Posts Tagged ‘2016 Presidential Campaign’

From David Frum:

Here’s the part of the 2016 story that will be hardest to explain after it’s all over: Trump did not deceive anyone. Unlike, say, Sarah Palin in 2008, Trump appeared before the electorate in his own clothes, speaking his own words. When he issued a promise, he instantly contradicted it. If you chose to accept the promise anyway, you did so with abundant notice of its worthlessness. For all the times Trump said believe me and trust me in his salesman patter, he communicated constantly and in every medium that there was only thing you could believe and trust: If you voted for Donald Trump, you’d get Donald Trump, in all his Trumpery and Trumpiness.

The television networks that promoted Trump; the primary voters who elevated him; the politicians who eventually surrendered to him; the intellectuals who argued for him, and the donors who, however grudgingly, wrote checks to him—all of them knew, by the time they made their decisions, that Trump lied all the time, about everything. They knew that Trump was ignorant, and coarse, and boastful, and cruel. They knew he habitually sympathized with dictators and kleptocrats—and that his instinct when confronted with criticism of himself was to attack, vilify, and suppress. They knew his disrespect for women, the disabled, and ethnic and religious minorities. They knew that he wished to unravel NATO and other U.S.-led alliances, and that he speculated aloud about partial default on American financial obligations. None of that dissuaded or deterred them.

They all know Trump would be an alarmingly bad president. So why do they support him? Today someone suggested, “It’s white people’s O.J. verdict.”

Speaking of O.J. The documentary “O.J. Made In America” is phenomenal. I’m not talking about the miniseries that garnered Emmy awards recently. I mean this one. It is a riveting piece of documentary filmmaking, and highly relevant to current events.

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Well, gee, this isn’t creepy at all.

“Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.”

–Omarosa (Donald Trump’s director of African-American outreach and past winner of The Apprentice)

The quote is from a PBS Frontline episode due to air on September 27. You can watch her make the statement starting at about 4:47 in the video. You really need to watch her say it to get the full effect.

I kinda thought the Founders fought a war two hundred and some-odd years ago so we wouldn’t have to bow down to a supreme leader. But times change, I guess. This seems to so embody conservative principles.

I suppose I’m being over-emotional again in assuming that a constitutional ignoramus like Omarosa will have a role in a Trump administration, should that come to pass.

It’s been a while since I’ve been inclined to post anything about politics, but I can’t let the occasion of the official destruction of The Deep Bench go unnoticed. The vaunted “deep bench” of Republican presidential contenders was today officially vanquished by an amateur. It’s about the only good thing to come out of Donald Trump’s impending nomination as the Republican candidate. But good lord, what a disastrous field the Republicans put forward this year.

I got a bit of a chuckle out of Ross Douthat’s column today, in which he writes that “Republican voters didn’t want True Conservatism any more than they wanted Bushism 2.0.” A longer quote (emphasis mine):

Trump proved that many evangelical voters, supposedly the heart of a True Conservative coalition, are actually not really values voters or religious conservatives after all, and that the less frequently evangelicals go to church, the more likely they are to vote for a philandering sybarite instead of a pastor’s son. Cruz would probably be on his way to the Republican nomination if he had simply carried the Deep South. But unless voters were in church every Sunday, Trump’s identity politics had more appeal than Cruz’s theological-political correctness.

Trump proved that many of the party’s moderates and establishmentarians hate the thought of a True Conservative nominee even more than they fear handing the nomination to a proto-fascist grotesque with zero political experience and poor impulse control. That goes for the prominent politicians who refused to endorse Cruz, the prominent donors who sat on their hands once the field narrowed and all the moderate-Republican voters in blue states who turned out to be #NeverCruz first and #NeverTrump less so or even not at all.

Finally, Trump proved that many professional True Conservatives, many of the same people who flayed RINOs and demanded purity throughout the Obama era, were actually just playing a convenient part. From Fox News’ 10 p.m. hour to talk radio to the ranks of lesser pundits, a long list of people who should have been all-in for Cruz on ideological grounds either flirted with Trump, affected neutrality or threw down their cloaks for the Donald to stomp over to the nomination. Cruz thought he would have a movement behind him, but part of that movement was actually a racket, and Trumpistas were simply better marks.

I’m not big on predictions–I’ll leave that to Mark Edward Noonan and his sorry track record–but I hope that Hillary trounces Trump. Nevertheless, one thing we should have learned by now is to not underestimate The Donald, nor the appeal that he generates. I think that appeal is too limited to win the general, and that the demographics are against him, but you never know. I may have to go work for another presidential campaign…

Meanwhile, to engage in a bit of schadenfreude, the comments at Blogs For Victory are just delightful. They’ll get with the program and support Trump because, ultimately, the only thing they all have in common is their hatred of President Obama, and now their hatred of Hillary Clinton. For example, see Amazona: “I’ll have to vote for Trump if he is the nominee, unless we come up with a third party before the election, which I think is probably impossible. I can’t just let the election go to Hillary because our party is infested with a bunch of fake conservatives who get all giddy and pee down their legs in glee if someone appeals to their issues while ignoring the fact that his promises all seem to depend on him out-Obamaing Obama when it comes to ruling rather than leading.”

Noonan hopes for a new party called the Christian Democrats. Yeah, that’s a great idea. Amazona suggests the Constitutional Party. “[A]nd I like Federalist except for the fact that it will confuse a lot of people when the party then comes out in favor of restricting federal size, scope and power.” She should read Douthat’s column.

Casper makes pretty much the same prediction as Noonan, and Amazona calls him a “good little Liberal footsoldier you.”

Eisenhower accurately lists the five cycles of grief (as seen on B4V as they come to grips with Trump) and gets jumped upon. Acceptance? No way, they cry. Except, well, yeah, we’re all gonna vote for him. Sure sounds like acceptance to me.

Cluster wants to “welcome this opportunity and work with the Trump coalition, educate it, and help navigate the party back to constitutional governance.” This after he admits that “it’s time that conservatives, and I include myself, recognize the reality of the political landscape and start to realize that our ideological brand is in the minority.” Um, Cluster, you don’t get it either. The Trump coalition doesn’t want or need your educational help. Does it occur to Cluster that his reaching out to educate them might come across as a tad condescending? Nah…

From a Trump supporter at a Ted Cruz rally in Houston:

“Nationalism is the new thing, man,” said Jordan Voor, 30, a Trump supporter who works nearby and wore a longhorn belt buckle the size of a miniature football.

“I just kind of want to watch the establishment burn,” Mr. Voor added. “What’s the point of being conservative anymore? It’s a failing ideology.”

Kinda sums it up in a nutshell.

Yup. He won second place in the Nevada caucus last night. Which is like winning first place in Rubio-land. He said on the TV this morning that he feels “good about our second-place finish.” Congratulations!

Meanwhile, in the real world, Trump won again. The inevitability of his nomination is beginning to seem, well, inevitable. But a glimmer of hope for sane Americans can be found in the 1992 presidential campaign, where Bill Clinton lost the first four primaries, and nine of the first ten. Bob Dole lost four out of the first five on the Republican side in 1996. So I guess Rubio isn’t out of this thing entirely.

How about Ted Cruz? Hard to see a path for him.

John Kasich today: “Of course I’m staying in. Why would I drop out when I’ve got the best chance to be the nominee outside of Trump?” Memo to John: You’re gonna need to win at some point. Or at least come in second so that you can claim you won.

And we can’t forget Ben Carson, another card carrying member of the deep bench. Apparently he’s finally come to the realization that his campaign is nothing but a scam. “We had people who didn’t really seem to understand finances,” a laughing Carson told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on “CNN Newsroom,” adding, “or maybe they did—maybe they were doing it on purpose.”

And lastly: Whomever is the Democratic nominee had better not take Trump lightly, assuming he is the Republican nominee. Paul Waldman outlines Trump’s potential strengths in the general election.

So Dr. Ben Carson is a winner, too! Never mind his last place finish in South Carolina.

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Yes, Marco is the big winner of the night! By coming in third. Or maybe second. And he’s not talking participation trophy here. No, he’s a winner, yes he is! Sheesh. At least he’s getting a lot of practice delivering his victory speech for when he actually needs it. If he ever does.

The big news, of course, is that the Donald Trump felled another member of The Deep Bench, namely Jeb! Bush. The Deep Bench was so deep–remember?–that a complete novice of a politician has laid waste to most of them. I feel a little sad for Jeb!. I mean, he was always supposed to be the smart one, but in the end he was bested by his dumb brother. That’s gotta sting. You know it does. But I’m also a little sad for Jeb! because he was really just about the only one to pushback against Trump’s ugly bigotry. So now the Republicans get to own Trump. He is them and they are him.

And we might be better off with him than Rubio, anyway–that is, assuming either one of them can beat Hillary. Matt Yglesias had an interesting piece on Vox the other day, titled “Why I’m more worried about Marco Rubio than Donald Trump.”

Yglesias explains that Rubio’s budget math is “ridiculous.” Remember: Republicans are supposed to be the ones who know how to manage budgets. You’d never know it from their presidential candidates.

Rubio has proposed a tax cut that will reduce federal revenue by $6.8 trillion over 10 years. Numbers that large don’t mean anything to people, so for comparison’s sake let’s say that if we entirely eliminated American military spending over that period we still couldn’t quite pay for it.

But of course Rubio doesn’t want to eliminate military spending — he wants to spend more. He also promises to avoid any cuts to Social Security and Medicare for people currently at or near retirement. For good measure, he is also proposing a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. You could eliminate the entire non-defense discretionary budget and you’d still need $100 billion to $200 billion more per year in cuts to make this work.

This is, of course, totally unworkable. And the process that led Rubio to this point is telling and troubling.

Rubio entered the Senate at a time when an intellectual movement known as “reform” was hot in conservative circles, which argued that Republicans should concentrate less on supply-side tax cuts and more on tax policy focused on the working class. This originally took the form of a $2.4 trillion tax cut plan crafted by Utah Sen. Mike Lee that Rubio signed on to but then kept transforming into a larger and more regressive tax cut, as Rubio came under pressure from the supply-side wing of the party and it became clear that the constituency for “reform” conservatism was limited to a handful of media figures. Eager to prove that his dalliance with the reformocons was over, he actually ended up proposing to entirely eliminate taxes on investment income, meaning that billionaire captains of industry could end up paying nothing at all.

The upshot is a plan that is costly and regressive, yet paired with other commitments around entitlements, military spending, and constitutional amendments that make it completely impossible.

Trump’s tax plan is even costlier than Rubio’s by most measures. But in his defense, he barely ever talks about it and hasn’t compounded the cost problem with a balanced-budget amendment or a firm commitment to enormous quantities of new military spending.

Then there’s Rubio’s foreign policy:

Rubio’s approach to world affairs essentially repeats the “let’s have it all and who cares if it adds up” mentality of his fiscal policy. His solution to every problem is to confront some foreign country more aggressively, with no regard to the idea of trade-offs or tensions between goals or limits to how much the United States can bite off at any particular time.

There’s more in the article. I guess we shouldn’t worry too much until Rubio actually wins something.

I got a chuckle out of this article the other day. It seems that even Rubio’s Senate colleagues and fellow Republicans can’t think of a single thing Rubio has, er, accomplished. Rick Santorum appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, where host Joe Scarborough, who seems to be in the tank for his pal, The Donald, asked Santorum a simple question.

Asked repeatedly to name a single one of Sen. Marco Rubio’s accomplishments while serving five years as a U.S. senator representing Florida, Rick Santorum – who just endorsed the GOP lawmaker after bowing out of the presidential race himself on Wednesday – struggled to come up with any during an appearance Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Santorum floundered right off the bat when asked to list Rubio’s “top accomplishment” while in office. “Well, I mean, I would just say that this is a guy who’s been able to, No. 1, win a tough election in Florida and pull people together from a variety of different spots. This is a guy that I think can work together with people,” he said. “That’s the thing I like about him the most.”

Yet host Joe Scarborough didn’t ask which personal quality of Rubio’s Santorum liked the most. He asked for just one standout accomplishment – so he pressed the former Pennsylvania senator again: “So he can win, but he’s been in the Senate for four years. Can you name his top accomplishment in the Senate, actually working in the Senate doing something that tilted your decision to Marco Rubio?”

Santorum danced around the question for a second time, concluding that “I guess it’s hard to say there are accomplishments” when a junior senator is working in a government “where nothing gets done.”

“Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski called the exchange with Santorum “disturbing.”

Meanwhile, Scarborough brought up the fact that Republicans have been in the Senate majority for the past two years, and asked for a third time: “Can you name one thing that he’s passed in the last two years?” eventually pleading with Santorum to “like one accomplishment – just one, just one – that Marco achieved.”

Santorum then blamed President Obama for Rubio’s lack of accomplishments in the Senate, saying “he spent four years in the United States Senate being frustrated like everybody else that nothing got done, and then you can’t point to him and say nothing got done and therefore he has no accomplishments. The problem is we have a president who doesn’t work with people.”

Eventually, however, Santorum did offer an example of a Rubio achievement, albeit a vague one.

“Well, I know he included something that went after the insurance companies in the most recent omnibus. He fought for that, to stop bailing out insurance companies. That’s one thing I’m familiar that I just saw recently, ” he said. “But – and again, he was on the campaign trail and accomplished that. The bottom line is there isn’t a lot of accomplishments, Joe, and I just don’t think it’s a fair question to say.”

Oh. It’s Obama’s fault. And Rubio was on the campaign trail and, you know, didn’t have time to actually accomplish anything. Also, it’s not fair to ask about Rubio’s accomplishments. Got it.

So at the Republican debate last Saturday night, Donald Trump went hard at Jeb Bush in his usual aggressive, bullying style. “Obviously, the war in Iraq is a big, fat mistake, all right? George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East.” And, “The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign. Remember that.” Trump continued that line of thought on the Sunday talk shows, and he’s kept it up on Twitter today:

Trump was booed at the debate, but the lingering question is, will his performance hurt him in South Carolina? I suspect not, and the reason is that Trump is speaking some unspoken truths that many conservatives know to be true in their gut. Deep down, they at least suspect that they were lied to about the Iraq war, and they know it was a mistake. They actually do know that the World Trade Center towers came down during the George W. Bush administration. They do know that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. And yet, they stick to the party line. Why?

Well, first of all, to begin questioning the party line would be to admit that they themselves were wrong. That’s a problem for people who pride themselves on being, say, intelligence analysts. But it’s also because the thought leaders within their bubble continue to insist that the World Trade Center bombing was actually President Clinton’s fault, that the Iraq War was necessary because Saddam Hussein posed an existential threat to the United States, and that WMD actually were found, just like President Bush said they would (and even though President Bush has admitted they weren’t found). So it’s easy to just stick to the party line and keep the doubts beneath the surface, left unspoken. It’s a form of peer pressure.

We need to remember that a lot of conservatives have isolated themselves from anyone they think may be a liberal. This includes most of mainstream thought, not just true liberals. A perfect example is our friends at Blogs For Victory. Not only are they afraid to have anonymous discussions with individuals who challenge their opinions, their fear even extends to their daily, non-Internet lives. We know this because of the many times they have explained that they no longer speak to friends, or even relatives, who they deem to be “liberals.” They simply can’t stomach the thought of their worldview being challenged. Of course, the biggest challenge to them has been the election and re-election of Barack Obama. Sometimes these conservatives explain that they actually have healthy disagreement amongst themselves, but in saying so, they leave out what truly unites them, which is their shared hatred of President Obama and their belief that he is an illegitimate president.

This doesn’t mean that they aren’t aware of the mistakes of the Bush presidency–they’re just not willing to accept them being pointing them out by people who aren’t their thought leaders. Now along comes Donald Trump, who, at the Republican debate of all places, just comes right out and says it: Bush lied, the Iraq war was a horrible mistake, etc. Yeah, some people booed, but a lot of them know he’s right, even if they’re afraid to say so. An actual Republican candidate is giving legitimacy to some unaired thoughts.

They also believe he’s right when he says that Social Security and Medicare should be saved, not slashed. This particularly resonates with many of the bubble people because, well, they do or will shortly depend on Social Security and Medicare. See, conservative politicians can carry on about the Constitution and all, but conservative voters are a bit more pragmatic. It’s just that they generally won’t deviate from the party line until someone representing the party gives them permission to. And that’s what Donald Trump is doing. Conservatives would never accept it from a Democrat, but Donald Trump is running as a Republican, so he’s giving voice to their private thoughts.

You’ll continue to hear the usual conservative thought leaders bashing Trump for his apostasy. But silently, conservative voters are hearing things from Trump that they’ve thought about in their private moments–thoughts they wouldn’t admit to other conservatives, and would certainly never admit to a liberal–that is, if they even talk to any liberals anymore. But they do vote. We’ll soon see if Trump gets nicked by his outbursts or not.

So it didn’t take more than an hour or two after Antonin Scalia’s death for Republican leaders to insist that President Obama has no right to nominate a successor to Scalia. It’s all nakedly political, of course, the hypocrisy clear in chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley’s shifting views.

Marco Rubio insists that President Obama, with nearly a year to go in his four-year term, is already a “lame duck” president. Look, we all know what this really is: Republicans have never accepted the legitimacy of President Barack Obama. As Amanda Marcotte writes, “Everyone knows the real reason is the conservative base has never accepted that a black Democrat could be a legitimately elected President, and after 7 years of having to live with a President the majority of white voters voted against, Republicans are going to use this as a chance to throw a nationwide temper tantrum.”

But this does set up an interesting dynamic to the 2016 presidential election, as Marcotte explains:

This is especially delicious since the only Republican candidate who has a chance to walk away from this unscathed — maybe even finding a way to turn it to his advantage— is Donald Trump. The two candidates who are currently best positioned to unseat Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, are both senators and both have indicated their willingness to join their fellow Republicans in the Senate in blocking whoever Obama nominates, just because he nominated them. The bad loser vibe, where Republicans punish not just Obama but the whole country because they refuse to accept he won the 2012 election fair and square, will rub off on them.

Trump, however, has a real chance here to score some points. Vague promises that he will straighten up D.C. and end all this pointless bickering and gridlock— because he’s a winner who gets things done or whatever empty braggadocio he wants to throw out— and he can set himself apart from Cruz and Rubio, all without actually having to commit to either offending the Obama-hating base or having to endorse the astounding immaturity that has infected every last member of the congressional Republican caucus.

All of which is simply fantastic for whatever Democrat wins the nomination, of course, but there will likely be down ticket effects, too. Every single Democrat running for Congress will be able to point to this story about Republican-caused gridlock and promise that electing them will help ungum the works. It’ll be a simple, effective pitch that happens to have the benefit of being completely true.

Anyway, more folks weigh in on who they think President Obama will nominate for the vacancy caused by the death of Antonin Scalia.

Robert Reich claims to have inside information as to the administration’s thinking:

My mole in the White House tells me Obama will nominate 46-year-old Judge Sri Srinivasan, an Indian-American jurist who Obama nominated in 2013 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — and the Senate confirmed unanimously. Having confirmed him unanimously just three years ago, it would be difficult (but hardly impossible) for Republicans to oppose him now. (Twelve former Solicitors General, including Republican notables as Paul Clement and Kenneth Starr had endorsed his confirmation. Moreover, the D.C. Circuit has long been a Supreme Court farm team – Scalia himself, along with John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were judges there before ascending to the Supreme Court.)

But is Srinivasan progressive? He had been Obama’s principal Deputy Solicitor General before the nomination, arguing Supreme Court cases in support of affirmative action and against Indiana’s restrictive voter ID law, for example. But this record doesn’t prove much. (Having once worked as an assistant Solicitor General, I know the inhabitants of that office will argue whatever halfway respectable arguments the Justice Department and, indirectly, the President, wants made.)

Before the Obama administration, Srinivasan worked for five years in George W. Bush’s Justice Department. Prior to that, as an attorney in the private firm of O’Melveny & Myers, he defended Exxon Mobil in a lawsuit brought by Indonesians who accused the company’s security forces of torture, murder, and other violations against their people; successfully represented a newspaper that fired its employees for unionizing; and defended Enron’s former CEO, Jeffrey Skilling, later convicted for financial fraud. But in these instances, too, it could be argued he was just representing clients. Another clue: After graduating Stanford Law School in 1995, Srinivasan clerked for two Republican-appointed jurists – Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor – both of whom were considered moderate.

Since he became a judge on the D.C. Circuit, he hasn’t tipped his hand. But I discovered one morsel of information that might interest you: In 2000, he worked on Al Gore’s legal team in the infamous Supreme Court case of “Bush v. Gore.”
My suspicion is Obama couldn’t do better than Srinivasan. No other nominee with get a majority of Senate votes. What do you think?

Then there’s the outside-the-box theory that Obama should nominate Nevada Republican governor Brian Sandoval:

Sandoval began his political career in Nevada’s state assembly, before serving on the state gaming commission and as attorney general. He was nominated to a seat on the U.S. District Court by President George W. Bush, on the recommendation of Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) — who may have worried that Sandoval was plotting a bid for Reid’s Senate seat. Sandoval won confirmation by an 89-0 margin; four years later, he quit to run for governor.

The first Hispanic governor in Nevada’s history, Sandoval won re-election in 2014 with more than 70 percent of the vote, after Democrats failed to find a serious candidate to take on the long-shot challenge. He has the political experience of Earl Warren, and the combined political and judicial experience of Sandra Day O’Connor, both of whom were nominated for the high court by Republican presidents — albeit in very different eras.

But Sandoval does not fit the mold of traditional Republican, even in Western states where the party embraces a more libertarian bent. He is unabashedly pro-choice, and he was the only Republican governor to both expand Medicaid and establish a state-run health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act. Though he opposed Obama’s signature domestic achievement from the start, Sandoval has said that it became the law of the land after the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality.

In choosing Sandoval, Obama would have the opportunity to cement another part of his legacy. The candidate who ran under the banner of hope and change is also the candidate who paid for more negative advertisements than any other in history. His fundraising ability virtually single-handedly rendered irrelevant the system of federal campaign-matching funds. Obama is, without doubt, as political as most of his predecessors.

And picking a Hispanic Republican who would likely be blocked by a Republican Senate would have starkly political consequences, especially in the months leading to a presidential election. Republicans are already on thin ice with Hispanic voters, who have voted increasingly for Democrats in recent years: George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004. Mitt Romney won just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012.