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How scary is Donald Trump?
The rise of Donald Trump is a terrifying moment in American politics
Updated by Ezra Klein on February 10, 2016, 12:22 a.m. ET @ezraklein

On Monday, Donald Trump held a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he merrily repeated a woman in the crowd who called Ted Cruz a pussy. Twenty-four hours later Donald Trump won the New Hampshire primary in a landslide.

I'm not here to clutch my pearls over Trump's vulgarity; what was telling, rather, was the immaturity of the moment, the glee Trump took in his "she-said-it-I-didn't" game. The media, which has grown used to covering Trump as a sideshow, delighted in the moment along with him — it was funny, and it meant clicks, takes, traffic. But it was more than that. It was the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president showing off the demagogue's instinct for amplifying the angriest voice in the mob.

It is undeniably enjoyable watching Trump. He's red-faced, discursive, funny, angry, strange, unpredictable, and real. He speaks without filter and tweets with reckless abandon. The Donald Trump phenomenon is a riotous union of candidate ego and voter id. America's most skilled political entertainer is putting on the greatest show we've ever seen.

It's so fun to watch that it's easy to lose sight of how terrifying it really is.

Trump is the most dangerous major candidate for president in memory. He pairs terrible ideas with an alarming temperament; he's a racist, a sexist, and a demagogue, but he's also a narcissist, a bully, and a dilettante. He lies so constantly and so fluently that it's hard to know if he even realizes he's lying. He delights in schoolyard taunts and luxuriates in backlash.

Trump is in serious contention to win the Republican presidential nomination. His triumph in a general election is unlikely but it is far from impossible. He's not a joke and he's not a clown. He's a man who could soon be making decisions of war and peace, who would decide which regulations are enforced and which are lifted, who would be responsible for nominating Supreme Court Justices and representing America in the community of nations. This is not political entertainment. This is politics.

Trump's path to power has been unnerving. His business is licensing out his own name as a symbol of opulence. He has endured bankruptcies and scandal by bragging his way out of them. He rose to prominence in the Republican Party as a leader of the birther movementHe climbed to the top of the polls in this election by calling Mexicans rapists and killers. He defended a poor debate performance by accusing Megyn Kelly of being on her period. He responded to rival Ted Cruz's surge by calling for a travel ban on Muslims. When two of his supporters attacked a homeless man and said they did it because "Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported," he brushed off complaints that he's inspiring violence by saying his supporters are "very passionate."

Behind Trump's success is an unerring instinct for harnessing anger, resentment, and fearHis view of the economy is entirely zero-sum — for Americans to win, others must lose. "We're going to make America great again," he said in his New Hampshire victory speech, "but we're going to do it the old fashioned way. We're going to beat China, Japan, beat Mexico at trade. We're going to beat all of these countries that are taking so much of our money away from us on a daily basis. It's not going to happen anymore."

Trump answers America's rage with more rage. As the journalist Molly Ball observed, "All the other candidates say 'Americans are angry, and I understand.' Trump says, 'I’M angry.'" Trump doesn't offer solutions so much as he offers villains. His message isn't so much that he'll help you as he'll hurt them.

Trump's other gift — the one that gets less attention, but is perhaps more important — is his complete lack of shame. It's easy to underestimate how important shame is in American politics. But shame is our most powerful restraint on politicians who would find success through demagoguery. Most people feel shame when they're exposed as liars, when they're seen as uninformed, when their behavior is thought cruel, when respected figures in their party condemn their actions, when experts dismiss their proposals, when they are mocked and booed and protested.

Trump doesn'tHe has the reality television star's ability to operate entirely without shame, and that permits him to operate entirely without restraint. It is the single scariest facet of his personality. It is the one that allows him to go where others won't, to say what others can't, to do what others wouldn't.

Trump lives by the reality-television trope that he's not here to make friends. But the reason reality-television villains always say they're not there to make friends is because it sets them apart, makes them unpredictable and fun to watch. "I'm not here to make friends" is another way of saying "I'm not bound by the social conventions of normal people." The rest of us are here to make friends, and it makes us boring, gentle, kind.

This, more than his ideology, is why Trump genuinely scares me. There are places where I think Trump's instincts are an improvement on the Republican field. He seems more dovish than neoconservatives like Marco Rubio, and less dismissive of the social safety net than libertarians like Rand Paul. But those candidates are checked by institutions and incentives that hold no sway over Trump; his temperament is so immature, his narcissism so clear, his political base so unique, his reactions so strange, that I honestly have no idea what he would do — or what he wouldn't do.

When MSNBC's Joe Scarborough asked Trump about his affection for Vladimir Putin, who "kills journalists, political opponents and invades countries," Trump replied, "He's running his country, and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country." Later, he clarified that he doesn't actually condone killing journalists, but, he warned the crowd, "I do hate them."

It's a lie that if you put a frog into a pot of water and slowly turn up the heat the frog will simply boil, but it's a fact that if you put the American political system in a room with Trump for long enough we slowly lose track of how noxious he is, or we at least run out of ways to keep repeating it.

But tonight is a night to repeat it. There is something scary in Donald Trump. We should fear his rise.
More scary abroad, as it happens..

Quote:IS there any scarier nightmare than President Donald J. Trump in a tense international crisis, indignant and impatient, with his sweaty finger on the nuclear trigger? “Trump is a danger to our national security,” John B. Bellinger III, legal adviser to the State Department under President George W. Bush, bluntly warned. Most of the discussion about Trump focuses on domestic policy. But checks and balances mean that there are limits to what a president can achieve domestically, while the Constitution gives a commander in chief a much freer hand abroad.
Donald the Dangerous - The New York Times
This would be funny if it wasn't so scary..

Quote:That’s what horrifies America-watchers overseas. Der Spiegel, the German magazine, has called Trump the most dangerous man in the world. Even the leader of a Swedish nationalist party that started as a neo-Nazi white supremacist group has disavowed Trump. J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, reflected the views of many Britons when she tweeted that Trump is worse than Voldemort. Leading American conservative thinkers on foreign policy issued an open letter a few days ago warning that they could not support Trump. The signatories include Michael Chertoff, the former secretary of homeland security, Robert Zoellick, the former deputy secretary of state, and more than 100 others.
Donald the Dangerous - The New York Times
But make no mistake, it ain't funny..

Quote:A second major concern is that Trump would start a trade war, or a real war. Trump told The New York Times in January that he favored a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods, then denied ever having said such a thing. The Times produced the audio (that part of the conversation was on the record) in which Trump clearly backed the 45 percent tariff, risking a trade war between the world’s two largest economies. Trump has also called for more U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq, and raised the prospect of bombing North Korean nuclear sites. A poorly informed, impatient and pugnacious leader can cause devastation, and that’s true of either Kim Jong-un or Donald Trump.
Donald the Dangerous - The New York Times
I can't be contrarian about Donald Trump anymore: He's terrifying

Updated by Matthew Yglesias on March 13, 2016, 10:30 a.m. ET 

I was a liberal Donald Trump apologist. Not a liberal enjoying the chaos Trump was sowing in the Republican Party, but someone who welcomed his ideological heterodoxy as a step away from the cliff of endless polarization that offered a more moderate substantive agenda than Marco Rubio's. I held on to that conviction through Friday's protest violence and Saturday's torrent of "enough is enough" takes.

I was wrong. Sunday morning, in the context of what he knew to be a growing controversy about violent behavior on the part of his supporters, Trump tweeted what can really only be interpreted as a threat to send goons to beat up Bernie Sanders supporters.

Quote:Bernie Sanders is lying when he says his disruptors aren't told to go to my events. Be careful Bernie, or my supporters will go to yours!

He then followed this up by suggesting that he would use the resources at his disposal to help his supporters obtain immunity from legal consequence for violent acts they undertook on his behalf.

Quote:JUST IN: Trump tells @MeetThePress' @ChuckTodd he's going to look into paying for legal fees for the man who threw the sucker punch on Sat

The implications of this for what President Trump might do in the White House are terrifying and go well beyond any dispute over public policy.

The framers of the Constitution rather sharply circumscribed the president's authority to make and repeal legislation, making it in many respects a weaker office than the prime ministerships of more majoritarian countries. But the president and his appointees have enormous discretion over the enforcement of existing laws. Putting a leader who would condone violence against the supporters of his political opponents in charge of the federal law enforcement apparatus is frightening. Giving him the power to unilaterally issue pardons is terrifying.

There have been clear signs all year that this was the direction the Trump phenomenon was heading, but I assumed that as he got closer to the Republican nomination Trump would tone down his extreme behavior in order to demonstrate his acceptability to mainstream voters. In fact, he has done the opposite. It's a surprising decision that has truly scary implications for how he might behave were he to actually win the presidency.
Don't believe Donald Trump has incited violence at rallies? Watch this video.

Updated by German Lopez on March 12, 2016, 1:27 p.m. ET 

On Friday night in Chicago, violence broke out between supporters and protesters at a Donald Trump rally, leading Trump to cancel the event. On Saturday, Trump blamed the protesters and "thugs" — a racially coded word — for the violence.
But maybe Trump should blame himself. As Rachel Maddow demonstrated in a string of clips aired on MSNBC, Trump has consistently called for violence against protesters at his rallies.

Here are Trump's previous comments in response to demonstrators at his events, taken from Maddow's video (starting at 3:40):
  • February 1 in Iowa: "If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell. I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise."
  • February 22 in Nevada: "I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They'd be carried out on a stretcher, folks. It's true. … I'd like to punch him in the face, I'll tell you."
  • February 26 in Oklahoma: "In the good old days, they'd rip him out of that seat so fast. But today, everybody's politically correct. Our country's going to hell with being politically correct."
  • February 29 in Virginia: "Get him out of here please. Get him out. Get him out. … Are you from Mexico? Are you from Mexico? Huh? Are you from Mexico?"
  • March 4 in Michigan: "Get out of here. Get out. Out! … This is amazing. So much fun. I love it. I love it. We having a good time? USA, USA, USA! … All right, get him out. Try not to hurt him. If you do, I'll defend you in court. Don't worry about it. … We had four guys, they jumped on him, they were swinging and swinging. The next day, we got killed in the press — that we were too rough. Give me a break. You know? Right? We don't want to be too politically correct anymore. Right, folks?"
  • March 4 in Michigan: "Remember when Bernie Sanders, they took the mic away from him? That's not going to happen with us, folks. That's not going to happen. Remember that? He walked away from the mic and he stood back and he watched these two young girls talking to the audience. And they said, 'We came to listen to him!' And he was standing in the back as two women took the mic away. No, that doesn't happen to us. Get that guy out of here! Get him out! Get that guy out of here!"
  • March 9 in North Carolina: "We had some people, some rough guys like we have right in here. And they started punching back. It was a beautiful thing. I mean, they started punching back. … In the good old days, this doesn't happen because they used to treat them very, very rough. And when they protested once, you know, they would not do it again so easily. But today, they walk in and they put their hand up and put the wrong finger in the air at everybody, and they get away with murder, because we've become weak."
  • March 11 in Missouri, hours before the Chicago rally: "Part of the problem and part of the reason it takes so long is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore. Right? And they're being politically correct the way they take them out. So it takes a little bit longer. And honestly, protesters, they realize it — they realize that there are no consequences to protesting anymore. There used to be consequences. There are none anymore."
Trump's message in all these incidents is clear: Supporters should rough up protesters. Friday night's chaos seems like a natural reflection of that.
Quote:It’s framed as a warning, but make no mistake: This is a threat. This is pure movie mafiosi stuff: Nice convention there. Shame if something happened to it. 

Trump’s ease in speaking like a gangster issuing veiled threats shouldn’t be the biggest surprise. While it’s gotten lost in the shuffle of the primaries, there’s a long history of allegations against Trump that he has ties to organized crime, hiring mob-controlled companies to build properties like his Trump Plaza condos. A great deal of his history of “deal-making” that he loves to brag about involves dealing with people who have literally been charged, investigated, and convicted of organized crime.
The gangster candidate: Donald Trump and his supporters behave like the mafia, with veiled threats and acting above the law -
Some Trump tweets on global warming..

Quote:The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012 This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2014
The Trump Energy Policy in Tweet Form | Greentech Media

Do we need to comment?

Our planet is freezing? You might want to read this..
And another tweet, on coal:

Quote:Obama’s war on coal is killing American jobs, making us more energy dependent on our enemies & creating a great business disadvantage.
The Trump Energy Policy in Tweet Form | Greentech Media

Compare this with another one, on fracking:

Quote:Fracking will lead to American energy independence. With price of natural gas continuing to drop, we can be at a tremendous advantage. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2012
The Trump Energy Policy in Tweet Form | Greentech Media

Now, could that price of natural gas continuing to drop, could that have something to do with coal's problems? 

Is Trump aware of the health hazard of fine particle pollution, a really big silent killer?
Quote:Trump’s initial plan has come under criticism from both the right and left for vastly expanding the deficit, with the nonpartisan Tax Foundation estimating it would add $10 trillion to the federal deficit in the next decade.
Donald Trump launches tax plan rewrite - POLITICO

But aren't the Republicans the party of sound finance? Well..

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