Blow and Krugman

In “G.O.P. Has Only Itself to Blame” Mr. Blow says Donald Trump’s conquest of the Republican Party comes at a big price for its future.  Prof. Krugman considers “The Making of an Ignoramus” and says Trump’s bad ideas are largely a bombastic version of what many in his party have been saying.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

The Republican Party is trapped between a rock and huckster.

Now that all of their other presidential candidates have dropped out of the race, Donald Trump is the last demagogue standing. He is their presumptive nominee. Their party belongs to him. It’s a YUUGE … disaster.

Now the few remaining serious folks in that party have to make a decision: support this man who, if current trends in polling hold, is likely to lose the general election by an overwhelming margin (and likely do even more damage to the party brand and hurt the chances of down-ballot candidates), or they can … wait, they don’t really have another option other than to sit out this cycle and pretend that their party hasn’t gone stark raving mad.

The House speaker, Paul Ryan, told CNN last week that he is “just not ready” to support Trump.

Jeb Bush posted on Facebook, “I will not vote for Donald Trump.” His brother and father are both refusing to endorse Trump.

Mitt Romney, the Republicans’ last presidential nominee, has also said that he won’t support Trump.

Lindsey Graham said last week that he “cannot in good conscience” support Trump.

Many prominent Republicans have also indicated that they will skip the party’s convention.

CNN reported last week that Erick Erickson, a conservative blogger, radio host and leader of the #NeverTrump movement, has “had a number of conversations about laying the groundwork for a third-party candidate to oppose Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the general election.”

“If the delegates ratify this madness in Cleveland, many of us will look elsewhere for a credible candidate to oppose both Trump and Clinton,” Erickson told CNN.

If you didn’t already believe that whoever wins the Democratic nomination would be a huge favorite to win in November, a third-party conservative candidate would seal the deal.

But please, shed not a single tear for this conservative calamity. They brought it on themselves. They allowed their unhinged contempt for — and in some cases, even hatred of — Obama drive them insane, into the arms of a walking absurdity who catered to their rage.

Now, that man — simultaneously an unbelievable joke and an undeniable threat — is on the verge of ripping the party, and indeed the country, apart (even as he insists that he’s “very much a unifier”).

It’s not that Trump’s chances of winning in November are particularly good. According to The Upshot, “If today’s general election polling holds true, Hillary Clinton will easily defeat Donald Trump.”

The Los Angeles Times put it in even starker terms: “To reach the 270 electoral votes it takes, the businessman and reality TV star will have to carry a number of states that have not voted Republican in well over a generation, while prevailing in several battlegrounds where, polls show, he starts behind.”

No, the threat is not that he will necessarily win, but that he will further poison our national dialogue in the six months between now and Election Day, and the off chance that maybe, just maybe, a September surprise could turn his sliver of a chance into an actual victory.

This what-if, worst-case possibility that America might do the unimaginable — and elect Trump to our highest office — is severely unsettling.

Even the president, speaking of Trump at a press conference on Friday, had to impress upon everyone how serious it is that the country is flirting with disaster: “I just want to emphasize the degree to which we are in serious times and this is a really serious job. This is not entertainment. This is not a reality show. This is a contest for the presidency of the United States. ”

Sure, there are some prominent Republicans tucking their tails, biting their tongues and swallowing hard as they begrudgingly announce their support for the presumptive Republican nominee.

But they no doubt see what the Pew Research Center reported last month: “Unfavorable opinions of the G.O.P. are now as high as at any point since 1992.” They know that Trump will send that number sinking, as if tied to a brick.

Trump has used a toxic mix of bullying and bluster, xenophobia and nationalism, misogyny and racism, to appeal to the darker nature of the Republican Party and secure his place as the unlikeliest presidential nominee in recent American history.

That paved his path, coupled with what Jim Clifton, chairman and C.E.O. at Gallup, called earlier this year “a staggering” three-fourths of Americans believing “corruption is ‘widespread’ in the U.S. government.” As Clifton emphasized: “Not incompetence, but corruption.”

There is real pain in America, and where you sit along the ideological spectrum dictates whom you see as your Satan and whom as your savior. It appears that enough Republican voters have opted for the combo package, for which the party is likely to pay a hefty price.

Congratulations, Republicans, you’ve hitched yourselves to the madman-driven carriage, and it’s heading for the cliff.

And it couldn’t happen to a nicer group of racists, homophobes and morons.  Now here’s Prof. Krugman:

Truly, Donald Trump knows nothing. He is more ignorant about policy than you can possibly imagine, even when you take into account the fact that he is more ignorant than you can possibly imagine. But his ignorance isn’t as unique as it may seem: In many ways, he’s just doing a clumsy job of channeling nonsense widely popular in his party, and to some extent in the chattering classes more generally.

Last week the presumptive Republican presidential nominee — hard to believe, but there it is — finally revealed his plan to make America great again. Basically, it involves running the country like a failing casino: he could, he asserted, “make a deal” with creditors that would reduce the debt burden if his outlandish promises of economic growth don’t work out.

The reaction from everyone who knows anything about finance or economics was a mix of amazed horror and horrified amazement. One does not casually suggest throwing away America’s carefully cultivated reputation as the world’s most scrupulous debtor — a reputation that dates all the way back to Alexander Hamilton.

The Trump solution would, among other things, deprive the world economy of its most crucial safe asset, U.S. debt, at a time when safe assets are already in short supply.

Of course, we can be sure that Mr. Trump knows none of this, and nobody in his entourage is likely to tell him. But before we simply ridicule him — or, actually, at the same time that we’re ridiculing him — let’s ask where his bad ideas really come from.

First of all, Mr. Trump obviously believes that America could easily find itself facing a debt crisis. But why? After all, investors, who are willing to lend to America at incredibly low interest rates, are evidently not worried by our debt. And there’s good reason for their calmness: federal interest payments are only 1.3 percent of G.D.P., or 6 percent of total outlays.

These numbers mean both that the burden of the debt is fairly small and that even complete repudiation of that debt would have only a minor impact on the government’s cash flow.

So why is Mr. Trump even talking about this subject? Well, one possible answer is that lots of supposedly serious people have been hyping the alleged threat posed by federal debt for years. For example, Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, has warned repeatedly about a “looming debt crisis.” Indeed, until not long ago the whole Beltway elite seemed to be in the grip of BowlesSimpsonism, with its assertion that debt was the greatest threat facing the nation.

A lot of this debt hysteria was really about trying to bully us into cutting Social Security and Medicare, which is why so many self-proclaimed fiscal hawks were also eager to cut taxes on the rich. But Mr. Trump apparently wasn’t in on that particular con, and takes the phony debt scare seriously. Sad!

Still, even if he misunderstands the fiscal situation, how can he imagine that it would be O.K. for America to default? One answer is that he’s extrapolating from his own business career, in which he has done very well by running up debts, then walking away from them.

But it’s also true that much of the Republican Party shares his insouciance about default. Remember, the party’s congressional wing deliberately set about extracting concessions from President Obama, using the threat of gratuitous default via a refusal to raise the debt ceiling.

And quite a few Republican lawmakers defended that strategy of extortion by arguing that default wouldn’t be that bad, that even with its access to funds cut off the U.S. government could “prioritize” payments, and that the financial disruption would be no big deal.

Given that history, it’s not too hard to understand why candidate Trump thinks not paying debts in full makes sense.

The important thing to realize, then, is that when Mr. Trump talks nonsense, he’s usually just offering a bombastic version of a position that’s widespread in his party. In fact, it’s remarkable how many ridiculous Trumpisms were previously espoused by Mitt Romney in 2012, from his claim that the true unemployment rate vastly exceeds official figures to his claim that he can bring prosperity by starting a trade war with China.

None of this should be taken as an excuse for Mr. Trump. He really is frighteningly uninformed; worse, he doesn’t appear to know what he doesn’t know. The point, instead, is that his blithe lack of knowledge largely follows from the know-nothing attitudes of the party he now leads.

Oh, and just for the record: No, it’s not the same on the other side of the aisle. You may dislike Hillary Clinton, you may disagree sharply with her policies, but she and the people around her do know their facts. Nobody has a monopoly on wisdom, but in this election, one party has largely cornered the market in raw ignorance.

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One Response to “Blow and Krugman”

  1. John in NY Says:

    Having careened into the Chancery often enough to know the guards by first name Trump is so scary that Blow’s characterization of the outcome for the Dems in the next election are suggesting to some voters to not bother. Dems cannot become casual about the strategy being played out. Especially so if u don’t buy that he is without the benefit of the large money ball players in the Republican league. I can’t imagine with a sense of confidence as low as 5% that Koch Industries was looking to back anyone but the former owner of TRE. It mystifies me that after listening to most of a pod on NPR about his plan to default take three that he not only made no sense. But that the parties to the interview couldn’t muster a reply to put him on the spot. Believe me I tried in vain to listen to this preposterous nonsense but ten minutes of my life I can’t get back is too much to ask in the name of Truth. I fear however that the Huey Long’s of American politics never had issues convincing the crowd hanging onto the secrets of the world order so why should Trump. Hitler BTW was elected to office.

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