Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Desperation in the GOP

With his latest Super Tuesday primary victories, Donald Trump is getting what looks to be more and more of a stranglehold on the Republican presidential nomination. And with it is an air of desperation in the GOP (along with some in the media). What else would you call it when The Washington Post publishes an editorial titled GOP leaders, you must do everything in your power to stop Trump?
THE UNTHINKABLE is starting to look like the inevitable: Absent an extraordinary effort from people who understand the menace he represents, Donald Trump is likely to be the presidential nominee of the Republican Party. At this stage, even an extraordinary effort might fall short. But history will not look kindly on GOP leaders who fail to do everything in their power to prevent a bullying demagogue from becoming their standard-bearer.
Then there is The New York Times offering this article, Inside the Republican Party’s Desperate Mission to Stop Donald Trump
The scenario [GOP strategist and fundraiser] Karl Rove outlined was bleak.
Addressing a luncheon of Republican governors and donors in Washington on Feb. 19, he warned that Donald J. Trump’s increasingly likely nomination would be catastrophic, dooming the party in November. 
So this leads to the question - Is the Republican Party really concerned about Trump’s behavior as a “bullying demagogue”? Or is it more about their fear of a catastrophic loss in the general election? It appears to be more of the latter.

It was all the way back to Trump’s first speech after announcing his candidacy that he famously spoke about Mexico sending their “rapists” across the border into America.

As outrageous as that opening salvo was, Trump’s toxic rhetoric has only escalated since then – with the Republican Party (with only a few notable exceptions) having done little or nothing to repudiate any of his remarks.

Trump previously came to political fame by spreading so-called ‘birther' nonsense claiming he had evidence of President Obama being born outside of the US. This is part of the narrative that the president just isn’t a legitimate occupant of the White House. (Trump later gave the same ‘birther' treatment to Canadian-born Ted Cruz and now by inference, even American-born Marco Rubio???)

Back in 2011, Trump then said that he had come up with evidence on Obama's real birth information during an investigation in Hawaii. “I have people that have been studying it and they cannot believe what they’re finding,” Trump said. We are still waiting for that evidence to be released.

Then it escalated to - Obama is a secret Muslim, Obama wants to take your guns, the government wants to take away your freedom (so you better arm yourself!). This gets reinforced by Fox News and conservative talk radio.

This in turn gets the right-wing fringe players into the act with for example, the group who tried to ‘take their own land back' in Oregon. Then there are the hate groups like the KKK and batshit crazy anti-gay religious groups who offer their endorsements of GOP politicians (you must check this out this video!!).

(For the interested reader, there is a very interesting site which offers daily updates of the goings on of those on the wacky right.)

Once enough of these people are worked up into a lather, conditions are perfect for a demagogue to step in and take control. One who speaks these people’s language and ‘tells it like it is'. Enter one Donald J. Trump.

And while it wouldn’t be fair to say that the Republican Party is directly responsible for all of the toxic rhetoric, they are most definitely enablers of it. Instead of directly refuting the sometimes outrageous falsehoods being spread around, they just play coy and say things like they can’t tell people what to think or say.

With Trump now a heavy favorite to gain the nomination of one of America’s two major parties. One can only wonder what our plight looks like to the rest of the world. Can you imagine the UK Parliament debating over a measure to ban a future US presidential nominee from entering the UK? Well, it's true!

So the big question is whether Trump really has a chance to win the general election in November, assuming he is nominated. Just the mere thought of this is enough to cause nightmares! Fortunately, past presidential elections have shown that the GOP would have to land at least 40% of the Latino vote to win a national election (and perhaps higher in some key swing states.) By comparison, Mitt Romney in 2012 got about 23%.
Considering the relationship between Trump and the Latino population, Trump will be hard pressed to even do as well as Romney, let alone improve upon his results.

So maybe we can now breathe a big sigh of relief?

Before we get too complacent, we need to note Italy’s experience with their prime minister Silvio Berlusconi which has a lot of eerie parallels to our own experiences with The Donald – except that Berlusconi actually got elected as their prime minister!

However, it should be noted that there are some storm clouds ahead on The Donald's seemingly smooth journey to the nomination. This just in! Trump University Fraud Suit Can Proceed, Appeals Court Rules.
A fraud allegation against Donald Trump’s education program can move forward, a New York state appeals court said Tuesday in a ruling likely to fuel controversy over an issue Mr. Trump’s opponents in the Republican presidential primaries have seized on in recent weeks.
New York Attorney General​ Eric Schneiderman sued the now-defunct Trump University in 2013 for $40 million, alleging that Trump University was a sham that exploited Mr. Trump’s celebrity status to persuade people to enroll in expensive courses that failed to deliver on their promises. Trump University defrauded students by billing itself as a real estate school and charging students as much as $35,000 without having official accreditation, Mr. Schneiderman alleged.
The fraud allegation around Trump University is not a new one. But until recently brought up in attacks by Marco Rubio, it has largely flown under the radar. But that will likely change.
Here’s a part of the political calendar that nobody in the Republican Party seems to have noticed: This spring, just as the GOP nomination battle enters its final phase, frontrunner Donald Trump could be forced to take time out for some unwanted personal business: He’s due to take the witness stand in a federal courtroom in San Diego, where he is being accused of running a financial fraud.
That makes it all but certain that the reality-show star and international businessman will be forced to be grilled under oath over allegations in the lawsuit...the final pretrial conference is now slated for May 6, according to the latest pleadings in the case.
While this may not affect his winning the nomination, it would certainly provide lots of ammunition for his general election opponent.

But if that opponent is Hillary Clinton, she may be reluctant to make an issue of Trump's legal problems because of legal problems of her own.

Clinton voters are oblivious to the dangers. Polls show they no longer consider her “honest and trustworthy,” but they still don’t think she has committed any crimes. Countless Clinton supporters have told me, “These investigations won’t find anything. The Benghazi hearings proved it. This is simply a partisan witch hunt.”
They are half right. The Benghazi hearings proved, once again, that Congress has the investigative prowess of Homer Simpson. They are right that Republicans hate her. Divided as the GOP is, it is united in thinking Bill and Hillary are corrupt, self-serving liars.
But the GOP is not leading the criminal investigation. The FBI is. 
Stay tuned. There’s more craziness to come!