Saturday, July 11, 2015


Over at National Review, John Fund has written a pants-wetting post titled "History Shows That Trump Is Perfectly Willing to Play the Spoiler." Fund's evidence for this assertion?
Donald Trump claims he isn’t interested in running as a spoiler third-party candidate in 2016 if he fails to win the GOP nomination.

But he said much the same thing in 1999, until he rushed to Ross Perot’s rump Reform party and announced he would run as a third-party candidate. Trump, whose middle name should be “Mercurial,” later dropped out, suddenly becoming a Democrat out of antipathy to George W. Bush. (Trump remained a Democrat until well into Barack Obama’s first year as president in 2009.)
Oh, I see -- we know Trump is willing to be a third-party candidate based on that time he chose not to try to be one. Plus, he was a Democrat while Bush was serving two terms! The fiendish saboteur!

Fund also think Trump is unwilling to attack Hillary Clinton:
But curiously, Trump has been very sparing in his criticism of Hillary Clinton. His most pointed jab came only this week after Clinton attacked his immigration comments. Trump responded the next day by calling her “the worst secretary of state in the history of our nation. Why would she be a good president? I think she would be a terrible president.”
Um, he's taken other jabs at her. He said electing her would raise the crime rate:
“Hillary would let everybody in: killers, criminals, drug-dealers -- everybody. If you listen to Hillary, everybody is going to be flowing through the nation. They are sort of now anyway,” he said to NBC News’ Katy Tur.
And there was that Twitter message he retweeted, then deleted:

But hey, Republicans, keep telling yourselves to cower in fear of him because he won't say a mean word about Hillary.

Fund also warns that Trump knows his electoral history:
... in 1992 ... another eccentric billionaire, Ross Perot, who like Trump had issues with the Bush family and the GOP establishment, stayed in the race as a self-financed third-party candidate and was included in the presidential debates.

Trump is well aware of the parallel. He told Byron York of the Washington Examiner this week, “I think every single vote that went to Ross Perot came from [George H. W.] Bush. Virtually every one of his 19 percentage points came from the Republicans. If Ross Perot didn’t run, you have never heard of Bill Clinton.”
Of course, as Steve Kornacki pointed out last night on Twitter, Perot didn't cost Bush the election, even though lots of people think he did. I've Storified Kornacki's 21-tweet debunking of this myth, but suffice to say that Perot appealed to moderate Democrats as well as Republicans, as revealed by polls at various points in the race, and when he temporarily dropped out of the race, his vote was evenly distributed between Bush and Clinton -- and Clinton remained in the lead in two-candidate polls.

Would the same thing happen in a race with Trump as the third-party candidate? Probably not -- but Perot was actually far less clownish in that '92 race than Trump is now. He was disciplined enough to get himself on state ballots nationwide. He was harder to turn into a dismissible buffoon.

If Republicans don't have the guts to try to marginalize Trump and turn him into a national laughingstock, they're cowards. But it looks as if they are cowards. They're letting fear of Trump paralyze them. Which is why I think Jeb Bush is going to pick a running mate who's even more wingnutty than Sarah Palin, in a desperate effort to keep the base from straying. The GOP is terrified.


petrilli said...

Trump's Birther obsession borders on pathological in the "unhinged" sense. But IIRC, and this is pure pre-internet no Googling memory here, but I remember during the campaign, Perot claiming to have spotted North Vietnamese commandos on his lawn, among other paranoid assassination conspiracy theories related to his POW/MIA activism. He really believed the Vietnamese were still holding American POWs in 1992 and beyond.

Professor Chaos said...

Ross Perot looks like a dignified statesman compared to Trump

Victor said...

Trump is sucking all of the oxygen away from the other candidates.

I made the mistake of turning on my TV yesterday afternoon, forgetting that I had set MSNBC as the default channel, and saw a moment of his deranged press conference - or, whatever that thing was.

He's a showman, I'll give him that!
And, I'd love to see him run as a 3rd Party candidate.
Could you imagine him in a debate?

Steve King?

Somehow, I don't think he'll sell in the blue and purple states, so I think he'll have to find someone else.
Though, King in a debate with the Dem's VP candidate would be a hoot!

Never Ben Better said...

And, once again, Google is our friend.

Found this 1992 NY Times article with a nice roundup of Perot's paranoia:

petrilli said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve M. said...

Sorry, Petrilli! I was reading comments on my phone from my blog dashboard and inadvertently deleted your last comment. I do that a lot and I wish Blogger had an Undo for that.

I agree that Perot said paranoid things. But I think he said a lot of things that weren't loopy, even if you disagreed with him. On the deficit, which was his main focus, he sounded similar to Paul Tsongas, a mainstream moderate Dem who'd done well in the primaries that year. Not my politics, but not crazy. On NAFTA, he sounded like the current critics of the trade agreement Obama's been fighting for this year. Most of the time, he didn't sound as unhinged as Trump does now.

petrilli said...

Perot almost gained my respect in the early 90's until the Vietcong commandos on his Dallas front lawn thing. And the daughter's wedding conspiracy. I considered him unstable and paranoid after that. Small potatos these days considering the animal farm presuming to rule us now. That Overton Window effect is a hell of a thing, eh?

I forgot to mention that anyone (like me) who lived in the DFW area in the 70's-80's was well aware of years of Perot's often annoying, self funded crackpot gadfly politics well before he burst onto the national scene.

Marcus said...

Just want to highlight some historical context…JEB is a lot like his father as a political character…very flat footed…the planning of the negative attacks are coming…some will be delivered by Christie and some others more potent by silent partners…Bush will try and stay clear of it and let the liberal media go at Trump and hope something will unstick the base from Trump…That is JEB’s strategy in a nutshell (no imagination)
Picking a VP wingnut was already in the cards from the beginning put he will not find a Palin who was very talented at delivery given the media structure but terribly flawed in other areas
Liberals need to fight little more on the emotional level with wingnuts not on the intellectual and in that way the politician will be able to split thier base up. They are not all religious in ID…..A little bit what Bill Clinton does

Anonymous said...

If the Republican candidate is a supposed moderate, the VP pick will be either Haley (to amplify the moderation) or Ernst (to cut against it).