Wednesday, March 02, 2016

A Nightmare Super Tuesday for GOP Establishment

Talking with a friend who is a political junkie like me, we both concluded that the GOP establishment is finally reaping the seeds of its own destruction that have been planted over the last several decades, commencing with the welcoming of the Christofascists into the party.  Using racism as embodied in Nixon's "Southern Strategy" and rampant homophobia as demonstrated by George W. Bush's use of anti-gay constitutional amendment ballots in 2004,  the GOP establishment courted and welcomed in  the forces now rallying to Donald trump's standard.  Almost as bad for the establishment is the fact that the universally hated Ted Cruz fared second best after trump in the Super Tuesday primary sweepstakes   A piece in the Washington Post looks at the sad state of affairs.  Here are highlights:

The window for stopping Donald Trump closed almost completely Tuesday night, leaving the demoralized anti-Trump forces with two weeks and no agreed-upon strategy for denying the New York billionaire the Republican presidential nomination.

Trump pulled out victories in seven of the 11 contests that made up the biggest single primary-caucus night of the nominating season. His remaining rivals — Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — and their allies were left to cling to the flimsiest of hopes that a reversal of his fortunes still lies on the near horizon.

For Rubio, the hope of many in the establishment, Super Tuesday turned into a super disappointment. He made a run at Trump in Virginia but fell short. Late Tuesday, he was declared the winner in the Minnesota caucuses. Still, that left his win-loss record this year at 1-14. Meanwhile, he was running third in at least half the states, and in some of those states his percentage of the vote was low enough that he was in danger of winning few or no delegates.

Despite five days of relentless attacks on Trump, which started at last week’s GOP debate in Houston and carried through a raucous weekend of campaigning, Rubio was not able to deliver significant results. He scored well among late-deciding voters; in Virginia they favored him over Trump by about 20 points. But there were not enough of them to overcome the hold Trump has on anti-establishment Republicans who remain in control of the nominating battle. 

Cruz did more than enough to argue that he should become the main challenger to Trump, carrying his home state of Texas, as he had long predicted, as well as Alaska and Oklahoma. Along with his victory in the Iowa caucuses at the beginning of last month, he remained through much of Tuesday night the only Republican who could say he had defeated the party’s front-runner anywhere.

Months ago, Cruz envisioned that Super Tuesday, with its Southern flavor, would be the day he took command of the GOP nominating contest. Instead, it was the day he managed to preserve his candidacy, although he remains at a distinct disadvantage against Trump, particularly with Rubio and Kasich still in the race.
For the GOP establishment, Super Tuesday had nightmarish qualities. Not only did Trump tighten his grip on the nomination, but the only candidate who has been able to beat him more than once so far is Cruz, the nemesis of Republican congressional leaders and what the Texas senator likes to call the “Washington cartel.” In a choice between Trump and Cruz, many who could be counted as part of that establishment would be hard-pressed to declare a preference.

What is remarkable is that the anti-Trump forces only recently awoke to the reality that Trump was on track to take the nomination. Instead, Trump has awakened a voting bloc that has soured on the party leadership. As he has continued to win, his support has continued to grow.
Trump predicted Tuesday night that establishment money will come pouring in against him over the next two weeks as he seeks knockout blows against Rubio in Florida and Kasich in Ohio. Up to now, that opposition has been scattered and inconsistent. They are loading up now for what could be one last effort to prevent something unimaginable to them when this campaign began.
Meanwhile, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin recommends that Republicans get used to the idea of Hillary Clinton in the White House in a Post column.  Here are excerpts:

As the Republican Party’s future seemed to evaporate before its eyes, Republicans might, tonight, have been more interested than usual in what Hillary Clinton, who swept six states, had to say on Super Tuesday. Chances are, barring a miraculous turnaround in one of the races or an FBI indictment, we will be seeing quite a lot of her over the next few years. Republicans should come away with a few insights:

1. Her speech-making abilities are still not on a par with many politicians, but she has improved. Her voice is more modulated, and her message is more coherent than it has ever been.

2. Her message has been handed to her on a silver (Trump-engraved platter): “It’s clear that the stakes in this election have never been higher. And the rhetoric we’re hearing on the other side has never been lower,” she said. She continued, “If we resist the forces trying to drive us apart, we can come together to make this country work for everyone.” Just a few months ago this would seem cynical, disingenuous coming from such a polarizing figure who too often demonizes her opponents. Now, who can disagree with her call for more “kindness” and her rebuke that America never stopped being great?

3. She will have the advantage, as she did tonight in pivoting to a broad-based message that will appeal to independents and liberal Republicans while satisfying her own liberal base. “Instead of building walls, we’re going to break down barriers and build ladders of opportunity and empowerment so every American can live up to his or her potential,” she said. That rather vague but feel-good message will win over plenty of voters.

4. As Republicans battle tooth and nail for the nomination and for the future of the party, Clinton will be the beneficiary. With Republican anger (properly) directed at Trump and frustration building over which of the GOP candidates should get out, she can begin to repair her own reputation. She will likely have some success — unless the FBI rains on her parade.

5. With Trump in his victory speech still prattling on about the wall, Clinton sets up a contrast that politicians can only dream of enjoying: Sanity vs. lunacy, reason vs. irrationality and decency vs. mendacity.

6. Clinton is no longer the candidate most likely to abuse power or threaten her adversaries. Most voters, Republicans especially, shiver when Trump observes, as he did Tuesday night of the speaker of the House: “I’m sure I’m going to get along with him, and if I don’t, he’s going to pay a big price.” No wonder Trump swoons over Vladimir Putin.

7. As Trump — the most divisive figure in American politics in my lifetime — declares, “I am a unifier. I would love to see the Republican Party and everybody get together and unify,” one can almost hear Clinton laughing — not the phony laugh that grates, but a deep and sincere belly laugh. Yes, she’s in all likelihood going to have the last laugh in this campaign.
The GOP establishment brought all of this nightmare on itself.  I cannot summon up a shred of sympathy for the plight they now face.  The goal is to see the GOP routed in defeat in November.

No comments: