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“What A Healthy Political Party This Is”: Why Sarah Palin’s Feud With Paul Ryan Matters

For months, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) offered two competing messages. The Republican leader repeatedly felt compelled to denounce Donald Trump’s rhetoric, but at the same time, the Wisconsin congressman insisted he would support his party’s presidential nominee – no matter who prevailed in the primaries and caucuses.

But late last week, with Trump’s GOP rivals having abandoned the race, Ryan just couldn’t bring himself to follow through. “I’m just not ready to do that at this point,” he said when asked about backing Trump publicly. “I’m not there right now.”

Some congressional Republicans were incensed, as were some Republican pundits. Trump is even threatening to remove Ryan as chairman of this year’s Republican National Convention. But as MSNBC’s Christina Coleburn reported yesterday, a certain former half-term governor of Alaska intends to go even further.

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said in an interview that aired Sunday that House Speaker Paul Ryan could be ousted for his hesitancy to back Donald Trump, and suggested that Ryan’s reluctance was fueled by aspirations to run for president in 2020.

When asked for her thoughts about Ryan’s stance on Trump, Palin invoked former Rep. Eric Cantor. The ex-Republican House majority leader, who was viewed as the likely successor to former House Speaker John Boehner, was defeated by a Tea Party challenger in a stunning upset in the 2014 Virginia primary.

“I think Paul Ryan is soon to be ‘Cantored,’ as in Eric Cantor,” Palin said on CNN. “His political career is over but for a miracle because he has so disrespected the will of the people, and as the leader of the GOP, the convention, certainly he is to remain neutral, and for him to already come out and say who he will not support was not a wise decision of his.”

I see. So, the Republican Party’s 2008 vice presidential nominee has decided to go to war with the Republican Party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee.

What a healthy political party this is.

The reference to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) wasn’t accidental. The Alaska Republican added yesterday that she’s throwing her support behind Trump supporter Paul Nehlen, who’s taking on Ryan in a Wisconsin primary.

“Yes, I will do whatever I can for Paul Nehlen,” Palin said. “This man is a hard working guy, so in touch with the people. Paul Ryan and his ilk, their problem is they have become so disconnected from the people whom they are elected to represent … they feel so threatened at this point that their power, their prestige, their purse will be adversely affected by the change that is coming with Trump and someone like Paul Nehlen that they’re not thinking straight right now.”

A few hours later, Palin posted a Facebook message, which she appears to have written herself: “Rep. Paul Ryan abandoned the district he was to represent as special interests dictated his legislative priorities. Without ever having a real job outside of politics, it seems he disconnected himself from the people, thus easily disrespected the will of the people. It’s time for a change.”

Remember, by most metrics, Paul Ryan is the most conservative House Speaker in modern American history, but for the Trump wing of the Republican Party, Ryan is just an establishment sellout who needs to be replaced.

There’s little to suggest Ryan’s career in jeopardy – though, in fairness, I would have said the same thing about Eric Cantor two years ago at this time – and there’s even less to suggest the Speaker is worried about the primary. Palin has a habit of picking pointless fights that don’t amount to much, and for her to complain about someone else “abandoning” their constituents is kind of hilarious.

But the bottom line is that in a normal, functioning party, fights like these simply don’t happen. In 2016, it’s become almost commonplace in Republican politics.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 9, 2016

May 10, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Sarah Palin | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Trump’s Palin-Like Word Salad About Tonights Debate”: Trump And Sarah Palin Had The Same English Teacher In School

As of this writing, it looks like Donald Trump will not participate in tonights Republican presidential debate hosted by Fox News. I qualify that because – knowing the two sides involved in this battle – it wouldn’t surprise me to see further developments throughout the day. But here is Trump answering questions about all this yesterday at a press conference.

What struck me as I listened to it was that – based on his sentence structure – I’m guessing that he and Sarah Palin had the same English teacher in school. They both seem to have an appetite for the same kind of word salad.

The best I can make of Trump’s diatribe was that he has three problems. The first, of course, is that he doesn’t like Megyn Kelly. He also talks repeatedly about how “they” should donate money to Wounded Warriors. Those sound like excuses to me. What he really didn’t like is the statement Fox News issued when one of his spokespersons issued this threat.

In a call on Saturday with a FOX News executive, Lewandowski stated that Megyn had a ‘rough couple of days after that last debate’ and he ‘would hate to have her go through that again.’ Lewandowski was warned not to level any more threats, but he continued to do so.

Here is the Fox News response that Donald is so upset about:

We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president — a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.

That last part has to do with the fact that Trump asked his twitter followers to weigh in on whether or not to participate in this debate. But what it comes down to is that Trump tried to bully Megyn Kelly and the folks at Fox News made him the brunt of their joke.

What seems clear to me about all of this is that the best way to get under Trump’s skin is to challenge his “testicular fortitude.”

I don’t offer that as any serious political commentary – after all, when it comes to a battle between Donald Trump and Fox News, I don’t have a dog in that fight. But it is a perfect example of just how dumbed-down this whole spectacle has become.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, January 28, 2016

January 28, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primary Debates, Sarah Palin | , , , , , | 4 Comments

“A Master Class In Surrealist Poetry”: Sarah Palin Takes The GOP Campaign To A New Low

I love poetic justice. This wild and wacky Republican presidential campaign deserved Sarah Palin, and now it’s got her.

Palin’s endorsement of front-runner Donald Trump at an Iowa rally this week was a master class in surrealist poetry. Geniuses of the Dada movement would have been humbled by her deconstruction of the language and her obliteration of the bourgeois concept we call logic.

The GOP candidates have been competing to see who can spew the most nonsense, but they’ll never top Palin. Not when she offers gems such as this: “Believe me on this. And the proof of this? Look what’s happening today. Our own GOP machine, the establishment, they who would assemble the political landscape, they’re attacking their own front-runner. . . . They are so busted, the way that this thing works.”

Or this further excoriation of the party leadership: “And now, some of them even whispering, they’re ready to throw in for Hillary [Clinton] over Trump because they can’t afford to see the status quo go. Otherwise, they won’t be able to be slurping off the gravy train that’s been feeding them all these years.”

Or this elaboration of the same theme: “How ’bout the rest of us? Right-wingin’, bitter clingin’, proud clingers of our guns, our God, and our religions, and our Constitution. Tell us that we’re not red enough? Yeah, coming from the establishment. Right.”

Or this exercise in random word choice: “Well, and then, funny, ha ha, not funny, but now, what they’re doing is wailing, ‘Well, Trump and his, uh, uh, uh, Trumpeters, they’re not conservative enough.’ ”

Actually, I think the wailing from Republican grandees is more of a wordless primal scream. Palin claimed that “media heads are spinning” at her decision to campaign for Trump, but it would be more accurate to say that “media feet are dancing” at having such a rich source of new material.

I could quote Palin all day, but there are two substantive points about her dazzling intervention that I feel duty-bound to make. The first is political: Someday we might look back and say she was the one who pushed Trump over the top to win the nomination.

That’s not a promise, just a possibility. But Trump’s campaign draws strength from its own momentum. If he can somehow manage to sweep the early primary states, “outsider” support may coalesce behind him — and the establishment candidates may be too shellshocked to effectively respond.

Polls show Trump holding big leads in New Hampshire and South Carolina. But first comes Iowa, where he’s running neck and neck with Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.). Given his overall strength, Trump could finish second in the Iowa caucuses and still capture the nomination. A win there, however, could boost his support in the subsequent contests and make it much harder for anyone to stop him.

 

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, January 21, 2016

January 26, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Sarah Palin | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Trump And The Myth Of Superiority”: It’s The Lowest Part Of Who We Are, This Need To Find Someone Else To Put Down

There are many reasons to recommend Elizabeth Strout’s new novel, “My Name Is Lucy Barton,” but this is not a book review, so I offer this single, searing paragraph:

“I have said before: It interests me how we find ways to feel superior to another person, another group of people. It happens everywhere, and all the time. Whatever we call it, I think it’s the lowest part of who we are, this need to find someone else to put down.”

Could there be a more perfect description of that failed human strategy? If we feel good about ourselves only by comparison, we are forever on the hunt, setting our sights on innocent others so that we can stomach who we’ve become.

“So what?” one might ask. If this game of mental gymnastics is an interior job — if we keep our darkest motives to ourselves — what harm comes of this way of thinking?

Well, there’s this: When storing our insecurities, the mind is the worst place to stock the shelves. Eventually, the monster festering and growing in the dark demands its freedom — or, in the case of the Republican presidential race, an audience.

This week Sarah Palin, who refuses to go away, endorsed Donald Trump, who insists he is here to stay. The public response was rapid and, many would say, often hilarious. Satirist Andy Borowitz wrote a piece for The New Yorker titled “Palin Endorsement Widens Trump Lead Among Idiots.” The New York Daily News‘ cover headline: “I’M WITH STUPID! Hate minds think alike: Palin endorses Trump.”

A few months ago, I would have snickered along and maybe shared links to this coverage on Facebook, but these past few months of relentless Trump coverage have changed me. To laugh is to play along with this notion of my superiority, and I don’t like that version of myself. I was raised to be better than this.

Some of Trump’s most ardent supporters — white, working-class males who fear they are on the brink of extinction — are the same Americans who would suffer most if he were the Republican nominee and could continue this farce of a campaign to Election Day. These are the people I come from. I have reached the point where I am more worried for them than embarrassed by their choice of candidate. I’m not proud of either sentiment.

It is perhaps the most depressing fact of this current primary campaign that Donald Trump’s extremism — so much of which swirls around his assertions of superiority — has fueled his momentum. Every speech is one long brag-fest about his fictional superiority, not just to other candidates but also to a growing list of entire groups of people: Mexicans and Muslims, women and black people — and now members of the media, too, who dare to defy his coverage directives. He mocks them, all of them. The more he bellows and belittles, the louder his crowds roar.

And now he has been joined by Sarah Palin, who resigned her job as Alaska’s governor to pursue her hobby of willfully uninformed trolling in the arena of public discourse. During her endorsement speech for Donald Trump, she made up a new word — “squirmishes” — to describe the complexities of the violence in the Middle East:

“And you quit footing the bill for these nations who are oil-rich. We’re paying for some of their squirmishes that have been going on for centuries, where they’re fighting each other and yelling ‘Allahu akbar,’ calling jihad on each other’s heads forever and ever. Like I’ve said before, let them duke it out and let Allah sort it out.”

And this, comparing Trump to President Barack Obama: “And he, who would negotiate deals, kind of with the skills of a community organizer maybe organizing a neighborhood tea, well, he deciding that, ‘No, America would apologize as part of the deal,’ as the enemy sends a message to the rest of the world that they capture and we kowtow, and we apologize, and then, we bend over and say, ‘Thank you, enemy.’”

Thanks (I think) to The New York Times‘ Michael Barbaro for transcribing those chunks of Palin’s ranting.

Most major news organizations in the country sent out breaking news alerts when she announced that she was endorsing Trump. Think about that, but whatever you do, don’t dwell on it. No good comes of it, I can tell you.

There was a time when too many of us saw Trump’s climb in the polls as so temporary, and evidence of our superiority. Look how stupid those people are, we said, chuckling.
Who’s laughing now?

 

By: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist; The National Memo, January 21, 2016

January 23, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primary Debates, Sarah Palin | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Shameful, Even For Sarah Palin”: Vets Balk After Palin Connects PTSD, Obama

It’s generally important to consider a politician’s family, especially his or her kids, off limits to political scrutiny. It’s simply unfair to go after private citizens, outside the arena, simply because of their familial connections.

But when a politician chooses to put a spotlight on their family members, on purpose, and uses them to advance an agenda, standards and expectations of privacy change.

On Monday, for example, one of Sarah Palin’s sons, 26-year-old Track Palin, was arrested, charged with domestic violence, possession of a firearm while intoxicated, and assault on his girlfriend. A day later, Palin endorsed Donald Trump, and yesterday she hit the campaign trail – where she suggested President Obama bore some responsibility for Track Palin’s issues.

Sarah Palin suggested Wednesday that her son’s arrest on domestic violence charges this week stemmed from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and – in part – the president’s lack of “respect” for veterans.

Addressing what she called “the elephant in the room” during a rally in support of Donald Trump, Palin said her son Track came back “different” from his year-long deployment in Iraq.

Referencing her son’s problem, Palin specifically said, “[I]t makes me realize more than ever, it is now or never for the sake of America’s finest that we’ll have that commander-in-chief who will respect them and honor them.” She added that veterans like her son “come back wondering if there is that respect … and that starts right at the top.”

Last night, Donald Trump took credit for the rhetoric, saying he “suggested” to Palin that she talk about the issue.

As Rachel noted on Twitter late yesterday, some veterans were not pleased with Palin’s rhetoric.

Don’t blame President Obama for the PTSD that Sarah Palin claims her oldest son is battling.

That was the message Wednesday from the head of a New York City-based veteran’s organization that has fought for years to get Iraq and Afghanistan war vets help with their post traumatic stress disorder.

“It’s not President Obama’s fault that Sarah Palin’s son has PTSD,” said Paul Rieckhoff, who heads Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). “PTSD is a very serious problem, a complicated mental health injury and I would be extremely reluctant to blame any one person in particular…. I hope this doesn’t become a portable chew toy in a political campaign,” he said.

It’s quite simple: bringing attention to PTSD is worthwhile; using PTSD as some sort of partisan cudgel to take cheap shots at the president is not.

For that matter, the idea that the Obama administration has somehow been lax in helping veterans returning with PTSD is plainly wrong. There’s ample evidence pointing in the opposite direction, with the White House expanding treatment options several times over the course of several years.

In other words, this line of attack isn’t just ugly; it’s also untrue.

I’m well aware of the fact that in some far-right circles, it’s important to blame President Obama for everything, without regard for propriety or common sense. But for Sarah Palin to exploit her own son’s troubles in the hopes of making the president look bad is just shameful, even for Sarah Palin.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, January 21, 2016

January 22, 2016 Posted by | PTSD, Sarah Palin, Veterans | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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