2016 election, Bloomberg, Cheap Labor Lobby, China, Donald Trump, elites, free trade agreements, Im-Politic, Immigration, Jobs, media, Mitch McConnell, Muslim ban, NBC News, Obama, political class, punditocracy, Rasmussen, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Timothy Egan, Trade, Trans-Pacific Partnership, wages
Two weeks ago, I wrote that if opponents of Donald Trump really wanted to stop him in his tracks, they’d support seriously addressing the legitimate economic grievances of his supporters. The firestorm ignited by the Republican presidential front-runner’s proposal temporarily to bar non-citizen Muslims from entering the United States signals that legitimate national and personal security grievances need to be dealt with, too. After all, that would be a constructive response. Instead, most of the anti-Trump forces, especially in the nation’s elite media and political classes, have doubled down on the invective.
New York Times columnist Timothy Egan’s latest offering was especially revealing in this regard. He both repeated the by-now standard denunciations of Trump as a neo-fascist, bigot, and xenophobe. But then he added an interesting wrinkle. Like some of his colleagues, he made a (typically condescending) nod to how “most” Trump supporters “do not see the shadow of the [Nazi] Reich when they look in the mirror. They are white, lower middle class, with little education beyond high school. The global economy has run them over. They don’t recognize their country. And they need a villain.”
Egan also just as typically charged that “Trump has no solutions for the desperate angst of his followers.” That’s patently false. Trump’s position paper on China, closely resembles the specifics-laden approach taken by many critics of America’s China trade policies in Congress – especially in Democratic ranks. And although his call for mass deportation is surely unworkable (and likely to be replaced by a completely realistic attrition strategy), Trump’s immigration position paper is similarly detailed and entirely practicable – albeit anathema to the corporate Cheap Labor Lobby and the guilt-saturated elitist mass immigration crowd on the Left.
But then Egan did something completely weird. He insisted that “Tearing up trade agreements is not going to happen.” But he himself offered no specifics as to why. After all, all treaties and similar agreements have “out” clauses. Abundant evidence shows that these deals and related policies have slowed growth (and therefore job creation) tremendously in this already miserable economic recovery. And opposition to the latest attempt to add to this destructive record – President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership – keeps mounting. Even so dedicated an outsourcer toady as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has just urged that Congress not vote on the TPP until after the election.
Which all raises the question: Is Egan ignorant enough to believe that a major course change for U.S. trade policy is still impossible? Or is he one of those boardroom liberals who’s trying to prevent one?
Meanwhile, the futility of trying to marginalize Trump at all costs becomes clearer by the day. The latest evidence comes from the current round of opinion polls. As I’ve often written, they’re often full of problems and this last batch is especially all over the map. But two of them (from Rasmussen and Bloomberg) show that Trump’s Muslim ban – which I oppose – has attracted significant and partly bipartisan backing, and the Rasmussen survey shows it enjoys a plurality.
Perhaps more revealing, NBC and The Wall Street Journal, which pegged backing for the ban at only 25 percent nationally, found in a pre-ban sounding that 54 percent of Americans believed that the United States admits too many immigrants from the Middle East – including more than a third of Democrats. And what does the public think of President Obama’s approach to terrorism and ISIS – which particularly in the former case the punditocracy seems to consider the gold standard? According to a new New York Times-CBS News survey, 57 percent disapprove.
The bottom-line here appears pretty clear. Mainstream political and media elites are increasingly convinced that Trump has “crossed lines” that must never be crossed, and data keeps appearing that, thanks largely and understandably to their clueless insistence that standard approaches are working as well as possible, the lines themselves are moving dramatically.