Open Thread: Another Cunning GOP Plan!…

… Assuming one spells ‘cunning’ D-E-S-P-E-R-A-T-E. You’d think even the GOP Establishment would have realized by now that Bill Kristol is not to be trusted with sharp edges or political campaigns, but, per the NYTimes:

Republican leaders adamantly opposed to Donald J. Trump’s candidacy are preparing a 100-day campaign to deny him the presidential nomination, starting with an aggressive battle in Wisconsin’s April 5 primary and extending into the summer, with a delegate-by-delegate lobbying effort that would cast Mr. Trump as a calamitous choice for the general election.

Recognizing that Mr. Trump has seized a formidable advantage in the race, they say that an effort to block him would rely on an array of desperation measures, the political equivalent of guerrilla fighting.

There is no longer room for error or delay, the anti-Trump forces say, and without a flawlessly executed plan of attack, he could well become unstoppable.

But should that effort falter, leading conservatives are prepared to field an independent candidate in the general election, to defend Republican principles and offer traditional conservatives an alternative to Mr. Trump’s hard-edged populism. They described their plans in interviews after Mr. Trump’s victories last Tuesday in Florida and three other states.

The names of a few well-known conservatives have been offered up in recent days as potential third-party standard-bearers, and William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, has circulated a memo to a small number of conservative allies detailing the process by which an independent candidate could get on general-election ballots across the country.

Among the recruits under discussion are Tom Coburn, a former Oklahoma senator who has told associates that he would be open to running, and Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who was suggested as a possible third-party candidate at a meeting of conservative activists on Thursday in Washington….

Because Rick Perry is still hoping for a comeback from his ‘oops’ moment, and Tom Coburn wants to push his much-mocked 2004 comments about lesbianism in Oklahoma high schools a little further down his Google search profile, I guess. More good news for Democrats, from the same article:

… David McIntosh, president of the conservative Club for Growth, which has spent millions on ads attacking Mr. Trump, said his group met on Wednesday and concluded it was still possible to avert Mr. Trump’s nomination. The group plans a comprehensive study of Trump supporters to sharpen a message aimed at driving them away from him.

“This is still a winnable race for a free-market conservative that’s not Donald Trump,” Mr. McIntosh said, adding, “It’s not a layup, but there’s a clear path to victory.”…

Mr. Trump’s hand has been strengthened by disagreements within the stop-Trump forces, which fall along familiar lines: Conservative activists are uneasy with the party establishment and favor Mr. Cruz, while many Republican elites have warmed to Mr. Kasich, recoiling from those they perceive as ideological purists…

Every dollar they throw into taking down the Short-Fingered Shouter is a dollar not spent attacking Democrats. As a lifelong Dem myself, it’s heartwarming to watch a circular firing squad from the outside, for once!



Saturday Funnies Open Thread: Trump’s Not For Dumping

trump cat swallows gop elephant toles

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)
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There’s something in the conservatives’ favorite book about falling into the pit one has dug… The Washington Post, company paper for the town where the monopoly industry is politics, reports:

A secretive group of Republican operatives and conservative leaders convened Thursday morning for more than three hours to discuss ways to unite the right against Donald Trump, with a presentation about the feasibility of mounting a third-party challenge as well as extensive deliberations about whether a coalition of anti-Trump forces could prevent the billionaire mogul from securing the party’s presidential nomination at the July convention in Cleveland.

“It’s certainly not too late,” Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) said as he left the session. “You could get another party on the ballot. A candidate could be picked as late as August…”…

At Esquire, Mr. Charles P. Pierce disagrees:

… What influence do these people truly believe they have? If their alternative is Tailgunner Ted Cruz, an oleaginous and friendless theocrat with a very serious political messiah complex, how dare they decide that He, Trump is outside the mainstream? If their alternative is not Cruz, then what in the hell do they think they’re about, anyway?

The notion of a Third Way candidate in Cleveland is patently absurd. For one thing, the threat of a Trump uprising is not an idle one, especially if he shows up with north of 1000 delegates. Second, what makes them think that Cruz will get out of the way for, say, Paul Ryan or, worse, Willard Romney? Even if you accept the notion that He, Trump is not the perfect manifestation of the conservative prion disease afflicting the Republicans, and I don’t for a moment accept that, you cannot deny that Cruz is an even more perfect product of the Party’s madness. After all, he will show up with a boatload of votes fairly won over the previous seven months, a legitimate claim to be the party’s second choice, and his profound belief that the Deity has marked him to lead this nation to Canaan. Who’s going to tell him he’s wrong? Quin Hillyer? And is there any doubt that both He, Trump and the Tailgunner are greasy enough to enter into an ad hoc alliance to blow the whole thing sky high if they don’t get what they want?…

Ed Kilgore, at NYMag, is even more dismissive of the “GOP Cabal”:

… This and many accounts of schemes to rig the convention against Trump — or otherwise keep him out of the White House through means other than beating him in the primaries — generally suffer from an extreme overvaluation of the ability of Republicans to reach and execute a complex coordinated strategy. If they had that capacity, would 17 people have run for president in this cycle? Would it have taken the Establishment so long to settle on a candidate that it basically did not matter? Does anyone in particular really strike you as having the power to “broker” a brokered convention, and if so, what have they been waiting for?

Some seem to put faith in the Republican National Committee and Reince Priebus to orchestrate things to a successful conclusion. And it’s true the RNC may not have a “putative” nominee telling him and the quadrennial army of convention volunteers exactly what to do every moment of the day leading up to and through the convention. But that doesn’t mean the party hacks will be free to do what they want. No, any surviving candidates, including presumably Trump and Cruz, will demand input on every single decision, no matter how minor. There will be no “private,” much less “secret” meetings at which deals go down; there will instead exist the special transparency imposed on people who don’t trust each other at all.

Right now, the only people who look likely to head to Cleveland knowing exactly what they want and being able to communicate with each other without fearing an imminent knife in the back are the candidates and their loyal retainers, for whom the elevation of their lord and god to the nomination is not just the first but the only consideration. Everyone else may well look as feckless as the conservative revolutionaries who sounded like a threat to Trump until it became apparent they couldn’t find their butts with both hands…

Politico found someone (admittedly, a self-professed Democrat) to run the numbers and deduce that “At this point in the race, it would be very hard, if not nearly impossible, to qualify a third party or independent candidate in enough states to come close to winning 270 electoral votes.”

And the Guardian has the lowest blow of all: “Who can stop Trump? Republicans may have little choice but to vote Clinton”.
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Apart from sweet, sweet schadenfreude, what’s on the agenda for the day?



Late Night Open Thread: Tactics

For your reading pleasure, Molly Ball at the Atlantic on “The Final Stage of Republican Grief”:

There are times when you can look at Donald Trump, presidential candidate, and almost see something normal. Or certain Republicans can, anyway. Newt Gingrich—the former speaker of the House, a man who has spent his life seeing things others could not—can.

“Here you have a guy who is talented enough to come from a standing start and dominate every poll, who has won state after state, who dominates the media, who has brought thousands of Democrats and independents into the party,” Gingrich told me, referring to primaries in which non-Republicans are allowed to vote. Under normal circumstances, he said, party leaders would be celebrating the arrival of such a figure.

But Trump is not a normal circumstance. Even as he barrels toward the nomination—winning at least three of the five big states voting on Tuesday, knocking Marco Rubio out of the race, and claiming a large lead with more than half the delegates awarded—his party remains mostly in shock at his rise. Over the past week, as he has refused to discourage the violence erupting at his events, many in his party say they are frightened by the specter of authoritarianism and the possibility of escalating conflict.

But in other precincts, it’s possible to detect a thaw. They couldn’t beat him. And now many Republicans say it may be time to join him, to make the best of the situation, to try to refine and civilize Trump, to nudge his candidacy toward normalcy…

“In the end, whoever the nominee is, the party will, to one degree or another, rally around him,” predicted Ron Kaufman, the longtime lobbyist and Republican National Committee stalwart. Kaufman supported Jeb Bush this year and was a close adviser to Mitt Romney, who has recently come out strongly against Trump and what he represents. But Kaufman saw no need for such hysterics. People walked out of the convention on Ford in ’76 and Reagan in ’80, he said, but they were the exceptions.

Kaufman waved off concerns that Trump’s rhetoric has reached a dangerous and unprecedented level. “Lots of folks say lots of things that probably they don’t mean,” he said. “I’m not in any way, shape or form defending things these candidates have said, including Donald Trump, but in the end, this is about governing.”…

Of course New Gingrich is ready to acknowledge a fellow grifter as his king, as long as he thinks there’s a few bucks to be made from that king. But Ron Kaufman is the epitome of a political coatholder, a lifer whose security lies in enabling the whims of the foremost GOP leading light, however dim and smokey that light might be. If he’s willing to publicly announce a provisional fealty to His Royal Vulgarity, it’s all over but the head-bashing in Cleveland.



Open Thread: Judged

After the Male Punditocracy decided last night to remind Hillary Clinton that there is nothing more important for a woman than presenting an appealing facade, I’ll admit this made me LOL:

Speaking of appearances, His Royal Vulgarity decided he didn’t wish to do any more debates, and Fox News meekly acquiesced.

Imagine the universal media outrage if Clinton announced “I think we’ve had enough debates. How many times can the same people ask you the same question?”



Presumptive nominees and procreating rats

With last night’s results, I think it is fair to say that the Democratic race is, absent strategic meteor strikes, effectively over.  The Democratic Party has a presumptive nominee in Hillary Clinton.

The Republican Party does not have one yet.  Fivethirtyeight.com has a good chart based on delegate targets that shows the Republican Party’s most obvious problem.  No one is on pace for a clear majority in Cleveland and the two closest to pace are detestable.

Fivethirtyeight presumptive

My state’s primary is coming up soon and it is quasi-open with enough lead time.

What should people in my situation do? Should we just point and laugh while voting for the Democrats. There is an active House primary that I have a bit of an opinion on who would be a better Congresscritter, and my town’s Mayor and my daughter’s crossing guard may want my vote. OR should I cross over to contribute to the chaos in the GOP primary? If I elect to go that route, should I minimax and vote for a cadidate who would be a horrendous but competent President (Kasich) OR vote for the greater probability of a large Democratic win in November (Trump)?



Open Thread: Some Men Just Want to Watch the World Burn

By request, for beloved commentor SiubhanDuinne. (Yes, I am aware the title quote is actually from Batman.)

Quick scan of the comments at YouTube suggests that Trump’s fans find this parody extremely flattering, for some reason…



Tuesday Morning Open Thread: “Mega-Tuesday”

Another big day for politics nerds. And that always brings out the Both Sides! Media Village Idiots, such as Ron Fournier:

On the plus side for the national media, the Washington Post investigates, and reports that Pete Rose has not endorsed Donald Trump. You Ohioan voters may want to explain this to your more credulous friends. Or just tell them the primary has been moved to next week — if they’ll fall for Trump, they’ll probably believe you.

Apart from mocking / bemoaning the intelligence of our fellow Americans, what’s on the agenda for the day?