Trump Goes on the Ram­page

US Pres­i­den­tial Elec­tion

People's Review - - LEADER - BY SHASHI P.B.B. MALLA & CHAN­DRA BA­HADUR PARBATE The writ­ers can be reached at: sha­shipb­malla@hot­

Both the Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic par­ties are now def­i­nitely in gen­eral elec­tion mode and Repub­li­can stan­dard bearer Don­ald J. Trump has cease­lessly and vi­ciously at­tacked the Demo­cratic can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton. The ‘bumps' in the var­i­ous na­tional polls af­ter their re­spec­tive na­tional con­ven­tions have been su­per­seded by their gen­eral na­tional stand­ings. Clin­ton usu­ally en­joys a two-digit lead, and it will be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult, ce­teris paribus, for the mav­er­ick Trump in the less than 100 days un­til the gen­eral elec­tion on Novem­ber 8 to over­come this deficit. Last week on Mon­day af­ter in­tense urg­ing from cam­paign strate­gists (and prob­a­bly fam­ily mem­bers), Trump in a rare show of san­ity, an­nounced his pro­pos­als for eco­nomic re­form in eco­nom­i­cally de­pressed Detroit. Read­ing from a pre­pared speech with the use of a teleprompter, he ex­er­cised cau­tion sup­press­ing his usual out­bursts of idio­syn­cratic and abusive ex­ple­tives. Speak­ing be­fore the Detroit Eco­nomic Club, he an­nounced that as pres­i­dent he would slash taxes, block oner­ous fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tions and un­leash the en­ergy sec­tor, pledg­ing to “jump-start Amer­ica” with his ‘new' eco­nomic plan. He was at­tempt­ing to get serious and try­ing to re­set his fal­ter­ing cam­paign. He ‘high­lighted' the “dis­as­trous” poli­cies that had elim­i­nated US jobs in the nearly eight years of the Barack Obama pres­i­dency. Trump un­veiled a se­ries of poli­cies to re­vi­tal­ize a limp­ing econ­omy, in­clud­ing a sharp re­duc­tion of cor­po­rate tax from 35 per­cent to 15 per­cent, as a way to in­duce US cor­po­ra­tions back that had re­lo­cated abroad. He would also set a 10 per­cent tax on the “tril­lions of dol­lars from Amer­i­can busi­nesses that are now parked over­seas” and get them repa­tri­ated back to the United States. Per­sonal taxes would drop, with the top rate at 33 per­cent, com­pared with 39.6 per­cent at present. He also pro­posed re­peal­ing the es­tate tax, the levy on the es­tates of the de­ceased val­ued at above US$ 5.45 mil­lion. He also said he wants to “cut reg­u­la­tions mas­sively” a move he claimed would lift the “an­chor” weigh­ing down small busi­nesses. As he tried to pivot away from var­i­ous re­cent con­tro­ver­sies plagu­ing his cam­paign, Trump por­trayed Clin­ton as the “nom­i­nee from yes­ter­day”… “There will be no change un­der Hil­lary Clin­ton – only four more years of Obama,” he warned: “But we are go­ing to look boldly into the fu­ture.” Clin­ton, he claimed, of­fers more of the same: “more taxes, more reg­u­la­tions, more bu­reau­crats, more re­stric­tions on Amer­i­can en­ergy.” Repub­li­can Se­na­tor David Pur­due praised Trump's plan as “a bold vi­sion” from “an out­sider and busi­ness­man who is lis­ten­ing to the Amer­i­can peo­ple.” Clin­ton im­me­di­ately re­acted at a rally in Florida to sav­age Trump's pro­pos­als as an ef­fort to “repack­age trick­le­down eco­nom­ics”…“his tax plans will give su­per big tax breaks to large cor­po­ra­tions and the re­ally wealthy,” she said: “I am not go­ing to raise taxes on the mid­dle class, but with your help we are go­ing to raise it on the wealthy, be­cause that's where the money is!” A Mon­mouth Univer­sity Poll re­leased last week Mon­day showed Clin­ton ahead of Trump by dou­ble dig­its, 46 per­cent to 34 per­cent – a dra­matic in­crease from the three-point lead she held days be­fore the Repub­li­can con­ven­tion. Also last week, out of the blue, a most dam­ag­ing threat to Trump's can­di­dacy emerged from the very Repub­li­can bas­tion that should have been a source of ma­jor sup­port for him. Fifty of the coun­try's most high­rank­ing Repub­li­can na­tional se­cu­rity ex­perts, many of them ad­vis­ers or cab­i­net mem­bers for Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W, Bush, have signed a let­ter declar­ing that Trump “lacks the char­ac­ter, val­ues and ex­pe­ri­ence” to be pres­i­dent and “would put at risk our coun­try's na­tional se­cu­rity and well-be­ing.” These man­darins fur­ther warn most in­aus­pi­ciously that Trump “would be the most reck­less pres­i­dent in Amer­i­can his­tory.” Even the Demo­cratic cam­paign could not have for­mu­lated a worse cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for the most pow­er­ful of­fice, not only in the United States, but in the world at large. Fur­ther­more, the doc­u­ment elab­o­rates that Trump would weaken the United States' moral au­thor­ity in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, and ques­tions his very knowl­edge of and be­lief in the hal­lowed Con­sti­tu­tion. It also highlights his ba­sic de­fi­ciency in the realm of ex­ter­nal af­fairs since he has “demon­strated re­peat­edly that he has lit­tle un­der­stand­ing” of the na­tion's “vi­tal na­tional in­ter­ests, its com­plex di­plo­matic chal­lenges, its in­dis­pens­able al­liances and the demo­cratic val­ues” on which Amer­i­can for­eign pol­icy should be based. It also be­moans the fact that Trump “has shown no in­ter­est in ed­u­cat­ing him­self.” It is dif­fi­cult to see how Trump will make good this litany of char­ac­ter and in­tel­lec­tual de­fi­cien­cies pa­raded by such an il­lus­tri­ous group, es­pe­cially since “it is ex­traor­di­nar­ily rare for them to step into the po­lit­i­cal arena so pub­licly and ag­gres­sively” (INYT). His com­plete lack of ap­ti­tude in in­ter­na­tional af­fairs was laid com­pletely bare, but he re­acted in his typ­i­cally asi­nine man­ner. He dis­missed the sig­na­to­ries of the let­ter as “the ones the Amer­i­can peo­ple should look to for an­swers on why the world is a mess, and we thank them for com­ing for­ward so every­one in the coun­try knows who de­serves the blame for mak­ing the world such a danger­ous place.” He re­jected them as “noth­ing more than the failed Wash­ing­ton elite look­ing to hold onto their power.” The philip­pic un­doubt­edly high­lighted the con­tin­u­ing fis­sures in the Repub­li­can Party, but par­tic­u­larly within its na­tional se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment. Robert Black­will, one of the key sig­na­to­ries, was a for­mer strate­gist in the sec­ond Bush's Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and a for­mer aide to Henry Kissinger, the Amer­i­can guru par ex­cel­lence of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions. He is ex­pected to en­dorse Hil­lary Clin­ton. Many other sig­na­to­ries were aides to Con­doleezza Rice dur­ing her time in the White House and the State Depart­ment. Hil­lary Clin­ton on her part launched a full-scale attack on her op­po­nent's eco­nomic plans. She ac­cused him of pay­ing mere “lip ser­vice” to be­ing on the side of av­er­age Amer­i­cans. His tax cuts for the wealthy and cor­po­ra­tions would ac­tu­ally award “tril­lions in tax breaks to peo­ple like him­self” and ob­jec­tively lead to ma­jor re­duc­tions in spend­ing on ed­u­ca­tion, health care and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion. In con­trast to Trump, she un­der­scored a strong gov­ern­ment hand in cre­at­ing jobs and driv­ing up wages. She promised the big­gest in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment – US$ 275 bil­lion – since World War II, and un­der­lined heavy spend­ing in green en­ergy to counter China and Ger­many. She also re­it­er­ated her plans to make pub­lic col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties tu­ition-free for in-state mid­dle-class fam­i­lies. She re­jected out­right all the im­por­tant el­e­ments of Trump's tax cut plans as ben­e­fit­ting only the wealthy and large cor­po­ra­tions. In­stead, she would im­pose an “exit tax” to pe­nal­ize com­pa­nies that move jobs over­seas and of­fer tax in­cen­tives to com­pa­nies that share prof­its with em­ploy­ees. She again un­der­lined her op­po­si­tion to the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship, while at the same time den­i­grat­ing Trump's un­com­pro­mis­ing at­ti­tude on in­ter­na­tional trade. Faced with grow­ing un­fa­vor­able poll num­bers, Trump again aban­doned his ‘pres­i­den­tial-like' stance ex­hib­ited in Detroit and re­verted to his true self. At a rally in North Carolina, he first said that Clin­ton wanted es­sen­tially to abol­ish the Sec­ond Amend­ment, re­fer­ring to the US Con­sti­tu­tion's clause that en­shrines “the right to bear arms.” He then went on to obliquely re­mark that ‘the Sec­ond Amend­ment peo­ple' might take the law into their own hands to shoot Clin­ton and/or her Supreme Court nom­i­nees. Law­mak­ers, for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cials and other crit­ics im­me­di­ately ex­pressed con­cern that he had ad­vo­cated vi­o­lence against pres­i­den­tial ri­val Clin­ton – his most ex­plo­sive and most of­fen­sive out­burst to date. On an­other oc­ca­sion – with­out rhyme or rea­son – he at­tempted to slan­der Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Hil­lary Clin­ton by des­ig­nat­ing them as the ‘founders' of ISIS – at the very time when the US-led in­ter­na­tional coali­tion was sig­nal­ing suc­cess against the Is­lamic ter­ror­ists in Libya, Iraq and Syria! He told sup­port­ers in Penn­syl­va­nia that he could lose this state only through ‘cheat­ing' by ‘crooked' Hil­lary. Fi­nally, as a last straw, he ve­he­mently at­tacked the ‘crooked' and ‘dis­gust­ing' print me­dia and TV chan­nels. Trump is find­ing great dif­fi­culty to tran­sit from his strong grass­roots pri­mary per­for­mance to a more so­phis­ti­cated head-to-head com­pe­ti­tion. As a Nepalese say­ing goes: he is strik­ing his own feet with an axe!

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