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“Licking The Bully’s Boots”: Why Would Anyone Want To Be Trump’s VP?

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

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Chris Christie, Donald Trump, GOP Vice President Candidate, Newt Gingrich | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“GOP’s New Class Of Jokers”: Meet The “Rising Stars” Of The Dumbest Rebrand Ever

To answer the questions Andy Kroll raised in his Wednesday Mother Jones piece exposing New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez as a terrible shithead — yes, Martinez probably is the next Sarah Palin. And yes, Martinez is also, as Kroll points out, probably the next Chris Christie. Which is to say that she is currently being floated as a great savior of the Republican Party, even though she is terrible.

But while Martinez and some of the “young guns” being scouted by the National Republican Congressional Committee may make for some more demographically representative campaign ads, the policies they have built their careers on are pretty indistinguishable from the sea of white men who have been driving the GOP into the ground. And it’s these policies that matter most to the politically engaged and highly motived voting blocs — unmarried women of color, in particular — who are shaping contentious elections and whom the GOP so desperately want on its side.

A Wednesday report from Politico more than bears this out. While the assault on reproductive rights has certainly galvanized women voters, as Stanley Greenberg and Erica Seifert note, the economy and the social safety net are energizing them, too:

With women Democratic leaders in the House and the U.S. Senate taking the lead, we began to examine the surprising impact of focusing like a laser on the economy and advancing an economic agenda for working women. This agenda is popular among all voters, but it is especially powerful among unmarried women. Hearing that agenda increased the support for a Democratic candidate on our surveys, but much more important, it greatly increased their likelihood of voting.

[An agenda focusing on equal pay, family leave, the minimum wage and the social safety net] increases unmarried women’s likelihood to vote and increases the chance that they will vote for Democrats. In our surveys, after hearing this agenda and also the best policies and messages from Republicans, the two-thirds of unmarried women who say they were almost certain to vote increases to 83 percent. That math could make the difference in November.

Let’s dispense with Christie here — partly because his whiteness and his maleness kind of disqualify him from the “rebrand” the GOP is going for and partly as wishful thinking that his presidential aspirations are legitimately dead — and look at where Martinez and some of the female “young guns” being touted as the bold new direction of the party stand on the issues that have alienated so many from the GOP.

Democrats in recent months have been hammering Republicans hard on the minimum wage and equal pay, and it’s an issue on which Martinez has a mixed record. In March, she vetoed a bill that would have raised her state’s minimum wage to a meager $8.50 an hour. Defending her veto, Martinez chided state Democrats for trying to raise the $7.50 minimum by a whole dollar instead of the 30 cent increase she was in favor of. “I was clear with lawmakers that I support an increase in the minimum wage in New Mexico — one that would put us on a level playing field with neighboring states,” she said at the time, noting that because Arizona pays its workers poverty wages, New Mexico should pay its workers poverty wages.

And while Martinez did sign an equal pay law passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature, it hardly gets her out of the “war on women” weeds or makes her an ally to working women. In a measure that was both offensive to mothers and victims of sexual violence (and bizarrely embraced the Todd Akin/Paul Ryan “forcible rape” talking point at its most toxic), Martinez proposed a measure to require women in New Mexico to prove that their sexual assault qualified as “forcible rape” if they wanted childcare assistance for a child born as a result of rape. (After an outcry from advocates in the state, Martinez withdrew the language.)

The “Young Guns” — a GOP recruitment program that categorizes its most promising candidates into “contenders,” “on the radar,” and “young guns” — don’t fare much better. Virginia delegate Barbara Comstock, currently running for Congress and considered “on the radar,” called equal pay measures a “left-wing agenda,” and denounced the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as “partisan.” When debating access to later-term abortion in her state, Comstock declared there was “never” a health reason that a woman would need such a procedure. (This is totally and completely false.)

Arizona “young gun” Martha McSally, currently running for a United States House seat, wants to allow employers to deny their female workers birth control, and — like most of her GOP contemporaries — couches her defense of gender rating in insurance in the language of “religious freedom.” Mimi Walters, a “contender” in California, doesn’t support the inclusion of maternity coverage in health insurance. (How pro-family of her.) Utah “contender” Mia Love defended her party against the “war on women” label by arguing that the GOP — despite working feverishly to defund Planned Parenthood and roll back access to basic reproductive health services across the country — was the party of “choice,” because it wants “more free choice and more liberties” for all.

The names and faces may be unfamiliar to national audiences, but the policies are exactly the same. The hype around Martinez is following the same script that managed to convince the country that Christie is a “moderate.” The “young guns” are more of the same: an army of women who are beating the drum against reproductive rights, fighting equal pay in the states and pulling moves from the same tired playbook.

If it wasn’t such a cliché, I’d say something here about the GOP and the very definition of insanity.

If the party wants to stop its nose dive at the polls with all but an aging population of white voters, they should maybe try to find some candidates whose views and agendas aren’t so disdainful of and hostile to the voters they need to survive. It may also want to stop hailing bridge-burning assholes as the future of the GOP. That might help, too.


By: Katie McDonough, Salon, April 17, 2014

April 21, 2014 Posted by | GOP, War On Women | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Susana Martinez’s Administration Sounds Familiar”: Tone-Deaf, Exclusionary, And Unnecessarily Ruthless

Mother Jones’ Andy Kroll has a delightful look at the office and personality of New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a popular Republican politician and potential presidential or vice-presidential candidate.

Here’s what we learn: Martinez is, to put it charitably, pretty ill-informed about policy and certain aspects of her job. A cutthroat political consultant named Jay McCleskey seems to have a huge amount of influence in her administration, despite having no official job in the governor’s office. He has also used his connections to enrich himself, through his consulting firm and “affiliated entities.” Martinez has been unduly harsh toward her perceived political enemies, punishing them by endorsing opponents and telling fundraisers not to donate. One New Mexico Republican Party elder referred to her administration as “tone-deaf, exclusionary, and unnecessarily ruthless.”

And recorded conversations reveal that Martinez and her team — most especially McCleskey — are vulgar, condescending and not infrequently offensive when talking among themselves about voters, teachers and other politicians. Kroll compares it, accurately, to HBO’s “Veep.” This, for example, sounds especially “Veep”-esque:

During an October 2010 campaign conference call, Martinez said she’d met a woman who worked for the state’s Commission on the Status of Women, a panel created in 1973 to improve health, pay equity, and safety for women.

“What the hell is that?” she asked.

“I don’t know what the fuck they do,” replied her deputy campaign manager, Matt Kennicott.

“What the hell does a commission on women’s cabinet do all day long?” Martinez asked.

“I think [deputy campaign operations director Matt] Stackpole wants to be the director of that so he can study more women,” Kennicott said.

“Well, we have to do what we have to do,” McCleskey chimed in, as Martinez burst out laughing.

It turns out that a bunch of assholes are running New Mexico. And while assholes who surround themselves with other assholes often do well in American politics, one thing that tends to happen is that they also alienate people who are in a position to hurt them.

I do not mean, in any way, to diminish the reporting of Kroll and Mother Jones, but it seems, from the outside, that this piece happened because someone with access to a lot of documents and recordings decided to send those documents and recordings to a venue that would make sure to post them in the most damaging and complete form possible. (The Times, for example, would’ve produced a similarly comprehensive profile with this material, but it would’ve been headlined something like “Unanswered Questions Linger Over Influence of Adviser to New Mexico Governor.”) That right there is a good indication that something is terribly wrong in the office of the governor of New Mexico: Vindictive behavior leads people to do things like leak all your shit to Mother Jones.

The result is, I think, a really enlightening peek into what this sort of administration actually sounds like on the inside. By “this sort of administration,” I mean one run by a bunch of petty assholes who play-act like politics in a Mamet-scripted masculinity contest. It’s easy to imagine that the governorship of George W. Bush wasn’t entirely dissimilar, with a checked-out executive and a powerful political operative running the show. Other recently released internal communications suggest a similar environment in New Jersey.

Probably a lot of state (and city and county) executive offices sound a lot like this, behind closed doors and in email chains. Not all of them, but probably most of the ones you suspect. And not just those darn Republicans. The only difference, in terms of the political culture, between the Susana Martinez administration and the Andrew Cuomo administration is that the Andrew Cuomo administration doesn’t have someone on staff sending reams of damaging internal communications to hostile members of the press. It may be that Cuomo doesn’t need to outsource the position of petty, vindictive, highly politicized vengeance-seeker to a top aide, as Martinez apparently has, but is being more hands-on in that particular position really a plus?

Susana Martinez seems like a bad governor, and she would be a bad president, for most of the same reasons that George W. Bush was a bad president, but she is just another exemplar of America’s long and proud tradition of elevating assholes to high positions because they seem like they get things done.


By: Alex Pareene, Salon, April 16, 2014

April 17, 2014 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Looking For Mr. White-Guy”: Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez Slams Romney’s Immigration Policy

Presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney has mentionedNew Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) as a potential vice presidential pick, and some conservatives think she’d help him win Hispanic voters, but even she is skeptical of Romney’s immigration policy.

In an interview with the Daily Beast’s Andrew Romano, Martinez acknowledged the problem. “I have no doubt Hispanics have been alienated during this campaign,” she said. Indeed, one recent poll found a startling 68 point gap between Romney and President Obama among Hispanics. “But now there’s an opportunity for Gov. Romney to have a sincere conversation about what we can do and why,” she added.

Part of that may be softening his immigration stance, which was among the harshest in the GOP primary. Romney said his immigration policy would be to make life so miserable for undocumented immigrants that they would choose to “self-deport.” But Martinez balked at this. “‘Self-deport?’ What the heck does that mean?” Martinez “snap[ped] at Romano.

Martinez also called for he GOP to “outflank the president–on the left–by proposing its own comprehensive plan” — something that is highly unlikely for Romney to support considering that he’s vowed to veto the DREAM Act and his immigration adviser, the controversial activist behind Arizona’s anti-immigration law, said his candidate will not support any legislation that opens a path to citizenship for immigrants.

But perhaps Romney-Martinez 2012 is not meant to be anyway, as Martinez has repeatedly said she’s not interested in being vice president and Romney is supposedly looking for an “incredibly boring white guy” — criteria which excludes Martinez at least twice over.


By: Alex Seitz-Wald, Think Progress, May 14, 2012

May 14, 2012 Posted by | Immigration | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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