mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Will Trump Go Away If He Loses?”: You Cannot Keep The Baby Without The Bathwater

A very interesting argument has broken out over an unusual political question: If Donald Trump loses in November, can he be pushed aside while Republicans find ways to appeal to his core supporters?

Party gadfly David Frum seems to assume Trump will go away quietly:

[O]nce safely excluded from the presidency, Donald Trump will no longer matter. His voters, however, will. There is no conservative future without them.

Frum, to his credit, was warning Republicans for years that the GOP’s indifference to the actual views of its actual voters on the economy and immigration would eventually become a critical problem. He was right. So he has some credibility in seeking to craft a policy agenda and message that scratches the itch Trump scratched with so much excessive force.

But that doesn’t mean Trump won’t have anything to say about it.

Jeet Heer isn’t a Republican but makes a good point in responding to Frum that you cannot keep the baby without the bathwater when it comes to Trump’s fans:

[W]ill Trump really cease to matter in November? After all, no human being loves the spotlight more, and he’s chased after media attention since he was a young man. Being the nominee of a major party is a dream job for him, because it means people will hang on his every word. Even if he loses badly in November, Trump will likely cling to his status as the strangest “party elder” ever—and convert it into new, attention-grabbing and lucrative projects.

Fortunately for Republicans, the old tradition of referring to the immediate past presidential nominee as the “titular head” of the party has fallen into disuse. But presidential nominees rarely just go away. Perhaps the most self-atomizing recent major-party nominee was Democrat Michael Dukakis. But his demise after 1988 was not strictly attributable to his loss of what most Democrats considered a winnable general-election race against George H.W. Bush; his last two years as governor of Massachusetts also made a terrible mockery of his claims of an economic and fiscal “miracle.” And, besides, nobody thought of Dukakis as ideologically distinctive or as leading any sort of political “movement.”

The bottom line is that the same media tactics that improbably made Trump a viable presidential candidate in the first place will help him stay relevant even after a general-election loss, unless (a) it is of catastrophic dimensions and (b) cannot be blamed on tepid party Establishment support for the nominee.

If Trump loses so badly that he does indeed become irrelevant, then people like Frum will have another problem: competing with those who want to dismiss the whole Trump phenomenon as a freak event with no real implications for the Republican future. And yes, such people will be thick on the ground, attributing the loss to Trump’s abandonment of strict conservative orthodoxy on the very issues Frum thinks were responsible for the GOP alienation of its white working-class base from the get-go. There will be show trials and witch hunts aimed not just at Donald Trump and his most conspicuous supporters and enablers, but also at people like Frum — and more broadly, the Reformicon tribe of which he is often regarded as a key member — who think Trump was revealing important shortcomings of the orthodoxy many others will be trying to restore.

So, ironically, and even tragically, #NeverTrumper David Frum may discover that Trump will not only still be around, but could wind up on his side of the intra-party barricades.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, July 6, 2016

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Trump-Led Party Is Unsupportable”: First Republican For Hillary Clinton Over Donald Trump Emerges

By this point, the vast majority of conservative intellectuals have publicly denounced Donald Trump. Most of them depict Trump as an ideologically alien force, more liberal than conservative, whose very affiliation with the GOP is to be dismissed as an inexplicable mistake. But Robert Kagan’s anti-Trump column today differs from those others in two important respects. First, he connects the rise of Trump to the Republican Party’s generalized anti-Obama hysteria. He calls Trump “the party’s creation, its Frankenstein monster,” attributing his rise to “the party’s wild obstructionism,” its “accommodation to and exploitation of the bigotry in its ranks,” and — most daringly — its “Obama hatred, a racially tinged derangement syndrome that made any charge plausible and any opposition justified.” Republicans have challenged the party’s failure to develop legislative alternatives, but none of them have attacked its strategy of massive uncompromising opposition to the entire Obama agenda. (Except David Frum, who was quickly fired from his think-tank post.)

More daringly, Kagan does not merely denounce Trump, or even swear he will never support him (as other conservatives have done). He states plainly he would vote for Hillary Clinton over Trump. And that, of course, is the only real statement that has force in this context. It is one thing to staunchly oppose a candidate in the primary, but however fierce your opposition, there is always room to come home to the party if you lose the primary. Kagan is connecting Trump to the GOP’s extremism and saying that a Trump-led party is unsupportable. That is the sort of opposition that could turn a Trump defeat into an opportunity for internal reform.

Now, Kagan is a bit atypical. A prominent neoconservative intellectual, he has moved closer to the center and defended aspects of the Obama record. It is also interesting that Kagan, like Frum, hails from the neoconservative tradition. The neoconservatives were originally moderate liberal critics of the Democratic Party, who objected to its leftward turn in the 1960s and 1970s and began their exodus from the broader Democratic Party around the McGovern campaign. Most of them are deeply enmeshed in the conservative movement now and have views about the role of government indistinguishable from those of other conservatives. But, eventually, some faction will break loose from the GOP and form the basis for a sane party that is capable of governing. Who knows? Maybe that faction will be the one that moved into the party a half-century ago.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, February 25, 2016

February 26, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Antithesis Of Religious Liberty”: Why The GOP Has The First Amendment Upside Down

One entertaining aspect of recent dramatic Supreme Court rulings was learning that the court’s high-minded intellectuals can be just as thin skinned and spiteful as everybody else. Apparently, Justice Antonin Scalia was a law-school whiz kid about 50 years and 50,000 cocktails ago, and finds it hard to accept that lesser minds are not obliged to agree with him.

For his part, Chief Justice John Roberts turned political prognosticator in his dissent to Obergefell v. Hodges, the decision legitimizing gay marriage. “Stealing this issue from the people,” he wrote, “will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.”

Granted, if all you had to go by was the sky-is-falling rhetoric of Republican presidential candidates and their theological allies, you might think that Roberts had a point. But he doesn’t, partly because the Supreme Court ruling won’t bring about dramatic social change at all. It merely affirms social changes that have already happened.

But hold that thought, because political handicappers at the New York Times argue that same-sex unions could be the best thing that ever happened to the GOP. Not because millions of outraged religious conservatives will stampede to the ballot boxes, but because… well, here’s the headline: “As Left Wins Culture Battles, GOP Gains Opportunity to Pivot for 2016.”

Former Bush speechwriter David Frum believes that the gay marriage fight is over. “Every once in a while,” he told reporter Jonathan Martin, “we bring down the curtain on the politics of a prior era. The stage is now cleared for the next generation of issues. And Republicans can say, ‘Whether you’re gay, black, or a recent migrant to our country, we are going to welcome you as a fully cherished member of our coalition.’”

Sure, Republicans could say that. If Republicans were in the habit of dealing with reality, that is. Frum, a Canadian Jew who became a U.S. citizen in 2007, may be forgiven a bit of wishful thinking. Ever since getting pushed out of the American Enterprise Institute for saying Republicans were foolish not to negotiate with the White House on Obamacare, he’s been trying to persuade Republicans to act more like British Tories.

But that’s not how today’s GOP rolls. On the party’s evangelical right, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was breathing smoke and fire. A Baptist preacher, Huckabee indulged in a bit of ecclesiastical word play, denying that the Supreme Court could do “something only the Supreme Being can do — redefine marriage.” He denounced the ruling as a “blow to religious liberty, which is the heart of the First Amendment,” and vowed to defy it.

In this, Huckabee echoed Rev. Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who even before the Supreme Court ruling had vowed that “as a minister of the Gospel, I will not officiate over any same-sex unions or same-sex marriage ceremonies. I completely refuse.”

Isn’t that brave of him?

However, do you really suppose it’s possible that Floyd, Huckabee, and the rest of the hyperventilating GOP candidates fail to understand that all churches have an absolute First Amendment right to their own beliefs and practices? They’re bravely refusing to perform ceremonies that nothing in this nor any imaginable Supreme Court decision would require of them.

If your church refuses to sanctify same-sex marriages (as mine certainly does), that’s its unquestioned right. For that matter, the Catholic Church also refuses to marry previously divorced couples, or even admit them to communion — an absurdity to me, but not a political issue.

Nothing in the Supreme Court ruling changes those things. It’s about marriage as a secular legal institution: two Americans entering into a contract with each other. Period.

That’s why Bloomberg View‘s Jonathan Bernstein is right and Justice Roberts is wrong about same-sex marriage causing long-lasting social resentment. Marriage, he writes, is “a done deal,” and the issue will soon be relegated to “history books alongside questions of whether women should vote or alcohol should be prohibited.”

Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 decision invalidating miscegenation laws, was accepted almost immediately. Bernstein points out that in states such as Massachusetts and Iowa, where same-sex unions have been legal for years, they’re no longer controversial.

Because it’s really none of your business, is it, who loves whom? And it has zero effect on you personally. So grow up and get over it.

In time, as Bernstein says, most people will.

In the near term, however, millions of aggrieved GOP voters appear to have gotten the First Amendment upside down. They won’t easily be dissuaded. Feeling besieged by the mainstream culture, they’re encouraged by the Huckabees, Cruzes, and Santorums of the world to believe that they’re being persecuted because they can’t make everybody else march to their drumbeat.

The Republicans’ problem is that to most Americans, that’s the antithesis of religious liberty, and a surefire political loser.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, July 1, 2015

July 2, 2015 Posted by | 1st Amendment, GOP, Religious Liberty | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Frenzy Of Ignorance And Indignation”: Scandal? Knowing Zero About Clinton Foundation, Indignant Pundits Blather

A very strange thing has happened to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

Suddenly, journalists who never paid the least attention to the foundation’s work over the past decade or so — and seemed content to let the Clintons and their associates try to do some good in the world — proclaim their concern about its finances, transparency and efficiency. Commentators with very little knowledge of any of the foundation’s programs, who are indeed unable to distinguish the Clinton Global Initiative from the Clinton Health Access Initiative, confidently denounce the entire operation as suspect.

What provoked this frenzy of ignorance and indignation, of course, is the candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton for President of the United States. Partisan adversaries of the former Secretary of State have been working overtime, subsidized by millions of dollars in Republican “dark money,” to construct a conspiratorial narrative that transforms her husband’s good works into dirty deals. (Transparency is evidently required of the Clintons, but not of their critics.)

The main product of that effort, delivered by media mogul Rupert Murdoch amid a din of promotion in mainstream and right-wing media, is of course Clinton Cash, authored by a former Bush speechwriter named Peter Schweizer.

Compressing lengthy timelines, blurring important distinctions, and sometimes simply inventing false “facts,” Schweizer has attempted to transform the Clinton Foundation from an innovative, successful humanitarian organization into a sham institution that sells public favors for private gain.

While many of Schweizer’s most glaring accusations have been thoroughly debunked already — notably concerning the uranium-mining firm once partly owned by a major foundation donor — amplified echoes of his “corruption” meme are damaging nevertheless. Various media figures who have long hated the Clintons, from Rush Limbaugh to David Frum, feel liberated to utter any outrageous accusation, however distorted or dishonest.

But as so often has proved true when such individuals start screaming “scandal” and “Clinton” in the same breath, the sane response is to take a deep breath, suspend judgment and examine relevant facts.

Appearing on a recent National Public Radio broadcast with me, Frum asserted that the foundation spends far too much on air travel and other expenses. The same philanthropic impact could have been achieved, said Frum, if Bill Clinton had merely “joined the International Red Cross” after leaving the White House.

While Frum doesn’t know what he’s talking about, that won’t stop him chattering for a second. Among the significant achievements of the Clinton Foundation was to build a system that has drastically reduced the cost of providing treatment for AIDS and other diseases across Africa, the Caribbean and in other less-developed countries, saving and improving millions of lives. Bringing together major donors, including wealthy nations like Norway, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the leaders of poor nations to create these programs, he helped turn back a disease that once threatened to infect 100 million people globally. That effort required many hours of air travel by him and his aides — and many visits to extremely uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous, places in which Frum will never set an expensively shod foot.

Like Limbaugh, Frum has claimed that the Clinton Foundation wastes enormous resources while concealing its donors and expenditures from a gullible public. The truth, attested by expert authorities on nonprofit and charitable organizations, is that the foundation spends (and raises) its funds with commendable efficiency — and it has posted far more detailed information, including the names of 300,000-plus donors, than federal tax law requires.

Did the foundation’s staff commit errors during the past 15 years or so? Undoubtedly. Could its operations be more efficient, more effective, more transparent? Of course — but its record is outstanding and its activities have done more good for more people than Frum, Limbaugh, Schweizer, the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch would achieve in 10,000 lifetimes.

Why don’t these furious critics care about basic facts? It may be unfair to assume that in pursuit of their political agenda, they are indifferent to millions of Africans dying of HIV or malaria. Yet they do seem perfectly willing to hinder an important and useful effort against human suffering.

When you hear loud braying about the Clinton Foundation, pause to remember that two decades ago, these same pundits (and newspapers) insisted that Whitewater was a huge and terrible scandal. Indeed, Limbaugh even insinuated on the radio that Hillary Clinton had murdered Vince Foster, a friend and White House staffer who tragically committed suicide. Politicians and prosecutors spent more than $70 million on official investigations of that ill-fated real estate investment, loudly proclaiming the Clintons guilty of something, before we finally discovered there was no scandal at all. Talk about waste!

So perhaps this time, with all due respect for the vital work of the Clinton Foundation, we should assume innocence until someone produces credible evidence of wrongdoing.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, The National Memo, May 13, 2015

May 14, 2015 Posted by | Clinton Foundation, Hillary Clinton, Journalism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Time For Conservatives To Face Reality”: Deal With It, ObamaCare Will Not Be Repealed Or Defunded

On March 21, 2010, my former boss and mentor, David Frum, wrote a story that ran on FrumForum.com under the headline “Waterloo.” It harshly criticized conservatives for their uncompromising opposition to the bill officially titled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but which most of us know simply as ObamaCare. David agreed that in a perfect world, ObamaCare would never see the light of day. However, surveying the legislative landscape, David observed that the GOP never had enough votes to defeat the health-care bill.

While conservatives could not prevent the bill from becoming law entirely, David argued that they could have engaged with Democrats and possibly watered down many of the bill’s most unconservative provisions. Instead, though, the GOP refused to participate at all because the worse the bill the unchecked Democratic Congress passed, the better Republicans would do in the 2010 midterm elections.

“Waterloo” went live on the website at around 5 p.m. on the 21st. Within 24 hours, American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks took David to lunch and fired him, essentially for daring to disagree.

More than three years and two elections have passed since David was shouted down for pointing out the flaws in the GOP’s “strategy” for handling ObamaCare. History appears to have provided David right. While the GOP did seize control of the House in November 2010, the party has failed to secure the Senate and, more importantly, Barack Obama won re-election. Realistically, what that means is that repeal is not an option, since even if the GOP did somehow manage to secure a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate in 2014 (which even the most optimistic prognosticators will tell you is not going to happen), the GOP still could not affect repeal (since the president would veto). And yet, despite this harsh reality, serious members of the GOP are still promising voters that they will repeal the law. Indeed, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz are threatening to shut down the government if the president does not defund the law.

Not surprisingly, plenty of smart liberals have taken note of the GOP’s obstinacy on this issue. But more interesting is the fact that some of the brightest voices within the conservative movement are beginning to speak out against the futility of the strategy that my old boss was fired for raising back in 2010. The question ought never have been whether we can prevent ObamaCare, but rather how bad ObamaCare was going to be when the bill finally was delivered to the president for signing.

Late last week, Charles Krauthammer finally put his foot down in the face of Cruz and Lee’s continued efforts to shape GOP policy proposals as if they lived in a perfect conservative world that simply does not exist. Krauthammer did not mince words, describing the Cruz/Lee ultimatum as “nuts.” While he acknowledged that he would support defunding ObamaCare if he thought it would work, he also said it’s obvious that it won’t work, and that he does not fancy “suicide.” Indeed, while Lee and Cruz will undoubtedly claim those who don’t support their cause are less than full conservatives, Krauthammer correctly observed that one’s position on their proposal has little to do with principle and everything to do with “sanity.”

Interestingly, the point that Krauthammer makes is virtually identical to the one David made three years ago. The proposition underlying both articles is that electoral realities must govern ideological decision-making. In a perfect world, Republicans simply could have prevented ObamaCare’s passage by voting against it. Similarly, now, in a perfect world, Republicans would have the votes to repeal or defund ObamaCare.

But alas, this is not a perfect world and that being the case, true conservatives adjust their tactics and their expectations. Over the past three years, the GOP base has become so enamored with the idea of ideological purity that they have been willing to throw the realities of real world politics overboard to chase it. But real defenders of conservatism must learn to embrace the painful compromises of day-to-day governance. Otherwise, we will become a party that stands by and debates itself while living under completely unchecked legislation shaped wholly by our ideological opponents.

 

By: Jeb Golinkin, The Week, August 6, 2013

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: