There are three main problems with Donald Trump as a candidate for national office, none of which can be effectively exploited by the Republican Party but all of which can be exploited by Clinton. The problems are:But it should not be difficult for a Democrat to tie Trump's sleazy business practices to a real critique of unrestrained capitalism, to point out that his proposed tax cut blows up the deficit while lining his own pockets, to make Trump University a rallying cry against student debt, and to rally minorities, liberals, and independent women against his swaggering patriarchal racism.
- Trump is a racist.
- Trump's business record is unimpressive and ethically dodgy.
There is simply no reason to believe that this is what the American people are looking for.
- Trump's policy ideas are terrible.
The problem Republicans have is that is that these flaws are not flaws that a Republican Party politician can effectively articulate to an audience of Republican Party primary voters.
- Republican Party primary voters think that white people being shamed for racism is a bigger problem than white people doing racist stuff.
- Republican Party elites are ideologically committed to the defense of inherited wealth and opposed to the regulation of business in the public interest.
This has left them resorting to a smorgasboard of hypocrisy arguments and opportunistic cheap shots that don't have a clear takeaway, occasionally punctuated with with the observation that Trump does not rigidly adhere to the GOP donor class's policy preference.
- Republican Party elites essentially share Trump's least-popular and most-obviously-ridiculous policy idea — an enormous tax cut for the rich — so they can't criticize it.
Of course the Democrat in question is likely to be Hillary, who has her own weaknesses that open up obvious lines of attack. (I wonder how many times she and her husband have asked Trump for money?) Which is why I don't see this election shaping up to be a historic blowout like some people are envisioning. Trump has a large natural constituency of white nationalists and his outsider message will resonate with many independents – one not very political person recently said to me, "I don't care who wins as long as it isn't another lawyer."
I predict a long, gruesome electoral slog.