Saturday, April 09, 2016


It's clear, based on the delegate math, that Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic presidential nominee. As for the Republicans, I see that 90% of the GOP insiders surveyed by Politico think there's going to be a contested convention -- and even though Donald Trump will almost certainly be the delegate leader, he's getting his clock cleaned in the contest for delegates who'll be loyalty to him past the first ballot. In Indiana, for instance, Politico says the party is selecting delegates based on their opposition to Trump. So they'll bolt at the earliest possible opportunity.

It's seeming more and more likely that Ted Cruz is going to steal this thing from Trump. (Did I mention that Trump has been shut out in Colorado, and Cruz has every delegate chosen there so far?) And while it's difficult to be a worse candidate for the GOP than Trump, Jonathan Chait thinks Cruz would be a really awful choice for his party -- for instance, on taxes:
In addition to the de rigueur ginormous tax cut for rich people, Cruz proposes a massive shift of the tax burden away from income taxes to sales taxes. So, not only would Cruz’s plan give nearly half of its benefit to the highest-earning one percent of taxpayers (who would save, on average, nearly half a million dollars a year in taxes per household), but it would actually raise taxes on the lowest-earning fifth....

But the aggregate figure does not quite capture the political explosiveness of the plan. As Matthew Yglesias notes, Cruz’s sales tax would inflict special hardship on the elderly, who earn very little and spend (on the whole) more than 100 percent of their annual income.
Chait cites this and also Cruz's support for an an abortion ban with no rape-and-incest exception, his hardcore climate change denialism, and his call for a gay marriage rollback and the abolition of the Department of Education. Chait writes, "Elections are not policy seminars, but the vulnerabilities in Cruz’s platform are not subtle or difficult to communicate."

I hope that's true. I think you can attack Cruz on a lot of this, especially the idea of raising taxes on elderly people -- who reliably vote.

But I worry that Americans vote much more on gut impressions and tribalism. If you seem more comfortable with a hunting rifle, for instance, heartland whites, or at least white men and married white women, will vote for you in droves. Who'll be the persuadable, on-the-fence voters, and what are they going to do if they find Cruz unlikable (which an awful lot of people do) but also find Hillary Clinton unlikable (which a lot of people also do)?

There are two catchphrases floating around now. Neither of them would decide a Clinton-Cruz race, obviously, but both could have a non-trivial impact.

One is the Bernie Sanders assertion that Hillary Clinton isn't qualified to be president. Yes, I know that Sanders has walked that back, but it's out there now, and it's already being gleefully embraced by both Trump and a top Cruz surrogate:

We'll hear that catchphrase until November.

But the other catchphrase we might hear is "Lyin' Ted." May I just say that I don't get why this caught on? I would have expected it to have less impact than "low energy" for Jeb Bush or "Little Marco" for Marco Rubio -- but Trump's crowds love it:

So if Cruz wins the nomination, I hope Hillary Clinton and her surrogates find some way to make use of "Lyin' Ted" on the campaign trail. ("I don't agree with Donald Trump on very many issues, but...") I'm all for serious policy debates -- but it would be crazy to turn down this gift if it's as effective as it is.

There's a chance Trump will be out there using the phrase himself, though I continue to believe he'll slink away if he's defeated at the convention, not wanting to remind people that he was a big loser. So it'll be up to you, Clinton campaign. Choose wisely.


Davis X. Machina said...

It's clear, based on the delegate math, that Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic presidential nominee.

I find your lack of faith disturbing.

aimai said...

I really, really, doubt that either of those catch phrases will still be in seriously in use in November. The "Hillary Clinton is not Qualified" thing is just dumb. The things for which Sanders thought she was unqualified are the very thing that make her qualified to a Republican audience. So it will be repeated, like the teleprompter jokes, in a rote way that simply lacks punch. A kind of "har har" way. In any event it is irrelevant since the kinds of people who would vote for HRC think she is eminently qualified and the kinds of people who want to vote against her think she is qualified but awful. Its just not resonant.

Meanwhile the "lyin' Ted" thing is just basically unsayable. It lacks poetry,rhythm, beat, and rhyme. Its not even alliterative. It doesn't fall off the tongue easily. I think its more likely that the stupid Cruz slogan where you find a word that ends in "ted" and use it to describe him becomes a popular meme. Like "distrustTED" or "revolTED" OR "rotTED." That has the advantage of being a play on Cruz's own propaganda and its very easily customized by the speaker.

Victor said...

'Help Cruz lose.
Put Ted to bed!'

How's that?

gocart mozart said...

Ted Cruz is the most dishonest major party candidate to ever run for President aside from Donald Trump with the possible exception of Mitt Romney.

Never Ben Better said...

Hey, hey, gocart, don't forget Nixon!

Feud Turgidson said...

NBB, if Cruz does manage to game the GOP nom, about 100 million voters are going to find themselves being constantly reminded of Nixon.

And that line from Sinclair Lewis.
And all the lvoely contributions to America made by a certain vampire squid of a Wall Street bankster armada.
And the recent history this country has had with conservative Republican Texans in the White House.
And the many charming and graphic things Cruz has had to say on women's rights.
And who shut down the government last.
And who was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
And who besides his own children find him incredibly creepy and dangerous.

Never Ben Better said...

You recall those political commercials morphing someone's face into some other despised person's? Cruz would morph seamlessly into Nixon, not to mention Joe McCarthy.

Never Ben Better said...

Heck, he'd morph into Bush easily, too.

Jim Sweeney said...

I really, really hate to take exception with Aimai, but "Lion Ted" strikes me as an excellent slogan. That said, I once worked with a young, somewhat demonstrative guy named Ted. Walking back to work one day after lunch the string

was Ted

came to mind, which I printed and presented to him. I got a laugh.

Yastreblyansky said...

Little Marco said over and over again that "She has disqualified herself" and it lasted even less long than his candidacy did. I think it is not qualified as a catchphrase. And Aimai is right about the rhythm of "Lyin' Ted".

I'd like to propose a somewhat inverse approach to Cruz: when he tells a lie, we should say "Oh, that's Ted talk". I doubt the public has any affection for the online thingy that has a name like that in all caps, but the familiar sound of it would help it stick.