Category Archives: Parties

The editorial consensus for Kasich

Real Clear Politics

I’ve mentioned a number of times, approvingly, the way the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal keeps trying to wake up Republicans and make them see that their only hope out of their current mess is John Kasich.

They’re not alone in this. The New York Times — while it cares far less about the fate of the GOP — is equally bemused at the way Republicans seem determined to charge off a cliff:

At a televised Republican town hall on Tuesday, it was painful to watch farmers, students and a man whose son died of a drug overdose pose earnest questions to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz, who were more interested in attacking each other. Only John Kasich connected with these voters.

Despite its noble aim and big budget, “Never Trump” has become a panicky reaction in search of a strategy. In Wisconsin, “Never Trump” means “How About Cruz?” as self-interested leaders like Gov. Scott Walker try to sell Republicans on a dangerously reactionary senator as an improvement over a dangerously ignorant businessman. But for the state’s — and the nation’s — moderate conservatives, “Never Trump” should more logically mean “Maybe Kasich.”…

That’s less significant, of course. Republicans historically run from advice from that quarter, while some of them — the kinds of people who used to run the GOP — at least still care somewhat about what the Journal says.

But I find the NYT‘s chiming in interesting, because it points to something common to editorial board members, regardless of whether they lean left or right or neither: If you make your living studying current events and issues and thinking carefully about them — very carefully, because you know the words you write about them will be picked apart by thousands of people — you tend to see certain things, whether they are what you want to see or not. And you tend to marvel at people who are swept along by half-thoughts and emotions and seem to willfully refuse to see those things.

(Even if you’re an editorial writer at the NYT who actively wants to see Republicans lose, you’ve got to wonder, What are those guys thinking?)

You really don’t have to think all that hard to see that Kasich is the only rational choice at this point for Republicans. You really don’t have to go beyond all those poll numbers at the Real Clear Politics site. (Although if you do go beyond that, you can make other arguments.)

See, Republicans? If you go with Trump, you lose. If you go with Cruz, you lose. If you go with Kasich, you win. See? Was that so hard?

Not that there’s a guarantee that you win — there are too many variables for that. But at least you go into the fall with a chance to win, instead of having everything stacked against you.

Why doesn’t everyone see that? Oh, I don’t expect Trump supporters to see it — they’re too invested in their guy, and they seem to be allergic to facts and such. But the Grahams and Romneys of the world certain should see it. And you know what is really puzzling? I think they do see it; they’ve just made a very cynical calculation that they can’t make their fellow Republicans see it, too…

The likeliest scenario is that (shudder) Cruz is nominated — an outcome that must be fiercely resisted

Some of you continue to throw mudballs at my hopes for Kasich, urging me to be realistic about the numbers.

You’re missing the point. I see the numbers. It’s not about the numbers. It’s about there being some hope for the country, some way out of the current mess. I think it’s essential that we not forget that this one way out exists.

For instance, Doug (who hates it when I try to cling to hope) asks, looking at the schedule of remaining primaries, “where does Kasich win?”

My reply, which I repeat here because I think it’s worth a separate thread…

I don’t know. It’s not anything I’ve given any thought to. The point is for him to survive, to still be at the table when the nomination is decided at the convention.

Yes, it’s bad he didn’t do better in Wisconsin. But again, I haven’t pinned my hopes on him WINNING anywhere else, although it would be awesome if he did.

The point is a contested convention, one at which alternatives to Trump and Cruz can emerge. It could be Romney or Ryan, although I’d prefer it be Kasich — not only because I like him better, but because he subjected himself to the primary process and survived.

If you want to talk probabilities (what is likely to happen, rather than what SHOULD happen, which is what concerns me), then I say the most likely outcome is that Cruz is nominated. Party leaders (to the extent such creatures still exist) don’t have the guts, or the juice, to deny the nomination to both the first and second-place finishers (it remains to be seen whether they have the character to deny it to Trump).

This probability was greatly increased by Graham, Romney, et al., lining up behind Cruz — which to me was outrageous. They have set a pattern of capitulation to this man they all despise, one likely to be repeated at the convention.

What I’m doing is looking for some hope, any hope, that the nation will not be faced with the much-damaged Hillary Clinton (or, even worse, Bernie) on the one hand and either Trump or Cruz on the other. It is essential that there be SOME hope. This is not a game; this is our country…

WSJ still advocating for Kasich. Good for them…

I don’t always agree with The Wall Street Journal editorial board (they’re a bit too… Mark Sanford… for me), but when they’re right they’re right.

And they’ve been very right lately about John Kasich, making the logical arguments for him that seem to escape a lot of Republicans who ought to know better, such as our own Lindsey Graham.

In today’s editorial, “The Real Kasich Threat,” the editors first note how fervently both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz want Kasich out of the race, then point out, again, how unwise that would be for the GOP:

As for Mr. Cruz, he’d have to sweep nearly every remaining primary to get to 1,237. He also knows Mr. Kasich has a better chance than the Texan does of denying Mr. Trump delegates in states like Pennsylvania and Maryland that vote on April 26. But Mr. Cruz wants to drive Mr.

The guy Republicans will nominate if they wan to win.

The guy Republicans will nominate, if they want to win.

Kasich out of the race before the convention even if it means running a greater risk that Mr. Trump can get closer to 1,237. Mr. Cruz wants Mr. Kasich out now because he figures the delegates in Cleveland will choose Mr. Cruz if the choice is down to him and Mr. Trump. But if Mr. Kasich is still an option, the delegates might favor him as a better November candidate.

Mr. Kasich defeats Hillary Clinton by 6.3 points in current head-to-head polls, according to the Real Clear Politics average. Mr. Cruz loses by 3.1 and Mr. Trump by 10.8. Changing these polls would require gut renovations of the Trump and Cruz public images that will be hard for either to execute.

Mr. Kasich did the public service of winning Ohio’s delegates—with which Mr. Trump might have locked up the nomination—and he deserves a chance to see if he can win Pennsylvania or pick up delegates in the East and California. He has no hope of reaching 1,237 delegates before the convention, but what Messrs. Trump and Cruz really fear is that the convention might want to nominate a potential winner.

Absolutely.

Tim Robbins vs. South Carolina Democrats

Perhaps you are a great admirer of Tim Robbins, the actor/activist. I am not. To me, the pinnacle of his career was when he played the insufferable, insipid Ian/Ray in “High Fidelity.” Fairly or not, I saw him as playing himself in that role, and it’s an impression I’m unlikely to shake.

See the clip above. To me, that’s Tim Robbins. Go get him, Rob!

Now we have Tim Robbins commenting on South Carolina politics, in a manner worthy of Ian (or is it Ray?):

Pretty much everyone seems to think Robbins looked foolish here, including Philip Bump at The Fix:

This is a not-uncommon argument among supporters of Sanders. Yes, Hillary Clinton is winning. But she’s winning largely because she ran up big margins in Southern states. That, the argument goes, bodes poorly for the general, since those Southern states usually vote Republican.

This is a bad argument that borders on insulting.

First of all, South Carolina has a lot more people than Guam. Among the other bits of data one can point out about the 2016 Democratic primary is that Clinton has received far more votes than  Sanders — 2.5 million more. Among those is a margin of about 175,000 more votes in the state of South Carolina, a margin that by itself is larger than the population of Guam.

Which means that Clinton came away from South Carolina with a net delegate haul of plus-25 — she earned 25 more delegates than did Sanders. In the Democrats’ proportional system, that’s a big margin. It’s a margin that Sanders has only managed once, in the Washington caucuses late last month. So in that sense, South Carolina matters a lot more than Guam….

But the person most worked up about what Robbins said may be South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison. Here are some of his Tweets on the subject. He started off nice enough, but by the end he was about ready to rip the air-conditioner out of the wall like Dick in the clip above:

There’s no excuse for Cruz calling for ‘carpet’ bombing

Walls of houses of Wesel still stand, as do the churches, but a great part of the town was destroyed when the German commander forced the Allied troops to fight their way street by street through the ruins. Germany, 1945. Army. (OWI) Exact Date Shot Unknown NARA FILE #: 208-N-39903 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 1336

Wesel was 97% destroyed before it was finally taken by Allied troops in 1945. See that carpet of craters? Wikipedia doesn’t SAY those are bomb craters, but what else might they be?

I tend to agree pretty frequently with Charles Krauthammer on national security issues, but I was disappointed in him over the weekend.

Did you see his column assessing the foreign policy approaches of Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, which he termed, respectively, “passivist,” “internationalist,” “unilateralist” and “mercantilist.”

There was much of value in the column, and some things to enjoy — such as his observation that Trump’s worldview comes closest to that of King Philip II of Spain (1556-1598).

Of course, I was disappointed that he left out Kasich — I reject the notion that we have no options left but these four. But to his credit, he promised that “If Kasich pulls off a miracle, he’ll get his own column.” Which he would, of course, unquestionably deserve at that point.

Most of his observations are sound, and he is scrupulously careful to acknowledge that Hillary Clinton would likely be less reluctant to take effective action in the world than her erstwhile boss, President Obama. He says her nearest historical analog is her husband’s approach in the 1990s — which isn’t as good as, say, Tony Blair in that decade, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

What gets me is the way he bends over backwards to make Cruz’ approach palatable:

The most aggressive of the three contenders thus far. Wants post-Cold War U.S. leadership restored. Is prepared to take risks and act alone when necessary. Pledges to tear up the Iran deal, cement the U.S.-Israel alliance and carpet bomb the Islamic State.

Overdoes it with “carpet” — it implies Dresden — although it was likely just an attempt at rhetorical emphasis….

Really?!?!?!? “Overdoes it?” The fact that Cruz uses that word utterly disqualifies him from consideration as POTUS. Whether he really wants to do that, or merely does not understand what the word means, he is beyond the pale.

Here’s what “carpet bombing” means:

Carpet bombing, also known as saturation bombing, is a large aerial bombing done in a progressive manner to inflict damage in every part of a selected area of land.[1][2][3][4] The phrase evokes the image of explosions completely covering an area, in the same way that a carpet covers a floor. Carpet bombing is usually achieved by dropping many unguided bombs.

And yes, when we think of “carpet bombing” we do think of Dresden, and Tokyo, and Cologne, and all those other places that we sent thousands of planes over in an effort to destroy everything below — including all those civilians.

I’m not going to get into the ethics of our having done that in the course of total war, in a time in which we lacked the technical precision of modern munitions. I’m just going to say that that is what is clearly, unquestionably meant when one says “carpet bombing” — that you’re dropping a carpet of bombs to destroy everything and everyone in the covered area, and let God sort them out.

There is no room in the 21st century, when we have so many other options, for a suggestion like that. The term is primitive, atavistic, barbaric — which is no doubt why Cruz said it, in an attempt to appeal to Trumpist sensibilities.

Yet Krauthammer is completely blasé about it, with that forgiving “overdoes.”

But that’s just the setup to the really bad thing: His assertion that Cruz’ closest historical analog is… Ronald Reagan.

So it’s come to this: That folks on the right are working so hard to talk themselves into settling for Cruz that Charles Krauthammer can equate the Cruz worldview with that of the one guy Republicans believe could do no wrong.

That’s just inexcusable.

Trump abortion comment may be the ultimate example of his malevolent cluelessness

Donald Trump, engaged in what passes for 'thought' with him.

Donald Trump, engaged in what passes for ‘thought’ with him.

Donald Trump outdid himself yesterday, managing to alienate everyone on both sides of the abortion divide with his utter malevolent cluelessness:

APPLETON, Wis. — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump came under fire Wednesday for saying that women should be subject to “some sort of punishment” for undergoing illegal abortions, a position that antiabortion and abortion rights groups alike emphatically denounced….

This prompted plenty of comments to the effect that Trump had evidently not thought carefully about the issue — which would mean that he has treated this issue the way he treats all others.

Say “Donald Trump thinking about issues,” and I picture a flat rock skipping across a pond before it runs out of momentum and eventually sinks to the bottom. Trump is the rock, in case the metaphor is too complex for you.

I would take it another step, though, in this case. I think what he said reflects that, to the extent he’s thought about the issue at all, he still holds a view (left over from his “very pro-choice” days, back when that was more convenient for him) of us pro-lifers propagated by those who oppose us: That our opposition to abortion arises not out of a concern for the unborn life, but from a hostility to women and their interests.

To the extent that something one would characterize as “thought” passed through Trump’s mind before he spoke in response to prompting from his interviewer, it seems to have been along these lines: “This is the way those pro-lifers think, so since I’m pretending to be one of them, I’ll say that.”

Mixed in with that, we should probably take into account his general preference for sounding “tough,” whatever the issue. The tougher — and the stupider — he sounds, the more his base seems to like him.

So where does this leave us? With this guy still the GOP front-runner, which means that unless a miracle can be pulled off at the convention, the allegedly pro-life party will be represented by someone who holds actual pro-lifers in contempt, while the left will characterize him the way this NYT headline yesterday did: “Donald Trump, Abortion Foe, Eyes ‘Punishment’ for Women…” Even though Trump is as much of a “abortion foe” as the aforementioned flat rock.

Presidential campaign generally produce much heat, and little light, on the abortion issue. But things seldom go this dark…

Graham laughing at himself for backing Cruz

 

I meant to include this clip with the previous post, but forgot.

So enjoy.

Lindsey Graham would not do well in the Oceania of Orwell’s 1984. If he tried to mouth the latest absurdity — say, “We have always been at war with Eastasia; we have always been allies with Eurasia,” he’d crack up. He’d laugh right in Big Brother’s face. Then it would be off to Room 101 with him.

Basically, he’s too honest to pull of the “I back Cruz” thing. He just can’t pull it off.

Graham and his ilk have lost all faith in their own party

He's their best candidate, and would win the election. But top Republicans see no way he can get the nomination.

He’s their best candidate, and would win the election. But top Republicans see no way he can get the nomination.


I think I’m starting to get it now.

Up to now, I couldn’t figure out why Lindsey Graham and other mainstreamers such as Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney were backing Ted Cruz, when we know:

I couldn’t figure it out until I read this observation in a couple of places over the last day or two:

Graham admits that Ohio Governor John Kasich “would be the best nominee, but he doesn’t have a chance.” So he tries to talk up Cruz as the one candidate who might be able to slow Trump’s march to the nomination…

Let’s unpack that statement that Kasich “would be the best nominee, but he doesn’t have a chance.”

He doesn’t mean Kasich doesn’t have a chance in the fall. He’s the one Republican still running who does consistently win a matchup with Hillary. In fact, if Republicans actually want to do what parties are supposed to exist to do — win elections — no one would waste a second talking about doing anything but nominating Kasich.

But while Graham knows he can count on the American people (sorry, Barton) to choose Kasich, he’s convinced that his own party will never do so.

Are you following me? Here we have a situation in which one of the smartest Republicans holding elective office has made the calculation that the best candidate, and the one who would lead the party to victory, has no chance of being nominated by his party.

That’s what “he doesn’t have a chance” means. Not that Kasich wouldn’t win the election in a walk, but that the Republican Party is so royally fouled up that it won’t nominate him, under any circumstances. No matter how urgently or fervently Graham and other rational people might advocate for him.

It’s so hopeless that they won’t even TRY. They’re resigned to failure because of their lack of confidence in their fellow Republicans. Defeat in November is a given. In fact, they’re counting on it, to save the country. They just believe the defeat will be less ignominious if Cruz is their nominee rather than Trump. They think there will be some pieces left to pick up this way.

They think that with Cruz, there’ll be something still to preserve from this Götterdämmerung.

I believe that is the saddest commentary on the Republican Party I’ve ever read in my life.

Are Graham, Bush and Romney just resigned to Hillary now?

So are the erstwhile voices of GOP reason utterly resigned to a President Hillary Clinton?

So are the erstwhile voices of GOP reason now utterly resigned to a President Hillary Clinton?

I can see no other reasonable explanation for Lindsey Graham raising money for Ted Cruz, and Jeb Bush endorsing him.

As recently as Feb. 25 — that’s less than a month, people — our senior senator was saying “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.” That’s how utterly unthinkable supporting Ted Cruz was.

That was in the same speech in which he said “My party’s gone bats— crazy,” since it was narrowing its presidential choices to Cruz and Donald Trump. There was plenty of evidence to support his assertion.

But it must be catching, because Sen. Graham is now supporting and raising funds for the unthinkable Cruz, apparently operating on the principle that Trump is even less thinkable.

Now we have this:

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush endorsed Ted Cruz for president on Wednesday, the latest sign that the Texas senator is eagerly seeking to unite Republican Party leaders behind his campaign in an attempt to stop Donald Trump.

Securing the Bush endorsement is a coup for Cruz, who may not be well-liked by many GOP colleagues in Washington, but can now boast the support of a key political family and its vast, unrivaled donor network….

 

And that follows on this even greater outrage, offering clear evidence that Mitt Romney may have gone the most “bats___” of all:

First Romney recorded robocalls for Marco Rubio, then he hit the campaign trail with John Kasich. Now just a week later, he’s urging voters in Utah and Arizonanot to vote for the Ohio governor in a Cruz campaign robocall. “This is a time for Republicans across the spectrum to unite behind Ted. He is the only Republican candidate who can defeat Donald Trump,” Romney says in the message, according to Politico. “And at this point, a vote for John Kasich is a vote for Donald Trump.”

Romney said last week that he intends to vote for Cruz in Utah’s caucuses on Tuesday, but his allies stressed that he wasn’t endorsing the Texas senator. On Facebook, Romney explained that he likes Kasich and would have voted for him in Ohio, “but a vote for Governor Kasich in future contests makes it extremely likely that Trumpism would prevail.” There was a time when saying you intend to vote for a particular candidate and urging others not to vote for anyone else would be called an endorsement, but that’s not how things work in 2016….

Gentlemen, it is clear that you have but one honorable choice at this point, given that Trump and Cruz are still what Graham accurately said they were back in January — a choice between “being shot or poisoned:” Get behind John Kasich with all your might. Work your networks to try to get friendly delegates to the convention, to support him on the ballots after Trump fails on the first.

So what if he’s coming in third in most states? That’s a whole lot better than you supposed exemplars of the party, Lindsey and Jeb, managed to do when you were running. Do you really, truly, not stand for anything?

Have some self-respect. Get behind an honorable candidate who doesn’t make you retch when you think of him being president. At the very least, strengthen his hand so that even if he can’t get nominated, there’s a rational person in better position to help determine who does.

Other sincere, mainstream Republicans — ones with less high profiles — have had no trouble doing this. What’s your problem?

Perhaps you should just come out and acknowledge that you are resigned to Hillary Clinton being elected. Because that seems the logical outcome of the courses you’re pursuing, supporting a candidate you cannot stand for the nomination.

This Beck person has it both right, and 100 percent wrong

Since I don’t watch all that cable “news” nonsense, the only “Beck” I’m familiar with is the one who sings the above song. So I include it, for what it’s worth.

I was really taken aback when I saw what this other Beck had to say:

After winning the Republican primary in his home state of Ohio Tuesday night, Republican presidential candidate John Kasich announced that he plans to stay the course. Glenn Beck had a few choice words for him.

“Kasich, I mean, excuse my language, but, you son of a bitch, the republic is at stake,” Beck said Wednesday on The Glenn Beck Radio Program. “This is not like a normal race. The republic is at stake.”

Continuing his criticism of Kasich, Beck, a top surrogate for Republican candidate Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, argued that the Ohio governor is “delusional” if he thinks he can win….

Well, uh, yeah… the republic is at stake, which is why it’s wonderful that Kasich won decisively in Ohio (a state Republicans have to win to win the White House), so that he can continue all the way to the convention.

Even if you’re, um, delusional enough to be for Cruz, you should be able to understand that, since Kasich pulls a different sort of voter from what Cruz does, there’s a greater chance of stopping Trump from getting 1,237 delegates before the convention if both Cruz and Kasich stay in.

And that has to happen before either Cruz or Kasich has a chance to emerge triumphant from a contested convention. With the states remaining, it’s unlikely that Cruz could get to 1,237 himself, so the convention is all he has to hope for.

Otherwise, he’s a loser, baby…

tumblr_n1bbt4w6Ri1swyzwlo2_400

There’s ONE rational grownup left in GOP contest: Kasich!

Yes! YES! You know it! (As Frank the Tank would say.):

This. Is. Awesome.

This is the best outcome we could have had.

Kasich comes out of Ohio as the one rational option left. No, he won’t go into the convention with enough delegates to win, not by a long shot. He’ll likely come in third.

But he’s got enough mo now to stay in the race all the way, maybe pick up another state here or there with Rubio out of it. And with both him and Cruz pulling from Trump, there’s a good chance Trump won’t have the magic 1,237 for that first ballot.

And then… we’re gonna see how we do things in a republic, baby!

I love it…

‘Everybody’ is not to blame. Just the Democrats and Republicans

There’s a column on The State‘s op-ed page today from an unfamiliar (as in, not a regular) writer: Dick Meyer, chief Washington correspondent for Scripps.

The headline is, “Who’s to blame for Trump’s rise? Everybody.

Dick Meyer

Dick Meyer

Well, that’s misleading. In fact, the column only blames Republicans and Democrats. And of course, they richly deserve it. The rest of us — the great plurality of us, according to a recent Gallup Poll — are let off the hook. (I sent Cindi a note this morning complaining about the hed, but then I saw that the hed probably came with the column — The Commercial Appeal, the Scripps paper where I started my career as a copy boy, ran the piece with the very same headline.)

That poll shows 43 percent of us identifying as independent, 30 percent as Democratic and 26 percent as Republican.

Of course, there are are a lot of folks — such as Republicans, Democrats, the conflict-obsessed media and all those interest groups that fund themselves by goading us all to hate each other — who go out of their way to debunk those numbers. (And indeed, for us in South Carolina especially, it’s hard to imagine that America is only 26 percent Republican.)

Indeed, when you Google “percentage of electorate that is independent,” the first three links you get are headlined something like “The myth of the independent voter.” Basically, those essays break down the group identifying as “independent” and show most as leaning one way or the other, in terms of voting habits. These doubters say as little as 5 percent of us are truly hardcore independent.

That is in turn misleading. Of course independents vote for Democrats and Republicans; most of the time they aren’t offered anything else — and when they are, those “independents” are even more blindly ideological than the Dems and Repubs (say, Libertarians).

And if they vote more often for members of one party or the other, that can often be no more than an accident of geography. For instance, I vote mostly Republican. Why? Because I live in Lexington County. If I want any say at all in local or state government, I have to vote in the Republican primary. In fact, I think I’ve only voted in one Democratic primary since I moved to my current residence in 1997 — and that was the presidential primary in 2004, when there was no Republican alternative. I cast that vote proudly for Joe Lieberman. I knew he was going to get creamed here, and I wanted him to have my vote at least.

You will seldom see, especially out of the partisan cauldron of Washington, anyone giving us independents any respect. When they’re not debunking us, they’re insulting us. They think we fail to pick a side between the two rabid, snarling packs because we are apathetic and don’t bother to be informed. They completely miss the fact that many of us are independent precisely because we do pay attention and do think, and therefore do not buy our opinions prepackaged off a shelf.

But Washington journalists — who like to keep the options down to two extremes, because that makes it easier to cover politics like sports — generally ignore us. Our existence is inconvenient to their simple paradigm. Thus, they refer to Republicans and Democrats as “everybody.”

All of that said, and passionately believed, I wonder if it isn’t in the end true that “everybody” is to blame, including us.

I mean, say we independents do make up 43 percent of the electorate. What have we done to stop these whack jobs in the two parties from making a complete hash of our country’s politics?

Must give us pause.

One way in which I’m like Trump supporters

The other day, Karen brought my attention to this piece by Tom Friedman, trying to explain Trump supporters.

I was struck by the opening:

Donald Trump is a walking political science course. His meteoric rise is lesson
No. 1 on leadership: Most voters do not listen through their ears. They listen
through their stomachs. If a leader can connect with them on a gut level, their
response is: “Don’t bother me with the details. I trust your instincts.” If a
leader can’t connect on a gut level, he or she can’t show them enough
particulars. They’ll just keep asking, “Can you show me the details one more
time?”

Trump’s Republican rivals keep thinking that if they just point out a few
more details about him, voters will drop The Donald and turn to one of them
instead. But you can’t talk voters out of something that they haven’t been
talked into…

Huh. So, in a way, I’m a lot like Trump supporters, according to Friedman.

Not in the “listen through their stomachs” bit. I’m more likely to use my head. But I’m definitely less about the details.

George_HW_Bush_saying_-Read_My_Lips-_(screenshot)Over the years, I’ve come to look for someone I trust to make good decisions, whatever comes up. I’m less about what specific proposals the candidate makes. What a candidate actually encounters in office often has little to do with the concerns expressed during the campaign. In fact, the fewer promises, the better — promises can back an officeholder into corners and commit him to courses that are unwise under the circumstances. See “Read my lips; no new taxes.” Bush made the right decision, but the unwise promise not to do so got him into trouble.

I care more about how a candidate’s mind works, along with experience and a good history of having made sound decisions while accumulating that experience.

Since I do that, I still can’t imagine how anyone arrives at thinking Trump is the guy to trust. But I’m with them on caring less about details of proposals…

 

Thoughts on last night’s Univision debate?

These things are wearing me out. And there’s another one tonight!!!

I only Tweeted once during the whole thing:

You know what I mean? Last night, it got sounding like one of those reality/talent shows that I could almost tolerate if not for the constant shrieking of the crowd. Those audiences exercise no judgment whatsoever. They scream at exactly the same volume and pitch for every performer. I’ll never understand people like that, or how other people can listen to them.univision

At least the howling last night was variable. Apparently it was the fans of Hillary and Bernie cheering whatever was said.

I like debates with rules against applause. Actually, I wouldn’t mind applause if it were impartial — if the audience cheered only when either candidate said something really good. But you know that the level of hollering is purely a matter of who managed to pack the room with more of his or her own followers. Which means that it’s just meaningless noise.

Aside from that, there were only two parts of the debate I liked, both from Hillary:

  • When she admitted that she is lacking in political gifts, especially compared to her husband and President Obama. So true, so it’s good that she knows it.
  • When she started riffing on Trump’s wall in his terms, going on about how beautiful it would be, etc. I like when pols make jokes that work…

That was about it.

Which would you prefer as president: Trump or Underwood?

PrezHouseOfCardsAriailW

Robert Ariail has proposed it in a cartoon, as a joke.

But as an alternative to, say, Donald Trump, would you accept the devious scoundrel Frank Underwood as president?

Robert also posed the question with regard to Hillary Clinton, and go ahead and address that if you choose.

But I’m more interested with the conundrum on the GOP side, where the dynamic is entirely different. Whatever you think of her, Hillary is pretty middle-of-the-road among Democrats — members of that party won’t have an identity crisis if she is their nominee. “Anybody but Hillary” isn’t really a thing on that side.

It’s over on the Republican side that we see serious people considering deals with the devil.

We’ve already seen Lindsey Graham, who like everyone else in the Senate utterly despises Ted Cruz, say that it might be necessary to embrace the Texan in a last-ditch effort to stop the disaster of Trump. Even though he has described Cruz, accurately, as “toxic.”

So why not Underwood? Think about it: Does he advocate any horrible policies? Not so I can recall (although y’all might remind me of some dealbreakers.) Basically, he’s a thoroughly rotten, ruthless individual when it comes to seizing and keeping power. But as long as the policies were relatively benign, would that not make him preferable to someone who is both personally and in policy terms unthinkable?

Saying that runs against my own inclinations. Over the years I’ve increasingly come to care less about people’s specific policy proposals and more about their character. That’s because no one can predict what will really arise once the person’s in office — the candidate’s promises may become impractical, or ill-advised, based on unforeseen circumstances. I look for someone who I trust to make good decisions in the face of the unanticipated.

And it occurs to me that maybe, maybe we could expect ol’ F.U. — who is a pretty smart guy, aside from all his character defects — to act wisely and responsibly, if only because he does love power so much, and therefore would not want to screw up and lose political support.

Whereas we know that Donald Trump doesn’t know wise policy from a hole in the ground. Even if he were trying to do the right thing just to look good, he wouldn’t know how.

Thoughts?

Frank Underwood

Want to be MORE worried about Trump? Listen to the world

This morning on NPR, I heard a Republican — a supporter of Marco Rubio, I believe (I missed his introduction) — state the obvious: Donald Trump winning the GOP nomination would be bad for the party — and, far more importantly, for the country.

But that’s thinking small. I get most concerned when I think about the effect on the world. That, of course, is the way I think of the presidency — not someone who’s going to “fight for me” (possibly my least fave political locution) on domestic issues, but someone who will skillfully handle our relations with the rest of the globe.

And when it comes to that… Well, speaking of public radio, I recommend that you listen to this discussion from The Takeaway last week, which looks at reactions from around the world, from PM David Cameron’s statement that things Trump has said are “divisive, stupid and wrong” (which doesn’t bode well for the Special Relationship were Trump elected) to a Chinese view that the alleged Republican is an “April Fool’s joke” (although the same speaker likes him better than Hillary Clinton).

Then of course, there’s the apocalyptic view of Trump from south of the border.

What struck me the most was the comments of Edward Lucas, a senior editor from The Economist (I get deeply embarrassed for my country when I think of such smart people as senior editors at The Economist actually paying attention to this election), who among other things said:

We really need U.S. presidents who are deeply engaged in European security…. And I think what really worries me about Trump is not his off-the-wall comments and his rudeness and vulgarity and so on — it’s the isolationism, it’s the idea that he just really isn’t interested in shouldering burdens with other countries. And we here in Europe really need America as our partner in all sorts of ways…

Of course, he goes on to say that the isolationism of some of the other GOP candidates and of Bernie Sanders worry him as well. But I get the impression that Trump stands out.

Edward Lucas

Edward Lucas

And this is a sharp departure from the norm. Lucas notes that all recent presidents — Reagan, both Bushes, Clinton and Obama have taken a proper, healthy interest in Europe and the world.

But Trump, and some of the other candidates, do not. And that rightly worries our allies.

Of course, I’ll confess that being the Anglophile that I am, hearing these concerns expressed in a posh English accent make them all the more alarming…

Heil Trump! — no, really; watch the video…

We’ve spoken before about the undertones of fascism in the appeal of Donald Trump. (Or maybe I just Tweeted about it; I’m not immediately finding the previous reference.)

Now there’s this, which somehow I missed over the weekend and didn’t see until today.

From the latest column by Dana Milbank:

So it has come to this: The front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, at a campaign rally Saturday in Orlando, leading supporters in what looked very much like a fascist salute.

“Can I have a pledge? A swearing?” Trump asked, raising his right hand and directing his followers to do the same. He then led them in pledging allegiance — not to the flag but to Trump, for which they stand and for whom they vowed to vote.

Benito Mussolini (1883 - 1945) the Italian dictator in 1934. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Benito Mussolini (1883 – 1945) the Italian dictator in 1934. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Trump supporters raised their arms en masse — unfortunately evoking the sort of scene associated with grainy newsreels from Italy and Germany.

Among those not engaging in such ominous imagery were the demonstrators, who, by my colleague Jenna Johnson’s account, interrupted Trump’s event more than a dozen times. The candidate watched a supporter grab and attempt to tackle protesters, at least one of them black, near the stage. “You know, we have a divided country, folks,” Trump said. “We have a terrible president who happens to be African American.”

Loaded imagery, violence against dissenters and a racial attack on the president: It’s all in a day’s work for Trump….

If you watch that video and let it go on to autoplay the next one, you’ll hear the bit that goes, “We have a terrible president who happens to be African American.” You don’t want to miss that one, either.

Yeah, he’s a buffoon. But so was Mussolini. Hitler, too, but I think the Mussolini comparison is more apt. All that comic-opera strutting and mugging…

An anecdote that illustrates why I like Kasich

Or one thing I like about him, anyway.

The Washington Post has a (rather belated) profile of the governor, starting with a time when there was a great deal of racial strife at his high school in McKees Rocks, PA. An excerpt:

It all came to a head one night in January 1970, during Kasich’s senior year at Sto-Rox, as 400 students and parents met to hear complaints from blacks that they were being subjected to de facto segregation. Shortly after midnight, when a black leader demanded at least one African American teacher be hired, ugly epithets were hurled, tables overturned, and fistfights broke out.

Kasich, a scrawny kid who at that time was known for his lifelong desire to be a priest, decided he had had enough. Using speaking skills he had developed at church, he walked to the front of the school cafeteria, where the school board was trying to oust a black protester, and seized the microphone.

“This has got to stop,” Kasich said, according to the account of his friend David Cercone, now a federal judge. “We can’t be doing this, being at each other’s throats.”

This was the unlikely moment that Kasich’s childhood friends say they realized their pal Johnny was shedding his dreams of the priesthood and donning the cloak of politician. When they hear him today pleading for civility among his fellow Republican presidential candidates, friends say they recognize the words that he uttered as he came of age in this hardened city on the banks of the Ohio River…

It’s an interesting piece.

The young Kasich meets Richard Nixon...

The young Kasich meets Richard Nixon…

Yeah, but a Libertarian is the OPPOSITE of what I seek

Libertarian Gary Johnson senses an opportunity after Super Tuesday:

GOV. GARY JOHNSON’S RESPONSE TO SUPER TUESDAY PRIMARY RESULTS

March 1, 2016, Santa Fe, NM — Former New Mexico Governor and 2016 Libertarian candidate for President Gary Johnson released the following statement regarding the results of the Super Tuesday primaries:

 “I actually believe I may have won Super Tuesday.unnamed

“With the Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton trains becoming more and more unstoppable in their respective parties, I believe a real majority of American voters are going to be left without a political home in November.

 “To those millions of voters, a successful two-term Governor with a solid record of fiscal responsibility and defense of civil and personal liberties could well be the ‘mainstream’ option. The LIbertarian nominee will be on the ballot in every state in November, and I hope to be that nominee.

 “Both of the major parties are succeeding in alienating more voters than ever before. The Democrat establishment is effectively shutting down its challengers, and Republicans are clearly rejecting their establishment. The net result may be that more Americans than ever before will be looking to a truly independent, experienced and proven candidate.”

 ####

He’s got it right when he says a lot — or even, as he puts it, a “real majority” — of us feel that we don’t have a home in either major party.

But while I can’t speak for the rest of these “millions,” I want Gov. Johnson to know that, as a communitarian, a libertarian is the last thing I am looking for.

Sorry to disappoint.

The man who was once Chris Christie stares out from the heart of darkness. The horror… the horror…

Christie 3

On the day after Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton moved huge strides toward victory, those who beheld the scene seem transfixed by the eloquence of Chris Christie’s eyes as he contemplated what had come to pass.Christie 1

In various forms, the image of Christie standing, horror-struck, behind Trump in his moment of victory appeared with no fewer than five separate stories about Super Tuesday in my Washington Post app this morning. Two Post writers — Janell Ross and Alexandra Petri — devoted entire columns to the sight.

The Ross piece, actually, was less a column and more a recitation of ways that Twitter reacted to Christie’s silent performance.Christie 5

Ms. Petri, as is her wont, got more creative, employing a battalion of pop-culture references to explain the look on the New Jersey governor’s face. I definitely recommend you go read it:

Chris Christie spent the entire speech screaming wordlessly. I have never seen someone scream so loudly without using his mouth before. It would have been remarkable if it had not been so terrifying.Christie 2

Sometimes, at night, do you still hear them, Clarice? The screaming of the Christies?

His were the eyes of a man who has gazed into the abyss, and the abyss gazed back, and then he endorsed the abyss.

It was not a thousand-yard stare. That would understate the vast and impenetrable distance it encompassed.

He looked as if he had seen a ghost and the ghost had made him watch Mufasa die again….

“When are they coming to airlift me out?” Chris Christie’s eyes are pleading. “Please tell me that they are coming and that it is soon.” But then his expression hardens. Chris Christie knows that they are not coming back for him.

This is his life now.

Soon he must return to the plane onto which Trump humiliatingly sent him before. Soon he must return to the small cupboard under the stairs where he is kept and occasionally thrown small slivers of metaphorical raw meat. When he asked to be part of Trump’s cabinet he never thought to specify “presidential cabinet, of course, not a literal cabinet underground where the ventilation is poor and there is no light.” It just did not occur to him. Why would it?…

And so forth. As I said, go read the whole thing — I’ve probably exceeded the fuzzy bounds of Fair Use already. And I hope I’ll be forgiven for the image screengrabs. I just wanted to illustrate my point about how many times the image was repeated — all five came from the WashPost app this morning.

Somehow, she managed to avoid Heart of Darkness. Perhaps that’s because she wasn’t born yet when “Apocalypse Now” came out — in fact, it preceded her by about nine years. I had to look up “watch Mufasa die” to realize it was from “The Lion King,” whereas it came out when she was about 6, and therefore made a big impression.Christie 4

Looking at him, I was reminded of something I learned from my spotty career as an amateur actor — that the hardest thing for an actor is figuring out what to do on stage when someone else is speaking lines. What do you do with your hands? What should your face be doing? You need to keep acting, but not upstage the person speaking. It’s hard.

But you know what? It was worse than that. In the video below, you see and hear what Christie said to the crowd before Trump came out. And it’s incredible. Here he is speaking the lines, but doing so like a man with a gun to his head, like a POW blinking Morse code in the video, imploring the folks on the homefront to realize he doesn’t mean a word of what he’s saying.

He doesn’t even try to look happy. Which, of course, he isn’t…