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“A Barking Carnival Act”: An Endorsement For The Onetime ‘Cancer On Conservatism’

At various points through the Republicans’ presidential primary process, various GOP leaders and candidates thought they could derail Donald Trump with one big speech. Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, and others stepped up to the plate, delivered carefully crafted remarks on the dangers Trump posed to the party and the country, and hoped the weight of their words would change the trajectory of the race.

Each, obviously, failed.

Among the most notable of these speeches, however, came by way of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who invited the press to a DC hotel near the White House last July to deliver an anti-Trump stem-winder.

“My fellow Republicans, beware of false prophets,” Perry said at the time. “Do not let itching ears be tickled by messengers who appeal to anger, division and resentment. I will not go quiet when this cancer on conservatism threatens to metastasize into a movement of mean-spirited politics that will send the Republican Party to the same place it sent the Whig Party in 1854: the graveyard.”

Perry went on to characterize Trump as “a barking carnival act” who offers a “toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued.” Keep all of this in mind when considering what Perry said yesterday. TPM reported:

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) on Thursday endorsed Donald Trump and left the door open to becoming the Republican vice presidential nominee.

“He is not a perfect man. But what I do believe is that he loves this country and he will surround himself with capable, experienced people and he will listen to them,” Perry told CNN. “He wasn’t my first choice, wasn’t my second choice, but he is the people’s choice.” […]

“He is one of the most talented people who has ever run for the president I have ever seen,” Perry told CNN.

When the subject turned to a possible role as Trump’s running mate, the Texas Republican added, “I am going to be open to any way I can help. I am not going to say no.”

No, of course not. Why say no to partnering with “a barking carnival act” who represents a “cancer on conservatism,” who’s poised to send your party to the “graveyard”?

The drama surrounding the process of a presumptive nominee choosing the vice presidential contender is always fascinating. People who actually want the job are supposed to be subtle – those who are too eager tend to lose out – and aspirants are generally expected to feign disinterest.

Perry’s comments yesterday were ridiculous given what he said about Trump last summer, but as it relates to the VP process, the former governor ably put his name out there.

What makes 2016 so unusual – one of the many reasons, actually – is that under normal circumstances, serving as your party’s running mate is generally seen as a pretty sweet gig. If you lose, the campaign still raises your stature and visibility, opening the door to a brighter electoral future. If you win, you hold national office and you’re one heartbeat from the presidency.

But with Trump as the Republicans’ presumptive nominee, the usual dynamic doesn’t apply at all. Many in the party, who would otherwise make a sensible VP choice, are already rushing to withdraw their names from consideration, unwilling to be tied to Trump. As the New York Times reported earlier this week:

It’s a time-honored tradition for politicians to deny any interest in the vice presidency. But this year, with the possibility of Donald J. Trump as the Republican nominee, they really mean it.

“Never,” said Chris Schrimpf, a spokesman for Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who is still running against Mr. Trump. “No chance.”

“Hahahahahahahahaha,” wrote Sally Bradshaw, a senior adviser to Jeb Bush, when asked if he would consider it.

“Scott Walker has a visceral negative reaction to Trump’s character,” said Ed Goeas, a longtime adviser to the Wisconsin governor. […]

A remarkable range of leading Republicans, including Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, have been emphatic publicly or with their advisers and allies that they do not want to be considered as Mr. Trump’s running mate.

I suppose it’s possible that all of these folks are playing the game of appearing disinterested, while quietly hoping for a call from the candidate’s vetting team, though by all appearances, they’re quite sincere.

For his part, Trump said yesterday he intends to announce his running mate “at the convention,” which begins in Cleveland in mid-July.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 6, 2016

May 8, 2016 Posted by | Conservatism, Donald Trump, Rick Perry | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Leaving The Top Of The Ticket Blank”: More Conservatives Backing Away From Trump Nomination

As conservatives all over the country come to terms with Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party, a cohort of conservative political figures and media personalities are actively fighting against him. Here’s what they have said about the racist billionaire’s ascension to the party nomination:

Steve Deace, host of conservative talk show The Steve Deace Show, in USA Today.

“But it’s not Donald Trump’s fault any more than it’s the fault of your pet scorpion when it stings you. After all, it takes a special kind of stupid to allow an animal with a poisonous stinger close enough to do that to you in the first place. The scorpion is simply being a scorpion. You, on the other hand, are supposed to know better.”

David Limbaugh, brother of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, in Townhall:

“If Trump wants our support (and sometimes he implies he doesn’t), he should have to convince us that he will not move toward authoritarianism; that he will honor the Constitution; that he will not take steps to use the Republican Party (or any other party) to permanently undermine constitutional conservatism; and that he won’t cater to those in his movement who want to cast constitutional conservatism into the burning dumpster.”

“I am not ‘NeverTrump’ — I recognize how bad Clinton is — but I think conservatives should now use what leverage they have to hold Trump’s feet to the fire so that we don’t lose either way.”

Former Republican Dallas County party chairman Jonathan Neerman, quoted in TIME

“That would leave me with leaving the top of the ticket blank,” [he said.] “I will fill out the rest of my ballot for every other Republican candidate. I just won’t vote for Donald Trump, and I certainly won’t vote for Hillary Clinton.”

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, quoted in The Hill

“I also cannot in good conscience support Donald Trump because I do not believe he is a reliable Republican conservative nor has he displayed the judgment and temperament to serve as commander in chief.”

Former Texas congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, speaking on Fox Business:

“I don’t think he offers anything and hardly do I think Hillary offers anything,” said

Conservative commentator Linda Chavez, in Newsmax:

“I have said it often enough, but it bears repeating: I will not vote for Donald Trump for president. There are millions like me. We fully understand the consequences — another four years of a Democrat in the White House — even if we do not like them.”

Former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, at “a dinner in Washington,” according to The Washington Examiner

“I happen to think that the person who is leading the nation has an enormous and disproportionate impact on the course of the world, so I am dismayed at where we are now, I wish we had better choices, and I keep hoping that somehow things will get better, and I just don’t see an easy answer from where we are.”

Radio host and leading anti-Trump conservative Glenn Beck, speaking on his network, The Blaze:

“Because what’s going to happen is you are now going to have Hillary Clinton legalize as many voters as you can, the GOP is going to be completely racist – whether it’s true or not – because of Donald Trump. You will never have another Republican president ever again.”

Despite the widespread opposition to Trump, it’s uncertain whether so many conservative politicians and commentators will have any effect. Trump has picked up the endorsements of a growing number of Republican governors and congressmen who have insisted that the racist billionaire should be supported as a matter of duty to the party. Despite their exhortations, it will be hard to paper over the deep divisions that have emerged between the two sides of the Republican Party.

 

By: Saif Alnuweiri, The National Memo, May 6, 2016

May 8, 2016 Posted by | Conservatism, Conservatives, Donald Trump | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“And The List Goes On”: Some #NeverTrumpers Have Already Committed To Voting For Hillary Clinton

Some of the most principled members of the conservative movement woke up Wednesday morning to an unrecognizable party — what had been an organization advocating fiscal and social conservatism has turned into something else entirely: a cult of personality. Populists. Know Nothings.

The new reality facing #NeverTrump Republicans became even more apparent following campaign suspension announcements of Ted Cruz and John Kasich. The Texas senator shut down his campaign before the votes had even been fully counted in Indiana. John Kasich waited until this afternoon. With no one left to lead the anti-Trump movement in the presidential nomination race, some Republicans have done the unthinkable — pledge to support Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.

The social media statuses and official announcements came flooding in last night as soon as it became clear that Trump had won the Indiana primary, effectively guaranteeing that he would be the Republican nominee.

“If it’s a competitive election, I probably will be compelled to vote for Hillary,” said Leon Wolf, editor of Red State, a conservative digital news site, to The Daily Beast. ” I wouldn’t go to bed every night worrying about a mushroom cloud opening up somewhere in the world because of some insane thing Trump had done.”

Fellow Red State editor Ben Howe simply tweeted:

#ImWithHer

— Ben Howe (@BenHowe) May 3, 2016

Former John McCain advisor Mark Salter also tweeted:

The GOP is going to nominate for President a guy who reads the National Enquirer and thinks it’s on the level. I’m with her.

— Mark Salter (@MarkSalter55) May 3, 2016

The Clinton campaign is already capitalizing on Trump’s victory, sending out a campaign email with an exhaustive list of conservatives and Republicans who have said they would never vote for Trump. Nebraska senator Ben Sasse, one of the most prominent voices of the #NeverTrump movement, said in a Facebook post, “Mr. Trump’s relentless focus is on dividing Americans, and on tearing down rather than building back up this glorious nation. … I can’t support Donald Trump.”

Trump’s victory in Indiana only solidified already existing conservative opposition to his candidacy. In March, former New Jersey governor Christie Todd Whitman said, “While I certainly don’t want four more years of another Clinton administration or more years of the Obama administration, I would take that over the kind of damage I think Donald Trump could do to this country, to its reputation, to the people of this country.”

David Bernstein, a professor at George Mason University, wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post, “I’d rather Hillary Clinton win. I’d rather (and I never thought I’d say this) Barack Obama serve a third term. I’d even rather Bernie Sanders win, though if it came down to Sanders vs. Trump it might be time to form a breakaway republic. If Trump wins the nomination, I will actively seek to prevent him from becoming president.”

Even in the realm of international affairs, Trump’s promise to commit war crimes and “bomb the shit out of” America’s enemies has turned away even the most ardent neocons. “She [Clinton] would be vastly preferable to Trump,” said Max Boot, a conservative foreign policy analyst, to Vox. Boot had previously advised the McCain, Romney and Rubio campaigns on foreign policy.

The list goes on. But the reality is that while Trump may have a mandate from the 10.6 million people who have voted for him in Republican primaries, he has earned a lot of powerful enemies in his usurping of establishment power in the party. In heralding the start of a new, post-Reagan Republican Party, Trump’s army has spurred an exodus of its old guard. And while these are the last people to support a Clinton presidency, their seeming willingness to cross party lines shows just how desperate a place Donald Trump’s America would be.

 

By: Saif Alnuweiri, The National Memo, May 4, 2016

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Conservatism, Conservatives, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Constraining Trump’s Erratic Impulses”: The Coming Struggle Over Policy Between Donald Trump And The GOP

Now that Donald Trump has nearly secured the GOP presidential nomination, Republicans everywhere have to start thinking seriously about how they’re going to deal with him and how having him as their party’s leader affects their own plans for the future. And here’s the basic challenge that will create for Republicans: How can they keep Trump from veering wildly from the straight and narrow path of conservatism?

It’s going to require constant work. For Republicans, the next six months will be a struggle to constrain Trump’s erratic impulses, and even if they’re mostly successful, it still might not diminish the damage Trump could to do the conservative project.

Some Republicans are already trying to downplay this challenge. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who is currently engaged in an effort to shape his party’s policy agenda for the next decade or two, said this morning that he and other Republicans who care about conservative ideology have nothing to worry about:

House Speaker Paul Ryan downplayed any conflict between his detailed policy proposals and those pushed by Donald Trump on Wednesday, hours after the front-runner sewed up five more states and marched ever closer to locking up his party’s nomination.

“The key for populism, Joe, as you well know because you practiced this, how do you take this populism and connect it to principle so that it’s populism tethered to good principles which give us good solutions, not unprincipled populism and that to me is our value added to this equation,” the Wisconsin Republican said in a segment on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday, referring to co-host Joe Scarborough’s time as a lawmaker representing Florida.

Though he did not mention Trump by name and has been magnanimous even in his policy criticisms of Trump in the past, Ryan signaled that no matter Republicans’ standard bearer in November, the party will be “comfortable” and unify around the platform that he is advocating in Congress.

He also described any differences with Trump and other candidates over Obamacare and tax reform as small obstacles, remarking that they share broader agreement on the issues.

It’s possible that Ryan could prove right about this. But the amount of vigilance that will be required from Republicans could itself prove a strain.

Perhaps the most important thing to understand about Trump’s relationship to the conservative policy agenda, and to any agenda at all, is that he just doesn’t care about policy in the least. He has some sincere opinions on some issues, but for the most part, not only has he never thought much about any policy issue one might present him with, there’s almost nothing he thinks about an issue that isn’t subject to revision.

That’s why we’ve seen a particular pattern repeat itself so often. Trump will get asked a question about an issue he obviously hasn’t considered before. He’ll give an answer that doesn’t line up with conservative orthodoxy, because he isn’t aware of precisely what conservative orthodoxy is. Then Republicans will get enraged, the controversy will blow up, and a day or two later — after he’s had a chance to learn what he’s supposed to say — he’ll come back and offer a revised version of his position.

This happened on abortion (where he said women should be punished for having abortions, then said they shouldn’t), on transgender people being forced by the government to use the wrong bathrooms (where he said they should use whatever bathrooms they want, then said the issue should be decided at the state and local level), and on Israel and the Palestinians (where he first said he wanted to be a neutral arbiter, then went to AIPAC and said “There is no moral equivalency” between Israel and the Palestinians).

That’s not to mention the positions on issues like abortion and guns that he changed before the race began. So if you’re a Republican, that’s about as much as you can hope for. He may not be with you already, but he’s responsive to pressure. Once you tell him that he has strayed, he comes back to the fold.

To be sure, whenever Trump comes out with a formal policy proposal, it’s right in line with conservative orthodoxy. So for instance, he has repeatedly said we should raise taxes on rich people, much to Republicans’ horror, but when he actually released a tax plan, it featured, guess what, a huge tax cut for the wealthy. The same thing happened on health care: he said some things suggesting there were parts of the Affordable Care Act he liked, but when he released his plan, it could have been lifted from the boilerplate on the issue you’ll find on any Republican candidate’s web site.

Today Trump is going to deliver an address on foreign policy, and while we don’t know what’s going to be in it, because this is a prepared speech — which means it was written for him by other people — I’m almost sure that there will be little if anything in there that Republicans will object to. It’ll talk about how Barack Obama is weak, our enemies don’t fear us, we need to increase military spending, we should tear up the Iran nuclear deal — all things ordinary Republicans say all the time.

This is all possible because, to repeat, Trump just doesn’t care about policy. That should make Republicans at least somewhat sanguine about what his presidency would be like. Paul Ryan can deliver him one bill after another written and passed by the GOP Congress, and Trump is likely to say, “Sure, whatever” and sign them.

And yet, there are some trouble spots for conservatives ahead, signaled by the areas where Trump has in fact gone against conservative orthodoxy. Trade is a big one — Trump seems to believe that if we increase tariffs on Chinese goods, then everyone in America will have a great job. There have been a few others, like his lack of enthusiasm for cutting Social Security. Then there’s his ban on Muslims entering the U.S., which (while Republican voters support it) GOP elites find vulgar and damaging to the party.

And so, in the general election, we may see examples of Republicans like Ryan struggling to pull Trump back into line: when his impulse takes him to a place that’s popular with the electorate, but it’s a place other Republicans don’t want to go. Then they’ll have a much harder time making the case to him that he needs to get back with the conservative program.

On the other hand, if Trump remains as dreadfully unpopular with the general electorate as he is now, and he goes down to a sweeping defeat, maybe Republicans would be better off if he proves to be an imperfect representative of GOP ideology. Though that may not be much comfort.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, April 27, 2016

May 1, 2016 Posted by | Conservatism, Donald Trump, GOP Establishment | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“This ‘Intellectual Defense’ Of Trump Is So Bad It’s Good”: To Support Trump, Conservatives Must Abandon Their Principles

Donald Trump and his candidacy are basically the living embodiment of liberals’ worst caricature of conservatism: bigoted, contemptuous, heartless, proudly stupid, apocalyptic, mean. Conservatives have had basically two reactions: recoil in horror or embrace the caricature.

Perhaps one of the saddest examples of the latest tendency comes from Mytheos Holt, a contributor to the online conservative magazine The Federalist, who penned a two-part “intellectual case for Trump.” It is… not good.

The first part is perhaps the oddest. After running us through his resume (“I am young, financially secure, and graduated from one of America’s elite liberal arts colleges” — good for you!), the author runs us through his OkCupid history, telling us about the time when he had long conversations with a young, white supremacist girl.

And the summation of the first part of the intellectual case for Trump is: White supremacists are people too! Many white supremacists believe their horrible views because they come from marginalized circumstances. And many of them are overreacting to the media elite’s disdain for traditional culture. And so (therefore?) we shouldn’t hold Trump’s white supremacist support against him.

First of all, isn’t it progressives who usually explain away extremist views with references to social circumstances, ignoring the power of ideas? And secondly — um, what?

The reason why many conservatives disdain Trump is not because white supremacists support him, per se, it’s because he positively welcomes and panders to their support. And in doing so, he is steering the GOP further down the path of being the party of white identity politics, which is both immoral and politically suicidal.

It’s true that whites who have seen their status downgraded by recent shifts — including globalization, the transition to a gig economy, lifestyle liberalism and, yes, cosmopolitanism — have been among the most ignored constituencies by either party. And yes, a healthy polity should speak to them. But one of the reasons it must is because otherwise they will turn to someone like Trump. That is, someone who will exploit their grievances for political gain and do absolutely nothing about them.

What’s the second part of the “intellectual case for Trump”? Well, it’s basically this: Trump is the right guy to win the culture war for the right, so long as conservatives accept defeat on the issues they’re fighting a culture war over.

I’m only being slightly unfair by representing Holt’s argument this way. The author launches into a long reprise of a famous National Review piece written by former Nixon speechwriter tut-tutting the “young fogies” on the right: 19 year olds Mormon-like in dress and even more uptight than the stereotype.

(One pictures the author at a D.C. bar, slurringly explaining to a young blonde frantically looking for a socially-acceptable exit that he’s a conservative but “not a young fogey, if you know what I mean.”)

If only conservatives give up their retrograde views about sex, they’ll be able to embrace Trump and use his amazing skills at working the media to win the culture war. First, how, exactly, are you going to win a culture war by adopting as your standard bearer someone with the worst favorability ratings in modern presidential politics?

Secondly, what, pray tell, is there to “win” in such a “culture war”? #GamerGate? It’s telling that nowhere in a very wordy piece on the culture wars does the word “abortion” — an issue on which Trump is absolutely awful — appear.

It happens to be the most important issue in the culture wars, since it concerns the deaths of millions of people, and it also happens to be the only one where conservatives are, at least, not losing.

But, you know, many conservatives also believe that, for example, things like hookup culture and no-fault divorce are morally, socially and spiritually corrosive. If that makes us young fogeys, that’s fine with me.

At least Holt’s piece was clarifying. Even on the best spin, for conservatives to support Trump involves abandoning their principles. Even if Trump had a chance of winning, that wouldn’t be a good idea.

 

By: Pascal-Emmanuel Goby, The Week, April 25, 2016

April 26, 2016 Posted by | Conservatism, Conservatives, Donald Trump | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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