Monday, November 30, 2015


At BuzzFeed, McKay Coppins tell us that the Jeb Bush political operation has persisted in spreading old rumors of Marco Rubio's infidelity -- even though the rumors never check out. Team Jeb started this as the presidential campaign was getting under way, in the hope of keeping Rubio out of the race:
Jeb and his team recognized the threat posed by Rubio nearly a year ago, and took aggressive action to knock him out of 2016 contention -- with some in Bush’s circle trying to smear the senator by allegedly circulating lurid, unsubstantiated rumors of infidelity.

... The same day Mitt Romney bowed out of the 2016 race -- marking the first and last real victory for Jeb’s “juggernaut” campaign -- a California bundler who was being courted by Bush’s team told me, “They’re going after Rubio next. It’s like whack-a-mole. They’re going to try to take out everyone before the primaries even start.”
Of course, Jeb's crew didn't "take out everyone." With the exception of Romney, Jeb's crew didn't "take out" anyone.

But that won't prevent the GOP from allowing Jeb to keep trying, no matter what the consequences to the party's chances in 2016.

Rubio's team hired researchers who specialize in vetting the candidates they're working for, probing for possible vulnerabilities. Certain rumors persisted, but no evidence could be found that they were true. However, they continued to circulate -- spread largely by pople who claimed to like Rubio but would eventually identify themselves as Jeb supporters:
... a couple of rumors were particularly persistent in political circles.... One that reporters in Florida had repeatedly tried to run down over the years dealt with a Tallahassee politico who Rubio had supposedly taken on several romantic out-of-state trips and paid for them with the state party’s credit card. Another, even more pervasive rumor, held that Rubio was hiding a secret second family somewhere, and sending regular cash installments to support them (and keep them quiet).

... Acting on explicit instructions, the research firm investigated the rumors and determined that they lacked concrete evidence, which was enough to give Rubio’s advisers peace of mind. But along the way, the firm encountered enough dishy Miami-Dade politicos hocking titillating gossip to fill the entire newsroom of a supermarket tabloid. The firm concluded that, in many cases, the rumors were being fanned by the same South Florida Republicans who claimed to be Rubio’s supporters.

And unfortunately for him, many of those Miami gossips would, come 2015, join the cutthroat ranks of the Jeb Bush juggernaut.
You can say that this is Jeb being a cutthroat pol in the storied, Corleone-esque Bush family tradition. But think about it: What the Bushes and their affiliates did to Mike Dukakis in 1988, John McCain in 2000, and John Kerry in 2004 actually worked. Those years saw Bush victories. This year, Jeb is flailing. People who've seen what he's peddling about Rubio dismiss it with contempt:
... Jeb’s messengers tried to convince a number of influential figures in political media that they had the goods on Rubio. Among these was MSNBC host Joe Scarborough. A former Republican congressman from Florida who remained tapped into the state’s politics, Scarborough was skeptical whenever somebody tried to convince him that Rubio had an explosive career-ending secret lurking in his past. “Everybody who runs against him says he has girlfriends, or financial problems. They throw a lot of shit at the wall,” Scarborough told me. “It’s the same thing from the Jeb Bush camp. They keep telling me, ‘Oh, we’ve got the thing that’s going to take him down.’ But nobody’s ever produced anything that we all haven’t read in the Tallahassee Democrat.
Marco Rubio is the best the GOP has this year. He's the only potentially strong general election candidate who could conceivably win the nomination. The party should be lining up behind him. Instead, the party appears ready to stand back and let Jeb do this to its most promising newcomer, even though the party's voters despise Jeb and will never give him the nomination.

Why is the party establishment allowing this to happen? I understand that politics has become much more "entrepreneurial" these days -- candidates (and the billionaires who own them, or at least make their super PACs possible) are now running the show, not the parties themselves. This is particularly true in the GOP.

And the result is the rise of Donald Trump (who's his own billionaire), Ted Cruz, and (thanks to a grifty and well-developed fundraising apparatus) Ben Carson. But, beyond that, the result is Jeb positioning himself as the guy no one will cross even though his presence in the race continues to damage the one candidate who's both nominatable and electable.

People who think Trump will fade rely on the poli-sci notion that "the party decides" -- mainstream donors, top elected officials, and other insiders inevitably coalesce around a plausible nominee. That should be happening with Rubio -- but, instead, the party is unwilling to tell Jeb to get the hell out of the race and stop being nothing more than a stumbling block for a better candidate. And so the party can't decide on Rubio -- and Trump, Cruz, and Carson are really grateful for that.


And speaking of party endorsements, Politico tells us that Republican members of Congress are coming around to Rubio -- or are they?
Ted Cruz has built his Senate career and presidential campaign on his willingness to stick it to the Republican establishment. And now that he’s gaining momentum in the primary, his many GOP nemeses in Congress are returning the favor by quietly coalescing behind Marco Rubio.
Quoted in the piece are veteran senators John Cornyn, Dan Coats, and John Thune. All have nice things to say about Rubio (or not-nice things to say about Cruz). But not one of them has actually endorsed Rubio.

Why? Oh, this is pathetic:
Cornyn, Thune and Coats have not endorsed in the presidential primary, and lawmakers interviewed for this story said many senior Republicans do not want to embarrass long-shot presidential hopeful Lindsey Graham by endorsing Rubio while the South Carolina senator is in the race.
Yes, that's right: Trump, Cruz, and Carson are winning and party muckamucks won't endorse Rubio because it might hurt Lindsey Graham's feelings. Their party is a building on fire and they're afraid to grab the phone and dial 911 because Crazy Old Grandpa isn't done using it to talk to clouds.

This party deserves Trump/Cruz 2016.


Ten Bears said...

It's like the enter/infotainment/media complex, they can't come up with something new. The new Star Trek is the old Star Trek; what I've seen of the new Star Wars, recycled old Star Wars; zombies, old, superheros, they were making Superman and Batman movies in the thirties. War, intrigue, innuendo, when you're a drug-addled illiterate rube leering listlessly at the tube in hopes of a glimpse of Megyn Kelly's panties it's all new, and it all makes perfect sense.

Victor said...

"This party deserves Trump/Cruz 2016."

But the rest of us don't!
Ok, a large part of the rest of us don't!
The rest are so fucking stupid and bigoted, they'd deserve these two.

Unknown said...

Jeb is deeply mired in whatever sick family drama he's playing out. So we can't expect reason from him. But what leverage does the GOP have to force him out? A refusal to support George P. when he runs for Senate?

Frank Wilhoit said...

The Party does decide. The Party is deciding. What we see going on today is a sideshow. At some point, the rules will be changed in the middle of the game and the Party will reassert control of the process with great suddenness and brutality. At what point, you ask? At the latest possible moment -- so that Trump has the least possible time to try to build a nationwide personal organization. He is not doing that, because he thinks he will be able to use the Republican Party organization.

Corollary: the Party's real (?only) motivation to stop Trump is that he would "fire" everyone in the existing patronage network and replace them with his own people.

The eventual Republican nominee for 2016 will be someone who is not presently running. (I do not have any specific person in mind.)

Steve M. said...

Large numbers of angry GOP voters are going to refuse to vote for a candidate forced on them by skulduggery on the part of the GOP Establishment. They have to have buy-in or they're going to revolt. They're pissed.

Frank Wilhoit said...

The Party had vastly rather have a Democratic President to fund-raise against than lose control of the patronage network. (It isn't always about winning, but it is, always, about raising money.)

If Trump won the nomination, he would really, personally, take over the Party. None of the others could do that, even if they wanted to (here, the definition of an "Establishment candidate" is someone who doesn't want to). That's one of the unacceptable outcomes. Another is the rise of a new party that would replace the Republicans. Losing the White House a couple more times, or even a bunch more times, is hardly an unacceptable outcome. They still have the propaganda machine, the patronage machine, the "development" machine. If they lost Congress, the calculus might be different.

If the Republican Party were serious about winning the White House in 2016, there would be only one way to do it: massive, retail voter intimidation in urban areas in "red" states. They could do it, but it would require a huge amount of organization and planning, such as would have to have been underway long since, and such as would be difficult to conceal. That dog is not barking in the night.

Unknown said...

Frank Wilhoit, Generally I dislike the 'don't know if I'd buy into your whole scheme but you got some intriguing ideas' school of online commentary, but I'll throw caution to the winds here and say exactly that about these two comments of yours.

I feel like a nincompoop for it being in front of my face all along and not actualizing it - failing maybe to reduce it to the stark and admirable brutality you've displayed here.

Steve M. and other regulars in this treehouse may recall my early view that Trump was in this for business reasons, with winning the nomination being just one among possible benefits but regardless how it turned out, he'd turn a profit or turn into lead somehow into something. It never got thru my thick headbone that his target is EXACTLY WHAT HE'S FILED FOR: the nomination.

The GOP nomination itself has value. AOTs, it provides a 'uge claim to take over the party apparatus - as if Trump needs more than a crack to just barge in and takeover. THIS IS A TAKEOVER BID!

Trump KNOWS this animal: he grew up with them in and around his family; he studied them at Wharton; he's formed sucky acquaintances and friendships with takeover types in every walk of life, including the Clintons.

If Trump wins the GOP nominaton - or rather, from the moment Trump feels he's got the LEVERAGE to take over the party apparatus - he'll make his move. Then it's all Rienhold Preince if-that's-your-real-name youah FIE-AHD, you Wisconsin mook; sorry Charlie Black, seems like you bet the wrong horse, fuck off you backwater moron Jim Demint; Karl Rove, you're on notice & you can start with my shoes & then a double wax on all the gold plate fixtures; Megyn Kelly, no hard FEELINGS, you know what you gotta do know so just go ahead and do it; Roger Ailes, after Megyn's finished, I'm leavin' an aromatic dessert treat got my name all over it but a place setting customized for YHOU; and as for the rest of you losers, this is minute one of hour one of day one, so either I see some serious respect here or there's gonna be consequences.

Who GIVES a shit about sucking up to 130 million mook voters to get a no-win total grief shit job like POTUS, when you can take over control of one of only two major political parties in the country and have the real big boys, the Koch brothers included, flying into where ever you are to personally polish YOUR knob and bring suitable presents for the king!

That also explains what I've commented here more than once, that no one among the actual contendahs was going after Trump: not Grifted Hands because that's got nothing to do with why he's in this; Rubio because why pick a needless fight; but I figured not Cruz because Cruz was steering towards picking up Trump's sloppy seconds. I was too frickin' lazy-brained to see HOW FAR OFF Cruz is capable of delaying his satisfaction.

Cruz does all he can for Trump to game this reality show for a victory - which could be as little as Trump gaming control of the casino by 'agreeing to step down as a candidate for the pahties nomination to step in to take over for the shit job Rinso Rizzo of whatever his name was did as chayahman. So thereafter, Rubio, fine, Cruz fine, don't matter who gets smoked by Hillary, we HAVE to allow SOME democracy to work here or THE GRAVY TRAIN DRIES UP, BOYS!

So after the election loss to HRC, Trump does the dead body of the party in his arms scene from the Manchurian Candidate, or does it with Cruz, and vows to the Base - NOT NEXT TIME: NEXT TIME IS OUR TIME AND WE ALL SACK ROME - then "hires" Cruz as roving veep, Mark Anthony, whatever, heir to lands in the ancient quaint land of nominations and elections of his new reality enterprise, THE TRUMP GOP!!

Jesus Effing Five-Tooler, THAT would be one hell of a gambit.