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“2016’s Scrambled Coalitions”: Trump’s GOP Foes Have Six Weeks To Topple Him From His High Wire

Republicans belong to a more ideological party, but ideology has mattered less in the GOP primaries this year than in the race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Clinton is in a nearly unassailable position to win her party’s nomination. But assuming she prevails, her primary fight with Sanders has underscored weaknesses she will have to deal with to win in November.

And Donald Trump’s moves toward moderation on social issues last week reflect not only his campaign’s understanding that he cannot win as a far-right candidate but also his need to tread carefully to maintain the crazy-quilt coalition he has built in the GOP primaries.

New York and Massachusetts Republicans are quite different from the ones found in Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee. Trump carried all five states, bringing together some of the most extreme voters on the right end of his party with a large share of those who consider themselves moderate.

As the 2016 primaries reach their decisive moment, the results so far point to a scrambling of alliances inside both parties.

To earn her delegate lead, Clinton has built a significantly different coalition in 2016 than she did in 2008. The most important and obvious shift is among African Americans, who formed Barack Obama’s base against her eight years ago and are now Clinton’s most loyal supporters. They will loom large in Tuesday’s primaries, particularly in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Clinton ran well behind Obama among voters under 30. She’s doing even worse among younger voters this year against Sanders.

She has done well among voters over 45, among those with a strong identification with the Democratic Party, and among the roughly one-third of primary voters who do not identify themselves as liberal (a group that includes many nonwhites). In her New York victory, she carried moderate and conservative Democrats by 2 to 1. But even where she has lost, this group has come her way. In Michigan, for example, she carried the non-liberals 52 percent to 43 percent.

Sanders speaks of increasing participation in Democratic primaries, but turnout this year has not exceeded the admittedly exceptional 2008. He does, however, seem to have mobilized more progressive voters: A comparison of the exit polls with surveys of Democrats nationally suggests that the primary electorate this year is more liberal than is the party as a whole.

Overall, turnout patterns have been mixed. They were down in many of the earliest states, such as New Hampshire, and sharply down in some later states, including Alabama, Texas and Ohio. But 2008 and 2016 turnouts were roughly comparable in other states, including New York, Massachusetts and Wisconsin.

There is another factor in Sanders’s strength that points to a Clinton problem this fall: Even where she has won, she has run poorly among white men. In New York, Sanders got 57 percent of their votes; in Michigan, which Sanders won, he got 62 percent. She has also regularly lost in rural areas.

White men as a whole would likely prefer any Republican over any Democrat this fall, but Clinton would have to find a way to cut her losses. Against Trump, at least, polls suggest she would so overwhelm him among women that she could triumph anyway. This would be less clear if she faced a different Republican.

An awareness of his need to improve his standing among women may have prompted Trump to insist last week — to the consternation of social conservatives — that the GOP’s traditional platform plank against abortion include exceptions for rape, incest and protecting a mother’s life. He also spoke out against North Carolina’s anti-transgender law.

Trump’s willingness to part with social conservatives (for now, at least) also reflects the ways in which his vote defies the old Republican patterns.

In primary after primary, he has split white evangelical voters with Ted Cruz. At the same time, Trump has performed as well among moderates as he has among conservatives. A partial exception is New York, where Trump ran best among self-described conservatives. But even there, the exit polls still showed him defeating John Kasich narrowly, 46 percent to 42 percent, among moderates.

The failure of both movement conservatives and established Republican politicians to stop Trump so far arises from their inability to imagine that someone could appeal simultaneously to moderates — they see Trump more as a manager and leader who could get things done — and to the party’s most hardcore right-wingers on immigration and race, and also in the ferociousness of his opposition to Obama.

Trump’s GOP foes have six weeks to topple him from his high wire.


By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 24, 206

April 26, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, GOP Primaries | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Praise God And Bash The Gays”: More Hate On The Way. Oh, Joy

This past week, I read that “social conservatives” will attempt to reinvigorate their anti-gay campaign for the 2016 presidential race. Briefly, I succumbed to the old response of bracing myself.

More hate on the way. Oh, joy.

James Hohmann, writing for Politico from Des Moines, Iowa: “The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to rule on gay marriage once and for all in June, and there are many Republicans who privately would love nothing more than to have the question settled and off the table in time for the 2016 presidential election.

“It’s not going to happen. Social conservatives here are determined to keep the issue alive during the run-up to next February’s Republican caucuses, no matter how the high court rules or how much some establishment figures would like to move on.”

Such a curious term, “social conservative,” when there is nothing cordial or hospitable in wielding God as a political two-by-four in the fight to deny basic human rights — in this case, the right to marry.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia. I live in one of the holdouts, Ohio. I’m not proud of that, but I can say it out loud without the usual spine rattle because I’m confident that on this issue, the bigots’ days are numbered from sea to shining sea. You can tell by the desperate, ridiculous things they’re saying lately, particularly in Iowa.

My favorite quotation so far came out of Mike Huckabee, who showed up last week at Iowa’s conservative summit. Rep. Steve King organized the gathering. His most famous contribution to public discourse is his 2013 description of immigrants as dealers dragging their drugs across the desert with “calves the size of cantaloupes.”

Not to change the subject, but I’ve always wondered why the congressman was spending so much time looking at those guys’ legs. It’s the kind of thing that makes you go “hmm.”

Anyway, back to Huckabee. He likened laws allowing gay people to marry to the U.S. Supreme Court’s racist 1857 Dred Scott decision, which said that no black person, free or enslaved, could become an American citizen.

And this, Huckabee argued, is why gays can’t marry.

“Nobody argues that Abraham Lincoln should have abided by the Dred Scott decision,” Huckabee said. “We recognize that he had the courage to realize that he didn’t have to enforce something that was morally wrong.”

If you think you should be able to figure out how Huckabee managed to connect those dots, you’re in for an even longer Republican presidential primary than the rest of us. Don’t try to make sense of this stuff.

I’m making light of this only because for too long, I was angry with people like Huckabee and didn’t like what it did to me. More to the point, I didn’t like how I was letting their nonsense whittle down faith. For a while there, I was reluctant to say I was Christian for fear that someone might think I was one of them. In my worst moments, I began to wonder where God fit into all of this.

I used to resent fundamentalists for this internal crisis of mine, but now I thank them. I hear them saying stupid things about gay people they’ve never met and feel the tug of my Christian roots, which taught me that faith is a riverbed where hope bubbles up and carries us along.

One of my favorite books is a collection of sermon excerpts by the late Rev. William Sloane Coffin. That man was a Christian willing to take on his own people.

“It is not Scripture that creates hostility to homosexuality,” he wrote, “but rather hostility to homosexuals that prompts some Christians to recite a few sentences from Paul and retain passages from an otherwise discarded Old Testament law code.

“In abolishing slavery and in ordaining women we’ve gone beyond biblical literalism. It’s time we did the same with gays and lesbians. The problem is not how to reconcile homosexuality with scriptural passages that condemn it, but rather how to reconcile the rejection and punishment of homosexuals with the love of Christ. It can’t be done.”

It can’t be done, he said.

Let justice flow like a mighty river.


By: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist and an Essayist for Parade Magazine; The National Memo, January 29, 2015

January 30, 2015 Posted by | Election 2016, Marriage Equality, Mike Huckabee | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Trial Baloon Leak”: Social Conservatives Won’t Let Romney Pick Condi, Christie or Daniels

The Romney campaign played the media for a bunch of saps last week. After The Boston Globe revealed that Romney had continued to work for Bain Capital for several years longer than he claimed, they wanted to change the conversation. Talking about how he may have lied to either the Federal Election Commission or the Securities and Exchange Commission about his time with Bain is not what he wanted to do.

So on Thursday his campaign leaked to the Drudge Report that former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice was at the top of his vice-presidential shortlist. The national media started chattering about this ostentatiously false claim. The Beltway media has apparently never met any actual Republicans. Beltway Republicans, of course, are fiscal and social conservatives but, being educated people, they are much less likely to oppose abortion rights and gay rights, and even less likely still to care deeply about the issues than are average Republican voters. Being apparently too lazy to do any reporting on whether the Republican Party could conceivably nominate a pro-choice woman to be Vice-President, or to just read Game Change which reports that John McCain and his staffers did not mind at all that Joe Lieberman is pro-choice but ultimately accepted that they could not pick as running mate because the Republican National Convention would be in revolt, they took this preposterous notion about Rice seriously. As Media Matters noted, ABC, NBC and The Wall Street Journal reported the Rice rumor as if it were a serious possibility.

ABC’s Jonathan Karl noted that Drudge “has been accurate on Romney before.” Well, how is Drudge’s accuracy on previous vice-presidential selections? Not too good, as The American Spectator’s Jonathan Tabin points out: “Four years ago, Matt Drudge reported that Barack Obama was likely to select Evan Bayh as his running mate. Eight years ago, Drudge reported that John Kerry was likely to select Hillary Clinton as his running mate. Twelve years ago, Drudge reported that George W. Bush’s likely pick was Frank Keating.”

Romney has pledged to select a reliable conservative on social issues, and his campaign has privately reassured conservative pundits that this is the rare promise he will actually keep. Erick Erickson. “We’ve gotten assurance that he’ll stick to his pledge,” says Bryan Fischer, director of issue advocacy for the American Family Association. Erick Erickson, editor of the blog Red State, tweeted on the very night of Drudge’s report, “Multiple assurances from Team Romney tonight that Condi is not happening for Veep.”

“I’m guessing the Romney campaign leaked it as a trial balloon to see how social conservatives react,” Fischer speculates.

They reacted with horror. The word “non-starter” comes up repeatedly. “She’s a non-starter because she’s pro-abortion and soft on homosexual unions,” says Fischer.

“The former Secretary of State would be a non-starter choice mainly because she doesn’t fit the criteria that Governor Romney set for his VP pick,” wrote Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, in a statement. “During the primaries, Romney made very clear that his vice president would be pro-life, pro-marriage and a strong defender of religious liberty – and while Ms. Rice is many things, her record shows those three she is not. When you look at the Republican Party, there is no doubt that the pro-life position is a non-negotiable.”

Richard Viguerie, one of the founders of the Moral Majority, picking Rice would be a “slap in the face” to conservatives.

Romney has even less room to maneuver on social issues when choosing a running mate than McCain did. Besides being a Mormon, Romney supported gay rights and abortion rights when he ran for office in Massachusetts. Evangelicals remained skeptical of him throughout the primaries. As long as the race was competitive, Romney was virtually guaranteed to lose the Evangelical vote in each state to Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum.

Social conservative leaders also emphasize that they want to see the ticket balanced by adding a vociferous social conservative to balance Romney’s squishiness. “Romney needs an unapologetic and unwavering defender of the right to life and traditional marriage,” says Fischer. “He cannot afford a pro-abortion running mate. That’s suicidal. Social conservatives have enough doubts about him. He needs a running mate who strengthens his social conservatives.”

“Mitt Romney needs someone who undergirds the social policy positions that he has taken since he was governor of Massachusetts,” wrote Perkins. “He needs someone who has an impeccable pro-life record, not just someone who checks the ‘pro-life box.’ There are a number of better qualified individuals out there who have led on the life issues and would not deflate enthusiasm from his base.”

Which other rumored running mates would be considered too passive on social issues by the religious right? New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. “Christie is just not strong on the homosexual agenda,” says Fischer. “Mitch Daniels would be a disaster because he’s the guy who called for ‘a truce’ on social issues. If you call for a truce and the other side doesn’t, that’s not a truce, that’s surrender.”

Among the names that top social conservatives privately toss around? Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Rep. Allen West (R-FL). Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist pastor who now hosts a weekend talk show on Fox News and a new radio program, is also frequently mentioned. But, according to Huckabee, he is not being vetted. “There’s no indication whatsoever that I’m even on the list of consideration,” says Huckabee. “I assume I’m not. I think if I had been, there would have been some inquiry at this point, there hasn’t been.”

Regarding Rice, Huckabee shares the concerns voiced by other conservatives. “I have great admiration for Condoleeza Rice, and I think she served her country well,” says Hucakbee. (Huckabee is always more diplomatic towards those he disagrees with than most conservative leaders.) “I do think her selection would be problematic for a number of conservatives. Governor Romney made it clear his vice-presidential selection would be a pro-life person. [Rice’s] comments in the past would make it very very difficult for people like me to be supportive. [I could be] supportive of her maybe as Secretary of State or ambassador to any place, but not vice president.” Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention expressed a similar sentiment to CNN, saying, “I love Condi Rice, I’d love to see her in any role in Romney administration except vice president.”

Huckabee also issues a stern warning to Romney about the risk he would entail in picking someone who is not sufficiently conservative on social issues, although he avoids naming other names. “I think [Romney] is going to make his own decision and calculate the risk of picking someone who may cause the base of the party, which really is those social conservatives, to just not be that enthusiastic,” says Huckabee.

“What he can not risk, in my opinion, is anything less than high intensity. He needs someone who will rally those voters, not chill them. They’re highly motivated to replace Barack Obama. But I think it’s a great mistake to believe they’re automatically going to be as enthusiastic about knocking on doors and working phone banks if he were to place somebody in the position who wasn’t a stalwart leader and has all the credentials to give some comfort that those issues are not going to be set aside.”

Huckabee also suggested that a disappointing vice-presidential selection would signal to social conservatives that they will just be ignored after Romney has used them to win the election. “Conservatives have been burned way too many times,” says Huckabee. “Social conservatives get used every four years, trotted out at the rallies to stand there for five hours, scream and yell for the candidate, knock on doors, make the phone calls, carry signs. When the election is over, they’re promptly forgotten, put up in the attic and asked not to come out in public again for another four years. I think a lot of people have grown tired of that, so hopefully that’s not going to be the case this year.”


By: Ben Adler, The Nation, July 15, 2012

July 16, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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