Monday, September 07, 2015

Is There Enough Money In The World For Jeb And His Super PAC To Ever Catch Up With Trump?


Trump has shot to the top of the GOP polls without spending much money. He hasn't done a single broadcast or cable ad-- not nationally, not in Iowa, not in New Hampshire, not in South Carolina-- but he's #1 nationally, #1 in Iowa, #1 in New Hampshire and #1 in South Carolina, and by a lot. Jeb Bush, on the other hand, has seen his approval among Republican voters sink lower and lower and lower. Yesterday's NBC/Marist poll showed him sinking from second place in New Hampshire (at 14%) to 4th place (at 8%) and from 12% to 6% in Iowa. Not good news. 

But Jeb's Right to Rise Super PAC has just bought half a million dollars' worth of ads on Boston broadcast television, WMUR in New Hampshire and cable across New Hampshire starting Wednesday for three weeks. They've also bought $6 million worth of ads in Iowa starting September 15 for a full three months! They're also spending over $11 million in New Hampshire and about $4 million in South Carolina from mid-December until just after Christmas.

What good will any of the ads do? We'll see, of course, but it's hard to imagine Jeb making double-digit headway against Trump unless Trump starts self-destructing. The Republican establishment and their media have been blazing away at Trump for a couple of weeks, and that is beginning to intensify-- even as Trump's approval has continued to rise. Over the weekend, right-wing suck-up Jonah Goldberg, writing for the National Review, made another try to write Trump out of the conservative movement.
The late Bill Rusher, longtime publisher of National Review, often counseled young writers to remember, “Politicians will always disappoint you.” As I’ve often said around here, this isn’t because politicians are evil. It’s because politicians are politicians. Their interests too often lie in votes, not in principles. That’s why the conservative movement has always recognized that victory lies not simply in electing conservative politicians, but in shaping a conservative electorate that lines up the incentives so that politicians define their self-interest in a conservative way.

But if it’s true that politicians can disappoint, I think one has to say that the people can, too.

And when I say “the people” I don’t mean “those people.” I mean my people. I mean many of you, Dear Readers. Normally, when conservatives talk about how the public can be wrong, we mean that public. You know the one. The “low-information voters” Rush Limbaugh is always talking about. The folks we laughed at when Jay Leno interviewed them on the street. But we don’t just mean the unwashed and the ill-informed. We sometimes mean Jews, blacks, college kids, Lena Dunham fans, and countless other partisan slices of the electorate who reflexively vote on strict party lines for emotional or irrational reasons. We laugh at liberals who let know-nothing celebrities do their thinking for them.

Well, many of the same people we laughed at are now laughing at us because we are going ga-ga over our own celebrity.

...Conservatives have spent more than 60 years arguing that ideas and character matter. That is the conservative movement I joined and dedicated my professional life to. And now, in a moment of passion, many of my comrades-in-arms are throwing it all away in a fit of pique. Because “Trump fights!”

How many Republicans have been deemed unfit for the Oval Office because of comparatively minor character flaws or ideological shortcomings? Rick Perry in 2012 saw his candidacy implode when he couldn’t remember the third item on his checklist of agencies he’d close down. Well, even in that “oops” moment, Rick Perry comes off as Lincolnesque compared with Donald Trump.

Yes, I know Trump has declared himself pro-life. Good for him — and congratulations to the pro-life movement for making that the price of admission. But I’m at a total loss to understand why serious pro-lifers take him at his word. He’s been all over the place on Planned Parenthood, and when asked who he’d like to put on the Supreme Court, he named his pro-choice-extremist sister.

Ann Coulter wrote of Newt in 2011: “If all you want is to lob rhetorical bombs at Obama and then lose, Newt Gingrich-- like recent favorite Donald Trump-- is your candidate. But if you want to save the country, Newt’s not your guy.” Now Ann leads a chorus of people claiming that Trump is our only savior. Has Trump changed, or have Ann and her followers? Is there a serious argument behind the new thinking, or is it “because he fights!”?

It is entirely possible that conservatives sweat the details of tax policy too much. Once in office, a president must deal with political realities that render the fine print of a campaign pamphlet as useful as a battle plan after the enemy is met. But in the last month, Trump has contemplated a flat tax, the fair tax, maintaining the current progressive tax system, a carried-interest tax, a wealth tax, and doing nothing. His fans respond, “That shows he’s a pragmatist!”

No. It shows that he has absolutely no ideological guardrails whatsoever. Ronald Reagan once said, “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.” Trump is close to the reverse. He’s a mouth at the wrong end of an alimentary canal spewing crap with no sense of responsibility.

In his embarrassing interview with Hugh Hewitt Thursday night, Trump revealed he knows less than most halfway-decent D.C. interns about foreign policy. Twitter lit up with responses about how it doesn’t matter and how it was a gotcha interview. They think that Trump’s claim that he’ll just go find a Douglas MacArthur to fix the problem is brilliant. Well, I’m all in favor of finding a Douglas MacArthur, but if you don’t know anything about foreign policy, the interview process will be a complete disaster. Yes, Reagan delegated. But he knew enough to know to whom to delegate.

If you want a really good sense of the damage Donald Trump is doing to conservatism, consider the fact that for the last five years no issue has united the  Right more than opposition to Obamacare. Opposition to socialized medicine in general has been a core tenet of American conservatism from Day One. Yet, when Republicans were told that Donald Trump favors single-payer health care, support for single-payer health care jumped from 16 percent to 44 percent.

I’ve written a lot about my problems with populism. One of my favorite illustrations of why the populist mindset is dangerous and anti-intellectual comes from William Jennings Bryan. “The people of Nebraska are for free silver and I am for free silver,” Bryan announced. “I will look up the arguments later.” My view of conservatism holds that if free silver is a bad idea, it’s still a bad idea even if the people of Nebraska are for it. But Trumpism flips this on its head. The conservatives of Nebraska and elsewhere should be against single-payer health care, even if Donald Trump is for it. What we are seeing is the corrupting of conservatives.

Trump has the charisma, I’ll grant him that. But there is no evidence he’s thought deeply about the job beyond how much classier it will be once he has it. His whole shtick is an eminence front (“It’s a put on!"-- The Couch).

When running for president, doing your homework is a question of character and even patriotism. If you love this country and want to be the president, quite literally the least you can do is be prepared.

So let’s return to the issue of character.

In 2012, Mark Steyn wrote that a President Gingrich would have “twice as many ex-wives as the first 44 presidents combined.” If that (quite brilliant) line resonated with you three years ago, why doesn’t it for a President Trump?

I understand the Noltean compulsion to celebrate anyone who doesn’t take crap from the mainstream media. But when Newt Gingrich brilliantly eviscerated the press in 2012, there was a serious ideological worldview behind it. Trump’s assaults on the press have only one standard: whether the journalist in question is favorable to Trump or not. If a journalist praises him, that journalist is “terrific.” If the journalist is critical of Trump he is a “loser” (or, in my case, a loser who can’t buy pants). Not surprisingly, Hugh Hewitt is now “third rate” because he made Trump look bad. I’m no fan of Arianna Huffington or Gail Collins, but calling them “dogs” because they criticized you is not a serious ideological or intellectual retort. (It’s not even clever.) I think Trump did insinuate that Megyn Kelly was menstruating during the debate. He denies it. Fine. But what in the world about his past would lead someone to give him the benefit of the doubt? This is the same man who said, “You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”

Trump’s glass-bottom id lets the whole world see his megalomania. He talks about himself in the third person all the time. He explains that Trump is great because Trump is rich and famous. He’s waxed profound on how he doesn’t want blacks counting his money (he prefers Jews in yarmulkes). He makes jokes on national TV about women fellating him. He pays famous people to attend his wedding and then brags about it as if he got one over on them. He boasts in his books how he screwed over business associates and creditors because all that mattered was making an extra buck.

If your neighbor talked this way, maybe he’d still be your friend, because we all have friends who are characters. But would you want him to be your kid’s English teacher? Guidance counselor? Would you tell your kids you want them to follow his example? Would you go into business with him?

Would you entrust him with nuclear weapons?
Funny enough, and not unpredictably, Josh Barro at the NY Times had a very different perspective on Trump's economic rumblings. Saturday he was playing around with the idea that "a small but prominent group of conservative writers and thinkers" (reform conservatives) want the GOP to change course and be more responsive to the needs of working families and less responsive to Wall Street, Big Business and the millionaires and billionaires who have always set the economic and fiscal priorities and agenda for the party of Greed and Selfishness. He quotes David Frum: "Reform conservatism is based on a recognition that the American economy has not served middle-income people well, not just since the crisis of 2008 but at least since the year 2000." Frum, in case you don't follow him on Twitter, is no fan of Trumpy's, although, he says, "he may be the jolt that the Republican Party needs to compromise its pro-plutocratic agenda."

It’s an awkward thing: The reform conservative movement, to the extent it exists, is pointy-headed, technocratic and soft-spoken. Mr. Trump is none of those things. But his campaign has helped bolster a key argument from the reformocons: that many Republican voters are not devotees of supply-side economics and are more interested in the right kind of government than in a simply smaller one.

“There were a lot of people who wanted to think the Tea Party is a straightforward libertarian movement,” said Reihan Salam, the executive editor of National Review. But he said Mr. Trump’s ability to lead the polls while attacking Republicans for wanting to cut entitlement programs showed that conservative voters are open to “government programs that help the right people.”

Mr. Frum attributes most Republican candidates’ continued devotion to cuts in taxes and entitlements to the desires of a Republican donor class that benefits directly from lower tax rates and indirectly, through lower labor costs, from high immigration. Mr. Trump, as Mr. Trump will happily tell you, does not need rich donors’ money, and the polls show that Republican voters have not yet punished him for his praise of single-payer health care (in other countries) or his past support for a wealth tax.

“Trump served notice that the donors’ platform isn’t even acceptable inside the party,” Mr. Frum said.

Of course, there are reasons the reformocons have not lined up to support Mr. Trump. Just because he has identified some of the same problems as the reformocons does not mean they agree on solutions.

“I would not characterize Mr. Trump’s campaign so far as a policy-driven campaign to help the middle class,” said Michael Strain, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute who has urged conservatives to adopt more creative solutions to address the weak job market. He took particular issue with Mr. Trump’s support for higher tariffs and his apparent disregard for long-term deficits.

...Still, Mr. Trump could be a useful stalking horse for the reformocons even if they think he has bad policy ideas, says a lot of offensive things, can’t win an election and wouldn’t be a good president.

“If Trump isn’t offering workable solutions but he is identifying problems that others have ignored, the hope is some more policy-focused, more governance-focused competitor will make use of the opportunity that Trump has publicized,” Mr. Frum said.
Well... good luck with that, at least this cycle. Virtually all the Republican would-be presidential candidates are tripping all over themselves and each other-- from Ted Cruz and Huckabee to Jeb and Scott Walker-- to mimic Trump's anti-social, racist, Know-Nothing blatherings. But when it comes to any of the economic stuff-- like making the hedge-fund predators pay their fair share of taxes-- it's crickets, deep, deep crickets.


And here's the ad Bush hopes will turn the disaster around for him. Do you think it will work?

Labels: , , , ,


At 12:48 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

That baby pic will suit Trump well when he loses next year "Whine Trump Whine" lol.


Post a Comment

<< Home