The bobblehead campagin
America’s loopy left is enamored of someone who becomes cranky about bobblehead figurines. Sober Democrats are queasy about nominating Hillary Clinton, who has much to apologize for but no aptitude for apologies. Those Republicans who hope she is denied the nomination are perhaps imprudent. And even Republicans who recoil from Donald Trump’s repulsiveness might want to defer the delicious pleasure of witnessing his apoplexy when he joins, as surely he will, the ranks of those he most despises — “losers.”
In 2011, Bernie Sanders said “we’ve got some very, very serious problems” because the Founding Fathers bobbleheads sold at the Smithsonian Museum of American History were made in China. He exclaimed: “A museum owned by the people of America — a museum which talks about our own history — cannot even have products manufactured in the United States by American workers?” In a hilarious video assembled by the high-spirited folks at Reason.TV, Sanders summons Smithsonian officials to his office to grovel and promise to mend their ways. Sanders’ wrath did not produce a complete purge: The museum still sells imported gimcracks.
Clinton, who could lose to Sanders, might actually think she apologized concerning her private email server. What she said (really: parse her ABC interview) was that she should have been clearer and quicker in explaining why she has nothing to apologize for. Joe Biden might be one of those knickknacks that look better in the store window than in your living room. But he probably would be a stronger nominee than Clinton, whose campaign operatives believe, oxymoronically, that she should adopt a policy of spontaneity.
Some operatives thought it shrewd to share this calculation with The New York Times, which headlined its scoop “Hillary Clinton to Show More Humor and Heart, Aides Say.” (The Onion’s take: “Campaign Staffers Making Progress Conditioning Hillary Clinton to Replicate Emotions.”)
Trump believes he should be president because of his business savvy. But he has, in effect, shrunk the large inheritance he received from his father. In 1982, Forbes reported Trump’s net worth at $200 million. Vox calculates that if he had put that in an index fund “at a 0.15 percent fee, he’d have $6.3 billion today after dividend taxes, almost certainly more than he actually does.” And an AP analysis showed that if in 1988 he had put his money in an index fund he would have $13 billion. (He has not really revealed his net worth but any Trump reticence is as welcome as it is rare.)
Only Trump is thinking transgressively, which the intelligentsia encourages us to do. Sanders just wants a lot more of wealth redistributions. Clinton wants a bit less than a lot more. Trump, however, has made something novel discussable: He proposes turning America into a police state in order to facilitate ethnic cleansing.
When asked whether the forced deportation of 11 million illegal immigrants — almost as many people as passed through Ellis Island in 60 years — might take five or even 10 years, Trump scoffed: “Really good management” will get this done in at most two years. To meet a two-year deadline, his “management” wizardry will have to quickly produce a network of informers to assist at least 100,000 new law enforcement officers equipped with battering rams and bloodhounds.
Some Republicans think such ideas are not altogether helpful to their party’s attempt to present a pleasant face to temperate voters who are fond of civil liberties. However, some Republicans also worry that if Trump’s inevitable collapse comes too soon, his supporters might move en masse to Ted Cruz before the “SEC primary” of Southern states on March 1. On that day, there and elsewhere, at least 704 delegates will be chosen, more than five times the 133 allocated by February’s four events (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada). Some Republicans say Cruz has a real if narrow path to the nomination but no plausible path to 270 electoral votes. As the nominee, Cruz would, these Republicans warn, lose so badly in red or purple states choosing senators in 2016 (Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Colorado, Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, Illinois) that he would cost Republicans control of the Senate.
It is, however, unclear that Trumpkins will all migrate to one candidate when their hero departs, strutting while slouching. And although deferring delights can be virtuous, nothing is now more virtuous than scrubbing, as soon as possible, the Trump stain from public life.
George F. Will is a columnist for The Washington Post and Newsweek.