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“When #NeverTrump Becomes #ImWithHer”: Pulling The Lever, How #NeverTrump Became #NeverEverTrump

Some of the right’s most prominent conservatives are getting Ready for Hillary.

Donald Trump is now the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, as Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus tweeted tonight.

And the conservative activists who adamantly oppose him are now in the process of making peace with backing the Democrats’ eventual nominee. Because there’s one person they fear and loathe more than Hillary—and they say they won’t blink.

Leon Wolf, the editor of the conservative site, told The Daily Beast shortly after Cruz dropped out that he’s considering a Clinton vote.

“If it’s a competitive election, I probably will be compelled to vote for Hillary,” he said.

“Hillary is ideologically not where I am,” he continued, adding that he thinks she did a poor job heading the State Department. “But I do feel pretty confident that she would actually be a better president than Trump. 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.”

Ben Howe, a RedState contributing editor and prominent conservative activist, said he will work to stop Trump from winning the general election—and that he realizes this means he’ll be helping Hillary.

“If it came down to it and I knew that my vote might make a difference, or that Hillary might be able to defeat him in my precinct, then yes, I’d pull the lever,” he said. “Either way, I have to make peace with helping her by default. Pulling the lever would basically be a technicality.

“I said I’m Never Trump,” he added. “I am.”

Glenn Beck, a proxy religious zealot who feverishly backed Cruz to the point where he was fasting on his behalf recently, was also disappointed with the available general-election options. Jonathan Schreiber, a representative for Beck, told The Daily Beast “NO WAY!” when asked if Beck would consider voting for Clinton over Trump. When pressed as to whether Beck would resign himself to backing the presumptive Republican nominee, Schreiber wrote “#nevertrump.”

Similarly, Dan McLaughlin, an editor at and a stalwart against Trump, told The Daily Beast that the options were grim.

“I will not vote for either Hillary or Trump, ever,” he wrote in an email. “I will stay in the GOP to fight for its soul until a viable alternative emerges.”

He added that he would submit a “third-party protest vote” and vote “down-ticket Republican” in the general election.

The RedStaters aren’t anomalies. A recent Morning Consult poll of Cruz supporters indicates that 13 percent of the Republicans who back him will vote for Clinton, and that upward of one-quarter of them aren’t sure who to back.

Freshman Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, reiterated his opposition to Trump without going so far as endorsing Hillary.

“Reporters keep asking if Indiana changes anything for me,” he tweeted. “The answer is simple: No.”

He then linked to a Facebook post he wrote about his opposition to Trump.

And Kevin Madden, a senior adviser for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, said he has no plans to back the Republican Party’s next nominee.

“This is a time for regrouping and prioritizing,” he said, noting that he won’t de-register as a Republican. “My attention, and I hope that of other Republicans, will be focused on helping leaders in the party focus on ideas and the big challenges that still remain. Leaders like Paul Ryan and Ben Sasse and Kelly Ayotte.

“And on voting for Trump: Absolutely not,” he added.

Erick Erickson, a conservative talk-radio host and founder of RedState, told The Daily Beast shortly after Cruz dropped out that he will de-register as a Republican if and when Trump is officially nominated.

“If Trump is the Republican Party nominee, I won’t be a Republican,” he said. “I’m not down with white supremacists.”

He added that Trump’s nomination will brand the GOP as the party of white supremacists.

“You’ve got Klan members, David Duke, the Aryan Nation supporting Donald Trump,” he said. “If the Republican Party is willing to go along with that, then I think it’s fair branding, I think it’s very fair. If Republicans aren’t going to stand up to having their party hijacked by a group of Aryan Nation-types, then they get what they deserve.”

Mark Salter, a former speechwriter for Sen. John McCain, was even less coy.

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


By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, May 4, 2016

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

“The Incredible Weakness Of The National Republican Party”: The GOP Is Now The Political Arm Of Fox News

One of the more interesting things about the GOP debate wasn’t even what happened at the debate, but the meta-narrative of how it happened. It’s also interesting how weak and helpless the Republican Party appeared as events unfolded.

First, the GOP was supposed to have its strongest field in decades. This should, in theory, have allowed for real contentions over major issues and a seesaw effect as governors and senators probed each other’s weaknesses and tested new ideas with the GOP primary electorate. But that hasn’t happened. Instead each of the major candidates has shrunk under the bright lights rather than grown. The field that appeared so strong on paper has turned out to look incredibly weak and slate.

As the major candidates were unable to seize control, an increasing number of also-rans became tempted to join the fray, producing an overcrowded clown car effect. During all of this the national Republican Party was entirely powerless to stop them and clear the field.

Then, of course, came Donald Trump. The Republican Party has never looked weaker than it has in dealing with the enormous black eye that is Donald Trump. Reince Priebus has looked variously baffled, snarky, pouty and kowtowing addressing the Trump problem. At every turn Donald Trump continues to thumb his nose at the establishment Republican Party, insulting its leaders and openly mocking any efforts it might make to reach out to women and minorities in order to solve its demographic problems.

And then comes Fox News. Fox News is often described as the media arm of the GOP. But over the years it has seemed more like the GOP is the political arm of Fox News. It was Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch who decided which candidates would appear on stage. It was Fox News’ Megyn Kelly who determined the lines of attack each candidate would face, and which ones would face an easier road than others. It was Fox News that controlled the post-debate spin. In all of this, the actual Republican Party seems to be an utter bystander at its own event.

Of course, there’s the spectacle the Koch Brothers and Shelden Adelson have made of their willingness to buy candidates outright and set up their own shadow field and campaign arms separate from the GOP.

And now comes the RedState forum. Erick Erickson has taken it upon himself to disinvite Donald Trump from the RedState forum. At first glance this might seem to be a boon to the GOP: national leaders desperately want to see the Trump “bubble” burst, and want to take the spotlight away from him in any way possible. But it’s still remarkable that in an election year when national Democratic leaders and the Clinton campaign made a decision to keep frontrunner Hillary Clinton away from the liberal Netroots Nation convention, it is the RedState forum itself that is disinviting the current Republican frontrunner. Once again, the national GOP seems to be utterly helpless.

The Republican Party is a total mess, and it has never looked weaker.


By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, August 8, 2015

August 10, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fox News, GOP Primary Debates | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Poison In Which Conservatives Marinate”: The Rancid Stew Of Fantasy, Hatred, And Yes, Racism

If you look at poll results saying that most Republicans think Barack Obama is a Kenyan Muslim enacting a secret plan to destroy America and think, “What the hell is wrong with these people?”, you have to understand that it gets reinforced day after day after day by media sources they believe to be lonely islands of truth amid a sea of lies. Yes, they hear it from politicians like Rudy Giuliani, who seems to be on some kind of mission to prove himself to be America’s most despicable cretin. But that only reinforces the river of political sewage that flows into their ears each and every day.

To wit, here’s Republican uber-pundit Erick Erickson, filling in for Rush Limbaugh and telling his millions of listeners what they want to hear:

“Barack Obama believes that for the world to be more safe the United States must be less safe. For the world to be more stable the United States must be less stable. Barack Obama believes the United States of America is a destabilizing, arrogant force in the world, we need our comeuppance and we need to be humbled. And so everything Barack Obama does domestically and in foreign policy is designed to humble the arrogant crackers who have always run the United States.”

Yes, that’s right, “arrogant crackers.” How on earth anyone could get the idea that the attacks on Obama by people like Erickson are meant to stoke their audience’s racial resentments, I have no idea.

As a general rule, whenever you hear a conservative pundit start a sentence with “Barack Obama believes…” you’re about to hear something that not only bears no plausible relationship to reality but is also meant to play on the worst instincts of his or her audience. And it is simply impossible to overstate the ubiquity of this particular theme in conservative media: Barack Obama hates not just America but white people in general, and all of his policies are meant to exact racial vengeance upon them. This is the rancid stew of fantasy, hatred, and yes, racism in which millions upon millions of conservatives have spent the last six years marinating.

To my conservative friends: I know that you are obsessed with the idea that conservatives are constantly being unfairly accused of racism. And there are certainly times when some liberals are too quick to see racist intent in a comment that may be innocuous or at worst unintentionally provocative. But you make heroes out of people like Giuliani, Limbaugh, and Erickson. You applaud them, honor them, extol them, and when other people occasionally notice the caustic hairballs of bile they spit onto waiting microphones, the most you can say is, “Well, I wouldn’t go that far.” So you have nothing to complain about.


By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect, March 13, 2015

March 14, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, Racism, Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Right-Wing Demand For Garbage”: The GOP Politics Of Paranoia Won’t Go Away

If the pending legislation intended to prevent gun violence is as awful as critics claim, they should, in theory, have a fairly easy task ahead. After all, they simply have to point to the legislation’s many flaws, and watch it crumble under the weight of its own futility, right?

But that’s always been the funny thing about demagoguery — it’s what desperate people rely on when they can’t win a debate on the merits. If accurate talking points are ineffective, just make stuff up, scare the bejesus out of people, and hope fear triumphs in the end.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), for example, published this tweet over the weekend, warning of a “national gun registry.” As a factual matter, is there a “national gun registry”? No. Has anyone proposed a “national gun registry”? No. Would the pending legislation lead to a “national gun registry”? No.

Does the bipartisan compromise on expanded background checks explicitly rule out the possibility of a “national gun registry”? Yes.

But it doesn’t matter. Either Ted Cruz has created a fantasy world in which legislative details are the opposite of reality, or Ted Cruz assumes his far-right allies are easily fooled into believing nonsense. Either way, by counting on paranoia to rule the day, the Texas Republican — a U.S. senator, not some random media personality — has no qualms about promoting a ridiculous message like this.

Similarly, in recent days, Red State blogger and Fox News contributor Erick Erickson argued that “believing in a resurrected Jesus” will make you ineligible for gun ownership in five years under the bipartisan background-check compromise. Why does Erickson believe such silliness, and feel the need to share this nonsense with others? I haven’t the foggiest idea.

I do know, however, that it’s spreading — as we talked about over the weekend, Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council also argued that Christians may be prevented from buying firearms.

None of this relates to our version of reality in any way, but for the right, real-world arguments are apparently unpersuasive, creating a demand for garbage.

The politics of paranoia are apparently all conservatives have left.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 15, 2013

April 16, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Gun Control | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Every Game Is A Shutout”: How Much Of A Market Is There On The Right For Real Reporting?

Four years ago, Tucker Carlson went before the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and told them that instead of creating more media forums to talk to each other about what a bunch of jerks liberals are, they ought to nurture outlets that actually report news, with a commitment to accuracy. For his trouble he was booed vigorously, and I guess he learned his lesson about what conservatives are interested in, because instead of creating a newsgathering organization he created the Daily Caller. I’m sure it’s doing quite well with it’s target audience, and I couldn’t help but think about Carlson upon seeing that Erick Erickson, proprietor of and CNN talking mouth, issued a plea to conservatives to come work for him and actually do journalism. First though, he identified the problem:

I think conservative media is failing to advance ideas and stories. Certainly part of that is because the general media has an ideological bias against conservatives, which makes it harder for the media to take our views seriously. But many conservatives are, instead of working doubly hard to overcome that bias, just yelling louder about the same things. The echo in the chamber has gotten so loud it is not well understood outside the echo chamber in the mainstream press and in the public. It translates only as anger and noise, neither of which are conducive to the art of persuasion.

You think? It’s a bit of a surprise to see this coming from Erickson, who in the past has had, shall we say, a taste for bombast and insults (he called David Souter a “goat-fucking child molester” and Michelle Obama a “Marxist harpy”; see here for more). But hey, people change. I completely understand how somebody can spend some time playing the role of shouting partisan, then decide it really isn’t accomplishing much and there might be a better way of accomplishing your ideological goals. Erickson went on:

Educating conservatives is a critical component of our mission. We have never viewed RedState as a site engaged in reporting, but as a site engaged in activism. Though occasionally we do break news, it has not been central to our existence. But, an honest accounting of facts and news is important and mission critical. Consequently, I would like to hire some reporters who can help educate conservative activists — who will not be focused on the outrage du jour, but focused on the daily grind of Washington and how the sausage being ground out in Washington will affect the conservative movement and the nation. Over time, I would like to expand this to covering governmental sausage making in the states too.

Good for him, I suppose, though I’ll admit I’m skeptical. There are certainly conservative reporters out there—heck, there are even some real reporters at Fox News—but the question is just how much of an audience there is for what they produce. The problem isn’t just that the really successful conservatives are bloviators like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, it’s that the entire movement seems content to treat their constituents like they’re a bunch of idiots who want only to nod their heads and mutter about how Barack Obama is a socialist and liberals are evil.

Consider the recent case of Jeff Sessions’ GAO report. The Alabama Republican senator asked the GAO to give him a report on how much Obamacare would add to the deficit if all the spending stayed in, but all the ways to pay for the bill, from cost savings from innovation, to reduced payments to providers, to tax increases, were taken out. The GAO has to respond to these kinds of requests, so it did. And then Sessions went in front of the cameras proclaiming that the GAO says Obamacare will increase the deficit by eleventy bazillion dollars, and one conservative news organization after another (here‘s an example) picked it up, saying, “See! See! See!” As Steve Benen said, the whole exercise was “roughly the equivalent of the Boston Celtics’ coach asking someone on his staff, ‘Figure out what our record would be if our opponents’ points didn’t count.’ Then, soon after, the coach called a press conference to declare, ‘Good news everyone! We’re undefeated! And every game was a shutout!'”

My point is, this is not how serious people who respect their constituents act. But Sessions knew that conservative media outlets would run with his ridiculousness, and they in turn knew that their audiences would eat it up. In the end, the whole thing did nothing but make conservatives a little dumber on the issue of health care. And you know what? They don’t care. Oh sure, there are some conservatives who are embarrassed by that kind of thing, but they’re the quiet ones, and they’re outnumbered.

And that’s what Erick Erickson will be confronting if he really wants to hire real reporters to do real reporting: there just aren’t enough people on his side who want it.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, February 28, 2013

March 4, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Journalism | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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