Posts Tagged ‘The Deep Bench’

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…

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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.

Another installment of the travails of the Republican “deep bench.” How deep is it? “I am running for president, so get over it!” Yes, that deep:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) doesn’t seem to be having a lot of fun running for president.

The Kentucky senator live-streamed an entire day on the campaign trail on Tuesday, but things went a little awry when Paul answered questions that people had Googled about him.

Paul did not seem too amused when he answered those who used a Google search to ask whether he was still running for president.

“I don’t know. I wouldn’t be doing this dumbass live streaming if I weren’t. So yes, I still am running for president, get over it.”

“This is live, we can’t edit this right?” Paul continued.

Even though Paul’s campaign touted the live stream as a way to get behind-the-scenes access to Paul, the senator himself didn’t really seem to understand why it was being done.

Asked by a reporter why he was live-streaming the entire day, Paul said that he wasn’t quite sure.

“I wish I knew,” he said. “I’ve been saying, I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do this and now we’re doing this,” he said, according to The Washington Post.

Sergio Gor, a spokesman for Paul’s campaign said that the comments were meant to be taken as a joke and that the senator was poking fun at himself.

“Context is important, and Senator Paul was reading mean tweets and taking other questions when that question came up, most media outlets realize he was being playful and trying to make a joke,” he said in an email. Gor also included a link to Paul’s website, where his campaign is now selling T-shirts making fun of his comments.

According to HuffPost Pollster, which aggregates publicly available polling data, Paul has the support of 3.5 percent of likely Republican primary voters. Politico reported last week that Republicans are putting pressure on him to end his presidential campaign and focus on keeping his Senate seat in Kentucky in 2016.

His campaign is now selling T-shirts making fun of his comments. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

That Republican bench is awfully deep, so we’ve been told ad naseum. Today we bring you Ben Carson, currently second in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination. Once upon a time, Carson was a highly respected medical doctor. Now he seems to be trying to prove just how ill-informed a medical doctor can be in every other part of life.

His comments in the aftermath of the Oregon mass shooting are idiotic enough, but today he demonstrated that he does not understand what the debt ceiling is. That would seem to be kind of important for someone managing the federal government.

Ryssdal: As you know, Treasury Secretary Lew has come out in the last couple of days and said, “We’re gonna run out of money, we’re gonna run out of borrowing authority, on the fifth of November.” Should the Congress then and the president not raise the debt limit? Should we default on our debt?

Carson: Let me put it this way: if I were the president, I would not sign an increased budget. Absolutely would not do it. They would have to find a place to cut.

Ryssdal: To be clear, it’s increasing the debt limit, not the budget, but I want to make sure I understand you. You’d let the United States default rather than raise the debt limit.

Carson: No, I would provide the kind of leadership that says, “Get on the stick guys, and stop messing around, and cut where you need to cut, because we’re not raising any spending limits, period.”

Ryssdal: I’m gonna try one more time, sir. This is debt that’s already obligated. Would you not favor increasing the debt limit to pay the debts already incurred?

Carson: What I’m saying is what we have to do is restructure the way that we create debt. I mean if we continue along this, where does it stop? It never stops. You’re always gonna ask the same question every year. And we’re just gonna keep going down that pathway. That’s one of the things I think that the people are tired of.

Ryssdal: I’m really trying not to be circular here, Dr. Carson, but if you’re not gonna raise the debt limit and you’re not gonna give specifics on what you’re gonna cut, then how are we going to know what you are going to do as president of the United States?

Love the title of this short piece in New York magazine: “Scott Walker Finds Secret Cheat Code That Allows Him to Avoid All Campaign Questions”

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who has previously declined to have stances on birthright citizenship, evolution, whether being gay is a choice, and whether he would meet with Black Lives Matter organizers, discussed the philosophical underpinnings of his political apathy when announcing that he has no opinion on the migrant crisis in Europe.

ABC News asked Walker how he would respond to the massive influx of refugees from Syria if he were president today. He explained that the query was flawed. As he is obviously not president, Walker argued, there is no way that he would be able to answer that question. “I’m not president today and I can’t be president today,” he said. “Everybody wants to talk about hypotheticals; there is no such thing as a hypothetical” — a sentence that probably would have moved Socrates to set Walker’s pants on fire himself.

Not president today. Not president tomorrow. How did this guy get elected to anything?

Is Scott Walker stupid or what? More to the point, does he think we’re all stupid?

Peter Suderman at reason.com writes about the sorry campaign of Scott Walker. Just a few months ago Walker was considered a top-tier candidate. Now he’s buried at the darkest part of the very deep bench. What happened? “Walker is running a pandering, cringe-worthy campaign marked by a consistent inability to clearly articulate, and stick to, his own positions.” How friggin’ hard is it to say what you believe in? (Especially when you are a conservative who’s convinced of his righteousness.) Apparently, it’s pretty hard. Unless, that is, your only concern is how you sound to the audience in front of you. You know, like a craven politician might do.

But Walker is no politician, at least according to him. No, he’s “just a normal guy.” Well, one who happens to have run for or held elected office for his entire adult life. Seriously, he claims he’s not a career politician. This is a man who first ran for office at the age of 22 and has held elected office since age 25. Now he’s 47. He’s been a politician since he became a grown up, for God sakes. He lamely claims, “A career politician, in my mind, is somebody who’s been in Congress for 25 years.”

No. A career politician is someone who runs or holds office for his entire adult life. I mean, is he an idiot? Does he think we are? It’s hard to believe he could be this clueless about what he is.

More from Peter Suderman about Walker’s “cringe-worthy campaign” and his inability to stick to his own positions:

Most recently, for example, Walker seemed to suggest that he was open to the possibility of a building a wall along the Canadian border in order to stop illegal immigration. He responded by saying that he’d been asked this question by people in New Hampshire, that the people asking the questions had “very legitimate concerns,” and that the idea of building a wall would be “a legitimate issue for us to look at.”

It’s not exactly a “damn right we should build a wall!” But Walker’s response clearly takes the idea seriously, and pointedly does not rule it out.

Yesterday, however, he claimed that the talk about it was “just a joke” and that he’s “never talked about a wall at the north.”

This is the Walker campaign playbook: Say something awkward or ill-advised, watch as the media swarms to cover it, then insist that there was never anything to see.

The same thing happened with Walker’s comments on birthright citizenship. Questioned on camera by MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt about whether he supported ending birthright citizenship, as Donald Trump has called for, he nodded his head and said “yeah, absolutely, going forward.” When Hunt pressed him further, “We should end birthright citizenship?” he nodded again and said, “Yeah, to me it’s about enforcing the laws in this country.”

A few days later, when asked about it again, he shifted course by explicitly declining to take a position. “I’m not taking a position on it one way or the other,” he told CNBC’s John Harwood. Yet just a few more days after that, he did take a position, telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that was definitely not in favor of ending birthright citizenship.

That’s three different positions in the space of week—and yet when asked about the shifts, a campaign spokes erson complained about efforts to “mischaracterize” his position.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to correctly characterize a candidate’s position on an issue when the candidate himself cannot seem to state it with any clarity.

This sort of flip-flopping, what might generously be called policy confusion, has dogged Walker’s campaign essentially from the moment it began. Back in March, Walker, in what was obviously a sop to Iowa voters, reversed his previously clear opposition to federal ethanol subsidies.

A week later, when asked about the change, he denied that he had flip flopped on the issue. Since then, his position appears to have shifted again, with Walker suggesting to The Washington Examiner’s Timothy Carney that he supports ending the ethanol mandate after two years.

Even when Walker holds what looks to be a relatively clear position, he has a difficult time describing it. After his campaign released an imperfect but detailed-enough Obamacare replacement plan last month, he was asked about whether he can justify its redistributive effects. Politically speaking, the best answer to this entirely predictable question would have been that Walker’s plan is designed first and foremost to help the broad middle class.

Instead, as The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent notes, Walker offered a stumbling, semi-coherent invocation of “freedom,” “freedom,” and more “freedom,” and insisted that redistribution simply wasn’t an issue for his plan—even though it is, both in the sense that it changes the relative redistribution from how it is now, and in the sense that it puts its own alternative system of redistribution into place.