Littwin: Will Trump’s ‘hatred’ become America’s new norm?

May 4, 2016: This story has been updated to reflect that John Kasich has left the race.

I’m not sure which is worse – that Donald Trump has become the presumptive GOP nominee or that, soon enough, it will all come to seem normal.

It’s not normal, of course. Not the idea of it and certainly not the fact of it.

But with his win in Indiana, Trump has all but ended the GOP nomination process. Ted Cruz has dropped out. John Kasich, proving he has some grasp on the real world, dropped out the next morning.  And so it is real, pinch-yourself real, no-more-chance-of-riots-in-Cleveland real, nationalism-is-the-new-ism real, and we’re all just going to have to live with that, especially those Republican Party leaders who, in horror, watched Trump expose the truth of their party’s message.

No one thought Trump could get this far. Certainly I didn’t, having cleverly predicted that the Donald would would drop out before a single vote was cast. Trump, the reality-TV-star-cum-demagogue, began his campaign as a joke line, a buffoonish short-fingered vulgarian who made the debate stage a place to defend the size of his, uh, you know. And yet now that it has happened, the countless would-be explanations you’ll read in the papers or see from TV pundits won’t come close to truly explaining it.

What’s clear is that a campaign based on fear, insults, sexism, xenophobia, race-baiting, nativism, narcissism and a dozen other repugnancies can work. Trump won the approval of half the nation — whatever his huge poll-number unfavorables tell you — by beating back the GOP establishment, the Koch brothers, the #neverTrumpists and the entire staff of The National Review.

The facts are strange enough. Trump won against a large field that featured nearly every one of the GOP’s so-called bright lights, including those who were expected to shine but didn’t. And he won by not only attacking women and Muslims and Mexicans, but also the Republican establishment that still can’t decide what to do with him.

Some are calling it a Joe McCarthy moment – and that everyone will remember who lined up with Trump and who lined up against him. My guess is that most of the establishment is unworried about history and more concerned by the fact they have no idea what to do with Trump. My guess is they’ll pretend to embrace him just long enough to see him lose in November and hope no one remembers.

My own poor explanation for Trump’s rise is that his nomination is the inevitable result for a party that has exploited working-class anger while offering nothing more than tax cuts for the rich and the cheapest cuts of red meat for everyone else. Trump saw that anger worked — this campaign actually started, you’ll recall, with the Donald’s leading role in the birther movement — and his authoritarian-style rallies gave his supporters license to “knock the crap” out of anyone who objected.

Trump, meanwhile, did his own bullying, quoting Mussolini along the way. And so it should come as no surprise how the campaign ended — with Trump somehow linking Cruz’s father to the Kennedy assassination. Yes, seriously. The slander was so deliciously incredible – ripped as it was from the pages of The National Enquirer —  that no one even bothered to say they believed it. Even the cable-TV-news Trump enablers were calling it ridiculous. And then, boom, Trump swept Indiana and whatever grassy knolls exist there.

That morning, Cruz was calling Trump an immoral, pathological liar and “narcissist on a level I don’t think this country has ever seen.”  By that night, a humiliated (if not humbled) Cruz was giving his concession speech, never mentioning Trump by name or whether he would support him.

Could Cruz support Trump? Of course he could if he figured it would help his career. I mean, it’s difficult to feel sorry for Lyin’ Ted, who had cynically praised Trump for most of the nomination process. It was only when it suited him that he told voters that Trump was leading the country to the “abyss.”

So now, as if doubling down on the abyss line, all the pundits are saying don’t blame the media and that, anyway, Trump can’t win in November. And, yes, he trails Clinton by 10 points in the polls and Sanders by more than that. The electoral map trends Democratic even without someone like Trump running. He may, as many are suggesting, go down in the Goldwater/McGovern tradition of candidates overwhelmingly rejected by voters. And yet. And yet.

As one of two candidates left (OK, one of three, if you’re a die-hard Bernie person), Trump could conceivably win. That’s why they play the games, even when the games become as dangerous as this one. And has anyone played the games any more successfully than Trump? I mean, Trump wins and Clinton is still trying to shake Bernie.

I’ve already seen the Trump/Clinton jokes on Twitter, but they’re not actually funny. Clinton has flaws aplenty — well documented flaws — but last I heard, she’s not advocating more nukes in Asia or bans on Muslims or double-secret plans to destroy ISIS. Hillary is not the Donald, or even remotely so.

That’s why George Will writes that it’s every conservative’s duty to ensure that Trump not only loses, but loses all 50 states. That’s why leading Republican operatives are hashtagging #imwithher, even though Clinton has been a dirty name for Republicans for 25 years. That’s why Eric Erickson says he’s staying home on Election Day.

And it’s why, bringing a message to the Bernie wing of the Democratic Party, Elizabeth Warren fired off a Facebook post Tuesday night saying that she would do everything in her power to stop “Donald Trump’s toxic stew of hatred and insecurity” from reaching the White House.

Maybe the funniest moment of the campaign came when Trump, after playing one of his bully-boy games, said he could act presidential whenever he chose. It would be funny unless, that is, we actually get to find out if it’s true.


  1. If it’s any consolation, Sen. Gardner, equally clever, predicted that Trump would fail. Two strikes for the Sen. and no joy in Mudville.

  2. Republican Senator, candidates for Senator, and each Republican candidate for the house should be put on record.

    When it comes to Trump, are they going to
    Endorse & support?
    Accept “the nominee” but not really do anything?
    Ignore, saying they are too focused on their own race and others in Colorado?
    Or actually be in opposition, urging votes for other candidates?

  3. Your column reminds me that there are still sane, intelligent, responsible writers in media.
    Thank you! The future feels just a little scarier and internationally embarrassing. Moving forward, where do we go from here?

  4. Depends if Hillary gets indicted or whether Bubba abuses anymore women before the election.

  5. Now that Trump is their candidate I don’t think they’ll be as hot to trot to indict Hillary in their latest witch hunt. They’ve tried several times in the past and failed. It would increase the chances of a President trump (let’s start lower casing the spelling of his name – childish, yes, but it feels good!). I hate to think that one of our most thoughtful, reasoned, classy presidents ever would have to go through the ritual of turning the White House over to possibly the most crude, disgusting, cretin of a president we’ve ever had. What a Kodak moment that would be. I wonder if people are drawn to trump like kids are. Kids crave structure and guidelines to behavior when they’re given too much freedom. Our freedom has run amok in this country and maybe it’s the no-nonsense, tell you what to do, put things in order and control chaos that they want.

  6. It would be helpful–if helpfulness is the goal–for whoever writes column headlines to actually read the column. Nowhere does Mr. Littwin even mention the word “hatred”. It appears only once when he quotes a (surprise!!) Democrat. Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time the Colorado Independent replaced facts with sensationalism.

    For a guy who has in the past claimed to have a pretty good handle on politics, Mr. Littwin appears totally clueless about what motives some voters. You would think that a guy who has covered “six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow. “ would be a little more politically astute.

    And here’s something else Mr. Littwin doesn’t seem to realize: People don’t eat their anger. It always comes out, sometimes in constructive ways and sometimes in ways that aren’t as constructive. And why are people angry? Well, here from CNN is just one reason:

    “Nearly one-quarter of white men with only a high school diploma aren’t working. Many of these men, age 25 to 64, aren’t just unemployed … they aren’t even looking for a job, according to federal data.

    Their college-educated peers, however, have fared much better. Only about one in 10 isn’t working.

    The plight of these blue collar workers is now in the national spotlight. The 2016 presidential election has awakened their political power and reshaped the course of the campaign.

    Their anger — which has brought millions to the polls, particularly on the Republican side — has prompted the candidates to focus heavily on manufacturing, trade and other issues of importance to this slice of America. Four years ago, the GOP nominee Mitt Romney dismissed the 47% of Americans who don’t pay taxes. Now, frontrunner Donald Trump proclaims that he loves “the poorly educated.””

    Remarkably–or maybe not so remarkably– Mr. Littwin didn’t see that coming! And his continuing inability to see or even understand that anger speaks volumes about how unprepared he is to make any cogent political arguments.

    Mr. Littwin’s idea of political insight is pointing to an eye roll or a politician who refers to a basketball hoop as a basketball ring. That’s what Mr. Littwin believes to be important in 2016 politics. He ignores things far more politically significant like the shrinking status of former President Bill Clinton (aka the Big Dog) who has been politically neutered, his tail now firmly tucked between his legs. Mrs. Clinton has been forced to reject his political legacy for her own political expediency and Mr. Littwin simply ignores it all. A guest speaker at this year’s Washington Correspondents’ Dinner calls President Obama the N-word and Mr. Littwin ignores it.

    Mr. Littwin mentions that Mr. Trump “trails Clinton by 10 points in the polls and Sanders by more than that.” but ignores a poll that shows Mr. Trump leading Mrs. Clinton by two points.

    Mr. Littwin rarely mentions Senator Ted Cruz without prefacing his name with the word “despicable”, yet when the senator criticizes Mr. Trump that word magically disappears.

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Mr. Littwin is inching very, very slowly towards honesty as he started two sentences in this column with the words “My guess is”. It’s a good start but his entire column is one gigantic guess based entirely on bias.


    “Hillary Clinton snapped at a Greenpeace protester. She linked Bernie Sanders and tea party Republicans. And she bristled with anger when nearly two dozen Sanders supporters marched out of an event near her home outside New York City, shouting “if she wins, we lose.”
    “They don’t want to listen to anyone else,” she shot back. “We actually have to do something. Not just complain about what is happening.”
    After a year of campaigning, months of debates and 35 primary elections, Sanders is finally getting under Clinton’s skin in the Democratic presidential race.” – Associated Press

    For a year now, Hillary Clinton’s misuse of email during her tenure as Secretary of State has hung like a dark cloud over her presidential campaign. As I told you months ago, EmailGate isn’t going away, despite the best efforts of Team Clinton to make it disappear. Instead, the scandal has gotten worse, with never-ending revelations of apparent misconduct by Ms. Clinton and her staff. At this point, EmailGate may be the only thing standing between Hillary and the White House this November.

    Specifically, the Federal Bureau of Investigation examination of EmailGate, pursuant to provisions of the Espionage Act, poses a major threat to Ms. Clinton’s presidential aspirations. However, even if the FBI recommends prosecution of her or members of her inner circle for mishandling of classified information—which is something the politically unconnected routinely do face prosecution for—it’s by no means certain that the Department of Justice will follow the FBI’s lead. –

    Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has to worry about a steep drop-off of the black vote that could imperil her chances of winning the White House in November, an analysis has found.

    The number of African-Americans who voted in Tuesday’s primaries plummeted by an estimated 40 percent in Ohio, 38 percent in Florida and 34 percent in North Carolina compared with the 2008 Democratic primary when Barack Obama was on the ballot, reported the advocacy group Black Votes Matter. – New York Post

    “White men narrowly backed Hillary Clinton in her 2008 race for president, but they are resisting her candidacy this time around in major battleground states, rattling some Democrats about her general-election strategy.

    While Mrs. Clinton swept the five major primaries on Tuesday, she lost white men in all of them, and by double-digit margins in Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio, exit polls showed — a sharp turnabout from 2008, when she won double-digit victories among white male voters in all three states.

    She also performed poorly on Tuesday with independents, who have never been among her core supporters. But white men were, at least when Mrs. Clinton was running against a black opponent: She explicitly appealed to them in 2008, extolling the Second Amendment, mocking Barack Obama’s comment that working-class voters “cling to guns or religion” and even needling him at one point over his difficulties with “working, hard-working Americans, white Americans.” – New York Times

    “Call it “democratic socialism” to make yourself feel better, but what we have is an old hippie regurgitating cut-rate Lenin. And it’s obvious — especially when contrasted with the Democrat alternative — this kind of radical idealism is what really propels the Democratic Party.

    “Our job is not to divide. Our job is to bring people together!” Sanders roars in the ad. All genders, ethnicities, races, ages, and sexualities will meld into one and force government to “work” for everyone. The thing is, if we weren’t divide by our gender, race, class, and sexual orientation, Democrats wouldn’t win any elections.” –

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Greenlight a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Memorial Day – May 30, 2016

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