Trump’s the chump: New York Times analysis confirms Progreso prediction

Trump’s the chump: New York Times analysis confirms Progreso prediction
This online magazine has cause to celebrate. It isn’t every day that a humble publication lacking resources and far-flung correspondents scoops The New York Times on a topic of national and international significance.

Before the celebration, I will take a point of personal privilege to mourn the loss of one my favorite Latino musicians of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century: Gato Barbieri, whose death was reported on Sunday.


Gato Barbieri

I say one of my favorite musicians rather than one of the greatest only because I am hardly a music critic. But when I listen to Barbieri playing Europa (written by another stalwart, Carlos Santana), I feel as moved as when I hear Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue or Billie Holiday or even classic pieces like Concierto de Aranjuez and almost anything composed by Bach.

That’s just my taste. Like Marco Rubio, who answered every question about global warming, and the consequent sea level rise that is drowning parts of our city, by saying “I am not a scientist,” I confess I am not a music expert. But I know I am not alone among lovers of music, and among Latinos all over the country in being saddened by Gato’s passing.

Now to the main subject. On March 14, Progreso published an opinion column titled “No President Trump.” For the record, I wrote the piece, but the last thing I want to do is to turn this into an exercise in self-aggrandizement. Much of the credit goes to Alvaro Fernandez, who invited me to write for Progreso at a time when the Miami Herald had fired me for writing things despised by hard-core Cuban exiles. And to the team who puts together these pieces with just the right pictures and quotations.

I don’t know it for a fact but I assume the founder of Progreso, Francisco Aruca, had a hand too in my coming on board. I wish he were with us to see the sea change that he as much as anyone worked so hard to achieve.

Many of my offending opinions of a decade-plus ago have become virtually mainstream now. The Cuban-American elite is busy celebrating spring break in Havana.

They say that Minerva’s owl flies at dusk—wisdom comes too late. But sometimes Minerva’s owl flies at first light, and being among the first to perceive has its cost too.

The (Sunday, April 3) New York Times carries a lengthy front-page story assessing the chances of Trump winning the presidency. It would be silly and presumptuous to imagine that the NYT plagiarized Progreso. But we should take pride in the fact that the gray lady, the paper of record in the United States, has now reached essentially the same conclusion and for the same reasons that Progreso set out more than more than a week ago.

The NYT piece is not as lapidary as the Progreso piece. After all, mainstream journalists adhere to a notion of objectivity that aims for balance, not truth. On the one hand, Copernicus said the earth revolves around the sun, on the other hand…Also, the NYT article is a piece of reporting, not an editorial opinion, and different standards apply.

Consequently, the paper’s headlines and sub-headline and the piece allow wiggle room; we did not bother with any of that. That’s not my style nor my role.

NYT headline: “Electoral Map a Reality Check to a Trump Bid.” Sub-headline: “If Businessman Becomes G.O.P. Nominee, He Faces Steep Odds.”

There are enough weasel words there for a White House spokesperson to get through a news conference. Electoral Map. Reality Check. Steep Odds. That begs multiple questions. What has the electoral map have to do with it? What has changed dramatically is not any map but the racial and ethnic make-up of the electorate and the obnoxious nature of the candidate. Reality check? Is that more like when a child sticks his hand in fire and learns you do get burned, 100 percent of the time? Or is it more like when you dream of starring in the NBA and you realize that 99.999 percent of the time it won’t happen? How steep are the odds, Powerball kind or rolling the dice and getting 7-11 three straight times?

But writers don’t determine headlines and when you deconstruct the actual article, written by Jonathan Martin and Nate Cohn, it is very good. What comes through is that it would take a miracle for Trump to win the White House. Since I don’t believe in miracles, I didn’t include any comparable caveat. I am sticking by my hard and fast prediction. No Trump presidency.

Here is a scaled-down version of what the Times found:

  • In recent head-to-head polls with…Hillary Clinton, [Trump] trails in every key state, including Florida and Ohio. (And, oh, by the way, the numbers suggest Bernie Sanders would hand Trump and even more crushing defeat).
  • In…the Rust Belt, which Mr. Trump has vowed to return to the Republican column for the first time in nearly 30 years, his deficit is even worse.
  • In Utah, his deep unpopularity with Mormon voters suggests that a state that has gone Republican every election for half a century could wind up in play.
  • Mr. Trump has become unacceptable, perhaps irreversibly so, to broad swaths of Americans, including large majorities of women, nonwhites, Hispanics, voters under 30, and those with college degrees.

The last point is the main focus of the March Progreso column and the real crux. I think our piece identified every one of those constituencies, with the exception of more highly educated people, which was such a no-brainer I didn’t think it worth mentioning. Obama won that vote hands down, and Trump makes Romney look like Einstein.

The Times piece is belated but rich in granular detail. I learned something from the statement that Trump is deeply unpopular among Mormons. Who knew?

Everyone is entitled to his opinion, and it is vital in a democracy, even one edging ever closer to plutocracy, to have the facts laid out in just the way the NYT article does.

But without in any way claiming to be a genius in the way the two men I am to about to mention definitely were, I am imagining a scene in which a fairly good chess player looks at the board of what seems like a close game, struggles with various possible permutations, and after an hour decides the odds are not good for the black pieces. Meanwhile, through the miracle of time travel, former world champions, the late Jose Raul Capablanca and Gary Kasparov, stroll by, stare at the board for ten seconds, laugh, and say in one assured breath: black should resign now.

When I wrote my piece last month, after taking a careful but much less labored look at the electoral chess board than the NYT, this thought rushed to my mind: If the blackguard had any sense, he would resign now. No President Trump!

[Photo at top from the Trump for President website.]