mykeystrokes.com

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

“Unwilling To Attack Trump In Any Damaging Way”: Republicans Have Forgotten How To Call Trump A Con Man

For about two weeks, until Donald Trump swept another round of elections on Tuesday, Republicans had settled on a line of attack that finally threatened to do him lasting damage. Rather than portray him as a bully or a clown or (disingenuously) as a liberal, they called him a con artist and a manipulator. In a subtle acquiescence to his campaign of demagoguery, they warned Republican voters not to be taken in by his appeals to their fears and biases—not because their fears and biases are unfounded, but because, as a con artist, he couldn’t be counted on to actually address them.

Then, just as quickly, that line of attack disappeared—and was nowhere to be heard at Thursday night’s debate in Miami.

The Republican presidential primary campaign has been bedeviled all along by a collective-action problem that has manifested in various ways. It appeared first as reluctance among frontrunners to attack Donald Trump at all, which created an incentive for other insurgent candidates like Ted Cruz to champion his message. That unorchestrated approach lead other well-positioned candidates to attack one another, and ultimately drove otherwise viable candidates (Scott Walker, Rick Perry) from the campaign earlier than expected.

As the race narrowed, pretenders to the nomination stepped forward, one at a time, to mount anti-Trump attacks on behalf of the entire field. Each one was damaged—most famously Jeb Bush, who dropped out after losing badly in South Carolina. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich survived this process, all hoping to emerge as Trump’s sole competitor for the nomination. But none of them has been able to force the others out. Now, with Trump poised to win the nomination, his competitors are again unwilling to attack Trump in any damaging way.

On Thursday, just days before Trump could effectively end the primary by taking the winner-take-all contests in Ohio and Florida, the collective-action problem manifested as sheer bafflement. For two hours, Trump, who refrained for the first time ever from taunting his rivals, drew almost no sustained criticism.

Acting in a subdued manner may be the greatest con of Trump’s campaign. Trump has essentially admitted it’s an affected disposition—he likes to boast about how presidential he’s capable of behaving when he wants to. And yet suddenly, at the most critical juncture of the race, none of the rivals, who one week ago were happy to call Trump a con man, were willing to implore GOP primary voters to reject him.

Whether this reflects resignation, or a fear of looking ridiculous at the crucial last minute (as Marco Rubio did last month when he suggested Trump had small genitals), it allows Trump to enter the next round of primaries without a cloud of debate-stage negativity hanging over his head.

Should Trump win the nomination, largely as a result of this collective-action problem, he will enter the general-election campaign crippled. He is fatally unpopular with female voters and minorities, and not nearly popular enough with white men to close the gap.

Many liberals fear the prospect of Trump’s nomination, because they worry his feigned populism will expand the electorate in ways that might allow him to win. They assume, with good reason, that the Republican Party (or large segments of it) will reconcile itself to his nomination, and that by closing ranks, the people who now say #NeverTrump will help propel him to victory.

It is far, far likelier that Trump will lose the general election by a larger margin than Democrats deserve. When that happens, Republicans will relearn how to call Trump a con man. To anyone who will listen, they will disclaim him as a fluke—a skilled entertainer who ran an infomercial-like campaign and swindled Republicans into supporting him. They will see it as the path of least resistance, the only argument they can make to avoid reckoning with the fact that the Trump phenomenon is actually the product of years of Republican maximalism and apocalyptic rhetoric.

The challenge for everyone else will be to remind them of nights like tonight—when, faced with the prospect of a bigoted demagogue taking over their party, they said nothing.

 

By: Brian Beutler, The New Republic, March 11, 2016

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fearmongering, GOP Primaries | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Caught Between The Devil And The Deep Orange Sea”: Who Does The Republican Establishment Hate More, Trump Or Cruz?

Dear Republican establishment: The horns of your dilemma were laid bare this evening. You’ve spent the last few months worrying about the damage Donald Trump will do to the GOP brand; the latest debate proved that there is indeed a candidate who can take on the tyrant of Trump Tower directly and deftly.

But that candidate is Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who may actually stir more loathing in the Republican establishment breast than even Trump.

Oh what’s an insider Republican to do? They may end up trapped between the devil and the deep orange sea.

The Trump-Cruz tussle fizzled in the last debate but Thursday night sparks – and jabs, and even a comment about a candidate’s mother – finally flew between the GOP frontrunners.

The proximate cause of friction between the pair was the ongoing question of Ted Cruz’s birth status, an issue that Trump has been pushing in recent weeks as Cruz has steadily climbed in the polls. The Texas senator had a polished answer (OK, where Cruz is concerned “polished answer” is redundant), starting with the obligatory glad we’re focused on the important issues quip, pivoted to a shot at Trump noting that in the fall the former reality TV star had dismissed this as a non-issue.

“Since September, the Constitution hasn’t changed, but the poll numbers have,” Cruz said. “And I recognize that Donald is dismayed that his poll numbers are dropping in Iowa, but the facts and the law here are really clear.” Cruz even stretched his answer to include the fact that Trump’s mother was born in Scotland.

Trump came back with his claim that he doesn’t care about Cruz’s status but that those mean old Democrats are bound to bring suit on it. The claim is a transparent chuck-and-duck dodge and the crowd let him know they weren’t buying, booing him lustily. (They also booed him when he cited a poll showing that he had pulled back ahead of Cruz in Iowa.)

Point Cruz.

Trump did better in the evening’s second go-round with Trump, when the Texas senator was asked about his attacking the realtor for embodying “New York values.” Asked to clarify, Cruz said, “There are many, many wonderful working men and women in New York,” Cruz said. “But everyone understands that the value of New York City are socially liberal, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, focused around money and the media.”

Trump shot back: “When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York,” he said, noting New Yorkers’ fighting spirit and the lingering stench of death in lower Manhattan for months afterward. “Everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved New Yorkers.”

Point Trump, I think – though in a GOP primary, New York as modern day Sodom and Gomorrah may well play better at this point than any lingering sentiment of post-9/11 unity.

To wit, this Twitter exchange between uberconservative Erick Erickson of RedState and the Examiner’s Tim Carney, who is himself no liberal.

Would I be more American, Erick, if my home state had fought against America in the 1860s? — and lost? https://t.co/tcsGMyOrep

— Tim Carney (@TPCarney) January 15, 2016

And I’m just going to throw this one in as well because as a native New Yorker I think it’s right on target:

Real New York values: Losing 3,000 brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers to Muslim terrorists — and not resorting to Trump-style fearmongering

— Josh Greenman (@joshgreenman) January 15, 2016

Anyway, back to Cruz and Trump. The GOP establishment has spent months working itself into a lather about the danger Trump poses to the party. But no one has demonstrated an interest or an ability to stand up to him. Sure, there have been sporadic attacks from Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Rand Paul, but they’ve been clumsy and Trump has brushed them off. Cruz landed blows against The Donald tonight and the crowd was often on his side.

So the establishment should be delighted that a potential white knight may be riding in to save them from the ticking offense-bomb that is Trump, right? The only problem is that they may hate Cruz more than they hate Trump. They also worry that Cruz would prove a greater drag on House Republicans in November. Seriously.

So will any of the four establishment candidates – Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and sitting Govs. John Kasich of Ohio and Chris Christie of New Jersey – step up? The four remain bunched up in the polls – and don’t look now but Kasich has moved up four points in the last month.

Rubio had his usual smooth debate and a strong exchange with Cruz accusing him of being a run of the mill flip-flopper. Bush displayed more energy than in earlier debates but it’s too little and too late. Kasich managed to win plaudits from Trump, and Christie displayed his usual angry bluster and delivered his trademark complaint about senators debating legislative details.

New Hampshire had better be a culling ground; else the Republican establishment may find up that these horns and this dilemma leave them with a stinging prick.

 

By: Robert Schlesinger, Managing Editor for Opinion, U.S. News & World Report, January 15, 2016

January 17, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Flagrant Liar For President?”: Darling Fiorina Is Not Only A Relentless Self-Promoter, But Also A Remorseless Liar

We’ve got a new darling in the GOP presidential race: Carly Fiorina!

Being the darling du jour, however, can be dicey — just ask Rick Perry and Scott Walker, two former darlings who are now out of the race, having turned into ugly ducklings by saying stupid things. But Fiorina is smart, sharp witted, and successful. We know this because she and her PR agents constantly tell us it’s so. Be careful about believing anything she says, though, for Darling Fiorina is not only a relentless self-promoter, but also a remorseless liar.

Take her widely hailed performance in the second debate among Republican wannabes, where she touched many viewers with her impassioned and vivid attack on Planned Parenthood. With barely contained outrage, Fiorina described a video that, she said, shows the women’s health organization in a depraved act of peddling body parts of an aborted fetus. “Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking,” said a stone-faced Fiorina, looking straight into the camera, “while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’”

Oh, the horror, the monstrosity of Planned Parenthood! And how moving it was to see and feel the fury of this candidate for president!

Only … it’s not true. Although she dared the audience, President Obama and Hillary Clinton to go watch it, turns out that there is no such video — no fetus with kicking legs and no demonic Planned Parenthood official luridly preparing to harvest a brain.

So did Fiorina make up this big, nasty lie herself, or did her PR team concoct it as a bit of showbiz drama to burnish her right-wing credentials and advance her political ambition? Or maybe she’s just spreading a malicious lie she was told by some vicious haters of Planned Parenthood. Either way, there’s nothing darling about it, much less presidential.

I remember back in 1992 when the third-party candidate Ross Perot chose Admiral James Stockdale, a complete unknown, to be his presidential running mate. In his first debate, the vice presidential candidate began by asking a question: “Who am I? Why am I here?”

We should be asking the same about Carly, as she has recently surged in the polls of GOP primary voters. Her campaign is positioning her as a no-nonsense, successful corporate chieftain who can run government with businesslike efficiency. During the debate, Fiorina rattled off a list of her accomplishments as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the high-tech conglomerate: “We doubled the size of the company, we quadrupled its topline growth rate, we quadrupled its cash flow, we tripled its rate of innovation,” she declared in PowerPoint style.

Statistics, however, can be a sophisticated way of lying. In fact, the growth she bragged about was mostly the result of her buying Compaq, another computer giant in a merger that proved to be disastrous — in fact, Hewlett-Packard’s profits declined 40 percent in her six years, its stock prices plummeted and she fired 30,000 workers, even saying publicly that their jobs should be shipped overseas. Finally, she was fired.

Before we accept her claim that “running government like a business” would be a positive, note that the narcissistic corporate culture richly rewarded Fiorina for failure. Yes, she was fired, but unlike the thousands of HP employees she dumped, a golden parachute was provided to let her land in luxury — counting severance pay, stock options, and pension, she was given $42 million to go away.

But here she comes again, lacking even one iota of humility. Fiorina is throwing out a blizzard of lies, not only about Planned Parenthood, but also about who she is. She’s the personification of corporate greed and economic inequality, and she’s trying to bamboozle Republicans into thinking she belongs in the White House.

 

By: Jim Hightower, The National Memo, October 7, 2015

October 8, 2015 Posted by | Carly Fiorina, Planned Parenthood, Women's Health | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Ornery People R Us”: Anxiety Is Pervasive On Both Sides Of Political Spectrum

In achieving their improbable surges in presidential polling, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have profited from the same wellspring of anxiety, a deep-seated fear about the future that is rising across the land. Their answers to that anxiety are very different — as their followers are very different — but they have both tapped into an undercurrent of unease that affects a broad swath of American voters.

And that unease is well-founded. In mid-September, the U.S. Census Bureau issued its annual report on wages, poverty, and health insurance. Its findings come as no surprise: Though the official unemployment rate is down to its lowest level in seven years, the percentage of people living in poverty — around 14 percent — hasn’t budged in four years.

Equally worrisome is the stagnation in wages, which haven’t risen significantly for more than a decade. “Anyone wondering why people in this country are feeling so ornery need look no further than this report. Wages have been broadly stagnant for a dozen years, and median household income peaked in 1999,” Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a research group, told The Associated Press.

And ornery people are. That’s the only thing that explains Trump, who for weeks has enjoyed the top spot in GOP presidential primary polls. Full of bombast, narcissism, and blame, the real estate titan has pinned Mexican immigrants as the purveyors of all that is destructive to the American way of life. It’s astonishing how much support he’s received for his proposal to deport the estimated 11 million who are here illegally.

There’s no doubt a good portion of racism and xenophobia among the Trump crowd; they are largely voters uncomfortable with the country’s increasing diversity. But they are also anxious about a future in which the American dream is out of reach for their children and grandchildren.

On the other side of the political spectrum, Sanders, Vermont’s self-described socialist in the U.S. Senate, is giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money, attracting large crowds, and leading in New Hampshire, which holds the first presidential primary vote. His answers, at least, are not xenophobic: Among other things, he would increase taxes on the wealthy and end some longstanding trade agreements.

Sanders has long warned about income inequality, which has been growing for decades but was exacerbated by the Great Recession. Suddenly, ordinary workers saw their jobs disappear, their savings evaporate, their homes taken by the bank. Many of them have not recovered the ground they lost, and their traumas have invited fear bordering on panic.

Meanwhile, the rich have only gotten richer. The top 1 percent own 40 percent of the nation’s wealth, and they hold a larger share of income than at any time since the 1920s and the Great Depression.

These trends are evident throughout the industrialized world; they’re not the fault of any single politician or ideological philosophy. According to economists, they’ve grown from a convergence of factors, including the technological revolution and the globalization of labor.

Still, the wealth gap is quite worrisome. It’s a recipe for revolution, the sort of gulf between the haves and have-nots that is characteristic of developing countries, where the ties of the civic and social fabric do not bind. It’s hard to overstate the potential for upheaval in a country such as this, where a diverse population is not held together by a single language or race or religion, but rather by the belief that opportunity is available to all. What happens when a majority of the people no longer believes that?

You’d think, then, that income inequality would dominate the campaign trail. But the subject was hardly mentioned during Wednesday’s marathon GOP presidential primary debate, where such pressing priorities as possible Secret Service code names were discussed.

That’s not good. While it’s hard to see either Trump (his bubble may already be bursting) or Sanders as a presidential nominee, the voters they represent aren’t going away. Neither is their anxiety, which could prove a disruptive force in American political and civic life.

 

By: Cynthia Tucker Haynes, Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2007; The National Memo, September 19, 2015

September 21, 2015 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Economic Inequality | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Perry Gets Winnowed”: He Had No Distinct Identity In A Huge Field Dominated By People Who Were Going Medieval

The “winnowing” of the vast GOP presidential field proceeded apace this weekend, with Rick Perry “suspending” his campaign. Officially, that means there are 16 “real” candidates left. Unofficially, CNN excluded Jim Gilmore from even its Kiddie Table debate this week, so there are a mere 15 left.

Perry’s withdrawal has been widely predicted since he stopped paying his campaign staff last month. Even as Team Perry argued that his Super-PAC was flush and the not-paying-campaign- people thing was an accounting problem, he lost his prize Iowa backer Sam Clovis, and in general began to emit the aroma of political death. The rest has been denouement.

The thing is: Perry was running a significantly deeper campaign than he did in 2012, when he alternated between pointing at Texas’ jobs numbers as a self-validating argument for a give-corporations-everything-they-want “economic development strategy,” and raging right-wing gestures aimed at everybody in the GOP who wanted to go medieval on the godless liberals.

This time around Perry impressed even me by making a speech reminding Republicans they were the party of the Fourteenth Amendment. It didn’t catch on. Nor did his regular reminders that he was (along with Lindsey Graham) the rare candidate in a field of war-mongerers who had actually worn a uniform. The CW will suggest that Perry never overcame his 2012 missteps. I’d say he had no distinct identity in a huge field dominated by people who were going medieval just as he was trying to move along to the Renaissance.

His withdrawal rebuts the idea that anybody with a Super-PAC can stay in the race right up until the convention, and will provide an interesting test of what happens to leftover Super-PAC money, as the New York Times‘ Jonathan Martin notes:

The super PACs backing Mr. Perry, collectively known as Freedom and Opportunity, had a raised more than $17 million as of earlier this summer, mostly from a handful of wealthy Texas families, dwarfing the amount raised by his campaign, which was limited by law to raising only $2,700 from each donor. Mr. Perry’s advisers were uncertain what would happen with the super PAC money, but noted that much of it came from a pair of Dallas executives, Kelcy Warren and Darwin Deason, and that they would be consulted.

Presumably, since Super-PACs are supposed to be “independent,” this one can do any damn thing it wants, other than covering the back pay Perry staffers are owed. They, of course, will be scrambling for a new gig, and despite this tiny “winnowing,” it remains a seller’s market for GOP political talent.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 14, 2015

September 14, 2015 Posted by | GOP Campaign Donors, GOP Presidential Candidates, Rick Perry | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

%d bloggers like this: