Didn’t I tell you there would be a big fuss over claims that Trump is a Democratic mole?

On July 26, just 11 days ago, I wrote a blog post that said this about Donald Trump: I think we will soon hear a major outcry that he’s just a troublemaker planted by the Democrats to make the Republicans look like fools. There has already been talk of this kind in certain quarters, but it hasn’t been very loud and hasn’t attracted much attention from the mainstream media. I think it soon will. The theory goes like this: Trump is a long-time friend and financial benefactor of the Clintons, and he’s supported the political candidacies of various other Democrats over the years. He’s also supported more than a few liberal social causes over the years — gay marriage, for one. Well, guess what. Republican media are in a tizzy today over THIS REPORT from The Washington Post: Former president Bill Clinton had a private telephone conversation in late spring with Donald Trump at the same time that the billionaire investor and reality-television star was nearing a decision to run for the White House, according to associates of both men. Four Trump allies and one Clinton associate familiar with the exchange said that Clinton encouraged Trump’s efforts to play a larger role in the Republican Party and offered his own views of the political landscape. (Snip) One person with knowledge of Clinton’s end of the call said the former president was upbeat and encouraging during the conversation, which occurred as Trump was speaking out about GOP politics and his prescriptions for the nation. Clinton aides declined to speak on the record about the call, saying the conversation was personal. So far, reaction among conservative media has ranged from outrage to confusion to bemusement. HERE’s a comment from one guy at the right-wing website Hot Air:  I know why Clinton’s aides would be eager to plant this story in the media the day before the GOP debate but I can’t imagine why four(!) Trump allies would be willing to confirm it. Why’d they do that, knowing the suspicions it would arouse among Republicans? Is this all part of some master trolling effort to gaslight conservatives or could Trump aides simply not resist the free publicity involved with a story about him yakking to Bill Clinton about the presidential race?          ...

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Huckabee’s reckless rhetoric reflects Trump’s poisonous influence on the process

The equation here is rather simple: Donald Trump has shown in recent weeks that an upstart political candidate can dominate the news and attract followers simply by saying outrageous things. Other candidates soon follow suit, just to gain public notice — and the whole process suffers as a result. We saw this cause-and-effect starkly illustrated the other day with Mike Huckabee’s mindless imitation of Trump’s scurrilous rhetoric. Trump drew widespread notice with his ridiculous generalization that Mexican immigrants to the United States are “rapists.” Huckabee’s variation likens President Obama to Adolf Hitler at the time of the Holocaust. Huckabee said that Obama, by pushing for a deal with Iran on nuclear weapons, “will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.” Such ugly rhetoric has drawn harsh criticism of Huckabee from numerous Jewish organizations and fair-minded people everywhere. But it’s also achieved its principal objective: It’s put Huckabee in the headlines and on the evening news. We can expect, I fear, that other marginal candidates for the Republican presidential nomination will soon imitate the examples set by Trump and Huckabee: Say something truly outrageous to draw public attention. The only thing you have to lose is any claim to decency you might have had. Besides, decency isn’t important to people on the fringes of the Republican Party base....

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Pretty soon, you’ll likely hear lots more talk that Donald Trump is a Democratic plant

So far, my record of predictions regarding Donald Trump is pretty poor. I said he would never actually announce his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, but he did. Then I said he wouldn’t file the candidacy paperwork, but he did. Then I said he wouldn’t make the financial disclosures, but he did. Well, now I’ve got another Trump prediction: I think we will soon hear a major outcry that he’s just a troublemaker planted by the Democrats to make the Republicans look like fools. There has already been talk of this kind in certain quarters, but it hasn’t been very loud and hasn’t attracted much attention from the mainstream media. I think it soon will. The theory goes like this: Trump is a long-time friend and financial benefactor of the Clintons, and he’s supported the political candidacies of various other Democrats over the years. He’s also supported more than a few liberal social causes over the years — gay marriage, for one. Dan Balz of The Washington Post recently wrote this: Trump is not particularly conservative — or, more accurately, he seems to have no fixed ideology. He amplifies dissatisfaction without proposing real solutions to the country’s problems, other than building a big wall. Yet he speaks about things in a language so blunt and uncharacteristic of politicians that it wins visceral approval from disaffected Americans. Does this mean that The Donald is trying to help the Democrats by making a nuisance of himself among the Republicans? I don’t think so, but I can understand how some folks might see it that way. Anyway, I expect that there will be a lot more talk about this Trump-is-a-mole theory in the coming days. Remember where you heard...

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Here’s why Donald Trump appeals mostly to people of little political sophistication

A list of synonyms for “sophisticated” includes these words: knowledgeable, aware, practical, educated and experienced. These are not words that apply to people who want simple answers to complicated problems. They are not words that apply to people who think Donald Trump makes a lot of sense. Trump’s political rhetoric consists mainly of streams of consciousness adding up to ridiculous simplisms. He promises to be a president who simply tells everyone what to do — the Mexicans, the Chinese, whomever. There is no subtlety at all to his proposed solutions to the nation’s problems and challenges. Accordingly, Trump’s presidential candidacy is especially popular among people who disdain complicated approaches to complicated issues — people who don’t like political sophistication. These are the people who comprise much of the Republican Party’s base. Most of Trump’s rivals for the GOP nomination want to appeal to those same people, but many of them have held public office at one time or another, which means they’ve had to at least pretend that they are political sophisticates. Trump has never held public office and has never been a candidate for anything. He comes to the game with a clean slate. He’s never had to shepherd legislation through the political process.  He’s never had to bargain with political adversaries or work out political compromises. He’s only contributed money to politicians — and then complained about their failures. Most Republican politicians, even the supposedly sophisticated ones, loved it when the Tea Party movement that arose in the wake of the election of President Obama spawned a sizable subgroup of people who hate the political  process or don’t understand it — or both. But now, Donald Trump has emerged to teach the Republican pols a lesson on how to exploit this lack of sophistication among millions of potential voters. Mainstream Republican politicians hate Donald Trump with a passion because he’s beating them at their own game.  ...

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Des Moines newspaper’s call for Donald Trump to abandon his candidacy is ridiculous

Let’s stipulate from the outset here that Donald Trump’s chances of winning the Republican presidential nomination are exceedingly slim, and his prospects for actually taking up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue simply don’t exist. The American electorate is not that crazy. But let’s not pretend that Trump’s candidacy serves no useful purpose. On the contrary, The Donald’s bid for the presidency is good for the nation on several counts. Mainly, it points up all the flaws and charms and fun of the entire process. For that reason and others, it’s wrong-headed for the Des Moines Register, the leading newspaper in the important presidential caucus state of Iowa, to publish an EDITORIAL calling for Trump to get out of the race. Oh, sure, the Register is right in saying this: Trump, by every indication, seems wholly unqualified to sit in the White House. If he had not already disqualified himself through his attempts to demonize immigrants as rapists and drug dealers, he certainly did so by questioning the war record of John McCain, the Republican senator from Arizona. But then the paper goes too far in saying this of Trump: His comments were not merely offensive, they were disgraceful. So much so, in fact, that they threaten to derail not just his campaign, but the manner in which we choose our nominees for president. By using his considerable wealth, his celebrity status, and his mouth to draw attention to himself, rather than to raise awareness of the issues facing America, he has coarsened our political dialogue and cheapened the electoral process. C’mon. The “manner in which we choose our nominees for president” has long been flawed. It didn’t start with Trump, and it won’t end if he quits tomorrow. The real scandal is that much of the eligible electorate pays little attention to the process and doesn’t bother itself to vote. And many of those who do vote are easily swayed by simplistic appeals to their prejudices. Let’s not forget that Trump has done fairly well in the polls by slurring Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists. If his unfair knocks against John McCain eventually slow his surge, he’ll likely find other ways to appeal to the booboisie. But did the Des Moines paper tell Trump to take a hike when he mischaracterized Mexican immigrants? Did the paper demand that the other Republican candidates quit the race when they failed to strongly condemn Trump’s blatant racism? Not that I noticed. More to the point, did the Des Moines paper urge the withdrawal of any of the grossly unqualified Republican candidates who enjoyed brief surges in the polls during the race for the GOP nomination in the cycle of four years ago? Those candidates included Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain, neither of whom was presidential timber. Among the 16 announced candidates for the Republican nomination this time are more than a few people who are not especially more qualified that Donald Trump. But the Des Moines paper pretends that The Donald is “unfit to stand on the same stage” as these other ciphers. In the final analysis, of course, Trump isn’t going to let the Des Moines paper usher him off the stage. Nor should he.    ...

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