Category Archives: Parties

Thoughts on the Las Vegas debate?

No, I’m not going to embed my dozens of Tweets, or the 60 or 70 interactions they attracted on Twitter. (Twitter isn’t deep, but it’s way livelier than blogging.)

But I’ll show you this one, which makes a good point I’d like to elaborate on:

Now, I don’t know what that means in terms of the horse race. It should move him a bit toward front, but the GOP electorate has been so extremely irrational this year that things that should give a guy a bump don’t deliver, while things that should finish him for good send him soaring.

Elsewhere, I lamented — on Jeb Bush’s account — the sad disconnect between what it takes to govern and the talents needed to shine in debates. There’s some overlap, but they’re not the same things. Jeb did better this time, but not better enough.

I felt bad for Christie, too, as another candidate who deserves a serious look who just can’t get the crowd to turn away from the sideshows and check him out.

That said, Christie and Kasich made themselves look pretty bad with their plans for dealing with Russia. I thought Kasich had gone off the reservation wanting to punch them in the nose, but then Christie wanted to shoot their planes down. Christie even managed to set up Rand Paul to sound more rational on foreign affairs, which is a hard thing to do.

So that kind of left Rubio and Bush as… well, here’s another Tweet:

Maybe that’s too harsh. Carly Fiorina didn’t really say anything extraordinarily foolish, although her assertion that people have said “no” to her all her life rang a bit empty coming from someone who was CEO of HP. But wait — come to think of it, they did say “no” to her later, and I know how that feels, so… In any case, she didn’t say much that impressed. Nobody really impressed, except the razzle-dazzle kid Rubio, who was playing the part of Lindsey Graham in the big-table debate, standing up for national defense.

Well, no, someone else impressed: Cruz did. We’re all starting to focus more on Cruz. Trump has been so distracting that few people have focused on the fact that Cruz is the real, dyed-in-the-wool, right-wing ideological extremist in the bunch — with a dollop or two of let’s-disarm-ourselves, Rand Paul-style libertarianism, which doesn’t endear me either.

Which makes Rubio look even better.

Speaking of Lindsey Graham: Philip Bump of The Fix made a strong argument for why Graham, who has dominated most of the undercard debates, should be allowed into the big ones, regardless of his poll numbers. In short, no one else could possibly be such an effective foil for Trump — and that’s something most of us would like to see:

Including Trump. Graham and Trump differ on issues, but Graham also seems to have a sense for Trump’s Achilles heel. The tycoon’s only demonstrated weakness against his opponents is when he’s the butt of someone else’s zinger — which we saw in the second debate after Carly Fiorina put him in his place. So far, the only significant on-going challenge to Trump in the debates has been questions he didn’t want to answer. He can’t be used to dealing with people who are able to spar as well as he can. Wouldn’t that be fun to watch?

 

Polls: South Carolina, Trump, Republicans and Muslims

These three polls just in:

Bad News: Donald Trump favorite of SC Republicans — again — This is Winthop Poll. The only reassurance I can give you is that it was mostly taken before Trump spoke of banning Muslims from our shores.

Good News: Majority Opposes Trump Plan to Ban Muslims, Poll Finds — Unfortunately, the WSJ/NBC poll finds that Republicans are more evenly split on the matter.

Bad News: Trump’s Lead Solidifies in Poll, but Many Are Nervous — This one’s from the NYT and CBS. Again, this was largely taken before Trump’s latest bad craziness.

All of which leads to this story from The Washington Post:

As Trump surges, GOP prepares for a contested convention — Time to crank up the ol’ smoke-filled room, boys. Your phony-baloney party is on the line. Harrumph, harrumph, harrumph….

Let’s look at an excerpt from that:

Republican officials and leading figures in the party’s establishment are now preparing for the possibility of a brokered convention as Donald Trump continues sit atop the polls and the presidential race.

More than 20 of them convened Monday for a dinner held by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, where the prospect of Trump nearing next year’s nominating convention in Cleveland with a significant number of delegates dominated the discussion, according to five people familiar with the meeting.

Considering that scenario as Priebus and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) listened, several longtime power brokers argued that if the controversial billionaire storms through the primaries, the party’s establishment must lay the groundwork for a floor fight, in which the GOP’s mainstream wing could coalesce around an alternative, the people said….

May you live in interesting times, Reince Priebus…

Lawmakers hope to see more cooperation, building upon the summer

panel

Reps. Nathan Ballentine and Joe Neal; Sens. Joel Lourie, Katrina Shealy and Ronnie Cromer

This morning, ADCO had a table at the latest Columbia Regional Business Report’s Power Breakfast. This one was about looking ahead to the coming legislative session, and featured a panel of lawmakers — Reps. Nathan Ballentine and Joe Neal, and Sens. Joel Lourie, Katrina Shealy and Ronnie Cromer.

(Bryan Caskey joined me at the ADCO table, along with several other representatives of local law firms whom I invited.)

The nice thing about “covering” these events is that if I just wait a few hours, CRBR will put up its own report that gives you the basics and saves me from a lot of typing. An excerpt:

Next year’s legislative session will be a failure if not remembered for collaboration across party lines, state lawmakers said today.

Legislators from both sides of the aisle urged to see similar cooperation next year from the General Assembly as it did in the aftermath of the Emanuel AME tragedy. The give-and-take between Democrats and Republicans will be vital if the state hopes to finally fix crumbling infrastructure, they said during the Columbia Regional Business Report’s quarterly “Power Breakfast” networking event at the Columbia Marriott.

“I think 2016, more than anything else is going to be known as the year that we either came up with an idea to fund our infrastructure and do it in the right manner,” said Sen. Ronnie Cromer, R-Newberry, “or it’s going to be known as the year we failed the people of South Carolina. Because we couldn’t put some plan together to fund our roads and bridges.”

Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Chapin, knows it can be easy to assume collaboration as part of the General Assembly’s supermajority. But he still saw it at work when his colleagues voted to remove the Confederate Flag from the Statehouse grounds in July and expects to see more of it again next year, this time without tragedy serving as a catalyst….

And that pretty much states it. There was an air of cautious optimism that maybe, just maybe — after the miracle they experienced together over the summer (achieving near-unanimity on an issue that had previously been too controversial even to bring up), that goodwill could be channeled productively on other fronts.

Of course, the usual differences were on display — the three Republicans tended to think in terms of coming together over infrastructure; the two Democrats wanted to see some Republicans agreeing with them on Medicaid expansion. But there was also agreement on some key issues — Democrats agreed infrastructure must be dealt with, and both sides acknowledged that the state Supreme Court’s instructions to improve educational opportunity in poor, rural districts must be meaningfully addressed as well.

Beyond that, here are some Tweets that give you the flavor of the session:

Cruz doesn’t want anyone to think for a moment that he would criticize Trump

Following on the news that Ted Cruz is catching up to Trump in the South Carolina primary, I get this release from the Cruz campaign:

Cruz Responds to Misleading New York Times Story

HOUSTON, Texas – Today, Presidential candidate Ted Cruz responded to a misleading story in the New York Times claiming Cruz criticized Donald Trump at an event last night:

“In the course of a Presidential election, the voters are going to make a decision about every candidate. And ultimately the decision is, who has the right judgment and the right experience to serve as Commander in Chief? Every one of us who is running is being assessed by the voters under that metric, and that is exactly why we have a democratic election to make that determination.”

###

I’m assuming this is the item to which the release refers.

We know that it’s Cruz’ strategy to inherit Trump’s support when he (if he) implodes, but this takes it to another level — issuing a “correction” to make sure that no one think for a moment that he has a problem with anything Trump says or does?

That’s amazing…

Harrell replacement: Use private money to display flag

If you’re counting up the ways that Bobby Harrell’s departure from the House was a blessing to South Carolina, add this…

Mary Tinkler, the young Democrat who won his seat by default when Harrell had to withdraw from the 2014 election, is stepping up to avoid the obscenity of state taxpayers paying an exorbitant amount to display the fake nylon flag removed from the State House:

Representative Mary Tinkler to Prefile Bill Creating Commission to Fund Confederate Flag Display with Private Dollars

Tinkler bill would prevent taxpayers from funding proposed Confederate Flag Display

Charleston, SC – State Representative Mary Tinkler (D-Charleston) announced Wednesday that she will prefile legislation creating a nine-person commission to raise private funds for and oversee the maintenance of the display of the confederate battle flag that was removed from the statehouse grounds in July.

Last week, the museum commission approved a costly, $5.3-million design incorporating the display of the confederate battle flag in an expanded Confederate Relic Room in Columbia.  As proposed by consultants, the display features eight-foot-tall panels with millions of small LED lights and requires significant security enhancements for the flag, which was removed after the massacre at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

Rep. Mary Tinkler

Rep. Mary Tinkler

“When the flag was removed from the statehouse grounds, we overwhelmingly agreed that it should be displayed in an appropriate manner,” said Tinker.  “But this proposal is irresponsible and not in the best interest of South Carolina’s taxpayers.  We have thousands of flood victims in this state who still haven’t seen relief, roads that are literally crumbling, and schools that continue to fail.  Their needs should take priority.”

Tinkler says she plans to prefile legislation on Thursday that would limit public funding for the confederate battle flag but protect the planned display in perpetuity.

“Taxpayers should not be required to fund such an extravagant project when we have so many needs that aren’t being adequately addressed,” said Tinkler. “However, we can still honor the history of the confederacy with a flag display at the Confederate Relic Room.  My bill is a free-market compromise that allows for an appropriate display, funded by private donations.”

Tinkler’s proposal tasks the legislature with appointing a commission, made up of lay people, to create and direct a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to raise the necessary funds for an appropriate confederate flag display. The Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tempore would each have four (4) appointments, while the Governor would have one.  The commission would also be in charge of raising the funds to maintain the display and support necessary personnel and security.

####

Good for her. But I’d go a step further: Even if every penny comes from private sources (which would be a challenge, since the proposal involves an annual cost of $416,000 in perpetuity — or until the rent goes even higher), this display should not be erected within the context of a museum under the purview of the state.

Even if the money drops from the sky, devoting that kind of space and energy to this tawdry token instead of to the real military relics at the museum would be obscene.

Our shame is that SC audience cheered what Trump said

I suppose I must say something about this, since he said it here in South Carolina — yet another blot on our ledger.

Not that we control what Donald Trump says. No, the really, truly shameful thing about it for us is that some people present — most of them likely to have been South Carolinians — cheered when he said it:

At a rally in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina on Monday evening, Trump pointed to the statement he released earlier in the day.

“Should I read you the statement?” he asked.

The crowd enthusiastically agreed that he should.

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,” he said, adding the word “hell” for emphasis this time.

Supporters erupted in applause….

In another version of that story, that applause is described as “a boisterous standing ovation.” Is that accurate? View and listen to the video clip above, and judge for yourself.

The response is important because it is our shame, but also because Trump, employing his usual odd logic, used it to defend himself this morning: Hey, these people loved it, so it must not have been a bad idea….

In a way, for the rest of us to have to condemn this is an insult itself. We shouldn’t have to say anything, because anyone who thinks we wouldn’t be sickened by hearing something so stupid and hateful is insulting us by such a supposition.

But since South Carolinians applauded, we need to separate ourselves from them. How about if we do it this way: Let’s deport everyone who applauded and cheered, and then refuse to let them back in. It might not make us safer, but it would certainly make this political season less objectionable. (And no, I don’t mean it.)

So yeah: It was horrible. Probably the most horrible thing he’s said yet, although he’s got quite a competition going with himself. He’s an idiot, and he’s evil. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that vast numbers of likely voters love him for his worst qualities, which points to a profound sickness in our body politic.

He’s been denounced — by Muslims of course, by Lindsey Graham, by Paul Ryan, by Dick Cheney (no soft-on-terror guy he),  by leaders all around the world. And pundits, of course. I like what Alexandra Petri said: “What will make America great again is getting rid of Donald Trump.”

South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison said:

Donald Trump’s comments offend the very fabric upon which our country was founded. His racist and offensive campaign for President of the United States should embarrass the Republican Party. His comments are an embarrassment to South Carolinians, who believe in equality, fairness, and justice for all.

… which would have a lot more impact if Jaime didn’t denounce pretty much everything any Republican candidate has to say.

What else is left to say? I’ll leave it to you…

Trump still

Obama acknowledges War on Terror

Obama speech

Most of the commentary I’ve seen since last night has emphasized that POTUS didn’t unveil anything new in his speech last night, that he mainly just tried to justify what he’s doing (or what he’s not doing, if you prefer), and that his real purpose was apparently to lecture us about tolerance.

Well, I heard something that sounded new to me. He said:

Our nation has been at war with terrorists since al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11. In the process, we’ve hardened our defenses — from airports to financial centers, to other critical infrastructure. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies have disrupted countless plots here and overseas, and worked around the clock to keep us safe. Our military and counterterrorism professionals have relentlessly pursued terrorist networks overseas — disrupting safe havens in several different countries, killing Osama bin Laden, and decimating al Qaeda’s leadership…

Did you catch it? Tell you what; let’s just zero right in on what I’m talking about:

Our nation has been at war with terrorists since al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11.

 

You catch that? We are “at war with terrorists.” Not “We’ve been prosecuting incidents of terror as discrete crimes,” or “I’ve been shutting down multiple wars started by my predecessor,” or “the so-called War on Terror.”

He said we are at war with terrorists. Maybe he’s said it multiple times before, but this time it jumped out at me.

Did it strike anyone else?

Not to be outdone, Graham calls for war ‘with no limits’

Just in case I missed it in my daily perusal of The Washington Post (and somehow I had), Sen. Graham’s office made sure I knew that, while Jeb! Bush may be calling for boots on the ground, Graham is not going to give up his status as the undisputed hawk in the field:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is readying an authorization of military force against the Islamic State that would allow the United States to attack the militant group’s allies anywhere, and with no timetables.

“ISIL is a more credible threat to our homeland than al-Qaeda,” Graham said in an interview, referring to the Islamic State by one of its other names. “We need to have an authorization of force that is not limited by geography, time, or means.”

The resolution, which Graham plans to officially introduce after the Thanksgiving recess, is being shaped and shopped around to senators on Wednesday. “No geographic limits are placed on American military or intelligence services in the fight against ISIL,” reads the outline of the in-process legislation. “No expiration date. No prohibition on sending American forces on the ground to combat ISIL. No prohibitions on the ability of the United States to disrupt online terrorist recruitment activities, online terrorist propaganda, or terrorist communications.”

All of that makes Graham’s AUMF further-reaching than any comparable ones — none of which have gotten traction in Congress….

Read the whole story here.

 

Live-Tweeting the Democratic debate

dem debate

Missed most of the first half-hour because I lost BOTH TV signal and my wi-fi. Up and running now, though.

Jaime Harrison talking to Rachel Maddow about SC Democratic Party

This clip, brought to my attention today by the state Democratic Party, features MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow talking to SC Democratic chair Jaime Harrison during her visit to SC for the debate Friday night.

This is interesting because you see how the state party chair opens up about his challenges when he has a sympathetic ear who nevertheless knows how to ask pointed questions.ATT_b1_Bradwarthen_233x233_011515_d2

As long as he’s got that ear, he makes his pitch through Maddow to the national party for what he terms a Democratic Southern Strategy. He’d like to see the national party get as serious about winning back the South as Harry Dent et al. were about taking it away from them in the 1960s.

He also talks about his biggest challenge — the lack of a bench here in SC. It’s hard to win back anything when you have a scarcity of strong candidates.

Oh, and about that Democratic debate the other night — did you watch it? I confess I didn’t even try. Maybe it’s wrong of me, but I sort of lost interest when Biden said he wouldn’t run, and Hillary just stomped all over her opposition in the previous debate — and the GOP failed to lay a glove on her in the Benghazi hearing. If she gets in serious trouble again (like, email-server trouble or worse), I might get interested again. Until then, we know whom the Democrats are going to nominate…

Thoughts on last night’s debate(s)?

Above and below you see two of my most popular Tweets (out of 39) from during the GOP debate last night. This is the kind of incisive commentary you won’t find elsewhere.

OK, truth be told, I later saw that Nicholas Kristof had the same idea I did re William Jennings Bryan, but that’s OK. Great minds and all that.

But I’m putting up this post to ask what y’all thought of the debate.

Just some quick overall impressions from me:

    • I was struck a number of times at how this sounded like a debate featuring candidates of some party other than the Republican, such as Rand Paul’s opposition to a strong defense, Ted Cruz’ criticism of corporate fat cats, and Marco Rubio’s tax credit for child care.
    • Meanwhile, the most perfect embodiment of traditional Republicanism, Jeb Bush, continued to fail to pull away from the pack.
    • Trump was marginally more buffoonish than in past events, I thought. Will his supporters notice. My fave LOL Trump moment — when he asked with regard to Carly Fiorina, “Why does she keep interrupting?” Yeah, Donald! Doesn’t she know men are talking?
    • Actually, I’m serious about the West Coast thing (below). It’s ridiculous for debates to start that late at night.
    • I think Cruz had the best night, followed by either Rubio or Kasich.

You?

SC Democrats are becoming what SC Republicans once were

This news from The Hill:

… is hardly news to us in South Carolina. We knew that since Joe Biden (who had a lot of support among party regulars here) said definitively that he would not run, Hillary has had our primary pretty much sewn up.

But it made me realize something.

For a generation, South Carolina Republicans were known for always choosing their party’s eventual nominee in their presidential preference primaries. It’s one reason why the nation paid so much attention to what happened here.

Then, in 2012, they went nuts and chose Newt Gingrich over the guy everyone knew would be the eventual nominee. This year, they’re gaga over Donald Trump and Ben Carson, and if either of those guys is the eventual nominee, the national Republican Party might as well have a going-out-of-business sale.

But the Democrats in South Carolina are showing the centrist conservatism for which their rivals were once known, lining up dutifully behind the establishment candidate who is ordained to pull the sword from the stone.

Maybe in the future, the nation’s pundits will watch our endangered Democrats as closely as they have watched the GOP here in the past…

Video: McCain urging N.H. to vote for Graham

Lindsey Graham may not be on the debate stage tonight, but he’s on the airwaves in New Hampshire — or rather, John McCain is, in Graham’s behalf.

From The Washington Post:

Two Graham radio ads launched in conjunction with the TV spot also feature the Arizona senator, and in an interview last week, Graham said he had no intention of quitting.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Graham said. “I’m going to stick to what I’m doing. I’ve always thought that using national polls for [debate] selection is ridiculous.”

Graham’s campaign said that the ads would start airing today, in a “significant buy.” His war chest, built on the one that got him through a 2014 Senate reelection, is about $1.6 million, putting him closer to the middle of the 2016 pack than the bottom.

Mia McLeod and Joel Lourie on Spring Valley protest

Joel Lourie shared this exchange with me from over the weekend — two messages from Mia McLeod and one from him…

Rep. McLeod sent this to Sen. John Scott at 12:24 p.m. on Friday:

Senator Scott,

As you know, we are still dealing with an increasingly volatile situation at Spring Valley High School (SVHS).

From what I’m seeing on social media, in conjunction with the calls and texts I’ve received, school administrators obviously allowed some students to stage a “walk-out” in protest to Officer Fields’ firing.

Students on both sides of the issue are extremely passionate about their very different perspectives and of course, opinions and perspectives are not limited to students, parents and community members of SVHS.

As social media continues to reveal, this latest “protest” is likely to escalate already growing tensions that have been caused by Monday’s incident.

If students at SVHS and other Richland Two schools decide to do likewise, this could become a real issue for Richland Two and us.

In fact, as SVHS and Ridge View prepare to play tonight at Spring Valley, we need to understand that tensions are high and could easily play out at school events like this.

I’ve copied Richland Two so that they can advise us about District Two’s position on this and why  school administrators are approving and/or allowing any types of protests. Shouldn’t protests of any kind also be considered disruptive, since these students are missing and causing others to miss, valuable instruction? I’m concerned that this sets a very dangerous precedent.

What are we collectively planning to do about it?

Mia

Then, later on Friday, she sent this to Scott and other members of the Richland County Legislative Delegation:

From: Mia McLeod [mailto:mia@mcleodbutler.com]
Sent: Friday, October 30, 2015 2:03 PM
To: John L. Scott, Jr.
Cc: Jimmy Bales; Rep. Bales; Nathan Ballentine; Beth Bernstein; Rep. Beth Bernstein; Christopher R. “Chris” Hart; House 3M Committee; Leon Howard; Rep. Kirkman Finlay; Rep. MaryGail Douglas; MaryGail Douglas; Joseph A “Joe” McEachern; Joseph H “Joe” Neal; Rep. Rutherford; Rep. Smith; Sen Thomas McElveen, III; Senate Education Committee; Sen. Jackson; Joel Lourie; Thomas McElveen; JAMES BROWN; Kim Janha; Amelia B. McKie; James Manning; Cheryl Caution Parker;craig@craigplank.com; Susan Brill; Monica Elkins-Johnson; Calvin Chip Jackson; Debbie Hamm
Subject: Re: Spring Valley Protest

It has also come to my attention via calls and social media, that apparently, there is video footage of today’s student protest and that an SVHS Administrator is seen on that video, addressing the group of protestors and assuring them that they are not in trouble for protesting (or “disturbing schools” during the school day) and that their voices have been heard.

Can someone from Richland Two please speak to this?

I can’t imagine that the school or the District would knowingly endorse or condone this type of activity, since it clearly presents a double-standard, among other things, that is totally opposite of the school’s/district’s position concerning Monday’s incident.

Some could easily argue that the violently ejected student was also exercising her rights to protest by “sitting-in” and refusing to leave when asked by school officials. Both forms of protests should fall within the purview of “disturbing schools” when it comes to the impact on their (and other students’) classroom instruction. So why are there two extremely different outcomes?

Am I the only one who is concerned?

Mia
Sent from my iPhone

You may wonder at this point what she thought the legislative delegation, of all entities, should be doing about a walkout at a school. In his response sent on Saturday morning, Sen. Lourie seems to have wondered the same thing:

Subject: RE: Spring Valley ProtestSenator Scott, Representative McLeod, Members of the Delegation and School Board, 

This has been a very difficult week for our Richland Two Community.   Certainly the unfortunate and unnecessary actions of the School Resource Officer warrant further review of the appropriate use of officers in the classroom. I am sure there will be other policies and procedures to review as well.  We  hope and pray that the young lady involved will heal both emotionally and physically.  As a graduate of Richland Two, the parent of 2 graduates, and one of the Senators representing the area, I have been very tuned in to the events at Spring Valley and would like to offer a few comments.

 

Regarding Friday’s demonstration, I spoke with James Manning, Chairman of the School Board, and Dr. Debbie Hamm, the Superintendent. It is my understanding that the administration found out yesterday morning about a planned “walk-out” in support of Officer Fields.  In summary, a diverse group of approximately 100 students conducted a brief 5-10 minute peaceful “walk-out” and promptly returned to their school activities.  A good account of this can be found in this morning’s State Newspaper by clicking here: http://www.thestate.com/news/local/article41935716.html.  The videos included are also worth watching.

 

Personally, I see no problem with allowing students to peacefully express their opinions.  I think peaceful demonstrations are critical to our democracy, and what separates us as Americans from other countries.  The alternative of letting that tension boil inside these young students would be more destructive.  My opinion may or may not be shared with others.  However, I see no role that the legislative delegation should play in setting school board policy.  The school board is elected by the public, and therefore accountable to them as well.

 

I am proud of how our Sheriff and School Board and District Administration leaders have handled this week with great sensitivity.  The Sheriff moved quickly to return to Columbia from a conference and made a personnel decision within 48 hours of the incident.  The Administration and the Board have very transparent, strong and impressive in their actions to respond to the incident.  We as elected officials should rally together to look for positive ways to move forward.  Our state and community have been tested many times this year, and thus far, we have become better and stronger as a result.

 

Joel Lourie

Did Lindsey Graham steal the JV show last night?

That seems to be the consensus of what I’ve read about the undercard debate.

I wouldn’t know, of course, because CNBC wanted to charge me to watch, and the World Series was free, so guess what I watched? (This blog would have to pay a lot more than it does for me to buy cable just for blogging purposes.)

As for the big-table debate, from what I’ve gathered from various sources, the main points were:

  • Big night for Rubio and Cruz.
  • Bad night for Jeb Bush.
  • The candidates and other GOP types went on a Spiro Agnew media-bashing spree.
  • Trump and Carson were relatively quiet, except for Trump bashing Kasich.

Here’s a transcript if you want it. I don’t have time to read it right now.

Among those of you who saw it: Thoughts?

The most amazing thing about Trump is that his supporters think he can WIN next fall

You may have seen that Donald Trump’s support in South Carolina has now reached the dizzying height of 40 percent of respondents who identify themselves as likely GOP primary voters.

No, the bubble hasn’t popped yet, even though everything we’ve seen in past elections would suggest it would have happened a couple of months back.

Do you wonder why? I certain do. Well, here’s why:

The conventional wisdom among Donald Trump’s detractors is that his current surge in the polls won’t last because as we get closer to actual voting, Republicans excited by his political incorrectness will start factoring in “electability.” When GOP voters realize that he can’t beat Hillary Clinton, the theory goes, they will switch their support to other more electable candidates.

One problem with that theory: Right now, GOP voters believe Trump is the most electable candidate.

A new Post/ABC News poll asked GOP-leaning voters which candidate “has the best chance of getting elected president in November 2016?” The winner was Trump by a landslide. An incredible 43 percent of GOP voters say that Trump is the most electable GOP candidate. In a distant second place, Ben Carson trails Trump on electability by 27 points, while Jeb Bush — whose entire rationale for his campaign is electability — trails Trump on electability by 30 points. Since the same poll found Trump with 32 percent support, that means even GOP voters who do not support Trump still believe he is most likely to beat the Democrats in 2016. A new Associated Press-GfK pollconfirms this, finding that “Seven in 10 Republicans and Republican-leaning registered voters say they think Trump could win in November 2016 if he were nominated; that’s the most of any Republican candidate.”…

That may be the single most amazing thing that I’ve read or heard about the continuing popularity of this guy.

I suppose there’s a sort of cognitive block that prevents Trump supporters from imagining how non-Trump supporters see things. So they imagine a majority will agree with them.

I suppose all of us are susceptible to such lacks of insight. I, for one, find it very difficult to understand how anyone could imagine Donald Trump winning the presidency next November. This is perhaps a defense mechanism on my part: If I could imagine it, I wouldn’t sleep nights…

Looking ahead, without joy, to a Joe-less election

Our Joe huddled with the president, just before the fateful announcement.

Our Joe huddled with the president, just before the fateful announcement.

Mercifully, I was out on a golf course and oblivious when the terrible news came: My man Joe Biden would not seek the Democratic nomination for president.

This means several things, all bad:

  • Without that to talk about, we’ll likely go back to all-Trump, all the time. And I, for one, am not up for that.
  • If everybody starts to have heartburn about Hillary’s trustworthiness problem again — and remember, that’s the way things were very, very recently — we’ll have no viable options on the Democratic side. At least Joe’s Hamlet routine gave us hope.
  • Even though there’s a ridiculous number of people running for president this year, this leaves us without a single Joe of any sort. And an election without essential Joe-ness is an election hardly worth having.

You may think I’m being facetious on that last bullet point, but I’m not. Without Joe, there’s no viable candidate running on either side that I can truly, actively like. And we are poorer for it.

 

Really, Trey? THAT’s the look you’re going with?

gowdy_surfs_up  download (3) 596-trey-gowdy-610 FILE - This file June 28, 2013 file photo shows House Oversight Committee member Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. House Speaker John Boehner on Friday declared he’d schedule a vote to create a select committee to investigate the Benghazi attack, escalating a political battle that has raged since the final days of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. A senior Republican aide said Boehner was considering Gowdy to chair the select committee. The aide wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity. It’s unclear when Boehner will schedule the vote.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

I was out of pocket yesterday playing in a charity golf tournament (to benefit Healthy Learners) out at Fort Jackson, which means I probably had a better time than you did. (How did I do? Well, the official score was 70, which sounds great until you learn that it was captain’s choice — which, for the uninitiated, means that we had four tries at every shot — and that was the team score. When I left, the leading team had come in with a 56, and we were tied for last place. But it was a beautiful day, and we had a good time.)

But while I didn’t blog exactly, I did mini-blog and bit, and this was my most popular Tweet of the day, garnering a number of reTweets and favorites:

You may have noticed that South Carolina’s own Rep. Gowdy has made almost as many attempts to do different things with his hair as Eric Clapton, only with less success. I am not the only one to compare the above look to Oswald Cobblepot, a.k.a. The Penquin, on “Gotham:”

Others have mentioned Draco Malfoy, possibly after seeing this particular do.

You might be tempted to say that he’d look better if he just grew it out some, particularly on the sides. But then you would take that back upon seeing this. And let’s not even get started on this one

The most normal he has ever looked was when he went with the neoclassical Brutus cut, as they called it when it came into fashion in the early 19th century. Or perhaps we should call it the Cassius look, as in:

Let me have men about me that are fat,
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep a-nights.
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look.
He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.

Maybe that’s why he abandoned it. He didn’t want Kevin McCarthy talking about how “yond Trey hath dim’d the star of Hillary Macbeth…”

But when the big day came, what did he do? He whipped out the Butch Wax and went with the kewpie doll look:

Gowdy look

The disaffected vs. the professionals

I was amused by the way The Slatest described a contretemps between their guy Josh Voorhees and angry Bernie Sanders supporters:

On Tuesday night, Josh Voorhees wrote that Hillary Clinton won the first Democratic presidential debate. A number of Bernie Sanders supporters subsequently wrote to Josh to inform him that he was a stupid man with a stupid face and that Bernie, as confirmed by a number of online polls, was the obvious winner. Last night, the Voorhees struck back, informing those Sanders supporters that it was in fact their faces that were the stupid ones, that online polls are a bad way of deciding who did the best in a debate, and that by the way, HILLARY WON* (*from his subjective perspective).

After that, Voorhees’ actual piece was a disappointment as entertainment — low-key, professional. He didn’t call anybody’s face stupid. Although he well might have, given the emotional nonsense that he was up against:

Several were nuanced and well reasoned; others … less so. “Hey dumbass,” began the first, “You should be ashamed of yourself you hack!!!” The next was only slightly more measured with its criticism: “How much money were you paid … you either got big bucks to do this article or you have an intellectual issue,” it read. “Are you blind or just bought? Grow a pair and admit the truth,” read another. One industrious reader, meanwhile, sent eight different emails, most of which included graphic photos and all of which came with the prose that matched the tenor of the distinctly un-PC subject line they shared. I could go on, but you get the point.

Folks, if you’re a dispassionate observer (a creature the people who wrote to Voorhees probably find it difficult to imagine) who understands politics in general and the current situation in particular, Hillary Clinton won that debate, on so many levels. And no, you don’t have to be in the bag for Hillary to see that. I’m certainly not. I’m very concerned that her performance will keep Joe Biden out of the race, and I really wanted to see him run.

Charles Krauthammer is no shill for Hillary, and he went farther than anyone else I’ve seen, saying she essentially sewed up the nomination Tuesday night. His column saying so was headlined, “Game over.”

That’s the sort of conclusion one reaches when one is an informed, professional observer who does not have a dog in the Democratic fight.

But if one is an emotional participant who adores Bernie Sanders (who clearly came in second, but largely because the other three candidates were so awful) and doesn’t really fully understand the way polls and other such things of the political world work, you think you have absolute proof that the professionals are lying or crazy or corrupt:

You want to blame the media professionals for something unprofessional, even self-interested? Then blast them for posting those instant surveys on their websites without making it absolutely clear that such reader-participation games are most assuredly NOT polls, and should not be seen by anyone at any time as indicative of opinions of the general population.

News outlets provide those things because they are marvelous clickbait. To put it more politely, they drive reader engagement. They make people feel like they are participating in the story, and they don’t cost anybody anything. But they do not provide useful information. As Voorhees puts it, “they’re mostly for entertainment (for the reader) and traffic (for the outlet).” A low-key version of bread and circuses, you might say.

All of this said, the argument can be made quite strongly that we are at a point in time when professionalism — whether on the part of journalists, pollsters or for that matter political consultants — doesn’t count for much, because there are so many of the disaffected, emotional people who don’t understand what they’re looking at that they constitute a sufficient plurality to swing elections.

We saw it with the Tea Party uprising in 2010, we’ve seen it in the dysfunction of Congress exacerbated by that election. We saw South Carolina go for Newt Gingrich in 2012. We’re seeing Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Bernie Sanders.

Now, some of you will get indignant and say Bernie Sanders, for one, is tapping into genuine yearning for a society more like Denmark, and that his supporters know just what they are enthusiastic about.

I’m sure that’s quite true. (His dedicated followers are probably more like those of Ron Paul than of Donald Trump.) But I’m reacting to the subset that unloaded on Josh Voorhees, who are exemplars of the kind of proud, indignant ignorance that marks too much of political interaction these days.

And yes, my liberal friends — we see much more of this in the dysfunction of the Republican Party. Sanders’ supporters love his policies; Trump’s love his anger and contempt. In a column I’m grateful to Norm Ivey for bringing to my attention this week, David Brooks brilliantly described the sickness that pervades what was once the conservative party, but which is now overrun by clueless agents of destruction.

But foolishness is no respecter of political parties, and this surge of emotionalism against the professional consensus regarding Tuesday’s debate is but one small example of the tantrums one can find among the disaffected of the left.

It was Clinton, then Sanders, O’Malley, Webb and Chaffee

I think maybe, just maybe, this was on CNN.

I think maybe, just maybe, this was on CNN.

As I said last night:

To elaborate a bit:

  1. Everyone seems to agree that HIllary Clinton towered over the others. That was certainly my impression, although I don’t think her performance was as flawless as some say: She started out hesitantly, just for a second or two, on more than one occasion — but then quickly recovered. Her best moments were when she demonstrated the self-assurance and courage to stand to the right of her opponents — defending capitalism (staking out the moderate position that capitalism is a glorious thing, although we should stand ready to address its worst excesses), and then being the one total grownup on the stage on the subject of Edward Snowden.
  2. Sanders showed why he’s wowing the disaffected left out there at his rallies, although I’m not sure whether the chicken or egg came first — is his delivery so practiced and effective because of all those successful rallies, or are the rallies successful because his delivery is that good. Anderson Cooper was of course completely right that in the extremely unlikely event that Sanders were nominated, the Republican attack ad writes itself (I hadn’t even known about the “honeymoon in the Soviet Union” part). But he remains a far more attractive candidate, based on the debate performance, than the other three guys on the stage.
  3. Next, we take a big step down to No. 3, Martin O’Malley. I honestly don’t remember much that he said now, but I do remember the sort of supercilious, holier-than-thou tone he had when he said a lot of it. All I remember right now was his mantra about Glass-Steagall, which I suppose he kept mentioning in order to run down Chaffee, who really needed no help on that score; he was scuttling his chances just fine on his own. Anderson Cooper dramatically underlined O’Malley’s weakness as a debater by doing what O’Malley so glaringly failed to do: taking a few words to explain what Glass-Steagall was.
  4. I had really expected more from Jim Webb. Maybe because he was a military guy and once served in a Republican administration, I guess I thought he’d be more UnParty than the others or something. But man, was he lame. He comes in as far behind O’Malley as O’Malley does behind Sanders. Was anyone looking at a stopwatch? If so, just how much time did he spend whining about not being allowed enough time? Oh, sure, you call time on ME, but you just let all the other kids go on all day, yadda-yadda… Cooper lectured him about it (another instance of the host presuming to correct the candidates, which was presumptuous as all get-out, but in the two cases I mention here, they really deserved it). Then there was that weird smile when he said that the Vietnamese who threw the grenade that wounded him wasn’t around to comment. What was that? And was that anecdote in any way relevant to the question?
  5. Then, in a category all on his own, there was Chaffee. Is he always like this? If so, how has he ever been elected to anything? His answer to almost every question was something like, “Hey, I was always against going into Iraq,” as though he couldn’t think of anything to say about this decade. And on the Glass-Steagall thing… Wow. Aw, come on, guys, cut me a break on that! I was new in town, my Dad had just died, I was this dumb kid, and it was my very first vote! Don’t you get a mulligan on your first vote?… Really? That’s your answer? You have your big moment on the national stage, you’ve had all these years to think about it, and that’s your answer? As someone I read this morning said, at least “Oops” was short.

That’s enough to get a discussion started. Your thoughts?

"Secretary Clinton, do you want to respond?" "No."

“Secretary Clinton, do you want to respond?” “No.”