THE MORNING PLUM:
Predictably enough, the hand-wringing has already begun among some Democrats over the prospect of Donald Trump waging “unpredictable” attacks on Hillary Clinton and the possibility that the Clinton camp will be “complacent” about the battle to come. Of course, among Democrats, there will always be those who only require the slightest provocation to wring their hands until their skin peels.
But if there are any lingering doubts over whether the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party are entering into the general election with a sufficiently aggressive posture, this new ad, just out from the Clinton camp, should begin to dispel them:
This is just a Web ad, but as Josh Vorhees notes, it’s reasonable to see this as a template for the massive onslaught of paid ads to come. And this ad also highlights a key dynamic in this campaign that continues to go under-appreciated.
As I’ve argued, the general election will differ from the primaries in an important sense: Unlike Republicans, Democrats will not be constrained from brutally unmasking the truly wretched nature of his racial appeals. Trump’s GOP rivals had to treat his xenophobia, bigotry, and demagoguery with kid gloves, because many Republican voters agreed with his vows to ban Muslims and carry out mass deportations. But the broader general electorate does not agree with those things. Indeed, many voters that populate key general election constituencies are likely horrified by them. As a result, Democrats will be able to prosecute Trump mercilessly in ways his GOP rivals simply could not — with a relentless, non-diluted, non-euphemistic focus on his white nationalism.
It is true that some of Trump’s GOP rivals did try to make a similar case against Trump at times. Jeb Bush did go hard at Trump’s xenophobia. But the fact that he sank so quickly without a trace proves the point: the GOP primary audience didn’t want to hear criticism of Trump on these topics. Ted Cruz, who mounted the stiffest challenge to Trump, occasionally did criticize Trump’s worst impulses. But his criticism had a half-hearted quality. What’s more, he nonetheless sought to broaden his support beyond his base of true evangelicals and ideological conservatives, and cut into Trump’s base of angry, disaffected whites, by vowing never to legalize the 11 million and promising stepped up patrols of Muslim neighborhoods. Which is to say that Cruz dabbled in a less explicit form of xenophobia. As the Clinton ad does above, Cruz also sought to portray Trump as reckless and unprepared to be commander in chief. But Cruz could not make even that case the way Democrats will be able to.
This ad shows that Democrats will not only be able to go full throttle at Trump’s intolerance and hate-appeals; they will also be able to use them, in a way Republicans couldn’t, to buttress the broader argument that Trump is reckless, mentally unstable, and woefully unfit for the presidency. And so, the ad links Trump’s vow of mass deportations and a Muslim ban directly to his vow to dramatically increase the use of torture, to “take out terrorists’ families,” to “bomb the sh*t” out of ISIS, and even his suggestion that he’d employ nuclear weapons. This suggests the Clinton team is betting that the general election audience will not see Trump’s variously expressed vows to smash the dark hordes as “strength,” but rather as symptomatic of a profound unfitness to serve as commander in chief.
Yet Trump continues to believe otherwise; he’s sticking by many of these promises. But that brings us to our next item.
* HERE’S WHAT TRUMP’S FIRST 100 DAYS WOULD LOOK LIKE: In an interview with the New York Times, Trump spells it out:
On Inauguration Day, he would go to a “beautiful” gala ball or two, but focus mostly on rescinding Obama executive orders on immigration and calling up corporate executives to threaten punitive measures if they shift jobs out of the United States.
And by the end of his first 100 days as the nation’s 45th leader, the wall with Mexico would be designed, the immigration ban on Muslims would be in place, the audit of the Federal Reserve would be underway and plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act would be in motion.
It’s going to be great. It’s going to be beautiful.
* TRUMP GIVES ‘APPARENT BLESSING’ TO SUPER PACs: The Post reports:
Trump said in an interview with The Washington Post that he would enter a joint fundraising agreement with the Republican National Committee….The arrangement would require him to seek support from a donor class that he has repeatedly excoriated….Trump’s efforts could be bolstered by an allied super PAC, the Great America PAC, which the Trump campaign disavowed during the primaries. But in recent days, the group added professional operatives and now plans to court major contributors with Trump’s apparent blessing.
* SANDERS CAMPAIGN SEEMS DIVIDED OVER ENDGAME: Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver tells CNN that we are going to a contested convention no matter what:
“The truth is, no one is going to the convention with the requisite number of pledged delegates to win. The superdelegates are going to decide this race.”
And yet, top Sanders adviser Tad Devine has basically conceded that this is not to happen unless Sanders makes big gains in the pledged delegate count, which is very unlikely. Which is it?
* SANDERS ADVISER DISSEMBLES ABOUT SUPER DELEGATES: Related to the above: Sanders campaign manager Weaver is now claiming that there was a huge shift of super-delegates from Clinton to Barack Obama in 2008. Glenn Kessler looks into the claim and finds it’s bogus:
The record shows the opposite. Just 10 people switched from Clinton to Obama before the last primary votes were cast. The number grows to 28 if you include people who switched just before Clinton dropped out on June 7.
Once again, the super-delegates are not going to switch from Clinton to Sanders. It isn’t going to happen.
* REPUBLICANS GO QUIET ABOUT TRUMP: The New York Times reports that many GOP lawmakers and party actors mysteriously don’t want to be quoted talking about the Trump nomination:
Over the last two days, more than 70 Republican governors, senators, representatives, officials and donors were contacted directly or through aides for comments about Mr. Trump. Only about 20 replied, with many aides saying their bosses did not want to take a stand yet; others begged off by saying the officials were traveling or “too busy” to email, call or release a statement.
Because politicians are often too busy to take the time to get their quotes into the Times.
* TRUMP’S MASS DEPORTATIONS COULD HURT ECONOMY: Reuters:
Trump’s vow to round up and deport all of America’s undocumented immigrants…could shrink the economy by around 2 percent, according to a study to be released on Thursday by conservative think tank the American Action Forum.…About 6.8 million of the more than 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally are employed…Removing them would cause a slump of $381.5 billion to $623.2 billion in private sector output.
But mass deportations will be Great and Wonderful for American workers!
* KEEPING TRUMPISM IN PERSPECTIVE: E.J. Dionne offers an important reminder, and a warning:
Trumpism is very much a minority movement in our country. He has won some 10.6 million votes, but this amounts to less than a quarter of the votes cast in the primaries this year. It’s fewer than Clinton’s 12.4 million votes and not many more than the 9.3 million Bernie Sanders has received….but I now know how urgent it is to resist capitulation to every attempt to move Trump into the political mainstream.
There will be all sorts of such attempts, and some in the media will be depressingly willing to play along.