Think of it as the nuclear option: deploying the most powerful and dangerous weapon available, the one you use when conventional warfare has failed. Just as with real nuclear weapons, that option carries clear risks, starting with losing the presidency in November, and ultimately threatening the party itself. But If a critical mass of Republicans and their conservative allies believe—as many have argued publicly, and more have privately whispered—that Trump could irrevocably undermine what the party says it stands for, and would pose a clear and present danger to the country if he ever attained the White House, it may now be their only chance. ... Trump has one glaring Achilles Heel: He can’t admit any failing, any mistake, any weakness of any kind. He tells us he has the world’s greatest memory; the “The Art of the Deal” is the second best book ever written (the Bible comes first). Without plunging into dime-store psychology, there seems to be a profound sense of insecurity, most of all about being mocked, laughed at.
Priebus’s mission at the RNC has been to manufacture some luck: to rebuild a party that lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections and lost power completely with Barack Obama’s 2008 victory. While Republicans traded recriminations after Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012, Priebus announced that the RNC would conduct a rigorous postmortem of all that had gone wrong and figure out how to refashion the party for the 21st century. ... The key to revival, the authors concluded, was to put a kinder, gentler gloss on the old stalwart Republican ideals (free trade, small government) while reforming immigration laws to entice nonwhite voters who were tuning the party out. ... By obliterating Jeb, Trump redefined the Republican Party’s identity off the top of his head. And his vision of the GOP’s future is in many ways the diametrical opposite of what Priebus and the party Establishment had imagined. ... A Republican Party that can’t stop Trump’s nomination may be no better able to resist his influence. If you’re Priebus, that’s a grim thought, because you’ve devoted five years, hundreds of millions of dollars, and every ounce of your energy to pushing your party in the other direction.
In interviews with more than 40 of the Republican Party’s leading strategists, lawmakers, fundraisers and donors, a common thread has emerged heading into the general election: Win or lose in November (and more expect to lose than not), they fear that Trump’s overheated and racialized rhetoric could irreparably poison the GOP brand among the fastest-growing demographic groups in America. ... And so, to an almost unprecedented extent, as the 50,000 Republican activists, officials and media pour into Cleveland this week, there is something of a convention within the convention. Many of these GOP titans—the intellectual and financial pillars of the party and its possible future elected leaders—are plotting a parallel course. ... In delegation breakfasts, private hotel suites and steakhouses across Cleveland—and farther afield for those, like Jeb Bush and his family, who are skipping the festivities—they are laying the foundations for the next political battles they believe can actually be won: first, to preserve the GOP majorities in the House and Senate this fall, then to save the Republican Party itself. ... Ryan and Trump disagree on fundamental, and traditionally core, GOP principles. Ryan favors free trade deals, has backed comprehensive immigration reform and wants to rein in entitlement programs. Trump is a trade protectionist, whose immigration policy centers on building a mammoth wall and a deportation force, and he wants no cutbacks to entitlements.
From political power brokers to the entire island of Manhattan, a varied cast of taunting insiders has inadvertently driven Donald Trump’s lifelong revenge march toward the White House. This is what it’s like to be one of them. ... Trump was referring to a profile I’d written two years earlier in which I chronicled a couple of days spent inside the billionaire’s bubble and confidently concluded that his long-stated presidential aspirations were a sham. He had tweeted about me frequently in the weeks following its publication — often at odd hours, sometimes multiple times a day — denouncing me as a “dishonest slob” and “true garbage with no credibility.” ... Trump’s performative character assassination led to plenty of teasing from friends and colleagues about how I had inadvertently goaded Trump into running. But as his campaign gained traction, the tone started to curdle into something more…hostile. Once, after discussing Trump’s latest outrage on cable news, the host grumbled to me, “Won’t it be great when Donald Trump becomes president because you wrote a f***ing BuzzFeed article daring him to run? I mean, won’t that be f***ing fantastic?” ... I had landed on a long and esteemed list of haters and losers — spanning decades, stretching from Wharton to Wall Street to the Oval Office — who have ridiculed him, rejected him, dismissed him, mocked him, sneered at him, humiliated him — and, now, propelled him all the way to the Republican presidential nomination, with just one hater left standing between him and the nuclear launch codes. ... In the fall of 2010, with the national tea party wave cresting, Trump decided it was time for a rebrand. His marketing instincts had been the driving force behind a lifetime of political promiscuity, including stints as a Republican, a Democrat, an independent, and a member of Ross Perot’s Reform Party. Though he wasn’t one to read Hayek or quote Jefferson, Trump could tell there was something about this new conservative movement that was resonating with his core fanbase, and he wanted in. For guidance, Trump turned to conservative super-activist and Citizens United president David Bossie. ... “Half of the story here is the dismissiveness that the political operative class had toward him.”
- Also: The Atlantic - Donald Trump and the Backlash Against Political Correctness < 5min
- Also: The New Yorker - Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All 5-15min
- Also: Huffington Post - Sad! 5-15min
- Also: The New York Times - Donald Trump’s Deals Rely on Being Creative With the Truth < 5min
- Also: Bloomberg - What Kind of Man Spends Millions to Elect Ted Cruz? 5-15min
Many of the properties that bear Donald Trump's name are not owned by him. Many of the properties owned by Donald Trump were not erected by him. While he does sometimes conjure buildings out of the dirt, Don's more of a collector, a tweaker, a stamper-uponer ... Trump's reported history of property acquisition shows he regularly deploys a cunning tactic that, depending on your political stance, you might refer to as either “shrewd” or “technically legal.” Step one: Purchase some innocuous piece of territory at the edge of a real estate gem (a yard, for example). Step two: Use this as a tactical base from which to launch campaigns dissuading anyone who considers buying the actually desirable property. Step three: Wait for the price to plummet, then buy it for a fraction of the cost. ... as Mr. Trump's black Cadillac SUV inches closer to the White House, some of his fellow citizens find ourselves wondering: How might things run around here with this guy in charge? Why is his sales pitch so irresistible that we might be willing to let him take a shot at governing, using a nation of 323.8 million people as guinea pigs? ... To find out, I embarked on a far-reaching tour of Donald Trump's America—the parts of it he legally owns, plus one part of Donald Trump's America that is actually located in Ireland—to see if the way Donald Trump runs a boutique hotel could tell me anything about the way he might run a federal republic. ... Most have never met Trump. “The people he's hired to be my bosses, I respect,” says one, who cringes when footage of a Republican debate plays on a nearby TV. “It's the first time in my life I feel I'm not working with idiots.”
Over the past several months, I’ve interviewed Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state, numerous times on the subject of America’s role in the world. Our conversations took place before this week’s election, but were informed by the foreign-policy differences between the candidates. ... There is obviously a gap between the public’s perception of the role of U.S. foreign policy and the elite’s perception. I think the new president has an opportunity to reconcile the two. He has an opportunity, but it is up to him to seize it. ... I’m fairly confident that China’s reaction will be to study its options. I suspect that will be Russia’s reaction as well. ... I think most of the world’s foreign policy has been in suspense for six to nine months, waiting for the outcome of our election. They have just watched us undergo a domestic revolution. They will want to study it for some period. But at some point, events will necessitate decision making once more. The only exception to this rule may be nonstate groups; they may have an incentive to provoke an American reaction that undermines our global position. ... Universities, he said, “like to teach history as a series of discrete problems. And they above all don’t want to teach Western history. They believe that the West has committed so many crimes that they are not entitled to single it out. That is a thought that would never occur to a Chinese. To return genuine pluralism to the campuses—to examine even ideas conventional wisdom rejects—has become a major national challenge.” ... What most annoyed Kissinger was the manner in which Obama talked about some other world leaders.
It’s been six years since we first wrote about the coming G-Zero world—a world with no global leader. The underlying shifts in the geopolitical environment have been clear: a US with less interest in assuming leadership responsibilities; US allies, particularly in Europe, that are weaker and looking to hedge bets on US intentions; and two frenemies, Russia and China, seeking to assert themselves as (limited) alternatives to the US—Russia primarily on the security front in its extended backyard, and China primarily on the economic front regionally, and, increasingly, globally. ... These trends have accelerated with the populist revolt against “globalism”—first in the Middle East, then in Europe, and now in the US. Through 2016, you could see the G-Zero picking up speed ... with the shock election of Donald Trump as president of the US, the G-Zero world is now fully upon us.
1. Independent America: Trump rejects the comparative weakness of the presidency, and he wants to more directly project American power in service of US national interests
2. China overreacts: Xi will be extremely sensitive to external challenges to his country’s interests at a time when all eyes are on his leadership
3. A weaker Merkel: Could the Europeans have resolved their financial crises without the Germans forcing a solution?
4. No reform: The reform needle won’t move in 2017. Save for a few bright spots, money won’t know where to flow
5. Technology and the Middle East: Technology, a force for economic growth and efficiency, also exacerbates political instability
6. Central banks get political: In the US, there’s risk of an open conflict between the Federal Reserve and the White House
7. The White House versus Silicon Valley: Technology leaders from California, the major state that voted in largest numbers against Trump in the election, have a bone to pick with the new president
8. Turkey: Ever-fewer checks on executive power will leave the private sector vulnerable to political whims
9. North Korea: It’s making consistent progress on an intercontinental ballistic missile capability that would allow it to hit the West Coast of the US with a nuclear weapon
10. South Africa: South Africa’s political infighting will undermine the country’s traditional role as a force for regional security
Red Herrings: US domestic policy, India versus Pakistan, Brazil
1. Still brooding about his loss of the popular vote, Donald Trump vows to win over those who oppose him by 2020. ...
2. The combination of tax cuts on corporations and individuals, more constructive trade agreements, dismantling regulation of financial and energy companies, and infrastructure tax incentives pushes the 2017 real growth rate above 3% for the U.S. economy. Productivity improves for the first time since 2014.
3. The Standard & Poor’s 500 operating earnings are $130 in 2017 and the index rises to 2500 as investors become convinced the U.S. economy is back on a long-term growth path. ...
4. Macro investors make a killing on currency fluctuations. ...
5. Increased economic growth, inflation moving toward 3%, and renewed demand for capital push interest rates higher across the board. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield approaches 4%.
6. Populism spreads over Europe affecting the elections in France and Germany. ...
7. Reducing regulations in the energy industry leads to a surge in production in the United States. Iran and Iraq also step up their output. ...
8. Donald Trump realizes he has been all wrong about China. Its currency is overvalued, not undervalued, and depreciates to eight to the dollar. Its economy flourishes on consumer spending on goods produced at home and greater exports. Trump avoids punitive tariffs to prevent a trade war and develops a more cooperative relationship with the world’s second largest economy.
9. Benefiting from stronger growth in China and the United States, real growth in Japan exceeds 2% for the first time in decades and its stock market leads other developed countries in appreciation for the year.
10. The Middle East cools down. ...
Miller’s resiliency after fumbling the refugee ban offers a lesson in how to survive the Darwinian world of Trump’s White House. To win favor, you must amplify Trump’s belief that he’s already accomplished great things; defend even his most outrageous claims as self-evidently correct; and look sharp, while projecting unshakable self-confidence. ... Under Sessions, Miller was busy assembling the elements of a restrictionist “America First” nationalism long before Trump arrived on the scene. Today he has a heavy hand, along with Bannon, in crafting Trump’s policy plans and executive orders. Miller also drafts the president’s major speeches, including the one Trump will deliver to Congress on Tuesday night. When Miller goes on television to defend Trump's words, he’s often defending his own writing. In a sense, Trump is giving voice to Miller as much as the other way around. ... While economists generally agree that tighter labor markets cause wages to rise, Miller’s plan risks stunting overall economic growth. ... Economic nationalism, as defined by Trump’s advisers, would seize the levers of government and the presidential bully pulpit to direct resources to helping marginalized U.S. workers.
The founder of the Infowars website has been living in his own world for the last 20 years. It's a world of clear friends and clear foes, filled with intrigues and scandals, cover-ups and conspiracies. Jones is convinced that the global elites have formed an alliance against the United States to destroy the country. He disseminates this message five days a week on the Alex Jones Show, broadcast from Austin, Texas. His show is aired on more than 100 radio stations, and his website reaches millions of Americans. ... It was already cause for dismay at the time that Trump was aligning himself with Alex Jones, a man who has said a lot of crazy things throughout his life. For example, he believes the government possesses weather weapons it can use to create artificial tornadoes. ... "I constantly see propaganda everywhere."
The Mexico–U.S. border is long, but the history of close cooperation across it is short. As recently as the 1980s, the countries barely contained their feelings of mutual contempt. Mexico didn’t care for the United States’ anticommunist policy in Central America, especially its support of Nicaraguan rebels. In 1983, President Miguel de la Madrid obliquely warned the Reagan administration against “shows of force which threaten to touch off a conflagration.” Relations further unraveled following the murder of the DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in 1985. Former Mexican police officers aided drug traffickers who kidnapped and mercilessly tortured Camarena, drilling a hole in his skull and leaving his corpse in the Michoacán countryside. The Reagan administration reacted with fury at what it perceived as Mexican indifference to Camarena’s disappearance, all but shutting down the border for about a week. The episode seemed a return to the fraught days of the 1920s, when Calvin Coolidge’s administration derided “Soviet Mexico” and Hearst newspapers ginned up pretexts for a U.S. invasion. ... The grandiose promise of trade is that it binds countries together, breeding peace and cooperation. This is a risible overstatement when applied generally to the world. But in the case of the countries separated by the Rio Grande, it has proved wondrously true. A generation after the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the United States and Mexico couldn’t be more interdependent. Anti-Americanism, once a staple of Mexican politics, has largely faded. The flow of migrants from Mexico to the U.S. has, more or less, abated. ... But the Trump administration has come dangerously close to trashing the relationship—and, in the process, unleashing a terrifying new reality.