Blow and Krugman

In “The G.O.P.’s Cynical Gay Ploy” Mr. Blow says suggesting that Trump and the Republicans would best serve the L.G.B.T. community is absurd on many levels.  Prof. Krugman, in “A Tale of Two Parties,” asks why is Hillary Clinton holding up so well against Donald Trump? And why were establishment Republicans so hapless?  Here’s Mr. Blow:

One of the most brazen — craven even — ploys by Republicans in the wake of the Orlando massacre has been to suggest, incredibly, that they would be better for the L.G.B.T. community than the Democrats.

At a rally on Thursday, Donald Trump said “L.G.B.T is starting to like Donald Trump very much lately, I will tell you, starting to like Donald Trump very, very much lately.” He mentioned that the Clinton Foundation had taken money from countries where “they kill gays,” and continued:

“So you tell me who’s better for the gay community and who’s better for women than Donald Trump?”

As Tierney Sneed of Talking Points Memo put it last week:

“The same Republicans who have argued that gay couples should not be allowed to marry, that L.G.B.T. Americans don’t need federal anti-discrimination protections and that trans people should not use the bathroom that matches their identity are now claiming that they — not Democrats — are the party on the L.G.B.T. community’s side.”

Republican Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama took it even further, saying last week:

“The Democrats are in a perplexing position. On the one hand, they’re trying to appeal to the gay community, but, on the other hand, they’re trying to also appeal to the Muslim community, which, if it had its way, would kill every homosexual in the United States of America.”

But the L.G.B.T community is not deceived by this treachery, in which the mouth speaks of protections while the hands and heart toil away at subjugation, if not destruction.

An analysis this month by The Washington Post of state efforts to limit L.G.B.T. rights found that:

“Since 2013, legislatures have introduced 254 bills, 20 of which became law. According to data collected by the American Civil Liberties Union and analyzed by The Washington Post, the number of bills introduced has increased steadily each year. In the first half of 2016 alone, 87 bills that could limit L.G.B.T. rights have been introduced, a steep increase from previous years.”

It is no wonder then that in a May opinion piece, Gallup’s Frank Newport pointed out that just 18 percent of those who identify as L.G.B.T. held a favorable opinion of Trump.

These vacuous appeals fly in the face of facts and are simultaneously laughable and infuriating.

At first, I couldn’t figure out the motive and mechanism of these appeals.

Were they about abject silliness, or a political senility, or an exercise in depraved cynicism? In any case, it is flat out wrong and a distortion of the reality — both in the language of hate and the policies of inequality — that queers know and live.

Then it occurred to me that these weren’t appeals to the L.G.B.T. community at all. This wasn’t a way of peeling off the rainbow contingent from liberals’ rainbow coalition, but instead a way of making Republicans and amenable independents feel good about supporting the party’s schismatic policies. This was a way to salvage nobility for the homophobic, to say that there are factional benefits for tribalism, that liberalism itself is flawed because you can’t house the wolves with the rabbits.

But this too shall fail.

Republicans want us to forget that, according to the former George W. Bush campaign manager and Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman (who has since come out himself as gay), Republicans like Karl Rove have used anti-gay marriage amendments in crucial states to help draw homophobes to the polls and benefit Republicans.

As The Atlantic reported in a profile of Mehlman in 2010:

“Mehlman’s leadership positions in the G.O.P. came at a time when the party was stepping up its anti-gay activities — such as the 2006 distribution in West Virginia of literature linking homosexuality to atheism, or the less-than-subtle, coded language in the party’s platform (‘Attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country…’). Mehlman said at the time that he could not, as an individual Republican, go against the party consensus. He was aware that Karl Rove, President Bush’s chief strategic adviser, had been working with Republicans to make sure that anti-gay initiatives and referenda would appear on November ballots in 2004 and 2006 to help Republicans.”

Maybe Republicans want us to forget that, as ThinkProgress reported in December:

“Six of the Republican candidates vying for the presidency have signed a pledge promising to support legislation during their first 100 days in the White House that would use the guise of “religious liberty” to give individuals and businesses the right to openly discriminate against L.G.B.T. people.”

They want us to forget that although people of all political stripes have evolved on the issue of gay equality — including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton —Republicans are the trailing edge of that evolution.

No amount of the exploitation of fear and the revising of history is going to change what we know about the Republican Party and their continued abysmal record on gay rights.

In the wake of tragedy, you can’t conveniently hang the L.G.B.T. community on the tree of life as a glistening ornament. You must recognize, now and always, that the L.G.B.T. community is a most natural branch of that tree.

Now here’s Prof. Krugman:

Do you remember what happened when the Berlin Wall fell? Until that moment, nobody realized just how decadent Communism had become. It had tanks, guns, and nukes, but nobody really believed in its ideology anymore; its officials and enforcers were mere careerists, who folded at the first shock.

It seems to me that you need to think about what happened to the G.O.P. this election cycle the same way.

The Republican establishment was easily overthrown because it was already hollow at the core. Donald Trump’s taunts about “low-energy” Jeb Bush and “little Marco” Rubio worked because they contained a large element of truth. When Mr. Bush and Mr. Rubio dutifully repeated the usual conservative clichés, you could see that there was no sense of conviction behind their recitations. All it took was the huffing and puffing of a loud-mouthed showman to blow their houses down.

But as Mr. Trump is finding out, the Democratic establishment is different.

As some political scientists are now acknowledging, America’s two major parties are not at all symmetric. The G.O.P. is, or was until Mr. Trump arrived, a top-down hierarchical structure enforcing a strict, ideologically pure party line. The Democrats, by contrast, are a “coalition of social groups,” from teachers’ unions to Planned Parenthood, seeking specific benefits from government action.

This diversity of interests sometimes reduces Democrats’ effectiveness: the old Will Rogers joke, “I am not a member of any organized political party — I’m a Democrat” still rings true. But it also means that the Democratic establishment, such as it is, is resilient against Trump-style coups.

But wait: Didn’t Hillary Clinton face her own insurgency in the person of Bernie Sanders, which she barely turned back? Actually, no.

For one thing, it wasn’t all that close. Mrs. Clinton won pledged delegates by almost four times Barack Obama’s margin in 2008; she won the popular vote by double digits.

Nor did she win by burying her rival in cash. In fact, Mr. Sanders outspent her all the way, spending twice on much as she did on ads in New York, which she won by 16 percentage points.

Also, Mrs. Clinton faced immense, bizarre hostility from the news media. Last week Harvard’s Shorenstein Center released a report on media treatment of the candidates during 2015, showing that Mrs. Clinton received by far the most unfavorable coverage. Even when reports focused on issues rather than alleged scandals, 84 percent of her coverage was negative — twice as high as for Mr. Trump. As the report notes, “Clinton’s negative coverage can be equated to millions of dollars in attack ads, with her on the receiving end.”

And yet she won, fairly easily, because she had the solid support of key elements of the Democratic coalition, especially nonwhite voters.

But will this resilience persist in the general election? Early indications are that it will. Mr. Trump briefly pulled close in the polls after he clinched the Republican nomination, but he has been plunging ever since. And that’s despite the refusal of Mr. Sanders to concede or endorse the presumptive nominee, with at least some Bernie or Busters still telling pollsters that they won’t back her.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump is flailing. He’s tried all the tactics that worked for him in the Republican contest — insults, derisive nicknames, boasts — but none of it is sticking. Conventional wisdom said that he would be helped by a terrorist attack, but the atrocity in Orlando seems to have hurt him instead: Mrs. Clinton’s response looked presidential, his didn’t.

Worse yet from his point of view, there’s a concerted effort by Democrats — Mrs. Clinton herself, Elizabeth Warren, President Obama, and more — to make the great ridiculer look ridiculous (which he is). And it seems to be working.

Why is Mrs. Clinton holding up so well against Mr. Trump, when establishment Republicans were so hapless? Partly it’s because America as a whole, unlike the Republican base, isn’t dominated by angry white men; partly it’s because, as anyone watching the Benghazi hearing realized, Mrs. Clinton herself is a lot tougher than anyone on the other side.

But a big factor, I’d argue, is that the Democratic establishment in general is fairly robust. I’m not saying that its members are angels, which they aren’t. Some, no doubt, are personally corrupt. But the various groups making up the party’s coalition really care about and believe in their positions — they’re not just saying what the Koch brothers pay them to say.

So pay no attention to anyone claiming that Trumpism reflects either the magical powers of the candidate or some broad, bipartisan upsurge of rage against the establishment. What worked in the primary won’t work in the general election, because only one party’s establishment was already dead inside.

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