Friday Morning Open Thread: March Madness

Ed Kilgore, at NYMag:

… As a starting point for the anti-Trump collective action cabal, tonight’s debate was probably about as good as it gets. For long, long minutes Rubio beat up on the Donald as a con man and Cruz savaged him as a crypto-Democrat, the two lines of attack regularly reinforced by the moderators and converging in the impression that the man’s a terrible gamble even for the people who are most attracted to him. From long experience during this campaign, it would be foolish to assume the debate damaged Trump’s standing significantly. But if it didn’t, perhaps the man is indeed bulletproof. He did seem uncharacteristically flustered at times.

It’s unlikely Rubio–who for the second debate in a row got into long insult-laden crosstalk exchanges with Trump–or Cruz helped themselves that much. But again, in the collective action scenario they’re like crime bosses who’ve agreed to rub out a common opponent while recognizing that they will have their own reckoning down the line. Meanwhile Kasich was either smart or lucky enough to get a bye into a later round, though if he loses Ohio he will be dumped from the convention cabal unceremoniously for failure to bring delegates to the table…

(Don’t know about Ohio, but as a former Michigander I would be very surprised if Kasich won in Michigan. Denizens of the two states loathe each other with a pure and impartial hatred — imagine the NY/NJ rivalry if neither state had a significant financial advantage over the other.)

Jamelle Bouie, at Slate “Rubio and Cruz Just Undermined Every Legitimate Attack They Have Made Against Trump”:

… Earlier, I criticized Mitt Romney for making his moral argument against Trump subordinate to his electoral one—that the real estate mogul would lead the Republican Party to crushing defeat and place Hillary Clinton in the White House. At the same time, Romney’s speech—a forceful attack on Trump as a threat to democracy—was an unprecedented step, the closest thing we’ve seen to a complete disavowal of Trump. And in small ways, it filtered down to the Republican presidential candidates. Rubio, for instance, hammered Trump on his business record while Cruz went after him for supporting Democrats. Romney, it seems, had given new life to the anti-Trump effort, days after the demagogic reality TV star dominated Super Tuesday.

With those final answers, however, the effort fell flat. No, they weren’t the worst part of the debate—that goes to the brief exchange on lead poisoning in Flint, where Rubio praised Gov. Rick Snyder for his handling of the crisis, despite growing evidence of neglect and incompetence, with deadly consequences for the city’s residents—but they deflated Romney’s anti-Trump argument, revealing the extent to which it’s a hollow exercise and undermining every legitimate attack they made during the night.

As long as Rubio, Cruz, Kasich and the rest of the Republican Party are willing to support Trump as the nominee, it doesn’t matter what they say or how they insult him—Trump retains his stature as a legitimate figure in the Republican Party.
Which, as he accumulates votes and delegates, makes him harder to stop…

Apart from that unseemly image — brain bleach goes well with coffee, I hope — what’s on the agenda as we wrap up the week?

NSFW Debate Roundup: Nothing But Pricks & Dick Jokes

And, as we all know, The Internet was made for dick jokes!

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What’s the 1,000th worse case

Nate Silver is arguing on Twitter that the current Republican primary and the probably Trump nomination is the GOP party elite’s 997th worse case. He offers the 998th (Watergate Part Deux) and 999th(Aliens)…

what is the 1000th worse case scenario for the Republican elites?

More GOP Debate Open Thread

Fox News livestream here.

Guardian liveblog here.

Thursday Evening Open Thread: So Much for A GOP “Third-Party” Run

Any cause for which Bill ‘Always Wrong’ Kristol makes himself the mouthpiece is pretty well doomed. From the NYTimes article:

Spurred by Donald J. Trump’s mounting victories, a small but influential — and growing — group of conservative leaders are calling for a third-party option to spare voters a wrenching general election choice between a Republican they consider completely unacceptable and Hillary Clinton…

Two top Republicans, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, said this week that they would not vote for Mr. Trump in November…

Unquestionably there are many decent Republicans for whom Trump is the last straw. I know at least among my longterm circle of friends! But Chickenshit Charlie is a slender reed; should Trump lock down the GOP candidacy, Baker will be standing right behind Chris Christie, mouthing pap about preserving centrist interests or teachable moments for the Hingham crowd. I suspect this is true of most of his fellow anti-Trump Republicans.

… Among religious conservatives, too, anxiety about Mr. Trump is spreading. Russell Moore, head of the political arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, said he had been deluged by evangelicals asking his guidance on what to do in a race between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton.

A Trump-Clinton race would have no palatable choice, Mr. Moore said. He said it would be impossible for him to support any candidate “who stirs up racial animosity” or supports abortion rights…

My translation: We need those brown immigrants to keep tithing our mega-churches. Also, while Trump is a sexist, he doesn’t hate and fear female sexuality nearly enough for our satisfaction.

… But even as Republican leaders have denounced Mr. Trump in increasingly forceful terms, few of them have suggested they would shun him. Mr. Rubio has come the closest, describing Mr. Trump as a fraudster whom the party cannot afford to embrace.

Still, when the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, rebuked Mr. Trump on Monday for his evasive response to Mr. Duke’s endorsement, Mr. Ryan added that he would support the eventual Republican nominee…

Remember the old joke about the little man who shows up at his doctor’s office with a terrible, disfiguring, painful rash? After many tests, the doctor advises him that he’s allergic to elephants — he just needs to avoid pachyderms and his condition will heal. Alas, the little man cries, it’s his job to clean up after the elephants at the local circus!

Well, the doctor tells him, you’ll just have to find a different job.

AND LEAVE SHOW BUSINESS? the little man cries, in horror…
Apart from tonight’s elephant-clown show in Flint, what’s on the agenda for the evening?