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New York Times columnist Bret Stephens today brings us yet another "Conservative Republicans tell Democrats how to beat Donald Trump" column, explaining that if Democrats hope to unseat his party's choice for president, they should all take a cue from popular Republican moderates like Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney. Stephens starts off with a sensible enough suggestion: To get rid of Donald Trump, a Democratic candidate should promise to give the presidency a good scouring with soap and hot water, to "wash out the grime and grease of an administration that every day does something to make the country feel soiled." He notes poll results showing that a large majority of Americans are "embarrassed" by what Trump says, and that even a significant portion of Republicans are "embarrassed" or at least "concerned" by his statements.

So far, so good. But Stephens then explains that it will really be hard for Democrats to beat Trump, because the economy's doing well, and also because Real Americans probably dislike Democrats far more than they dislike Trump. Therefore, what Democrats need to do is run someone Bret Stephens would be willing to vote for.

Jesus Christ doing wheelies in a Hyundai.* The "conservatives tell Dems how to win" isn't played out yet? Maybe we should interview some Trump voters in a diner to see what they think.

* He's omnipotent, so "front wheel drive" is no obstacle to a wheelie, you pagan.


Sure, a generally good economy tends to be good news for any incumbent. Of course, that also ignores widespread dissatisfaction with Trump's specific policies: Americans don't like the stupid trade wars, and they correctly perceive that the benefits of the tax cuts went largely to the already wealthy.

But since people are generally happy with the economy, says Stephens, let's not hear any calls for "a wrenching overhaul of the economy when it shows no signs of needing such an overhaul," because the rich are doing well, and the people from whom the rich are extracting profits are generally not in despair for the time being, unless they have a big medical bill or are in a constant state of anxiety about student debt or are farmers having to sign up for food stamps or notice that widespread prosperity has so far been illusory. We're not in the toilet yet, so please stop talking about wealth inequality, or the job creators might all just go away in a snit.

Instead, says Stephens, Democrats should be pushing ideas that would REALLY get middle America's hearts beating with excitement, like

Smart infrastructure spending. New taxes on carbon offset by tax cuts on income and saving. Modest increases in taxes on the wealthy matched to the promise of a balanced budget.

And while we're at it, how about a declaration that corporations are people too, my friend? You see, emphasizing very small reforms would "defeat Trump's most potent re-election argument, which is that, no matter who opposes him, he's running against the crazy left."

Why yes, if only Dems advocated very modest changes, Donald Trump would be nicer to them.

Stephens really gets rolling, though, when he warns Democrats to stop being so het up about cultural politics, and maybe to return to the smart racial dog whistle that worked so well for Bill Clinton.

Too much of today's left is too busy pointing out the ugliness of the Trumpian right to notice its own ugliness: its censoriousness, nastiness and complacent self-righteousness. But millions of ordinary Americans see it, and they won't vote for a candidate who emboldens and empowers woke culture. The Democrat who breaks with that culture, as Clinton did in 1992 over Sister Souljah and Obama did in October over "cancel culture," is the one likeliest to beat Trump.

Condemning rapists and sexual harassers just turns people like Bret Stephens off and makes them uncomfortable. Instead, Democrats should be smart, and find a relatively obscure female rapper to condemn. VICTORY!

And most importantly, Democrats should stop acting as if Trump is extraordinarily bad, when in reality he's merely really irritating. We can see Stephens's point here: Too much emphasis on Trump's utter corruption and racism, and people might not be willing to accept a return to a model of economic and political domination by rich white men who don't shout as much, and wouldn't that be a shame for Bret Stephens?

Not just for rich white men? This OPEN THREAD.

[NYT]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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