Thursday, June 14, 2018


Still from Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, starring, left to right, Jared Kushner, Michael Cohen, I can't think of somebody for Sorvino, and Anthony Scaramucci. No, wait. From a fun piece by Xan Brooks/Guardian on how Trump idolizes De Niro. That's why his heart is broken.

Oh, look who showed up at the if-you-insult-Nazis-you-just-make-people-vote-for-them party! It's the most ineffectual person who has ever written for the New York Times op-ed page, and I realize that's a pretty strong claim, Frank Bruni ("How to Lose the Midterms and Re-elect Trump")!

He'd have come sooner, but his tux was at the cleaners after a minor drooling incident:
Dear Robert De Niro, Samantha Bee and other Trump haters:
I get that you’re angry. I’m angry, too.
You're not angry, Frank. You've just got a little indigestion. It'll pass.

Not that he's necessarily wrong, precisely, about the value of what De Niro did at the Tony awards:
But anger isn’t a strategy. Sometimes it’s a trap. When you find yourself spewing four-letter words, you’ve fallen into it. You’ve chosen cheap theatrics over the long game, catharsis over cunning. You think you’re raising your fist when you’re really raising a white flag.... You permit them to see you as you see Trump: deranged. Why would they choose a different path if it goes to another ugly destination?
But he's completely wrong about its importance. Who does he think is watching the Tonys? It's full-time housewives in New Jersey, dentists and accountants with cultivated tastes in Ohio and Wisconsin, drama-loving teenagers in Florida and New Mexico. It's not that imaginary group of undecided coal miners and steelworkers. It's Frank Bruni, in fact. Is he going to go vote for Republicans now?

I know a Jersey cigar store owner, a much more typical kind of possible Trump voter, who says "Fuck Trump!" himself all the time, comfortably, and was planning to vote for him anyway (it was the immigration invective that eventually got to him—he's Cuban—and his wife, who says "Fuck Trump!" with the exact same feeling as Robert De Niro, but it was touch and go for a while). Robert De Niro isn't going to make the crucial difference in November; I don't know what will, but maybe the "moderate" Democratic House candidate Bruni liked in Virginia was doing the right thing, in her district:
The results in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District on Tuesday were a perfect example. State Senator Jennifer Wexton, a former federal prosecutor, won, and will take on the Republican incumbent, Barbara Comstock. That was precisely what Republican strategists didn’t want, and at the beginning of the year, they chattered hopefully about Wexton’s being thwarted by more strident Democratic rivals to her left. But she beat the second-place finisher by almost 20 points.
I’m buoyed by that and by what I’ve witnessed when I’ve met with Democratic candidates in potentially red-to-blue House districts. They’re not getting bogged down in impeachment talk, which can sound to many voters like a promise of ceaseless partisan rancor and never-ending Washington paralysis. They’re not frothing at the mouth about Trump.
Or maybe it depends on the district, or the candidate, as in the May primaries where lots of "leftists" won, as Osita Nwanevu reported at Slate:
Both progressives and moderate Democrats are crowing over the results from Tuesday’s primaries. Stacey Abrams, a progressive endorsed by Bernie Sanders and the group Our Revolution, defeated former state Rep. Stacey Evans to become the first female black gubernatorial candidate for a major party in history. In Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District, Amy McGrath beat establishment candidate Jim Gray, the mayor of Lexington. But in Texas’ 7th District, progressive underdog Laura Moser was handily beaten by Lizzie Fletcher, who was backed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Last week’s primaries were less of a mixed bag for the party’s left. A slew of establishment incumbents were defeated in Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Idaho, and Oregon by progressives, including Pittsburgh’s Sara Innamorato and Summer Leetwo members of the Democratic Socialists of America, and John Fetterman, a Bernie Sanders–endorsed candidate for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania.* 
They're not talking much about impeachment either, to tell the truth. They're talking about health care, they're talking about guaranteed income, they're talking about antitrust legislation, they're talking about marijuana, they're talking about the mass incarceration of black people, they're talking about different things in different districts, as they should.

But all Bruni can hear is De Niro:

He needs to understand that it's a big old world, and everybody can be talking about something different. I need to talk about Trump, and I have a lot more to say about him than De Niro does. Let me alone!

The other thing is that while screaming about Trump, at least for the time being, won't win you any Trump voters, being measured and generous about him, like old Schumer dangling cooperation with him on an infrastructure bill, won't do it either. The only thing that will get them off Trump, as I've been trying to say, is Trump himself, looking weak and silly. The time will come, as it came for Nixon and for George W. Bush, when people are going to open their eyes and stop being defensive about him and pretending not to see it, just fed up finally, and we need to be ready. As things pile on this week, with the DOJ inspector general's report demonstrating the idiocy of Trump's theory that the FBI conspired against him, and Trump bizarrely acting impotent—it's the Democrats' fault!—when his Justice Department rips Central American children out of their mothers' arms, and the spectacle of him getting fuddled and unexpectedly saluting a North Korean general—

—and today's gigantic news about New York State's lawsuit against the criminal mismanagement and self-dealing of the Trump Foundation (which I've been waiting for since October 2016, but I didn't expect it would turn out to be run by Corey Lewandowski as part of the campaign), and Manafort probably headed for jail tomorrow and Michael Cohen likely to cop a plea at last, in a rage at at the disloyalty of his old padrones who was being stingy about helping with his legal bills, things are really moving almost too fast to follow. What you aren't seeing is a Trump being tough and decisive, though.

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