The “logic” of Trump

Donald Trump came to Lowell on Monday, packing the Tsongas Center and once again befuddling those who ask, perfectly legitimately, why so many people are drawn to a candidate who spends so much time talking about himself. Trump is a showman whose idea of digging into the substance of issues was highlighted on Monday by a riff from the development magnate  on how deep, literally, one must dig to secure solid footings — of the sort that will support The Wall he will (magically) have the Mexicans build for us to keep more of them out.

“I know exactly how to build a wall,” Esquire‘s Charlie Pierce quotes Trump as saying. “I know the footings. I know exactly how deep they have to go. I know everything.”

So much for foreign policy.

“I would go deeper and longer into the policy prescriptions presented, if there had been any,” writes Pierce, for whom taking down Trump is something like shooting fish in a barrel.

Masslive’s Shira Schoenberg spends some time talking to people at the rally to try to understand who is drawn to Trump’s blather. Who does she find? Mostly less wealthy, less educated voters who are deeply anxious about their economic security.

People like Tammy Williamson, a 48-year-old Hudson resident who works as a driver for a transportation company. “The people who are native born in the United States, they don’t have jobs,” she tells Schoenberg. “Then we’re having people come in from other countries that are taking our jobs away. He’s a businessman. Maybe he’ll straighten that out.”

The Trump phenomenon, nearly every pundit initially said, was a flash in the pan that would be gone by Thanksgiving. Now many of those soothsayers concede he could well be the Republican nominee. And if that happens, don’t be so sure he has no chance in a general election, says Philip Bump, writing in the Washington Post‘s Fix column.

The best explanation yet of Trump is David Frum‘s 5,500-word tour de force in the current issue of The AtlanticThe one-time speechwriter for George W. Bush provides a convincing narrative for the revolt of Republican primary voters against the party’s establishment elite. He says this cohort of mainly white, middle-aged, middle-income voters who are propelling Trump’s candidacy are the “angriest most pessimistic people in America.”

They actually aren’t “superconservative,” says Frum. That’s why they are concerned about Medicare and the solvency of Social Security. They don’t cotton to the free trade ways of the multinational wing of the Republican Party, seeing many of these trade deals as good for the wealthy corporate overlords but not for average Americans. In all of those ways, they express the sort of grievances that explain why Bernie Sanders thinks they should look to his campaign and a lifetime spent fighting for working people, not the rantings of a New York tycoon.

But they are hardly sympathetic to Democratic thinking on other issues, expressing deep anger toward immigrants, as Tammy Williamson did in Lowell. That’s why, Frum says, the conclusion of Republican elites after the 2012 race that the party needed to shed its hostility to immigrants to win Hispanic votes has been such a disaster for candidates like Jeb Bush and why others, like Marco Rubio, are running fast from previous positions on the issue.

The Trump voters are angry at both Wall Street titans and immigrants who they think are threatening their jobs and draining public coffers. Frum says these voters tend agree with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who has said Americans want “their next president to remind them of the guy they work with, not the guy who laid them off.” (A billionaire whose most famous line before he started talking about “making America great again” was “you’re fired” would hardly seem to fit that bill, but go figure.)

There are parallel populist movements taking hold in European countries, says Frum, that lean both left and right. Where the US version will land is unclear, but Frum does as good a job as anyone has at least explaining the sources of Trump’s rise and the dilemma now facing the Republican Party.

–MICHAEL JONAS

 

BEACON HILL

In an interview with the North of Boston Media Group (Eagle-Tribune, Salem News, Gloucester Times), Gov. Charlie Baker says he expects pushback from the Legislature on upcoming spending cuts and energy decisions. In pushing his legislation calling for imports of hydroelectricity from Canada, he says it will be difficult to argue against the proposed Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline without the Canadian hydro. Previously, he has argued the region needs both hydroelectricity and natural gas. Meanwhile, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg fires off a letter to federal regulators raising concerns about the Kinder Morgan pipeline, saying it “flies in the face” of the state’s clean energy goals. (MassLive)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A Globe editorial hails Michelle Wu‘s election on Monday as Boston’s City Council president.

Beverly officials reject a restaurant proposal from Flatbread’s, the only applicant for the high-profile waterfront site. (Salem News)

Boston is making progress in eliminating veteran homelessness. (WBUR)

In Greenfield, the battle against big box stores is epic. (Masslive)

CASINOS

The federal judge who ruled the Wampanoag tribe on Martha’s Vineyard violated an agreement with the state by trying to open a Bingo hall signed an order permanently enjoining the tribe from ever moving forward with the plan. (Cape Cod Times)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

North Korea announced it detonated a nuclear bomb in a test ordered by the enigmatic leader Kim Jong-un that immediately ramped up tensions between the cloistered communist country and the rest of the civilized world. (New York Times)

A tearful President Obama takes executive action on gun control. (Time)

ELECTIONS

Jeb Bush opened up at a New Hampshire forum on drug abuse about the pain and the family impact of his daughter’s very public struggle with addiction when he was governor of Florida. (New York Times)

Donald Trump is back on the birther beat, saying Ted Cruz’s Canadian birth could be “very precarious” for the GOP. (Washington Post)

Scot Lehigh drops in on a Chris Christie speech and isn’t impressed. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

Fortune magazine has a fascinating deep dive into the war between supporters and opponents of the Common Core, including a previously undisclosed lunch meeting with Bill Gates and Charles Koch, where the Microsoft founder unsuccessfully lobbied the conservative oil industry mogul to drop his resistance to the education standards.

Schools in Massachusetts are increasing their focus on social and emotional health, which educators say is a crucial underpinning to academic success and balanced lives as adults. (Boston Globe)

Quincy officials have asked a federal judge to grant them summary judgment in a discrimination suit by a former teacher who claims she was subject to harassment and forced to resign because she is a Muslim. (Patriot Ledger)

West Bridgewater officials have banned hoverboards from schools after reports of the popular Christmas gift bursting into flames while charging or in use. (The Enterprise)

Thomas Farragher pens a powerful column on the life lessons acquired by students at the elite Roxbury Latin School who assist a West Roxbury funeral director in the burying of indigent people who left behind no money or often family to oversee their interment. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

Commuter rail service was disrupted on Tuesday when a train derailed at 4 a.m. in Andover. There were no passengers aboard and no one was injured. (CommonWealth) An estimated 30 feet of track “shattered,” apparently due to the cold. (Eagle-Tribune) State officials say the bad start to the year doesn’t mean the T isn’t in better shape for the winter than last year. (Boston Globe)

Proposed MBTA fare increases could actually mean decreases for some riders. (Boston Globe)

Howie Carr says the T could end up being Charlie Baker’s Iraq, or maybe his Vietnam. (Boston Herald)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Graduate students at UMass are developing a plan to clean up a contaminated munitions site in Hanover that has vexed town officials for decades. (Patriot Ledger)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The woman who brought to light the growing alleged sex abuse scandal at St. George’s School in Rhode Island talks about her life since she says she was raped by a teacher 40 years ago. (Greater Boston)

State Trooper Corey Benoit of Royalston is convicted of assault and battery on his girlfriend. (Telegram & Gazette)

WBUR’s David Boeri tells the story of Ronjon Cameron, who spent 14 years in jail before being released because of the misuse of DNA evidence. Part 2 of the story is here.

A judge rejected a motion by accused murderer James Fleury to obtain the notes of former Item reporter Cyrus Moulton, who interviewed the defendant in November 2014. Judge Timothy Feeley said he had no jurisdiction over Moulton, who now lives in New Hampshire. (The Item)

MEDIA

The Globe reverses course on its jettisoning of longtime delivery company and announces that Maryland-based Publishers Circulation Fulfillment has agreed to step back in and handle roughly half of all home delivery accounts, while the paper’s new distributor, ACI Media Group, whose attempted takeover of the whole account proved disastrous, will handle the other half. Publisher John Henry offers an apology, in the form of an op-ed, to subscribers for the debacle. Keller@Large says it is essential for the Globe to fix its home delivery problems because no other outlet has the heft and resources to do the kind of journalism it does. Marcela Garcia spotlights the low-paid immigrants who form the backbone of the Globe’s delivery system each day before many of them head off to second jobs to make ends meet. (Boston Globe)

Weeks after editor Carly Carioli‘s announced his departure from Boston magazine, three staffers have been shown the door in a shakeup by the magazine’s parent company, Metro Corp. (Boston Globe)

Twitter is considering a 10,000 character limit for some tweets. (re/code) Slate’s Will Oremus says the change has some ominous overtones.

The Pew Research Center is increasing the percentage of respondents interviewed in its telephone surveys from 65 percent to 75 percent.