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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

"Bing, bong ... when we were strong ..."

by digby

Everybody's been laughing Trump off from the beginning. But as they watch their anointed "mainstream" candidates sink like rocks in the polls, the establishment is starting to sweat. I wrote about it for Salon this morning.

As we await how they choose to confront him tonight, you might find it interesting to read. An excerpt:

Let’s face it, Trump sounds more like a cheap gangster than a politician most of the time. His rhetoric is full of threats and swaggering braggadocio. That’s just who he is. When he sounds like a cheap cartoon villain saying “I hope they attack me, because everybody who attacks me is doomed,” that’s what his followers like about him. But what’s even more interesting is the fact that the political media seems to be adopting his rhetorical style. Trumpism must be catching.
Take, for example, the usually mild-mannered Mark Halperin, the man who sets the beltway’s daily mood and passes down the approved talking points. Check out how he described the Trump situation going into tonight’s debate:
Publicly, former Texas Governor Rick Perry ended his presidential run on Fridayafternoon. Privately, those who do this for a living used a bloodier term of the trade: He was killed (politically, of course), the first of what may turn into many campaign scalps claimed by the fiercest killer in this race, Trump.
In the modern era, the Republican nomination has been won by the combatant who is best at playing a game of kill-or-be-killed. In the end, becoming the standard bearer has not been about the daily polls, the staff hires, the policy speeches, the fundraising, the cattle calls, the promised agenda. It’s been about having the skill and confidence to stamp out anyone who threatens you, using a combination of negative TV ads, candidate and major surrogate attacks, and planted opposition research.
All the Republican presidential nominees since 1988 have deployed these weapons in a rapid-fire flurry of assaults. The losers failed to respond quickly, handle the pressure, or maintain image control—and were pulverized. You win the nomination when you define yourself on your own (positive) terms and force your opponent to be defined in the public eye on negative terms. That is how you kill the enemy and prevail.
And to think I once thought the inevitable macho sports metaphors were creepy.
This is Trumpism run amok. And Halperin has caught a bad case of it. Scalping andassaulting and stomping and pulverizing — it almost makes Trump’s little references to “counter-punching” sound, dare I say it, a little weak. But regardless of his excessive rhetorical violence, Halperin is reflecting a very real concern among Republicans who are beginning to seriously worry that Trump is right: They are doomed. And they just might be. The New York Times revealed last night that their latest polling shows that only 15 percent of Republicans would not back Donald Trump if he were to get the nomination. Roll that around in your mind for a moment.
And it appears that the 15 percent who refuse are all members of the Republican Party elite. Bill Kristol is probably the most openly hystericalm but he’s likely representative of most of his buds when he says, “I doubt I’d support Donald. I doubt I’d support the Democrat. I think I’d support getting someone good on the ballot as a third party candidate.” (His choice would be Dick Cheney. Seriously.) Then again, this is the man who “discovered” Sarah Palin, so perhaps his electoral instincts aren’t all that reliable. Nonetheless, Trump seems to be sapping his confidence:
“I’ve wondered if I’ve had it backwards. Maybe I’m wrong … I kept saying ‘it’s not going to happen, it would be so unusual,’ but I don’t know.”
The Masters of the Universe are even more concerned. Politico reports that Wall Street is calling for the fainting couch:
[A] dozen Wall Street executives interviewed for this article could not say what might dent Trump’s appeal or when it might happen. ‘I don’t know anyone who is a Donald Trump supporter. I don’t know anyone who knows anyone who is a Donald Trump supporter. They are like this huge mystery group,” the CEO said…” So it’s a combination of shock and bewilderment. No one really knows why this is happening.”
Imagine that. If a CEO doesn’t know anyone who likes Trump can they possibly exist? According to the article they’ve all gone a little sour on Bush, Walker and Rubio and are so desperate they’re looking to John Kasich because, according to one top New York Republican, he’s “a true businessman in contrast to Trump,” which proves just how frightened they are. For all the things Trump pretends he is, if there’s one title he can legitimately claim, “true businessman” is it. (Bankruptcies be damned.) Kasich by contrast is a career politician who left and went to work for Lehman brothers for a few years to make his bundle marketing his political contacts.
Halperin writes that these panicked political and business elites have been unable to agree on the best way to “take [Trump] out” and offers up a few different possible scenarios he heard from his sources.

Read on to see their laughable plans. They are sounding desperate. And the media seems to be taking on the cartoon dialog of the Trump campaign. Which is darkly humorous in a creepy "Goodfellas" sort of way.