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Best lefty column ever



As Britain became great again at 11 p.m. on Friday, when it left the EU, New Statesman America saw a spike in its web traffic thanks to a June 7, 2016, column by British writer and presenter Ian Leslie.

The column was posted a fortnight before the British election on leaving the European Union. Its headline said it all: "Calm down. Trump won’t be President – and Britain won’t leave the EU."

Bravo to the New Statesman America for keeping it online, but as Jay Leno asked Hugh Grant when he cheated on Elizabeth Hurley with a prostitute, "What the hell were you thinking?"

Well, here is what Leslie was thinking.

He wrote, "It is the season of bed-wetting. For those who follow politics closely – we anxious few – every new poll, whether from the UK or the US, is arriving freighted with apocalyptic significance.

"It’s true that the stakes are high. In five months’ time, we could be standing among the smoking ruins of liberal democracy. The Trump coat of arms will be emblazoned on the dome of the Capitol. The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will be making tinny jokes about bulldogs as Vladimir Putin moves tanks to the Finnish border.

"On the other hand, the post-war order may be looking remarkably intact, Britain having voted emphatically to Remain, a liberal Atlanticist with unexciting ideas installed in the Oval Office, and the England football team having returned home from France after three matches of unbearable mediocrity."

Spoiler alert: Donald John Trump is president. Boris Johnson is prime minister. Worry, Finland. Worry.

But Leslie was confident this would not happen.

He wrote, "Two significant things have happened since Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination. The first is that senior Republican figures have slunk into line behind him with a surprising – even for them – lack of forethought. The second, and more significant development is that, despite this, Trump has got more, not less, Trumpy."

What he failed to understand is Trumpy is good. Americans looked for a bull to send to the China shop. Hint: It wasn't Jeb!



Leslie also underestimated Donald Trump, writing, "I think Josh Marshall is right, and that Trump is essentially trapped inside his own invective. The more violently he attacks Clinton, the more unstable and unlikeable he seems. He does not have a plan B. He is not thinking coolly or strategically. He is a dyspeptic gorilla in a cage, and on the evidence of a very effective opening salvo, Clinton knows exactly how and what to poke through the bars."

Well, there is Leslie's problem. He listened to lefty blogger Josh Marshall, who knows nothing about Donald Trump. Leslie should have listened to me. I got the election correct.

But he harrumphed as if he were a member of Governor Lepetomane's staff.

Leslie wrote, "Electorally, that means that Trump is not going to expand his appeal greatly beyond his existing constituency. Of course, he will pick up some of the Republicans who didn’t vote for him in the primary but will take the party line whoever the candidate, especially when the alternative is Hillary Clinton. But he won’t make in-roads into independents, among whom he only gets more unpopular, the more they see of him."

His column was very insightful as it showed the assumptions of the punditry.

He wrote, "Another factor is that the American media – finally, belatedly – have him in their sights, and they smell blood. Befuddled and dazzled by his rise, they didn’t scrutinize him aggressively, or call out his racism (and neither did his political rivals). Eager to make amends, they are now starting to make up for it. Interviews like this or this are just the beginning.

"This will only make him madder, in both senses of the word. Trump’s constant bitching about the media isn’t strategically calculated – it’s from the heart. He is genuinely thin-skinned, and harsh criticism makes him angrier and more volatile. He and we ain’t seen nothing yet."

I have no idea how thick President Trump's skin is. I do know that in the nearly 4 years since that column appeared, the media has had meltdown after meltdown while President Trump merrily carries on as he fulfills campaign promise after campaign promise.

Leslie wrote, "We haven’t even got time to discuss the vast differences in organizational capability between the two camps, or the fact that Trump is an almost spookily perfect opponent for Hillary Clinton, throwing her strengths into relief and compensating for her weaknesses by being such an enthusiasm-generator for Democrats."

OK, I just threw that in because I am mean.

I will skip the Brexit part because Leslie glossed over it. The British voted to Leave and 3 1/2 years later they hadn't. Boris Johnson called a parliamentary election, which served as a surrogate second vote on leaving, and Brexit won. A few weeks later, Britain is out.

The lesson for British and other foreign journalists is simple: quit listening to Josh Marshall and anyone else based in DC. They know as little about Americans as they do Britons. Not only did they get the 2016 election wrong, but they have gotten the entire Trump presidency wrong.

Or maybe the lesson is to listen to them because if Leslie had been right, no one would care about his old column today.

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