Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Trumpian Inevitability Is The GOP Establishment's Worst Nightmare-- And The Democrats' Dream Scenario


Needless to say, all the Republicans have rushed to exploit the ISIS attacks in Paris. Lindsey Graham rounded up McCain and cranked up their old war mantra on Monday morning TV. Rubio, of course, was doing intense fundraising off the corpses of the victims. Huckabee and Cruz was invoking their xenophobia against the refugees fleeing the ISIS terrorists. And Trump was all about "I told you so?" None of this gives any new insights into the characters of any of these people, right?

That said, see those new Trump polling numbers? The latest national Republican polling from Reuters shows him increasing his lead over the field with 42% and the Gravis Marketing poll in New Hampshire shows a Carson collapse with Trump on top with 29%, over double his closest rival (Cruz) and almost triple #3 Rubio! Looks like the Establishment types-- who are threatening to roll out Mitt Romney now-- haven't been able to wish Trump away just yet.

Of course, they're still trying-- desperately-- to figure out how to dispose of Trump's candidacy. Trump, meanwhile, has mowed down Jeb, Walker, Perry and easily disposed of Establishment-manufactured boomlets for Fiorina and Kasich and is in the process of cutting off the legs of their latest white knight, Marco Rubio. In the meantime, he seems to have also pushed the other lunatic fringe outsider-- Dr. Ben-- over the cliff, before the Establishmentalists could use him to get rid of Trump, theory being he would be much easier to eventually do away with.

Now they're turning to the tragedy in Paris to try to do in the Trumpian candidacy. Here's their operating theory, courtesy of Sahil Kapur at Bloomberg:
Deadly attacks Friday night by the Islamic State in Paris have thrust foreign policy to the forefront of the 2016 presidential debate in the United States, providing an important gut-check moment for Republican voters who rank outsiders Donald Trump and Ben Carson as their top choices... [E]stablishment Republicans are betting that cooler heads will prevail.

“Many of us have said that national security policy needs to be central to the elections. Paris only makes that more clear,” said Danielle Pletka, a national security and foreign policy hawk who works at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “Trump is a candidate for people who think reality TV is reality. Perhaps when they see the faces of the dead, they will realize that in real life, slogans don't save people. Sound policy does.”

Rubio, Senator Ted Cruz, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush-- who round out the top five current polling leaders in the GOP field-- are trying to seize the moment and show their foreign policy chops.

Bush cast doubt Sunday on whether Trump or Carson can be trusted to be commander-in-chief. “The words that I hear them speaking give me some concern,” he said on NBC's Meet the Press.

Carson didn't help himself in a Fox News Sunday interview, where he was unable to name any countries he'd include in an international coalition he has called for to go after ISIS militarily.

“This reframes the candidate choice in the eyes of many voters,” said Kevin Madden, a senior adviser and spokesman for Republican nominee Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign. “This race could potentially swing away from candidates who were offering the outsider argument and instead swing toward those candidates touting a more serious and substantive agenda with regard to national security and foreign policy.”

On Sunday, Rubio, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the U.S. “won't be able to take more refugees” because “there’s no way to background-check someone that's coming from Syria.” (In September, he said told Boston Herald radio he “would be open to” taking in more refugees provided terrorists were screened out.) Rubio, who has made hawkish foreign policy a centerpiece of his campaign, also called for invoking Article 5 of the NATO agreement to deem the Paris attack an act of war and fight back collectively.

Cruz said Saturday on Fox News that it “makes no sense whatsoever” to bring in Syrian refugees to the United States, given that “our intelligence cannot determine if they are terrorists here to kill us or not.” He also said that “our enemies are not tired of killing us. This will be coming to America. ISIS plans to bring these acts of terror to America.”

...It's unclear how long the issue will reverberate in the nomination fight, let alone how it will resonate in the the general-election debate. International affairs tend not to be a central consideration for Americans-- just 8 percent of American voters said “foreign policy and the Middle East” were their top issue in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken late October, although the number has been higher among Republicans.

In the near future, the attacks will prompt Republican primary voters to consider whether they truly want an outsider handling foreign policy and nuclear weapons, or whether they ultimately want someone with experience in government to be in charge of their security as they continue to draw contrasts with President Barack Obama's policies and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton's view, expressed Saturday night during a debate, that “this cannot be an American fight, although American leadership is essential,” in the battle against the Islamic State.

“Before a major national security event like this, voters reconcile their support for a candidate like Trump by arguing they want something different,” Madden said. “But, after an event like this the idea of a Trump candidacy could give them great pause.”
Could work, but, as Kapur also pointed out, "Trump's unparalleled knack for bravado-- exemplified by his vow in Iowa to 'bomb the shit out of' the Islamic State-- could further endear him to conservative voters, despite his lack of experience on foreign policy." And he reminds us that when GOP voters were asked in the recent Reuters poll (Nov. 3) who they trust most on foreign policy, 41% picked Trump. #2 was Dr. Ben and the establishment's purported expert, the well-rehearsed little Rubio, came in third with 31%. Republican primary voters love hearing clear, simplistic messages that reaffirm their own stupidity and prejudices-- like gun control enabled the Paris massacre and that mosques should be shut down-- which is what Trump specializes in. Must be so frustrating for the poor little South Carolina closet queen. Trump knows how to tap into and distill and repackage the simple-minded lowest common-denominator bits of the right-wing zeitgeist that comes out of leading extremist websites and Hate Talk Radio in a way none of the professional politicians understand.

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At 4:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Could work, but, as Kapur also pointed out, "Trump's unparalleled knack for bravado-- exemplified by his vow in Iowa to 'bomb the shit out of' the Islamic State-- could further endear him to conservative voters, despite his lack of experience on foreign policy." "

Let me remind everyone that 'bombing the shit' out of a bunch of different Muslim countries from Pakistan to Libya has been deeply inexperienced President Obama's policy. That doesn't make it OK when it's Trump's policy. But it's the current policy, from a "progressive" "Democrat."


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