Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review reveal their choices for most under-reported story, most over-reported story and the best story of 2015.

Trump Is Winning Because He Taps Into Issues No One Else Will Tackle


1200px-thumbnailAt The Federalist, Dan McLaughlin (aka the Baseball Crank) discusses the phenomenon of the Donald Trump candidacy from the perspective of military strategy. If nothing else, it is a great primer on military strategist and aircraft designer John (“Forty Second”) Boyd, one of the most remarkable men to ever woIk at the Pentagon. Using Boyd’s principles, McLaughlin explains both why Trump has been a success so far, but also how he may eventually fail.

My overall take is that McLaughlin is overthinking Trump. While Trump has certainly shown far more political skill than his detractors give him credit for, I don’t think he would have skyrocketed to the top if he hadn’t hitched his ride to a number of pre-existing issues and trends. How much of this was deliberate strategy and how much pure luck I can only guess, but I suspect that Donald Trump is genuinely surprised by how well things are going. Regardless, I see three underlying issues propelling Trump forward. In descending order of importance, they are: immigration, the GOP establishment, and Political Correctness.

Immigration: Trump championed this issue right out of the gate. Until he announced his candidacy, both parties favoured more immigration (minus a few recalcitrant Republicans like Senator Jeff Sessions). The Democrats wanted to increase their voter base and the mainstream Republicans wanted to satisfy the cheap labour lobby. This issue was ripe for the plucking and Donald Trump plucked it. I think there is little doubt that Trump would not be leading the pack if he weren’t championing this cause.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review hand out year-end political awards for best idea, worst idea and boldest tactic.

2015: The Year of the Bully



Bullies are people who delight in using a position of power to inflict suffering on people with little or no power. As the progressive left accumulated unprecedented power in the Obama Era, they demonstrated themselves to be peerless bullies.

The great political philosopher Gul Dukat understood the Progressive mentality better than most: “A true victory is to make your enemy see they were wrong to oppose you in the first place. To force them to acknowledge your greatness.”

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review continue their 2015 political awards.  Today they “honor” the worst scandal, the best political theater and the worst political theater.

Attention Republican Candidates: Here’s How You Make Free Markets Cool


Last week, SpaceX changed the rocket launch business for good, and probably cut the cost of access to space in half. But that’s a subject for another conversation. Instead, watch the video below made by SpaceX employees, which celebrates the free market, space, vision, competition, and the benefits of daring. It also makes SpaceX look like a really great place to work.

SpaceX is cool. Not just because they are great engineers, but because they how how to promote themselves and — most importantly — because they are having fun. The Millennials I know love SpaceX, and Elon Musk, its founder, is a rock star for the under-40 generation. If Republicans want to spread the message that governments create dull, gray bureaucracies while private industry creates excitement and dynamism, they could learn a lesson from SpaceX marketing.

My Crackpot Theory: Americans Hate Politics



Some might find it deeply ironic that I advance this theory on a website dedicated to political discussion. But I submit that the Ricochetti are the exception to the rule; the rule being that the vast majority of Americans despise politics, and when forced to pay attention to them, will punish those they hold responsible. I offer for my theory these arguments and evidence:

  1.  Our political system was built that way. Our political system is, of course, a representative democracy. The founders designed it to be one. They understood that for a direct democracy to work (i.e., government by plebiscite), a polity that was both virtuous and engaged would be required. Seeing a dearth of evidence for these qualities, they established a representative system to put a buffer between the passions of the mob and the day-to-day business of governing. Keep in mind that most of the founding generations came to these shores to be left alone by the ruling power.
  2. The electorate punishes those who get them involved. Before his unfortunate fall from Grace, Bill Cosby made an insightful observation: When parents have to intervene in an argument between their children, they tend to impose hasty, irrational solutions because they’re not interested in justice — just quiet. This is exactly how most of the American electorate behaves. Let’s face it, present company excepted, most people in this country are far too wrapped up in the exploits of the Kardashians, Honey Boo Boo, Real Housewives, or more gainful pursuits to pay attention to politics. In their minds, they hired a set of contractors to run the government; they expect them to get the job done, submit the bill, and then go away until they need something else. When the contractors we hire act like the guy in Seinfeld — the one who kept asking trivial questions about Jerry’s kitchen remodelling preferences — we punish them at the ballot box.
  3. The party in power usually gets blamed (but not always): This pattern has been part of our political history from the beginning. When things get bad enough that political stories dominate the news and intrude into our daily lives, we usually take it out on the party we think has been running the place. Case in point: You should have seen my wife’s reaction when her favorite show was pre-empted by Obama’s national address. That’s why it’s so rare to have the same party retain the presidency after a two terms. If you force people to pay attention, you will be punished. Because Republicans were blamed (rightly or wrongly) for government shutdowns in the Clinton and Obama Administrations, they’re terrified that it will happen again. Hence the pre-emptive surrender by Boehner, McConnell, and now Ryan.
  4. Trump is a manifestation of this phenomenon: A disclaimer for any Trump supporters in Ricochet: Because you care enough about politics to subscribe to this website, by definition my theory does not apply to you. I assume that you have other reasons to support him. However, I believe that the great majority of Trumpkins are virtually apolitical and have little or no interest in civics or the Constitution. That’s why they’re willing to accept proposals that are, on the face of it, unconstitutional or at least inconsistent with American political traditions. They want to hire a competent “contractor” who will make America great again and leave them alone in the process.

Other facts that might support my argument are record-low levels of voter participation, and the domination of voters who seem to be the low-information variety.

A Multi-Party Thought Experiment


My first response to this piece by Alex Berezow was to be annoyed by his simplification. My second was to be annoyed that he uses the word “disinterested” when he means “uninterested.” But after I got over myself, I found his thought experiment interesting. He holds that both the Democratic and the Republican party are on the verge of splintering:

The surging popularity of Ted Cruz and the persistent support for Bernie Sanders illustrate that both the Republican and Democratic parties are facing an existential crisis. Indeed, both parties may be headed for a divorce, ushering in a new era of multi-party politics.

“Under God,” or, What Europe Can Teach Us Now


Earlier this month, the great British philosopher Roger Scruton delivered a lecture at the Heritage Foundation on the future of Europe — and the lessons we can learn from that struggling continent. The entire lecture is brilliant and important (and I don’t even care how pretentious it may sound to say so, because the entire lecture really is brilliant and important).

On this day after Christmas, an excerpt:

Do Government Shutdowns Hurt Republicans?


Conventional wisdom suggests Republicans will be harmed electorally by government shutdowns. Is there any evidence for such a claim?

  • The government was shut down eight times under Ronald Reagan, the first in the fall of 1981 and the last at the end of 1987. In those six years, Reagan won a massive electoral landslide; the Republicans kept the Senate in two out of three elections, and failed to take the House in three of three elections.
  • Bush (41) vetoed a continuing resolution, and the government was shut down for five days in 1990. Democrats held the Senate and the House for the next two elections. Bush lost his 1992 reelection bid.
  • The government was shut down twice under Clinton, both times in 1995. The Republicans, having retaken both Chambers in 1994, kept them both for five straight elections. During that time they won two Presidential victories.
  • The government was most recently shut down under Obama in 2013. The following year, the Republicans kept the House and won the Senate.

Obviously there myriad factors that determine whether a particular government shutdown is a good idea, but there seems no real precedent to suggest that government shutdowns necessarily harm Republicans electorally.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review present the second installment of their 2015 year-end political awards.  Today they discuss the political figure they were sorry to see pass away in 2015, their top rising political stars and who they see fading into oblivion.

Carpet Bombing: A Brief History


Ted Cruz locked onto the phrase “carpet bombing” on the campaign trail and repeated it in the most recent Republican debate. He presumably means heavy, concentrated, tactical airstrikes such as those used in the First Gulf War. In popular imagination, these were also decisive in the Second Gulf War, the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, the 1995 NATO bombing campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the 1999 campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In other words, he probably means a massive concentration of tactical airstrikes against all C3 targets (command, control, communication) and against enemy logistics and operational forces.

It’s true that the air rate of sorties (one craft, one mission) against ISIS has been very low compared to those campaigns. It seems that Cruz envisions using air power alone to destroy ISIS by accelerating the tempo of strikes. For some reason, he’s confused the phrase “carpet bombing” with this idea. Perhaps he saw it on a documentary somewhere.

It’s time to put on the tuxedos and hand out the crystal martinis.  It’s the start of our year-end political awards for 2015.  Today Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review hand out their choices for most underrated, most overrated and most honest political figures.

David Frum and “The Great Republican Revolt”


Jeb BushThe GOP plotted to restore the Bush dynasty, but instead triggered a class war. That’s the thesis of David Frum’s latest piece for The Atlantic, “The Great Republican Revolt,” which is really worth reading:

The angriest and most pessimistic people in America are the people we used to call Middle Americans. Middle-class and middle-aged; not rich and not poor; people who are irked when asked to press 1 for English, and who wonder how white male became an accusation rather than a description.

You can measure their pessimism in polls that ask about their expectations for their lives—and for those of their children. On both counts, whites without a college degree express the bleakest view. You can see the effects of their despair in the new statistics describing horrifying rates of suicide and substance-abuse fatality among this same group, in middle age.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review enjoy Hillary Clinton’s blatant lie about ISIS videos featuring Donald Trump because it reinforces her image as someone who will whenever it suits her.  They also slam Secretary of State John Kerry for telling Iran the tougher new visa waiver rules won’t really apply to Iran.  And they wade into the Cruz-Rubio immigration debate and separate fact from fiction.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review welcome the exodus of Sen. Lindsey Graham from the 2016 Republican field.  They also rip President Obama for saying that the American people need to remember that while ISIS can kill us, they can never bring down the nation.  And as Obama identifies the frustrations driving support for Donald Trump, the president completely misses any responsibility he might have for those frustrations – especially as it relates to the economy.

Lindsey Graham’s Out


News broke sometime this morning: Lindsey Graham’s suspending his campaign.

Really, I’m ready for more candidates to start dropping out. After several debates, I think we’re pretty familiar with most of the candidates. Time for the field to narrow so the top few can get more airtime. Notable exception: Rand Paul. I’d like him to stay in it, not because he’s gonna get close to winning, but because he holds positions significantly different than the other candidates, and I think that the intra-party debate helps us, in the long run.

Oh, Come on Emanuel!


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If you did not see the clip of Rahm Emanuel apologizing for his part in suppressing the release of the video of Laquan McDonald’s murder and, more generally, of screwing up the city of Chicago into near chaos, you missed a real holiday treat. You can see it here. (If you’re impatient with the blather, the fun part starts at about 3:26.)

As Todd and I discuss in this week’s edition of the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast: “Oh, Come on Emanuel!,” the Godfather’s performance is true virtuoso.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review sigh as Congress easily approves the omnibus spending bill.  They get a kick out of a top DHS official saying the No Fly List should not be used to ban people from buying guns.  They also groan as former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirms Obama had no ISIS plan and did not take the threat seriously.  And they slam Donald Trump for getting cozy with Vladimir Putin and not seeming at all upset that he kills his political opponents.