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“Are You Kidding Me?”: No, It’s Not Just A Nightmare; Trump Officially Clinches Nomination!

You can take the “presumptive” nominee tag off Donald Trump and substitute “putative.” According to the most widely accepted scorekeeper, the Associated Press, the mogul has quietly passed the much-discussed threshold of 1,237 delegate commitments needed to win a majority in Cleveland.

The New York businessman sealed the majority by claiming a small number of the party’s unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the national convention in July. Among them was Oklahoma GOP chairwoman Pam Pollard.

“I think he has touched a part of our electorate that doesn’t like where our country is,” Pollard said. “I have no problem supporting Mr. Trump.”

It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination. Trump has reached 1,239 and will easily pad his total in primary elections on June 7.

While the Republican National Committee has bent the knee to Trump from practically the moment Ted Cruz and John Kasich gave up their challenges to him, there may be other Republicans who have held out as long as there was a theoretical possibility that the Donald could finally figure out something to say or do that was so heinous his nomination would become impossible.

So this could hasten the pace of accommodation to Trump among Republican elites. A bigger question is whether Trump himself will realize the time to attack Republican office holders has passed, or if he just cannot help himself. If he somehow fears voters will forget he’s a “different kind of Republican,” he can probably take care of that once and for all with the type of cheesy reality-TV-style convention he seems inclined to hold anyway.

Outside the fever swamps of political obsessives, there are probably some Americans who have ignored the nominating process and may soon wake up and say: Donald Trump is the Republican candidate for president? Are you kidding me?  

Now we must officially say: It’s no joke at all.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, May 26, 2016

May 28, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Republican National Convention | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Virtual Walls And Rhetorical Deportations”: Adapting What Trump Actually Said Can’t Cover Up Reality

One of the reasons that so many people underestimated the possibility of Donald Trump’s rise in the Republican Party is that we zeroed in on his policy proposals and actually took them seriously. If you remember, during the primary debates there was a lot of ink spilled on the nuanced differences between Rubio, Cruz and Trump on illegal immigrants. None of that ever mattered. What Trump was communicating to his supporters didn’t have anything to do with all of that. His message has always been emotional – not thoughtful or logical.

That’s what makes the comments by Rep. Chris Collins – the first member of Congress to endorse Trump – so fascinating.

The first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president doesn’t envision one of Trump’s main campaign promises – a wall at the Mexican border – ever becoming a reality that stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

“I have called it a virtual wall,” Rep. Chris Collins said in an interview with The Buffalo News.

“Maybe we will be building a wall over some aspects of it; I don’t know,” the Clarence Republican said of Trump’s proposed barrier to keep illegal immigrants and drugs from crossing the southern border.

Collins, who has become one of the presumptive GOP nominee’s main media surrogates, also cast doubts on another central Trump campaign promise: the candidate’s vow to deport the nation’s 12 million undocumented immigrants.

“I call it a rhetorical deportation of 12 million people,” Collins said.

He then gestured toward a door in his Capitol Hill office.

“They go out that door, they go in that room, they get their work papers, Social Security number, then they come in that door, and they’ve got legal work status but are not citizens of the United States,” Collins said. “So there was a virtual deportation as they left that door for processing and came in this door.”

Collins added: “We’re not going to put them on a bus, and we’re not going to drive them across the border.”

Collins went on to say that Trump wouldn’t necessarily agree with this interpretation of his proposals. In other words, they are Collins’ way of adapting what Trump actually said in a way that allows him to support the candidate. I wonder if anyone finds that as interesting as I do. I suspect that it is pretty common in campaigns that are fueled primarily by emotions rather than workable policies. In other words, it is rampant in the world of post-policy Republicans.

So beyond assuming virtual walls and rhetorical deportations, why does Collins support Trump? Here’s what he said:

“I’m comfortable with his judgment as a CEO, and I’m comfortable with his 60,000-foot level vision for America,” Collins said, noting that many of the details in Trump’s proposed policies are yet to be worked out.

Oh my! He’s comfortable with Trump’s judgement and vision, but pesky “details” about things like rounding up and deporting millions of people can get worked out later. Rep. Collins’ approach to politics is why I wrote this the other day:

That might be what this campaign comes down to – a contest between someone who is trying to reflect our feelings of anger and fear and someone who is determined to tackle the challenges we face as a country.

Donald Trump’s judgment and vision are those of a narcissistic bully let loose on the national stage. Using words like “virtual” and “rhetorical” can’t cover up that reality.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 19, 2016

May 21, 2016 Posted by | Border Wall, Donald Trump, Immigrants | , , , , | 1 Comment

“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

“Megyn Kelly Made Up With Donald Trump”: Everyone Else On The Right Will Do The Same

Fox News and Donald Trump are reaching a detente at last; yesterday Megyn Kelly went to Trump Tower for an hour-long meeting she described as allowing “a chance to clear the air,” after which Trump went to the Fox offices to have lunch with network chief Roger Ailes. This comes after Kelly had the temerity to ask Trump about sexist remarks he had made in the past, which led him to unleash a months-long campaign of insults at her (The Donald doesn’t like to be challenged, especially by a woman).

The time had obviously come for Kelly to make nice, and more importantly, Fox needed to smooth over any conflict with Trump, given that he’s likely to be the Republican nominee for president soon.

Though Fox is a unique and complicated media outlet, this is a preview of what’s to come from many quarters on the right. People and organizations which have criticized and even attacked Trump, some in the harshest possible terms, will come around. They might not start praising him to the heavens, but they are going to join in the effort to get him elected. Because the alternative will be irrelevance, the last thing anyone in politics wants.

Let’s take, as a first example, our old friend Karl Rove. Politico reports today that while Rove has been criticizing Trump in public, behind the scenes he and American Crossroads, the super PAC he helped found, are telling donors that Trump can beat Hillary Clinton, so everyone needs to be prepared to get behind him. Now why might that be?

Consider that American Crossroads and its sister “charitable” organization Crossroads GPS are together the premier vehicle for rich Republicans to play in elections. In 2012, they spent $176 million on the campaign, more than any other group. If Trump is the nominee and American Crossroads said, “Forget about this election — we won’t support Trump,” where would that leave them? On the sidelines, with no role to play (at least in the presidential race), no contributions coming in, no salaries for their staff, no commissions for their consultants, and no influence. When there’s a presidential election going on, the last thing political players like them want is to be left out of the game.

American Crossroads goes after the big money, but there is a whole universe of operators and organizations who depend for their incomes on convincing conservatives that by handing over $20 or $50 or $100 they can fight today’s bête noir, whether it’s Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, and that with their contributions they can push back on social change and turn America back to the place it was when they were young. Once your name and address are on one of their lists, they’ll be bought and sold again and again, so you can be targeted with appeal after appeal for donations to do your part in fighting the good fight. It’s a gigantic grift — many of the organizations spend little on actual political work, and the contributions help line the pockets of the people who run them. In the last couple of years, even some conservatives have gotten uncomfortable with this gigantic grift. But too many people are getting a taste for it to be dismantled.

Even for those who aren’t just fleecing rank-and-file conservatives to get rich, Trump becoming the nominee (presuming that happens) changes the calculation, making attacking him no longer worthwhile. Those who have criticized him up to now will have to justify their change in tone, but with the specter of a Hillary Clinton presidency looming, it won’t be that difficult.

That applies even to those who have been most vociferous in their criticisms of Trump. He has been attacked in the strongest possible terms by numerous outlets of the conservative media, like National Review, the Weekly Standard, and the Wall Street Journal editorial page. That can partially be explained by the fact that they appeal to an elite conservative audience, the kind of people who are horrified by Trump and his supporters and would like to get back to a time when the rabble were brought along with more subtle appeals and genteel Republican officials focused on the truly important work of cutting capital gains taxes. While they might be hesitant to sing Trump’s praises too loudly given what they’ve said up to now, they’ll likely just ignore him (for the most part) and spend the summer and fall telling their readers why Hillary Clinton was spat from the very fires of hell to complete Barack Obama’s work of destroying America.

Fox News, on the other hand, has a more downscale audience, one that will want to hear not just about Clinton’s villainy, but also why Trump is a terrific guy who’s going to make America great. After all, if you’ve spent years watching Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, you’ve heard Trump’s arguments a thousand times: America is in decline, immigrants are destroying everything, black people need to shut up and pull up their pants, the white man can’t catch a break.

You can already watch fawning interviews of Trump on the network, but in the end, everyone — including Megyn Kelly — is going to have to get on board Trump’s train. When he’s the nominee, that’s what will be in the best interests of the network itself and the Republican Party, and Roger Ailes’ genius has always been his ability to serve both at the same time. And if Kelly doesn’t like it, she’ll have to get a job somewhere else.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, April 14, 2016

April 18, 2016 Posted by | Conservative Media, Donald Trump, Megyn Kelly | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Why Is Trump Upset?”: It’s Because Cruz Is Schooling Him In The Art Of The Deal

Donald Trump prides himself on being able to bend arcane and unfair systems to his will.

Well, every system except one.

For years, Trump has been dogged by questions about his companies’ several bankruptcies, which are potential blemishes upon his business career.

In response, Trump has argued that there was nothing illegal, morally wrong or even shameful about restructuring debts and breaking contracts. On the contrary, these bankruptcies are a testament to his business acumen.

“I’ve used the laws of the country to my advantage,” he told Forbes.

“I have used the laws of this country just like the greatest people that you read about every day in business have used the laws of this country, the chapter laws, to do a great job for my company, for myself, for my employees, for my family, et cetera,” he echoed at the first Republican presidential debate.

And on Twitter, he argued, “Out of hundreds of deals & transactions, I have used the bankruptcy laws a few times to make deals better. Nothing personal, just business.”

He’s exercised similar rhetoric when talking about how he’s benefited from another controversial use of the law: eminent domain.

Governmental seizure of property for private commercial development, he argues, is not only good for the public and (allegedly) for the people forced out of their homes. It’s also used all the time by other prominent entrepreneurs and businesspeople, including members of the Bush family. So why not take advantage of this ripe system for himself?

Likewise, when asked why he’s donated money in the past to ideologically problematic politicians (including Hillary Clinton), he offers the same rationale: This is how the system works when you’re in business. It may not be fair or transparent, but a businessperson would be foolish not use it to his advantage.

“Maybe it’s a good system and maybe it’s not a good system, but it’s the system in which I was under and I thrived,” he boasted on “The O’Reilly Factor.”

In Trump’s world, exploiting the nation’s byzantine bankruptcy laws, or its bizarre eminent domain laws, or its opaque campaign finance rules, or any other system-rigging tools freely available to entrepreneurial types is proof not of shadiness but shrewdness — of his unwillingness to play the chump.

Which is why it’s so odd when Trump whines about Cruz behaving the exact same way.

Cruz has been quietly wooing delegates to the upcoming Republican convention, as well as the local party leaders who help select those delegates. He and his staff have traveled around California, Colorado, Arkansas, South Carolina and other states to help put sympathetic delegates in place in preparation for the possibility of a freewheeling contested election.

The upshot is, according to a Post analysis, that Cruz may already have effectively blocked Trump from the nomination should Trump prove unable to secure a majority of delegates on the first ballot.

As my colleague Marc Thiessen observed this week, Cruz is taking advantage of the peculiar, convoluted delegate system just as adeptly, and just as amorally, as Trump has taken advantage of the nation’s peculiar, convoluted bankruptcy laws.

Trump does not appear to appreciate the parallels. Instead, upon realizing Cruz’s behind-the-scenes efforts, Trump has gone apoplectic.

Having built his campaign on Twitter and free-media coverage, failed to invest much in a ground game and taken little interest until recently in how the delegate system works, Trump now indicts both a “totally unfair” system and Lyin’ Ted himself.

“It’s a rigged, disgusting dirty system,” Trump complained of a primary system whose rules have been available to him for many months.

“He’s trying to steal things because that’s the way Ted works,” Trump carped about a competitor who is cutting deals that the great dealmaker himself should envy.

There are two lessons to be gleaned from Trump’s selectively righteous indignation about unfair systems and those who exploit them.

One is that he’s a hypocrite. Obvious enough.

The other is that the main premise of his campaign — that his wiliness in the business world will translate to wiliness in politics and policy — is bunk.

Trump boasts that his whole life he’s been “greedy, greedy, greedy,” that his greed has paid off in the private sector, and that ergo he’ll be effective at being “greedy for the United States” in all its affairs. But if he can’t even figure out how to manage a primary campaign — let alone get his own children registered to vote for him — the chances that he’ll be able to seamlessly convert his monetary greed into political greed look slim.

 

By: Catherine Rampell, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 14, 2016

April 18, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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