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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Thoughts on the Democratic Convention


My attempts to view the Democratic Convention last week were limited by a family vacation.  I ended up having to watch most of the speeches after the fact on Youtube.  For some reason, my wife and teen-aged sons did not want to spend hours watching live speeches in the hotel.  For that reason, I'm not going to go in day by day order like I did with the Republicans, but rather just discuss the individual speakers.

Scandal

Of course, the Democrats had a scandal before the Convention even opened.  DNC emails showed that the Party Chair and other staff members were biased in favor of Clinton. They worked to hurt Sanders' efforts during the campaign. To me this was a non-issue.  Telling me the party bosses supported the establishment candidate during the primary campaign is a bit like saying that the grass is green.  Of course they backed Clinton.  They are not judges that have to remain ethically impartial. They try to maintain a minimal facade of neutrality.  But anyone who did not know a year ago that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was backing Clinton just was not paying attention.  Of course the issue was timed to be a distraction and to be one more kick in the nuts to the already angry Sanders supporters attending the Convention.

Cory Booker

Overall, I found the speeches, as long as they remained vague, to be much more positive and uplifting than the Republican speeches.  I was intrigued by Sen. Cory Booker's speech, which was not the normal political babble.  He went into a discussion about how it was important that we not just tolerate one another but actually love one another.  My first reaction was a cynical notion that this is just a liberal politician's way of justifying massive welfare programs.  But the more I thought about it, he was really stating my own religious principles as a Christian (and one that fits the moral principles of many other religions as well) without actually putting it in an overtly religious context.  It was a far more compelling speech on morality that I ever hear from the religious right.  The fact that it was generally "off-theme" tells me it was something that really came from his heart.

Michelle Obama

Michelle always gives a great speech.  As First Lady she knows not to veer into even remotely controversial political issues, but speaks as a wife and mother about the importance of values.  She does so without sounding too domestic or lightweight.  It is a difficult balancing act that she does with finesse.  Her comment about living in a house built by slaves set off some right wing pundits a little.  But that only made their protests in apparent defense of slavery look pathetic.  Overall, it was a good solid uplifting speech that reminded everyone why a majority of Americans sent the Obamas to the White House, even if we do not agree on every policy issue they hold.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders was the potential wild card speech.  He continues to push Hillary to the left on a great many issues.  This may hurt her with moderates.  However, she is good at threading that needle with purposely vague and evasive statements that can please anyone until something actually needs to be enacted.  Sanders gave a speech outlining his hard left positions but at the same time saying he thought Clinton had come around on most of them and that he was pleased to support her.

One rather minor issue that the press seemed to ignore: typically the losing candidate ends the roll call vote and calls for the selection of the winning candidate by acclamation.  Sanders performed this roll but did not call for acclamation.  His exact words were:

I move that the convention suspend the procedural rules. I move that all votes, all votes cast by delegates be reflected in the official record, and I move that Hillary Clinton be selected as the nominee of the Democratic Party for president of the United States,

There was no call for unanimous selection or acclamation, just that she be selected.  In other words, he gave grudging acceptance that she had more votes than him and that he had to accept that fact.  It was a subtle difference, nothing compared to Cruz's "FU Donald" speech or the fact that other primary opponents skipped the Republican Convention altogether.  But Sanders' well considered lines clearly did not want to call on his delegates to vote for Clinton at the Convention.

Elizabeth Warren

Warren was clearly the designated attack dog for the Convention.  She went after Trump on a wide range of issues, from his business practices and bankruptcies, to his lack of any substantive policy positions. It was typical red meat for hard core Convention delegates, but I don't think it did much else. I have liked Warren even before she became a Senator because she understood how Wall Street needs to be contained more. But attacking Trump for wanting to buy cheap real estate after the crash just sounds pathetic.  Of course businessmen want to buy low.  Criticizing that only makes you sound like you do not understand how business works.  Of course Warren does understand that.  So she is just demagogueing the issue.

Joe Biden

Biden gave a pretty forgettable speech.  He tried to address the personal side of Clinton and how she would work to help working people.  He attacked Trump, but not nearly as savagely as Warren did. He did what a good Vice President does: say nothing to that takes things off message or distracts from the main speaker.  Most of what I remember from the speech is some guy in the audience banging on a cowbell during the speech.  It just kept reminding me of the Saturday Night Live cowbell sketch.

Bill Clinton

Bill is always good for an effective speech.  What struck me most though is how he has aged.  There seemed to be a tremble in his voice and a shake in his hand that I had not noticed before.  It just sucks to get old I guess.

His speech itself though was classic Clinton.  I think he did a wonderful job of trying to humanize Hillary, talking about her life growing up and her passion for helping children.  Hillary needs to be humanized more as many voters see her as a political machine fueled by polls and focus groups and unwilling to speak out to her passions.  Bill's speech helped with that.

Tim Kane

Clinton's new Vice Presidential nominee also gave a relatively forgettable speech.  As a conservative (for a Democrat) choice his job on the ticket is clearly to appeal to moderates or conservative leaning Democrats and moderates.  He opened with a nod to his active duty military son to show that yes, Democrats do like the military.  He also got to speak a few lines in Spanish, to show off that skill.  He introduced himself to the public with a mix of self-deprecation and humor.  I was not impressed with Kane's choice of ties.  I only mention that so I could comment on the fashion choices of a male speaker without commenting on anything any of the woman speakers.

Barack Obama

Obama had a prominent role on Wednesday evening to give his speech.  The fact that he and Michelle and Biden all had prominent speeches shows that Clinton will associate herself strongly with the current Administration, not making the same mistake of Al Gore in 2000.  While I disagree with many of Obama's policies, I have always admired his ability to speak intelligently and to place things in proper perspective.  I think he did that effectively on Wednesday, providing an optimistic view of America, in marked contrast to the Republicans who tried to paint today's America as a post-apocalyptic dystopia needing a strong man to restore order.  Obama gave a great speech, while giving a great push for the new candidate. He did not ignore their past rivalries, but held them up as an example of why she should be the next President.

Chelsea Clinton

Since Trump had his daughter Ivanka introduce him, Clinton decided it was appropriate to have her daughter Chelsea introduce her.  There's nothing inherently wrong with that, although Ivanka really had more of a role it her father's campaign than did Chelsea.  Ivanka made news by suggesting her father would pursue policy positions that he had never discussed on the campaign either before or since.

By contrast, Chelsea mostly spoke about Clinton as a loving mother and grandmother.  It was not directly about advocacy of her positions, though she seems to share those, but more humanizing stories about Clinton: her love of her family as well as her passion for helping people.  The speech was mostly forgettable, other than to help add to the week's theme of convincing people that Clinton is a real human being and not a political machine.

Hillary Clinton

As expected, Clinton spent much of her speech on non-controversial matters like praising other speakers and thanking folks who had some role in the campaign.  It made her sound gracious and considerate, challenging the image of her that conservative pundits have painted.  She went after Trump in general terms, criticizing the notion that Trump alone could solve the nation's problems. That vesting such power in one person was not only unrealistic, but also dangerous and unconstitutional.  It is one of the main reasons I object so strongly to Trump.

She talked about her working class upbringing and her family.  Other than that, she spoke in aspirations and vague terms: we need safe communities, we need to give working people a raise, we need comprehensive immigration reform, we need to oppose unfair trade deals, we need to defeat terrorism, etc.  Statements which, on their face, no one could disagree, but which we might very much disagree on the means by which we achieve those goals.

That's probably best.  When she started referring core Democratic issues like the right to kill unborn babies, compelling private citizens to participate in homosexual weddings, compelling private employers to pay the price of artificially increased wages and benefits, imposing "common sense" gun control, and censoring political speech by overruling Citizens United I was only reminded about why I don't want to vote Democrat.  In terms of tone, imagery, and being in touch with reality, I have to give the clear win to the Democrats.

A few other random thoughts:

Flag Creep

The right-wing whiners jumped on the fact that there were no American flags visible on the stage on Monday night.  The next day, there were about eight flags, four on either side of the stage.  The next day, in addition to those flags, we started seeing flag iconography on the video screens.  On Wednesday, the video screens with flag iconography sat right behind the speaker so that it would be in the shot during the speech. By the time of Clinton's speech on the final night, there were hundreds of delegates waving American flags, as well as flags attached to the bottom of each State delegation sign.  Not sure how the lack of flags got missed on the first night, but there was definite scrambling in later days to make up for that.

Progress

I remember in 2008, there was almost zero discussion of Obama being the first black President until minutes after the polls closed in November.  I have to think the campaign deliberately asked reporters and pundits to keep a lid on that during the election. Everyone knew he would be the first black President if elected.  But the campaign did not want to make that part of the conversation.  In contrast, we are already seeing numerous discussions about Hillary being the first woman President.  Again, everyone already knows that, but I think the discussion during the election hurts her more than it helps.

After President Obama completed his speech, Hillary Clinton came on stage to embrace him to the applause of the Convention.  It was a great image of the current and future administration working together toward the common goal of progress in America.  Yet, as a student of history, I could not help but think how much that embrace said about the progress of race relations in America.  Less than 50 years ago, the first interracial televised kiss on Star Trek set off a firestorm of complaints. Democratic conventions still had all white State delegations back then.  A black man embracing a white woman in that very could very well have ended in a lynching. Probably the only reason it even occurred to me was that I had been reading an account of the murder of Emmett Till recently.  I am proud of the fact that such an interracial embrace today does not even raise an eyebrow or evince a comment from right wing pundits.  That silence is a statement to me on how far race relations have advanced in this country over only a few decades.

Upcoming Campaign Themes

A convention regularly introduces themes that the campaigns will use between now and November. We will see attacks on Trump's America First position by pointing out that all of his goods are produced overseas.  We will probably see commercials interviewing "real Americans" who were scammed out of money by Trump University, or whose businesses have suffered as a result of Trump's bankruptcies or debt refinance demands.  Muslim citizens with US military service, or their families seem to be an effective attack as well.

Hillary has also decided to jump on the Sanders (and Trump) bandwagon of protectionism.  I am hopeful that she only speaks in vague generalities: "I will oppose bad trade deals".  Of course no one wants a "bad" deal, but what exactly constitutes "bad"?  You will hear this and similar lines, particularly in the Mid-west where Clinton must win protectionist votes in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The Campaign will also focus on national security, with the theme that Clinton is the adult in the room and Trump is dangerous, unstable egomaniac who will get us into war.  They will use his own words to paint him as a bully, demagogue and potential tyrant.





Sunday, July 24, 2016

Republican Convention - Final Thoughts

Now that the Republican convention has wrapped up, Trump-Pence and launch its General Election swing.

Overall, I found the convention rather confused and disjointed.  As noted in my last post, many of the speakers seemed entirely out of touch with reality.

Day One

The theme for day one was "Make America Safe Again."  The Obama Administration is still having trouble wrapping up the Bush wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but that does not seem to be what the Republicans meant.  Rather, most of the speakers who spoke on theme that night at lest implied that the US should get more involved in mid-East wars.  Somehow that would put an end to the few random attacks by US citizens that foreign terrorist groups have been able to inspire in the US.

Crime was also a big issue.  Crime rates overall continue to fall during this administration.  Murder rates are at a decades long low.  Republicans seem to want to cherry pick a few statistics, such as murder rates higher in Chicago this year, and add in a few anecdotal incidents to imply that the US is in great peril from crime.  The reality is that crime is lower.  Despite the Donald's promise that on January 20th "peace will be restored" they did not offer much detail on what that meant or how it would happen.  If it happens on January 20th the day he takes office, I assume that he must be crediting President Obama's work in restoring safety to the country.  In truth, if Trump was elected, America might feel safer because the Republicans would change their tone, regardless of any underlying statistics, and would stop trying to raise a panic.

Day Two

The theme of Day 2 was "Make America Work Again."  Presumably this means they are promising to reduce unemployment and put people back to work.  In 2009, the year Obama took office, unemployment hit 10%.  Today it is 4.9%.  The average unemployment rate over the last 50 years is around 6.2%, so we are actually doing pretty well right now.  But you would not guess that from the Republican speeches.  Perhaps they have a plan to reduce unemployment further by cutting taxes and regulations or through Trump's negotiation of phenomenal new trade deals, but I don't see it.  Tax cuts can create temporary job stimulation, but little else.  Trade deals that enforce a protectionist policy to bring jobs home will only create massive inflation as costs to produce the goods we consume will become much more expensive.  Maybe the Republicans can make this work.  But I remember the two disasters of the last two Republican Presidencies and the great cleanup work done by the last two Democratic Presidencies.  I personally don't trust the Republicans with the economy.

Day Three

The theme of Day three was "Make America First Again".  I'm not sure exactly what this was supposed to mean.  Maybe it means that the government will put US interests ahead of those of other countries, something Trump has accused Obama of doing.  Maybe it means that they would make America number 1 again.  The US is number one by many measures, although we now have the second largest economy, after China. Maybe Trump plans to change that.

It's hard to say though, because the night's speakers really made no attempt to discuss the theme.  Many of the speakers were former Trump opponents: Rubio, Walker, and Cruz.  None seemed particularly convincing in their support of Trump. Cruz, as widely noted refused to endorse Trump and was booed as a result.  The Hosting State Governor and Trump opponent Kasich did not speak and is among the many prominent Republicans not attending the Convention.

VP nominee Mike Pence also spoke on Wednesday, giving his introductory speech.  He gave a good forgettable speech, which is what you usually want from a VP.  It does not distract from the Presidential candidate's message and moved things along.  Pence's speech says that we can do better that the current administration.  He said a Clinton Administration would be a third Obama Administration.  Maybe he meant that she would also be able to cut the unemployment rate in half  or that she would also reduce the deficit by more than two-thirds, or that she would continue to reduce the crime rate, but he probably did not mean those things.  My cynicism aside, I think it was a good speech: red meat for the convention, a broad discussion of general Republican principles on issues such as crime, jobs, education, military, etc.  I suppose that will make America First again if they could really pull it off.

Day Four

The final night's theme was, apparently, not ironically, "Make American One Again".  Supposedly making the point that President Trump will unify the country.  In that Candidate Trump cannot even unify the Republican Party, I'll have to remain skeptical on that one.

Ivanka Trump gave the introductory address.  I was honestly surprised by the content of her speech. It was not simply a sop to a wonderful father.  She touched on some very real policy issues, and some rather controversial ones in the Republican Party.  She began by saying honestly that she was not a solid Republican supporter and tended to vote for candidates of both parties based on issues.  She talked about the problem of continuing pay disparities for women, and pointed out that the largest disparities were primarily for women with children.  She then talked about how her father's administration would do more to end that disparity by providing better child care services for working mothers.  It was something that I would have expected to hear from the Democrats. Yet she received applause for it.  It could be that she was laying the groundwork for a pivot in the general election to her father's more liberal positions. It was an interesting speech.

Donald Trump's main speech, however, was not as ambitious.  Although he gave the longest acceptance speech in modern history, he said almost nothing of substance.  He gave a great many cherry picked statistics to show what a disaster the country was right now.  Mostly the speech was critical of the Obama Administration and Clinton's role in that administration.  Normally, one would expect the VP to handle that attack dog role, so the Presidential candidate can be more positive.  But Trump is strong on attack and weak on a positive vision.  Sure, he can tell us in vague terms that things will be just great in his administration, but not why they will be great or what policies will make them great.  We just have to trust him on those details.

Convention Results

Despite the absence of a great many prominent Republicans from the Convention, and a few minor plagiarism squabbles, the Convention seemed to cause little controversy and gave America a week to focus on the Republicans.  Typically, a Party will see a polling bump after its convention.  While polls have not been taken everywhere since the Convention finished, we have seen that Florida has gone from a fraction of a percentage in the lead for Hillary to a fraction of a percentage point in favor of Trump.  That is actually within the polling margin of error, but for now puts Florida in the Trump column.  Even so, based on current polls, if the election were held today, Clinton would win easily   Here is what the electoral map would look like:


As  you can see, even giving Florida to Trump gives Clinton a big win.  Even though post convention is often a high water make for a candidate, that may not be the case this year.  Trump is an effective campaigner, and there are also big questions on demographic turnout that could swing a number of States.  Since many people tend to be voting against a candidate this year rather then for one, Candidate coverage may actually hurt a campaign.

If Trump could also win North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, all of which are very close right now, he would have an electoral majority.  It will be interesting to see some polls after the Democrats complete their convention next week.









Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Republican Convention

Most of my posts so far have been following the horse race of the primary elections, or giving analysis and predictions of what might happen down the road.  I have not expressed very many of my personal opinions thus far.  Today, I plan to discuss my impressions of the Republican convention after the first two days.

Where to Watch

I have been watching much of the convention speakers, on C-span, where they don't continually break away from the speakers to give commentary, like most other news channels.  I want to listen to the words of those speaking, not the pundits.  The main speakers have been relatively competent. But some of the lesser speakers, ignored by other coverage, have been deeply disturbing.

Quality of Speakers

Many of the speakers have been wrestlers, athletes, and soap opera stars.  I suppose it is part of the strategy to have many speakers from non-traditional backgrounds for a political convention.  But listening to their overly simplistic and factually challenged speeches, I've only become more disturbed about the direction of the Republican party.

The fact that there are so many non-traditional speakers may also have to do with the fact that many politicians are already distancing themselves from the Presidential elections this year.  I think it speaks volumes about how divided things are that four of the five living former Republican Presidential candidates are no-shows.  Absent are Romney, McCain, Bush Jr. & Bush Sr.  Only Bob Dole showed up for the Convention, and he is not speaking.  Numerous Governors, Senators, and Congressmen have also found scheduling conflicts this week.

Keep America Safe

To the Convention itself:  The theme of Day 1 was "keep America safe".  Lots of harping on police shootings, ISIS inspired attacks and chaos abroad.  The reality, of course is that killings by police, killings of police and crime overall are all at historic lows right now.  Yes, one unjustified killing it too many, but the notion that these jokers have a plan to improve things is crazy.  At least I have not heard anything said on the first day that convinces me otherwise.

It is standard practice for the opposition to criticize the administration and paint everything is terrible while out of office, just like when you are in power everything is wonderful.  I still remember when gas was over $5/gallon during the last Bush administration and Republican columnists coming up with every excuse in the world why it was not the Administration's fault.  One columnist suggested it was because the average weight of an American had increased by 35 pounds over the previous generation, thus reducing gas mileage!  As soon as Obama took office, they were screaming that gas was $4/gallon under Obama as if it was all his fault.  Now that it is around $2 you don't exactly hear them singing Obama's praises.  Rather, they are still screaming about the refusal to build the Keystone Pipeline.  Not sure why since in retrospect it seems like a good decision not to build it. Most tar sands drilling has stopped due to the low gas prices.  The pipeline would have been an expensive boondoggle.  Still, Obama hates business and progress.  Let's try to stay on message.

Plagiarism Scandal

The big takeaway from Day 1 was the "scandal" over the fact that Melania Trump's borrowing a few phrases from Michelle Obama's 2008 convention speech.  I can't say I care much about that.   Virtually all the major speeches are written by others.  Since political speeches spout the same sort of empty rhetoric year after year, I'm not surprised many sound the same.  So some lazy speechwriter grabbed a few lines from an earlier speech.  It happens all the time.

Attacking Clinton

I was much more bothered by some of the vitriol leveled at Hillary Clinton.  I am not a fan of Clinton myself.  I disagree with most of the political positions she has taken.  Part of any convention is going to be attacking the other party opponent.  But hearing thousands of Republicans chanting, for the imprisonment their political opponent is something I would expect in some third world country or a communist dictatorship.

The criminal system as a political tool is a dangerous one, fraught with peril for a democracy.  It's one reason the British Parliament traditionally granted immunity to its members, or why the US Constitution prevents the arrest of members of Congress when travelling two or from congressional sessions. All modern Presidents have probably at least arguably broken some criminal law. The danger of criminally charging one's criminal opponents though, threatens the peaceful transition of power between parties that we in this country take for granted.  Obama could have prosecuted Bush and Cheney for their authorization of torture but   wisely did not.  Cheney could have been prosecuted for shooting a guy in the face (negligent assault).  I think it was appropriate not to pursue charges for the reasons outlined above.  This is one of those fundamental traditions of a democracy that makes it work.  Even just talking about it can have real consequences for the country.

Benghazi

Two of the major partisan attacks on Clinton are "Benghazi" and "email server".  I have always been perplexed about why people care much about either.  Benghazi, of course was tragic loss of a US Ambassador and other embassy officials.  I can understand why Republicans might want to keep the issue alive for political gain.   But what exactly are they accusing Obama, or Clinton of doing?  Do they think that they wanted their people to die, or that they did not care at all?  That seems absurd.  If the argument is that there were not sufficient protections in place or that the government was ineptly slow in attempting a rescue, that seems like a poor political argument.  Embassies in unstable or hostile countries are inherently risky.  People take those jobs knowing the risk, much like soldiers do. We spend billions on embassy security, but it will never be enough to ensure 100% security.

Republicans in Congress had been trying to cut embassy security prior to this incident and the State Department went along by not proposing some of the more expensive options.  If anything, this is a bipartisan scandal. However, there is also no reason to think that more measures would have been enough to save them.  I've seen or heard nothing in all of the investigations that  indicates the President or the Secretary of State personally did anything to prevent the tragedy. It's much like blaming Bush the younger for 9/11.  Yes, it happened on his watch, but Presidents don't micromanage security issues, nor should they.  Embassy attacks in a hostile world are inevitable and unpreventable.

Email Server

The private email server is the other big scandal.  Of the many things Clinton has done or been accused of, this probably ranks near the bottom of my list.  She used a personal email for work, something almost everyone does.   Yes, it's different because she works with secret materials.  Personally, I don't think negligent handling of secret materials should be a crime (as opposed to deliberately providing them to our enemies).  It is used to attack good, well meaning people.  I have read of numerous incidences of its use to fire and imprison low level government officials that higher ups want to get rid of for completely different reasons.  Decisions to prosecute are biased and fraught with abuses of power.  If Republicans really cared about the security implications, why don't they seek the arrest of all State Department officials who emailed secret information to Clinton's private address?  This is another example of using criminal laws for political gain, nothing more.

Security Goals

Putting aside the attacks on Clinton, the Convention is also an opportunity for the candidate to showcase his own agenda.  While I'm not expecting people to get up and read policy papers, the level of generality in these speeches is worse than most.  Making America great, without more, is not an expression of policy.  The theme of Day 1 was making America safe.  There were criticisms of Obama and Clinton for allowing ISIS to grow.  Yes, Obama pulled out of Iraq.  Many on the right think this was a mistake that led to ISIS.  I agree that if we maintain a force of tens of thousands of US military in the region, we might have been able to suppress the growth of ISIS.  However, at the cost of probably trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives, the result would be continued suppressed rage at America, and the ability of all mid-east leaders to blame America for the continued misery in the region.  Attacks in the US inspired by Internet messages to US citizens encouraging them to commit these attacks would probably happen at a more alarming rate.

If the Republican argument is that we need to spend over $1 trillion per year on the military and government security apparatus and that we need to involve ourselves aggressively in every part of the world where we dislike a foreign government's policies, then they will never get my vote.  But I've not heard more than hints that the Republicans think we should do that.  They have criticized Obama for pulling out but have not said that they would go back in and put boots on the ground.  If that is their plan, they should say so.

I genuinely have no idea how Trump might plan to make America safe.  How will he use the military?  Will he increase internal state security?  What are his plans.  Other than someone vague and outlandish claims to reduce immigration or even visits from certain countries, or blocking members of certain religious faiths from entering  the country, I'm not sure what he has planned.  The Convention speeches did not help with any of that.

Good Speeches

Of the many speeches I heard, there were two that I generally liked.  Speaker Ryan gave a good speech.  It was, of course general and has been criticizing for not mentioning Trump very much.  He tried to outline his vision of being a Republican and contrasting it with the liberal Democrat agenda.  I didn't agree with everything he said, but found it to be an intelligent, well written, and compelling convention speech.

Surprisingly, the other speech I liked so far came from Donald Trump, Jr.  His speech touched on a host of Republican polices, again not getting into detail but laying out the general ideas Republicans have and why they are better than those of the Democrats.  I think he also did a good job of praising his father without making it sound as forced or phony as many of the other speeches did .  If his father had given speeches like that throughout the campaign, I might even be talking about voting Republican this year.  Again, I did not agree with everything he said but thought it was a good speech.  There are again "plagiarism" accusations as a few lines are similar to some magazine article. This is again nonsense.  Convention speeches are not 100% original ideas.  The fact that ideas expressed were similarly expressed in one of thousands of other speeches or articles on the same subject does not concern me.

Trump Nomination Secure

The biggest success so far is what did not happen.  Attempts to contest the nomination or change the rules to bring the nomination into doubt have all been shot down.  Trump will receive the nomination with little on camera controversy and the party will transition into the general election.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Trump Picks Mike Pence

Donald Trump has selected Indiana Governor Mike Pence to be his running mate on the Presidential ticket.  Of the nearly two dozen possible VP picks I mentioned last month, Pence did not even make my list.

Pence is a capable conservative Republican with considerable electoral experience.  A couple of years ago, many thought he might run for President this year.  Pence, however, did not seem to show much interest in a Presidential run.  Given that he was up for reelection as Governor this year, that seemed to be his preferred course.

The fact that Pence had criticized Trump during the primaries and endorsed Ted Cruz was not a deal breaker for Trump.  Let's face it, pretty much everyone in the Republican Party had criticized Trump to some degree and endorsed on of his Primary opponents.

As a white male, Pence does little to soften the opposition from women and minorities.  It will not affect electoral politics by helping with a swing state.

Pence does, however, give some gravitas to the ticket.  Experience as a Congressman and Governor is the traditional sort of experience one expects for a national ticket.  Pence is well respected in Republican and conservative circles.  He has never been one to make outrageous statements to take many extreme positions, though he is quite clearly a right wing conservative.   He has strong support among the religious right, Tea Partiers, and establishment Republican leaders.

Pence's selection may help calm some fears of more traditional Republicans by convincing them that Trump will surround himself with an administration full of responsible adults and good conservatives.  He should not alienate Trump's core support among white working class voters.  He should not.

Historically, Vice Presidents usually do not help a candidate.  They can only hurt a ticket by behaving poorly or raising a scandal that takes attention from the top of the ticket.  Pence would not seem to do any harm an seems like a highly respectable choice.  If only the same could be said for the top of the ticket.