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“Licking The Bully’s Boots”: Why Would Anyone Want To Be Trump’s VP?

Let’s be honest – Donald Trump is definitely not a team player. A cursory look at his business, entertainment and political careers tells us that, other than family, his litigious bullying means that he usually goes it alone. That’s why we’ve seen so much upheaval among his campaign staff. He tends to be drawn to the most unsavory of characters (Roy Cohn and Paul Manafort) as mentors/partners. But mostly he likes people he can bully. That’s what Mark Bowden reports from the time he spent with Trump back in 1996.

Trump struck me as adolescent, hilariously ostentatious, arbitrary, unkind, profane, dishonest, loudly opinionated, and consistently wrong. He remains the most vain man I have ever met. And he was trying to make a good impression…

It was hard to watch the way he treated those around him, issuing peremptory orders—“Polish this, Tony. Today.” He met with the lady who selected his drapery for the Florida estate—“The best! The best! She’s a genius!”—who had selected a sampling of fabrics for him to choose from, all different shades of gold. He left the choice to her, saying only, “I want it really rich. Rich, rich, elegant, incredible.” Then, “Don’t disappoint me.”…

What was clear was how fast and far one could fall from favor. The trip from “genius” to “idiot” was a flash. The former pilots who flew his plane were geniuses, until they made one too many bumpy landings and became “fucking idiots.” The gold carpeting selected in his absence for the locker rooms in the spa at Mar-a-Lago? “What kind of fucking idiot . . . ?”

We’ve seen the same kind of thing in how he has treated Republicans who have been willing to lick the bully’s boots.

As others have noted, Trump really isn’t that interested in winning the support of fellow politicians. He is a bully, and what he craves is their submission. Once Chris Christie endorsed him, Trump took visible joy in treating the New Jersey governor as a personal lackey, publicly poking fun at his weight and even telling him that he could no longer eat Oreos.

The dilemma is that no matter what you do, Trump’s goal is to make you lose. If you cross him – as Republican Susana Martinez did – you get clobbered. And if you submit, you get clobbered. That’s because, in Donald Trump’s mind, he always has to be the winner and he has no respect for losers.

So now we’re at the point in the 2016 presidential race when all eyes turn to who Trump will pick for the ultimate team-player spot – vice president. Yesterday Sen. Bob Corker wisely withdrew from this contest and it looks as if Sen. Joni Ernst has as well.

What I find interesting is that two of the guys who still seem to be in the running know a thing or two about being a bully themselves – Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie. I’m sure they are both smart enough to know what it means to play on “Team Trump.” So why are they so gung- ho to do so?

First of all, I suspect that they both think that they are smarter bullies and can out-Trump him. That’s what narcissists usually assume. But I also suspect that they have calculated that if Trump actually makes it to the White House, he won’t last long. Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell have already suggested that there are “Constitutional remedies” if he were to veer off course. In other words, he would be impeached and his vice president would be the man left standing. Neither Gingrich or Christie want to be Trump’s lapdog permanently. They want to be president and see Donald Trump as a way to get there.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 7, 2016

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Chris Christie, Donald Trump, GOP Vice President Candidate, Newt Gingrich | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Staying In Harmony”: Christie Endorses Trump, And They Sing A Duet Of Contempt For Rubio

Just when it looked like it was Donald Trump against the Republican world — a world for which Marco Rubio was to be the savior — along comes an endorsement that cannot be ignored: Chris Christie, an Establishment candidate before he became the odd man out in New Hampshire, has embraced the Donald. If, like me, you didn’t see that coming, you have to admit it makes sense from a stylistic and geographic perspective. Boisterous is probably the euphemism for the rhetorical qualities the two share, along with a Greater New York orientation. And it is probably a relief for Christie, after he’s spent years sucking up to conservative activists, to join a campaign where it’s okay to admit the public sector has duties other than fighting wars and enforcing contracts. Christie will have to deal with hearing his own words mocking Trump’s Muslim-immigration-ban idea quoted back to him; he will need, and is no doubt formulating, a quick response or just a brush-away reference to coalition politics.

But it’s clear Christie and his new candidate of choice won’t have any trouble staying in harmony on the subject of the day: Marco Rubio as a stone loser, per the New York Times‘ Maggie Haberman:

At Friday’s news conference announcing the endorsement, which was peppered with demeaning insults of Mr. Rubio by the two men, Mr. Christie repeatedly attacked Mr. Rubio, calling his behavior at the debate “desperate” and reflective of a “losing campaign … ”

Mr. Trump heaped praise on Mr. Christie for tenderizing Mr. Rubio during the final debate in New Hampshire, where the Florida senator wilted under blistering criticism from the governor.

“I thought he was gonna die — good going, Chris,” Mr. Trump said.

Nothing like some Marco-bashing to bond two guys together, eh? But Haberman thinks Christie’s move will have more practical benefits than just messing with Rubio’s head:

Mr. Christie’s endorsement augments Mr. Trump’s appeal for working-class voters. But more significantly, Mr. Christie could become a catalyst for other leading Republicans to back him after they have held back from supporting the developer despite his recent string of victories.

We’ll see. I’d say Chris Christie’s endorsement plus 11 or 12 wins on March 1 would be a good one-two combo for Trump. And then, yes, Christie’s example could make it easier for other moderate or “somewhat conservative” pols to gamble their respectability on a front-row seat at that most improbable of events: the nomination of Donald J. Trump.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, February 26, 2016

February 28, 2016 Posted by | Chris Christie, Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Marco Rubio | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Trump-Christie 2016, Make Bullying Great Again”: Chris Christie Trumped Marco Rubio’s Big Day By Endorsing The Donald

Of course Chris Christie endorsed Donald Trump today. Of course.

Freshman Florida Sen. Marco Rubio popped Trump a few times Thursday night and kept at it Friday morning, bringing swoons from the GOP establishment and the media alike. So you knew a Trump counterpunch was coming: Repeatedly throughout the race he has found a way to steal back the spotlight whenever someone nudges him out of it.

So what card does Trump play to deflate Rubio-mentum? Christie – Rubio’s tormentor, who authored the lowest point of his political career. Christie, whose presumed last act in this race had been what my colleague David Catanese memorably called a political “suicide-bomber” attack on robotic Rubio. Christie, who Trump has unveiled like a presumed dead comic book villain who suddenly appears alive and angry. Christie is Rubio’s personal zombie apocalypse.

Is the Marco train still steaming? Who knows? Everyone’s talking about Chris Christie, whose endorsement his former rivals had all sought.

How does it play? Here’s what Slate’s Josh Voorhees wrote about Christie’s endorsement decision after the New Jersey governor dropped out of the race:

He could endorse one of his former establishment-minded rivals.

… [S]uch a decision would pack considerably more punch than a normal one since many would see it as evidence that the Republican establishment was finally starting to coalesce around a single candidate. Christie, of course, does not speak for the entire GOP establishment – if he did, he’d still be in the race! – but perceived momentum can become actual momentum in politics, particularly at a moment when the battle between Rubio, Bush, and Kasich is so muddled.

How about this for packing a punch and stopping momentum, perceived or actual? Just as the establishment actually is coalescing around his favorite punching bag, Christie bets on Trump.

And why not? The primaries demonstrated that this moderate-positioned governor of a northeastern blue state doesn’t have much future in conventional Republican politics. Bluster aside, Christie is on the George Pataki track of political relevance. But he could have a future in Trump’s Republican Party. Attorney General Christie? How about Vice President Christie?

Conventionally a Trump-Christie ticket wouldn’t make any sense because he doesn’t tick the usual running mate boxes: He doesn’t bring geographical or political balance to the ticket and he doesn’t otherwise fill in an area of Trump weakness. But just ask Trump: He has no weakness so what’s to fill in?

In an ordinary year one would think that Christie would run into the same vetting problem he ran into four years ago when Mitt Romney considered adding him to the ticket. Here’s how Mark Halperin and John Heilemann described in “Double Down: Game Change 2012” the conclusion Romney’s team reached about the New Jersey governor:

Ted Newton [who had managed the vice presidential search] had come into the vet liking Christie for his brashness and straight talk. Now, surveying the sum and substance of what the team was finding, Newton told his colleagues, If Christie had been in the nomination fight against us, we would have destroyed him – he wouldn’t be able to run for governor again. When you look below the surface, Newton said, it’s not pretty.

So in that sense, he’s a perfect match for Trump, who – as Rubio is suddenly and loudly realizing at the 11th hour – has not gotten the kind of vetting a front-runner usually does, at least from his competitors. (As HuffPo’s Sam Stein reported yesterday the other candidates haven’t even got complete opposition research files on him yet.) Does anyone really think that Trump will thoroughly vet his running mate? The process will probably play out in a reality TV special where he fires candidates until one (Christie?) is left.

And there actually would be political precedent for a Trump-Christie ticket – Bill Clinton tapped fellow young, moderate, Southern Democrat Al Gore in 1992 in order to double down on his “new Democrat” campaign message. Trump could do the same with Christie.

The slogan writes itself: Trump-Christie 2016 – Make Bullying Great Again.

 

By: Michael Schlesinger, Managing Editor for Opinion, U. S. News and World Report, February 26, 2016

 

February 27, 2016 Posted by | Chris Christie, Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Marco Rubio | , , , , | 4 Comments

“Live By The Media’s Favor, Die By The Media’s Disfavor”: After Pumping Him Up For Months, The Press Turns On Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio is in serious trouble, so he’s now attacking Donald Trump, something he hasn’t been as eager to do before. While it may produce a return slap from the Republican front-runner, it probably won’t be enough to shift the discussion around Rubio, who is now learning a very hard lesson: Live by the media’s favor, die by the media’s disfavor.

Rubio’s rapidly shifting fortunes demonstrate how capricious those ups and downs in coverage can be. As much as we might like to believe that we’re nothing more than observers, chronicling the events that take place in as fair a way as we can, the media inevitably shape events too. As Walter Lippman wrote in 1922, news coverage “is like the beam of a searchlight that moves restlessly about, bringing one episode and then another out of darkness into vision.” For a long time, the light shining on Rubio illuminated the things that people thought made him a formidable general election candidate. But when the light’s focus shifted, things got very bad very fast.

A lot of Republicans fail to understand media dynamics because they’ve bought in so fully to their own propaganda about how the liberal media are biased against conservatives. Here’s how Sen. Orrin Hatch explains Rubio’s fall:

“Democrats can run a younger person like John F. Kennedy because the media is with them. Republicans will have a more difficult time because if somebody’s young, they’re going to get beaten up like never before by this biased media.”

Putting aside the utility of Kennedy’s experience running for president 56 years ago in explaining what’s going on today, the notion that the media were biased against Marco Rubio is ludicrous. In truth, no other Republican candidate got more glowing coverage for months than Rubio did; as I and others have pointed out, there have periodically been waves of stories about how Rubio was about to have his moment and rocket to the front of the race, since those in the know understood just what a formidable general election candidate he would make.

The trouble was that Republican voters never seemed to clue in to what the insiders were telling them. And even though after the Iowa caucuses media outlets everywhere declared Rubio the real winner despite his third-place finish, the Rubio explosion never happened. So when last Saturday’s debate came, the stage was set for a new story about Rubio. Chris Christie mercilessly attacked him for repeating a line about how “Barack Obama knows exactly what he’s doing” was the hook for the new narrative.

Why was Rubio’s performance in that debate such a big deal? It wasn’t because there’s something objectively horrifying about a candidate repeating a talking point a bunch of times, even after getting called out on it by an opponent. The real problem was the substance of what he was saying: that Barack Obama is intentionally trying to destroy America, a rancid idea that is no less vile for being common on the right. The repetition got so much attention in part because reporters approach debates by looking for some supposedly revealing moment or exchange that can be replayed over and over again. All the better if it involves confrontation (as this one did, between Rubio and Christie) and all the better if if makes somebody look foolish (as this one also did).

It also created a new story to write about — Is Rubio too robotic? — that reporters may have been primed for by watching Rubio’s message discipline on the campaign trail. That’s critical to understand, too: among the media’s most important biases is a bias toward the new. A new event, a new story, a new narrative will always be more interesting than another iteration of a story you’ve written ten times before. After writing “Rubio Poised to Break Out” for months, the media was ready for the dramatic shift to “Rubio Crashes and Burns.”

And then, just two days after the debate, Rubio had a brain fart during a town hall meeting, repeating twice the same line about pop culture getting rammed down our kids’ throats — saying it, then immediately saying it in almost exactly the same words again. That was too good for the press corps to pass up, since it reinforced the emerging storyline. (This narrative has also been pushed forward by his opponents.) Then when Rubio came in fifth in New Hampshire, the cascade of negative stories continued, leaving him where he is today.

Though he has taken responsibility for his own poor performance in the debate, if he’s like most candidates (both Democrat and Republican), Rubio probably thinks he’s not being treated fairly by the media. But nobody gets to have it both ways. You can’t say that it’s entirely appropriate to characterize a third-place finish in Iowa as a grand victory, then say it’s unfair to characterize a fifth-place finish in New Hampshire as a crushing defeat. You can’t say that everyone should pay attention to all the things that on paper make you a strong candidate, but object when too much attention is paid to your real-life flaws. And you can’t bask in your positive coverage, then object when you screw up and that winds up on the front page, too.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, February 11, 2016

February 12, 2016 Posted by | Chris Christie, GOP Primary Debates, Marco Rubio, Media | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Governors Exact Their Revenge On Marco Rubio”: Governors Against Callow And Outrageous Candidates

There was a time when Republican governors were not all that different from Democratic governors.

The politicians from both parties who ran the states tended to be a pragmatic lot. They were pro-business because they wanted their people to have jobs, but they championed government spending in the areas that contribute to economic development, starting with education and transportation.

Democratic governors still largely behave that way, but many of their Republican peers have followed their national party to the right and now run far more ideological administrations. North Carolina, Kansas and Wisconsin are prime examples of this break from a longer GOP tradition.

But in a pivotal debate here on Saturday night, the old solidarity among Republicans in charge of statehouses made a comeback of convenience. Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and John Kasich of Ohio and former Florida governor Jeb Bush are competitors, but they had no qualms about creating an ad hoc alliance that might be called Governors Against Callow and Outrageous Candidates.

They took on both Donald Trump and, indirectly, Sen. Ted Cruz. But their central target was Sen. Marco Rubio, who had a chance to put all three governors away with a strong performance. Instead, thanks to the pugilistic Christie, Rubio wilted.

In nearly every season, there is a media favorite whose standing with journalists relates not to ideology but to what reporters think a good candidate should look and sound like. For some time, Rubio has been that guy. Fresh and fluent, Rubio seems to bridge the party’s divides. He was nominated for the Senate as a tea party favorite, but was really an insider. You don’t get to be speaker of the Florida House of Representatives by being a mavericky rogue.

On paper at least, he’s the potential GOP nominee who scares Democrats the most. A young Cuban American (age: 44) would presumably have a nice edge on either of the Democratic candidates (ages: 68 and 74), and Rubio loves playing the generational card.

In practice, trying to be all things to all Republicans has often thrown Rubio off balance. His multiple positions on immigration reform make him both a target of the GOP’s anti-immigration hard-liners and the object of (mostly private) scorn from Republicans who were struggling to get an immigration bill passed.

All along, the question about Rubio has been whether he’s too good to be true. After Christie’s clinical takedown during their encounter at Saint Anselm College, this suspicion is now front and center.

“Marco, the thing is this,” Christie thundered. “When you’re president of the United States, when you’re a governor of a state, the memorized 30-second speech where you talk about how great America is at the end of it doesn’t solve one problem for one person. They expect you to plow the snow. They expect you to get the schools open. And when the worst natural disaster in your state’s history hits you, they expect you to rebuild their state, which is what I’ve done. None of that stuff happens on the floor of the United States Senate.”

Ah, yes, governing is about running a government, even if Republicans aren’t supposed to like government.

The real shock was that Rubio played right into Christie’s hands by repeating a canned attack on President Obama four times. Christie couldn’t believe his good fortune. “There it is. There it is,” Christie declared, basking in his eureka moment, and chopping five seconds off the prefabricated Rubio sound bite. “The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody.”

Of course, none of the three governors is like the moderate (let alone liberal) GOP executives of old. Kasich came closest when he insisted that conservatism should mean that “everybody has a chance to rise regardless of who they are so they can live their God-given purpose.” Bush had by far his best debate, for once taking on Trump without backing off, and he has looked comfortable, even happy, in his final town halls around the state. But over and over, Bush made clear just how conservative he was as governor, and how conservative he’d be as president.

Nonetheless, for one night, positioning, ideology and Obama-bashing wrapped in an attractive new package were not enough for Rubio. It’s not clear what Christie did for his own candidacy, but he performed a service by reminding his party that running a government is serious work and ought to be respected. That this was revelatory shows how far contemporary conservatism has strayed from the essential tasks of politics.

 

By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, February 7, 2016

February 8, 2016 Posted by | Chris Christie, GOP Primary Debates, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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