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“Choosing Their Poison”: Anti-Trump Republicans Now Only Have 3 Options: Terrible, Miserable, And Awful

With his near-sweep of Tuesday’s primaries, Donald Trump is now in firm command of the Republican race for president, and although it’s still possible for Ted Cruz to overtake him, it’s looking increasingly likely that Trump will be the Republican nominee for president. Which leaves most Americans (and most of the world) in a state of abject horror, and presents Republican politicians, strategists, and party activists with a dilemma: What do they do?

The time for figuring out how Trump can be stopped from taking over the party is nearly gone. There are essentially three paths left open, none of which are appetizing. The question is merely which brand of poison the party wants to swallow. But each has its pluses and minuses, so let’s investigate:

1. Rally behind Trump. This is the path of least resistance, and it may be the least bad of the options. Yes, many Republicans have said they’d never support him, or at least condemned him in strong terms; they’ll now be confronted with their hypocrisy. But as I’ve argued repeatedly, Trump is going to become a different candidate once the general election comes. Perhaps in the process of appealing to a broader electorate, he’ll also become less bombastic and more serious, and it won’t seem so awful to stand by his side.

And from an ideological standpoint, there’s a powerful logic to it. If you’re a conservative, even if you think Trump would be a terrible president and an inconsistent ally (almost certainly true on both counts), he’d at least do what you want some of the time, which is better than what you’d get with Hillary Clinton as president.

The trouble is that while Trump has the support of a plurality of Republicans, that isn’t anywhere near a majority of the electorate as a whole. So Republicans may decide that it’s better to do their part and try to convince the public that a Trump presidency really would be great. If they succeed, at least they’d get to fill the executive branch with Republicans.

2. Try to take the nomination from Trump at the convention. Trump may get to the necessary 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the nomination outright, but at the moment it’s anything but a sure thing. If he doesn’t, it would bring Republicans to a contested convention, which is likely to be a nightmare no matter what the final result. If it comes to that, the anti-Trump forces will try to find a leader to unite behind, but it won’t be easy. If it’s Ted Cruz or John Kasich, it would be hard to take the nomination from Trump on the grounds that he didn’t win a majority of the delegates, then give it to someone who won even fewer. But giving it to someone who didn’t run at all could be even worse.

Just imagine how Trump’s supporters will react if the very establishment they’ve rebelled against snatches the nomination from their champion and gives it to some low-energy weakling. All their rage and frustration would come pouring out, perhaps literally on the heads of their tormentors. Trump has already said “I think you’d have riots” if such a thing occurred, and you can bet he’d be encouraging them.

And keep in mind that conservative talk radio hosts will spend the months between now and then getting their audiences riled up about what a despicable crime it would be to take the nomination away from Trump and hand it to some establishment stooge (they’re already getting started). So Trump’s supporters would be ready for a fight as soon as they got to Cleveland.

The whole chaotic mess would be broadcast live on TV, making the party look even less responsible and sane than it does now. Then even if the establishment prevailed, chances are strong that many of Trump’s supporters would simply stay home on Election Day out of frustration, increasing the chances that Hillary Clinton gets elected.

3. Mount a third-party bid. This is the most outlandish of the possibilities, yet some people are actively exploring it. There’s a meeting of prominent conservative activists happening Thursday to discuss whether and how to go about it, and some donors have already hired consultants to assemble a roadmap to a third-party campaign. The biggest practical problem is getting on the ballot in all 50 states, which requires lots of signatures before deadlines that are coming up soon. But more important from Republicans’ standpoint is that such an effort is almost guaranteed to fail.

If you had a conservative third-party candidate, he or she would face Trump, taking some portion of Republican voters, and (probably) Hillary Clinton, holding nearly all Democratic voters. A unified Democratic Party facing a Republican Party split in two means the Democrat would win.

Now it may be that some Republicans are so worried about what a Trump presidency would do to the GOP over the long term that they see Hillary Clinton in the White House as a preferable outcome. But I’m guessing there aren’t too many of them. Which is why the first option — swallow your pride, hold your nose, and get behind Trump — is the one most Republicans are probably going to take.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Week, March 17, 2016

March 18, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, GOP Primaries | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Was The Stocking Stufffed?”: Time For Mitt Romney To Come Clean On His Taxes

Mitt and Ann Romney are deluding themselves if they believe that calls for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee to release more of his income tax returns are simply a campaign instigated by Barack Obama’s supporters. Would that partisanship is sparking the demands for additional disclosure. The Romneys must know in their hearts that there is more to it.

Most Americans don’t begrudge Mitt Romney his wealth, estimated in the neighborhood of $250 million. His entrepreneurship is an American success story.

But voters also want to know why this fantastically rich seeker of the presidency is being so secretive about his tax payments and how he made his money.

Does he have something to hide?

If everything in his tax returns is above reproach, why won’t Romney follow the bipartisan tradition established by the presidential campaign of his father, George Romney, in 1968, and release more of them?

It’s not enough for Romney to say he’s paid all taxes that are “legally required.” A person who wants to be president should also be able to say, and to demonstrate, that no ethical lines have been crossed.

Romney has offshore accounts. Voters are within their rights to ask why this man who wants to be president would divert income from U.S. financial institutions to foreign tax havens.

These are not questions raised solely by the Obama camp.

Consider some points raised by tax experts in a CNN piece last month on Romney’s lack of disclosure. Edward D. Kleinbard, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law and former chief of staff of the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, and Peter C. Canellos, former chair of the New York State Bar Association Tax Section, asked several good questions.

Why would Romney have a Swiss bank account? “Most presidential candidates don’t think it appropriate to bet that the U.S. dollar will lose value by speculating in Swiss Francs, which is basically the rationale offered by the trustee of Romney’s ‘blind’ trust for opening this account,” they wrote. And “you don’t need a Swiss bank account” to speculate in foreign currencies, they note.

Then they focused on the tax-compliance questions the Swiss account raises. “The account seems to have been closed early in 2010, but was the income in fact reported on earlier tax returns?” they asked. And did the Romneys file, on time, the necessary disclosure forms to the Treasury?

Then there is Romney’s sizable IRA.

“Even under the most generous assumptions,” wrote Kleinbard and Canellos, “Romney would have been restricted to annual contributions of $30,000 while he worked at Bain. How does this grow to $100 million?”

Plausible explanations exist, they said, including that “a truly mighty oak sprang up virtually overnight from relatively tiny annual acorns because of the unprecedented prescience of every one of Romney’s investment choices.” But it’s also possible, they said, that Romney may have “stuffed far more into his retirement plans each year than the maximum allowed by law by claiming that the stock of the Bain company deals that the retirement plan acquired had only a nominal value.”

Of course, we don’t know without seeing Romney’s tax paperwork.

Kleinbard and Canellos said the vast amounts in Romney’s family trusts raise a parallel question: “Did Romney report and pay gift tax on the funding of these trusts,” or might he have claimed “unreasonable valuations” that “would have exposed him to serious penalties if all the facts were known?”

The “complexity of Romney’s one publicly released tax return, with all its foreign accounts, trusts, corporations and partnerships, leaves even experts (including us) scratching their heads. Disclosure of multiple years’ tax returns is part of the answer here, but in this case it isn’t sufficient. Romney’s financial affairs are so arcane, so opaque and so tied up in his continuing income from Bain Capital that more is needed, including an explanation of the $100 million IRA.”

Next comes Romney’s low effective tax rate: 13.9 percent in 2010. (Recall that Romney said last week that over the past decade, he “never paid less than 13 percent.”)

The rate is probably low, the experts suggested, because the Romneys’ income comes from “carried interest,” which they called “the jargon used by the private equity industry for compensation received for managing other people’s money.”

“The vast majority of tax scholars and policy experts agree that awarding a super-low tax rate to this one form of labor income is completely unjustified as a policy matter,” they concluded.

So again, how did Mitt Romney make his money? What has he done with it? Why the offshore accounts?

Romney should come clean in Tampa with the Republicans who must carry his water.

Romney also should be open and transparent with the American electorate. They deserve to know his full, true story.

 

By: Colbert I. King, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, August 24, 2012

August 25, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Newt In The Playpen”: Gingrich Just Wants To Help TV Networks

Even with his own sense of grandiosity, I doubt even Newt Gingrich truly believes a brokered convention is on the horizon. Mitt Romney, while still a weak candidate for the general election, is working his way steadily up to the required delegate count, and the leaders of the Republican Party—such as possible White Knight Jeb Bush—are throwing their lot behind Romney.

But Gingrich isn’t quite ready to drop the line, and his reasoning for why a brokered convention would help his party has become specious to a hilarious degree. Yesterday he suggested that it’d help Republicans because a brokered convention would just be so much darn fun to watch. Via GOP12, here’s what Gingrich said on CNN:

“That would be the most exciting 60 days of civic participation in the age of Facebook and Youtube. … the convention would be the most exciting convention in modern times, and whoever became the nominee would have the highest attendance, the highest viewership in history for their acceptance speech.”

As a political observer who will spend the last days of August searching for a good story in Tampa, I certainly share Gingrich’s desire for a convention with a bit of fun and uncertainty. But it’s hard to imagine how that would help the Republicans. Conventions are droll affairs of little interest except for the most diehard political junkies. Sometimes a young politician is introduced to the national spotlight with a great speech—such as Obama in 2004—but real drama doesn’t tend to help the hosting party. The Chicago Democratic convention in 1968 wasn’t lacking in excitement, but that didn’t work out so well for Humphrey in the general election. Or take 1976 and 1980, when an intra-party primary challenge against an incumbent president added extra intrigue, deflating the standing of the incumbent in both instances.

A brokered convention this year would attract viewers who might typically tune it out, and would create have a host of viral-ready clips to be spread across YouTube and Twitter. It wouldn’t be the harmonious kumbaya moments that would get passed around, it’d be clips of a discordant party at war with itself, not exactly the best posture for entering a general election against a sitting president.

 

By: Patrick Caldwell, The American Prospect, March 23, 2012

March 24, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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