Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Today's Big News-- Utah And New York Are Pointing In The Same Direction


Which was the bigger deal today, the release of a new poll in Utah, showing Beehive State voters prefer Hillary to Trump 36-35% or the first Republican congressman admitting publicly that he's not only not voting for the Trumpanzee but that he is voting for Hillary?

With Mitt Romney toying with the idea of endorsing Libertarian Gary Johnson for president, the new Hinckley Institute-Salt Lake Tribune poll showing Hillary even with Trump in one of America's reddest states, could be worrying for the Trump campaign. No one ever thought of Utah as a swing state. But no one ever thought of it as Trumpanzee country either. 177,204 Republicans participated in this year's Utah caucuses. Cruz came in first with 122,567 votes (69.2) and won all 40 delegates. John Kasich came in second with 16.8% and the Trumpanzee came in dead last with 14%. He didn't win a single county and in Utah County (Provo) he couldn't even break 10%. The only county where Trump actually did respectably was in tiny Piute County, where his 70 supporters amounted to 41.7%. Trump was basically wiped up in the northern part of the state. Bernie beat him almost everywhere. Almost 3 times as many people voted for Bernie as voted for Trump. Look at these results in the half dozen most populous counties:
Salt Lake- Bernie- 35,610, Trumpanzee- 6,542
Utah- Bernie- 6,071, Trumpanzee- 3,713
Davis- Bernie- 3,563, Trumpanzee- 2,902
Weber- Bernie- 5,465, Trumpanzee- 1,695
Washington- Trumpanzee- 3,090, Bernie- 1,509
Cache- Bernie- 2,906, Trumpanzee- 1,049
And Trump's ugly conflict with the Gold Star Khan family hasn't helping improve his standing with Utahans. Utah has 6 electoral votes and republicans have been able to take the state for granted for half a century, In 2004 Bush won it with 72%. Romney beat Obama 73-25%. And in 1992 Ross Perot finished ahead of Bill Clinton!

The NY Times editorial this morning castigating spineless Republicans, came out just as news broke on the internet that the Republican congressman who represents Utica, Rome and Binghampton in New York, Richard Hanna, has announced he is voting for Hillary. The Times editors pointed out that although "some Republicans, like the House speaker, Paul Ryan; the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell; and Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire released statements defending the Khans... they still refuse to back off their support for Mr. Trump." But they really let McCain have it. "Few carry as much weight on military matters as Senator John McCain of Arizona, himself a decorated hero of the Vietnam War, who issued a statement Monday sharply criticizing Mr. Trump, saying, 'It is time for Donald Trump to set the example for our country and the future of the Republican Party.' It’s hard to imagine, a year into the campaign, that Mr. Trump could ever set such an example. The truth is, it’s time for Mr. McCain and other Republican leaders to set an example for their party by withdrawing support for Mr. Trump.

Also early this morning, before the Hanna news broke, Stuart Rothenberg wondered aloud in the Washington Post when Republican officials will really start jumping ship on Trump. "The last couple of weeks," he wrote, "have been nothing short of disastrous for the Republican Party... Things have deteriorated for the GOP because Donald Trump’s comments about Russia and Vladimir Putin have further shredded the Republican Party’s historically greatest strength: national security and defense themes. Add to that Trump’s-- and GOP delegates’-- performance at their convention (“Lock her up!”) and Trump’s positions on trade, taxes, spending and entitlements, which also contradict the long-standing Republican message, and the party is nothing short of a mess." Rothenberg didn't even have to mention the Khans in asserting that "whatever Trump’s personal weaknesses-- and the list is very long-- he is in the process of undermining the entire rationale for the Republican Party."
For many lifelong Republicans and committed conservatives, as well as dozens of down-ballot Republican candidates, the redefinition of their party and the tone of the nominee are simply unacceptable. That’s clearly why Mitt Romney, the Bush family, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and others refuse to back Trump.

Of course, some high-profile Republicans-- from House speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wisc.) to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida-- hesitated to embrace Trump but eventually backed him. They promised (or at least hoped) that Trump would “grow” as a candidate when the general election arrived.

They are still waiting.

...Trump’s message is not about the limits of political power-- it is about the unlimited nature of his own power and abilities.

All of this raises the question of whether Republican officeholders and party leaders who announced their support for Trump will now reverse themselves and pull their endorsements. Though Sen. John McCain of Arizona has come close, it’s very difficult to believe many will take that dramatic step.

Like Ryan and McConnell, most will criticize a Trump statement or otherwise indicate a different point of view. But pulling an endorsement is a much bigger step.

Most, if not all, of those unshakably loyal Republicans apparently have concluded that Clinton is so untrustworthy and her politics so far left that any Republican is preferable, no matter how flawed that person may be. For many, the election is about only the Supreme Court.

It’s easy for those Republicans to rationalize supporting Trump, no matter how vulgar he is or how far his views stray from what only a couple of years ago was Republican orthodoxy. “He’s not Hillary Clinton” covers a lot of Trump’s shortcomings.
Chuck Todd started the day by wondering if this isn't the last exit ramp for Republicans who want to get off the SS Trumpanzee before it goes down and pointed to Bret Stephens' memo to Paul Ryan in today's Wall Street Journal, To the Go-Along Republicans.
Of all of Donald Trump ’s vile irruptions-- about Sen. John McCain ’s military record, or reporter Serge Kovaleski’s physical handicap, or Judge Gonzalo Curiel ’s judicial fitness-- his casual smear of Ghazala Khan is perhaps the vilest.

This isn’t simply because Mrs. Khan is a bereaved mother. Bereavement alone does not place someone above criticism, especially when it comes to political differences. Nor is it because Mrs. Khan’s son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, died heroically to protect his troops in Iraq. The special deference given to Gold Star parents is, at bottom, a social convention.

No: What makes Mr. Trump’s remarks so foul is their undisguised sadism. He took a woman too heartbroken and anxious to speak of her dead son before an audience of millions and painted a target on her. He treated her silence as evidence that she was either a dolt or a stooge. He degraded her. “She was standing there. She had nothing to say,” Mr. Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.”

In this comment there was the full unmasking of Mr. Trump, in case he needed further unmasking. He has, as Humayun’s father Khizr put it, a “black soul.” His problem isn’t a lack of normal propriety but the absence of basic human decency. He is morally unfit for any office, high or low.

This is the point that needs to dawn-- and dawn soon-- on Republican officeholders who pretend to endorse Mr. Trump while also pretending, via wink-and-nod, that they do not. Paul Ryan has tried to walk this razor’s edge by stressing how much he disagrees with Mr. Trump’s “ideas.” On Sunday the speaker issued a flabby statement extolling the Khan family’s sacrifice and denouncing religious tests for immigrants without mentioning Mr. Trump by name.

Mr. Ryan is doing his personal reputation and his party’s fortunes no favors with these evasions. The central issue in this election isn’t Mr. Trump’s ideas, such as they are. It’s his character, such as it is. The sin, in this case, is the sinner.

It will not do for Republicans to say they denounce Mr. Trump’s personal slanders; his nativism and protectionism and isolationism; his mendacity and meanness and crassness; his disdain for constitutional protections—and still campaign for his election. There is no redemption in saying you went along with it, but only halfway; that with Mr. Trump you maintained technical virginity. To lie down with him is to wake up with him. It’s as simple as that.

That’s a thought that ought to frighten Republicans. The Khan slander was not Mr. Trump’s first and will not be his last or worst. As one wag on Twitter put it, the man always finds a new bottom. Nor are we likely done with new disclosures about Mr. Trump’s business practices and associations. Conservative die-hards may try to hold fast to the excuse that Hillary Clinton was, is, and always will be “worse,” but the argument can’t be sustained indefinitely. Mrs. Clinton is not the apotheosis of evil. She may be a corner-cutter and a liar, and she’ll almost surely appoint liberals to the Supreme Court. But at least she’s not a sociopath.

Politics is mostly the business of maintaining popularity in the here-and-now. Not always. Come January, Mrs. Clinton will likely be president. Whether there is a GOP that can still lay a claim to moral and political respectability is another question. Mr. Ryan and other Go-Along Republicans should treat the Khan episode as their last best hope to preserve political reputations they have worked so hard to build.
And then came Rep. Hanna's editorial for syracuse.com explaining why he's going further than his previous announcement that he won't vote for Trump to the place where Republicans are petrified to go, even-- like McCain and Graham-- they plan on doing so in the privacy of the voting booth: casting their ballot for Hillary. "Months ago," he wrote today, "I publicly said I could never support Trump. My reasons were simple and personal. I found him profoundly offensive and narcissistic but as much as anything, a world-class panderer, anything but a leader. Little more than a changing mirror of those he speaks to. I never expect to agree with whoever is president, but at a minimum the president needs to consistently display those qualities I have preached to my two children: kindness, honesty, dignity, compassion and respect. I do not expect perfection, but I do require more than the embodiment of at least a short list of the seven deadly sins."
I have long held the belief that the Republican Party is becoming increasingly less capable of nominating a person who is electable as president. The primary process is so geared toward the party's political base, which ignores the fact that we have largely alienated women, Hispanics, the LGBT community, young voters and many others in general.

Thankfully gerrymandering does not protect candidates in a national election.

If I compare the life stories of both candidates I find Trump deeply flawed in endless ways. A self-involved man who is worth billions yet is comfortable-- almost gleefully-- using bankruptcy laws to avoid the consequences of his own choices. A man of character would not defend his actions but rather display shame and or at least regret. He is unrepentant in all things. Think about those average people who paid for his choices.

...Secretary Clinton has issues that depending on where one stands can be viewed as great or small. But she stands and has stood for causes bigger than herself for a lifetime. That matters. Mrs. Clinton has promoted many of the issues I have been committed to over the years including expanding education and supporting women's health care.

While I disagree with her on many issues, I will vote for Mrs. Clinton. I will be hopeful and resolute in my belief that being a good American who loves his country is far more important than parties or winning and losing. I trust she can lead. All Republicans may not like the direction, but they can live to win or lose another day with a real candidate. Our response to the public's anger and the need to rebuild requires complex solutions, experience, knowledge and balance. Not bumper sticker slogans that pander to our disappointment, fear and hate.
Trump can't threaten to fund a $20 million superPAC against Hanna-- the way he has in regard to Ted Cruz and John Kasich-- because Hanna, a multimillionaire, is retiring in January. The Republican nominee to replace him, Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney is a Trumpist crackpot and Hanna has also announced he wouldn't be voting for her. He said he will either vote for Democrat Kim Myers or independent Martin Babinec but hasn't decided yet.

DuWayne Gregory: "My opponent continuing to stand next to Donald Trump shows once again that he is putting politics before service members. Even Republicans like Senator John McCain are denouncing Trump’s comments but Peter King hasn’t. I ask that Peter King apologize to Khriz and Ghazala Khan and denounce Trump’s comments."

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