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“The First Of Many”: Sen. Mark Kirk ‘Un-Endorses’ Donald Trump

The Associated Press‘ congressional correspondent Erica Werner tweeted Tuesday afternoon that Senator Mark Kirk, in the middle of a fierce re-election fight in Illinois against congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.

First un-endorsement — Sen. Mark Kirk. “I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for President.”

— Erica Werner (@ericawerner) June 7, 2016

On his own Twitter page, Kirk confirmed that he would not be supporting Trump, who as the GOP’s presidential nominee is the leader of the Republican Party:

Given my military experience, Donald Trump does not have the temperament to command our military or our nuclear arsenal.

— Mark Kirk (@MarkKirk) June 7, 2016

Yesterday, Duckworth blasted Kirk for his refusal to distance himself from Trump after the presumptive nominee’s racist attacks against federal judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over two class action lawsuits by former students at Trump University.

“Trump’s statements are outrageous. They are un-American and they are dangerous. They betray the weaknesses of a man who is fundamentally unsuited for the office of the presidency,” Duckworth told about 200 people, according to the Chicago Tribune.

A month ago, Kirk said that Trump’s candidacy would be “a net benefit” for his Senate re-election, referencing the large numbers of Republican primary voters he was bringing out to polls. He said at that time that he would endorse the Republican nominee for president, but that he was confident voters would be able to separate his candidacy from Trump’s

“These days I’m probably the best-positioned Republican to weather the institution of Trumpism because I have been voting pro-gay rights and against the gun lobby and solidly pro-choice,” Kirk said in the CNN interview at the time.

Read Kirk’s full statement to the press on his un-endorsement below:

“I have spent my life building bridges and tearing down barriers–not building walls. That’s why I find Donald Trump’s belief that an American-born judge of Mexican descent is incapable of fairly presiding over his case is not only dead wrong, it is un-American.

“As the Presidential campaign progressed, I was hoping the rhetoric would tone down and reflect a campaign that was inclusive, thoughtful and principled. While I oppose the Democratic nominee, Donald Trump’s latest statements, in context with past attacks on Hispanics, women and the disabled like me, make it certain that I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for President regardless of the political impact on my candidacy or the Republican Party.

“It is absolutely essential that we are guided by a commander-in-chief with a responsible and proper temperament, discretion and judgment. Our President must be fit to command the most powerful military the world has ever seen, including an arsenal of thousands of nuclear weapons. After much consideration, I have concluded that Donald Trump has not demonstrated the temperament necessary to assume the greatest office in the world.”

 

By: Matt Shuham, The National Memo, June 7, 2016

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Voters, Mark Kirk, Tammy Duckworth | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Classic Kindergarten Bully Antics”: Trump’s Narcissism Makes It Hard For Him To Tack To Center

In the weeks following Trump’s mathematical lock on the GOP nomination, the candidate and party establishment have attempted to come to a detente and make overtures toward tacking to center in the general election. We have seen high-profile politicians say that Trump’s political racism and bigotry is an act he put on to win the primary election that he will drop in the general. We have seen Trump himself attempt to use more generically populist pitches than the specifically nativist themes he has consistently used to win Republican support.

But the problem is that Trump’s personal history and personality are going to make it very difficult for him to move into a less offensive general election mode.

Even the most casual observer can see that Trump is a classic narcissist. Like most narcissists, Trump tends to do and say whatever is best for him even at the expense of everyone else. Most importantly, he is congenitally unable to apologize and take responsibility for past bad behavior, or even concede that a critic might have a valid point. His reaction to being criticized is to immediately engage in childish and petty personal attacks against his critics.

The problem with petty personal attacks is that they quickly tend to devolve into bigotry. So it is that when a judge with a Hispanic surname ruled against Trump in the ongoing scandal of his fraudulent ponzi scheme “university,” Trump’s reaction wasn’t to suggest that all the facts had yet to come out, or that the judge had misinterpreted the data, or even that the judge had a politically motivated agenda as a secret liberal. These are the sorts of defenses that people who aren’t egomaniacal narcissists might make.

But not Trump. Trump’s reaction was to slam the judge for the crime of being Hispanic.

Trump goes for the jugular every time to silence his critics by placing himself (in his mind) on a level above them and denying them the right to even dare to judge him, by virtue of some innate inferiority on their part. It’s classic kindergarten bully antics. And in adult political life, it’s almost impossible to engage in kindergarten bullying without repeatedly stepping across lines of racism, sexism, and bigotry. This isn’t just a problem for him as a candidate, of course: it’s a problem for the entire Republican Party, which is aghast

But then, the GOP did this to itself. You can only use dogwhistled racism and sexism to deprive the middle class of its living standards for so long until that middle class stops buying into the hidden rhetoric and the plutocrat-friendly ideology, and starts to want more overt policies designed to help members of their own tribal identity.

It just happens to be that Republican voters picked a narcissist bully who will be constitutionally unable to do what it takes to win a general election. He just can’t help himself.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 5, 2016

June 7, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Establishment, GOP Voters | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Consolidating The Same Old GOP Vote”: Is Trump Leading An Intra-Party Coup Rather Than A Political Realignment?

If you want to make a case that Donald Trump can win the presidency in November without huge “black swan” events like another 9/11 or Great Recession, and you don’t buy dumb polls suggesting Trump’s actually very popular among Latinos, then you are driven to one of two intersecting theories. The first is the famous “missing white voters” hypothesis, which suggests that Mitt Romney left millions of votes on the table in 2012, and Trump’s just the guy to bring these voters to the polls. And the second is the theory beloved of some Democratic lefties that as a “populist” Trump’s going to win former Democratic, white, working-class voters alienated by Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street ties.

Politico has, however, done some number-crunching from the GOP primaries and concluded (tentatively, at least) that Trump’s base of support backs neither of the theories of an expanding GOP:

While Trump’s insurgent candidacy has spurred record-setting Republican primary turnout in state after state, the early statistics show that the vast majority of those voters aren’t actually new to voting or to the Republican Party, but rather they are reliable past voters in general elections. They are only casting ballots in a Republican primary for the first time.

If that’s true, then what the Trump candidacy represents is not some realigning event that could change our understanding of the general-election landscape, but simply an intra-party coup that overthrew the dominance of the business-as-usual and conservative-movement Establishments without necessarily adding to the total number of people prepared to vote Republican in November.

Now even if you don’t believe Trump is God’s gift to Democratic GOTV efforts, it’s pretty safe to say he places a cap on the GOP share of minority voters. So at best the general-election polls showing a tightening Trump-Clinton race may be about as good as it gets for the mogul, showing that he’s consolidating the same old GOP vote without materially adding to it.

On the other hand, the Politico analysis could be wrong. But it helps expose the tenuous reasoning behind Trump-can-win scenarios that rely on hoary ideas about hidden majorities and transpartisan “populist” winds that blow up the existing party coalitions. If the typical Trump supporter is someone who has voted for GOP presidential candidates monotonously since the Reagan Administration without necessarily buying into the party’s economic orthodoxy, then that should be terrifying to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but not so much to Democrats.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, May 17, 2016

May 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Voters, Populism | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand)”: Why Would It Be Offensive For Hillary Clinton To Woo Republican Voters?

If it wasn’t considered offensive for Barack Obama to woo Republican voters in 2008, why would it be considered offensive for Hillary Clinton to do the same in 2016?

Clinton’s reported effort to attract support from Republicans terrified of Donald Trump is a logically sound decision: heck, it’s Political Strategy 101. It is rational for Clinton to try to reach Republicans when one takes into account the two main obstacles she faces in a general election:

1) The likely suppression of large numbers of Democratic votes, thanks to the Supreme Court’s atrocious 2013 Shelby County v. Holder ruling, which effectively struck down the 1965 Voting Rights Act. As a result of that ruling, numerous states instituted restrictive voter ID laws, with the obvious purpose of blocking access to the polls for those who might find the Democratic Party’s message more palatable. No matter what the polls currently say about Trump’s popularity, Shelby County v. Holder gives Trump an advantage heading into November 8.

2) The bombastic “Bernie or Bust” movement, comprised of self-righteous snobs and egomaniacal elitists who regard Clinton as corporate America’s official escort service, and who turn up their noses in disgust at the thought of supporting a member of the so-called “Democratic establishment.” Many of these folks were the same ones who thought Al Gore was morally inferior to Ralph Nader sixteen years ago; they hate the former Secretary of State just as much as they hated the former Vice President.

In light of these political realities, it’s hard to argue against the logic of Clinton attempting to secure Republican support in the general election. If Clinton can siphon away a significant number of Republican votes to offset the number of Democratic votes she will not receive due to voter suppression and the “Bernie or Bust” movement, wouldn’t it be politically irresponsible for her not to do so?

Of course, some of the Republicans Clinton will try to attract will have to set aside 25 years of anti-Clinton propaganda in order to consider her candidacy. Some will find themselves unable to do so, their minds permanently poisoned by the lies of Limbaugh, the falsehoods of Fox and the BS of Breitbart News. However, if significant numbers of Republicans can come to the realization that human-caused climate change is not a hoax, why can’t significant numbers of Republicans come to the realization that Clinton is not, and never has been, corrupt?

I recognize the main argument against Clinton’s reported strategy, i.e., that it’s ridiculous to ask Republicans to put “country first,” so to speak, when they largely failed to do so in every post-Southern Strategy presidential election prior to 2016. However, the counterargument is that Trump is so uniquely ugly–far more loathsome than Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush Sr., Dole, Bush Jr., McCain and Romney combined–that a potentially large percentage of Republicans are now, at long last, open to seeking alternate political routes.

Some of these Republicans willing to cross the aisle will do so gritting their teeth. Consider this snark-filled endorsement of Clinton by former Maryland GOP official Michael Esteve:

I disagree with Hillary on a whole host of issues. She, too, may likely continue to abuse executive authority to circumvent an uncooperative Congress. She may try to curb Second Amendment rights (not without opposition from the likes of me). She may have repulsive political and personal ties and a dubious relationship with the truth.

But, honest to goodness (and I can’t believe I’m saying this), she’s at least surpassed the emotionality of a child. She doesn’t launch into personal tirades over minor slights, or worse yet, press criticism. She doesn’t shift her foreign policy at the drop of a dime, and form policy based on whatever stream of consciousness she’s in at any given moment. She doesn’t share tabloid stories as fact. She doesn’t scapegoat religious minorities for the nation’s woes. She doesn’t praise foreign dictators for strong leadership. She isn’t, in short, emotionally and politically unbalanced.

It’s also worth pointing out that for a Democrat, Hillary isn’t all wrong on the issues. She believes in a balanced approach to disincentivizing short-term thinking on Wall Street. She’s proposing keeping taxes flat for middle income families. Her foreign policy is neither as cavalier as George Bush’s nor as passive as Barack Obama’s.

For all of his sarcasm, Esteve at least understands that Clinton vs. Trump is rationality vs. radicalism, sagacity vs. savagery, analysis vs. anarchy. He at least understands that America under a Trump presidency will quickly move from democracy to dystopia, a vast wasteland of rampant prejudice and economic decline.

If enough Republicans share Esteve’s views–if enough Republicans recognize that the choice between Clinton and Trump is, in essence, a choice between decency and devastation–then Trump’s concession speech on November 8 will be shorter than Romney’s speech was four years ago.

 

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

May 18, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Voters, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Trump Could Probably Care Less”: Does Party Unity Really Matter? Not To Donald Trump

The Washington press corps descended on Republican National Committee headquarters on Thursday morning in great multitudes. They hoped only to catch a glimpse of Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan as they entered and exited the building for a meeting aimed at fostering that elusive state of grace known as “unity.” The reporters may not have witnessed any real news, but they were treated to the entertaining spectacle of a guy in a giant papier-mache Trump head dueling for mindspace with a Trump supporter blowing a shofar, so at least it was festive.

For all the assembled cameras, you’d think the election hinged on the outcome of this meeting, or at least on the broader question of whether the Republican Party can unify around its regrettable nominee. Just a few days before, however, Trump had suggested that unity is overrated. “Does the party have to be together? Does it have to be unified?” he asked George Stephanopoulos. “No, I don’t think so. I think it would be better if it were unified. I think it would be, uh, there would be something good about it. But I don’t think it actually has to be unified in the traditionally sense.”

And maybe Trump is right, even if less than entirely articulate. After all, when we talk about party unity for the election, we usually aren’t talking about the voters, whose unity is genuinely important. Instead, we’re talking about whether party figures and partisan pundits are all singing from the same hymnal. But as it happens, we’re in an age of near-unanimous party unity among voters — in 2012, Barack Obama got the votes of 92 percent of Democrats, while Mitt Romney was backed by 93 percent of Republicans. An inability to persuade nearly all Republican voters is just one of the things that could doom Trump. But how many voters actually care whether and when Paul Ryan endorses Trump, a question that has the D.C. press corps on the edge of their seats?

My guess is, very few. Yes, endorsements can be important signals, and if lots of Republican officeholders don’t endorse Trump, it could remind GOP voters that he may not truly be one of them. But it isn’t like those voters aren’t going to have enough information to make a decision by the time we get to November without getting their marching orders from Paul Ryan. Whether Republican elected officials get behind Trump is a problem for them much more than it’s a problem for Trump.

And it is certainly a problem for them. That’s why so many Republican senators up for reelection have been hemming and hawing about whether they’ll actually endorse Trump, with most settling for saying, “I’ll support the nominee of my party” without allowing his name to pass their lips. They don’t want to alienate Trump supporters, but they also don’t want Trump’s stench to settle on them. This is particularly true of those running in states like Illinois, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire, where Trump is likely to lose.

But Trump himself probably couldn’t care less whether, say, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) supports him. He’ll win or lose New Hampshire on his own merits (or lack thereof), and what she has to say about it will change few minds. There may be some voters who don’t quite know yet what they think about Donald Trump and might be influenced by an endorsement from a politician they admire, but by November there won’t be too many of them.

That’s the position Paul Ryan says he’s in right now: He’s not quite sure what to make of this Trump fellow, and would like to learn more about him before coming to a decision on his endorsement. Ryan is acting like he’s holding a pledge of eternal love and loyalty, and he doesn’t want to give it away in haste. But I suspect that what he’s really concerned with is his carefully cultivated image among the D.C. press corps.

Having worked so hard (and with so much success) to convince reporters that he’s a thoughtful, serious wonk, it wouldn’t do to jump behind a buffoon like Trump too quickly. So he has to be seen agonizing over the decision, torn between loyalty to his party and a deep concern for both civility and the conservative policy positions which Trump can’t be trusted to uphold. “It’s no secret that Donald Trump and I have had our differences,” Ryan told reporters after their get-together. “The question is what is it that we need to do to unify the Republican Party and all strains of conservative wings of the party. It was important that we discussed our differences that we have, but it was also important that we discuss the core principles that tie us together.”

Mission accomplished: Ryan reminded everyone that he and Trump have “differences,” but also that he’s a party man who wants what’s best for the GOP. Then when November comes and Trump loses, Ryan will have made sure everyone already knows that he never liked him in the first place. At which point it’s on to 2020 with Ryan’s reputation intact. Unity is all well and good, but not if it leaves you damaged when the time comes to fulfill your own ambitions.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Week, May 13, 2016

May 13, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Voters, Paul Ryan | , , , , , | 2 Comments

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