Tuesday, August 02, 2016


Donald Trump has done a lot of embarrassing, counterproductive things in the past 24 hours: While he seems to be pivoting from attacks on the Khizr and Ghazala Khan, today he gleefully demanded that a crying baby be removed from a rally, he accepted a soldier's gift of a Purple Heart in a way that highlighted his draft dodging in the Vietnam Era (Trump: "I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier"), and he finished the day by attacking fellow Republicans rather than the candidate he's running against:
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is refusing to back House Speaker Paul D. Ryan in his upcoming primary election, saying in an interview Tuesday that he is “not quite there yet” in endorsing his party’s top-ranking elected official.

Trump also said he was not supporting Sen. John McCain in his primary in Arizona, and he singled out Sen. Kelly Ayotte as a weak and disloyal leader in New Hampshire, a state whose presidential primary Trump won handily.

It's a terrible way to run a general election campaign -- but it's a nasty attack on Trump's Republican enemies. As a number of commentators have pointed out, Trump has these folks over a barrel. Jonathan Chait writes:
From where the nominee sits, he commands the loyalty of most Republican voters, if not their political or intellectual elite, and thus any Republican who crosses Trump also crosses most of his own base. In the wake of his showdown with the nominee in Cleveland, Ted Cruz saw his polling collapse and even donors desert him. Trump clearly believes that Ryan, Ayotte, and McCain are endorsing Trump because they need to do so for their own viability.
Meanwhile, as Jim Newell writes, President Obama is making it next to impossible for Trump-loathing Republicans to repudiate him:
“The question they have to ask themselves,” President Obama said at a press conference, “is: If you are repeatedly having to say in very strong terms that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him?”

... What he has done ... will even further discourage those already-squeezed GOP leaders or politicians up for re-election from reneging on their backing of Trump. If they do so now, it will look like they’re taking instructions from the malicious Obama.
And even if they get up the courage to dump Trump, it looks self-serving, as Dylan Matthews notes:
Un-endorsing would be a tad awkward -- "I could support Trump when he was attacking the families of fallen heroes, but not after he personally slighted me" ...
This is delicious. I'm enjoying it. I'm optimistic again about the presidential race (yes, me!), and it's delightful to watch Ryan, McCain, and Ayotte sweat.

But I'm sticking with the belief that the slate will be wiped clean for the GOP after Trump leaves electoral politics and goes back to his gold-plated life. I keep reading that this is a moment in history that's testing the honor of Republicans -- that they'll be asked where they stood on Trump, and be judged on their answers -- but I don't buy it.

The political mainstream doesn't want the GOP to die. The political mainstream still likes Ryan and McCain and Ayotte (and Pence and even Christie, along with all the rest of the Republicans who can't say no to Trump). The friction with Trump will make it easy for journalists and pundits to say that these folks were never really Trumpers and thus shouldn't have his sins hung around their necks. It should be the other way around -- you cynically endorse a monster, you share the blame when he does monstrous things. But the insiders won't look at the morality of it -- they'll look at the power relationships and say that Trump put them in a terrible position, poor dears, so they had no choice.

It's being argued that GOP voters will blame reluctant Republican establishmentarians for a Trump defeat.

I think they'll get some of the blame -- but Trump and his surrogates, as I've been telling you, are leading base voters to believe that everyone is trying to steal the election from Trump: the media, the evil Clintons, big-city Democratic machines. Hell, the Trumpers are even saying the tech industry is in on the steal:

So blame will be spread around. By 2018, all you'll have to be is a Hillary-hater to get GOP votes.

Trump is running an incompetent, id-driven campaign. It looks as if it might end in a spectacular faceplant. If so, I'm going to savor that. The death of the GOP? I don't think we're going to get that lucky.


AllieG said...

All victories (and defeats!) in American politics are temporary. So it's foolish to focus on the aftermath before the event itself. I remember reading a book in 1965 by the lead Washington reporter (forget the name) of the LA Times. Obviously serious guy, not ideologue. Title "Is the Republican Party Doomed?"
Just win, baby. After that, try to do a good job.

Unknown said...

Welcome back, Steve.

Danp said...

The Republican party won't die, but Trump's nomination certainly proved that the cynics and bigots they created don't trust them. Now if only Dems would get off their asses and get people to vote them out of office. Wasserman's exit was a great start, but Donna Brazile is not the answer.

Unsalted Sinner said...

When (if) Trump loses, Republicans will simply reverse the process they went through after the complete and utter disaster that was the Bush administration. Back then it was: "Bush? Oh no, he has nothing to do with me! I'm a Tea Party supporter." Now it will be: "Trump? No, no, that was the Tea Party's fault. I never had anything to do with those people!"

BroD said...

Is it possible that a 'new wave' of republicans will emerge in areas not as dominated by vitriolic loonies who will try-sometimes successfully--to win over moderate Democrats?

sdhays said...

To me, it comes down to: who's in charge of the party after Trump's flame-out? The "sane" Republicans have been hemorrhaging power since 2013, and Trump's nomination has undermined most of what they had left. 2014 was their last hurrah, and they were punished for their success. I don't see a party which is convinced a landslide election was "stolen" from them as being ready for introspection and willing to listen to the old bosses. They will double down in 2018 and lose winnable elections (just like they did in 2010) and triple down in 2020 be thumped again, as long as nothing hugely awful happens.

No matter how much the media will want to wipe the slate clean, the fact is that Trump's supporters will still be in charge of the Republican Party even as Trump himself is away on one of his lousy golf courses forcing Melania to shove a gold-plated golf club up his ass. Trumpism will still be with them in an un-ignorable way (although probably not plastered on daily headlines as it is today).

Feud Turgidson said...

Well, as usual my vote's not going to mean jack squat, so mostly my franchise will get exercised with some campaign donations, some helping out on some campaigns where it might do some good (tho probably not), and a huge mssage of WIMPy best wishes for a number of D candidates in potentially close Senate contests.

The main thing standing in the way of me envisioning whether or not the GOP bounces back and guts the Dems like bloated fish in the 2018 midterms is I'm having trouble seeing how the main GOP playuhs are going to rid themselves of Trump. I can't see it. Who in their right mind would INVEST the kind of money necessary to silence him before Death delivers its mercy? I think they're stuck with him thru the 2020 fooferah, if only as total scene-eating king maker. I can see him running the 2020 convention "My own way", i.e. not just a Bizarro World imitation natoinal presidential nomination convention, but a real The Apprentice Meet Miss Universe reality extravaganza.

Procopius said...

No, the Republicans are not going to suffer from this. No matter what they do they keep close to half the voters. Even when they shut down the government, they didn't get punished at the polls. The thing is, the media need to keep a horse race story going to distract us from what is really happening. You don't see comment in the major entertainment media about how the State Department keeps provoking Russia. Who promoted Victoria Nuland?

Unknown said...

Not only has Trump not destroyed the Republican Party, he has blazed their trail into the future. If Trumpism can earn an assclown like this 42% of the popular vote, how far will it take an actual politician in 2020?

KenRight said...

Someone might write book comparing the GOP elite's undermining of Trump with
how Elite parties in Europe, let's take France as an example....the two wings
of corruption always come together to prevent a non-Elite party victory.
In France it was the National Front.
In the US of course, a more or less simpleton of a country, there is no multiparty system and those who try and develop one, eg the Naderites are ultimately accused of indirect warmongering, even when their own fair haired boy is surrounded by advisors and has a VP teammate who would have done exactly the same thing.

So, the ousting of NF chicanery is accomplished here by the
Elite of the GOP who have been undermining Trump at every opportunity, else they too would have adopted protectionism and condemned the Iraq War.

rclz said...

What if Trump, even after losing doesn't go away? We know he's an attention junkie, and he's found the best high in town. Being a pole, even if it's only the running part, gets him big crowds to cheer for him. People send him money..... This has got to be better than his own tv show. He gets all that adulation in person!

I can see a scenario where Trump spends years driving what's left of the GOP crazy. Remember 13 million people voted for him. If Bernie can have a revolution why can't Trump?