The Moustache of Wisdom has decided to tell us all about “How Clinton Could Knock Trump Out.” He tells us that she could win over Republicans who now feel orphaned if she had the right pro-growth economic policies. That last phrase is the kicker. I don’t usually add a reply to his stuff, but this one is worthy of it. We’ll let “Matthew Carnicelli” from Brooklyn take him on. Mr. Bruni says people should “Stop Indulging Trump,” and that for the G.O.P., the moment of reckoning with the billionaire’s unfitness for office is here. Here’s TMOW:
Maybe I just missed it. But in all the testimonials at the Democratic convention about what Hillary Clinton has done for other people, I don’t recall anyone saying, “I started a business because of Hillary Clinton.” Or, “I hired someone because of Hillary Clinton.”
We heard from first responders, veterans, grieving parents and victims of terrorism, rape and various forms of discrimination. There was just one group that was conspicuously absent: the people who drive our economy by inventing things or by borrowing money to start companies that actually employ people.
Watching the convention, you would never know that what also makes America great is that generation after generation, people full of ideas risk their savings to start companies that provide work and paychecks. And only by generating more of these risk-takers will more people get hired for the good jobs Clinton promised.
The only things that were remotely growth-related in her speech were glancing references to a government-led infrastructure investment program (Go for it!) and her vow “to give small businesses a boost. Make it easier to get credit.”
To do that, though, would run smack into the anti-bank sentiment of the Democratic Party, since small community banks provide about half the loans to small businesses, and it is precisely those banks that have been most choked by the post-2008 regulations. We need to prevent recklessness, not risk-taking.
I raise this for two reasons. The first: Donald Trump may not stay stupid forever (although he might!), and therefore Hillary will have to beat him on the central economic issue of growth. Trump spent the past few days trashing the parents of a heroic Muslim American soldier who lost his life in Iraq. The parents had — rightly — criticized Trump. But in his return fire, Trump shot himself in both feet, losing support in his own party.
Trump defended his Twitter tantrum against the soldier’s parents with a sixth-grader’s playground defense: “He called me a name.” He forgot that his own convention engaged in a mad chant of “lock her up” about Clinton, but she ignored it and stayed on her message. That’s what adults do.
Mind you, I hope Trump remains in his total whack-job mode, because it distracted attention from the latest economic news — that was perfectly set up for Trump to take political advantage of — that the economy grew an anemic 1.2 percent in the second quarter, and growth in the first quarter was revised downward. That economic news was teed up for Trump, the self-styled job-creator, and he shanked it deep into the woods, for it never to be heard from again.
Trump has gone amazingly far without having done an ounce of homework in preparation for the presidency, relying instead on feeding tweets to an anxious G.O.P. base. His candidacy should be over by now. But it isn’t.
It scares me that people are so fed up with elites, so hate and mistrust Clinton and are so worried about the future — jobs, globalization and terrorism — that a bare majority could still fall for this self-infatuated carnival barker if he exhibited half a political brain.
And that leads to my second reason for pushing Clinton to inject some capitalism into her economic plan: The coalition she could lead. If there is one thing that is not going to revive growth right now, it is an anti-trade, regulatory heavy, socialist-lite agenda the Democratic Party has drifted to under the sway of Bernie Sanders. Socialism is the greatest system ever invented for making people equally poor. Capitalism makes people unequally rich, but I would much rather grow our pie bigger and faster and better adjust the slices than redivide a shrinking one.
There are a lot of center-right, business Republicans today feeling orphaned by Trump. They can’t vote for him — but a lot of them still claim they can’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary, either. Clinton should be reaching out to them with a real pro-growth, start-up, deregulation, entrepreneurship agenda and give them a positive reason to vote for her.
It makes sense politically: Take Trump on at his self-proclaimed strength. And it makes sense economically: If Clinton wins, she will need to get stuff done, not just give stuff away.
I get that she had to lean toward Sanders and his voters to win the nomination; their concerns with fairness and inequality are honorable. But those concerns can be addressed only with economic growth; the rising anti-immigration sentiments in the country can be defused only with economic growth; the general anxiety feeding Trumpism can be eased only with economic growth.
Sanders had no plan whatsoever for growth. Trump doesn’t, either, but he can fake it. It’s time that Hillary pivoted. The country today doesn’t need the first female president. It needs the first president in a long time who can govern with a center-left, center-right coalition, and actually end the gridlock on fiscal policy in a smart way.
If Trump continues to melt down into a puddle of bile, more and more Republicans will be up for grabs. With the right pro-growth economic policies, Clinton would have an opening to not only enlist them to help her win, but to build a governing coalition for the morning after.
Now here’s what “Matthew Carnicelli” had to say about that:
“Tom, I believe that I need to explain the facts of political life to you. I shouldn’t have to do this, but some of us are evidently too comfortable living in glass houses.
Regulations are nothing but an extension of the bedrock constitutional principle of checks and balances, extended to the corporate and personal sphere. We have regulations because men are not angels, have been total screw ups in the recent past, and are not likely to become angels any time soon.
You are a perfect illustration of how purveyors of elite opinion can be a total screw up, and yet never be held accountable for their role in setting in motion train wrecks that will likely haunt us for decades.
Now, if you have a specific point about excessive regulation of community banks that you wish to make, then you should make that – instead of indulging in your unbecoming sneer.
Tom, the reality is that ours is consequence-free society. No one is held responsible for their bad ideas – as you weren’t in the aftermath of the Iraq debacle, or your role as an apologist for a top-down style of globalism.
The reality is that the moment you begin sneering at regulations is the moment that you give license to the climate change deniers and those individuals who refuse to learn from history precisely because doing so might negatively impact their bottom line, even if it would bring us a safer, more harmonious planet.
Tom, the only feasible alternative to a capitalism run amok is a regulated one.”
Now here’s Mr. Bruni:
This column has been updated to reflect news developments.
John McCain, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the rest of you: It’s time to stop suggesting that Donald Trump doesn’t represent you, because he does represent you. He’s your party’s nominee, with your endorsements. Until you withdraw those, he has your blessing. Your permission.
And if you keep forgiving him and prioritizing your political survival over the country’s stability, he could wind up representing all of us.
Tell me that doesn’t scare the bejesus out of you. Do it with a straight face.
Senator McCain, Representative Ryan, he’s just given you fresh cause to bolt, saying in a Tuesday interview with The Washington Post that he doesn’t support either of you in your respective Republican primary contests.
From the standpoint of tradition, this is shocking. From the standpoint of Trump, not so much. You’ve upbraided him (mildly). You’ve bruised his tender ego. So now he gets to stick out his tongue at you.
It has to make you wonder why you twisted and turned and tried to justify your support of him in the face of his petulant, gratuitous attack on the Muslim parents of a soldier who died fighting for America. Or why so many G.O.P. leaders twisted and turned after his petulant, gratuitous attack on a Mexican-American judge. Or why you all should stick around to twist and turn the next time.
Trump isn’t slouching toward gravitas. He’s having a tantrum, and to threaten him with timeouts that never come only encourages it. Spare the rod, spoil the Donald.
This isn’t a normal presidential election, he isn’t a normal political candidate, and you know it. We all do. And it’s well past time to reckon fully with that.
Not just you but all of us keep according larger historical sense to his candidacy and trying to fit it into pre-existing frames, but I fear that when we do that, we minimize the outright outrage and singular farce of it.
We throw around terms like demagogue and fascist, but I’m not sure he’s coherent, consistent or weighty enough for either.
We label him anti-establishment, and that’s a howler. He grew up affluent. Went to an Ivy League college. Sent his kids to posh boarding schools. Mingled with Bill and Hillary Clinton at his (third) wedding. He is the power elite, albeit an ostentatiously gold-tufted version of it.
In presidential races past, we’ve seen protectionists, nativists, even racists. What we haven’t seen, not in my lifetime, is a major-party nominee who is such an unabashed and unrepentant fabulist, with so little control over his temper and a worldview shaped entirely by what and who flatter him.
Never has a nominee pouted with his grandeur. Never has one bragged with his abandon.
He’s best described not in political terms but in developmental ones. He’s a toddler. I’d say “infant” but infants are pre-verbal, and he has afew words, most of them monosyllabic.
Only a toddler could be so self-justifying and tone-deaf that he’d compare the sacrifice of Humayun Khan — the soldier I mentioned who was killed in Iraq — to his own professional work of erecting tall buildings and simultaneously enriching himself.
Only a toddler would respond to Michael Bloomberg’s digs at him bysaying that when they golfed together, “I hit the ball a lot longer.” Yes, Donald, everything about you is longer. We haven’t forgotten that G.O.P. presidential debate.
Over the last few days, the word “decency” has popped up a lot, and it’s on target.
“There’s just no sense of decency from this man,” Rick Tyler, a Republican strategist who worked for Ted Cruz, told Politico.
“He has no decency,” Khizr Khan, the fallen soldier’s father, told ABC News.
Trump isn’t just uninformed, as his recent comments on Ukraine reaffirmed. He’s a repository of almost every character trait that we reprimand children for.
And the examples of his indecency get lost in the sheer volume of them. Any one might end another candidate’s quest. But they’re the white noise of his bid. He’s redeemed by his own repulsiveness.
I appreciate that for many conservatives, a Supreme Court shaped by Hillary Clinton would be an abomination. But can they really elevate that concern above national security and entrust the country to a tyrant-loving, Putin-flirting, NATO-dissing novice?
I understand that renouncing him means abetting her, which hurts, given her considerable flaws and their genuine qualms.
But there are bigger things at stake. That’s why so many loyal Republicans have already fled, to regroup over the next four years.
I get it: If McCain and other congressional Republicans turn off Trump’s supporters, they might get turned out themselves.
But as the Post interview made clear, Trump is already giving those supporters license to do as they wish. Besides which, isn’t there a point at which principle must kick in? Aren’t there bounds to partisanship and personal interest? I ask that not in favor of Clinton or the Democrats but out of concern — no, alarm — for America, which needs a grown-up who honors our values, not a brat who shreds them.
Tags: The Moustache of Wisdom