By Doug Porter
As much as I hate to do it, I’m gonna give The Donald the notice he so desperately craves today. The GOP’s leading candidate said “no” to the voice of republicanism’s Thursday night showcase of presidential candidates. A popular point of view following his decision to pull out of the Fox debate has been this could be the end of Donald Trump’s candidacy.
I beg to disagree.
This decision not to play nice with Fox News represents, in my opinion, a shift in strategy for Trump. He’s decided getting the Republican nomination is a done deal and is turning his focus to the general election.
From the Los Angles Times:
“They can’t toy with me like they toy with everybody else,” Trump said. “So let them have their debate, and let’s see how they do with the ratings.”
Trump’s blowup came a few hours after Fox News reacted sarcastically to his threat to boycott the debate because of Kelly’s role as a moderator.
“We learned from a secret back channel,” the Fox statement said, “that the Ayatollah and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president — a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.”
This taunting of Trump by Fox was probably meant to be spin on the network’s part. But he didn’t take it that way.
Having rounded up all the nutcases –from Sarah Palin to Jerry Falwell, Jr– needed to keep the angry white male demographic involved, Trump is now looking to disassociate himself from the Republican media establishment. And he gets brownie points for standing up to a ‘pushy’ woman, namely Fox reporter Megyn Kelly.
From Marina Fang at Huffington Post:
At the network’s last debate in August, Trump protested Kelly’s questions about his sexism and misogyny and launched a series of offensive attacks against her, which included suggesting that she asked him pointed questions because of menstruation.
On Tuesday, the real estate mogul called Kelly “a third-rate reporter” and a “lightweight.”
Responding to the controversy, Kelly criticized his decision to skip the debate.
“Trump is not used to not controlling things,” she said. “But the truth is, he doesn’t get to control the media.”
I think she’s right to question his misogyny and wrong about who’s in control.
Here’s the question from last August prompting The Donald’s demand that Kelly be removed from the debate panel:
“Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter. However, that is not without its downsides, in particular, when it comes to women. You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs’ and ‘disgusting animals.’ […]
“Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?”
In the current campaign, Trump is behaving like a professional wrestler while Trump’s opponents are conducting the race like a boxing match. As the rest of the field measures up their next jab, Trump decks them over the head with a metal chair.
Others in the Republican field are concerned with the rules and constructing a strategy that, under those rules, will lead to the nomination. But Trump isn’t concerned with those things. Instead, Trump is focused on each moment and eliciting the maximum amount of passion in that moment. His supporters love it.
The key to generating passion, Barthes notes, is to position yourself to deliver justice against evil forces by whatever means necessary. “Wrestlers know very well how to play up to the capacity for indignation of the public by presenting the very limit of the concept of Justice,” Barthes writes.
In the Republican primary, there is no bigger enemy than the media. All the Republican candidates bash the media. It’s a popular strategy during the debates to dodge probing questions. But, ultimately, these candidates are playing by the media’s rules. By skipping the debate, Trump will finally give the media what they deserve.
Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin thinks it’s a matter of Trump being a control freak, via the Washington Post:
As for the notion he is sabotaging himself, well, we just don’t buy it. He is convinced he can be president now, and he is not one to worry about how he’ll do it or whether he can actually govern. He’s in it to win it, and Trump’s background suggests he is driven to stun the public and show up his critics. He is not about to become a “loser,” at least not by his own hand.
The best we can surmise is that this is a classic power move, putting himself in a class by himself while the candidates behind him squabble among themselves. He’s bigger than Fox! Bigger than debates! At the very least, most of the news cycle will be taken up by discussion over why he is not showing up. Moderators will be compelled to ask other candidates about him even if he is not there. In a Trumpian election, it sort of makes sense. He is in control.
Trump’s control could easily spell the end of the Republican party as we know it, even though some desperate members of the party faithful have begun begrudgingly accepting his candidacy as an alternate to Ted Cruz. The Donald will turn sour on these GOP leaders just as surely as he has the establishment version of the right wing noise machine.
Democrats should take notice. No amount of fact-checking or shaming will deter The Donald. He’s based his candidacy on an appeal to primal emotional impulses, not higher reasoning.
Oregon Standoff Leaders Snared in Trap
Eight right wing militants are in custody and one is dead, following confrontations with law enforcement in Oregon and Arizona.
The initial showdown occurred as federal agents apparently sprung a trap as Ammon Bundy and others occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge drove on Highway 395 intending to address a meeting in a nearby town.
This latest incident is not the end of a slow moving conflict between so-called patriots and authorities.
From Think Progress:
Jason Patrick, one of the remaining militants, compared Finicum’s death to the police killing of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old carrying a toy gun. “The government can kill who they want for whatever reason they want with impunity,” Patrick said.
In addition to Bundy, at least 7 other militants were arrested. Separately, Jon Ritzheimer, a militant leader who gained prominence with a viral video complaining about people who sent dildos to the refuge, surrendered to authorities in Arizona.
A militia network, Operation Mutual Defense, implored members around the country to join the occupation. “You have an obligation to proceed to the Harney County Resource Center immediately. If you fail to arrive, you will demonstrate by your own actions that your previous statements to defend life, liberty, and property were false,” the group said in a statement released last night.
The ultimate goal of these folks has always been much more than a simple standoff over land use.
From Raw Story:
Payne and the Bundys engaged in a classic military overreach. They were trying to create a revolution with the Malheur Refuge as their base, and they thought the people of Harney County and then Grant County would be the sea in which they swim. Though over the last week talks with numerous townspeople and officials indicated that while the Bundy militia did have support, it was a tiny minority.
Many townspeople agreed with the causes the Bundys highlighted, the “unjust arrests” of Dwight and Steve Hammond, two ranchers imprisoned for five years for arson on BLM lands, and “federal mismanagement of lands.” But almost no one supported their continued occupation with guns and threats of violence of the Malheur Refuge.
What the actions in Oregon have always been about is the right-wing fanatic’s dream that an incident involving ‘patriots’ would inspire others to take the law into their own hands. Even if the remaining (many fled into the night) militants are peacefully removed, the danger for further right wing terrorist actions will be high in the coming months.
On This Day: 1880 – Thomas Edison patented the electric incandescent lamp. 1945 – Soviet troops liberated the Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland. 2014 – Pete Seeger died in New York at age 94. A musician and activist, he was a revered figure on the American left, persecuted during the McCarthy era for his support of progressive, labor and civil rights causes. A prolific songwriter, he is generally credited with popularizing the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.”
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