathed. Which is, yes, bizarre. But no one’s going to call them on this.


Tabasco 10.09.16 at 7:05 am


Of course, it’s only a flesh wound.

You know in your heart of hearts that Hillary will win. I feel your pain.

It will get worse. Hillary will win again in 2020 and Chelsea will win in 2024. (She will then be 44, about the age her father was in 1992.)


kidneystones 10.09.16 at 7:21 am

@26 Thank you so much for this!

I used to correspond with Andrew Sullivan begging him to come to his senses.

After the Iraq invasion, he emailed me this wonderful one liner:

“I revel in your humiliation.”

Your @26 is so him!

Good times!!


Tabasco 10.09.16 at 7:32 am


The evangelicals won’t give up. Next time they will back someone who is actually one of them, rather than someone who has just walked out of Gomorrah Central. Their problem is their influence is waning because of long term demographics. Virginia is now solidly Democratic, North Carolina is on the way and Georgia is within sight. Texas, the big prize, with 38 electoral votes, should turn Dem in 2024. The evangelicals will be hermetically sealed in Kentucky, Alabama and a few other places that don’t matter (other than they each have two senators).


Collin Street 10.09.16 at 7:52 am

Next time they will back someone who is actually one of them, rather than someone who has just walked out of Gomorrah Central.

How? They couldn’t put forward anyone convincing this time, and another four years out of power will just strip the talent larder even more bare.


Thomas Beale 10.09.16 at 7:54 am

@11 and elsewhere
There is a view that says the Trump ticket gives Clinton a free pass to the White House, since it’s turned the whole campaign into a Trump-centred reality show (and that appears to be what he thinks he’s in, in his head) rather than a proper examination of two political programmes. The term ‘Hillary supporters’ doesn’t seem so wrong to me…


Tabasco 10.09.16 at 8:24 am


It only has to be someone convincing to them. There has to be a tele-evangelist from South Carolina who will do. Pat Robertson ran in 1988, came second in the Iowa caucuses and declared on the night that he would be the nominee. That turned out to be optimistic but he might just have been ahead of his time.


merian 10.09.16 at 8:38 am

kidneystones, with all due respect, you are as believable as a Trump supporter impersonator as Trump is as a presidential candidate. You aren’t even a US citizen.


Igor Belanov 10.09.16 at 8:59 am

“You aren’t even a US citizen.”

Put him on a list!


Daragh 10.09.16 at 9:04 am

“Here’s a message for my Clinton-supporting friends: You can’t scream for months that Donald Trump is a unique threat to humanity, different from all other Republican threats we’ve seen, going back Goldwater, and then, when it seems like we might finally and happily be spared this unique fascist threat, panic. Just because you fear that it would mean your candidate won’t win. That kind of response undermines everything you’ve been saying these last few months.”

I think it’s perfectly reasonable to maintain that Trump’s obvious personal and psychological defects make him a ‘unique threat’ if he were to ever have access to a nuclear arsenal, while also thinking (correctly) a Pence presidency would have terrible consequences – such as stripping millions of Americans of healthcare, reversing all progress on climate change and doing nothing to stop the ongoing carnage enabled by lax gun regulations – that are of a slightly lower order than an imminent global holocaust. More to the point, the panic is somewhat justified given that while the US media is largely willing to treat Trump as the fascist he is, they’ll happily admire Mike Pence’s square jaw and effortless head nodding while ignoring his hard-right policies.


kidneystones 10.09.16 at 9:53 am

@33 JQ actually puts this best, we’ll butt out of your elections when you stop managing ours.

Democrats never organize coups, or corrupt the political process in ‘friendly’ nations. It’s not in the ‘liberal’ dna!

What is this Monroe Doctrine of which you speak?

I’m not so much a ‘Trump supporter’ as someone opposed to putting a practitioner and fan of violent regime change in teh WH, again. That’s too complicated for some folks, so I just shorten it to ‘I’m a Trump supporter.’

Yes, we write letters.


Collin Street 10.09.16 at 9:56 am

There has to be a tele-evangelist from South Carolina who will do.

There are dozens, no doubt.

I misexpressed myself. The problem is, the people they’ve got are all minnows, yes, but they’re all equally minnows. Any one will do as well as any other… so there’s no reason to favour one over any other. Unless you can convince some of them to drop out [and this is pretty unfair, really, since the ones you get to drop out genuinely won’t be any different from the ones that remain] none of them will get any traction, and by the time their minor differences come into play… well, someone else non-evangelical will already have co

Like what happened this time. Unless/until an evangelical actually gets enough success to make them bigger than the others they’ll just get Trump mks three, four, and five…. which exactly excludes an evangelical from getting significant success and chicken-and-eggs them out of power for the next forever.

A well-run political movement really needs some sort of farm system, but the unpopularity of most evangelical proposals means that this is going to be hard, and the fractiousness and schismatic potentiality of the people they’re trying to represent makes it harder.


John Quiggin 10.09.16 at 10:12 am

I’m claiming something stronger. I think that actual believers in evangelical Christianity will turn away from conservative politics,. The leaders who’ve followed Trump will be discredited, while the minority who’ve repudiated him will be justified.

The cultural penumbra of self-described evangelical Christians who don’t attend church all that regularly will continue to form part of the Republican base, but they won’t pay any attention to the Falwells and Robertsons.


kidneystones 10.09.16 at 10:17 am

And if you’re wondering about the timing (few can be), here’s the ‘neutral’ take from Yahoo:

“Clinton, who needs Sanders’ coalition of young and left-leaning voters to propel her to the presidency, pushes for open trade and open borders in one of the speeches, and takes a conciliatory approach to Wall Street, both positions she later backed away from in an effort to capture the popular appeal of Sanders’ attacks on trade deals and powerful banks…The revelations were quickly overshadowed by the release of an 11-year-old recording of Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, making lewd comments about women.”

Which explains, in part, why we have two lively threads discussing Trump’s lewd remarks and none discussing the ‘likely” winner’s lies.

The fact that the Trump story allows intellectuals to discuss “pussy, tits’ etc. is purely coincidental.

So what if the left, American workers, and minorities are getting taken to the cleaner’s again?


Bruce B. 10.09.16 at 10:41 am

John, I’d have to be more awake than I am right now, but I think I want to say that there is no movement of actual conservative believers in Christianity to destroy. There are individuals like Fred “Slacktivist” Clark and small communities, but all we’re seeing now is the revelation to anyone looking of what’s been the case for most of my adult life: evangelicalism talks Christ but lives Reagan and Rand (and Bryant and the Klan). This is who they are, this is who they’ve been. They became a fundamentally post-Christian movement no later than the ’80s. By and large, to claim to be an evangelical or conservative Christian is to claim to be no Christian at all in any meaningful sense.


Rich Puchalsky 10.09.16 at 11:09 am

Nick: “There is a core of 35-40% of Republican voters (my estimate, could be different) who are going to support him through thick and thin.”

My prediction is that the GOP base will vote for Trump in just as large numbers as they would have if this scandal hadn’t surfaced. The GOP base isn’t 35-40% of GOP voters, it’s something like a third of the electorate. But this scandal does make it less likely that enough people outside the GOP base will vote for Trump to elect him — the chances of him being elected were already very small, so I have no idea how much more small you get from very small.

People tend to underestimate the social forces that cause people to line up and vote on Election Day: it doesn’t matter how much conservatives complain about Trump, they will end up voting for him (just as it doesn’t matter how much people on the left complain about HRC, they will end up voting for her). The two main chances for an upset in this election were: 1) Trump gets enough independents, 2) HRC annoys enough young / left people into voting for Jill Stein or just not voting. This scandal makes (1) even less likely, and Sanders supporting HRC makes (2) even less likely.

I also predict that there will be no long term effect on the Christian right. They already survive brain-crushing levels of cognitive dissonance: what’s a little more. The GOP may well be a bad shape nationally, but the mathematics of U.S. elections means we have a two-party system like it or not, so the GOP can’t go away unless another party emerges. How does another party emerge when everyone who might vote for e.g. Jill Stein just got pushed firmly back into the Democratic Party? No, paradoxically the GOP coalition has to more or less hold for as long as the Democratic one holds, which is why the people insisting that everyone had to vote HRC because Trump was a unique threat have helped to preserve the GOP. (As well as HRC’s summer of the moderate Republican, of course.)


Bruce B. 10.09.16 at 11:18 am

It isn’t Democratic pressure that has led the Green Party to spend decade after decade developing essentially zero infrastructure or candidates for anything but president. They made themselves incapable of offering an alternative that could ever conceivably go anywhere. When they have a hundred members serving at the same time in county and state positions, then they’ll have the beginnings of an alternative.

I remember this being discussed on Usenet and FidoNet. It’s not news. But it’s still true that a party that only runs a candidate for president is a party that can’t ever make a difference except, possibly, as a presidential spoiler. It’s not a party that will ever produce someone who could govern and get any of their agenda accomplished.


kidneystones 10.09.16 at 11:30 am

So, I went and looked at Real Clear Politics and it’s frigging wall-to-wall full court press on Trump must quit and OMG.

I’m so old I can remember June, 2015, when the media first declared Trump’s campaign was finished before it even started. As usual, the press has badly predicted how the electorate will react, because so few actually get out to meet the electorate.

The world has changed, even for evangelicals. The internet is awash in porn. I watched exactly one half of one episode of America’s hit comedy: Three and Half men. The plot went like this: some women wanted one of the main character’s to do something. So, one woman offered fellatio on a regular basis. Main character has trouble resisting, so he starts masturbating on a regular basis to make it easier to ‘resist.’ This is main stream entertainment in America these days.

Will voters be unhappy Trump is so tacky? Yup. Will voters thank the media for flushing a toilet over their heads non-stop on the run-up to the debate? I’d doubt it. Can the media do more to tilt the playing field in favor of Hillary? I seriously doubt it.

What we may actually be looking at is the final, full dump of anti-Trump dirt. There may be more, but I’m starting to doubt it. And given the enormous non-stop coverage of a handful of ten to fifteen-year old remarks confirming Trump is a sexist vulgarian who will say almost anything, isn’t it highly likely that pretty much all voters are going to say – well, yes, we already knew that.

It’s a phenomenal amount of coverage designed expressly to push Trump out of the race. But what if he doesn’t fold? What happens if this time next week, Trump is double-digits down in the polls, but the scrutiny has started to shift to other areas – such as the rise in Affordable Care premiums, more joblessness in middle America. How long can the media ignore Sanders voters who it’s clear got burned and burned badly? What happens to Hillary’s level of support among the young and women when it becomes clear that HRC really will destroy any woman standing in her way, and lie all the way to the bank in the process.

In short, what happens when the media wakes up in seven days to discover that Trump hasn’t run away (assuming he stays)? What haven’t they thrown at him?

And if he’s still standing after all this mud, what does that say about his chances in November? I strongly suspect that the media have flushed the last few vestiges of their own credibility (not much remained) in this all out assault on Trump.

This is it? He’s crude and lewd? This is Hillary’s best shot?

Better hope not.


David 10.09.16 at 11:44 am

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last twenty-five years, you’ll have noticed that in most western societies regressive economic policies have created a class of the super-rich, and so super-powerful. Such people, protected by their wealth, can basically say and do what they like, not just in public but in private. There are any number of gut-wrenching accounts of how such people treat the hired help, hotel staff, waiters and of course the general public they come across. I have no idea who will win your election, but given the public anger in most countries against the super-rich, it would be paradoxical, after this sordid episode, if Americans decide to change their mind and vote for a wealthy, powerful woman who will make the world even safer for the wealthy and powerful, and even more dangerous for everyone else.
A vote for Trump, as with similar candidates elsewhere, is a vote against the status quo, not a vote for an individual as such.


Collin Street 10.09.16 at 12:01 pm

It isn’t Democratic pressure that has led the Green Party to spend decade after decade developing essentially zero infrastructure or candidates for anything but president. They made themselves incapable of offering an alternative that could ever conceivably go anywhere. When they have a hundred members serving at the same time in county and state positions, then they’ll have the beginnings of an alternative.

But if you focus on local elections the ballot-access rules mean you have to spend all your effort scrambling for signatures to even run a candidate. Structurally the whole system is just completely fucked; the democratic and republican parties are about as entrenched in the government mechanisms as the communist party was in east germany.

Fixing it wholesale would require overt sweeping changes of a sort US political culture really doesn’t do very well, and the only way to do it piecemeal is to work within the “democratic party” until the republican party finally gives up the ghost, the US becomes an actual one-party state, and the one party gets dissolved. About thirty to fifty years? Could be less, but that’s the timescale you’re looking at. I mean, it’s only a structural problem; it makes things slow and awkward, not impossible.

Which, yeah. the US green party is a waste of time. A “green democrat” movement is better; forget the formalities of the general and focus on the election that matters.


Tabasco 10.09.16 at 12:10 pm

Kidneystones @ 42

There’s only four weeks left. The media hasn’t paid any attention to your list of worthy issues to date. Why are they going to start now? Who is going to make it clear that Hillary is a destroyer of young women? Trump? Or the media who you say are in Hillary’s pocket?


Lee A. Arnold 10.09.16 at 12:13 pm

This is so much fun!


Lee A. Arnold 10.09.16 at 12:16 pm

The whole “Trump is bad, but Hillary is worse” thing is getting a bit stale, though.


Ronan(rf) 10.09.16 at 12:25 pm

A possible coming political realignment across the west could come from an alliance between domestic religious conservatives (Christian and Muslim), more conservative immigrant populations and “native endogenous growth sects”(ie Mormons, Amish etc. Local fundamentalist groups with high fertility rates, and strong in group retention) This is if values and culture drive politics over this century, which I think they will. If economics does, then the religious (particularly observant Muslims) could go left, as they tend to be more pro economic redistribution in their political beliefs. (Eric Kaufmann provides a more in depth speculation around this topic in “shall the religious inherit the earth?”. The answer being, possibly.)


Raven Onthill 10.09.16 at 12:36 pm

Donald Trump just retweeted Juanita Broaddrick calling Bill Clinton a rapist.

Tell me again how this is in the bag for the Democrats.

(And, yes, of course he was going to go there. He’s Trump.)


Tabasco 10.09.16 at 12:46 pm

All of Trump’s advisers have been telling him not to go after Bill because it will make Hillary look sympathetic. But he did it anyway. Presumably in the debate he will throw the Hail Mary and accuse Hillary of anything and everything.


Patrick S. O'Donnell 10.09.16 at 12:47 pm

Re: John Q, @ 22 and 37: I wish this were true, but having lived in the US for almost 60 years (and having had many of these individuals as students in my classes), I doubt Trump’s beliefs and behavior will have little long-term effect on the evangelical right (however, there is, and has been for some time now, a growing tendency among very young evangelicals to abandon ‘organized’ religion altogether, as well as any clear-cut political affiliation as logically linked to their faith). The “sin and forgiveness” narrative, so to speak (which does not appear to require genuine remorse or sufficient evidence for true individuation or self-realization) trumps all, thus Christians will conveniently plug this story into their (some of the avowed Christian pundits on cable TV have already done so) redemption “theology” (with strong roots in substitutionary atonement doctrine that goes back to Anselm). Evangelical Christians are well known in some quarters for their remarkable capacity for tolerating and sustaining cognitive dissonance, self-deception, and states of denial, hence a public confession and mere expression of regret on the part of the sinner (provided one proclaims a belief in Jesus’s salvific power) will suffice by way of ongoing support for Trump.


Layman 10.09.16 at 12:49 pm

“Tell me again how this is in the bag for the Democrats.”

Nothing is ever in the bag, but this is damned close to it.


kidneystones 10.09.16 at 1:07 pm

@45 The Great Right-wing Konspiracy.

Actually, I expect parts of the media will break ranks simply for branding purposes, especially if interest and ratings start to drop. Ratings demand a race to the end/cliffhanger and that’s if the bottom drops out of Trump’s support mid-low 30s post debate. If Trump survives the weekend and gets to 40 or above in seven days, ‘in the bag’ is going to look a lot more like neck and neck, which is after all what this reality show is all about.

The sink has been thrown. If this crap fest doesn’t knock Trump down he’s going to look a lot more like Teflon Ronnie than many here want to imagine. What a challenge that was to grapple with. TV cowboy and light bulb salesman versus Carter.

Light bulb salesman wins. It’s all white noise from this point forward. At least until the next OMG Trump has to quit now moment.


LFC 10.09.16 at 1:18 pm

Ronan @48
Where have you encountered the argument that “the religious” and esp. “observant Muslims” tend to be more pro-redistribution? (and btw who is Eric Kaufmann — social scientist? journalist? some person on the internet? — and what is “shall the religious inherit the earth?” — book? ac. journal article? magazine article? dissertation? master’s thesis? scribbles on discarded pieces of cardboard? Why should I start googling for something when I don’t have the slightest idea what it is?)


Ronan(rf) 10.09.16 at 1:23 pm

LFC, Eric Kauffman is a political scientist, the reference is a book, and the claims about Muslims are from


Raven Onthill 10.09.16 at 1:36 pm

Layman@52: I prefer Sam Wang and, yes, the current odds of a Clinton victory are high. But if Trump spends a month claiming that Hillary Clinton is accessory to rape, and dragging out all the attacks on William Clinton and claiming that Hillary Clinton was participant, who knows how matters will go?


Rich Puchalsky 10.09.16 at 1:48 pm

Raven Onthill: “But if Trump spends a month claiming that Hillary Clinton is accessory to rape, and dragging out all the attacks on William Clinton and claiming that Hillary Clinton was participant, who knows how matters will go?”

During the primary, Sanders supporters said this might happen. They were told that they were foolish and that everyone was familiar with these allegations against the Clintons already: that HRC was immunized against them. Sanders on the other hand was supposed to be not immunized against nebulous attacks on him because he hadn’t been through the grinder already. So they were foolish for thinking that only HRC could win as Tabasco says above, but they were also foolish for thinking that HRC might lose, and foolish both for thinking that these attacks on the Clintons might be factor and also for thinking that if anyone was bound to win against Trump then why not run the leftward candidate.

That’s what everyone will agree on after this election.


LFC 10.09.16 at 1:55 pm

Ronan @55
thanks. will follow the link.


Layman 10.09.16 at 2:07 pm

“But if Trump spends a month claiming that Hillary Clinton is accessory to rape, and dragging out all the attacks on William Clinton and claiming that Hillary Clinton was participant, who knows how matters will go?”

I expect that this is exactly what he’ll do, but he’ll still lose, because the signal has been sent to the Republican establishment that he’s a loser and that good Republicans can and should abandon him. He can’t get past 40%. Where are the voters who will be swayed by trying to blame Hillary for Bill’s sins, real or imagined? Doesn’t he already have those voters?


jake the antisoshul soshulists 10.09.16 at 2:25 pm

Stein will not get more than 2% of the vote. Gary Johnson might have been a wild card, until he outed himself as an ignoramus. So, it will depend on how much tweeners hate Hillary vs Trump. Clinton needs to continue to give Trump rope. At some point, most
people who consider themselves decent and civil ( and not blinded by ideology) will not be able to bring themselves to vote for Trump. You may seen a surge for Johnson, or
more discouraged voters, likely both. Clinton needs the find the balance between staying positive and pointing out what Trump has said.


efcdons 10.09.16 at 2:42 pm

Re: The gratuitous Bernie Bashing(tm)

For about a week or two, not so long ago when Trump and Clinton were close in the polls and Trump was leading in some states, I read a raft of articles laying the groundwork for the dolchstosslegende with Sanders and his Millennial supporters being the scapegoat. There was a slowly mounting panic and someone other than Clinton needed to be blamed.


Now, riding high, it’s like “my dog could have beat Trump”. Where were you all 3 weeks ago?

The reference to Democrats playing their cards right was in regards to whether Clinton would try tying Trump to the GOP as a direct outgrowth of the party’s underlying nature and decades worth of policies vs. the strategy she chose which was to pain Trump as an aberration that has nothing to do with “real” Republicans.

I think most Republican officials and office holders have played the cards they were dealt in the best way possible. Be the good soldier, but also be clear it is as a loyal Republican who respects the party’s ultimate choice and the GOP primary votes which led to the choice.

Now Trump has given them a chance to distance themselves further and they are going to take it. I don’t think this election will lead to any weakening of the GOP as a party and I don’t think they will loose the Senate, or if they do it will be by one or two seats. The Trump fiasco has given them a coherent message which is don’t worry about Trump, worry about denying Clinton a Democratic Senate.

In 2020 they will be back with a professional candidate who has 99% of the pre-Trump policy positions with but some rhetorical bones will be tossed to the populist right Trump has been able to activate. Mostly I think in the “law and order”, anti-BLM/no inherent bias/anti-the concept of white privilege kind of way. It’s a potentially a scarily effective combo. I don’t know if it will work in the US like similar styles of right wing populism have worked in Europe because the US is too diverse, i.e. there are too many counter votes where in the EU there are enough non-whites/non-Christians to be scary for a voter but not enough to provide an effective political counter force.


Omega Centauri 10.09.16 at 2:47 pm

Those with “sacred values” which are currently part of the Republican tent aren’t going anywhere.
I would include these values as abortion is murder, maximalist gun rights, and resentment towards anyone whom they think is a slacker getting any support from themselves. Generally these people who started as one issue voters have assimilated the other two values of their allies. For these folks, their preeminent issue trumps all else -even Trumps worst character flaws can be forgiven.

One thing I see completely absent from these comments, is some recent data which is inconvenient for the anti soft-neoliberal crowd: median income rose five percent last year, a record. Now this isn’t enough to reverse the increase in inequality since the financial crash, let along of the decades prior. It seems to me this data point suggests that soft-soft-neoliberalism may be a viable means of improving things for the 99%. But, it seems everyone from the right and the left wants to use the perception that things are horrible and only going to get worse, therefore you have to support my radical alternative. This falls right into the hands of Trump supporters “what we have has to be destroyed/replaced, therefore vote for the bomb thrower”.

I see no pathway for improving things for the middle class other than a gradual softening of neo-liberalism.


David 10.09.16 at 2:52 pm

@Ronan. The situation you posit may already be happening in certain countries. It’s a question of the relative weight of social ideas vs economic conditions in the way people vote. In France, which is the example I know best, wealthier members of the immigrant community (not all Muslim) regularly vote for the Right, and indeed there are many elected right-wing politicians from those communities. However, the less well-educated and poorer parts of immigrant communities from the Maghreb and West Africa, who used to vote solidly for the Socialists, are also increasingly voting for the Right, largely for social policy reasons. Gay marriage cost the Socialists an awful lot of votes among the more socially conservative elements of such communities, amplified by a string of other concerns mainly related to educational issues. Several areas to the north of Paris that used to be run by the Communists, and later the Socialists, have now fallen into the hands of the Republicans (ex-UMP). They all have significant populations of recent immigrants from conservative social backgrounds.
What this suggests, to me at least, is that whilst people *generally* vote according to their economic interests where other things are equal, social factors can be decisive under some circumstances. This is why it’s very dangerous for parties that consider themselves to be of the “Left” to think that immigrant communities will vote for them forever, just because they are immigrant communities. By contrast purely ideological factors such as religion (in my experience anyway) seldom seem to translate directly into votes. Which is why I was interested in your reference. It’s not a book I know and there aren’t many details: can you tell us more about it?


Layman 10.09.16 at 2:57 pm

‘Now, riding high, it’s like “my dog could have beat Trump”. Where were you all 3 weeks ago?’

It is entirely about your fee fees.


Anarcissie 10.09.16 at 3:34 pm

David 10.09.16 at 2:52 pm @ 62:
‘This is why it’s very dangerous for parties that consider themselves to be of the “Left” to think that immigrant communities will vote for them forever, just because they are immigrant communities.’

It’s actually a sort of racial position, especially when, in the United States, non-immigrant Black and Latin persons are also assumed to belong to the Democratic Party and the pseudo-Left forever because of their ‘race’, as if one’s political and social positions were determined by one’s ancestry.


Ronan(rf) 10.09.16 at 3:36 pm

David, I’d probably add more confusion than light, so this is probably

The best (and most extensive) review I’ve seen on if.
Kaufmans argument is pretty speculative and is based on assuming continued growth in what he calls “endogenous growth sects” (think the Haredi in Israel) ie fundamentalist groups with high fertility where most who are born into the group stay in it for life. He’s less concerned about more general differences between religions (ie afaicr he predicts that European Muslims will converge on European Christian norms on religiosity and secularism in the medium term). For him the story is what is happening *within* the religions, the growth of politically aware and high fertility fundamentalist groups.
He touches on the political consequences a bit, and runs through a few hypothetical outcomes (such as the cross religious alignment I mentioned above). This is done quite generally though, rather than being overly specific or detail oriented. I don’t think he frames it in the same way I did above (this is more my twist on his basic model, at least as I remember it)
The Khan review linked does a good job of breaking down the bones of his argument though (and doesn’t find it completely convincing. As, in fairness, I don’t think Kaufmann does either)


PJW 10.09.16 at 4:08 pm

That the hard-profanity made this episode different is an interesting and useful observation.

There was a story popular in the Omaha World-Herald newsroom that when its then-publisher Harold Andersen was on a flight home from DC and reading transcripts of Nixon in which the president was using expletives and other coarse language throughout, that this use of language was unacceptable to Andersen and was what pushed the paper to become the first in the nation to call for the president’s resignation. The OWH has always been a conservative paper.


js. 10.09.16 at 5:25 pm

I think that actual believers in evangelical Christianity will turn away from conservative politics.

Oh, I see. Yeah, this isn’t implausible. Evangelicals haven’t always voted as a bloc, after all, and their becoming one wasn’t even a purely organic development—it was pretty deliberate. Will this election push them back in an apolitical direction, re electoral politics? It’s certainly possible.


efcdons 10.09.16 at 5:41 pm


Fee fee purity purity pony Pragmatic Serious fee fee

Why do you even bother discussing anything since everything you don’t agree with or displeases you can only come from deeply irrational feelings. Like, seriously, what is someone supposed to say to that? I know you are but what am I? Its apparently all about your self righteous Very Super Serious fee fees that are always correct no matter the situation.

Ok, dude, you are always right. I think you are great and I will defer to your fee fees in any and all situations. Is that better?


Yankee 10.09.16 at 5:57 pm

It ain’t over till it’s over, and I wouldn’t be surprised if in the spring there weren’t a bunch of Malheurs to be cleaned up. Trump is still way winning among his own demographic. Possibly we are fortunate he didn’t have the guts to double down. So we are all, undone by our insecurities.

Re 2, I think it will be seen that HRC has run a campaign with great tempo management focused on being ahead at the end. Many complained when she dissappeared for August but she came out tanned, rested, and ready in September. Letting T get close works good as an effective motivator for the left.


bruce wilder 10.09.16 at 6:04 pm

Omega Centauri @ 61: median income rose five percent last year

I looked into that. Median income did rise over last year (maybe not quite so much this year, apparently), but by a more modest 2% or so, driven by increases in real wage income, which is not nothing — actually pretty good. The record-setting number appears to be a statistical anomaly attributable to a change in the way the surveyors coded non-wage income, when the information they were given in interviews was an ambiguous or imprecise asset value.

I’ve made the point several times in comments that the Trump voters’ “vote for the bomb thrower” as you put it, only makes political sense in an economic context in which the economy is doing OK: employment is high and things appear stable. That impulse to break the system can only take the form of a middle-finger vote for a ridiculous figure like Trump when the voter is not actually experiencing or even fearing an immediate economic crisis. The economic anxieties and resentments may be real enough, but they are more a matter of the long-festering kind, and the person feeling that “radical” impulse does not appreciate the severe and personally adverse consequences that would follow from the system actually breaking.

The survey research is pretty clear that the core Trump voter is a bit above median in income and perhaps a bit below median in educational attainment, and some of that “just break it” impulse is an expression of being dissatisfied with a political system one doesn’t understand or usually pay much attention to. The economic dissatisfactions blend easily with the usual mix of pre-epistemic political bad attitudes that characterize the authoritarian follower: conventional morality, aggression against out-groups, impatience with due process and moral complexity generally, and so on.

Authoritarian followers are prone to being fooled by personalities like Trump’s. His personality’s orientation to social dominance and his lack of ethical constraints means that he can just keep talking randomly until he says something that they respond to, without experiencing any dissonance. It is why there is a correlation between Trump’s kind of demagogic right-wing politics and the preaching of hypocritical evangelical preachers: they are plugging into the same set of vulnerabilities latent in large groups of people, particularly people who are relatively low status and low in educational attainment: basically people who are dependent and afraid.

Most evangelicals are not invested in a morality of conscience that might be disturbed by evidence of Trump’s hypocrisies. I agree with the earlier comment that the obscenities may be a factor, because that disturbs the morality of convention. Trump, himself, driven by his idiosyncratic form of the narcissistic morality of honor and reputation, may respond in ways shaped more by his own psychological needs than the needs of his base of political supporters. We’ll see just how flexible he is, how willing he is to shape his performance to the needs of his audience instead of himself.


bruce wilder 10.09.16 at 6:06 pm

Yankee @ 69: she came out tanned, rested, and ready in September

with walking pneumonia, but hey!


Layman 10.09.16 at 6:10 pm

@ efcdons, if you write a comment the gist of which is “I’m irritated by what some people said 3 weeks ago compared to what they’re saying now,” what sort of response do you expect? Once I read that, I confess I didn’t care much about the rest of it.


LFC 10.09.16 at 6:15 pm

PJW @66
No doubt the profanity harmed Nixon w certain of his supporters, but my recollection is that the more profound damage the tapes did had to do w substance (at least indirect evidence of obstruction of justice, plus ‘a smoking gun’ where he is shown pretty much ordering the cover-up, tho I forget whether or not that came out in the initial release). Then of course there was also the famous 18-and-a-half-minute gap and the picture of Rosemary Woods contorting herself in an effort to show that she accidentally erased (or cd have erased) part of the tape while on the phone.


bruce wilder 10.09.16 at 6:18 pm

Evangelicals haven’t always voted as a bloc, after all, and their becoming one wasn’t even a purely organic development—it was pretty deliberate. Will this election push them back in an apolitical direction, re electoral politics? It’s certainly possible.

Quite true. Their “natural” inclination seems to be to not vote at all because they are not much interested in politics or political issues of the economic sort. Historically, their rates of voter participation have been relatively low, in the absence of some particular issue on which they focus, like abortion. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell attempted to bring them into Republican politics on a broader reactionary social agenda married to an economic agenda their followers probably didn’t appreciate. Karl Rove was very good at pushing buttons. Anti-gay referendums raised their voter participation rates.


William Berry 10.09.16 at 6:24 pm

@Ronan, LFC: Scott Erik Kaufman’s Ph.D. is in English. I don’t know how that makes him a political scientist.


Ronan(rf) 10.09.16 at 6:30 pm

Eric (eric) Kauffman (different bloke)


LFC 10.09.16 at 6:39 pm

yeah, Scott Erik Kaufman’s the guy who does, doubtless among numerous other things, those cat posts at LGM — which are often very clever and amusing (though personally I’m not a huge fan of cats in the flesh, so to speak). Ahem: end of digression, back to the topic at hand, such as it is.


William Berry 10.09.16 at 6:43 pm

All-righty, then! My bad.*

*Not for the first time, and surely not the last.


Yankee 10.09.16 at 7:30 pm

@ bruce wilder 71
You’re into those media fables, eh? They were rebalancing her hormones so she would look good at the debate, which she surely did. (I made that up. My facts 1-2-3!!)


John M. Burt 10.09.16 at 7:42 pm

The Republicans have no good options at this point.
But then, they don’t deserve any.


merian 10.09.16 at 7:51 pm

engels: Huh, what? I believe this is merely a piece of garbage spam that uses Podesta’s email addres. SRSLY.


merian 10.09.16 at 7:57 pm

(Actually, literally sent to him. Not even email backscatter. Yeah, sure, the guy is responsible for every piece of racist spam he ever received…)


PatinIowa 10.09.16 at 8:00 pm

As a Canadian who naturalized in 2013, and will vote in my first presidential election in November, I have to point to the one thing kidneystones has said that immediately rang true to me:

“[W]e’ll butt out of your elections when you stop managing ours.”

This is why I experience a wave of nausea every time a Clinton supporter tells a person I know who has relatives in Gaza that the only reason he doesn’t like Secretary Clinton is his privilege.

One of the opportunities that the Democrats consistently miss is the opportunity to make US foreign policy less deadly and less criminal. I think a Trump presidency will cause more deaths, at home and abroad. But I don’t think it’s as obvious if it might have been had the Dems nominated someone less hawkish, or if Secretary Clinton had learned the full lesson of Iraq. (Or Libya or Syria or….)


PJW 10.09.16 at 9:53 pm

LFC, that’s my recollection as well. Some of us found the story about the newspaper publisher’s reaction bizarre given all the other bad things Nixon had done, but in line with his personality and therefore not all that surprising. My parents made me watch Nixon’s resignation speech because history. I was 12.


Murray Reiss 10.09.16 at 10:48 pm

“Rather than discredit Trump, this tape should destroy that movement, its leaders, and the cottage industry of enabling journalists and academics who’ve told us for decades that we need to take “people of faith”—by which they mean white evangelicals—more seriously.”

It should. But it won’t. Nothing ever does. I’ve never understood why.


kidneystones 10.09.16 at 10:56 pm

One poll confirms overwhelming majority of GOP voters stand with Trump, can’t stand GOP establishment, don’t want Trump to quit for being vulgar a decade ago.

Who could have imagined that? Certainly not the media. As many non-Democrats are pointing out, Trump’s ‘unforgivable’ remarks didn’t prevent NBC from paying Trump a fortune per episode over a decade.

I won’t be watching the debate, or reading the after action reports by the spin spewers. The furor is already beginning to recede, faster than I’d expected. Support among evangelicals will drop, at least temporarily. How much and for how long is another question. A better question, asked by Byron York, is will it matter if some ‘traditional’ GOP voters dump Trump?

This election, like Brexit, will be determined by cross-over voting, independents, and motivation. Democrats, like the Remain campaign face the immense challenge of convincing a deeply unhappy percentage of the populace (possibly the majority) that HRC is not another years of more of the same only much worse.

That’s the discussion that nobody on the Hillary side wants to have, here or elsewhere, because Crooked Hillary has changed her positions publicly on TPPP and other issues and is the embodiment of the worst aspects of a political process many have grown to hate.

@85 Hi Pat. The attribution should go to JQ. Congrats on the relocation and on your chance to participate in the election!


kidneystones 10.09.16 at 10:56 pm


derrida derider 10.09.16 at 11:40 pm

This is a bit reminiscent of the fall of Nixon. What caused most of Nixon’s hardcore supporters in Congress to abandon him was not Watergate, the Cambodian bombings, or any of his other flagrant illegalities, deceptions and abuses of power but those “expletive deleted”s in that transcript of the White House recordings. It’s kinda like shooting Stalin for swearing.


Raven Onthill 10.10.16 at 12:15 am

Layman@60: Trump is in St. Louis right now with Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddick, Kathleen Willey, and Kathleen Shelton (Hillary Clinton was the appointed defender of Shelton’s rapist), demanding that they be let into the town hall. Trump said that that he thinks millenials ought to hear what they have to say.

Prof. Robin, you may get your wish for a large third-party turnout.


LFC 10.10.16 at 1:00 am

derrida d
What caused most of Nixon’s hardcore supporters in Congress to abandon him was not Watergate, the Cambodian bombings, or any of his other flagrant illegalities, deceptions and abuses of power but those “expletive deleted”s in that transcript of the White House recordings.

Not my recollection or PJW’s — see above.
I was 17 when Nixon resigned. Some of his hardcore congressional supporters stuck w him to the end, and for those who didn’t I don’t think the ‘expletive deleteds’ were anything more than one factor, and not the major one. Anyone in Congress who knew anything must have been aware that Nixon was hardly a Boy Scout in his presentation of self, esp. when he thought he was talking in private (never thought he’d have to turn the tapes over). [That said, I will stand open to correction if someone cites reputable evidence to the contrary — meaning e.g. first-hand interviews showing that the ‘expletive deleteds’ were a really big deal.]

He was guilty of obstruction of justice, after all. Sam Ervin, conservative Dem. who chaired the Watergate hearings, might have been a courtly old gent, but I’m sure he didn’t give a shit how many times Nixon said “shit” on the tapes, and prob. ditto for Republican Howard Baker and for a lot of them.


Anarcissie 10.10.16 at 1:00 am

PatinIowa 10.09.16 at 8:00 pm @ 85 —
US foreign policy / military policy / imperium has been fairly consistent since World War 2 — 70 years now — regardless of which party has had the presidency or Congress. That indicates that there is some mechanism which either filters out candidates for high office who do not agree with the imperial program, or nullifies deviation from the prescribed regime should deviation or error occur among those in office. Therefore, the Democratic Party leadership could probably not do anything about the modifying the program even if they wanted to, which they don’t anyway, because failure to sign on to the program would prevent a person from becoming one of them.


LFC 10.10.16 at 1:08 am

Ok, one addendum.
I haven’t brought myself to watch the videotape, but is it possible that something more than profanity is what makes this the last straw for some people among his supporters?
Isn’t there a difference betw, e.g., calling someone “a fat pig” (which is what his past quotes are mostly like, afaict) and bragging about how he can kiss/grope [sexually assault] someone whenever he wants b/c he’s a star?


kidneystones 10.10.16 at 1:13 am

Bill Clinton Raped Me, Hillary Threatened Me.

Daily Mail headline after Trump holds press conference with Clinton. Media flips when confronted by double standards and accuses Trump of ‘Playing Dirty.’

Try as the media might to control Trump, Trump has now made Bill Clinton’s tawdry past a ‘legitimate’ topic for tonight’s debate.

Which is worse: saying something crude.

Or, first the state’s top law officer raped me, then his wife attacked me for trying to report the crime. Media ignores accusations of abuse over decades. Then, accused rapist lies to world about exploiting and abusing volunteers at the highest level of government. Finally confesses to a single instance

I’d personally prefer to hear about the issues.


kidneystones 10.10.16 at 1:28 am

@94 Voting is weeks away. This isn’t the last last straw. It’s only the most recent last straw. There’s still ample time for tens, or hundreds of last, last straws.

Once in the booth, the decision becomes: 4-8 years of being screwed by Clintons? Yes/No.

I just watched a Sky News presenter try repeatedly to shame Farage into denouncing Trump as ‘unfit’ to be president on the basis of this tape. Bullying the public into a de facto vote for one candidate will be seen as just that. The media created this mess, in concert with the HRC campaign, to push Hillary’s dishonesty revealed in the leaks and emails out of the public view.

Trump will use the media bias to pivot onto lying Hillary, lying for Bill, lying in the leaks about ‘public’ and ‘private’ policy positions in paid speeches to the hated banksters, and lying to American voters about jobs, education, health care, infrastructure, foreign policy etc, etc.

His base hasn’t budged. The politico morning after poll has him down 5, which is fine.

Hillary’s base is much less committed. He may he yet screw it up, but has survived every single ‘last straw’ to date. I’m beginning to think that this ‘last straw’ meme is just another media creation.


Raven Onthill 10.10.16 at 3:36 am

Tonight Donald Trump threatened, if elected, to jail Hillary Clinton. Even Nixon didn’t do that. He really is some special sort of awful. Woodrow Wilson actually did it, of course, so this has a precedent, but it is not a good one. (And if he gets away with it, you don’t think he’ll stop with Clinton, do you?)

He is an obvious narcissistic liar, and I would take more comfort in noticing that if I didn’t know how poorly defended many of us are against those.


LFC 10.10.16 at 4:08 am

@Raven O.

Trump said if elected he wd get the AG to appoint a prosecutor to look into HRC’s conduct w/r/t the emails (a journalist pointed out correctly afterward that that in itself wd overstep the bounds of presidential authority, as Pres. can’t order the AG to do that).

Then HRC in response said it’s good that someone w Trump’s temperament is not in charge of the justice system. At which pt Trump interrupted w “b/c you would be in jail.” I took that more as a dumb riposte than an actual threat — though Trump did seem to be serious about the prosecutor thing, even though it’s something the pres. can’t lawfully do.


Raven Onthill 10.10.16 at 4:16 am

LFC@98: See second paragraph, “Obvious narcissistic liar.”

I’m sure he’d try. He might even succeed.


Suzanne 10.10.16 at 5:33 am

@94: Very much so. It’s one thing to “know” it and another to see and hear it. (Particularly from a sexagenarian father of several children whose young wife was pregnant with his fourth at the time.)

Trump did hand over a hostage to fortune tonight when he flatly denied that he had ever done what he told Billy Bush he did. We already have Jill Harth to the contrary, although I don’t know anything about her story beyond the Kristof column.

On the plus side for Trump, it looks as if he has brought low yet another member of the Bush family, for which he deserves the thanks of a grateful nation. Billy Bush has been suspended from the Today show.


kidneystones 10.10.16 at 6:20 am

Haven’t watched all, but clips run whilst reading.

Those dreaming that locker-room talk was all Trump could serve up must be shitting bricks. The bottom could fall out for Trump. Yes, it could.

Twas about issues as much as the moderators and HRC wanted it to be about teh Donald.

He stomped her good. The email exchange was particularly poignant.

How dare he try to win!!


kidneystones 10.10.16 at 7:53 am

“Trump’s Great Escape: Hillary Fails to Nail Donald.”

New Daily Mail Headline.

“Clinton established herself as a superior bureaucrat Sunday night with more mature knowledge of foreign policy minutiae and a more intelligible way of communicating details about how laws are made.

But Trump won on points in what has become the Year of the Outsider, playing to a national television audience that polls show are weary of Washington’s same-old same-old and eager for new blood.”


kidneystones 10.10.16 at 8:35 am

Talking Points Memo figures the “Go Fuck Yourself” tweet from the Hillary campaign is a win.


kidneystones 10.10.16 at 8:42 am

Just googled “Jesse Lehrich go fuck yourself.”

Of course, nobody in the entire world is now talking about the Jesse Lehrich Clinton campaign tweet, or the apology from Brian Fallon, Clinton’s national press secretary.

Not the Independent, Wapo, CNN….nobody

Talk about shooting yourself in the face.


casmilus 10.10.16 at 10:51 am

My first reaction to this story was to think “I bet CrookedTimber will have an article saying it doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. They’ve sort-of done that already.”


Cranky Observer 10.10.16 at 11:32 am
“CNN)Donald Trump exceeded expectations, but Hillary Clinton won the second presidential debate, according to a CNN / ORC poll of debate watchers. The results showed a clear victory for Clinton, with 57% saying Clinton won, as opposed to 34% for Trump. ”

Numerous reality-based commentators predicted before the debate that the line from the traditional media would be that Trump “exceeded expectations”, with no reference to the absolute level of performance. Have to pump up the ratings for the 3rd debate doncha know.


Lee A. Arnold 10.10.16 at 12:17 pm

Good luck with pumping up the ratings for the 3rd debate! The networks are probably hoping they can run their revenue programs instead. Unless Trump levitates into the air on a cloud of glory, or Hillary collapses from exhaustion, this election feels like it’s already over.

In other obvious news, this debate outcome may be an even bigger long-term disaster for the GOP than if Trump had completely imploded.


burritoboy 10.10.16 at 5:03 pm

“Quite true. Their “natural” inclination seems to be to not vote at all because they are not much interested in politics or political issues of the economic sort. Historically, their rates of voter participation have been relatively low, in the absence of some particular issue on which they focus, like abortion. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell attempted to bring them into Republican politics on a broader reactionary social agenda married to an economic agenda their followers probably didn’t appreciate.”

I would have to say this is, on balance, not true. American evangelicalism has always been very closely tied to what they call some variation of “true blue Americanism”. These type of terms come up frequently throughout their history. One example: the evangelical community gradually grew stronger and stronger in opposition to FDR as his time in office progressed. The evangelical community phrased their complex of criticism of FDR as that FDR was not a true American, or was anti-American or a similar formulation.

Or, more foundationally, American evangelicalism from its foundation was inherently and deeply political. The movement’s founding documents are The Fundamentals, a series of books funded by a right-wing oil tycoon, and which are highly politically combative. The Fundamentals contained large sections denouncing socialism, recent immigrants (in the guise of criticizing the Catholic Church) and so on.


Rich Puchalsky 10.10.16 at 5:51 pm

casmilus: “My first reaction to this story was to think “I bet CrookedTimber will have an article saying it doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. They’ve sort-of done that already.””

Bob knows already.


gocart mozart 10.10.16 at 9:48 pm


Suzanne 10.10.16 at 10:33 pm

@107: We’re already seeing something of the GOP’s new dilemma embodied in Paul Ryan, Profile in Jell-O. If Trump had crashed and burned, it would be okay to run for the lifeboats, but he rallied the diehards and now it’s war. The schadenfreude is just off the charts.


roger gathmann 10.10.16 at 11:11 pm

trump has changed the GOP. In the recent past, the GOP took their utopian blueprint from Atlas Shrugged. Now they take it from Handmaid’s Tale, from a sort of non-Atwood p.o.v. Lockeroomery for all the girls. Trump’s remarks explain, as well, the sexual charge of de-funding Planned Parenthood. If your old lady isn’t pregnant, how can you get a real charge on cheating on her? This explains a lot.
You know who is never going to get any credit? Valerie Solanas. I can’t help but think of her SCUM manifesto when I hear the defenses of Trump, or the outraged GOP cries that this is something that they don’t want happening to wife, daughter or sister – cause of course, women are defined by their relationship to men – I think, Solanas, you crazy prophet you. .


Tabasco 10.10.16 at 11:17 pm


The politico morning after poll has him down 5, which is fine

The most recent poll, from NBC/WSJ, has him down 14, which is also fine, but in a different way. On those numbers, we are entering Johnson/Goldwater territory.


kidneystones 10.11.16 at 4:01 am

@113 Actually, I expect parts of the media will break ranks simply for branding purposes, especially if interest and ratings start to drop. Ratings demand a race to the end/cliffhanger and that’s if the bottom drops out of Trump’s support mid-low 30s post debate. If Trump survives the weekend and gets to 40 or above in seven days, ‘in the bag’ is going to look a lot more like neck and neck, which is after all what this reality show is all about. My @54 takes into account a drop to 32-33.

If this looks like anything other than a concerted attempt by the press and the Hillary campaign to drive down poll numbers, let me know.

I stand by my original. If Trump is within 5 by election day, he can win. If he’s even or slightly ahead it’s his. He was outspent 40-1 in key battleground states to keep it even, or Hillary ahead by single digits. He got his issues out in the debate, when you suggested he couldn’t.

The pundits had Trump quitting after the tape and before the debate.

The poll you cite, if I recall, has her at 50 and him at 38, or so. Very few folks are going to defend Trump on camera, or even privately, when any approval questions make any mention of the tape, or any other misdemeanor.

All indicators say he should lose, and perhaps in the kind of landslide you hope for/predict. With any other set of candidates, and in almost any other election I’d probably agree. But 38 isn’t 32. 50 isn’t 55. She’s not well-liked and, as Corey notes, in his most recent piece, Hillary allies are amping up the outrage to ‘unprecedented levels – something we’ve never seen before.” Pant, pant, pant.

Should be an interesting few weeks. Some conservative pundits believe the real avalanche of mud is yet to come.


Tabasco 10.11.16 at 4:22 am

Some conservative pundits believe the real avalanche of mud is yet to come.

Quite likely. He’s been a public figure speaking into microphones for over 30 years. No doubt there’s a lot of material to choose from. For most of that time he cultivated his locker room image, such as telling the NY newspapers, when he was divorcing his first wife, that he was dumping her because her breasts felt different after she got implants, or joking that he’d like to sex with his daughter. The gold mine, apparently, is what he said off-camera on The Apprentice. How many people do you think are now trying to get that material? 100? 1000? 10000? One little leak …


kidneystones 10.11.16 at 4:43 am

@ 115 “How many…are…?” Probably better to ask how many aren’t.

I’m delighted, of course, to see so many purportedly sensible people shrieking over what a popular vulgarian reality-TV star said both privately and publicly over his decades-long career.

Hillary and her ilk are counting on the panty-sniffers to carry her over the finish line.

Good times!


floopmeister 10.11.16 at 4:47 am

Really enjoying watching kidneystone piss himself.

Pun intended.


kidneystones 10.11.16 at 5:02 am

117 Always delighted to learn how I can brighten a day.

Please feel free to imagine I didn’t laugh out loud reading your comment and that I’m now cursing your very existence.

Panty-sniffers for freedom!

Don’t forget to lick the glove this November.


Tabasco 10.11.16 at 5:11 am


You can’t dismiss the fact that he is a vulgarian. It’s his vulgarity that appeals to the base. (Case in point: the man at a Trump rally, there with his wife and three kids, wearing a “Hillary is a [c-word]” T-shirt.) It’s because of his vulgarity that he beat Cruz and Rubio. Trump’s vulgarity is central to his politics. It is fair game.


kidneystones 10.11.16 at 5:26 am

119 Not a bit. You’re quite right and that’s why I think he’ll win. The prudes only profess to be shocked when asked questions like ‘would you want your daughter blah, blah, blah?’

Who’s going to admit on camera they’re not shocked, or appalled? Who’s going to choose clean language over jobs in November? That’s a different, but altogether very real question.

Had Hillary actually adopted job-creating policies and avoided wars, rather than siding with the globalists and the neo-cons, she’d win in walk. She’s not trusted on these issues and for very good reasons.

Which is why the entire world is ‘discovering’ for the very first time that Donald Trump is a vulgarian, but is now ‘horrified’ by his behavior instead of clapping as they used to during the decades he provided so much of the kind of tasteful entertainment Americans love and tuned into nightly.


kidneystones 10.11.16 at 5:34 am

@119 Further to this. As long as Trump keeps apologizing each time he’s challenged on it he’s home free. Had he not apologized, he’d be finished.

And when the Apprentice tapes emerge, as they surely will, Trump slips into ‘I was an entertainer. That’s part of my stage persona and for years people loved it.’

Moving onto the issue of jobs and decades of failure…

The end.


The Fool 10.11.16 at 4:19 pm

You’re missing the point. This is not yet another example of Trump’s misogynistic attitude. This is Trump’s confession that he regularly commits sexual assault.


Layman 10.11.16 at 4:30 pm

“Really enjoying watching kidneystone piss himself.”

Indeed. And now, of course, the polls are lying, sometimes. If a poll shows Trump close, this means he’ll win. If it shows he’s not close, this means he’ll win. It’s funny.


dax 10.14.16 at 9:04 am

” but that the pragmatic argument for Hillary was misguided because Trump would beat her, whereas Bernie would beat him.”

Gosh I hate Hillary supporters. The pragmatic argument for Hillary was: you need to vote Hillary because Hillary was more electable. And now, against the worst major candidate in history – well, okay, maybe only the past decade or so – Hillary was running neck-and-neck until the establishment media got so scared that it went all in for her candidacy. And she might still flub it.

BTW the pragmatic argument turns on a counterfactual, so I’m afraid Hillary winning (or losing) doesn’t show whether it is true or not.

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