From the History Archives: When Rudy Met Hillary

So tonight is the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, one of those anodyne quasi-political events which become news only in years when the politics are particularly inflamed. Since His Eminence Cardinal Timothy Dolan is a notorious trimmer who, some people say, was rewarded by Pope Benedict with the plum NYC residency for hiding Church assets from lawsuits by survivors of clerical abuse, and who has since made a prominent pest of himself encouraging hardcore fellow Talibangelicals to resist civil laws protecting reproductive rights and same-sex marriage, reportorial hopes are high for this year’s event. Per the NYTimes:

On Thursday night, Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump will appear together again for a ritzier gathering, delivering remarks at the white-tie Al Smith charity dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan.

In most presidential campaigns, the dinner, which benefits Roman Catholic charities, functions as a welcome respite, a forum for levity and self-deprecation in the throes of a heated election.

This year’s may be more complicated.

Convened less than 24 hours after the caustic final debate on Wednesday, the event would appear, on paper, to be nothing less than a high-society nightmare for Mr. Trump…

The Clinton campaign has in recent days been forced to navigate its own turmoil after the hacked correspondences of top aides appeared to include messages criticizing Catholic conservatism…

Which reminded me that I wanted to share a remarkable Gail Sheehy article from back in 2000, a Vanity Fair piece on a related NYC event, “When Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani Did Battle for a Senate Seat”:

Tonight is Rudy’s night. It is the annual New York spectacle known as the Inner Circle, where reporters skewer the mayor in cute, amateurish skits, and Hizzoner has the chance for rebuttal with his own skit. Since nobody upstages Rudolph Giuliani, his will be a Broadway-class show, perhaps his final bravura performance before November 2000, when he hopes to be turned out of the mayor’s office by virtue of his election to the United States Senate.

This evening, however, the ravening city media corps is not his chief target. Instead, it is Hillary, formerly Hillary Clinton. The two have been circling each other with the wary menace of prizefighters in the opening round, but it’s been a year now, and still they have not been in the same room. Tonight’s spectacle at the Hilton in midtown Manhattan has drawn an unusually large crowd, 1,300, including poohbahs representing every fissure in New York’s unstable political ground. They are all packed into the grand ballroom, hoping to witness the combatants touch gloves for the first time.
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Late Night Open Thread: “… The Christian Aristocrats!”

As some of us remember all too well, Jerry Falwell Senior made a great profit for himself and his Liberty University project by embracing Ronald Reagan’s most thuggish social policies as the mouthpiece of his very own “Moral Majority“. Now, just as Trump’s campaign has managed to permanently damage the (undeserved) reputations of a number of Reagan-era political holdovers, it looks like he’s going to bang up some of the Religious Reicht’s most valuable second-gen players on his way to flaming out.

From the Washington Post, “Liberty University students protest association with Trump“:

Students at Liberty University have issued a statement against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as young conservatives at colleges across the state reconsider support for his campaign.

A statement issued late Wednesday by the group Liberty United Against Trump strongly rebuked the candidate as well as the school’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr., for defending Trump after he made extremely lewd comments about women in a 2005 video. The students wrote that Falwell’s support for Trump had cast a stain on the school’s reputation.

“We are Liberty students who are disappointed with President Falwell’s endorsement and are tired of being associated with one of the worst presidential candidates in American history,” the statement said. “Donald Trump does not represent our values and we want nothing to do with him. … He has made his name by maligning others and bragging about his sins. Not only is Donald Trump a bad candidate for president, he is actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose.”…

Paul Ryan attempted to faith-shame Clinton staffers, got rebuked by actual practicing Catholics:

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Open Thread: Mike Pence, STILL Just As Deplorable


(Jack Ohman via

Remember, there’s a theory that Mike Pence accepted Trump’s undercard offer because it seemed like a shortcut to the Oval Office. Even if Trump didn’t suffer some kind of medical incident within six months of taking office, he’d surely be bored enough to let Pence act as a godbothering version of Dick Cheney, right? Some evangelicals even professed to believe that God, or someone in a long relationship with Him, planned to call Donald home once the White House was in the bag. (And it’s not as though Indiana voters wanted to keep Pence in the governor’s seat.) Now we all can hope that Mike Pence will be as thoroughly destroyed by the Trump Reverse-Midas Touch as, say, Billy Bush…

Open Thread: Righteous Anger


“Issues like my ability to milk the angry rubes who can’t understand why beating up women / people of color / gays / their kids is no longer considered acceptable. C.R.E.A.M. for Jeebus!

Note from a hardcore religious-not-evangelical conservative Republican…

Or at least had the good sense to preserve the hypocrisy of ‘plausible deniability’.

Sad Dregs Open Thread: The GOP ‘Values Voters’ Meet the Alt-Right

Happenings that got overlooked when more important news broke over the weekend… Even four years ago, the Talibangelical “Values Voters” could credibly assure each other they were on the cusp of another Great Awakening. But this year, there’s a cuckoo in the conservative nest. Ed Kilgore, at NYMag:

The relationship between the Republican Party and its most important constituency group, the Christian Right, has often been compared to a marriage of convenience that does not involve a lot of mutual respect or trust.

As a couple of thousand Christian Right activists gathered in Washington for the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit this weekend, it was more obvious than ever that the GOP is straining the loyalties of the faithful. The star attraction, Donald Trump, was, after all, the fifth-place finisher in the presidential straw poll at last September’s VVS.

But like a long-suffering spouse, the Christian Right is sticking with Donald Trump as we head toward Election Day because he is convincingly the enemy of its enemies and is willing to make a few key gestures in the direction of the righteous, albeit in a clumsy and offhand way.

None of the Christian conservative leaders who have made opposition to Trump (e.g., Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention) a matter of conscience were allowed near the podium of the VVS. Still, much anxious rhetoric was aimed at those who are thinking about voting third or fifth party or staying home. Former representative Michele Bachmann characteristically used the most extreme words possible to condemn that temptation, comparing the election to the choice God gave the Hebrews in presenting his covenant with them: “I have set before you life and death. Which will you choose?”…

Nor could The Great Orange Fraud deliver a credible performance of giving a good God-damn, per troublemaking Mormon Buzzfeed reporter McKay Coppins:

Donald Trump dutifully trundled onto the stage at Washington’s Omni Shoreham hotel Friday afternoon to attend to one of his dreariest campaign-trail chores: courting conservative Christians.

“There are no more decent voters or selfless people than our Christian brothers and sisters here in the United States,” Trump read aloud to the audience gathered for the 2016 Values Voter Summit. “I’ve witnessed that incredible generosity all across this land.”

Trump continued like this for the first few minutes of his speech — plodding through prepared remarks as they crawled across a teleprompter screen — but he seemed quickly to grow bored. Before long, he was wandering off-script for several minutes at a time, as though in search for something more fun to talk about.

At one point, after indulging in a lengthy tangent about his recent meeting with a cohort of admiring clergy (“It was a love fest!”), Trump suggested the country was becoming less religious because faith leaders were no longer allowed to endorse political candidates from the pulpit (lest their churches lose tax-exempt status). The candidate’s pledge to change this law and un-muzzle America’s pastors has been a key element of his pitch to social conservatives, one of the few concrete offerings he’s made to them. But even here, he struggled to focus…

Mr. Charles P. Pierce, at Esquire, on the people who chose to be there:

Here’s the roster of speakers at the VVS. You will see people who ran for president. You will see the chairman of the Republican National Committee. You will see some of your favorite star pundits, many of whom are welcome to appear on cable news programs for the purposes of “balance.” You will see many of you favorite star nutballs. And you will see the Republican nominee for President of the United States, who went before this designated hate group and pretended he’s read a Bible any time in his life.
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Timekiller Open Thread: Trump/Pence None the Richer

This VP-announcement thing, it’s golden. Everybody wants a piece of it. No way is He, Trump gonna waste his big all-networks announcement if there’s any chance it will be preempted by “breaking news” from some place that is not even America. You media people can just suck on it…

Signals! The NYTimes:

Donald J. Trump’s campaign has signaled strongly to Republicans in Washington that he will pick Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, as his running mate, though Republicans caution the party’s mercurial presidential candidate may still backtrack on his apparent choice.

Mr. Trump’s advisers have told national Republican officials that they are preparing to make an announcement with Mr. Pence, according to three people with knowledge of the conversations, who were not authorized to discuss them publicly. His campaign has said that it will unveil a running mate for Mr. Trump in New York on Friday.

Mr. Pence, a former congressman and radio host, emerged over the last week as the strong favorite of Mr. Trump’s political advisers and senior officials in the Republican Party.

But Mr. Trump himself has sent conflicting signals in recent days, as he has subjected his potential running mates to a final round of screening. He addressed a rally in Indiana alongside Mr. Pence on Tuesday night and met privately with him several times…
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Open Thread: Pastor Dobson Has A Sad

James “Focus on the Family (While I Pick Your Pocket)” Dobson is very, very disappointed by all us haterz who cruelly mock his optimistic embrace of “baby Christian” Donald Trump…

And not just the unsaved Christianist-haters, either:

Poor saintly Mr. Dobson just wanted to remora Deadbeat Donald’s #WINNING grift while that shark is still moving — living off a host’s, uh, leftovers is an honorable tradition among his clan. How was he to know how rapidly the gilt would wear off the Trump scampaign, once it was exposed to the acid examination of non-believers?