Which Party’s Fringe Is a Threat to Victory in 2016?

I haven’t said much about Donald Trump, other than to note that he was right about the problem of illegal immigrant crime. This is because I don’t take Trump seriously as a presidential candidate.

His rise in the polls was fueled in part by his willingness to talk bluntly about the key issue of immigration. But even more important, in my opinion, was sheer celebrity–i.e., name recognition. Most Americans know a lot more about television than they do about politics. This is because they devote much more time to television. Trump, having appeared for years on TV in a starring role, was therefore familiar to many millions of voters who had never heard of any of the other Republican candidates (although that Jeb guy seems familiar somehow…). This naturally gave Trump a head start in the polls.

Following his misguided attack on John McCain, Trump is, I think, a dead candidate walking. His McCain riff exposed one of Trump’s many defects as a candidate: he may have a prepared script when he speaks, but he doesn’t stick to it. He can’t resist going off message, and when he does, he blurts out incendiary claims that are at best silly and at worst, as with the McCain attack, fatal.

Reporters love to cover the Trump campaign because they think it hurts the GOP. They are probably right, but in my view the Trump phenomenon has little long-term significance (assuming, of course, that he doesn’t run as a third-party candidate). In contrast, what is happening on the Democratic side of the campaign has gotten much less attention, but is both more sinister and more important to the eventual dynamics of the campaign.

Steve wrote on Saturday about the rather shocking events at the annual “Nutroots” convention in Phoenix. Both Martin O’Malley’s and Bernie Sanders’s appearances were interrupted by “Black Lives Matter” protesters who, rather than being ejected from the hall, were invited to share the stage. These are the same bullies who invade restaurants in New York and other cities, shouting racial slogans at diners. This video is 22 minutes long, so you probably won’t want to watch all of it. But it is worth a few minutes of your time to see how crazy the scene was. It is the same kind of thing that worked so well for the Democrats in 1968:

Bernie Sanders responded grumpily, while O’Malley looked like he wished he was somewhere else. Toward the end of the video, when O’Malley responded to the protesters, he was shouted down when he suggested that criminal violence is worth mentioning, along with police violence. Most significantly, just after the 20 minute mark in the video, O’Malley said that “all lives matter,” including even “white lives.” This was greeted with howls of protest. Later on, someone apparently explained his mistake to O’Malley, and he apologized:

Later, when O’Malley was on “This Week in Blackness,” he apologized. O’Malley stated that he “meant no disrespect” and characterized his remarks as a “mistake.”

So in one of America’s two major parties, it is not permissible to say that “all lives matter.” Such a controversial sentiment is too hot to handle. The Democrats have gone off the deep end, and seem to be fully in thrall to their most extreme elements. Maybe there is an opportunity here for Hillary Clinton to show some political courage by denouncing her party’s far left. But when has Hillary ever shown political courage?

In the meantime, it is on the Democratic side of the aisle, not the Republican, where trouble is brewing that is likely to spill over into the general election next year.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has more:

TRUMP WAS ALL OVER THE NEWS. BUT O’MALLEY’S NETROOTS DISASTER? ABC’s Martha Raddatz Panics and changes subject when Kristol mentions ‘White Lives Matter’ Debacle.