Thursday, March 03, 2016


Almost overnight, the response of Republican establishmentarians to the Donald Trump threat has changed from deer-in-the-headlights catatonia to bouncing-off-the-walls frenzy; denial wasn't working, so now, probably too late, the party insiders are going all in on a "stop Trump by any means necessary" strategy.

In a speech today, Mitt Romney hinted at one of the few hopes the GOP establishment has for thwarting Trump:
I know that some people want the race to be over. They look at history and say a trend like Mr. Trump's isn't going to be stopped.

Perhaps. But the rules of political history have pretty much all been shredded during this campaign. If the other candidates can find common ground, I believe we can nominate a person who can win the general election and who will represent the values and policies of conservatism. Given the current delegate selection process, this means that I would vote for Marco Rubio in Florida, for John Kasich in Ohio, and for Ted Cruz or whichever one of the other two contenders has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state.
Translation: We can't agree on a Trump alternative, so let's vote for anybody who can beat Trump in any state, and yes, they'll all go into the convention with fewer delegates than Trump, but at least he won't have enough for a first-ballot victory, and surely no one will get upset if we take advantage of that and nominate someone other than Trump, the guy in first place, right?

So that's the establishment's plan -- or one of the establishment's plans. Another is to run a Republican as a third-party candidate. I think the hope is that no candidate in a three-way race would get 270 electoral votes and a GOP House would pick the third-party establishment Republican as president -- even if that candidate finished third in the popular and electoral votes. (No one in America would be angry about that, right?)

But even if the GOP establishment could pull off the brokered-convention moon shot, or could herd enough GOP cats to get behind the third-party plan, why should we believe establishment Republicans could agree on an alternative candidate?

Hasn't that been the problem for the GOP starting with Trump's first top-of-the-charts poll -- that the party is supposed to decide on the consensus nominee, but the party couldn't decide this year? Hasn't the problem been that big donors couldn't settle on one candidate in the non-Trump "lanes," therefore too many candidates stayed in the race through too many contests? Isn't that still the problem? Why have Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich all remained in the race? Shouldn't Kasich, at least, get the hell out?

If the GOP establishment tries to go third-party, or tries to thwart Trump at the convention, isn't the same unwillingness to coalesce going to repeat itself -- except this time with new contenders? Isn't Romney going to be floated as a possible savior? As well as Paul Ryan? Isn't each of the three remaining candidates going to insist that he's the only one who can win? Isn't Bill Kristol going to start floating his cockamamie idea of an all-neocon ticket made up of Dick Cheney and Senator Tom Cotton? And on and on?

This might be easier if the Koch brothers -- the de facto chairmen of the Republican Party -- would weigh in. But they've pondered the primary candidates for a year now and have just continued to dither, and even now they're refuse to spend money to stop Trump. So they're no help.

I'm shocked that this seems to be the GOP plan -- not just because it's going to enrage the already angry (and occasionally violent) Trump mobs, but also because it would require the party to do something it couldn't do even though it needed doing months ago: make a freaking decision.

So Trump is probably safe.


UPDATE: Told ya.


BillFromPA said...

Quote: 'I think the hope is that no candidate in a three-way race would get 270 electoral votes and a GOP House would pick the third-party establishment Republican as president -- even if that candidate finished third in the popular and electoral votes. (No one in America would be angry about that, right?)'

What a pipe dream that is. Either Dem beats any repug, it will probably be Hillary. Divide the repug vote and she romps to say nothing of down ballot races. GOP Senate and Rep candidates will have to choose to back one or the other pi$$ing off the spurned voters. Go for it!

CH said...

I expect Mitt to end up being the one who's out on a limb, not Trump. Note McCain's reaction - basically, "Like Mitt said, but if DT's the nominee I'll support him". With very few if any prominent exceptions, that'll be as far as the R "counter-insurgency" goes, I think, and not even that far as a rule.

Feud Turgidson said...

There's a flaw, or at least an important nuance, in this "Congress gets to decide" scenario:

It's not necessary for a given party nominee or independent candidate on the general election presidential ballot to win a majority of votes WITHIN a given state, to get awarded that state's Electoral College votes in full. With at least one actual expection - Nebraska - and some ARGUABLE exceptions - almost all of them right now in deep red states where it has no practical effect on Electoral College vote allocation - each of which is looking right now between dubious to fanciful, anyway - all that's necessary in MOST states, indeed in ALL states that the Obama EC coalition relied on, is a plurality of votes.

So I'm not cncerned about a Bloomberg or a Mittens or some other Bizarro World Nader handing the decision over to this Republican-controlled Congress or to th next on that seems overwhelmingly likely to have at least a Republican majority in the House and an effective Republican block against any sort of super-majority in the Senate.

petrilli said...

I no longer think that Trump would be less dangerous as president that Rubio or Cruz. My original calculations were based on Trump's fuzzy centrist government views compared to the hardened conservative orthodoxy practiced by the other two.

The flaw in that reasoning is that unlike Cruz or even Rubio, Trump doesn't really know what he thinks. He is under the delusion that he does. But he doesn't. Know. He's a dictionary illustration of the Dunning/Kruger Effect. The worst of the worst despots will be advising him who to kill, to impoverish. One can only guess at the waiting room. Maybe Elliot Abrahms? Richard Perle? John Negroponte? Of course he'll think he came up with their ideas on his own, Like a toddler at a party standing on the tips of daddys shoes thinks she's really dancing. "These are very very smart people, folks, believe me. The best people"This factor changes my equation and makes him much more unpredictable and dangerous than Rubio or Cruz if he wins IM[revised]O.

Procopius said...

I think it's well past too late, but I've seen comments wondering why the other candidates haven't done their oppo research. It's hard to believe that Trump hasn't done many illegal things, as well as all the unethical things we already know about. There are superPACs out there with lots of money, directed by really nasty people (hello, Sheldon Adelson), who have resources to find the bodies. The downside with that strategy is that a dozen or more really, really rich people would also have to be exposed and maybe prosecuted, so I don't expect that to happen. I don't think Hillary is going to do it either, because it would remind people that Trum is a small donor to her fvcking foundation.

Feud Turgidson said...

Roger, I ain't buying that et al, at all. R pol campaigns of any size- & Cruz, Rubio & Kasich have large campaigns, the first 2 at least with a helluva lot more money than necessary for this - are REFLEXIVE at oppo research.

The PROBLEMS were these:

(1) The kinds of things they came up with by and large go right to the cons, frauds, gifts, scams, shell game, stings, theft, and assorted horseshit messaging that is STANDARD GOP MEME-ery, going back to Saint Ronnie and the messaging angel Gingrich. This is surgical stuff, and it's largely beyond the reach of relatively new hopey-changey types like the Cruzbiota - indeed, it's part of why Romney did his Inspector Renault "I'm shocked- shocked I say" speech today (the putz), because Mitt has no downside: either the party in Cleveland "begs him" to accept, or otherwise he has no Guffs [Mormon Fux] to give.

(2) As we see today with Drumpf moving so effortlessly into the image of Mittens down on his knees giving Donald the full Lewinkski, Drumpf has spent YEARS insulating himself from being hurt by anyone inside the R party establishment. They sold out to him long ago. Now Drumpf gets to say, Here's my offer: Nothing. Plus I'd consider it simply my due that you supply any and all breath mints, handywipes and lube out of your own deep pockets. Oh, and Mitt: fuck you, you weirdo cargo cult whack job, with a wooden spoon right up the fracking wah-zoo.

Mitt's gonna wanna hurt him bad now: but Drumpf is figuring Mitt ain't got the wit or the ballz to pull it off.

swkellogg said...

The clowns seem to believe you can steer the yaks with their lame version of nuance when it takes rocks.


Feud Turgidson said...

That said, I'm really not sure why this isn't been exploited by his opponents:The NY state superior court hearing on Trump Uni fixed for July - BEFORE the RNC Convention in Cleveland - is NOT a "trial" on 'IF' Trump U was a scam. That's already been decided, this week in Summary Judgment.

The plaintiffs' motion for judgment without even needing a trial was granted, in favor of both the People of NY State AND potential plaintiffs who might fit the categories of parties who suffered actual direct damages or 'knock-on' [down the line] consequential knock-on injuries.

The over-all proceeding had been delayed and delayed by Trump U attorneys for YEARS, going back to before the 2012 preznit election. As a practical matter, it was partly delayed by being placed into position behind proceedings involving the licensing of the venture (which the Trump U defendants lost, at hearing, then on administrative appeal, then in court review of that process), and some related claims in other jurisdictions. But much of the delay, arguably the bulk of it, was just the sort that gives attorneys and legal process a bad name: bafflegab, excuses, horseshit, lies, obfuscation, & procedural delay tactics.

That's OVER. The next hearing is on HOW MUCH. There are reasons why "how much" requires its own hearing: (1) plaintiffs can't get to any of RICO tripling of damages for organized fraud, or to knock-on injury damages, or to legal costs recovery, without first getting a judgment, and (2) NY state can now reorganize it case to present the evidence of individual claimants who fit the description ordered by the trial judge - which is going to be in the thousands of potential claimants, which it could not presume to do before getting the judgment order.

I also want to emphasize that this is all going faster than Drumpf himself expected. Big corporate con artist grifters like Drumpf never bank on being pinned down finally in court anyway, despite that legl cases are such a feature of their existences; the only way they keep on going is constantly in denial, including with their own attorneys (who - trust me - they drive bananas by repeatedly never preparing and never listening and always trying to con judges directly by saying different things to different courts on the same exact subjects and facts).

With this grant of summary judgment, from now til Cleveland, every day we'll hear the bells pealing from Old Trump U. It'll be like matins. Heh.

Feud Turgidson said...

So, the OTHER side: later 2night I visited Drudge's page, right on top where the slimy creep puts his hot stuff there's a Drudgepoll (image begone) TITLED "WHO WON THE 11TH REPUBLICAN POLL". So, I click & vote 'RUBIO' b/c WTF cares I only want to know what Drudge's dimwits thought & just guess: DRUMPF is up 15X Rubio ... JFC!

They're just askin' for it: let's tear that Argh party seriously asunder.

nanute said...

Can't Trump agree to settle before the judgement? And stipulate that the parties agree not to comment publicly on the terms?

Feud Turgidson said...

Nanute, goooooood question. Answer: No. Reasons:

1) See that RICO part? That feature is the statutory tripling of civil damages where the facts satisfy by the test for organized crime.
Do they? NY AG Schneiderman says, Absoltootly they do. Any chance he's wrong? Not in front of this judge, and not on the facts as 'found' in this opinion.
2) Triple WHAT tho? What R the damages? Ah: it's still an open question, because Schneiderman and the various attorneys attaching to his coattails here are being quite aggressive. They are pursuing recovery of:
a) all money their clients paid to Trump U, which is the EASY part - except, as you may have gathered from Drumpf's comments last night, Drumpf is disputing even this easy part - despiite that he has no sound factual or legal basis for so disputing it;
b) interest - which in some instances is lost deposit interest, in others it is high rate credit card interest paid out often with accelerated terms and interest ON interest, in others costs of first or later mortgaging of person or business properties, in some cases indistinguishable from loan shark terms, so the judge will to make some calls on this, some of which Drumpf, I expect, will win, at least to keep the rates down from sharking;
c) consequential damages and lost opportunity: this is really more in the hands of the attorneys of client claimants who argue they fit the state's categories of protected claimants, and the stories will range from heart-wrenching to horseshit, but they'll all have to fit the judge's test criteria to make the cut; THEN
d) triple that if RICO applies (I make no prediction long term, but I do say this: IF the judge rules in RICO, that's actually got knock-on implications in OTHER states, and in the federal court system for interstate "wire" fraud - IOW this could be trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with You-know-who; plus
e) attorneys costs reimbursement to the winning 'side' which will be fairly easy to determine for Scheiderman but will be a function of 'success' of individual claimants beyond the state.

Now, it may be the judge will rule narrowly that the summary judgment is only for the state's case SO FAR, and leave the rest for the future. That's TBD at this point, but it's Drumpf's best scenario for his political ambitions at THIS point. His WORST scenario is some Patrick Fitzgerald-type US attorney ushing this summary judgment to seek and indictment for wire fraud in a jurisdiction where the statutory limits haven't already run out.

So, now you know the TECHNICAL reasons why he can't settle now. But there's one additional reason: Schneiderman. He's out for blood on this. It's a career maker: governmor, state pol, US House rep, US senator, state superior court judge, whatever: this case unlocks a huge cave of shiny goodies. And to get there, he needs a ceremonial gutting - so, as El Awrence said in the desert: NO PRISONERS!

Then, after all that, the vultures are going to start descending. They're already gathering around: Schneiderman's TV and radio appearances are helping to carry the stench of carrion.

Anonymous said...

I think this is fundamentally a pointless discussion. 10:1 (maybe higher) the GOP oh-so-reluctantly decides to accept the candidacy of Trump "for the good of the Party". Hey, he looks like a winner, right?

Pragmatic Idealist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Never Ben Better said...

Hey, the establishment still has hope, with science -- yes, science! -- coming to the rescue!