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Leslie Loftis’s America Watch: Dog days of summer are a dog’s dinner for Trump


The dog days of summer are typically slow for news—unless it’s violence or weather. August is infamous for both, and Milwaukee and New Orleans delivered. But for most of us, mid-August is when America returns from vacation, shops for back to school, and in election years, prepares for the final campaign stretch. It is a good time to pause and assess.

The terrible decision of 2016

I’ll start with the campaign snapshot, if only to be done with it. The troubles noted a few weeks ago remain and are joined by fresh ones.

Donald Trump’s campaign is drowning. The major meta-polls, RealClearPolitics poll average and Nate Silver’s models, both show strong leads for Hillary Clinton three weeks on from the conventions, when Trump’s cute little bounce and Clinton’s leap ought to have stabilised. The Electoral College analysis — the vote that counts — looks even better for Clinton.

Over or under-sampling errors or Shy Tory type glitches cannot cover such gaps. Barring a massive event like Libertarian Gary Johnson hitting 15 per cent in a few more polls and joining the debates, Clinton will win a landslide.

(If Johnson does join the debates, Clinton still wins but perhaps not in a landslide, a double digit spread in the popular vote. Regardless, the Libertarians will hit 5 per cent and qualify for federal campaign funds next election.)

In desperation, Trump has hired Breitbart’s editor-in-chief (no ethical conflict there), long-time strategist Kellyanne Conway, and perhaps Roger Ailes, the Fox News mogul recently ousted over multiple sexual harassment claims — just the thing to help with Trump’s gender gap.

Reportedly, Paul Manafort, the experienced campaign hand hired last spring, has given up on persuading Trump on strategy. Plus, the man Manafort replaced as campaign manager has highlighted Manafort’s Russian ties while Trump’s daughter vacations with Putin’s rumoured mistress. Money woes linger, too.

Trump’s leadership and business acumen? It was wishful thinking. This is Keystone Cops go to Washington.

Few beyond Team Clinton relish the idea of the coming Clinton Administration, but coming it is all the same. Trump is managing performance expectations, preparing his supporters for a loss by claiming cheating. But cheating requires a close race. Forcing a blowout requires tyranny level fear and intimidation. Hillary Clinton does not have that kind of power. (Yet.)

The generous curse of learned fatherlessness

The violence between blacks and the police continues. This time an officer in Milwaukee shot a man with a gun in hand. Riots broke out, not in the right place according to some.

Like the Dallas sheriff before him, Sheriff David Clarke has understood for some time that the violence is not just about racism or police brutality. Delve for the root of so many of our social ills, and find learned fatherlessness.

Tragic engineering

New Orleans, Louisiana was built on the marshes of the Mississippi River and is below sea level — and sinking to Venice. For years, everyone in the region knew that one solid hurricane hit would devastate the levees. That hurricane was Katrina, which destroyed NOLA a little over 10 years ago.

The tourist and historical areas rebuilt. It’s a beautiful city that loves to party, thus tourist and historical areas had the money and motivation to rebuild. The engineering challenges were neglected, again. Massive rains flooded the city, again. Tragic all the more because it is avoidable.

Obama’s crowning achievement

Obamacare, the common name of the health care reform Obama and the Democrats rammed through Congress early in his tenure, is flailing. Another major insurer, Aetna, has pulled out of the healthcare exchanges, threatening the already wobbly programme. Of course, some thought failure was the path to the reform they really wanted: single-payer health coverage. Soon-to-be President Clinton will be thrilled.

One per cent feminism

With the coming presidency of Hillary Clinton, feminism of the one per cent will become national policy and Arianna Huffington will be positioned to capitalise on it. She is leaving the Huffington Post to start a new company, Thrive Global.

In 2013 she launched the “Third Metric” initiative. She had passed out at her desk and realised she needed to rethink this whole career-driven life. The “Third Metric” is the measurement of success after money and power. Being Arianna Huffington, she couldn’t look to conservative women, who have been railing against the career-driven life and trying to restore a semblance of domestic respect for decades, and she had to capitalise on rest, repose, and relaxation merchandising. “Thrive” was the book tie-in and the title of a slew of one per cent women’s conferences.

So coming soon, the pontifications of elite white women — along with, say, Thrive branded lavender sachets for the office for that relaxing sniff between meetings.

In so many ways, we can do better than this. Will we? I suppose, is the question.

(Image: Gage Skidmore)

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Leslie Loftis
Leslie Loftis
Leslie is a once and future American expat, most recently in London. She is also a lawyer and former local political campaign operative turned freelance writer. She currently lives in her hometown of Houston with her husband and their four children. Find her on twitter @AHLondonTX.

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