Thursday, July 21, 2016


Yes, it was fun to watch the drama last night. All evening, as commentators portentously declared that we'd have to wait and see whether Ted Cruz endorsed Donald Trump in his speech, I assumed that the fix was in, the endorsement was in place, and we were being fed a lot of phony suspense. And then:
Cruz told delegates and voters to "vote your conscience" in November and never specifically said that people should cast their ballots for the Republican nominee....

"To those listening, please, don’t stay home in November. If you love our country, and love your children as much as I know you do, stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution," Cruz said.
Boos. Chaos. Heidi Cruz needing a security excort as she left the hall, to angry cries of "Goldman Sachs!" It was fun.

But will it matter? The overwhelming majority of Republicans already say they're going to vote Trump -- he and Hillary Clinton have consolidated their party bases to approximately the same extent. Yes, there are GOP holdouts -- but is there anyone who would have voted Trump and now plans not to, emboldened by the Cruz speech? Does anyone actually like Ted Cruz that much?

I know he won a lot of votes in the primaries -- but he doesn't command personal loyalty the way Trump does. He just embodies a set of ideas many Republicans hold dear, after hearing them articulated every day for years on Fox and talk radio and religious-right broadcasts. It's not about him. How many divisions does Ted Cruz have? Who sees him as a leader?

If anything, we're hearing that Hillary Clinton thinks she can peel off some moderate Republicans. How many right-centrist Republican women in the Philadelphia suburbs are going to rally to the words of culture warrior Ted Cruz?

Beyond that, last night was about party loyalty, or the lack thereof -- and the thing about most of the voters who haven't mind up their minds yet in this election is that they have no party loyalty, by definition. They're swing voters. They don't care about parties. They don't particularly like the parties. Last night's Great Betrayal is irrelevant to their concerns as voters.

So I think Cruzghazi will be completely irrelevant to the outcome in November. But it was a hoot, and it does give the press an opportunity to describe the Trump campaign as chaotic and disorganized. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to matter to undecided voters either. It's just inside baseball. It should matter, because it speaks to what Trump says would be his main strength as a president:

Not only did Trump allow this debacle to happen, he's so disorganized that he can't even manage the post-debacle spin. Josh Marshall is certain Trump was blindsided:
The first thing to say about this is that there is simply no way Trump's and Priebus's convention managers okayed that speech. No way. The fact that they allowed him on stage to give that speech will go down as one of the greatest organizational pratfalls in convention history. Whether Cruz got them to agree not to review the speech or whether he substituted another speech, I don't know. But something very wrong went down there.
But The Washington Post says Trump knew the endorsement wasn't coming, although the speech was a mystery:
Cruz had told Trump on Monday that he was not going to endorse him, chief Cruz strategist Jason Johnson said.

However, the senator from Texas did not share the text of his speech in advance of its delivery with the Trump campaign or Republican officials, according to a senior convention official familiar with the program. Text of the address was delivered to party officials shortly before its delivery.
However, The New York Times says the Trump team did read the speech and allowed Cruz to go on anyway, because Trump thought it might be changed at the eleventh hour:
Mr. Trump had invited Mr. Cruz to speak even though he had doubts that peace was possible after their brutal race....

Mr. Trump called Mr. Cruz on Monday and asked for his endorsement, according to a senior aide to Mr. Cruz who requested anonymity to relay private conversations. Mr. Cruz indicated to Mr. Trump that he would not offer an endorsement, the aide said.

Trump advisers said on Wednesday night that Mr. Trump had been unhappy with the text of Mr. Cruz’s speech but held out for the remote possibility that Mr. Cruz would make a last-minute endorsement.
Whereas Donald Trump Jr. says that the Trump team did get the speech in advance and knew an endorsement wasn't going to happen, even at the last minute, but Cruz was allowed to speak because Donald Sr. is such a swell guy:
The Manhattan billionaire’s son told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the Trump campaign saw Cruz’s speech ahead of time and knew what the Texas senator would say. The GOP nominee allowed Cruz to speak, Trump Jr. said, in the interest of party unity, even though he knew the remarks would be far from an endorsement.

“We knew [an endorsement] wasn't coming. My father wanted all the guys who wanted to be there, he wanted to give them a platform,” Trump Jr. said. “I think he wants to show that he’s about unity, so he knew that was happening and he was a better man about it.”
Get your story straight! Idiots.

Trump incompetence ought to be a bigger issue in this race, but at least 40% of voters are so dazzled by Trump's wealth and gilt and buildings and golf courses and wives that they just can't conceive of Trump as a bumbler. That's something the Clinton campaign has to work on. But it's an uphill fight.

Meanwhile, what does this do to Ted Cruz? It's obvious that he thinks Trump will lose this year. It's obvious that he's positioning himself for 2020. But does this really help him win the next nomination? In the following exchange, I think Josh Barro has a point:

And I think, after all this bumbling, Trump will lose by 2, because there's so much anti-Hillary animosity out there, and because the GOP has, if anything, strengthened its Team White People brand in the Obama years, winning lots of non-presidential victories in the Midwest the way it's won them in the South in recent decades. If it's a narrow loss for Trump, Republicans are going to look for scapegoats -- they'll blame the media and "voter fraud" and probably George Soros and Saul Alinsky -- but they'll also blame Cruz. So I don't see how this helps him. I think the next GOP nominee will be either Tom Cotton or Donald Trump Jr.


Unknown said...

Does it help HRC get more votes? Marginally Yes, in that Cruz debacle fits into a whole week of a complete shitshow and Trump is not ready for President. There are a lot of Republicans that really don't like Trump and a few will go direction of HRC.

Does it help Johnson more? Yes.

Victor said...

Imo - trump knew, and let Cruz go on for the drama. I think the booing was orchestrated. After all, it started with the NY delegation, as Cruz said, 'vote your conscience' - kind of ironic from a man with none, non-endorsing one with a minus-conscience.

This 96-hour long "Two Minute Hate" is not a traditional political convention. It's more like, "Wrestlemania: GOP Convention Boogaloo!"

There were fog-effects, chants, etc.
Hell, the only thing that was missing was people hitting one another over the head with chairs. Or, maybe that happened, and I didn't read about it.

There was even a possible Nazi salute, from that hate-talk-radio twit, Laura Ingraham.

The next 3 1/2 months will be brutal.

Ten Bears said...

People do take wrasslin' serious. Just the other evening the ex-father-in-law woke me up to tell me the bimbo daughter of the WWE big-shot has broken off her engagement to the fair haired all 'Meircia Adonis and ran of with the greasy biker looking upstart. Could be the eighty-two years, could be the Alzheimers, I don't know, but I got a good chuckle out of it. He votes.

I thought the monster video screen flashing bright yellow Over the Top! was over the top until I saw a clip of that sow doing the Seig Heil. But maybe not. Isn't that what christians do when they're not rolling on the floor and speaking in tongues? Or squealing teenie-boppers in the presence of a mostly talentless pop star?

OK, OK, sardonicism aside, this isn't changing anyone's mind. Not this week, not next.

Ten Bears said...

Oh yeah, the chuckle! Great Grampa votes, but he won't be voting for Donald T Rump. He remembers The Donald from when he was one of the WWE big-shot, the asshole. He's pretty vehement about it, does not like him, will not vote for him.

Dark Avenger said...

TB, I must object to your labelling of Laura Ingraham as a sow.

Blonde Harpy is more accurate.

Never Ben Better said...

Booman's running with the theory that Team Trump knew what the speech said and set up the riotous reaction to punish and humiliate his Cruzader foe:

If true? Stupid, short-sighted, indulging in emotionally satisfying but strategically boneheaded revenge.

In other words, a preview of a Trump presidency.

Glennis said...

The Trump team should have been trying to reinforce a message that the Republican party is "unified" around their guy. Yet instead, they orchestrated the anti-Cruz demonstration to satisfy, as Never Ben Better says, their emotions. That just trashed any sense of unity that might have been there. Dumb.

And yes, a preview of a Trump presidency - one where petty personal lashing out is more important than a long-term goal.

mlbxxxxxx said...

I think you analyze the so-called independent voter a little too narrowly. Perhaps taking them at their word too much. These are, largely, impressionistic voters. The Fournier mindset is as much about feelings as information. Consequently, if one party appears to be in complete disarray with infighting and a unfocused message, that is going to hurt with independents. Maybe not in huge numbers, but we don't really need huge numbers. This election is going to be won on the margins -- just like most are.

IMO, so far, the RNCinClE looks like a complete debacle that may not even result in a significant bump for their nominee as is, normally, an almost guarantee. Yes, there will be some controversy at the DNC but I think it's going to pale in comparison and the Ds are going to exit their convention looking like a united party that is reaching out to everyone. This is not the message coming out of Cleveland thus far and I don't see how that changes in 24 hours.

So, yeah, it matters. It's not going to show some massage swing, though, and it sure isn't going to impact on Trump's support -- that is rock solid. However, 40ish% is not going to win in November. The mission of the RNCinCLE should have been to grow that 40%. On that score, I bet it fails and that is going to matter.

Lawrence said...

Victor and Ten Bears,
Take a look at Tim F's piece at Balloon Juice on the Cruz speech as WWF theater. It's at least as believable as any of the Trump screwed up explanations.

KenRight said...

Free trader Cruz was in favor of giving Obama TPP power. As Sanders voters are seemingly domesticated and irrelevant, Clinton can now proceed (with Kaine or similar) to the TPP camp along with the Goldman Sachs house hubbie.

Feud Turgidson said...

Steve M. - 2%? Can I have the over on that?

Tell you what: I'll grant you some irrational anti-exuberance and take the over on something sportier, like, oh, 5%. I do this out of respect for the fact that you blog multiple times daily, whereas Sam Wang only every few days or so. Why do I raise the Wang? Because his historical analysis puts down this entire period of time since February into October as effectively Silly Season, and that, absent some OMG event like global financial collapse or someone getting sick (Jeezuz: Trump is 70 and HRC is coming 69, FCOL - I'm several years younger and generally healthy for someone of my age, and I don't even take TOMORROW for granted anymore.)

Today I'm serving up a melange of Victor infused with mlbx-to-the-n. It's good stuff.

Never Ben Better said...

This morning Booman follows up with another piece supporting the thesis that this was a Trump revenge hit on Cruz, and damn the long-term consequences:

Feud Turgidson said...

I can't imagine what KenRight thinks he's doing here - this blog doesn't work like you seem to think, KR - but today he raises something just flat out factually wrong. If he'd been paying any serious attention, he'd known that Sanders succeeded in moving HRC on a number of fronts, one of which is the TPP.

I'll be very disappointed in HRC if she chooses to go with Kaine. I'm thinking now that Kaine's actually just a name that gets thrown up because the Clinton campaign is so much better than message control than Sideshow Trump's travelling freak troupe (e.g. Yesterday I listened to Missouri Sen McCaskill raise 3 of her faves, Kaine a top, and thought: you know Feud - she's out of the loop; she doesn't know; this all has a Touch of Desperate feel from McCaskill, who is NOT a Hillary confidente, insider or even designated advance person - she was only on MSNBC because McCaskill's practically a paid regular on that cable news outlet. IOW, it ain't gonna be Kaine. So, add Kaine to the heap of Won't Be's, along with the D version of the ubiquitous military dude, plus Warren of course, and, sadly, Al "Franken Century" Franken, my personal fave (better even than Colbert, who's way too naive anyway).

What WON'T disappoint me? Perez. That'd be an ACTUAL Game Change move.

Unfortunately, I'm too old to be surprised anymore. I'm still not giving into disappointment, but it's the default here. Vilsack: aiyee yuck. But, better than Kaine, certainly more useful and willing, and probably not headed for Congressional or federal investigation.

The encouraging take-away? When both Clare McCaskill and KenRight BOTH say "Kaine", it won't be Kaine.

Ten Bears said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ten Bears said...

I saw that this morning Lawrence, and while it runs a parallel track it doesn't quite wrap its fingers around it. Folks unfamiliar with wrasslin' aren't going to get it, but T Rump has turned the RNC into a wrasslin' extravaganza, though there are usually more people at an actual event.

My chuckle this morning was 'ore the fact that in all expectations G-Grampa would be a Dumpf voter, but as a lifelong wrasslin' fan has literally been conditioned to dislike him. T Rump was a promoter, one of the bad guys, of those who manipulated the system and made tons of money off the sweat of the guys beating each up (sort of) in the ring. And promoting during Bush the Elder's chicken-shit little war the (perceptionally) vilest of wrasslers: Iraqis and sundry Middle Eastern looking characters, Colombians, greasy looking biker types. He himself was a vile character, one of the first to hit someone in the back, he not a wrassler and outside the ring, with one of those folding steel chairs. G-Grampa does not like him, will not vote for him, and Donald T Rump fostered that dislike, made money off of it.

I wonder how many others have that negative - it's why I can't take him seriously, routinely refer to him as a clown - impression, and their contribution to the anyone but Dumpf crowd.