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“A Master Class In Surrealist Poetry”: Sarah Palin Takes The GOP Campaign To A New Low

I love poetic justice. This wild and wacky Republican presidential campaign deserved Sarah Palin, and now it’s got her.

Palin’s endorsement of front-runner Donald Trump at an Iowa rally this week was a master class in surrealist poetry. Geniuses of the Dada movement would have been humbled by her deconstruction of the language and her obliteration of the bourgeois concept we call logic.

The GOP candidates have been competing to see who can spew the most nonsense, but they’ll never top Palin. Not when she offers gems such as this: “Believe me on this. And the proof of this? Look what’s happening today. Our own GOP machine, the establishment, they who would assemble the political landscape, they’re attacking their own front-runner. . . . They are so busted, the way that this thing works.”

Or this further excoriation of the party leadership: “And now, some of them even whispering, they’re ready to throw in for Hillary [Clinton] over Trump because they can’t afford to see the status quo go. Otherwise, they won’t be able to be slurping off the gravy train that’s been feeding them all these years.”

Or this elaboration of the same theme: “How ’bout the rest of us? Right-wingin’, bitter clingin’, proud clingers of our guns, our God, and our religions, and our Constitution. Tell us that we’re not red enough? Yeah, coming from the establishment. Right.”

Or this exercise in random word choice: “Well, and then, funny, ha ha, not funny, but now, what they’re doing is wailing, ‘Well, Trump and his, uh, uh, uh, Trumpeters, they’re not conservative enough.’ ”

Actually, I think the wailing from Republican grandees is more of a wordless primal scream. Palin claimed that “media heads are spinning” at her decision to campaign for Trump, but it would be more accurate to say that “media feet are dancing” at having such a rich source of new material.

I could quote Palin all day, but there are two substantive points about her dazzling intervention that I feel duty-bound to make. The first is political: Someday we might look back and say she was the one who pushed Trump over the top to win the nomination.

That’s not a promise, just a possibility. But Trump’s campaign draws strength from its own momentum. If he can somehow manage to sweep the early primary states, “outsider” support may coalesce behind him — and the establishment candidates may be too shellshocked to effectively respond.

Polls show Trump holding big leads in New Hampshire and South Carolina. But first comes Iowa, where he’s running neck and neck with Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.). Given his overall strength, Trump could finish second in the Iowa caucuses and still capture the nomination. A win there, however, could boost his support in the subsequent contests and make it much harder for anyone to stop him.


By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, January 21, 2016

January 26, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Sarah Palin | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Palin Is A Loser—But A Potentially Useful One”: Sarah Palin Backs Donald Trump, Murders Irony

Failed reality-television star Sarah Palin joined former reality-television star Donald Trump in Ames, Iowa, on Tuesday evening, not for a taping of Celebrity Apprentice or a casting for Dancing With the Stars, but to endorse him as the next president of the United States.

Dressed in a black overcoat and blue tie, the GOP frontrunner walked onstage at Iowa State University and gripped the lectern stamped with his name. “Wow, look at the press out there! They must think that a big event’s gonna happen today,” he said. “Wow! That’s a lot—it’s like the Academy Awards!”

He freestyled for 30 minutes, about his poll numbers and how Big League he wins, before welcoming a bedazzled Palin with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. He called her “a spectacular person” and said her endorsement was “very special to me.”

Trump stood off to her left and looked on as she spoke, his arms dangling awkwardly at his sides. He smirked.

“Heads are spinning,” Palin began. “This is gonna be so much fun!”

Searching for meaning in this spectacle is like trying to find enlightenment in the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese. And the jokes, well, they write themselves but they’re not very funny, which, in a sense, is the key to Trump’s success in the Republican primary—and, perhaps, life in general.

Trump persists because he defies parody. He, like Palin, is in on the joke that is his public persona. The difference is he’s better at telling it than any lowly scribe or comedian. And he tells it not with a device as obvious as self-deprecation but with subtlety in his every decision, minor or Yuge, in his official capacity as The Frontrunner for the Republican Presidential Nomination.

Which is where Palin comes in.

“No more pussyfooting around!” she shouted. “He’s going rogue left and right, man, that’s why he’s doing so well!”

Once governor of Alaska, Palin’s own road to caricature began when she joined Trump foe John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign as his running mate.

Her tinny-voiced performance as a vice-presidential candidate was, at turns, erratic and self-destructive. By Election Day, it was difficult to distinguish between the real Palin and the version of her performed by Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live.

For a time after McCain’s defeat, Palin enjoyed her status as an in-demand conservative star, too rogue to be tamed by the establishment elite. But her shtick, complete with props like Big Gulps and Dr. Seuss books, seemed to grow tired. TLC canceled her reality show, Sarah Palin’s Alaska, after just one season. Palin sightings on cable news occurred with less and less frequency. A CBS News poll from January 2015 found that 59 percent of Republicans didn’t want her to run for president in this election.

To borrow a phrase from The Donald, Palin is a loser—but a potentially useful one, like conspiracy-monger Alex Jones, who was welcomed into Trump’s orbit in December.

Trump associates with sideshows and freaks as if to run on hot coals before the American public and media, who are left covered in sludge and scratching their heads. Unlike almost every politician before him, he is never tainted by these associations. No failed governor or tinfoil hat-wearing radio host or white supremacist making robocalls on his behalf can reflect poorly on his character, perhaps because we suspect he has none.

Trump befriended Palin before his formal foray into Republican politics began. In 2011, they were photographed eating pizza together in New York City—with forks. In August, Palin interviewed Trump, by webcam, for the right-wing One America News Network. He told her he liked her and her family “so much.”

There is overlap among their lackeys, too. Trump political director Michael Glassner previously served as chief of staff to Palin’s political action committee, and Trump’s spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, was endorsed by Palin in 2014 when she ran for Congress in Texas.

Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant who worked on the campaign until August, said Trump only stands to gain from Palin’s public embrace.

“She is popular with evangelicals who dominate the process,” he told me. “Also blots out sun for [Ted] Cruz.”

At the very least, Trump loses nothing after Tuesday’s Big Show. At most, he starves Cruz—his central rival—of much-needed media coverage with two weeks to spare until the Iowa caucus. Unlike his other threats, like Ben Carson, Cruz has proved impervious to Trump’s put-downs. Despite weeks of Trump questioning Cruz’s citizenship, Cruz has hardly moved an inch in the Iowa polls, where he was beating Trump as recently as two weeks ago. As of this writing, Trump stands just a percentage point above Cruz in the Real Clear Politics polling average in the state.

Aiding Trump’s cause is Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who, sparring with Cruz over ethanol, said Tuesday that he hopes the Texas senator is defeated.

As surreal as Tuesday’s performance felt at times, it was guided by a certain logic. Even Palin, who flailed her sequined arms in the air for the crowd, equal parts pep and menace in her voice, sounded a nuanced battle cry. “You ready for a commander and chief who will do their job and go kick ISIS ass?” she screamed at one point.

But then she explained her plight, and the plight of all Trump true believers.

“Trump’s candidacy: It has exposed not just that tragic ramifications of that betrayal of the transformation of our country, but too, he has exposed the complicity on both sides of the aisle that has enabled it, OK?” she said. “He’s been able to tear the veil off this idea of the system, how the system really works.”

In Trump, Palin sees a leader—one who won’t be pushed off to the corner like she was. “We need someone new who has the power and is in the position to bust up that establishment,” she said.

She complained that establishment Republicans are as much to blame as the Democrats, and in their effort to thwart Trump, they have maligned all of conservative America.

“Funny, haha—not funny,” she said, seemingly out of nowhere. “But now what they’re doing is whaling on Trump and his Trumpeters, ‘Well, they’re not conservative enough’—Oh my goodness gracious, what the heck would the establishment know about conservatism?”

She said she, Trump, and those like them were “right-winging, bitter-clinging, proud clingers of our guns, our god, and our religions, and our Constitution.”

“Doggone right we’re angry,” she said. “Justifiably so!”

She said Trump could be trusted because “he builds things, he builds big things, things that touch the sky, big infrastructure, things that put people to work.”

And when President Obama leaves office, she said, she hopes he heads back to Chicago. He’ll “be able to look up and there, over his head, he will be able to see that shining, towering Trump Tower. Yes, Barack, he built that and that says a lot! Iowa, you say a lot being here tonight supporting the right man who will allow you to Make America Great Again!”


By: Olivia Nuzzi, The Daily Beast, January 19, 2016

January 21, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Sarah Palin | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Reasons To Remain Skeptical”: The Case Against Trump Winning Remains Strong

Not one but two new polls give former reality TV star Donald Trump commanding national leads among Republican voters. So it must be time for another installment in my ongoing effort to document the reasons he won’t be the nominee.

The New York Times’ “The Upshot” blog provides the latest fodder, with the excellent Nate Cohn making a thorough and persuasive case today for Trump as long-shot (but, importantly, not an impossibility) for his party’s nod.

First, there’s recent history: “In nearly every election cycle, there are candidates who lead national polls and sometimes even win states, but don’t come close to winning the nomination,” he writes. Four years ago, it was Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, eight years ago it was Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton, four years before that Howard Dean was the clear Democratic front-runner at this point.

Mr. Trump shares a lot in common with strong factional candidates who have ultimately fallen short in recent cycles: He does not have broad appeal throughout the party; he is unacceptable to the party’s establishment; and there are reasons to believe that his high numbers may be driven by unsustainable factors — like voters who are less likely to turn out or who are responding to pollsters with “Trump” because they haven’t heard any other name for four months.

Second, Cohn notes the important fact that the tyrant of Trump Tower does worse in polls that screen for likely voters (a point, to his credit, he’s been making since August). That’s ground Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur also covers today in what the headline of his piece calls the “Trump uncertainty principle.” In brief, Trump’s “leads tend to be higher in surveys of Americans who say they plan to vote than those whom pollsters traditionally consider more likely to vote as they have voted in recent elections.” The question, Kapur notes, is whether Trump can build a world-class organization that will produce yuuuuge turn-out (the answer is that either he is or he’s doing a great job of convincing the media that he is), a la Barack Obama eight years ago.

A third important – and related – point that Cohn makes is that Trump’s “dominance of media coverage may be harder to sustain once the field narrows, or actual voting results roll in.” The surest way to puncture the Trump media bubble is to beat him; if, for example, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has moved to the front of Iowa polls, beats the real estate developer in the Buckeye State, he’ll enjoy an incredible media boomlet. Cohn even envisions scenarios with an early Trump win followed by a quick fizzle (think 1996 Pat Buchanan) as the field winnows, and the not-Trump vote coalesces around a single opponent.

Cohn’s whole piece is worth a read because he gives important caveats explaining why he isn’t dismissing Trump entirely.

The Washington Post’s Steven Ginsberg mentioned in a recent interview with Trump that his opponents’ campaigns assume that one way or another he’ll disappear from the race. They no doubt have many of the aforementioned factors in mind. One gauge as to whether that thinking still holds will be this evening’s debate: If there’s stepped-up ferocity in the attacks on Trump, it could be a sign that they’re starting to take the alternative seriously.


By: Robert Schlesinger, Managing Editor for Opinion, U. S. News and World Report, December 15, 2015

December 21, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , | 3 Comments

“The High Life Has Ended For Team Jeb”: Are Donors Getting Annoyed At How Little They’re Getting In Tangible Political Results?

There’s a fascinating piece up at Politico this morning from Eli Stokols and Marc Caputo that documents the Jeb Bush presidential campaign’s new interest in frugality.

On the first day of a two-day Iowa swing back in August, Jeb Bush flew from Davenport to Ankeny in a private plane. The next day, after he spent more than four hours bounding around the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, a top adviser attributed Bush’s high energy level to having spent less time in transit.

I didn’t know Ankeny, a Des Moines suburb, had its own airstrip. But I digress.

Those days are over.

Last week, Bush spent three days in Iowa, traveling again from Des Moines to the state’s eastern edge, campaigning in the Mississippi River towns of Bettendorf and Muscatine — but this time, he went by car. The campaign also cancelled its reservation at the tony Hotel Blackhawk in nearby Davenport, staying instead at a cheaper hotel. More and more, Bush is flying commercial.

“The high life has ended,” said one Florida operative familiar with the campaign’s operation. “They’re running a more modest operation in the last two weeks, and the traveling party has definitely shrunk.”

If you read the whole piece, Bush campaign operatives are at pains to deny they’re having money troubles. (We’ll know more about that shortly when third-quarter fundraising and spending and cash-on-hand numbers are available.) No, we are told, they’re just smart little squirrels saving up those acorns for the long slog of the primary season. But it’s also clear they fear donors are getting a little annoyed at how little they are getting in the way of tangible political results for the ducats they’ve coughed up:

Conceived as a fundraising juggernaut that would “shock and awe” opponents into oblivion, Bush’s campaign is suddenly struggling to raise hard dollars and increasingly economizing — not because he’s out of money, but to convince nervous donors, who are about to get their first look at his campaign’s burn rate, that he’s not wasting it.

“At a certain point, we want to see a bang for the buck. We’re spending the bucks — and we’re seeing no bang,” a longtime Bush Republican said.

Bush is stuck at 7 percent in an average of national polls. He’s at close to 9 percent in New Hampshire, putting him in sixth place in the early state he most needs to win. Although his poll standing isn’t much better, Marco Rubio is starting to catch the eye of deep-pocketed establishment donors impressed by his leaner operation and unique appeal as a candidate.

Moreover, Bush’s Super-PAC has just spent a solid month running ads, especially in New Hampshire, without any notable payoff so far.

The Politico article doesn’t explicitly say it, but you figure one fear Team Bush has is that donors will decide the whole enterprise is now set up to subsidize itself, spending down the massive early war chest it built up whether or not Jeb’s going anywhere other than Palookaville. This is precisely the accusation Erick Erickson is making about Rand Paul’s campaign in a post that urges the Kentucky senator to “take your campaign out back and shoot it.”


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly , October 15, 2015

October 16, 2015 Posted by | GOP Campaign Donors, GOP Primaries, Jeb Bush | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Scramble Is On”: The Social Conservative Royal Rumble Is Brewing In Iowa

The two most crowded places in 2015 may be a subway car at rush hour and the stage at a Republican presidential debate. With the past two winners of the Iowa caucuses, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, both making moves toward a campaign and other social conservatives, ranging from Ben Carson to Ted Cruz, thinking about running, things are already looking crowded.

On Wednesday, Santorum told Real Clear Politics that he is approaching the 2016 election “as if I’m running.” Santorum, who won the Iowa caucuses and finished second in 2012 GOP primary, has never made a secret of the fact that he’s considering another bid for the nomination. The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania has stumped across the country this year for Republican candidates, including a significant number of visits to Iowa. He has also gone out of his way to endorse candidates in competitive primaries who backed him in 2012, most notably Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz in a congressional primary and Prof. Sam Clovis in the Hawkeye State’s Senate primary.

At the same time, Huckabee is organizing a trip to Europe with a number of pastors from early primary states after Election Day. The trip, first reported in June by David Brody at CBN, will focus on the leadership of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II and feature stops in London, Krakow, and Los Angeles. Longtime Huckabee aide Hogan Gidley described the trip to The Daily Beast as “an outstanding political move” that allows the former Arkansas governor to display his “understanding of the world around us.”

Gidley also said that delegations of business leaders and pastors have been traveling to see the Fox News host to urge him to run for president. While Huckabee pondered running in 2012 before deciding not to mount a bid, Gidley said that this time the former governor was expressing “a much different tenor and tone” in contemplating a run.

Both Huckabee and Santorum had considerable overlap in their support during their respective presidential bids. They were both scrappy and underfunded social conservative standard-bearers who pulled off underdog wins in Iowa against Mitt Romney. But if both run, they may have to compete over the same pool of voters—and there will be plenty of candidates appealing to Iowa conservatives.

In fact, according to the most recent poll of Iowa caucusgoers, the favorite potential candidate from the conservative wing of the Republican Party is neither Huckabee nor Santorum; it’s Ben Carson..

Carson is looking to be a somewhat formidable candidate. His super PAC raised $3.3 million in the most recent fundraising period (although it only netted $100,000 after accounting for expenses, most of which were for fundraising). It’s likely that Carson, who would be a first-time candidate whose own top adviser acknowledges that he suffers from “foot-in-mouth disease,” will flame out before the first ballots are cast. But his presence in the race would serve as yet another draw to the type of voters who both Santorum and Huckabee will have to woo.

And it’s not just Ben Carson who might be their competition.

There’s a baker’s dozen of candidates who could compete for conservative voters, from national figures like Cruz and Scott Walker to somewhat obscure governors like Bobby Jindal and Mike Pence, all of whom would have the potential to catch fire and who will be competing over many of the same voters and activists.

The question though is how this sorts itself out. Many conservatives still feel traumatized from the divisive primaries in 2008 and 2012, where candidates on the right of the party battled for position while two establishment candidates, John McCain and Mitt Romney, slipped by to win the nomination… and then lose the general election to Barack Obama.

This time around, there will be a strong centripetal force among social conservatives to settle on one candidate to challenge whoever eventually emerges as the establishment choice, be it Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, or someone else, not to mention Rand Paul, who has appeal among both social conservatives and some establishment Republicans without belonging to either faction. But that sorting process still has a while to sort itself out as candidates test the waters and see if they can mount and maintain viable candidacies. In the meantime, the scramble is on and, in Republican presidential politics, anything can happen.


By: Ben Jacobs, The Daily Beast, October 17, 2014

October 20, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, GOP Presidential Candidates, Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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