Monday, May 16, 2016

No, The Republican Establishment Doesn't Have What It Takes To Save America From The Trump Menace


Last week, Trump won Nebraska overwhelmingly-- 61.4% against Cruz's 18.4% and Kasich's 11.4%. Trump won every single country in the state, including the two biggest cities, Omaha and Lincoln. Over the weekend, the state Republican Party held it's state convention. Sen. Den Fischer's nephew, Sam Fischer introduced a resolution to reprimand Senator Ben Sasse for his outspoken attacks on Trump and for leading the anti-Trump movement. The resolution passed-- around 400 of the Republican officials and activists voting for it while, perhaps, a half dozen voted against it.

Further north, Wisconsin Republicans are avoiding Trump like the plague. The most positive thing anyone says about him is that he's the lesser of two evils when you compare him to Hillary. Sean Duffy's congressional district in the northwest corner of the state goes as far south and east as Wausau and it was one of only two districts that Trump one. Duffy, a Ryan satellite, isn't enthusiastic about him but told the media that "We can't let Hillary Clinton bring four more years of Barack Obama." From Gov. Walker, Senator Johnson and Speaker Ryan on down, almost everyone is jump hoping Trump doesn't cause too much down-ticket damage in the state. No one thinks Walker, Ryan and every other GOP zombie will continue withholding their endorsements from Trump. Conservatives fall in line; it's part of their nature.

Although... there are still a tiny handful still trying to derail Trump for the good of the nation. Phil Rucker and Bob Costa sorted through the impotence on Saturday for the Washington Post. They "delved into the world of reality television for someone who might out-Trump Trump: Mark Cuban, the brash billionaire businessman and owner of the Dallas Mavericks." Cuban says there isn't enough time and, like almost everyone they approached, turned them down politely, unwilling to be the sacrificial lamb.
A band of exasperated Republicans-- including 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a handful of veteran consultants and members of the conservative intelligentsia-- is actively plotting to draft an independent presidential candidate who could keep Donald Trump from the White House.

These GOP figures are commissioning private polling, lining up major funding sources­ and courting potential contenders, according to interviews with more than a dozen Republicans involved in the discussions. The effort has been sporadic all spring but has intensified significantly in the 10 days since Trump effectively locked up the Republican nomination.

Those involved concede that an independent campaign at this late stage is probably futile, and they think they have only a couple of weeks to launch a credible bid. But these Republicans-- including commentators William Kristol and Erick Erickson and strategists Mike Murphy, Stuart Stevens and Rick Wilson-- are so repulsed by the prospect of Trump as commander in chief that they are desperate to take action.

Their top recruiting prospects are freshman Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a conservative who has become one of Trump’s sharpest critics, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who withdrew from the Republican presidential race May 4. Romney is among those who have made personal overtures to both men in recent days, according to several people with knowledge of the former Massachusetts governor’s activities.

...[T]empering the current talks on the right are fears that an independent conservative candidate could forever be a pariah by splintering the Republican vote and ensuring victory for the Democratic nominee.

“The career of the individual would come to an end, and he would have a difficult spot in history for being responsible for putting Hillary Clinton in the White House,” said Patrick J. Buchanan, a conservative who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2000 on the Reform Party ticket.

Buchanan was dismissive of the current efforts. “These are the mice trying to bell the cat-- only they can’t get one mouse to go out and do it,” he said.

...The third-party plotters represent only a sliver of what in the primaries became known as the “Never Trump” movement. Many Republicans opposed to him-- from former Texas governor Rick Perry to Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.)-- now are lining up behind the presumptive nominee, if not always enthusiastically.

“You’re talking about a very shallow group,” said Ed Cox, chairman of the New York Republican Party and a Trump supporter. He criticized most of the organizers as conservatives who care more about “their own intellectual constructs” than the “voice of the people.”

Two central figures in the draft talks are Kristol, who edits the Weekly Standard, and Erickson, a talk-radio host. While Kristol acts as a lone operator and has huddled privately with Romney and other Republicans, Erickson leads an organized group with former Senate staffer Bill Wichterman and others called Conservatives Against Trump, which has been meeting regularly for months.

Coburn, known for his fiscal conservatism, and Sasse have been atop the group’s recruit list for some time. Wichterman is among those who have reached out to Coburn. Friends of the 68-year-old former senator said he is listening but is unlikely to pull the trigger, in part because of health concerns.

Earlier this spring, Kristol had his eyes on Mattis, who is revered by conservatives for his public break with the Obama administration. The general, now a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, met for several hours in mid-April with Kristol, Wilson and GOP consultant Joel Searby at the Beacon Hotel in Washington to go over how a campaign could work.

But soon after, Mattis backed away from the idea because he wasn’t ready to risk politicizing his reputation with a campaign that had little hope for success, according to two people familiar with his deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss those conversations. Through a spokesman, Mattis declined to be interviewed.

Kristol then reached out to Romney, asking for a meeting to request his assistance. The two met May 5 at the J.W. Marriott hotel in Washington, where they talked about possible contenders. Kristol detailed their discussion the next day to The Washington Post, which irked some Romney associates.

When asked this week to comment on further developments, Kristol declined.

“These conspiracies for the public good are time and labor intensive!” he wrote in an email. “In any case, things are at a delicate stage now, so I really should keep mum. Suffice it to say that serious discussions and real planning are ongoing.”
Trump happily tweeted this nonsense over the weekend:

And then, a few hours later, ominously, this:

Patriotic Americans of all political persuasions can contribute to Bernie's surging campaign here. After all, it's crucial for our children and grandchildren... and for the entire world. Can you imagine the damage Trump will do to America? As President Obama said at Rutgers yesterday, in reference to him, "ignorance is not a virtue."

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