Saturday, August 20, 2016

Race for the White House Volume 86

79 Days Until Election Race

Anchor: Donald Trump is down in the race

Trump flunky: Says Who?

Anchor: The polls

flunky: Which ones?

Anchor: All of them

That exchange this week on CNN has gone viral and pretty much summarizes the fact that Donald Trump remains well behind in this general election. Still, his most loyal defenders and fans make excuses and claim the polls are not accurate because of crowd sizes.

Once again , every development of the week is not worth getting into. It should have been another bad week for Democrats, with discussion over the fact that the Obama Administration now basically admits paying ransom money to Iran, something that puts the lives of all Americans overseas at risk, as well as continued revelations about Hillary Clinton and her email. Reports show she tried to throw Colin Powell under the bus, suggesting the former Secretary of State was the one who advised her to use private email. Powell, who almost certainly is going to endorse Clinton for President over Trump, released a statement that very much pushed back at that claim. No matter what she does, Clinton cannot seem to put this matter behind her or to satisfy basic requirements of honesty about the situation. However, she is still facing Trump, and thus, the election will not be a referendum on her.

It was another tumultuous week for the Trump campaign. There was another shakeup in the campaign leadership, after a previous shakeup just a couple of months ago. Paul Manafort is out as campaign Chairman, and it seems like he was fired, more than a situation where he quit. News stories have detailed Manafort's ties to shadowy Russian money, especially related to his political activities in Ukraine. This was becoming a distraction for the Trump campaign, but one really has to wonder if these discoveries mean Manfort could be in serious legal trouble for not reporting this income or properly registering as a foreign agent. If the Feds put the squeeze on Manafort, is Trump going to be considered fair game?

Just days before the Manafort announcement, which was made, once again, the day after a Trump "speech" got some positive press, and thus stepping over the message again, some new hires were announced. Pollster Kellyanne Conway is now the Campaign Manager and the CEO of the campaign is Stephen Bannon, the person behind the right-wing Breitbart news service. While Conway has some respect in the business, and was very critical of Trump, when she was working for Ted Cruz, Bannon has a reputation for being pretty sleazy and the thought is that this is a clear sign that Trump is going to run a Breitbart style hit campaign against Clinton in the final days. We have seen this more and more, with all sorts of stories appearing online, and making their way onto the Hannity radio and television show about Hillary Clinton and "serious health problems." I will mention that Clinton has released far more legitimate information about her health and recent medical background than the joke of a  short statement purportedly out months ago by a Trump doctor, which sounds more like the candidate wrote it himself. Hilariously, the statement announced that Donald Trump has tested positive for everything. How is that a good thing? Anyways, all sorts of Trump supporters are now talking about Clinton's health and stamina, saying she can barely walk up stairs, has had seizures while talking to reporters, has serious brain damage, etc. etc. As anyone would know, I am not a Hillary fan at all, but these unfounded attacks against her are just disgraceful and a clear anti-female dog whistle.

Back to the speech where Trump was praised, he actually said something fairly remarkable in it. He stated that he has sometimes said the wrong things during the heat of the campaign and that he regrets it, especially where it has caused "personal pain." Wow, what an admission by him, but I am still not buying it. I would think he needs to be far more specific and offer far more of a direct apology for all sorts of specific events and statements. That is not going to happen and I have a hard time buying that Trump is newly or privately humbled. I think he is just trying to give the impression that he is trying to do something to turn around the horrible poll numbers. Whether he actually cares about winning at this point or not might be another story.

Trump gave a speech about race relations this week, to an almost all white audience, and pledged that if he was elected, he will get 95 percent of the black vote while seeking reelection. Yeah, right. While it is true that the black vote has been overly loyal to the Democrat Party, without a lot to show for it, Trump really went over the line when he seemed to state that all African-Americans are living in poverty or facing horrible circumstances. That was painting with way too broad of a brush, and Republicans just nominating a figure like Trump, who has relied on bigotry to fuel his campaign, does not give the party I want to win black voters, any sense of moral standing.

There was a bit  more "good press" for Trump late this week, when he and runningmate Mike Pence, visited the flood ravaged state of Louisiana, and before cameras, very briefly, was shown passing out Play-doh or something. I guess it will help the kids have fun during difficult times. Trump met with officials and citizens, while wearing his stupid red campaign hat, and tried to act genuinely concerned about them. Maybe he is, at some level, or maybe he is just reliving his supposed charitable deeds on The Apprentice, where published reports have unearthed that he personally never actually gave any of the money he promised contestants or celebrities.

Still though, it was the GOP ticket that actually showed up, while Hillary Clinton stayed away, as did the incumbent President, who instead played golf with celebrities. This is especially noticeable because Barack Obama was among the loudest voices criticizing President George W. Bush for appearing to not care enough about Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. Clearly though, the Democrats have a double standard when it comes to these things and the media goes along with it, although Obama was ripped by a Louisiana newspaper for his aloofness. He is planning a trip to the state this coming week, after the criticism.

As the summer winds down, we are reminded about why a new President is needed, but sadly, both major party options are non-starters to many like me. Donald Trump will continue to generate most of the media attention this past week, and it will be interesting to see if his "new tone" will lead to some sort of new outlook in the public about his campaign. Sure as the sun will rise tomorrow morning, I would bet anything that Trump will do or say something controversial again, very soon.


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