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During his excellent speech before Congress, Sen. Ted Cruz repeated a common complaint of Republican voters:
The American people were told, “If only we have a Republican majority in the House, things will be different.” Well, in 2010, the American people showed up in enormous numbers and we got a Republican majority in the House. And very little changed. […] Then the American people were told, “You know, the problem is the Senate. If only we get a Republican majority in the Senate and retire Harry Reid as majority leader, then things will be different.” Well, in 2014, the American people rose up in enormous numbers, voted to do exactly that. We have had a Republican majority in both houses of Congress now for about 6 months. What has that majority done?
While debating the possibility of de-funding Planned Parenthood the other day, a fellow Republican insisted we needed total control — a Republican president and a Republican majority in both houses of Congress — for that to happen. Appropriations are not a significant authority, apparently. Since Roe v Wade, he told me, Republicans have enjoyed such total control for only two years, under President George W. Bush. That’s two out of 40 years. In order to prevent about a million children from being slaughtered every year, I’m being asked to wait for an electoral scenario which has only happened once in my lifetime.
Several years back I worked for a state Republican Party running a Victory Center, or local campaign headquarters. I devoted more to that job than I had to any job prior and more than I have to any job since. The hours were nine to nine Monday through Friday, nine to five on Saturdays, and near election day several hours on Sundays. Initially, I was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to contribute to a cause about which I cared very much. Moreover, it didn’t hurt my ego to be interacting on a regular basis with people I had regularly seen on television and their close advisors.
During my initial state of humility, I found myself taking in every bit of knowledge the “experts” for whom I worked imparted to me. When I was told to do something, I did it, and did it as well as I could without question.
I think there are many reasons why the Republican base is upset, and it is correct to be upset. I am not a Donald Trump supporter, and I am not sure at this point whether Mr. Trump will continue his candidacy until there is a nominee for the presidency or will discontinue his campaign before that. Donald Trump himself may not be sure what he will do at this point. However, any Republican politician who does not understand why Trump appeals to some voters in their constituency will regret it in the results of the 2016 elections.
I think I understand why The Donald appeals to many in the Republican base, but I’m not sure what to do about it in order to keep Hillary Clinton from being elected. Certainly, criticizing your base or potential voters is not a winning strategy for Trump’s opponents when those voters have reached a tipping point. Individual voters may have different tipping points, but without ranking them in importance here are my candidates for why people are saying “we have had enough.” Which significant ones have I overlooked?
It sounds like a good idea:
Portraying himself as a political outsider — despite his family’s 12 years in the White House — Mr. Bush called for a 10 percent reduction in the federal work force, an immediate hiring freeze, a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget and a six-year waiting period before members of Congress can lobby on Capitol Hill.
Just so you don’t think Jeb! is a mean and heartless man, readying himself to flood DC with pink slips, his civil service trimming comes with an important caveat:
John Kasich is in Wolfeboro, N.H., for a town hall meeting at the Brewster Academy boat house overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee. “Isn’t this beautiful?” He asks. “We love you,” says an older woman sitting in the front row. “Thank you,” says Kasich. “It’s always good to have your aunt in the crowd,” he jokes.
Why have “controlled” debates at all? Curt Anderson, in today’s WSJ, suggests that we just let the candidates debate each other whenever and wherever they like.
The Republican Party should be looking forward instead of backward—and seeking every opportunity to feature its roster of excellent candidates, rather than trying to find ways to constrict the field. The voters will do that, as is their prerogative. The simple truth is that competitive primaries usually make a party stronger, not weaker.
In the world of presidential politics, today is clearly the day of guys named Rick. To start with, Ricochet’s own Rick Wilson published a piece in Politico detailing why “Trump Voters Are Hillary’s New Best Friends.” The article lit up social media and included the likes of Jon Gabriel posting pictures of nuclear explosions. The whole thing is worth reading, but I found his fourth point to be the most persuasive:
4. You don’t care about his record. It’s an ideological train-wreck of epic proportions if you care about any conservative values. He’s been pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-tax hikes, pro-single-payer and is a past master of crony capitalism, to say nothing of his political and financial support for the Clintons and Barack Obama. It’s a mess. You’d never give any other candidate the benefit of the doubt on such a wide portfolio of positions that have changed 180 degrees and back again so many times. And yet, I imagine you can drill into Marco Rubio’s or Jeb Bush’s or even Scott Walker’s record for some sign of apostasy that you can never, ever, ever forgive.
Above and beyond anything else, Trump’s lack of conservatism — irrespective of his current bombast — should be the focus of Republican and conservative primary voters. If there is an actual RINO in this race, it is Trump. If we want someone who represents us, our party, and our ideals we must look elsewhere. Sure, he says a few things we may agree with, and he may say them in a way that gets our blood flowing and puts us in a fighting mood, but consider whether or not he believes what he says enough to lead the party into the fray. Judging by the convoluted smorgasbord of positions he’s held, the politicians and causes he’s given money and lip-service to in the past, Trump is not a fit head for this body politic. We are being conned by a reality television celebrity. Think about that while you read the way Wilson put it:
Mitch McConnell gets the credit for being the first to invoke the gender card against Hilary Clinton. That means that the pundits have started talking about what it will mean in the coming election for Hillary Clinton, and The Washington Post‘s Plum Line has a better-than-average summation.
The first item of concern to Republicans is the historic symbolism of the possibility of the first female president. Of course, the logical response to that is to refer to the less-than-stellar results we received by making history with Obama. Hillary’s people will be hoping for that response, because it will lead to the inevitable question: Why do we need a woman president… other than to make history?
Hillary’s campaign is hoping to bring up what they consider women’s issues, which Plum Line’s Paul Waldman correctly lists as abortion, equal pay, paid sick leave, and child care. Normally, these have been disastrous issues for Republicans to navigate, mostly because the standard argument against government intervention in employment issues is a non-starter. Sure, it resonates with a base that prizes free markets or at least some level of governmental deregulation, but it doesn’t fly with people who are more concerned with how they will pay for day-care. Hillary is targeting women voters, and this is why she could win.
Congress will have a recess period before it votes on the Vienna Agreement with Iran via the Corker bill. Anyone who has both Republican senators and a Republican representative will almost certainly have no need to convince them to vote against the agreement.
All the action is, therefore, with the Democrats. It was Milton Friedman who said that the secret of good government is “making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing.” That is precisely the task at hand over the next seven weeks.
I’m a spectator because I live in a state with two Republican senators and my representative is a member of the Republican leadership. No need to worry about how they will vote!
I don’t read a lot of political autobiographies. Indeed, this may have been the first one. And I’m not sure why I decided to do so. Perhaps because Cruz has seemed something of an enigma: a hyper-ambitious, self-promoting appellate lawyer with all the right enemies; an ideologue from his teens who went through the Ivies and the Bush campaign but seems to say the right things; a sophisticated and subtle questioner prone to simplistic statements; a far-right, wacko-bird, bomb-thrower who writes bipartisan legislation that gets signed into law. What does Ted Cruz really believe in – apart from Ted Cruz?
It is in no way pleasant to register a disagreement with those I hold in high esteem, least of all those whose wonderful minds and spirit I have admired for many years. Nevertheless, intellectual honesty and critical vigor reminds us that there are times when distinctions must be drawn or, as H.L. Mencken observed, “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” Though I hasten to add, given a recently discovered constitutional right not to be offended, that I am employing Mr. Mencken’s quote metaphorically.
Nevertheless, the sheer magnitude and groaning weight of condescension and scorn being piled on the shoulders of anyone with the effrontery to point out that Donald Trump has actually made some legitimate points is becoming increasingly difficult to take politely. Mona Charen, whose work I’ve enjoyed since Crossfire and Capital Gang days, registered her incredulity on the Trump phenomena with a recent article that began: “President Obama seems on the verge of the most abject diplomatic capitulation in American history — to Iran, our bitterest enemy — and Republicans are arguing about Donald Trump?”
To which I would reply: “Republican leaders from Mitch McConnell and John Boehner to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, are engaged in the most abject and total political capitulation in American history — to a president who is presiding over the liquidation of American Constitutional order; who ignores, alters, or invents laws at whim; and who arms mortal enemies while emasculating American defenses and antagonizing allies — and the GOP is getting the vapors over Donald Trump?”
Yesterday, Jon raised the issue of how Republican candidates should deal with Donald Trump’s presence in the presidential race. That happens to also have been the topic of my weekly column in the Orange County Register. My diagnosis:
That Trump’s candidacy is getting some traction is partially the fault of his GOP rivals. In recent years, many mainstream Republicans have abandoned any criticism of illegal immigration because of fears that they will be branded racists. But, as the recent murder of 32-year-old Kate Steinle – in the sanctuary city of San Francisco – by an illegal immigrant demonstrates, falling silent on these problems doesn’t make them go away. How many innocent lives, exactly, ought to be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness?
That timidity among Republican candidates has left the field wide open for people like Trump. It’s a similar dynamic to the one in Europe, where elite aversion to talking about real problems related to immigration works to the benefit of the overtly nationalistic, fascist parties that are the only ones even willing to broach the topic. Crazy doesn’t beat sane. But it does beat silent.
I’ve resisted writing about the Donald. The sheer absurdity of the man seems to make commentary pointless. Even Jonah Goldberg, who mixed it up with Trump last week over “pants-gate“, has a sort of weary regret in dealing with his badly coiffed arch-nemesis. The absurdity is heightened when you consider the quality of the Republican field in 2016. The GOP has some remarkable bench strength, a sharp contrast to the warmed-over leftovers being passed off by the Democrats.
Compare 2016 with any election cycle in recent memory and you’re spoiled for choice: Jindal, Walker, Perry, Rubio, Cruz and Bush are all very plausible candidates for the presidency. You may have your favorite — I have a certain fondness for Senator Rubio — but each are basically conservatives candidates that the party can rally around. Jeb Bush does have the establishment smell about him, to say nothing of that family name, but see him in a clear and unobstructed light and yes, he would make a decent Commander-in-Chief.
Now enter the Trump. Granted he has put immigration on the table, divorced of even a hint of political correctness, but there are ways of raising awkward subjects without being excessively offensive. We understand that cousin Fred has a drinking problem; throwing it out there in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner between the turkey and coleslaw isn’t really going to help matters. If Trump doesn’t get bored with pretending to run for President – I give it until September – then the Dems are going to have an awesome gaffe reel to play against the eventual Republican nominee next summer.
Here’s the thing about politicians who try to be funny: It’s generally better not to do it at all than to do it badly. The one thing that’s worse than a stiff is a guy awkwardly fumbling his way towards an underwhelming punchline. Now, there are occasional exceptions. Ted Cruz’s recent attempts at Simpsons impersonations for BuzzFeed were dad-after-four-beers bad, but they at least proved that Cruz, who’s burdened by the male equivalent of a syndrome that can’t be described under Ricochet’s Code of Conduct, is capable of lightening up. But Senator Cruz ought to be taking lessons from Carly Fiorina. Check out her effort at BuzzFeed:
There was a bizarre event at the President’s press conference Wednesday, one rarely seen in the past six-plus years. A member of the White House press corps asked Obama a difficult question. Major Garrett of CBS News cast a skeptical eye on the administration’s “historic” deal with the genocidal Iranian regime.
Now that Scott Walker’s in the race, with John Kasich on tap for next week, the GOP’s 2016 field soon will total 16 presidential candidates. We can rank them, 1-16. Or go by tiers. Or pick names out of a hat. My choice: divide the field into four brackets, four candidates apiece, which I’ve done in this column over at Forbes.com.
Bracket One — The Non-Conformists
1. Donald Trump