Donald Trump and the Israel Durham Problem

Steve Novick

Donald Trump presents what I think of as the Israel Durham problem. Durham was the boss of Philadelphia at the turn of the 19th/20th century. During one short period, the Philadelphia machine pulled off a series of spectacular "steals" in rapid succession. Lincoln Steffens, the muckraking journalist, went to Durham and asked him "how they dared to do such a wild, wholesale business in such a short time." Steffens said "you could put over one of those steals in New York, or anywhere else. But one would be enough to strain any machine I know of. But five - or more?"

Durham responded that the machine had made a deliberate choice to go big. "If we did any one of those things alone the papers could concentrate on it, get the facts, and fight. But we reasoned that if we poured them out all fast and furious ... the papers couldn't handle them all and the public would be stunned and - give up."

That's a major problem, I think, with Trump: he presents too many targets. if we keep reacting to each new outrage, I don't think any of them will stick. We need to find or two things to hammer on and resist the urge to be sidetracked.

I write without the benefit of polling, but here's my nominee for "thing to focus on": Donald Trump put a fast-food CEO in charge of jobs. There's something called the Labor Secretary, that's the guy in charge of jobs, and Donald Trump picked a fast-food CEO. Those are the kind of jobs Donald Trump has in mind.

I hope that Andrew Puzder doesn't pull himself from consideration, as is rumored, because I don't think we'll get anyone actually 'better,' and I really can't imagine a better target. The threat to the climate is the greatest threat Trump poses, but people knew Trump was a climate denier. The Affordable Care Act is complicated, and not especially popular. Betsy DeVos is horrifying, but I'm not sure what the bumper sticker is. And I think all the business about Russia is a massive distraction that I don't think changes a single voter's mind.

Again, I haven't seen polling. But it's the simplest argument I can think of, and one that strikes at the core of Trump's alleged appeal. Trump says the biggest issue is jobs. But the guy he put in charge of jobs is a fast-food CEO. Are those really the jobs we want?

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