Archive | 2016 Republican nomination

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The depth of Republicans’ despair

The National Republican leadership should have listened to GOP political consultant Alex Castellanos, who was among the first to sound the alarm bell about Donald Trump and come up with an early plan to stop him. But they didn’t.

They should have listened to Trump rivals Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal, and later Jeb Bush, all former GOP governors who read a Trump candidacy for what it was: a potential electoral disaster. But they rolled their eyes.

They could have listened to ABC News political pundit and former Bush campaign chief strategist Matthew Dowd, who continually pushed back on the state of denial and challenged anybody to explain to him how they imagined Trump would stumble. Some openly scoffed at him in ways that could only be described as abusive.

dead gopPotential funders of an anti-Trump campaign probably assumed that various Presidential rivals’ superpacs would be effective in attacking Trump, but instead, Jeb Bush’s superpac attacked Marco Rubio, and Rubio’s super pac attacked Jeb, and Ted Cruz’s superpac attacked Rubio. 

Then they placed their faith in Cruz’s appeal to evangelicals to save them from Trump, but after South Carolina they discovered that Southern evangelicals hate minorities more than they love Jesus. This in no way should have been a surprise, since these same voters didn’t hesitate to abandon the Democratic Party in a rage in the 1960s in the wake of Democrats’ support of the Voting Rights Act empowering minorities – why Republicans thought they’d follow along now is beyond comprehension. 

Few wanted to confront the notion that Trump was the logical end of what they themselves had built – a mountain of rage, xenophobia, misogyny, and racism, which Trump had tapped into with perfect pitch. They built that mountain through thousands of local races across America over the past eight years, backing candidates in GOP primary elections from sheriffs to mayors and state legislators, where actual policy differences were microscopic; the only real differences between their backed Tea Party challengers and the defeated Republican incumbents is that the incumbents didn’t hate the President enough, weren’t pissed off enough, and wouldn’t bow to their Tea Party masters fast enough. 

It all came to a head yesterday, when the bombshell hit that Governor Chris Christie had endorsed Trump. There aren’t many true game-changing events in politics, but this event certainly was one. It was such a strong symbol of the unconditional surrender of the so-called “establishment” that deniers could no longer deny. One could no longer ignore Trump’s evil genius, with the endorsement coming on the heels of Trump’s miserable debate performance the night before, and the emergence of what Trump deniers imagined might be “Marco-mentum.” In only 12 hours, Trump once again dramatically dominated the news cycle. Gone was the newfound buzz in Rubio’s candidacy, gone was the notion that Trump was on the ropes, and gone was any notion that Trump’s march to the nomination would be interruptible this Tuesday as GOP voters go to the polls to allocate hundreds and hundreds more delegates, most of them to Trump.

Unless something happens that they cannot even imagine yet, Trump’s nomination is all-but-done. If it’s still possible to stop him, the people with the means to fund it can’t imagine what it is, and are too divided to coalesce around a single plan to get it done. They try to imagine a brokered convention, but can’t figure out who the brokers might be.

The Republican leadership stands today in open despair and grief, some sensing for the first time that they’ve waited too late to stop a Trump nomination, many still in denial that they helped build Frankenstein’s monster in the first place. They’ll soon put their game face on and pretend to follow along, but they’ve already seen their future, and it’s bleak.

The New York Times has an excellent must-read piece on where all this leaves them: planning for a Democratic White House and trying to save what’s left.

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The Fox News GOP Presidential Debate Drinking Game

Because you, the crap-reading public, have demanded it, Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters delivers it. Here’s your 2016 GOP Presidential Debate Drinking Game:

If Donald Trump tries to explain why he really doesn’t hate Mexicans much: drink 1 shot.

If the first reference to Ronald Reagan is made within the first minute of the debate: 1 shot.

If Jeb Bush accidentally insults women, again: 1 shot.

If Perry, Santorum, Jindal, Fiorina, and/or Graham storm the stage demanding to be included: 2 shots.

If more than 5 candidates insult Donald Trump before the opening statements are over: 1 shot.

If Donald Trump insults more than 3 candidates in the first 10 minutes: 1 shot.

If Donald Trump insults more than 3 countries full of people in the first 10 minutes: 2 shots.

If Donald Trump insults the entire solar system in the first 10 minutes: 3 shots.

If Ted Cruz defends Donald Trump from whoever is insulting him: 1 shot.

If anybody asks Ben Carson who the hell he is and what he’s doing there instead of Rick Perry: 1 shot.

If Ted Cruz threatens to shut down the government if they don’t allow him to drone on incessantly about how he’ll repeal Obamacare on day 1: 1 shot.

If all 10 candidates vote to repeal Obamacare on the spot: 2 shots.

Any mention of the words “Jade” or “Helm:” 2 shots.

First mention of Benghazi: 1 shot.

First mention of Hillary Clinton’s emails: 1 shot.

First mention of Hillary Clinton’s hair style: 1 shot.

First mention of Hillary Clinton’s husband: 1 shot.

If Scott Walker utters the name of any of his Koch brother buddies: 1 shot.

If Scott Walker takes an actual phone call from a Koch brother during the debate: 2 shots.

If Mike Huckabee kisses South Carolina’s collective ass: 1 shot.

If Chris Christie kisses New Hampshire’s collective ass: 1 shot.

If anybody notes Rand Paul’s attendance at the debate at all: 1 shot.

If Marco Rubio tries to drink water in the middle of a sentence, again: 1 shot.

If John Kasich reminds viewers more than 3 times that he’s the governor of Ohio, which is a state that if the Republican nominee doesn’t win, they’ll never see the inside of the White House, because no Republican has ever won, ever, without must-win Ohio, which the Republicans must win: 1 shot.

For each candidate not wearing a flag pin, besides Donald Trump: 1 shot.

If Donald Trump wears a Donald Trump pin: 1 shot.

If Donald Trump claims he put his life in danger by visiting Laredo for, like, 10 minutes: 2 shots.

If Donald Trump says something totally offensive about somebody, then immediately says that he likes him a lot: 1 shot.

Update: nah, not really.

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Republicans say the darnedest things!

Republican presidential primary politics are the greatest show on earth. It’s political porn. It doesn’t matter what the Republican Party tries to do to minimize the damage to their brand, the early stage of their nominating process always quickly devolves into a clown car of epic proportions. As a Democrat, I fully support this, if only because it distracts from how silly we Democrats can be.

Those watching Donald Trump’s antics this time should be reminded that this is nothing new. Last time, it was Michelle Bachmann who, through The Frequent Saying Of Stupid Things, quickly rose to the top of the Republican heap, only to have her hopes and dreams crushed by Rick Perry, who after The Frequent Saying Of Stupid Things he engaged in, quickly had his own hopes and dreams crushed.

So Trump can hardly be blamed if experience has taught him that the way to quickly rise to the top of Republican polls is to say stupid stuff. It’s the way Republicans do it.

In fact, Republican primary voters are so in love with candidates who say stupid stuff that they’ll ignore everything else, in utter adoration of said stupid stuff.

Donald Trump immediately rose to the top of the polls because he deliberately expressed abject and offensive racism toward Hispanics in his announcement speech. But to his audience, the offensive is hot. Those voters are so enamored with his racism that it made them forget that Trump has also said in the past that he’s pro-choice, pro-universal health care, and pro-assault weapons ban. Wow, way to go, Republicans – that’s a really healthy commitment to your racism you’ve got there!

But alas, there are grown-ups among Republican primary voters. They have a long and proud history of being more than happy to go out on a date with any damn fool, but they won’t get engaged to just anybody. In 2008, they settled on John McCain as the man to marry. Say what you will about McCain, but he is a certified grown-up, and would have still been considered such in the general election, but for his little dalliance with that Sarah Palin thing. And in 2012, after flirting with unserious candidates like Bachmann, Perry, and Herman Cain, they coalesced around Mitt Romney, another bona fide grown-up.

So, I’m sorry, fellow Democrats, but the Republicans will not nominate Trump, much as we’re tempted to send him campaign contributions in the hopes that they will. The Republican faithful will soon conclude that he is not serious marriage material. In fact, they’ll quickly figure out that it turns out he isn’t even a fun first date.

The good news for Democrats, and others who revel in the misery Republicans experience every time the nominate a Presidential candidate, is that Trump will not quickly go away. Presidential candidates don’t drop out of a race when they drop in the polls. They drop out of the nominating process when they run out of money. And Donald Trump will never run out of money, or ego.

So, friends, despite Trump’s self-destructive utterings, the 2016 clown car will continue careening down the highway at breakneck speed for the foreseeable future, with Trump still hanging onto the hubcaps. Because why would you put an early end to the greatest show on earth?

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Presidential Elections 101, and why right wing conservatives should get over it

Florida Senator Marco Rubio jumped into the race for President yesterday, which, at first glance, is actually kind of surprising since former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is clearly already running. What advantage Rubio might have thought he had is arguably muted by Bush being in the race to compete for the favorite son status. It affects a lot of things in the nominating process – fundraising, innermost core of supporters, that sort of stuff.

On the other hand, the same could be said for Jeb Bush – what advantage he might have as Florida’s favorite son is imperiled by Rubio’s entrance. This may or may not matter in the nominating process – Florida doesn’t come up until March 15 (well after the early states somewhat winnow the field), and has moved to a winner-take-all delegate allocation system. So the prevailing theory is that Bush will survive the process until Florida because his name is Bush (candidates drop out when candidates run out of money, and Bushes don’t typically run out of money), but if Rubio can somehow hang on through Florida, it suddenly gets interesting.

The Tea Party wing of the GOP wants to control the nominating process in 2016, something they succeeded in doing in neither 2012 nor 2008. Republicans ended up nominating the candidate Tea Party voters considered “establishment,” and then those Tea Party voters promptly blamed the establishment for the Democrat’s wins in each election.

That same Tea Party wing despises all things Bush these days, and Rubio’s brief flirtation with actual fairness on the immigration debate seriously annoys them.

Republicans better take a second look at those two Florida boys. It has nothing to do with either Bush or Rubio. It has everything to do with basic electoral college math.

I will spare you the history, the background, and the pros and cons on how we got to this point in the Presidential election process. I’ve got an entire speech on the topic, and you can even hate math as much as I do and still enjoy it, so contact me if you’d like me to speak to your group. But trust me when I say that if you don’t understand electoral college politics and what that means for 2016, you’ll never understand why Presidential campaigns make the decisions they make. But whether you want to hear the deeper explanation or not, here’s the bottom line:

Of the 538 total electoral votes, it takes a majority, 270, to win. All the states except 2 award their electoral votes in a winner-take-all system, meaning that if a Party’s nominee gets 50-percent-plus-one, that nominee gets 100 percent of that state’s electoral votes.

The electoral votes of the states (plus D.C.) that have voted for the Democratic nominee for President from 1992 forward – the last six Presidential elections – totals 242. That’s only 28 electoral votes short of an election win. That list of states doesn’t include Florida, and Florida has 29 electoral votes. Florida alone puts the Democrat into the White House.

There are several other realistic combinations for the Democrat to win the Presidential election without winning Florida, but in a close November election in which reliable states do what they typically do, there is no likely mathematical way for the Republican to win without Florida.

It’s hard to imagine the Tea Party controlling the process – they’ve failed to do so twice already. It’s also impossible to ignore the Tea Party’s influence in the process – arguably no other lane of the current GOP electorate is wider. The Tea Party is openly antagonistic to Bush, and feels bruised by Rubio.

But unless the Tea Party wing wants to be at the wheel when the clown car drives off the cliff, Republicans cannot ignore the electoral math that places Florida as the most significant state in their mathematical equation.

A lot of political analysts are rolling their eyes at Rubio’s entrance into the race. Hillary Clinton announced Sunday, Rubio announced Monday, and the media just kept talking about Hillary into Tuesday. But I’m not rolling my eyes about Rubio, if only because of the math.

I can’t imagine the Tea Party wing supporting anybody named Bush. And I can’t imagine a propensity of a major political party’s primary voters ignoring the electability question – that they nominated two establishment guys in a row suggests that it has been part of their decision-making all along; there’s no reason to believe it won’t continue to be. But there can be no electability where there is no reasonable electoral vote math.

If Marco Rubio is smart enough to kiss and make up with Tea Party activists, without scaring the bejesus out of the rest of Republicanville, he might be in the hunt for the long haul. I don’t imagine there is a similar path available to Jeb Bush; Tea Party voters will probably never trust him. If Bush has a path to the nomination (and he well might), it is probably a different path.

And meanwhile, if Republican primary voters and caucus-goers ignore the electoral math equation and give no consideration to Florida’s special electoral math status, they’re already cooked and don’t even realize it.


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GOP: mainstream media make our butts look fat

Remember the parade of 2012 Presidential contest debates in the Republican nomination process? Trust me, Republicans do, and they’ve apparently been quietly steaming about them ever since.

These would be the same debates after which many voters across America started referring to the candidates as “the clown car.” These would be the same debates during which a live studio audience loudly boo’ed an active duty military man who was at that moment in a combat zone, because he happened to be gay.

These would be the same debates during which Texas Governor Rick Perry had his infamous “oops” moment, in which he couldn’t remember the third federal agency he’d promised to abolish, hammering the final nail in his own presidential coffin. They were also the debates during which Mitt Romney bet Perry $10,000 that he hadn’t supported individual mandates while Massachusetts Governor, which was among the first indications to voters that Romney, and anybody else who will just casually throw out a $10,000 bet, probably isn’t exactly your standard issue regular guy.

Aside from the other two Republican distractions of the 2012 nominating process – the un-candidates who didn’t run, but who kept oozing into the headlines anyway, making the clown car more clown carish, Sarah Palin and Donald Trump – the Republican debates showed Americans how out-of-touch the Republicans were with mainstream Americans, and they were key to setting up an Obama re-election.

Turns out the Republicans missed the point entirely. Turns out it apparently hasn’t crossed their minds that it was their own candidates, with assists from their own hand-picked debate studio audiences, who made their butt look fat.

Clearly they think it was the fault of the mainstream news outlets sponsoring those debates which were at fault. The indications are apparent this week.

First, GOP Chairman Reince Priebus threatened NBC and CNN with exclusion from the 2016 debate process if they air a Hillary Clinton feature (which, ironically, is reportedly being produced by FOX, but Priebus also said he isn’t interested in excluding FOX from the debate process – go figure).

Now the GOP is floating the idea of excluding actual mainstream news media from debate moderation, and instead letting figures such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin moderate.

Let that sink in: Republicans actually believe that respected mainstream journalists who acted as debate moderators made their candidates look stupid. It has apparently not crossed their minds that Republican candidates made Republican candidates look stupid. And now Limbaugh, Hannity, and Levin might be tapped to solve the problem.

When the national GOP decides that Limbaugh, Hannity, and Levin might be the solution, they’ve got quite a problem. I say bring ’em on. The national ridicule following a debate featuring clown car candidates, moderated by the biggest GOP clowns in show biz, will be something to see. I hope they add Glenn Beck to the list. And after the Republican nominating process winds down, the spectacle will make it even more difficult for their nominee to attract mainstream general election voters.

In the comments section, feel free to write the questions you think moderators like Limbaugh, Hannity, and Levin would ask the new-and-improved 2016 Republican clown car.

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