Multiple Fallacies Are Keeping Trump In Contention
Credit: NBC News
September 20, 2016

In Glenn Thrush's story about an interview with Dr. Jill Stein for the Politico podcast Off Message, there's a passage that catches Charlie Pierce's eye:

But [Stein's] contempt has a more cutting quality when she talks about Clinton. She mocks Trump as braying menace; Stein thinks he's, at heart, a bumbler who will be neutered by his own party after being elected. But it's Clinton who poses the greater threat, in Stein's estimation, because she knows how to move the levers of Washington. "Donald Trump, I think, will have a lot of trouble moving things through Congress," Stein explains. "Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, won't… Hillary has the potential to do a whole lot more damage, get us into more wars, faster to pass her fracking disastrous climate program, much more easily than Donald Trump could do his."

See also Dave Weigel:

Where does this idea come from? Here's more of what Stein tells Politico:

“The guy has a lot of problems -- physical, mental, emotional, cognitive,” Stein said of Trump.

As proof of his (alleged) pathology, she pointed to his position-hopping on a range of issues, which she cast as erratic rather than calculating -- from his fuzzy Iraq positions over the years, to his brief “softening” on immigration last month, to his decision (on the day we spoke) to suddenly renounce birtherism after five years of banging a drumbeat of lies.

“It's hard to, you know, to think too hard about anything Donald Trump says because he will change his mind in the next hour, if not the next day, or whatever,” she added. “Today, suddenly, after five years, he became convinced that it's not an issue. Yesterday it was an issue. It will probably become an issue again for him. You know, the guy may have a memory problem. Who knows what it is? But he's incapable of having a consistent thought or policy.”

That may be true if you go back more than five years, but he's been consistent, at least in broad outline, on most issues in the years since he started using his Fox punditry gig to turn himself into a pol. As Evan Osnos writes in The New Yorker:

When Trump talks about what he will create and what he will eliminate, he doesn’t depart from three core principles: in his view, America is doing too much to try to solve the world’s problems; trade agreements are damaging the country; and immigrants are detrimental to it. He wanders and hedges and doubles back, but he ... never strays too far from his essential positions.

And despite his belief that "America is doing too much to try to solve the world’s problems," he's consistently said that he wants to engage in total war against ISIS and Al Qaeda, even if it means committing war crimes. Osnos again:

To confront terrorism, Trump has said, “you have to take out their families,” work on “closing that Internet up in some ways,” and use tactics that are “frankly unthinkable” and “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”

He also thinks we should have expropriated Iraqi oil. And he believes in the magic-word theory of counterterrorism: say "radical Islamic terror" often enough and you'll be more likely to defeat the enemy.

On domestic issues, he consistently promises large tax cuts (even though he may occasionally pretend he's a populist on the carried-interest rule for hedge fund managers). He consistently promises deregulation. He consistently pooh-poohs climate change. He used to be pro-choice, but he consistently says he isn't anymore. He consistently praises only the most right-wing of judges.

On nearly every issue, his positions are (a) mainstream conservatism or (b) mainstream conservatism on steroids. So, as Pierce says:

On what does [Stein] base her conclusion that a President Trump will be neutered by the Republicans in Congress? (We must stipulate that, if he were to win the presidency, the Republicans also would maintain their majorities in both houses of Congress and that means, hello, Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown!) They would pass the bills and he would sign just about anything they wanted him to sign.

A long time ago, Trump used to be closer to the center on few issues, and liberal on a few more; as a result, too many Americans think his ideology as president would be hard to predict, and therefore don't fear him. Because he uttered what appeared to be a few conservative heresies during the primaries, it's believed that he'd be at loggerheads with a GOP Congress. And because it's taboo in mainstream political discourse to say that the rest of the Republican Party already consists of crazy right-wing radicals, it's believed that the danger come 2017 would emanate only from Trump -- you'll have nothing to fear from Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, even if you have Jill Stein's politics.

All of this is nuts. Giving the presidency to any of Trump's primary opponents would have been bad enough -- it would have turned America into Sam Brownback's Kansas or Bobby Jindal's Louisiana or Scott Walker's Wisconsin. Trump, if he's president, will go along with the en-Koch-ening of the federal government in most particulars, then add his own craziness on top of that. He'll sign nearly every bill the GOP Congress has wanted to pass for years. He won't be constrained by Congress, except possibly on trade. And then he'll add his own madness on top of that -- with no moderation. Remember, he was more or less in the middle and didn't get to be president. If tacking sharply to the right gets him electing president, why would he let go of what worked for him?

Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog

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