Friday, January 15, 2016


In the aftermath of last night's GOP debate, Jonathan Chait writes that establishment Republicans seem to be coming to terms with the notion that Donald Trump could be their presidential nominee:
... Republicans have decided to start treating [Trump] as a regular candidate and a member of their party in good standing, rather than an imposter who has hijacked it on a lark. He faced the same softball questions as everybody else, with no follow-ups.

... Signs have popped up everywhere that Republicans have not only begun to accept Trump as one of them, a regular candidate, but even to resign themselves to his candidacy.
Chait goes on to quote a few tweets suggesting the establishment mood:

I was particularly struck by this one:

Why does the GOP establishment think Trump would run better than Cruz against Hillary Clinton? Right now, in the Real Clear Politics poll averages, Cruz beats Clinton, while Trump still trails her. And the establishmentarians can't seriously believe Cruz would refrain from attacking her.

Maybe the problem is what Dan Balz implies here:
A Cruz victory in Iowa ... would rattle the establishment almost as much as a Trump victory, if not more. Unique among the elected and former elected officials in the race, Cruz campaigned from the start with an eye toward tapping anti-Washington sentiment among party conservatives. Party leaders fear that Cruz as the nominee could bring about a landslide loss in November.
Do they fear that Cruz as the nominee could bring about a landslide presidential loss in November? Or do they fear Cruz will attack Washington so relentlessly that he'll inspire GOP base voters to vote against Republican incumbents in House and Senate races?

If it's the latter, I don't get it. Yes, the guy attacks his own sometimes. But that wasn't his line of argument last night, was it? And GOP candidates always attack the federal government. (Remember Mitt Romney's slogan "Washington is broken"?)

Cruz has been telling donors that he thinks this election will come down to base turnout. Turning out the base is how the GOP won its last presidential election, in 2004, and it's how the right-wing media has engineered two midterm blowouts in the Obama era, so Cruz may be right. If so, Matt Yglesias noted after the debate, Cruz is awfully good at saying what the base wants to hear:
[Cruz] had his finger perfectly on the pulse of the conservative base from the get-go. He got the first question of the night -- about the economy -- and he completely ignored it in favor of a demagogic rant about the American soldiers who accidentally drifted into Iranian waters this week.... he suggested they'd been kidnapped due to Obama's weakness and that a Cruz administration might have retaliated militarily.

The answer spoke loud and clear: Cruz didn't care what the moderators wanted to talk about. He wanted to talk about what conservatives wanted to talk about, and that was what they see as a humiliation of the United States invited by the weakness of the president.

... while Trump's gonzo schtick will continue to be appealing to a significant segment of the Republican electorate, what Cruz managed to do was to energize while espousing orthodox conservative views.

Republican Party elected officials in Washington may not like Cruz, but activists across the country are seeing more and more of a guy who stands solidly with them on all their issues.
That's certainly what Frank Luntz focus group thought last night. Watch the beginning of the clip -- they gave the debate to cruz by acclamation.

Savor what the neckbearded young man says about Cruz at 2:16 in the clip:
I think that he is willing to die for this country instead of staying on his knees.
Cruz is another chickenhawk, but never mind -- he's saying what these people want to hear. And he seems less alienating to the general public than Trump -- according to the polls, his favorable ratings are good.

Watch out for him.


Buford said...

Maybe the GOP is wanting a more "secular" Fascist Regime, than say, a Theocratic Despotic Regime...

Victor said...

@Buford, imo, hit the nail on the head!

Trump is plain old Plutocratic Fascism, which is bad enough, without the additional humongous unhealthy topping of whipped "Christianity," that Teddy Cruz-ader would love, and feel the need, to add.

Joey Blau said...

Crazy RW nutjobs over at realclear.. But what is really scary is that Cruz beats Clinton. The man makes my skin crawl.

Ten Bears said...

My conservative clientele, Rotary Republicans, Chamber of Commerce Titans of Their Industries Republicans (one quite possibly the most successful micro-brewer in the country), are freaking out at the prospect of a Trump candidacy. It's well beyond hahaha wtf!? Some are even talking of holding their nose and voting the lesser evil.

They feel pretty much the same about the Canuck. While I don't much of Nikki Haley, she did touch on something lost in all the hoopla that resonates with mainstream not nutball Republicans: are as unhappy with the turn of events as mainstream not Republicans.

And out here, the Bundy Boys aren't doing them any favors.

Jack Reylan said...

Nuclear winter cures global warming and sanitizes away all those on rent control who voted for Obama. We need to apply the same rules from banking and finance to university research grants, trial lawyers, and union funds. Professulas, trial lawyers and union organizers are Obama's core constituencies. Professulas molest more youth than clergy do. Privatize the university-grants complex so corporations may own university patents. "UPI June 6, 1992 Columbia will be looking for a new president in a period troubled by criticism for destroying records that were being reviewed for improprieties." In his 2010 book on universities (p35) Columbia provost Jonathan Cole brags that undergraduates and their parents are suckers who fund the platform from which professulas can then rape taxpayers with grants. Deport foreign born Obama voters for sedition .Any immigrant who visits his birth country should be expatriated. Islamosympathic gutterswabbing clothing and pierced privates spread disease. Passive aggressive labor unions grab our guns, cars (congestion pricing), balls (SONDA), wallets, and homes. Aqua volte! This land wasn't build by bullocraps.

Ten Bears said...

Mainstream not nutball Republicans are as unhappy about the turn of events...

I rest my case.

Unknown said...

Jack, your avatar pic appears to match your words pretty well.

Feud Turgidson said...

I don't know how to quantify the relative values in what each of Trump and Cruz have on offer right now for fearful and/or resentful white working class American voters, but I'm pretty sure of how the future looks that each is holding up as a promise if he's elected:

- Trump is holding up a vision of them 'winning' the White House in November.
- Cruz is holding up a vision of them never having to be fearful about a presidential election outcome ever again.

Ken_L said...

Pure speculation, but the GOP establishment may believe that Cruz would perform in the White House the way he has in the Senate, basically trying to set up an alternative chain of command to undermine the House and Senate leaderships. As president, he could wreak havoc by supporting efforts to primary the likes of John McCain while endorsing doctrinaire evangelical candidates wherever he could find them. Add to that a couple of hard right, Christianist Supreme Court nominations and he could single-handedly turn the GOP into an extremist reactionary party which would go down in flames in 2020 and take a decade to recover.

Trump, on the other hand, is a man you can reason with ...