Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ted Cruz's Frightening "Donnie Jr." Strategy

The Republican presidential primary contest continues to be a train wreck in slow motion.  As Donald Trump seems to be trying to channel Adolph Hitler or Hermann Goering, the even more frightening (in my view) Ted Cruz is moving up in the polls.  Cruz is downright terrifying for several reasons, not the least that he seems to want to reprise the reign of the late Joseph McCarthy.   He is a more sinister version of Trump and likewise is playing to the ugliest elements in American society, especially the Christofascists - something that ought to terrify LGBT Americans.  No one ever thought Hitler would come to power in the early years, yet through fear mongering, playing to persecution complexes, and nationalism, he ultimately took Germany to ruin.  Cruz wants to emulate Hitler's rise to power and is just as insane, although he tries to hide this dangerous streak.  The question is what the GOP establishment will do to stop Cruz whom they despise.  A piece in The Daily Beast looks at Cruz's apparent strategy to win the GOP nomination and the dilemma that faces the party establishment which helped create the Frankenstein monster that is now the party base.  Here are excerpts:

Cue the scary-minor-key power chord: Ted Cruz is within the margin of error of Donald Trump in Iowa. It’s Trump 25, and Cruz 23, but as we will see further down, other numbers from the poll suggest that Cruz is well positioned to win what might now be a two-man race in the Hawkeye State.

One can now begin to see how this may all be shaping up. I tweeted it last Friday. Trump becomes the crazy, not-really-electable, neo-fascist candidate—the choice of a good chunk of the base, but one the establishment can’t live with. Marco Rubio, the guy the establishment is most comfortable with, becomes the establishment candidate—but by definition that will make him unacceptable to a sizable chunk of the base. And so emerges Cruz—the “compromise” candidate! (That the scenario of Cruz as compromise candidate is not at all implausible is one stark measure of what Trump’s presence has done to the GOP.)

Cruz is now running—and smartly, it must be said—what you might call the “Donnie Jr.” strategy. Be like Donald, but not as... Not as out there. Not as openly racist. Not as extreme. Differentiate where principle absolutely demands, as Cruz did on the question of religious ID cards for Muslim Americans, which Cruz ruled out as Trump did not. But basically, be the acceptable Trump.  It’s working, at least as far as Iowa is concerned.

Also worth noting is the grim finding that Cruz, Trump, and Carson combined for 66 percent. That shows how out there this particular electorate is. . . . Numbers like these really put the squeeze on Rubio. He’s not going to win Iowa. He can win New Hampshire if Trump totally collapses, but he keeps not collapsing and getting stronger. Rubio won’t win South Carolina. 

Can the establishment big boys keep him afloat that long if he’s not winning primaries? . . . I don’t know but I have a feeling they might have to find a way to, because there’s just no way they’re going to let it come down to Trump vs. Cruz. They despise them both. One’s first reflex is to think, well, they’ll just have to find a way to make their peace with Cruz, because Trump is so obviously out of the question.

But on the other hand... remember how much congressional Republicans loathe Cruz. Almost all of his GOP Senate colleagues think he’s a grandstanding demagogue. Most members of the House do, too, except the small cadre that has named him its leader, the group that meets at that Tex-Mex restaurant on Capitol Hill. But except for them, the R’s do not like Ted.

They somehow might end up preferring Trump. Which would be really funny, him being an open racist and all. But you know what? Psssst: They’d actually prefer Hillary. Now no one’s ever going to say that publicly of course. But half a lifetime of covering these people has taught me a few things about how they think. And one of those things is this: Intra-party personal hatred is much more visceral than inter-party personal hatred. The prospect of someone they hate in their own party having more power than they have is like the bitterest, foulest bowl of hemlock these people can drink. Trust me on that.

So I can guarantee you, I mean guarantee you, that whatever he says publicly, Mitch McConnell would think something like this privately: “Well, OK, I hate seeing Hillary get to make all those Supreme Court appointments. We’ll have to come up with a strategy on that one. But the rest? On foreign policy, she won’t be as bad as the current guy, and it’s far better for us politically to have the Iran deal in place, as it gives us a target. And on the domestic stuff, we’ll bottle her up, she won’t do much damage. I’d much rather that than have to call Ted Fucking Cruz ‘Mr. President’ for eight years!”

We on the other side aren’t supposed to gloat. . . . .You just never know what can happen. But come on, it’s really, really hard to see Cruz getting more than about 180 electoral votes. So I say keep it seemly, tuck it back in when necessary, but, for the time being—gloat away!

As I have noted countless times, the GOP establishment has really created a nightmare for itself by welcoming the Christofascists and their equally insane and reality denying Tea Party first cousins into the party and then allowing them to hijack the party grass roots. How do you guide a successful political party when your base rules its life by fairy tale beliefs and rejects objective reality?

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