Lunch with Donald.

This was the game plan for Trump: Park somewhere remote, then take the People Mover to Cobo, where you get off inside the building and don’t have to navigate — don’t even have to see — the demonstrators outside. And that’s pretty much how it worked; a $7 parking spot in Greektown, a brief train ride and into the a/c and pleasant convention-center groove of…a convention center. The credentialing was a snap, the Secret Service wand-down chill, and into the auditorium, set up to accommodate somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000.

I was thinking this would not be a friendly crowd. Not hostile — the Detroit Economic Club emphasizes the clubbiness, and gentlepeople don’t do hostile face-to-face — but not much more than polite applause. These are Republicans, but Bush/Rubio/Kasich Republicans. America doesn’t need to be made great again, because for these titans of industry/C-suiters/middle managers on the way up, America is already pretty great. They’d like tax relief, of course, but when have American businessmen ever not wanted that? Detroit still runs on the auto industry, and it was recently saved from rack and ruin by none other than Barack Obama, Tim Geithner, et al. If that doesn’t make America pretty damn great for these folks, I don’t know what would.

Maybe the thunderous applause was just them being polite. I don’t know.

I do know this. After an introduction by Mike Pence (who was himself introduced as a graduate of the “University of Indiana”), out came the man himself, and it was clear from the outset that, as it was in Cleveland, this would be a teleprompter deal. Prompter Trump is a different animal. His vocabulary increases in size and complexity (somewhat, anyway). He swings between the screens like a pendulum, a phrase or two left, center, right. He reads well, pronounces well, but like a lot of kids I’ve tutored in reading over the years, punctuation other than periods is a struggle. He doesn’t seem to understand that a sentence can carry over to the next line, so that a passage like this…

When we abandoned the policy of America First, we started rebuilding other countries instead of our own. The skyscrapers went up in Beijing, and in many other cities around the world, while the factories and neighborhoods crumbled in Detroit.

…sounds like this:

When we abandoned the policy. Of America First. We started rebuilding other countries. Instead of our own. The skyscrapers went up in Beijing. And in many other cities around the world. While the factories and neighborhoods. Crumbled in Detroit.

I put the meter at a type of free-form anapestic — dat dat DAH, dat dat DAH. It’s different from the way he speaks when he’s freestylin’, so you know immediately that he’s on the prompter. Not a criticism, just an observation.

So that’s how it started. After “crumbled in Detroit” began the first big set piece of the speech, which committed the first sin that every carpetbagger, parachuted-in journalist/analyst does here, which is to conflate the three Detroits: the city, the metro area and the auto industry. They shouldn’t be.

Conservatives often make this mistake, to reel off the horrible statistics from the city — the unemployment, the crime, the illiteracy, all of it — and pretend it’s all the result of Democratic governance. (Or, in the usual phrase, “Democrat governance.”) This ignores pretty much every major factor that led to the city’s decline, and there are dozens. The automation of factories. Freeways. Sprawl. Ethnic tensions. Rising prosperity; have you seen a Detroit workingman’s bungalow? Would you like to raise three or four or five kids in 1,000 square feet once you were making enough money to afford better? And the stinking 900-pound primate in the room, race.

No, to people spinning this talking point, it’s all about taxes and welfare and Those People, who Just Don’t Want to Work For a Living. Under this argument, San Francisco and New York should be on the canvas by now, but whatever.

So here is Donald Trump, standing in front of a couple thousand mostly affluent white people, dressed in suits and ties and dresses and pantyhose, telling them they live in a shithole of misery:

In short, the city of Detroit is the living, breathing example of my opponent’s failed economic agenda. Every policy that has failed this city, and so many others, is a policy supported by Hillary Clinton.

She supports the high taxes and radical regulation that forced jobs out of your community…and the crime policies that have made you less safe…and the immigration policies that have strained local budgets…and the trade deals like NAFTA, signed by her husband, that have shipped your jobs to Mexico and other countries… and she supports the education policies that deny your students choice, freedom and opportunity.

Shipped whose jobs to Mexico? Not these people’s jobs. In fact, they did the shipping. Education policies that support choice have been well-established in Michigan for decades now, pushed and supported by Republicans. And immigration policies? That’s rich, considering this place was about as spicy an immigrant stew as you could find outside of Ellis Island, and still is. They couldn’t have run those giant factories with the Trump kids; they needed people willing to get dirty and work hard for a little bit of money, and then a little bit more.

So you can see right there that he’s losing me.

But then the hecklers started. These were Code Pink-types who’d stand up, start screaming and be hustled out by security. One after another, all but one women. They started before that passage above, in fact, when he was still in his thanks-for-inviting-me pleasantries, and continued, every few minutes, for about the first half hour. With each ejection, the cheering got louder. He started winning the crowd, not for the mumbo-jumbo coming out of his mouth, but because the people who got in to yell at him were worse.

I know the DEC was embarrassed by this. Tickets are not available to the general public, although members can bring guests. They don’t do shit like this, especially to national figures. As the ejections went on and on — 14 in all — it only made Trump look better, because he didn’t react. He just stood mute until the shouter was outside, then went on.

And he did go on. There was a laundry list of promises, mostly latter-day Reaganomics. Tax cuts, of course:

I am proposing an across-the-board income tax reduction, especially for middle-income Americans. This will lead to millions of new good-paying jobs.

How? As Boon said to Otter: Forget it, he’s rolling.

Three brackets instead of seven. A top corporate rate of 15 percent. All from the GOP wish list. This was a big applause line:

Finally, no family will have to pay the death tax. American workers have paid taxes their whole lives, and they should not be taxed again at death – it’s just plain wrong. We will repeal it.

An auditorium full of people whose net worth put them in estate-tax territory loved that one.

On it went. Coal’s coming back. So is steel. American steel is going to “send new skyscrapers soaring.” It’s going into “the spine of this nation.” By now he’s in the last-20-minutes-in-Cleveland mode:

We can’t fix a rigged system by relying on the people who rigged it in the first place.

We can’t solve our problems by relying on the politicians who created them.

Only by changing to new leadership, and new solutions, will we get new results.

We need to stop believing in politicians, and start believing in America.

And then it was over. Standing ovation. Thunderous applause. Not the polite kind.

Cobo has a glass-walled front, and as I was walking out, I could see the demonstration outside. It looked pretty peaceful, although there were a couple of scuffles here and there. Two suit-and-tie gents were walking near me.

“I like that 15 percent, I’ll say that,” one said, before looking out at the crowd and wondering, “How do they get to spend a Monday doing that?”

“They don’t work,” the other scoffed.

We’re in trouble, guys.

Some links: The Freep fact-check of the speech. The NYT’s take, with fact-checking embedded. Another local analysis. A good one from Forbes. And one more, from a Freep business columnist.

And me, I’m back to my day job. See you tomorrow.

Posted at 8:44 am in Current events |

43 responses to “Lunch with Donald.”

  1. adrianne said on August 9, 2016 at 9:18 am

    I truly enjoyed your live Tweeting of The Donald in Detroit. In fact, between you, Josh Marshall, and our banking reporter (who was also watching the speech), the truth-o-meter was going strong. The usual lies from Donald, with a few more sprinkled in for local flavor. Sad!

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  2. brian stouder said on August 9, 2016 at 9:24 am

    Sounds marvelous! Events like that really do have to be experienced ‘in the flesh’, at least once.

    At some point I’ll hit the Freep links, and see what their fact-checkers (etc) have to say

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  3. Peter said on August 9, 2016 at 9:26 am

    “…shithole of misery:” Nancy, if I may channel my inner Dave Barry, that would be a great name for a rock band!

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  4. Bitter Scribe said on August 9, 2016 at 10:26 am

    Every time Trump opens his mouth and manages not to insult someone or say something thunderously stupid, we start hearing that stuff about how he’s “pivoting.” And I thought they had low expectations for Dubya.

    I have no patience for disruptive protesters, no matter how righteous their cause or how loathsome the person they’re interrupting. Hey, Mr. or Ms. Righteous: The people did not go there to hear you. Get your own venue and preach your message to anyone you can persuade to come and listen.

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  5. Deborah said on August 9, 2016 at 10:31 am

    How so are we in trouble? From most of what I read his speech was not smart and his take is typical republican crap. Those ideas are stale and his trade proposals are unrealistic in the global economy. If you mean because he got a thundering ovation, of course he did, considering his immediate audience. Will he get a bump out of it nationwide? Maybe. We’ll see.

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  6. Heather said on August 9, 2016 at 10:35 am

    I am always stunned by the cluelessness of people who don’t understand that others might take a day off from work to protest something that they feel strongly about.

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  7. Deggjr said on August 9, 2016 at 10:38 am

    In fact, they did the shipping.


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  8. nancy said on August 9, 2016 at 10:46 am

    I was referring to people who, first, cannot understand the idea that when you find something upsetting, you might want to stand up and say so; and second, don’t get that not every single person in the world works 9-5, Monday through Friday. I’m sure this guy wants his golf or tennis pro, wait staff, grocery clerks, et al to be on the job when he wants them to be. To look at a protest and immediately think “they don’t work” suggests not just cluelessness but a deep and abiding lack of empathy and understanding for the way most people in the world — in his own country — live. It was depressing.

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  9. Peter said on August 9, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Oh, can we talk? DNA Info here had an article about a steel fabricator who’s pissed because the Trump campaign used photos shot in his place without permission for an ad on Making America Great Again.

    The story was more complicated, in that his photographer put them on a stock photo site, but my disbelief was with the comments section: One person said that DNA’s coverage is obviously biased because they do all of these Trump stories but nothing on Hillary, and that the website should have an equal number of stories criticizing Trump and Clinton.

    Oy! The reason that the stories aren’t equal is that Clinton keeps her mouth shut and doesn’t say wacky things all day! Reporters would do Hillary stories if they had time, but Trump keeps giving them easy work 24/7! Seriously, I think Charles Pierce’s biggest problem is that he has run out of adjectives to describe the train wreck.

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  10. Judybusy said on August 9, 2016 at 11:23 am

    My now-Jill Stein supporting friend posted an article on FB claiming Clinton and the DNC are murdering people who oppose her. She genuinely wondered if it were true. Thankfully, other friends quickly quashed the notion. That’s just so off the chain….thankfully this kind of wingnuttery seems to be rare.

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  11. brian stouder said on August 9, 2016 at 11:34 am

    Well, one good chuckle from yesterday was that my lovely wife and eldest daughter were watching the Olympics yesterday evening; specifically the men’s synchronized diving.

    They kept chuckling, as it seemed that each any every fellow had to “re-arrange” the junk, as the prepared for the dive, and after emerging from the pool, and as they showered.

    But the best laugh was when the American divers appeared, and the one is named Steele Johnson!

    That guy will have product endorsements for the rest of his life!

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  12. LAMary said on August 9, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    We were enjoying the name Steele Johnson too. He should have had a porn mustache.

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  13. LAMary said on August 9, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    I think we should keep calling Trump “The Donald.” I know it’s a term from the first of his three wives but I think that makes it better. He’s been “The Donald” for that long.

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  14. brian stouder said on August 9, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Reportage about the Donald’s state-by-state prospects also drew a chuckle from me, as Steve Cornacki (spelling?) explained that he may well lose in Utah, as the Mormons don’t like…. his multiple wives!

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  15. Sherri said on August 9, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    Trump’s pivot is to show that he’ll put that good old supply side Republican economic disaster along side his white resentment appeal, even if he won’t put it on top to cover it. As long as they think they can keep the War on Taxes going on and get the justices the want, some R’s will vote for him no matter what disgusting thins he says or does.

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  16. Icarus said on August 9, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    How? As Boon said to Otter: Forget it, he’s rolling.

    love this reference

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  17. alex said on August 9, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    From the last thread, the whiskey chilling rocks…

    I was gifted a set of these by my brother the geologist. I didn’t find them effective at cooling, and as one given to chewing ice, I’m afraid I might swallow the damned things.

    Phoning it in today, literally, from the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Have spent the last few days showing some German tourists around Chicago. Perfect summer day.

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  18. Scout said on August 9, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Obviously the assembled were there to see the man they have always intended to vote for because Rich Asshole Republican Candidate = Tax Breaks. People keep talking about El Douche’s appeal to white males with no college education, but the most tRump donations in AZ come from snooty North Scottsdale. These people are most assuredly not uneducated as a demographic, but they are typically greed heads.

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  19. Dorothy said on August 9, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Steele Johnson is mighty cute – he was on the Today show this morning. I’d love to know why his parents named him Steele. Also – a co-worker was complaining mightily about her step-mother-in-law earlier this year. She’d never mention her by name, only “my step-m-i-l.” So finally I asked Karen “What’s her name?!” “Judith!” she hollered. I suggested she call her The Judith and she LOVED that idea. That’s all she ever calls her now. But not to her face.

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  20. brian stouder said on August 9, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    Here is a genuinely odd story – which the Fox folks have affixed as a banner-headline story on their homepage:

    In a nutshell: HRC had a campaign event in Orlando, and it was open to the public, and thousands of folks came – including the father of the mass-shooter…and he had his Hillary gear on, and was behind her and in all the camera shots of HRC speaking.

    Which gives rise to the classic-Coke/New-Coke line….wherein New Coke fell flat, and people were wanting original-recipe Coke, and the question was asked of the guy who ran Coca-Cola at the time whether it was all on purpose, to rejuvenate sales of good ol’ Coca-Cola.

    And he said “We’re not that smart, and we’re not that stupid”

    Betcha this HRC-campaign mis-step causes yet another spluttering Trump response…..

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  21. beb said on August 9, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    My idea for an estate tax is 90% after $50 million and 100% after one billion. No one needs that much money and history has shown that inherited wealth only ruins the inheritor.

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  22. brian stouder said on August 9, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    And the Trumpster comes perilously close to waving the bloody shirt, of “2nd Amendment remedies” – with regard to HRC.

    He denies she’s calling for her assassination…for what it’s worth

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  23. Julie Robinson said on August 9, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    Reagonomics tax cuts? I remember how well those worked the first time around, when the middle class was promised lower taxes. Struggling along with two kids and one income, it sounded great. But when I did our taxes they were actually higher, so I called the IRS where I was told that yes, most people were paying more. Not that I ever believed a Republican promise, but whenever that one gets brought up it needs a fact check.

    Today I spent three hours at an eye surgeon thinking I would schedule cataract surgery, but learned there are other problems. I got a referral to a retinal specialist with the promise of an even longer appointment and then, who knows. I guess 50 years ago I probably would have just gone blind, but I’m having to regroup right now.

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  24. Deborah said on August 9, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    So how many hours after his telepromptered economic speech did he make his new off the cuff gaffe that the second amendment people could take care of Clinton to keep her from naming the Supreme Court justices after she’s elected Are you kidding me? Seriously?

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  25. Sherri said on August 9, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    I’d call it more than perilously close, Brian, I’d call it what it is: right in line with the other water the tree of liberty exhortations. Every time Trump is forced to do a scripted speech, he comes out with something even more outrageous. Or maybe that’s just coincidence, and he just responds to the crowd and give them ever more outrageous things to get that love from the crowd. Maybe next week he’ll bring one of those Code Pink protestors up on stage so he can kick her! That ought to get the crowd fired up!

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  26. Deborah said on August 9, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    And 3…2…1… the Republican nominee’s campaign is now saying he meant that 2nd amendment people should vote against Hillary not kill her. That’s some spin right there.

    How can you not think about Bobby Kennedy about now?

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  27. Sherri said on August 9, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    It’s going to be interesting to see what the Seattle Times does with its endorsement. The Times is center-right, socially fairly liberal but doesn’t much like taxes. It’s a family-owned newspaper, and the family really, really, really hates the estate tax with a passion. In 2004, they wrote about how unhappy they were with Bush, about how terrible the war in Iraq was, and on and on, but still endorsed Bush because estate tax. Normally, I’d say they wouldn’t endorse a candidate like Trump, but the estate tax is really important to them. I’m looking forward to reading their decision.

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  28. adrianne said on August 9, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    I’d say that when one party’s candidate makes a barely veiled reference encouraging the assassination of the other party’s candidate – and that’s what it was – he has to be taken off the ballot. Right now. And anyone who defends him from here on it is showing their true colors.

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  29. David C. said on August 9, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    For the first time in the Donald’s pathetic life, he has a problem that he can’t buy or bullshit his way out of. If he has any self-awareness, he sees his brand swirling down the drain and he has no idea what to do. All he can do is ramp up the crazy because that’s all he knows. He knows about as much about governing as a pig knows about Sundays, so policy isn’t going to work. He has the attention span of an elementary school child, so he can’t even be coached. He deserves to be removed from the ballot for what he said today, but I he needs to stay. Nothing but an historic and humiliating defeat will do this country any good.

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  30. Sherri said on August 9, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    I already said there was no bottom to Trump, and I can’t even remember what the specific incident that triggered that remark. But let’s not forget that Trump is only where he is because the Republican Party has pursued a path that has turned them into a party where racism, misogyny, bigotry, and calls for violence are acceptable. Trump didn’t get booed for calling for the assassination of political opponents.

    This Republican Party must be destroyed, both the actual Trumpsters and the Trump enablers.

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  31. Sherri said on August 9, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    Stochastic Terrorism, or what Trump is engaged in:

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  32. Suzanne said on August 9, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    You want to get sick to your stomach, go to the FOX News Facebook page & read the comments on the story of Trump’s latest speech blunder. He’s just misunderstood, it’s just the media, and every other conspiracy theory in the world. Amazing. Utterly amazing.

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  33. Deborah said on August 9, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    Frank Schaefer the former rabid evangelical who was on Rachel MAddow a couple of years ago talked about the right wing trawling for assassins, it was very much the stochastic terrorism you described Sherri. I’ll never forget that RMS when he was on and explained it.

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  34. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 9, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    Just got back from doing a family funeral in the Hoosier State (those are always the hardest, even when you know the guest of honor was ready and even eager to make their exit, especially after 90 years began to weigh heavy on them), and am settling in for a siege of farewell potlucks at my “other” job. It’s a part of my wariness, which I share with the Proprietress, starting with a.) I’m sure Hillary is going to win, and my track record on such things is almost perfectly inverted; b.) so many family members are grimly determined to see something or someone punished, and consider Trump the stick with which to deliver the consequences; and c.) we’re pretty cautious in the court-related hallways about political commentary even amongst ourselves, but the series of departures is rooted in a very real and deep-seated frustration with “the system” and a sense that the deck is stacked entirely against those trying to save juveniles and their families from the worst outcomes of their poor decision making and lack of impulse control. New advisories and rulings from “above” are changing how we do monitoring, determine probation violations (PVs), and handle cases on their way to the bench — all of which seem in our offices to be designed to assume that the kids are all Andy Hardy and Shirley Temple and we are all Nurse Ratched and Officer Krupke. Are too many youth being shackled in transport somewhere else, or worked unfairly on community control; can parental say-so be trusted more than we tend to, or should we be more indifferent to weed consumption than we are, which is already barely at all (to the distraction of some school staff and grandparents who report their own to us hoping for an intervention this side of a felony adjudication)?

    I suspect Trump would beat Clinton in an intra-office poll should one be taken, although I bet I could muster a strong showing for Gary Johnson around here if I put some effort into it. I’m not, and I won’t, but there’s a general atmosphere of climbing up into the tree fort and pulling the ladder up. That doesn’t have to equal Trump support, but it could. Nancy has her clueless plutocrats, but I talk to lots of semi-informed retired union guys and double-dipping civil servants – school and county – who are leaning towards a dismissive wave of their polling hand against the perceived slights and serial insults of bureaucratic insistence on its way.

    If I have a worry right now, it’s less that Trump will win than that he will yet find a way — through provocation and implication — to make it close, close enough to release some hounds and haters from their kennels and leave the rest of us to chase them all back down for years as he hies himself off to incontinence and gout at Mar-a-lago.

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  35. Deborah said on August 9, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    All I can say is that I must live in a huge liberal bubble. I don’t know anyone personally that says they are going to vote for the Republican nominee. And I have a deep seated right wing strain in my family. All of those people say they aren’t going to vote him. None of my Facebook friends have said they are going to vote for him. Granted I don’t have nearly as many FB friends as most people but still. Where are all of these people supporting The Republican nominee? Obviously they are out there but I don’t know ANY of them.

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  36. FDChief said on August 9, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    Re: Trump today, in 1972 Hunter Thompson wrote this:

    “This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it—that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable. The tragedy of all this is that George McGovern, for all his mistakes… understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country might have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon. McGovern made some stupid mistakes, but in context they seem almost frivolous compared to the things Richard Nixon does every day of his life, on purpose as a matter of policy and a perfect expression of everything he stands for. Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?”

    And now we know.

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  37. LAMary said on August 10, 2016 at 1:06 am

    I’m avoiding political conversations with a couple of my close relatives. I suspect they’re voting for the Donald. It wouldn’t be surprising, just disappointing.

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  38. Deborah said on August 10, 2016 at 5:24 am

    This couldn’t be any clearer

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  39. Suzanne said on August 10, 2016 at 6:14 am

    Deborah, yes you do live in a liberal bubble. I live in rural Indiana. I know plenty of people who see Trump as a great man, a great leader who will right the good ship USA. I know plenty of people who heard what Trump said yesterday and see nothing whatsoever wrong with it.

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  40. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 10, 2016 at 8:39 am

    FDChief: on the other hand, it was just four years ago we had a choice between two marvelous individuals, with a proven track record of having giving hearts — of themselves and of their substance — with strong families around them and a general clarity of speech (allowing for the background noise of politics in the air as always) coming from them. I’m not trying to make a political point here so much as to marvel at the contrast between the two choices as people we had last year, and the distance we’ve traveled down some bad road since that election. What it says about the process I’m still not ready to explain, since I’m nowhere near understanding it, but I do know how often I thought last go ’round “there’s neither of these two I’d hate to see in the White House” and how often I hesitate to even try to imagine what the next four years will look like with either. (Yes, I still have issues with Bill getting to re-enter the White House, even if I think Hillary gets more credit than even Dems give her, let alone GOPers, for holding her marriage together. I’m amazed by the arguments I end up in with nominal supporters of HRC about why she kept Bill around. I just can’t see the “she did it for political gain” argument actually holding water . . . but that’s just my opinion. Every marriage is a mystery to those standing outside of it.)

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  41. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 10, 2016 at 8:39 am

    last year =edit=> last election

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  42. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 10, 2016 at 9:06 am

    And if you feel any sympathy for Hillary Rodham Clinton at all, you’ll appreciate this long look through a tower window of one angle into the inner courtyard:

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  43. Jenine said on August 10, 2016 at 11:26 am

    @ David C.: thank you so much for this turn of phrase “He knows about as much about governing as a pig knows about Sundays”

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