Friday, April 22, 2011


The big news in this Politico story is that Charles Krauthammer, a Trump critic from the right-wing establishment, has now been persuaded that Donald Trump is serious about a presidential run, after receiving a phone call from Trump:

"... He wanted to make me see, in his view, he was a serious candidate and a serious man.... it convinced me that he's running, that it's not just a feint."

But I'm struck by the story's account of an interview with Greta Van Susteren:

... Trump maintained tough words for another establishment critic, former George W. Bush political brain Karl Rove, who he slammed to Fox News host Greta Van Susteren.

"The fact is Abraham Lincoln couldn't have beaten [President Barack) Obama because Bush and Karl Rove finished so weakly," Trump insisted, after Van Susteren noted that Rove said the developer's pursuit of the birther cause made him a "joke."

... Van Susteren asked him how he would approach the millions who are facing foreclosure because they have mortgages that are higher than the value of their homes, and Trump said what he'd "love 'em to do is go see their local banker and negotiate a new deal because frankly if they're smart and if they know how to do it they'll be able to make a gerat deal with the bank."

When she pointed out that the banks are not loaning money, and that they have "no incentive" to be more lenient, he replied, "I think honestly it depends on how you speak to the bank." ...

A grumble about sluggish ending by the banks? On Fox? Wow. (Of course, I'm sure she thinks it's all Barney Frank's fault.) And she called him a "joke"! (Meanwhile, Krauthammer still thinks Trump is "unserious.")

Here, perhaps, is the emerging two-party system: Republicans and people who are even more Republican. Back in '09, we were told that the tea party movement was a "non-partisan" group of outsiders. It could be that now they're developing into our other major political party -- alongside the Republicans.


Elsewhere, Nevada's John Ensign is resigning his Senate seat, and a Republican congressman named Dean Heller is likely to be given his Senate seat. This sets up a battle for Heller's House seat -- and National Journal tells us how that might play out:

The special election could allow Republican leaders to bypass [Sharron] Angle in favor of someone who party leaders view as more electable. Several GOP strategists said that it looks like candidates for the House seat would be nominated through the state party central committee and not through a primary process.

That offers both promise and peril. It's promising because Republicans could nominate a less polarizing candidate, like retired Navy commander Kirk Lippold or Nevada Republican Party Chairman Mark Amodei, without having to go through the messiness of a primary fight. But it offers peril because such a move would infuriate Angle's loyal throng of conservative supporters -- she raised an impressive $710,000 in the last quarter, predominantly from national conservative donors -- and she could threaten to run as a third-party candidate.

Yup -- Sharron Angle could be back. And there it is again -- Republicans vs. teabaggers.

Of course, Democrats aren't going away. If Sharron Angle runs third party in that Nevada House race, National Journal says it could lead to an easy Democratic win. (Similarly, if Trump runs third party, Barack Obama will probably cruise to victory.)

But these days, who pays attention to anyone, in or out of office, who talks or acts like a traditional Democrat? Who takes those words and deeds seriously? We talk about what Republicans (and Democrats acting like Republicans) want to talk about. This is from a Pew survey published a couple of days ago that summarized what news stories Americans were interested in and what the press covered. Notice the press's favorite story, by far:

Deficit and debt: WE MUST ACT IMMEDIATELY!!!

The president goes around, making vague, possibly empty promises to protect programs that serve ordinary citizens, and to tax the rich more -- and he's covered, but he's regarded as "unserious" when he talks that way. Citizens are beginning to get testy at town meetings with Republican members of Congress -- I didn't think that would happen, but it's starting to -- and yet the complaints are barely being covered outside of media outlets like Think Progress. There are furious efforts under way in Wisconsin and Michigan to recall Republican officeholders, but the national media response is ... crickets. And poll after poll shows that Americans want the rich to be taxed, but that idea also seems to be regarded as "unserious" -- it's certainly not being regarded as the harbinger of a populist revolt, the way every donning of a tricorn hat by a Fox watcher was back in '09 and '10.


So the public's thinking is becoming more traditionally Democratic, and Democrats may actually start winning elections again -- but I worry that that won't change our debate one iota; it will still be between really crazy Republicans and slightly crazy Republicans plus Democrats who are thinking like them.

And eventually, as campaign finance gets even more plutocratic and Republican voting restrictions keep more and more young and non-white people off ballots and Democrats with memories of the New Deal and the Great Society die off, these really will be our two major parties -- GOP and Tea.

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