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“The Pot And The Kettle”: Mitt Romney; Flawed Vehicle For The Anti-Trump Message

It really doesn’t matter what Democrats think of Mitt Romney’s speech today. He wasn’t talking to them. Romney’s point was to try to persuade Republicans to vote for someone (as it turns out, any Republican) other than Donald Trump.

The truth is that not many Republicans will actually hear the speech. Instead, they’ll hear what Brett Baier, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and their guests have to say about it tonight. So that will be interesting to watch.

The challenge for establishment Republicans is that they really don’t have a leader/spokesperson who can speak with credibility to the Trump phenomenon. Romney is probably the best they can come up with right now. But he is terribly flawed in this endeavor. The biggest reason for that is that he is the epitome of everything base voters are mad about when it comes to the Republican establishment: wealthy, moderate, loser.

Given that the one skill Trump has in spades is the ability to find and exploit his opponents weak points, that is already showing up in his twitter response to the speech.

Of course, then there’s this:

This image of that endorsement four years ago will be ubiquitous on social media by the end of the day.

Nevertheless, Romney said a couple of things that are worth noting. This is one of the things I’ve heard some of my Republican friends say:

Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities, the bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics. We have long referred to him as “The Donald.” He is the only person in America to whom we have added an article before his name. It wasn’t because he had attributes we admired.

Now imagine your children and your grandchildren acting the way he does. Will you welcome that?

As angry as some Republicans might be at government and their own Party’s leadership, they care about their kids and who they look up to. Donald Trump is not the kind of person they want their children to emulate.

Romney summed up his speech with this:

Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.

His domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president.

This is also something I’ve heard from my Republican friends. While they might appreciate that Trump is giving voice to their anger, there is a part of them that remembers what it is we actually elect a president to do. That is when they recognize that Trump’s temperament and judgment could pose a big problem.

I can imagine Mitt Romney telling himself that before this primary was over, he needed to speak up. He’s done that now. But given that he is such a flawed vehicle, I doubt his words will have much impact.

However…to the extent that those two parts of his message that I highlighted seep into the conversation that right wing media is having about this primary, it has the potential to give some Trump supporters a moment’s pause.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, March 3, 2016

March 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Mitt Romney | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted, Yoga And Manhood”: The Debate That Made America Dumber

Thursday’s Republican presidential debate made us all dumber.

It was a disgrace. As people wake up in capitals around the world Friday morning, in London and Addis Ababa and Riyadh and Beijing and Seoul, newscasters will be forced to find a way to discuss, in their local euphemisms, Donald Trump’s dick size.

The exchanges on the stage at the Fox Theater in Motown centered around erstwhile reality television star Donald Trump, who found, as usual, a way to be even more outrageous than he has been in previous debates.

Sen. Marco Rubio—a 44-year-old U.S. senator! A grown man! With children!—had made fun of Trump’s hand size, implying that his manhood was not so large.

“I have to say this. He hit my hands. Nobody has ever hit my hands. I have never heard of this. Look at those hands. Are they small hands?” Trump responded, on a nationally televised debate to become leader of the free world.

“And he referred to my hands, if they are small, something else must be small,” Trump deadpanned. “I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee you.”

There was shouting inside the debate hall and out. As a light snow fell on Woodward Avenue across from Ford Field, progressive protesters growled about their issues of the day: their objections to “racist” Trump; their demand for a higher minimum wage; calls for an immediate solution for the lead-poisoned people of Flint.

But the shouting and chanting was statesmanlike compared to the childish theatrics indoors. You could practically hear your brain cells crying out in pain as they died out, answer after answer.

There were insults, and Donald Trump defending war crimes, and Cruz treating the businessman like a small child. Trump called Rubio “little Marco,” and Cruz “lyin’ Ted.”

It was beyond satire. The first question, to Trump, was about former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who had delivered a scathing speech challenging Trump’s fitness to become president.

“He challenged you to answer with substance, not insults. How do you answer Mitt Romney, sir?” asked Fox News moderator Chris Wallace.

“He was a failed candidate,” Trump shot back. “He failed miserably, and it was an embarrassment to everybody.”

When Rubio challenged Trump on whether he’d answer a policy question substantively, the businessman responded like an adolescent: “Don’t worry about it, little Marco.” Rubio fired back: “Let’s hear big Donald.”

It was like a kindergarten brawl: a lot of cheap insults, a lot of whining, culminating with the need for everyone to have a time out. Sen. Ted Cruz—a 45-year-old U.S. senator! A grown man! With children!—treated Trump much like he would his two young daughters.

When Trump tried to interrupt him during an answer, Cruz responded patronizingly, “Donald, learn not to interrupt. It’s not complicated—Count to 10. Count to 10.”

“Yelling and cursing people doesn’t make you a tough guy,” Cruz said, as if lecturing an infant on the playground.

Meanwhile Trump one-upped everyone by defending torture, and insisting that the military would follow through with illegal orders if he gave them. Trump had previously said that his national security policy would involve targeting the innocent family members of terrorists and the use of interrogation methods even more extreme than waterboarding.

“They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me,” Trump said. “We should go for waterboarding… and tougher than waterboarding… I’m a leader, I’ve always been a leader… if I say do it, they’re going to do it.”

And on targeting the family members of terrorists, a potential war crime? “I have no problem with it,” Trump said.

The businessman struggled to square these authoritarian instincts with one of his key selling points: that he’d be the man who could make a deal with Congress, with China, with Vladimir Putin. He has a “strong core” that is also “flexible,” he said.

“You can breathe,” Cruz told Trump, during yet another shouting match. “I know it’s hard.”

“When they’re done with the yoga, can I answer a question?” Rubio butted in.

“I really hope we don’t see yoga on this stage,” Cruz responded.

“Well he’s really flexible, so you never know,” Rubio quipped.

On a day that former governor Romney gave a speech in Utah decrying Trump’s excesses, the dumbest presidential debate of all time took place. It must have made much of the American public yearn for a less stupid time—when the biggest controversy of the day was Romney’s car elevator and awkward word choices. How quaint that all was.

 

By: Tim Mak, The Daily Beast, March 4, 2016

March 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The GOP, An Incoherent Mess”: The Left Was Right About The Right All These Years

“If he was for it, we had to be against it.”

— Former U.S. Sen. George Voinovich quoted in “The New New Deal” by Michael Grunwald

The “he” is President Obama. The “we” is the Republican Party. And it is not coincidental that as the former pushes toward the end of his second term, the latter is coming apart.

The GOP is an incoherent mess. Republican-on-Republican rhetorical violence has become commonplace. Party members find themselves mulling whether to break away and form a third party or unite behind a coarse, blustering bigot whose scapegoating and strongman rhetoric has Holocaust survivors comparing him to Hitler.

The situation is so objectively and transparently grim that many on the right no longer even bother to spin it. “I’m a lifelong Republican,” tweeted historian Max Boot last week, “but (the) Trump surge proves that every bad thing Democrats have ever said about GOP is basically true.”

“It would be terrible,” wrote Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens last week, “to think that the left was right about the right all these years.”

But it can be argued that Trump is less the cause than an inevitable effect of the party’s looming disintegration. It can be argued that what’s really destroying the Republican Party is the Republican Party.

The popular storyline goes that voters are seeking political outsiders this year in their frustration over a government where the legislative gears are frozen and nothing gets done. What that storyline forgets is that this gridlock was by design, that GOP leaders held a meeting on the very evening of the president’s first inauguration and explicitly decided upon a policy of non-cooperation to deny him anything approaching a bipartisan triumph.

The party followed this tactic with such lockstep discipline and cynical disregard for the national welfare that in 2010, seven Republican co-sponsors of a resolution to create a deficit reduction task force voted against their own bill because Obama came out for it. They feared its passage might make him look good.

In the book quoted above, Michael Grunwald distilled the GOP’s thinking as follows: “As long as Republicans refused to follow his lead, Americans would see partisan food fights and conclude that Obama had failed to produce change.”

Republicans and their media accomplices buttressed that strategy with a campaign of insult and disrespect designed to delegitimize Obama. With their endless birther stupidity, their death panels idiocy, their constant budget brinksmanship and their cries of, “I want my country back!” they stoked in the public nothing less than hatred for the interloper in the White House who’d had the nerve to be elected president.

And the strategy worked, hobbling and frustrating Obama. But as a bullet doesn’t care who it hits and a fire doesn’t care who it burns, the forces of ignorance and unreason, grievance and fear the Republicans calculatedly unleashed have not only wounded the president. No, it becomes more apparent every day that those forces have gravely wounded politics itself, meaning the idea that we can — or even should — reason together, compromise, form consensus.

There is a sense of just deserts in watching panicked Republicans try to stop Trump as he goose-steps toward coronation, but it is tempered by the realization that there’s far more at stake here than the GOP’s comeuppance.

This is our country we’re talking about. This is its future we choose in November. And any future presided over by “President Trump” is too apocalyptic to contemplate. Yet, the possibility is there, and that’s sobering.

It is bad enough the Republicans may have destroyed themselves. One wonders whether they will take America with them.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, March 3, 2016

March 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Republicans | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Donald Trump And The End Of Civility”: Rejecting The Virtues Of Teamwork, Common Courtesy And Civility

For a decade we have seen article after article, study after study, comment after comment on the death of civility in our politics. Politicians, pundits and academics worried that gridlock and the paralysis of Washington was heavily due to the nastiness of the political culture and the vitriol inherent in today’s politics.

Well, as Donald Trump might say – you ain’t seen nothing yet!

My friend, Ira Shapiro, wrote a terrific book, “The Last Great Senate,” about the accomplishments of the civil and functional U. S. Senate that we were both privileged to be a part of a few decades ago. Whether it was the Panama Canal treaties, passage of environmental legislation or social security reform, Republicans and Democrats actually worked together, forged compromises and got the people’s business done.

But as Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann chronicled in their book, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks,” published in 2012, the rise of tea party extremists and hard-right ideologues has polarized and paralyzed our constitutional system of government.

And now in 2016, we have Donald Trump, who would make Ornstein and Mann’s world of just a few years ago look like patty-cake. Trump, and many of his colleagues in this race who have followed his lead, has debased the dialogue and engaged in trash talk that would make a pro football player blush. It has truly spiraled out of control.

Facts and logical argument are cast to the wind like confetti; nasty statements about body parts are common and invective like “stupid,” “idiot,” “lightweight,” “choker,” “loser” are used by Trump in nearly every speech and press conference.

No one is writing about a return to civility so long as Trump has seized the stage, forcing a dialogue that has taken American politics even further down into the gutter. In fact, Trump has left many people who should be speaking out speechless instead. Now Republicans and conservative columnists are shaking their heads and wondering why the other candidates and Republican Party leadership have kept their heads in the sand for so long. A flood of pieces by the likes of David Brooks and George Will spell it out perfectly: talking about “the governing cancer” and Trump’s “demagogic cynicism and anti-constitutional authoritarianism.”

But I fault those Republicans and conservative pundits who clearly should have been focusing on this transformation from a government that governed and legislators who legislated into a collection of talking heads whose constant desire is to be on gladiator-TV. Or to give a speech that incites a crowd. Many of them embraced the tea party and chose demagoguery over dialogue.

What has happened to words such as thoughtful, wise, substantive, open-minded and even educated, learned and knowledgeable to describe those in the arena of politics and government? Why are those not the standards we use to judge our leaders?

I am left with the enduring cover image from The New Yorker a number of weeks ago, showing a television set with Donald Trump raging and Presidents Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy and Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt looking on in horror.

This is no longer amusing nor something that should be passed off as entertainment. This is not “The Apprentice” or some reality television show. This is real.

If we allow a person like Donald Trump to capture the Republican Party, let alone the country, the price we will pay will be lasting, and the damage will be serious and permanent. This is so far from anything we have experienced; that it has no parallel in our history. He is not, as he says, building a new expanded Republican Party. This “movement” is based on fear and loathing, racism and prejudice, xenophobia and hatred. It is based on our basest instincts, not on our best instincts. It is destructive, not constructive.

With a Trump ascendancy, common courtesy and civility will be considered weaknesses and the politics of irrationalism and fear will triumph. That must not happen.

 

By: Peter Fenn, Democratic Political Strategist and Head of Fenn Communications; U. S. News and World Report, March 3, 2016

March 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fearmongering, GOP Presidential Candidates, Governing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Odd Man Out”: For Ted Cruz, Anti-Trump Cabal Could Be A Suicide Pact

For Marco Rubio and John Kasich, the current anti-Trump cabal whereby every surviving candidate takes on the Donald in different states via a division of labor that involves tactical cooperation is a no-brainer. Both of these dudes face possible extinction in winner-take-all home-state primaries on March 15 in which they’ll need every anti-Trump vote. More fundamentally, they are in third and fourth place in total delegates. Rubio, in particular, is no longer in a position to insist on consolidation of non-Trump voters under his banner. But for Ted Cruz, the cabal forces a tough decision. He’s not in a position to stop Trump on his own. But if he cooperates with Rubio and Kasich and a Republican Establishment that despises him nearly as much as it does Trump, he could be enabling his own demise down the road and thwarting his own efforts to seize the party for the more militant elements of the conservative movement.

At the moment, Team Cruz is focused on the short-term challenge of winning in three states that vote tomorrow: Kansas, Kentucky, and Louisiana. The first two are closed caucuses with long-passed cutoffs for reregistration to change party affiliation — probably the least hospitable environment for Donald Trump’s campaign. And Louisiana is a closed primary in a state where Cruz has been running a relatively strong second to Trump in the polls. If the mauling of Trump in the Fox News debate in Detroit Thursday night produced lasting damage to his candidacy, it should begin to show up in these states.

But assuming March 6 goes well for Cruz, the strategic dilemmas begin. Sure, he’ll go for the gold in Mississippi and Idaho on March 8. But does he take a dive the same day in Michigan, where he’s been running even with Rubio and well ahead of Kasich? And does he entirely pull his campaign out of Florida and Ohio on March 15 to maximize the home-state cabal boys’ odds of beating Trump? Presumably he will, but he could wake up on March 16 to find his delegate advantage greatly reduced, and with the remaining list of Cruz Country states on the calendar looking mighty slim.

Looking ahead to the potential “contested convention” that is the anti-Trump cabal’s strategic linchpin, Cruz’s main leverage is the possibility that he could put Trump over the top on a second ballot if he is prematurely cast aside by the Establishment folk. He could even position himself as a “unity candidate” whose views on immigration and national security are closer to Trump’s than any other available candidate’s. More likely he’ll be the odd man out in whatever decisions the Establishment makes, having already burned his bridges to Trump’s insurgency to a smoking cinder. Right now the candidate running second to Trump seems doomed to failure whichever way he — or the worm — turns. His consolation will be that, like Rubio, he’s still very young, and, unlike Rubio, he hasn’t given up his Senate seat to participate in this wild presidential nominating contest.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 4, 2016

March 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , | Leave a comment

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