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“Serial Husbands”: A Trump-Gingrich Ticket Would Make A Mockery Of Family Values

If, as some pundits are speculating, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald John Trump picks Newton Leroy Gingrich as his running mate, the two will go down in history as a presidential ticket unrivaled in its mockery of this country’s most traditional and honored symbol of commitment: holy matrimony. Trump and Gingrich, two standard-bearers of family values, are serial husbands. Between them, the two have had six wives.

Let us count the ways.

Fifty-four years ago, at age 19, Gingrich married his 26-year-old former high school geometry teacher. He left her in the spring of 1980. However, he did return to see her. Gingrich dropped by the hospital where she was getting treatment for cancer to discuss divorce terms. Formally divorced in 1981, Gingrich got married six months later.

That marriage lasted until 2000. By his own admission, Gingrich started an affair with a woman 23 years his junior during his second marriage. Incidentally, it was around the time Gingrich was taking Bill Clinton to task over Monica Lewinsky.

Gingrich’s second marriage ended in 2000, and he married his then-girlfriend, the current Mrs. Gingrich, the same year.

Trump had to play catch-up to Gingrich.

The real estate mogul didn’t land his first wife until 1977. A few years later, however, 40-year-old Trump started dating a 23-year-old beauty pageant winner. That little affair on the side apparently went swimmingly until girlfriend and wife No. 1 ran into each other on the ski slopes in Aspen. That didn’t go so well.

The angry wife filed for divorce, which reportedly was quite messy. Trump married girlfriend, and went on to run up boodles of debt. By 1999 and with hard work, however, Trump wiped out his financial misfortune, and shed his second wife.

He continued dating the woman he was seeing while married to wife No. 2. In 2005, Trump made that girlfriend wife No. 3, about five years after Gingrich married for the third time.

Both men are now tied for the lead.

And, if a Trump-Gingrich ticket is successful in November, could we witness a tiebreaker and fourth nuptial in the White House?

What, in the name of the nuclear family and a moral society, will Donald Trump do next?

Afraid to ask.

 

By: Colbert I. King, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, July 1, 2016

July 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Family Values, Newt Gingrich | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Behold, The Arsonist Is Here”: How Donald Trump Turned Republicans’ Smoldering Resentments Into A Dumpster Fire

The Republican Party has long faced a simple yet vexing mathematical problem. While there are benefits that come with being the party that represents the interests of large corporations and the wealthy, executives and rich people won’t give you enough votes to win a majority come election day. So one of the ways the GOP has handled the problem is with a deflection of discontentment: There’s an elite you should resent, they tell ordinary people, but it isn’t the people who control the country’s economic life. Instead, it’s the cultural elite, those wine-sipping, brie-nibbling college professors, Hollywood liberals, and cosmopolitan multiculturalists who look down their noses at you and tell you your values are wrong. The best way to stand up for yourself and stick it to those elitists is to vote Republican.

It’s an argument that dates back to the 1960s, but for the first time since then the GOP has a presidential nominee who doesn’t quite get it. Not steeped in the subtleties of Republican rhetoric and the goals it’s meant to serve, Donald Trump is blasting in all different directions, even hitting some Republican sacred cows.

There’s nothing coherent about Trump’s arguments — he’ll say how terrible it is that wages haven’t grown, then say that we need to get rid of the federal minimum wage. But he has taken the core of the GOP’s trickle-down agenda — tax cuts for the wealthy and a drastic reduction in taxes and regulation on businesses — and tossed on top of it a garnish of protectionism, promising to impose tariffs on foreign competitors and initiate trade wars until other countries march right over here and give us back our jobs. He’s even feuding with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Trump’s offensive against international trade is apparently based on the theory that it will help win working-class white voters to his cause, particularly in Rust Belt states where manufacturing jobs have declined in recent decades. And this has his party very nervous.

“Mr. Trump wants to make Republicans into the Tariff Party,” laments The Wall Street Journal editorial page, house organ of America’s economic masters. “He’ll have a better chance of winning the economic debate if he focuses on the taxes, regulations, and monetary policy that are the real cause of our economic malaise.” In other words, stick to the stuff the people in the board rooms care about.

That’s not to say that Trump’s infantile ideas about trade would actually produce any benefit to working people — on that basic point, the Journal has it right. And there have been Republicans who advocated protectionism before; some of them even ran for president. But they lost. The party’s nominee always understood which side its economic bread was buttered on.

All the while, though, the audience for an explicitly economic anti-elitism remained in the party, a product of their success at bringing in whites of modest means with appeals to cultural and racial solidarity. Those downscale voters may have been told that upper-income tax cuts were the best path to prosperity for all, but they never quite bought it. One recent poll showed 54 percent of Republican voters supporting increasing taxes on those making over $250,000 a year, a result that’s enough to make Paul Ryan spit up his Gatorade.

There’s a way to handle that, which is to turn up the dial on cultural resentments. But it has to be done carefully in order to minimize the collateral damage. Republicans always knew that nativism and racial appeals had to be fed to these voters carefully, couched in dog-whistles and euphemisms. But Trump just hands them an overflowing glass of hate and tells them to tilt their heads back and chug. A secure border? Hell, we need to build a 20-foot high wall because Mexicans are rapists. Strong measures to stop terrorism? Just keep out all the Muslims.

Part of what has Republicans upset is that Trump’s nativism narrows the cultural argument down to ethnic and racial identity. They may have condemned “political correctness” to get people upset at liberal elitists telling you what to think, but in Trump’s version, rejecting it means indulging your ugliest impulses, taking every rancid thought about foreigners or minorities that pops into your head and vomiting it right out of your mouth in triumph.

Once you unleash that stuff, it’s hard to pretend that it’s anything other than what it is. So the Republican elites — who, let’s be honest, usually bear more of a cultural resemblance to the liberals against whom they whip up all those resentments than to the working-class whites whose votes they want — look on in horror as Trump ruins everything. He lays the GOP’s racial appeals bare so they can’t be denied, and he can’t even be trusted to keep faithful to all of the party’s economic agenda. If you can’t rely on an (alleged) billionaire to keep all that straight, what hope does your party have?

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Week, July 2, 2016

July 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, White Working Class | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Hypocrisy At The Heart Of Trump’s Campaign”: Paul Manafort, A Paragon Of The GOP Washington Establishment

Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, had a message to deliver.

“Hillary Clinton is the epitome of the establishment; she’s been in power for 25 years,” he informed Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last Sunday.

When Trump, Manafort added, “says he’s going to bring real change to the country, voters believe him — unlike Mrs. Clinton, who has been saying that for 25 years and in those 25 years, the only changes that have happened have made people’s lives worse.”

But then, at the tail end of the interview, Manafort slipped when discussing evangelical Christians’ support for Trump. “In my 40 years in politics, I have never seen such a broad-based base of support within that community for one candidate.”

Forty years in politics? But it’s Clinton’s 25 years that make her the “establishment”?

If that weren’t enough, Manafort was giving the interview from the Hamptons — playground of the eastern elite.

This is the hypocrisy at the heart of the Trump campaign, now under Manafort’s undisputed control. Manafort’s inspiration, which Trump has embraced, is to portray Clinton as the embodiment of the establishment. But Manafort (not unlike Trump) has been the voice of the wealthy and the well-connected for four decades, building a fortune by making common cause with the world’s most avaricious.

Among Manafort’s boasts: representing kleptocrats Ferdinand Marcos, Mobutu Sese Seko and Kenya’s Daniel arap Moi, defending Saudi Arabia’s interests against Israel’s and Pakistan’s against India’s, and making the case for a Nigerian dictator, a Lebanese arms dealer and various and sundry Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs. He successfully lobbied to arm a Maoist rebel in Angola, needlessly extending fighting that killed thousands.

It’s Manafort’s right to represent dictators and thugs and regimes that torture. He has, for decades, helped autocrats who battle human rights and democracy. But now this man, who made his fortune helping the rich and powerful get more so, is setting up a general-election campaign that portrays Trump as a man of the people and Clinton as the captive of special interests.

Manafort has been widely credited with this week’s speech by Trump laying out his general-election theme: that Clinton is the defender of the big-money interests and the “rigged” economy.

“Hillary Clinton has perfected the politics of personal profit and even theft. She ran the State Department like her own personal hedge fund, doing favors for oppressive regimes,” Trump argued. “Hillary Clinton wants to bring in people who believe women should be enslaved and gays put to death. . . . Hillary Clinton may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency of the United States.”

And the man who led Trump to deliver such accusations? Here’s what my Post colleagues Steven Mufson and Tom Hamburger reported in April:

“In one case, Manafort tried unsuccessfully to build a luxury high-rise in Manhattan with money from a billionaire backer of a Ukrainian president whom he had advised.

“In another deal, real estate records show that Manafort took out and later repaid a $250,000 loan from a Middle Eastern arms dealer at the center of a French inquiry into whether kickbacks were paid . . . ”

“And in another business venture, a Russian aluminum magnate has accused Manafort in a Cayman Islands court of taking nearly $19 million intended for investments, then failing to account for the funds. . . . ”

Manafort has been a paragon of the Washington Republican establishment for two generations, working on Gerald Ford’s reelection in 1976 before helping Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole. He started two lobbying firms, and he has used his contacts in attempts to enrich himself. His lobbying firm recruited veterans of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, then lobbied for $43 million in subsidies for a housing project, while holding an option to buy a stake in the project.

Manafort is steeped in the racial politics Trump has exploited. As Franklin Foer writes for Slate, Manafort ran Reagan’s Southern operation in 1980; the candidate kicked off his general-election campaign outside Philadelphia, Miss., scene of the murder of civil rights activists in 1964. Manafort later became a business partner of Lee Atwater, who gained fame for Bush’s Willie Horton campaign in 1988.

Introduced to Trump by Roy Cohn, lawyer to Joe McCarthy, Manafort helped Trump fight Indian casinos by alleging that the Native Americans had a crime problem; Trump and his associates paid a $250,000 fine after secretly funding advertisements besmirching the Indians.

Now Trump is engaged in a general-election campaign to portray Clinton as the candidate of the establishment. That’s fair enough: She has been atop the country’s elite for a quarter-century. But the man leading this effort spent a much longer career benefiting the wealthy and powerful, including Trump, at the expense of the poor and weak. That’s rich.

 

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, July 1, 2016

July 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Establishment, Hillary Clinton, Paul Manafort | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Responsibility, Duty And Honor”: GOP Leaders; Put Your Country Before Your Party

He can’t do it, Republicans. It’s time for you to admit that Donald Trump is incapable of even pretending to be an acceptable candidate for president. The question is which side of history you want to be on.

Are you going to stand with him as the balloons drop on the last night of the convention, knowing he shares neither your views nor your values? Are you going to work your hearts out this fall to put an unstable bully in charge of our national defense? Is party unity so much more important to you than trifles such as responsibility, duty and honor?

Leading Republicans should pay attention to what Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) told a reporter for the conservative Newsmax website: “What I am saying is Donald Trump can still get a vote from a lot of conservatives like me, but I would like some assurances on where he stands. I would like some assurances that he is going to be a vigorous defender of the U.S. Constitution. That he is not going to be an autocrat. That he is not going to be an authoritarian. That he is not somebody who is going to abuse a document that I have sworn an oath to uphold and protect and defend.”

Lee, who has not endorsed Trump, specifically mentioned “the fact that he accused my best friend’s father of conspiring to kill JFK” — referring to Trump’s scurrilous and unfounded charges about the father of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) — and also Trump’s history of making “statements that some have identified correctly as religiously intolerant.”

My only question for Lee is why Trump might still get his vote. I realize that Hillary Clinton is a Democrat, but no one has suggested that she might shred the Constitution or that she is a religious bigot. I thought the oath to “protect and defend” meant putting country before party.

To be sure, some leading Republicans are doing just that. Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 nominee, is one of the loudest and most consistent “Never Trump” voices. The Bush family, which incarnates the GOP’s recent history, is boycotting the convention. My colleague George F. Will, a principled conservative if ever there was one, said last week he had left the Republican Party because of Trump.

But most GOP luminaries are like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who has obvious reservations about his party’s presumptive nominee but supports him nonetheless. McConnell said this week that “people are looking for a level of seriousness that is typically conveyed by having a prepared text and teleprompter and staying on message.”

In other words, McConnell hopes Trump can at least pretend to be serious and stable long enough to make it through the general-election campaign.

Asked Wednesday if he agreed, Romney said no. “I think Mr. Trump has demonstrated who he is by virtue of what he said in the process to this point,” he explained. “What he says from this point forward may paper over that.”

I’ve had the same worry — that Trump would appear to be more statesmanlike and fool voters into thinking he had changed. With every passing week, however, I become less concerned about this scenario. Trump is who he is.

Every time Trump gives a prepared speech in which he manages to stay on message, drawing praise from the party establishment, he negates it by reverting to his old self. His address on foreign policy a couple of months ago, for example, was wrongheaded but basically mainstream. This week, however, he has been ranting about how the United States needs to use waterboarding and other torture techniques against suspected terrorists.

And you’re going to vote for this guy, John McCain? You, a former prisoner of war who was tortured by the North Vietnamese? You, the Senate’s most outspoken opponent of the practice?

McConnell said he hoped that Trump “is beginning to pivot and become what I would call a more serious and credible candidate for the highest office in the land.” Asked whether this was happening, McConnell replied, “He’s getting closer.”

But he’s not, and McConnell surely knows it. So does House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), who will preside over the convention at which Trump is set to be nominated. So do many Republicans who, when I ask them about Trump, either sigh, shrug or run away.

We are talking about the presidency of the United States, Republicans. You are about to nominate and support a man you know to be dangerously unworthy. Some loyalty.

 

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, June 30, 2016

July 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Leadership, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Abstract And Brief”: Conservatives Argue For A GOP Platform Vague And Minimalist Enough To Accommodate Trump

For a political party known until quite recently for its virtually unanimous support for the dictates of conservative ideology, the GOP has got some shockingly large divisions on issues today, thanks to Donald Trump. His speech earlier this week on trade is an example: There is no way to identify a single inch of common ground between Trump’s attacks on globalization as the source of all evil and the views of the Republican-leaning U.S. business community (see this angry op-ed by U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donahue). Slightly less heated but still important are Trump-GOP differences over social security and Medicare, treated by Trump as part of an inviolable social contract and by most Republicans as sacred cows that need to be slaughtered to bring federal spending under control. Immigration, of course, has created its own well-known intra-party fault lines. And there’s trouble all over the national-security landscape, beginning with Trump’s skepticism about NATO and his non-interventionist instincts, in a party where there’s a lot of lusty desire for Middle Eastern wars or maybe a nostalgic dustup with Russia.

All these divisions make the drafting and adoption of a party platform — normally a chore so routine and boring you don’t even hear about it beyond marginal arguments over the precise language of planks on abortion or guns — perilous. It would be natural for Team Trump to want to place the mogul’s personal stamp on the party’s statement of principles and proposals. And it would be tempting for those resisting Trump’s takeover of the GOP to start a platform fight at the convention.

How to avoid trouble? Well, two distinguished conservatives (one the president of Hillsdale College, the other a member of the actual platform committee) writing at the Washington Examiner have an idea: Make the platform so abstract and brief that none of the divisions even appear.

That’s not exactly how they put it, of course. Check out this lofty appeal:

On the eve of a convention that threatens disorder, Republicans should learn from the greatness of their party’s past.

The platform upon which Abraham Lincoln ran for president in 1860 was one and a half pages and 1200 words — quite a contrast to the 65 page, 33,000 word GOP platform of 2012. Written in the succinct and beautiful language of principle, it was meant to be read by all Americans, not just policy elites, and to guide great political action rather than make promises to special interests.

Might such a document today help to heal the divisions in the party as a preparation to healing those in the nation?

You betcha. The platform these gentlemen have in mind would focus strictly on the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and the need for limited instead of expanded government. It would view America and its problems from such a great distance that you can’t see those messy differences over the actual issues that will confront the next president and Congress. Hell, it would be broad enough and vague enough to accommodate Trumpism!

The Trump candidacy, although unwelcome to many in the party, has the virtue of simplicity. He says that government belongs to, must respond to, and must in all cases seek to benefit the American people.

Every politician in either party would affirm the same principle, of course, but the whole idea here is not to get bogged down in details.

The devil, of course, is in the details. But platforms should not be about details. They should be about principles and broad lines of policy. The details will be worked out in due course between the President and Congress, as is right and good. The platform supplies a direction, not a specific route.

Or perhaps the platform is just a collection of platitudes supplying the directive that the future lies ahead.

Maybe that’s all a party can do when it is nominating a presidential candidate that so many of its leading members regard with ill-disguised fear and loathing. It’s so much easier to talk about the platform from a rarefied perspective so distant from the actual country with its actual challenges and choices.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, July 1, 2016

July 2, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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