It is the world turned upside down.
Our new president-elect is not merely a bad choice; he is one of the nastiest choices imaginable.
I could list all the repulsive things Donald Trump has said and done. But you know them already. And the signs were there that he was going to do well anyway.
“I’m undecided,” people would tell me. Here you have a candidate who brags about doing foul things to women, makes fun of the disabled and insults Hispanics and Muslims, and you are undecided?
I wanted to grab these people by both arms and shout into their ears, “What planet are you from?! What solar system?!”
We have had unqualified presidents before. We have had presidents who knew little about matters both foreign and domestic.
Yet you knew when you woke up on the day after Election Day that things would be OK. We would muddle through somehow. We would, in the words of William Faulkner, not only survive but prevail.
And some will prevail under Trump. The rich will get richer. The middle class will bear the brunt of Trump’s spending programs; his wall to keep Mexicans out of America will cost at least $26 billion (and do you really believe that Mexico is going to pay for that?). His deportation plan will cost about $400 billion and shatter lives.
Michael Chertoff, former secretary of homeland security, has said, “Unless you suspend the Constitution and instruct the police to behave as if we live in North Korea, it ain’t happening.”
But that was before Tuesday. Now anything may be happening.
And don’t look to the pollsters to find reasons for the past or answers for the future.
This week, they got their heads handed to them. I talked to a Hillary Clinton aide a few months ago. He told me Clinton was going to win by about 3 to 5 percentage points.
Then I called him a few days ago.
Those numbers still good? I asked him.
He thought a moment. “I’d make that 3 to 7 percent,” he said.
Things were that good. And not by accident. He had thousands of people spread all over America, though concentrated in certain critical states. “Our mood is upbeat, but it’s businesslike,” he said. “We executed our plan, a plan we worked on for months.”
But Trump had millions and millions to spend on his race. Wouldn’t he hire smart people, too?
The Clinton aide was dismissive.
“If they are smart, I have no idea how they have showed that,” he said. “Campaigns are like their candidates. And (the Trump people) are erratic, scattershot and undisciplined.”
The Clinton guy left one thing off his list, however: They also know the art of winning.
This is from an exit poll analyzing why Trump won:
“Trump did much, much better with white voters than previous GOP nominees. Overall, white voters backed Trump 58 percent to Clinton’s 37 percent. He won white college graduates by 4 points. And here’s the big one: Trump won whites without college degrees by 39 points.”
Fine. I couldn’t disagree. What do I know compared with the number magician? But I am going to ask you to consider one thing:
If polls can’t get the big thing right — like who is going to win — why should we trust them on the small things, such as how many white college graduates did such and such and how many whites with college degrees voted for Trump and yada, yada, yada.
It’s really just baloney, baloney, baloney.
The truth is more complicated than numbers can show. “All the stuff Trump did and all the stuff he said, it just didn’t stick at all,” Bill Daley, who was Bill Clinton’s commerce secretary, told me Wednesday.
“We have moved very quickly in this country, and some people got scared. We went from gay marriage being accepted to transgender bathrooms overnight.
“A lot of union workers are worried about immigration. They don’t care what the AFL-CIO leadership says. A few years ago, the AFL-CIO was against immigration.”
But it’s not as if the world is going to end tomorrow, Daley said. “Technically, the Congress can control Trump. If he wants that wall, Congress has to pay for it. If he wants to repeal Obamacare, he has to replace it with something.”
And he has to do one more thing: He has to recognize that not every conservative group in America is automatically going to fall in line behind him.
But “he has to govern,” Daley said. “He has to feed the beast.”
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