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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Trump Takes Some Hard Hits

Isaac Chotiner at Slate:
Wednesday morning on his television show, Joe Scarborough claimed he had spoken to a foreign policy expert who had been advising Donald Trump. During the course of that conversation, Scarborough said the expert told him Trump had asked three times why the president couldn’t use nuclear weapons. In response to the uproar that followed Scarborough’s comments, John Noonan, a former nuclear missile officer (and former adviser to Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush), published an extraordinary, and frightening, string of tweets on what it would mean for the future of American nuclear policy (and the world) if there were a “narcissist walking around with nuclear authenticators.”
At NYT, Former acting CIA director Michael Morrell endorses Clinton, damns Trump:
The dangers that flow from Mr. Trump’s character are not just risks that would emerge if he became president. It is already damaging our national security.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was a career intelligence officer, trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them. That is exactly what he did early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated.

Mr. Putin is a great leader, Mr. Trump says, ignoring that he has killed and jailed journalists and political opponents, has invaded two of his neighbors and is driving his economy to ruin. Mr. Trump has also taken policy positions consistent with Russian, not American, interests — endorsing Russian espionage against the United States, supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea and giving a green light to a possible Russian invasion of the Baltic States.
In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.


Peggy Noonan:
Here is a truth of life. When you act as if you’re insane, people are liable to think you’re insane. That’s what happened this week. People started to become convinced he was nuts, a total flake.

It was there in the polls. Fox News shows Mrs. Clinton with a 10-point lead, with Mr. Trump at 78% of the Republican vote, compared with Mitt Romney’s 93% in 2012. Mr. Romney won the white vote by 20 points; Mr. Trump is ahead by 10. “High-end Republicans are walking away,” says a GOP oppo guy. “Who is choking now?” The battleground states, too, have turned bad.

This is what became obvious, probably fatally so: Mr. Trump is not going to get serious about running for president. He does not have a second act, there are no hidden depths, there will be no “pivot.” It is not that he is willful or stubborn, though he may be, it’s that he doesn’t have the skill set needed now—discretion, carefulness, generosity, judgment. There’s a clueless quality about him. It’s not that he doesn’t get advice; it’s that he can’t hear advice, can’t process it or turn it into action.