It’s time to Break It Down!
Anniversary Edition | Celebrating 8 Years of Continuous Publishing
Approximately seven years ago, Senator John McCain made a fateful decision that Democrats would come to view as “the gift that kept on giving.” On Friday, August 29, 2008, the GOP Nominee for President announced that he had selected 44 year-old Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. McCain, a long serving member of the United States Senate, had reportedly considered several candidates on his short list, not including Mrs. Palin. It’s fair to say, her selection was more than a little surprising.
In introducing her, Senator McCain said, “She’s not from these parts, and she’s not from Washington, but when you get to know her, you’re going to be as impressed as I am.”
In retrospect that was high-octane wishful thinking. The Senator’s prediction would never come to pass. Of course, to her credit, she tried to deliver for him.
Within moments of McCain’s announcement, Ms. Palin made an explicit appeal to the disappointed supporters of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton by praising not only Mrs. Clinton but also another woman who has been on a major presidential ticket, Geraldine A. Ferraro, Walter F. Mondale’s Democratic running mate in 1984. Governor Palin said, “Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America, but it turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.”
The bold proclamations of this political odd couple were among the high points of the campaign. When it came to political seasoning, Katie Couric revealed, just one month later, on September 29, 2008, that this empress wore no clothes.
Ms. Couric conducted interviews with both Vice Presidential candidates that were scheduled to air leading up to the election. Her interview with Governor Palin altered the trajectory of the remainder of the Campaign. It is a near certainty that for many Americans, the exchange provided a gasp-worthy insight into the depth, or lack thereof, of Mrs. Palin. It was a moment no less sobering than the one in which Toto pulled back the curtain to reveal that the supposed great and powerful Wizard was but a mere mortal, desperately trying to create the illusion of legerdemain.
The crux of the question, the shot heard around the world, as it were, was a basic one. What newspapers have you read to stay in touch with world events? It unfolded, as follows:
CBS Evening News, host Katie Couric asked Sarah Palin which sources she relied on for the news consumption that shaped her worldview. On three separate occasions, Couric tried to elicit a response from Palin about which specific newspapers she read. Seemingly caught off guard, Palin could not name a single news source:
COURIC: And when it comes to establishing your worldview, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this — to stay informed and to understand the world?
PALIN: I’ve read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.
COURIC: But what ones specifically? I’m curious.
PALIN: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.
COURIC: Can you name any of them?
PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news.
View the video:
Fast forward to present day, and there is an inviting temptation to conflate Sarah Palin, the Quixotic 2008 Vice Presidential candidate, and Donald Trump, the megalomaniacal 2016 GOP Presidential Poll Leader. Mr. Trump, as I briefly mentioned last week, continues to flout convention and flummox his rivals. Moreover, he has captivated a plurality of those voters who identify themselves as Republican.
It’s still reasonably early, but in the really early going, many if not most, of the so-called experts predicted that The Donald would be a flash in the pan player that would ultimately not even be considered “a thing.” Clearly, we are past that point. From the outset he has made waves. Some theorized he would never submit to completing and releasing Campaign Finance statements necessary to officially join the campaign. It appears he relishes the moment…at least for the moment. He has made himself a proverbial media magnet by making/engaging in what seems like a continuing series of unusual, if not outrageous statements and actions, including:
- Making an initial Xenophobic statement about Mexicans
- Revealing Senator Graham’s cell phone number
- Asserting Senator McCain is not a war hero
- Making controversial remarks about Fox News analyst Megyn Kelly
- Suggesting he would erect a wall along the entire U.S. – Mexican border
- Proposing to bomb Iraqi oil fields
- Providing constant reminders that he is the richest guy ever to run for President
- Turning his cell message into a Campaign Ad after the Blog Site Gawker revealed his number
He has run an unorthodox campaign. Up to this point, he has proceeded in the best Sinatra-like tradition; he has “done it his way.” If you have spent more than a minute or two listening to, and being informed (I use the term loosely) by the Trump Worldview, you have no doubt heard some, if not all of the tropes listed above.
All of this Trump magic has propelled him to a significant lead in most major polls. His average lead is roughly 24% to 12% to the second highest polling candidate, which varies from poll to poll, with Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, or Ben Carson coming in second place. In other words, he is doubling his nearest opponent.
His lead is firmly entrenched when subject matter is considered, for example, the economy, Isis, and immigration. He also rules the gender roost, at the moment, polling 57% favorable with men, and 60% favorable with women (both among likely Republican voters).
So this past Sunday, I had, for all practical purposes, a déjà vu moment. Mr. Trump was a guest on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” When host Chuck Todd questioned Mr. Trump on his military positions, Trump said he watches television shows for military advice.
Todd asked, “Let’s go foreign affairs. You want to knock the hell out of ISIS, how?”
Trump said, “I want to take away their wealth. And as you know, for years, I’ve been saying, don’t go into Iraq. They went into Iraq, they destabilized the Middle East. It was a big mistake. Okay, now we’re there, and you have ISIS. And I said this was going to happen. I said Iran will take over Iraq, which is happening, as sure as you’re sitting there, and ISIS is taking over a lot of oil in certain areas of Iraq. And I said, you take away their wealth. You go and knock the hell out of the oil, take back the oil. We take over the oil, which we should have done in the first place.”
Todd continued, “What you’re talking about is ground troops, maybe 25,000.”
Trump answered, “That’s okay. We’re going to circle it. We’re going to circle it. We’re going to have so much money. And what I would do with the money that we make, which would be tremendous. I would take care of the soldiers that were killed, the families of the soldiers that were killed, the soldiers, the wounded warriors that are — I see — I love them. And they’re walking all over the streets of New York, all over the streets of every city, without arms, without legs, and worse than that. And I would take care of them.” (I presume they have an abundance of pretty good prosthetics…doing all that walking “with no legs). I digress.
Todd pressed, “So, America should take over these oil fields. [They] shouldn’t be given to the Iraqis?”
Trump added, “Well, we can give them something, but we should definitely take back money for our soldiers. We’ve had soldiers that were decimated, so badly hurt, the wounded warriors, and killed, of course. But we’ve had soldiers that were so badly hurt and killed. I want their families to get something. Because we got nothing out of that war. We spent $2 trillion, Chuck. We had thousands of people killed, wounded warriors all over the place. They got nothing, and they can’t even say we had a victory.”
Todd asked, “Who do you talk to for military advice right now?”
Trump answered, “Well, I watch the shows. I mean, I really see a lot of great — you know, when you watch your show, and all of the other shows, and you have the generals, and you have certain people –.”
Okay, it was right about there I though, this guy is channeling Sarah Palin…circa 2008.
Todd continued, “But is there somebody, is there a go-to for you? Every presidential candidate has a go-to.”
He was really trying to help him regroup, as Ms. Couric did for Mrs. Palin, over, and over again. This is borderline scary.
Trump answered, “Probably there are two or three. I like Bolton. I think he’s a tough cookie, knows what he’s talking about. Jacobs is a good guy –.”
Todd asked, “You mean Ambassador Bolton? You mean Colonel Jack Jacobs?”
Trump confirmed saying, “Colonel Jack Jacobs is a good guy, and I see him on occasion.”
Really? Last week, I wrote about the contemporary Republican bent toward anti-intellectualism; even anti-higher education. That was aimed at several of Mr. Trump’s GOP cohorts, but most notably, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who left Marquette University without obtaining a degree. Let’s be clear, Scott Walker is no Donald Trump. Mr. Trump holds a B.S. Degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a prestigious Ivy League school.
However, his admitted penchant for extracting military advice from TV is more than mildly disconcerting. While he did not list stations by name, the network of choice for most self-respecting Conservatives is Fox News. I hate to think of where extrapolating might lead, using that factoid. So I won’t. I suspect most of those experts I referenced earlier still expect Mr. Trump’s Campaign to fade as we get into more debates and the Primary Season. We’ll see.
When I think of the prospect that Governor Palin made it to the Candidate’s Final Four in 2008, so to speak, and that Mr. Trump is leading his Party at the moment, I realize what a tenuous hold we have on the land of the free and home of the brave. Now is certainly the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their country…and vote (Make sure you have your valid ID at the ready). After all, we have already witnessed “The Donald: Introducing TV Inspired Military Doctrine!” Who could predict what might be next?
I’m done; holla back!
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