Friday, August 05, 2016

Republicans Are Stuck With Trump-- And Will Sink Or Swim With Him


Battle for the soul of Long Island

Vulnerable-- but pig-headed-- Trumpist, Peter King, campaigned on Thursday with Mr. Trumpanzee in Suffolk County. (They attended a fat-cat fundraiser at the tony Nissequogue estate of right-wingers Carolyn and Steve Louro, formerly Rubio supporters, nowhere near King's district.) King is gambling with his own political future since a spate of recent Trump statements are beyond the pale for all but a few hard-core Trump die-hards. DuWayne Gregory, an ex-military officer who now serves as the presiding officer of the Suffolk County legislature and is challenging King for his blue-trending South Shore congressional seat, has been campaigning hard against King for his stuck-like-glue posture towards the unpopular Trump. This morning, Politico reported that when polled anonymously, 70% of Republican insiders say they want the Trumpanzee to drop out. "I’d rather take our chances with nearly anyone else than continue with this certain loser who will likely cost the Senate and much more," said a New Hampshire Republican.

Even if Peter King won't, in the last two days, two more sitting Republican congressmen-- neither of whom plans to retire-- joined New York's Richard Hanna in writing off Trump. Mainstream conservatives Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Charlie Dent (R-PA), have told their constituents that they're not voting for Trump in November. Dent called Trump's crackpot statements towards Hispanic, Muslims, veterans, etc "too much" and, for him, "a bridge too far" to allow him to vote for his party's nominee. Kinzinger formerly an air force officer and pilot who saw action in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now a major in the Air National Guard flipped out over Trump's undermining of NATO and at the disrespect for the Gold Star Khan family. "[T]his spat, this unbelievable spat with a family of a fallen soldier, a fallen soldier who swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Between that, between of course blaming George W. Bush for 9/11 and all the other sins we’ve seen in the past, Donald Trump for me is beginning to cross a lot of red lines of the unforgivable in politics."

Yesterday, Politico reported that one of themes electorally vulnerable Republicans, Colorado's Mike Coffman-- a conservative in an uncomfortably moderate district-- just launched a pretty desperate TV ad (above) that is explicitly anti-Trump. It gets real personal real fast, Coffman saying in the first few seconds that "Honestly, I don't care for him much... if Donald Trump is the president, I’ll stand up to him. Plain and simple." He better hope no one shows it to the Trumpanzee or tells him that Coffman also released it en español as well as English. It started running today. In any case, Coffman is likely to lose his race to state Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll.

Writing for Bloomberg yesterday, Sahil Kapur reported that Republican office holders feel they are stuck with the crazy Trumpanzee even as they see him wrecking their party and destroying their own careers. He asserts that tensions between Trump and the GOP "have reached a boiling point in the wake of his feud with the parents of slain Muslim-American soldier Humayun Khan" and are certain his behavior is not just purposely controversial but self-destructive. Few see any chance for a Trumpanzee pivot. A senior Trumpanzee advisor Kellyanne Conway rejected the idea some Republicans are floating of Trump dropping out of the race, calling it "wishful thinking."
Trump is “facing an electoral wipeout at this point. I think getting him to change his behavior is a fool’s errand,” said Matt Mackowiak, a Texas-based Republican strategist. “He’s now doing intentional damage to the party. He’s hurting our candidates. It’s clear he doesn't care about the Republican Party, so what responsibility does the Republican Party have to him at this point?”

...He’s alienated prominent Republicans such as former Representative Vin Weber, who told CNBC’s John Harwood he’ll probably leave the party if Trump wins. The Trump-Khan spat was the final straw for several GOP figures who came out for Clinton--including former California gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman, former Jeb Bush adviser Sally Bradshaw, former Chris Christie adviser Maria Comella, and retiring U.S. Representative Richard Hanna.

...[T]he reports of a campaign in disarray have pro-Trump Republicans worried.

“I'm mostly concerned with the rumors coming out that Manafort has no operational control and that Trump is winging it. If they're not a campaign at the top this could be really bad for Republicans all the way down the ticket,” said John Feehery, a Republican strategist and lobbyist. “All this other stuff is kind of typical-- his blather and his inability to restrain his emotions. I don't see mass defections from his voters on this.”

Still, Trump's rough stretch doesn't mean GOP politicians will reject him, at least for the foreseeable future. His command of an energized plurality of the party base during the primaries means Republicans up and down the ballot this fall will rely on his voters to win their races.

“If you're an elected official you have to appeal to them somehow. Just walking away from Trump is political suicide,” Feehery said. “In most Republican districts, Trump is very popular. And all this politically incorrect stuff is very popular with the Republican base. ... You can't diss the Donald Trump voter.”
Florida's Marco Rubio, who like Peter King up on Long Island, is too scared of Trump to try to hold him accountable, refused to criticize Trump for the gut-wrenching way he dealt with the Khan family and Trump patted him on the head for it Wednesday in Daytona Beach. "I endorsed Marco Rubio, he endorsed me. He's doing well. Go for Marco," the narcissistic Trumpanzee told the crowd. Rubio did poorly in the Daytona Beach area during the Florida presidential primary, losing to Trump 34,167 (53.3%) to 13,493 (21.1%) and even worse in neighboring Putnam County, where Rubio came in 3rd with 17.4% of the vote to Trump's 57.3% and Cruz's 18.7%. Without Trump's support, Rubio could lose even to as weak a candidate as Patrick Murphy if Murphy gets through the primary, and Rubio would be wiped out completely by progressive firebrand Alan Grayson if Grayson wins the primary.

Even the one reason conservatives give for sticking with Trump-- he'll be better than Hillary in shaping a right-wing Supreme Court-- is wearing thin. Right-wing nut Ramesh Ponnuru, also writing for Bloomberg Thursday asserted that the Trumpanzee can't be trusted by conservatives.
Trump has offered a list of judges whom he might nominate to the court if he is elected. Conservatives have praised that list, saying the judges on it would move the court back toward a more appropriate role.

But conservatives can have no confidence that Trump would both nominate and win confirmation for someone on the list.

Trump’s word is meaningless. He stiffs creditors and contractors. He lies about matters small and large: about having told Republicans to hold their convention in Ohio, about letters he supposedly received from the NFL and about having opposed the Iraq war from the start. Trump isn’t even trustworthy on his signature issue of immigration: He flip-flopped twice in one day during the campaign about whether high-skilled immigrants should be kept out as a threat to American jobs or welcomed as a boon to our economy.

Why would he keep his word on the courts? He doesn’t care about the Constitution or the proper role of judges. When he talks about the Constitution, it’s glibly and dismissively. When it’s suggested that the Constitution might pose an obstacle to his plans, he says it “doesn’t give us the right to commit suicide.” He knows almost nothing about the law: He can’t tell the difference between a judicial opinion and a bill.

The few times he has taken an interest in constitutional issues, he has been on the other side from most conservatives. He thinks the government should have broad power to take people’s property and give it to developers; they don’t. He has used courts as a weapon to silence critics, and thinks it should be easier to use them that way. Most conservatives find that record and that idea appalling. If President Trump asks his aides to find him a judge who agrees with him on these issues, they will start by scrapping his list.

To get a conservative on the Supreme Court would require a President Trump to wage an ideological war with Senate Democrats, even though he says he would prefer to be a dealmaker, and even though that war would turn on issues for which he has never in his life shown the slightest concern. Instead of making good on his promise, he could cut a deal with the Democrats. His nominee could then win confirmation with the support of most Democrats, moderate Republicans, and some conservative Republicans who will want to be on the same side as Trump. Then he could turn to issues that excite him, like the precise design of the “big beautiful door” he is going to put in his wall with Mexico.

...The argument that conservatives have to support Trump because of the courts is not just a weak argument. It’s an argument from weakness. It’s an argument that conservatives should overlook every flaw Trump has, every objection they have to him, because-- well, listen to how Trump put it in Cedar Rapids. “Have no choice, sorry, sorry, sorry. You have no choice."

These are not the words of a man who respects conservatives who care about the courts as a vital part of his coalition. They’re the words of a man who is barely trying to hide his contempt for them. Conservatives who trust him on the courts are earning that contempt.

Today the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Hillary is leading the Trumpanzee in Georgia 44-40%, a state that gave Romney a 53-46% win over President Obama. In May the same poll had shown the Trumpanzee ahead, 45-41%. Hillary hasn't run any ads in Georgia... yet.

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