Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The Well-Oiled Cage Match


Here Politico publishes this really good report on A Trumpanzee Sans Political Party when the news crashes down on all of our heads that General Kelly forced Trumpy-the-Clown to fire his soul-mate, alter-ego and consiglieri-for-a-week-- better than Queen For A Day-- Señor The Mooch. I'm just going to make believe The Mooch is still among the quick and the machine is indeed well-oiled and the chaos... well there's no making believe about the chaos, is there?

Jeff Flake is an Arizona Republican senator who's considered vulnerable inside-the-Beltway and who's always fighting with Trumpanzee. He just wrote a book about Trumpanzee: Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle. They hate each other. But the DSCC is determined to run the single worst Democrat in Congress-- corrupt Blue Dog Kyrsten Sinema-- against him. She's probably the only Democrat who can't beat him. Schumer seems to have a penchant for finding them. Sinema may be destined to embody a freakish 2018 combination of Patrick Murphy, Ann Kirkpatrick, Evan Bayh, Patty Judge, Ted Strickland and, last but far from least Katie McGinty-- the horrible cast of characters Schumer selected who guaranteed the most Democratic-friendly electoral table in a decade would turn out to be a Republican feasting ground. Anyway, Flake was on NPR with Steve Inskeep yesterday saying the kinds of things that might lead one to believe-- wrongly-- that he's not a rubber stamp for Trumpanzee. But Flake is a total Trump rubber-stamp, slavishly so. His FiveThirtyEight Trump adhesion score is 95.5%. Fellow Arizonan John McCain is a more respectable 86.7%-- about the same as Rand Paul's 88.6-- and even political cowards like Rob Portman, Bob Corker and Lindsey Graham are less Trumped-up than Flake. nevertheless... Senator Flake:
I do think that we made the ground fertile for somebody like President Trump to come along, and I think that now we've abandoned many of our principles-- like free trade and American leadership around the world-- but also we've become a coarser party. Being a conservative isn't just adopting conservative policies. I think it matters in terms of demeanor and comportment.

I certainly recognize the frustrations that people have. I feel and hear it every day... People are concerned about their jobs, their economic future. They wonder if their kids will have the same economic opportunities that they've had, and I think Donald Trump kind of spoke to that.

But I think as conservatives, our first obligation is to be honest with people and telling factory workers for example-- it's always easier for a politician to point to a shuttered factory and say "That's because of free trade. That's because Mexico took those jobs, or China did." But what is not recognized is that it's largely been productivity gains and automation. We manufacture twice as much as we did in the 1980s with one-third fewer workers and those productivity gains will continue. Globalization has happened and the question is: Do we harness it for our benefit or are we left behind by it?

He says he's "not blaming this lack of principle, or where we are, solely on the president. He's more the culmination of it... I'm very troubled about where the Republican Party is now. It seems that we've been compromised, but this time by different forces-- those of populism and protectionism, isolationism, xenophobia and I'm concerned about how we remain a governing party with those principles."
And on Face the Nation Sunday, Flake said Republican leaders like McConnell and Ryan who don't call out Trumpanzee on his criminal behavior are complicit in that behavior.

Now, on to Tim Alberta's podcast for Politico (again, after Preibus was fired but before The Mooch got the heave ho), which suggests Trump took out his hatred of Ryan on Priebus.
There is no question, however, that Priebus’ absence will echo loudest on Capitol Hill-- particularly in the speaker’s office. Ryan’s team had heard whispers for months of Priebus’ possible departure, but the news was nonetheless a dagger, especially on the heels of a health care defeat and at the dawn of tax-reform season. Ryan and Priebus, both Green Bay Packers fans and local beer loyalists, have been friends for decades; Ryan’s former chief of staff, Andy Speth, was Priebus’ college roommate at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Priebus was the first call Ryan made when things got hairy this year, and vice versa. Working with a West Wing that contains few other true allies-- and with a volatile president who has viewed him suspiciously ever since the speaker accused him of making “the textbook definition of a racist comment” about a Hispanic-American judge-- Ryan saw Priebus as his staunchest ally and bunker mate. And now he’s gone.

"This no longer seems accidental. Trump has, since taking office, consistently referred to Republicans as though he is not one himself-- it’s invariably ‘they’ or ‘them.’ Unlike past presidents of his party, Trump entered the White House with few personal relationships with prominent Republicans: donors, lobbyists, party activists, politicians. This liberated him to say whatever he pleased as a candidate, and by firing Priebus, Trump might feel similarly liberated. The fear now, among Republicans in his administration and on Capitol Hill, is that Trump will turn against the party, waging rhetorical warfare against a straw-man GOP whom he blames for the legislative failures and swamp-stained inertia that has bedeviled his young presidency. It would represent a new, harsher type of triangulation, turning his base against the politicians of his own party that they elected.”

“Things have not yet escalated to that point. But some, including officials in his own administration, took the dismissal of Priebus as a signal that Trump is willing to go rogue against the GOP. Only a day after announcing Kelly as his new chief of staff, the president let loose on Twitter, calling out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for not changing the Senate’s filibuster rules and saying Republicans “look like fools” for not doing so. He also tweeted that Democrats are “laughing at” the GOP. In a final taunt, Trump tweeted that Republican senators would be “total quitters” if they move on from health care following last week’s failed repeal vote.

More and more, Trump talks as though there are Democrats and Republicans-- and him, a party of one. If unchecked, this poses an existential threat to the GOP.
Trump wins another news cycle, as no one talks about the specifics of him selling out America to Russia or about any aspects of Putin-Gate in general. Lucky for us Bob Mueller is still on the job working away with his team of sleuths and prosecutors.

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