Trump’s Race-Baiting Ad Could Backfire in the Midterms

In the last days of the campaign, the president is going all in on turning out his base. But base voters aren’t the only ones Republicans need.

The ad has drawn immediate comparisons to the infamous “Willie Horton” spot that Republicans used to attack the Democrat Michael Dukakis in the 1988 election, though as the Princeton historian Kevin Kruse notes, it’s actually worse: The makers of the Horton ad were at least ashamed of inflaming racial tension, while the president is proudly trumpeting his. (It’s also not running on television anywhere. Instead, the Trump team is relying on word of mouth and media coverage to spread it, so that even writing critically turns critics into abettors.)

.. It seems just as likely that

  • Trump is resorting to immigration at this stage because, even though the economy is strong, his signature policies, like a big tax cut, aren’t popular; because
  • his health-care position is downright unpopular; and because,
  • without Hillary Clinton in the mix, he doesn’t have an effective villain against whom he can campaign.

Just because it’s a desperation play doesn’t mean it won’t work. But if it does, it will do so not by persuading swing voters, but by driving as many Trump-supporting voters to the polls as possible, and neutralizing Democratic advantages on enthusiasm and turnout. The problem is that while Trump’s base remains devoted, it’s also slowly shrinking. Along with others, I have argued for months that Trump’s strategy of only appealing to his hardest-core supporters and not making any effort to expand his coalition is a dangerous strategy, since his base remains a small share of the electorate. The president’s decision to go all in on immigration in the last week of the midterms will provide a crucial test of whether the base is indeed insufficient—or whether he once more knows something the political class doesn’t.

The death of the archetypal Russian villain

THE cold war was fought as much in the imagination as on the battlefield. Each side sought to project images of social and cultural superiority; stories of people corrupted by the decadent West or persecuted by the KGB were turned into weapons. This struggle was largely waged on screen, in shows and films that were subject to varying degrees of government involvement. When the Berlin Wall fell, and the Soviet Union followed, writers and directors put down their arms. Barely any films about the cold war were made in the years immediately following its end.

..  For example, Ivan Drago, the antagonist of “Rocky IV” (1985), was an emotionless brute: “If he dies,” he memorably says of a defeated American boxer, “he dies.” So was Podovsky, a Russian torturer, in the “Rambo” series. In “From Russia With Love” (1963), the assassin Rosa Klebb relished inflicting pain on both her compatriots and her enemies

.. the rare female communist was either a nymphomaniac or frigid and repressed.”

.. “They” were cold-blooded criminals, subversives and deviants; “we” were enlightened defenders of democracy and freedom. Even in grittier, more realistic works, the motivations of communist characters were rarely explored. They existed mostly as “foils against which the men of the West demonstrated their superior skills,”

.. These hard-faced psychopaths have now been ousted by richly textured Soviet citizens. “The Americans” is concerned as much with the marriage of Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, the Russian agents (pictured), and the trials of raising their children in America, as with espionage.

.. The pair grapple with guilt and the meaning of freedom.

.. So human are these characters, in fact, that viewers are persuaded not only to empathise with them, but to hope they evade capture—even as they kill and blackmail Americans.

.. In these stories, the idea of Western superiority—either moral or professional—is questionable.

.. In the case of “The Americans”, it can be laughable: one of the series’ funniest moments comes when the head of counter-intelligence at the FBI discovers that his secretary has secretly married a KGB officer.

.. The villain of “The Shape of Water” is not Mosenkov but a repulsive American colonel.

.. The overseers of “The Americans”—Joe Weisberg, himself a former CIA officer

.. They enlisted Masha Gessen, a Russian-American writer, to ensure their Russian dialogue would feel idiomatic.

.. Now the production team has been “able to spend time in the Stasi archives, to spend time with people who were on the East German side,” Mr Cornwell says. “There is room in the six-hour format to explore both sides.”

.. faith in Western spooks has drastically decreased in the wake of the Iraq war and recent surveillance scandals.

.. despite Vladimir Putin’s election-meddling and revanchism, most English-speaking viewers no longer feel they face an existential threat from Russia.

.. The imperative to deflect criticism outward, so conspicuous in the 1980s, no longer applies.

.. Used to navigating moral minefields in shows such as “The Wire” and “The Sopranos”, viewers have outgrown simplistic tales of good and evil. Proof was offered by “Red Sparrow”, a film released earlier this year that starred Jennifer Lawrence as a Russian seductress targeting a CIA agent.

.. It was “designed to make Americans feel good about [themselves] by showing how much nicer [their] spies are than their Russian counterparts,” says Denise Youngblood, a historian of Russian and Soviet cinema. Judging by its box-office performance, the formulaic plot was a turn-off.

.. Because Russia has always been a land of villains,” Rodric Braithwaite, a former British ambassador to Moscow, once wrote, “it is also a land of heroes and saints.” Hollywood is at last imaginative enough to make room for all of them.

A Reckoning with Women Awaits Trump

Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the unforgettably forgettable former White House aide in charge of nothing at all, tearfully confessing her global despair. “It’s not going to be O.K.,” she said.

.. Bannon, who is partial to grand pronouncements, acknowledged the political stakes, not least for the President. “You watch. The time has come,” he said. “Women are gonna take charge of society. And they couldn’t juxtapose a better villain than Trump. He is the patriarch. This is a definitional moment in the culture. It’ll never be the same going forward . . . The anti-patriarchy movement is going to undo ten thousand years of recorded history.”

.. When Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary, left his job after charges, and evidence, of abuse from his two ex-wives became public, the President showed not a trace of sympathy for anyone but Porter himself.

.. This was striking. One former wife had obtained a protective order against Porter; the other presented the F.B.I. with a photograph of herself with a black eye, the result, she said, of a beating Porter delivered her while on vacation in Italy. And yet Trump went to great lengths, in a public statement, to sympathize with the “tough time” that Porter was enduring, to praise the “very good job” he had done, and to express confidence that he had a “wonderful career” ahead of him.

.. Trump responded with similar fellow-feeling when charges were levelled at Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, late of Fox News, and Roy Moore, the right-wing former judge who had seemed headed to victory in an Alabama Senate race. (Trump, of course, is unforgiving when it comes to Democrats like Al Franken and John Conyers.)

.. Kellyanne Conway, whose defenses of Trump’s most preposterous statements are sometimes so tortured that they become the stuff of late-night satire, could not bear to back the President on this one. She told CNN that she saw “no reason not to believe” Porter’s former spouses. “In this case, you have contemporaneous police reports, you have women speaking to the FBI under threat of perjury,” Conway said. “You have photographs, and when you look at all of that pulled together, Rob Porter did the right thing by resigning.”

.. It has come to the point when even Trump’s closest aides know that a reckoning is coming. It’s not going to be O.K.

Why didn’t Tom Riddle kill Harry in Chamber of Secrets?

Riddle wants to humilate Harry first, to show him that his powers are no match to his. As he says:

So this is what Dumbledore sends his great defender. A songbird and an old hat. Let’s match the power of Lord Voldemort, Heir of Salazar Slytherin, against the famous Harry Potter.

…Voldemort is the very epitome of a supervillain, and as such, is prone to gloating, monologuing, explaining his evil plan to the hero and then putting him in some death trap that always fails to work. When you simply kill the hero, you are just a killer… But when you mock him first and plan his demise in some fiendishly clever way, you’re truly a villain. 😉