Let’s be honest – Donald Trump is definitely not a team player. A cursory look at his business, entertainment and political careers tells us that, other than family, his litigious bullying means that he usually goes it alone. That’s why we’ve seen so much upheaval among his campaign staff. He tends to be drawn to the most unsavory of characters (Roy Cohn and Paul Manafort) as mentors/partners. But mostly he likes people he can bully. That’s what Mark Bowden reports from the time he spent with Trump back in 1996.
Trump struck me as adolescent, hilariously ostentatious, arbitrary, unkind, profane, dishonest, loudly opinionated, and consistently wrong. He remains the most vain man I have ever met. And he was trying to make a good impression…
It was hard to watch the way he treated those around him, issuing peremptory orders—“Polish this, Tony. Today.” He met with the lady who selected his drapery for the Florida estate—“The best! The best! She’s a genius!”—who had selected a sampling of fabrics for him to choose from, all different shades of gold. He left the choice to her, saying only, “I want it really rich. Rich, rich, elegant, incredible.” Then, “Don’t disappoint me.”…
What was clear was how fast and far one could fall from favor. The trip from “genius” to “idiot” was a flash. The former pilots who flew his plane were geniuses, until they made one too many bumpy landings and became “fucking idiots.” The gold carpeting selected in his absence for the locker rooms in the spa at Mar-a-Lago? “What kind of fucking idiot . . . ?”
We’ve seen the same kind of thing in how he has treated Republicans who have been willing to lick the bully’s boots.
As others have noted, Trump really isn’t that interested in winning the support of fellow politicians. He is a bully, and what he craves is their submission. Once Chris Christie endorsed him, Trump took visible joy in treating the New Jersey governor as a personal lackey, publicly poking fun at his weight and even telling him that he could no longer eat Oreos.
The dilemma is that no matter what you do, Trump’s goal is to make you lose. If you cross him – as Republican Susana Martinez did – you get clobbered. And if you submit, you get clobbered. That’s because, in Donald Trump’s mind, he always has to be the winner and he has no respect for losers.
So now we’re at the point in the 2016 presidential race when all eyes turn to who Trump will pick for the ultimate team-player spot – vice president. Yesterday Sen. Bob Corker wisely withdrew from this contest and it looks as if Sen. Joni Ernst has as well.
What I find interesting is that two of the guys who still seem to be in the running know a thing or two about being a bully themselves – Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie. I’m sure they are both smart enough to know what it means to play on “Team Trump.” So why are they so gung- ho to do so?
First of all, I suspect that they both think that they are smarter bullies and can out-Trump him. That’s what narcissists usually assume. But I also suspect that they have calculated that if Trump actually makes it to the White House, he won’t last long. Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell have already suggested that there are “Constitutional remedies” if he were to veer off course. In other words, he would be impeached and his vice president would be the man left standing. Neither Gingrich or Christie want to be Trump’s lapdog permanently. They want to be president and see Donald Trump as a way to get there.
By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 7, 2016
He can’t do it, Republicans. It’s time for you to admit that Donald Trump is incapable of even pretending to be an acceptable candidate for president. The question is which side of history you want to be on.
Are you going to stand with him as the balloons drop on the last night of the convention, knowing he shares neither your views nor your values? Are you going to work your hearts out this fall to put an unstable bully in charge of our national defense? Is party unity so much more important to you than trifles such as responsibility, duty and honor?
Leading Republicans should pay attention to what Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) told a reporter for the conservative Newsmax website: “What I am saying is Donald Trump can still get a vote from a lot of conservatives like me, but I would like some assurances on where he stands. I would like some assurances that he is going to be a vigorous defender of the U.S. Constitution. That he is not going to be an autocrat. That he is not going to be an authoritarian. That he is not somebody who is going to abuse a document that I have sworn an oath to uphold and protect and defend.”
Lee, who has not endorsed Trump, specifically mentioned “the fact that he accused my best friend’s father of conspiring to kill JFK” — referring to Trump’s scurrilous and unfounded charges about the father of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) — and also Trump’s history of making “statements that some have identified correctly as religiously intolerant.”
My only question for Lee is why Trump might still get his vote. I realize that Hillary Clinton is a Democrat, but no one has suggested that she might shred the Constitution or that she is a religious bigot. I thought the oath to “protect and defend” meant putting country before party.
To be sure, some leading Republicans are doing just that. Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 nominee, is one of the loudest and most consistent “Never Trump” voices. The Bush family, which incarnates the GOP’s recent history, is boycotting the convention. My colleague George F. Will, a principled conservative if ever there was one, said last week he had left the Republican Party because of Trump.
But most GOP luminaries are like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who has obvious reservations about his party’s presumptive nominee but supports him nonetheless. McConnell said this week that “people are looking for a level of seriousness that is typically conveyed by having a prepared text and teleprompter and staying on message.”
In other words, McConnell hopes Trump can at least pretend to be serious and stable long enough to make it through the general-election campaign.
Asked Wednesday if he agreed, Romney said no. “I think Mr. Trump has demonstrated who he is by virtue of what he said in the process to this point,” he explained. “What he says from this point forward may paper over that.”
I’ve had the same worry — that Trump would appear to be more statesmanlike and fool voters into thinking he had changed. With every passing week, however, I become less concerned about this scenario. Trump is who he is.
Every time Trump gives a prepared speech in which he manages to stay on message, drawing praise from the party establishment, he negates it by reverting to his old self. His address on foreign policy a couple of months ago, for example, was wrongheaded but basically mainstream. This week, however, he has been ranting about how the United States needs to use waterboarding and other torture techniques against suspected terrorists.
And you’re going to vote for this guy, John McCain? You, a former prisoner of war who was tortured by the North Vietnamese? You, the Senate’s most outspoken opponent of the practice?
McConnell said he hoped that Trump “is beginning to pivot and become what I would call a more serious and credible candidate for the highest office in the land.” Asked whether this was happening, McConnell replied, “He’s getting closer.”
But he’s not, and McConnell surely knows it. So does House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), who will preside over the convention at which Trump is set to be nominated. So do many Republicans who, when I ask them about Trump, either sigh, shrug or run away.
We are talking about the presidency of the United States, Republicans. You are about to nominate and support a man you know to be dangerously unworthy. Some loyalty.
By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, June 30, 2016
As a matter of procedural necessity, the effort to convince Republicans to push aside Donald Trump as their presidential nominee begins and ends with an initiative to change party rules that bind most delegates to the primary and caucus results. It will take one-fourth of the convention Rules Committee — 28 out of 112 members — to ensure a vote on an “unbinding” resolution on the floor after the convention has formally begun. A report in The Hill suggests Dump Trump members are not there yet and may never get there.
Kendal Unruh, a Colorado delegate leading the Dump Trump forces on the Rules Committee, only has 17 hard pledges of support for an “unbinding” resolution (though she claims additional “soft pledges”).
On a separate front, an anti-Trump delegate in Virginia has filed a lawsuit in federal court for relief from a state law that binds him to the primary results. Such laws affect an estimated one-third of the delegates. But as nomination-process wizard Josh Putnam persuasively argues, the suit, even if successful, does not do anything about state party rules that bind delegates independent of state laws or of national party rules. One reading of the situation is that delegation chairs are authorized to cast their state’s votes according to primary or caucus votes whether or not individual delegates consider themselves “bound.” And that could be a problem even if the Rules Committee revolt somehow succeeded and the convention voted to unbind itself.
All in all, it seems safe to say that something earth-shaking will have to occur in the larger political landscape to give the Dump Trump movement anything like real traction. As one of its warriors admitted to The Hill: “[Dump Trump needs] someone, somewhere, like [RNC Chairman] Reince Priebus or [Speaker] Paul Ryan or [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell to show an ounce of leadership if they’re to be successful. That’s been nonexistent so far.”
It’s hard to imagine all of that changing in less than three weeks.
By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 30, 2016
It took just one year for Marco Rubio to go from Beltway darling to “bless his heart.”
Rubio, whom Florida politicos have known for years as ambition in human form, ran audaciously for the United States Senate in 2010, shoving former Republican governor Charlie Crist out of the way and out of the party in the process. He won a 49 percent plurality in a three-way race against Crist and then-Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek to claim the office.
Even as he ran, it was clear to most Florida political watchers that Rubio viewed the Senate as a mere stepping stone to the presidency. He seized the spotlight in the crafting of an immigration reform that was his star turn. He was considered the guy who could sell the bill to the right.
But when he mounted a tour of conservative media outlets to make the pitch, he was roundly rebuffed, including by one of his constituents, Rush Limbaugh of Palm Beach. Rubio quickly abandoned his colleagues, including Arizona Senator John McCain, and disavowed the bill.
Rubio’s flight from immigration reform highlighted one of his less wonderful qualities: his willingness to morph into whatever political form suits his immediate needs. He was anointed by Jeb Bush to become speaker of the Florida House, and shoved aside his best friend at the time, speaker aspirant Gaston Cantens, to get there, figuring there was room for only one Cuban-American leader. He became a tea partier when being a tea partier was the path to Senate power; and ditched the movement soon thereafter. He’s been a neoconservative acolyte of Jeb Bush, and he’s been Bush’s tormentor, stepping in front of him in line during what friends of Jeb saw as his last chance to be president. In the process, he betrayed a man who throughout his political career had been both benefactor and de facto family.
Now, Rubio is mounting his latest reinvention; going from “never going to run for re-election” to the Senate, to maybe, to “yes.” Rubio watchers in Florida say the decision has to do with two things: the beseeching of D.C. Republicans like Mitch McConnell, who see Rubio as the party’s best chance of holding onto the seat in a tough election cycle; and Rubio’s desire to run for president again in 2020—something he believes he can best do from a Senate perch.
But getting back in involves real risks for Rubio.
The first risk: his reputation. Rubio may have cleared the field of his most prominent Republican competitors, but among those remaining is Carlos Beruff, a self-funding developer who has made it clear he is willing to put $10 to $15 million into the race on top of the $4 million he’s already spent. And Beruff is already hitting Rubio hard on the question of whether he’ll vow to serve out his full term if reelected rather than running for president and using the Senate as a stepping stone again. That’s a promise it seems unlikely Rubio can make honestly, and he has already refused to be pinned down on the matter when asked by reporters.
That future prospect is where the second risk to Rubio lies. If he gets back in and loses in a primary, particularly to a virtual unknown like Beruff, he will be humiliated. If he survives the primary but loses in November (Rep. Patrick Murphy currently leads the Democratic pack), he will be equally so. It’s one thing to cede a Senate seat willingly. Losing it would make it very difficult to run for president, given the spotlight that will be on the Florida race. Rubio seemed to seek some assurances from national conservatives this week, reportedly lobbying former rival Ted Cruz and conservative stalwart Mike Lee to essentially draft him publicly to run, to put a movement sheen on it. Both men declined.
Democrats have vowed to make life difficult for Rubio. . Murphy reacted to the announcement that Rubio was “in” with an email blast, saying the famously unhappy Senate warrior “abandoned his constituents, and now he’s treating them like a consolation prize.” Super PACS supporting Democrats have pledged to spend at least $10 million in the effort to unseat him. And Democrats could have a good shot, if Hillary Clinton beats Trump in Florida and has coattails, and if straight-laced, seemingly incorruptible Murphy is the Democratic Senate candidate.
Still, there is upside for Rubio. He is leading in the current Quinnipiac poll against either Murphy or fiery Rep. Alan Grayson. He will no doubt have flush campaign coffers, between longtime patrons like former Philadelphia Eagles owner and car magnate Norman Braman, who is said to have poured more than $10 million in the super PACs supporting Rubio’s presidential bid, and the Republican Senate Campaign Committee. But the campaign is likely to feature a rehash of his worst moments of the past few years: his immigration reversal; his disastrous “tiny bottle” moment as he delivered the State of the Union rebuttal in 2013; his failure to show up for work; his “robot Rubio” shellacking at the hands of Chris Christie during the GOP debates; his rather self-serving reaction to Orlando, which he used as the excuse for reconsidering quitting the Senate and which has drawn fire from LGBT rights groups; and his spectacular primary defeat at Trump’s hands.
There’s one more risk Rubio faces: his long-term brand.
As a Senate candidate, Rubio will be under tremendous pressure to make good on his vow to support Trump as the Republican nominee. This on top of the spectacle of someone who spent the waning days of his presidential bid playing the dozens with the man who reduced him to “Little Marco” oddly saying he would be “honored” to help Trump in any way.
As the rare nationally known Hispanic Republican, and with the presidential candidate in a desperate search for political stars to decorate his potentially B-list-laden Cleveland convention, Team Trump will surely deploy Rubio liberally, to refute the notion of Trump’s anti-Hispanic racism. But for Rubio, a primetime speaking slot in Cleveland could be more curse than blessing. He risks becoming Trump’s Hispanic human shield; a prospect other Latino politicians, like spurned New Mexico governor Susana Martinez, will be able to avoid, even if they are dragooned into attendance in Cleveland.
For so many reasons, a Rubio Senate run seems fraught with career-defining peril. But it’s peril he’s apparently prepared to face, if it means another shot at the White House.
By: Joy-Ann Reid, The Daily Beast, June 22, 2016
Can the National Rifle Association ever be defeated?
I can’t blame you if you’re thinking “no.” It won again this week, as everyone knew it would. But someday, this dam will break.
I admit that these last few days give us little basis for hope, but I do think Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy’s filibuster had some impact in forcing a vote, albeit an unsuccessful one. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell controls the calendar, decides what gets to the floor. He didn’t have to schedule these votes. Granted, his real motivation was undoubtedly to give that small number of Republican incumbents from purple or blue states a chance to cast a reasonable-seeming vote on guns.
But public pressure exists, and polling is through the roof on support for banning the purchase of guns by people on terror-watch and no-fly lists. Murphy’s stand galvanized gun-control forces.
After the Newtown shooting in December of 2012, it took five months for the Senate to hold a vote. This time it took a week. That may not seem like much, especially given that both efforts came to the same bleak end, but this is progress of a sort. These things take a long time.
It was mildly encouraging, too, to see some red-state Democrats vote for gun legislation sponsored by Dianne Feinstein. To NRA hard-liners, she is Satan. There are four red-state Democrats who risk political suicide if they’re not careful on guns: Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Jon Tester of Montana. All but Heitkamp voted for Feinstein’s amendment to prevent gun purchases by anyone who’s been on a terror watch list for the last five years.
It should be noted that only Donnelly voted for the other Democratic measure, introduced by Murphy and Chuck Schumer, which sought to close the gun-show loophole. And all four of these Democrats opposed a weak amendment from Republican Chuck Grassley.
But ultimately, yes, the votes were election-year theater. Here’s how ridiculous the whole thing is. Maine Republican Susan Collins has this “compromise” bill that would ban purchases of guns by people on the no-fly list. That’s to get Democratic support. Then it allows people to appeal such a decision, which is supposed to lure Republicans, who’ve said they don’t like the ban because some people have been incorrectly put on those lists.
You might think that that would mean that enough senators from both parties could vote yes. But as of Tuesday afternoon, a Senate source explained to me, no other Republican had yet signed on to Collins’s bill. A small number presumably would—Mark Kirk of Illinois, who’s facing a tough reelection fight in a very blue state, maybe a few others. But Collins would need 15 or 16 Republicans to back her to get the 60 votes needed to end cloture. That’s as close to impossible as anything can be.
Now it gets even more baroque: Despite this lack of Republican enthusiasm, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may well give Collins a vote anyway. McConnell, of course, has no personal interest in compromise on this issue. He’s NRA all the way.
However, he probably wants a vote for the sake of Kirk, New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson—that is, all the Republicans up for reelection in blue states. It’ll look nice to voters back home that they cast a bipartisan gun vote.
But of course Democratic leader Harry Reid knows this, and so he might respond to such a move by McConnell by encouraging his caucus to vote against the Collins measure, thereby denying Kirk and the rest the desired bipartisan cover. Capische?
So the bill that is an actual compromise, the one bill on which both sides might actually have been able to agree, at least in theory, is the very bill that might lose by something like 95-5.
It’s not just ridiculous. It’s immoral. How high do the carcasses need to pile?
I sense we’re starting to reach the point where we’re going to learn the answer to that question. This just can’t go on forever. For starters, if Hillary Clinton maintains her lead and is elected president, one of the first things she’s going to do is put a liberal on the Supreme Court, making for a 5-4 liberal majority. Even if she settles for Merrick Garland, signs are he’d back gun control measures (the NRA already came out against him).
That could lead to an overturning of District of Columbia v. Heller, which vastly expanded individual gun-ownership rights. Given enough time, and maybe an Anthony Kennedy or a Clarence Thomas retirement and thus a 6-3 liberal majority, it could lead to still bigger changes in gun-law jurisprudence.
That would lead a defensive NRA to try to tighten its grip on Congress even more. And that will probably work, for a time. But it will embolden the anti-NRA forces too. Momentum will then be on their side.
And the mass killings will continue, and the bodies will pile up, and public outrage will grow. And one of these days, there’ll be a tragedy that will make everyone, even the number of Republicans who’d be needed to break a filibuster, say “enough.” It would have to be just the right kind of thing, click all the demographic boxes just right—a white man who bought an assault weapon with no background check and went on a rampage and killed many white people in a heavily Republican part of the country. I’m not wishing this on anyone, but then, I don’t need to. As we continue to do nothing, the odds increase daily that it will happen.
Things look awful until, one day, they suddenly don’t. The day Rosa Parks sat down on that bus, I bet not that many people would have predicted that a president would sign a civil rights bill just nine years later. The evil that is the NRA is so thoroughgoing and so repulsive to most Americans that it just can’t last forever. Newtown and Orlando energized millions of people. The LGBT community, I gather, is going to embrace gun-control as an issue. They’re organized, and they have money and clout. The old saying that pro-gun people vote on that issue while anti-gun people don’t isn’t as true as it once was.
So be angry about what happened. But Wayne LaPierre’s day will come, and maybe sooner than we think. And what a day it will be.
By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, June 22, 2016