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“Megyn Kelly Made Up With Donald Trump”: Everyone Else On The Right Will Do The Same

Fox News and Donald Trump are reaching a detente at last; yesterday Megyn Kelly went to Trump Tower for an hour-long meeting she described as allowing “a chance to clear the air,” after which Trump went to the Fox offices to have lunch with network chief Roger Ailes. This comes after Kelly had the temerity to ask Trump about sexist remarks he had made in the past, which led him to unleash a months-long campaign of insults at her (The Donald doesn’t like to be challenged, especially by a woman).

The time had obviously come for Kelly to make nice, and more importantly, Fox needed to smooth over any conflict with Trump, given that he’s likely to be the Republican nominee for president soon.

Though Fox is a unique and complicated media outlet, this is a preview of what’s to come from many quarters on the right. People and organizations which have criticized and even attacked Trump, some in the harshest possible terms, will come around. They might not start praising him to the heavens, but they are going to join in the effort to get him elected. Because the alternative will be irrelevance, the last thing anyone in politics wants.

Let’s take, as a first example, our old friend Karl Rove. Politico reports today that while Rove has been criticizing Trump in public, behind the scenes he and American Crossroads, the super PAC he helped found, are telling donors that Trump can beat Hillary Clinton, so everyone needs to be prepared to get behind him. Now why might that be?

Consider that American Crossroads and its sister “charitable” organization Crossroads GPS are together the premier vehicle for rich Republicans to play in elections. In 2012, they spent $176 million on the campaign, more than any other group. If Trump is the nominee and American Crossroads said, “Forget about this election — we won’t support Trump,” where would that leave them? On the sidelines, with no role to play (at least in the presidential race), no contributions coming in, no salaries for their staff, no commissions for their consultants, and no influence. When there’s a presidential election going on, the last thing political players like them want is to be left out of the game.

American Crossroads goes after the big money, but there is a whole universe of operators and organizations who depend for their incomes on convincing conservatives that by handing over $20 or $50 or $100 they can fight today’s bête noir, whether it’s Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, and that with their contributions they can push back on social change and turn America back to the place it was when they were young. Once your name and address are on one of their lists, they’ll be bought and sold again and again, so you can be targeted with appeal after appeal for donations to do your part in fighting the good fight. It’s a gigantic grift — many of the organizations spend little on actual political work, and the contributions help line the pockets of the people who run them. In the last couple of years, even some conservatives have gotten uncomfortable with this gigantic grift. But too many people are getting a taste for it to be dismantled.

Even for those who aren’t just fleecing rank-and-file conservatives to get rich, Trump becoming the nominee (presuming that happens) changes the calculation, making attacking him no longer worthwhile. Those who have criticized him up to now will have to justify their change in tone, but with the specter of a Hillary Clinton presidency looming, it won’t be that difficult.

That applies even to those who have been most vociferous in their criticisms of Trump. He has been attacked in the strongest possible terms by numerous outlets of the conservative media, like National Review, the Weekly Standard, and the Wall Street Journal editorial page. That can partially be explained by the fact that they appeal to an elite conservative audience, the kind of people who are horrified by Trump and his supporters and would like to get back to a time when the rabble were brought along with more subtle appeals and genteel Republican officials focused on the truly important work of cutting capital gains taxes. While they might be hesitant to sing Trump’s praises too loudly given what they’ve said up to now, they’ll likely just ignore him (for the most part) and spend the summer and fall telling their readers why Hillary Clinton was spat from the very fires of hell to complete Barack Obama’s work of destroying America.

Fox News, on the other hand, has a more downscale audience, one that will want to hear not just about Clinton’s villainy, but also why Trump is a terrific guy who’s going to make America great. After all, if you’ve spent years watching Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, you’ve heard Trump’s arguments a thousand times: America is in decline, immigrants are destroying everything, black people need to shut up and pull up their pants, the white man can’t catch a break.

You can already watch fawning interviews of Trump on the network, but in the end, everyone — including Megyn Kelly — is going to have to get on board Trump’s train. When he’s the nominee, that’s what will be in the best interests of the network itself and the Republican Party, and Roger Ailes’ genius has always been his ability to serve both at the same time. And if Kelly doesn’t like it, she’ll have to get a job somewhere else.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, April 14, 2016

April 18, 2016 Posted by | Conservative Media, Donald Trump, Megyn Kelly | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Ship Of Fools”: The Inconvenient Truth, The “Bernie Or Bust” Crowd Is Indistinguishable From Right-Wing Fundamentalists

If you’re like me, and you know a number of “Bernie or Bust”-ers on social media who still insist that under no circumstances will they vote for the “corporatist” Hillary Clinton if she defeats Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination, ask them to consider this scenario:

1) Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, and the overwhelming majority of Sanders supporters decide to abstain from voting on November 8 (presumably, there will be a not-insignificant number of Sanders supporters who will vote for presumptive Green Party nominee Jill Stein, but for purposes of this argument, let’s say almost all of the Bernie-backers back out of the general election). In an effort to pacify peeved progressives, Clinton selects as her running mate a Sanders-style star who happens to be an actual member of the Democratic Party—say, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.

2) Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination, and immediately announces that Ted Cruz is his running mate.

3) A significant number of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents find themselves unable to support a Trump-Cruz ticket, and decide to set their issues with Clinton aside and vote for the Clinton-Brown ticket on November 8. Their votes, combined with the votes of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, make the allegedly “corporatist” Clinton the 45th president of the United States.

Under this scenario, will the Bernie backers who sat out the election—the ones who think the Democratic Party has been contaminated by “corporatism,” the ones who believe Sanders is the only morally pure choice for President—have any clout whatsoever in American politics? Will they be able to have any real influence on the Clinton-Brown administration? Will they be able to encourage Vice President Brown to publicly break with President Clinton on policies progressives find fault with? Or will they just be dismissed as whiners who blew a chance to have a claim on the new President?

This is the problem with the “Bernie or Bust” movement. By declaring that they will refuse to vote for a non-Sanders Democratic presidential nominee, these folks are declaring, in essence, that they are not seriously interested in moving the Democratic Party in a more progressive direction.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for the “Bernie or Bust”-ers to accept a Sanders primary loss with grace, commit themselves to preventing a Republican reactionary from seizing the White House, and then declare that Clinton owes a part of her victory to those who had initially supported Sanders? Wouldn’t they be able to influence Clinton’s actions on education, energy and economics? Wouldn’t they be able to pressure Clinton to govern as an undisputed progressive?

Harsh as this might be to say, it’s clear that the “Bernie or Bust” movement has officially replaced the Tea Party movement as the most illogical and incoherent force in modern American politics. By proclaiming that Clinton is too dishonest and dirty to deserve support, these folks are saying that the right wing was right all along about Hillary (and Bill). That’s a sensible message?

It’s also clear that the “Bernie or Bust” crowd—which regards Bill Clinton as having sold out the Democratic Party to economic elites in the 1990s—must also loathe former Vice President Al Gore as much as the right wing does, but for different reasons. After all, Gore was at Clinton’s side when the 42nd President supposedly abandoned the middle class. Gore supported the much-maligned North American Free Trade Agreement. Gore was associated with that progressive bogeyman known as the Democratic Leadership Council. Presumably, the older members of the “Bernie or Bust” bunch were the same ones who regarded Gore as insufficiently progressive in 2000, and defected to Ralph Nader.

The inconvenient truth is that the “Bernie or Bust” crowd is indistinguishable from right-wing fundamentalists in their loathing of compromise and their refusal to recognize that sometimes people can make bad decisions in good faith. Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Al Gore are neither evil nor corrupt. Neither is Bernie Sanders, for that matter…but what does it say about those who only recognize morality in the latter, and malevolence in the former?

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 16, 2016

April 18, 2016 Posted by | Bernie or Bust, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Why Is Trump Upset?”: It’s Because Cruz Is Schooling Him In The Art Of The Deal

Donald Trump prides himself on being able to bend arcane and unfair systems to his will.

Well, every system except one.

For years, Trump has been dogged by questions about his companies’ several bankruptcies, which are potential blemishes upon his business career.

In response, Trump has argued that there was nothing illegal, morally wrong or even shameful about restructuring debts and breaking contracts. On the contrary, these bankruptcies are a testament to his business acumen.

“I’ve used the laws of the country to my advantage,” he told Forbes.

“I have used the laws of this country just like the greatest people that you read about every day in business have used the laws of this country, the chapter laws, to do a great job for my company, for myself, for my employees, for my family, et cetera,” he echoed at the first Republican presidential debate.

And on Twitter, he argued, “Out of hundreds of deals & transactions, I have used the bankruptcy laws a few times to make deals better. Nothing personal, just business.”

He’s exercised similar rhetoric when talking about how he’s benefited from another controversial use of the law: eminent domain.

Governmental seizure of property for private commercial development, he argues, is not only good for the public and (allegedly) for the people forced out of their homes. It’s also used all the time by other prominent entrepreneurs and businesspeople, including members of the Bush family. So why not take advantage of this ripe system for himself?

Likewise, when asked why he’s donated money in the past to ideologically problematic politicians (including Hillary Clinton), he offers the same rationale: This is how the system works when you’re in business. It may not be fair or transparent, but a businessperson would be foolish not use it to his advantage.

“Maybe it’s a good system and maybe it’s not a good system, but it’s the system in which I was under and I thrived,” he boasted on “The O’Reilly Factor.”

In Trump’s world, exploiting the nation’s byzantine bankruptcy laws, or its bizarre eminent domain laws, or its opaque campaign finance rules, or any other system-rigging tools freely available to entrepreneurial types is proof not of shadiness but shrewdness — of his unwillingness to play the chump.

Which is why it’s so odd when Trump whines about Cruz behaving the exact same way.

Cruz has been quietly wooing delegates to the upcoming Republican convention, as well as the local party leaders who help select those delegates. He and his staff have traveled around California, Colorado, Arkansas, South Carolina and other states to help put sympathetic delegates in place in preparation for the possibility of a freewheeling contested election.

The upshot is, according to a Post analysis, that Cruz may already have effectively blocked Trump from the nomination should Trump prove unable to secure a majority of delegates on the first ballot.

As my colleague Marc Thiessen observed this week, Cruz is taking advantage of the peculiar, convoluted delegate system just as adeptly, and just as amorally, as Trump has taken advantage of the nation’s peculiar, convoluted bankruptcy laws.

Trump does not appear to appreciate the parallels. Instead, upon realizing Cruz’s behind-the-scenes efforts, Trump has gone apoplectic.

Having built his campaign on Twitter and free-media coverage, failed to invest much in a ground game and taken little interest until recently in how the delegate system works, Trump now indicts both a “totally unfair” system and Lyin’ Ted himself.

“It’s a rigged, disgusting dirty system,” Trump complained of a primary system whose rules have been available to him for many months.

“He’s trying to steal things because that’s the way Ted works,” Trump carped about a competitor who is cutting deals that the great dealmaker himself should envy.

There are two lessons to be gleaned from Trump’s selectively righteous indignation about unfair systems and those who exploit them.

One is that he’s a hypocrite. Obvious enough.

The other is that the main premise of his campaign — that his wiliness in the business world will translate to wiliness in politics and policy — is bunk.

Trump boasts that his whole life he’s been “greedy, greedy, greedy,” that his greed has paid off in the private sector, and that ergo he’ll be effective at being “greedy for the United States” in all its affairs. But if he can’t even figure out how to manage a primary campaign — let alone get his own children registered to vote for him — the chances that he’ll be able to seamlessly convert his monetary greed into political greed look slim.

 

By: Catherine Rampell, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 14, 2016

April 18, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Johnny Strikes Up The Band”: If You Didn’t Know Any Better, You’d Think Kasich Was Indeed A Moderate

The most fascinating news coming out of the 2016 Republican National Convention might not be the struggle between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz for the GOP nomination. It might be the prominent role that Ohio Governor and stealth radical John Kasich plays at the confab in Cleveland.

A case can be made that Kasich, the Boy Wonder of Wingnuttery, is actually the most dangerous of the three remaining Republicans running for the White House. Kasich has both Donald Trump’s extensive media training and Ted Cruz’s devotion to dogmatism: while he might not have a shot at the Republican nomination this time around, he stands an frighteningly good chance of being the GOP nominee four years from now if Trump (or Cruz) fails on November 8.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Kasich is chosen to be the keynote speaker; he will certainly provide a moment of calm in an otherwise contentious convention. He’ll also be running a long con.

If chosen as the keynote speaker, Kasich will deliver a sentimental speech, syrupy but not excessively so, urging Republicans to come together and embrace an uplifting, optimistic vision for the future. He will be “surprisingly” gentle in his criticisms of President Obama and the Democratic nominee. He will make full use of his formidable rhetorical gifts to make the case to viewers that the “real” Republican Party is compassionate, conscious and charitable.

It will all be a scam designed to convince gullible viewers that there are still signs of rationality in the GOP–and that Kasich represents old-school Eisenhower Republicanism. The idea is simple: if they lose with Trump or Cruz on Election Day, “establishment” Republicans will take advantage of whatever public goodwill Kasich generates as a result of his convention speech to promote the idea that only he can guarantee a GOP victory in 2020.

This gambit could work. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think that Kasich was indeed a moderate, reasonable Republican; when it comes to portraying such a mythical figure on the stage of American politics, Kasich’s acting is so good it rivals Brando in his prime. If I didn’t know any better, I’d buy a used car from this man.

Yet those of us who know better know the real John Kasich–the cold and cynical heart that beats in his chest, the conservative mendacity in his calculating mind. Kasich talks one heck of a moderate game, but make no mistake: he’s the wingnuts’ warrior.

Kasich may emerge as the real star of the 2016 Republican National Convention. He may convince casual political observers that he’s an honorable man, one who just might deserve the presidency if voters are dissatisfied with Democrats in 2020. He might be able to fool just enough people to make him the 46th president on January 20, 2021. The only question is: if that happens, how long will it take for those who were fooled to smarten up?

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 17, 2016

April 18, 2016 Posted by | Establishment Republicans, John Kasich, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Truth Is What The Truth Is”: Conservatives Lie About History To Exonerate Conscience

This one’s for John. He’s a reader who took issue with my recent column arguing that conservatism has become an angry and incoherent mess.

John was particularly upset that I described conservatives as resistant to social change. Wrote John:

“[sic] Tell that to the right side of the aisle who signed in the civil rights voting act in 1965. Which party resisted that? … Who resisted the proclamation that freed the slaves? Southern democrat party of course and who was it’s military arm during reconstruction? The KKK. Today that organization is tied into the liberalism more than conservatism. … Your party, the liberals who now call themselves progressives, are the party of Strom thurmond, Robert Byrd, Lester Maddox, George wallace — and … Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.”

Please note what John did there. He responded to a critique of social conservatism by mounting a defense of the Republican Party, as if the two were synonymous. Granted, they are now, but in the eras John mentions? Not so much.

Indeed, when Abraham Lincoln issued that proclamation John is so proud of, it was considered an act not of conservatism, but of radical extremism. And those Republicans who voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were moderates, i.e., the kind of people who have been driven out of a harshly conservative party that now considers moderation apostasy.

The truth, as any first-year history student could tell you, is that Republicans were the more socially liberal party and Democrats the more socially conservative for at least seven decades after Lincoln. But in the years since then, they have essentially swapped ideologies.

The reason John engages in this linguistic shell game, the reason he defends the party that wasn’t attacked instead of the ideology that was, is simple: The ideology is indefensible, at least where civil rights is concerned. You must be a liar, a fool or an ignoramus of Brobdingnagian proportions to suggest social conservatives have ever supported African-American interests.

They didn’t do it a century ago when “conservative” meant Democrats. They don’t do it now.

Sadly for John, pretending otherwise requires him to twist logic like a birthday party clown making balloon animals. How addlepated must you be to see common ground between the segregationist Lester Maddox and civil-rights activist Al Sharpton? How cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs are you when you consider the Ku Klux Klan and Strom Thurmond “liberal”?

And yes, you may think this a lot of energy to lavish on one man. But it isn’t one man. I hear John’s “reasoning” literally a hundred times a year from conservative readers. Indeed, a few weeks ago on CNN, a Donald Trump apologist pimp-slapped reality by branding the Klan a “leftist” group. So John is hardly the only one.

These people must lie about history in order to exonerate conscience. Yet the truth is what the truth is. John need not take my word for what conservative means. Merriam-Webster backs me up. He need not even take my word for the history. A hundred history books back me up.

But honest, grown-up Republicans, assuming there are any left, may want to take my word for this: They cannot achieve their stated goal of a more-welcoming and inclusive party while clinging to an ideology whose entire raison d’etre is exclusion. You see, social conservatism only works for those who have something to lose, those who have an investment in status quo.

I’m reminded of an anecdote about a Howard University professor who visited the Soviet Union in the 1930s. He explained to his hosts that some “Negroes” were politically conservative. They were astonished.

“Why?” asked one. “What do they have to conserve?”

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald;The National Memo, April 17, 2016

April 18, 2016 Posted by | American History, Conservatism, Conservatives | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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