Early Returns

Donald Trump Is No Ronald Reagan

Jonathan Bernstein's morning links.

No comparison.

Photographer: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Jonathan Chait is correct about Donald Trump-as-a-Democrat fantasies, which seem to pop up once in a while among Republicans. Chait points out that even had Trump run on traditional liberal issues, his lack of appeal to black and Hispanic voters would surely have doomed him in the Democratic primaries, and it's very likely that his sexism would have as well. Yes, Democrats backed Bill Clinton despite his infidelities, but Clinton's public persona wasn't boorish or misogynistic, which meant Democrats in 1992 were accepting of mere infidelity. 

But there's far more to it than that. Don't forget that unqualified, inexperienced candidates such as Pat Buchanan, Steve Forbes, Herman Cain and Ben Carson all had decent runs for the Republican presidential nomination over the last 20 years. It's true that Democrats have nominated the occasional yahoo, demagogue or empty celebrity to lower office -- they're not entirely immune -- but there's nothing at all close to those runs at the presidential level, and they're not even very common for statewide office. There's no shortage of dud-or-worse Democratic candidates, but not that kind of dud. It's also worth noting that when California held a free-for-all gubernatorial election to recall and replace their governor in 2003, there was no shortage of liberal celebrities who entered, but also virtually no interest among Democratic voters in supporting them. Republicans, however, had no trouble supporting Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

I've said that this traces back to largely unfair criticisms that Ronald Reagan was just an actor and, well, a stupid one at that. While much of the Republican Party has dedicated itself to demonstrating that the two-term governor of California was no amateur, and that his various successes in life are more than enough to prove he was no moron, another strain within the party seems to have accepted the inaccurate criticisms and decided instead to make a virtue of supposed amateurism and ignorance. As Chait says, this fits with George W. Bush's nomination (Bush was smart enough, but not nearly sufficiently experienced in government and public affairs) as well as the Sarah Palin phenomenon. Alas, for those who learned the wrong lessons from Reagan, it's unlikely the Trump fiasco will be enough to reverse it.

1. Dan Drezner on Trump at the G-20. Hey, his failure of agenda-setting in foreign policy appears to be a perfect match for his failure at legislative agenda-setting back home. Remember, there's a huge difference between Republicans sticking with Trump and Republicans doing what they would do regardless of who is president -- and the latter is what we've seen so far. It's almost as if he's a historically weak president. 

2. Brent Sasley at the Monkey Cage on what's happening in Israel with the Labor Party's leadership. 

3. Jeffrey Young on why the percentage of uninsured has blipped up a bit.

4. Nancy Leong at Take Care on felony re-enfranchisement.

5. While Republican-governed states keep making it harder to vote. NBC's Jane Timm reports.

6. Audrey Carlsen and Haeyoun Park on the basic statistics of legislative secrecy on health care, then and now. 

7. My Bloomberg View colleague Timothy L. O'Brien on people who just can't wait to call Trump "presidential." 

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This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

    To contact the author of this story:
    Jonathan Bernstein at jbernstein62@bloomberg.net

    To contact the editor responsible for this story:
    Brooke Sample at bsample1@bloomberg.net

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