Open Thread: No More Crowns At the RNC

Delicious schadenfreude, from Dave Weigel at the Washington Post:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) jumped out of a gray SUV and got back to work. Joined by a small staff and a few fellow Republicans, he’d taken an aerial tour to see Hurricane Joaquin’s flood damage to South Carolina. Now, he was hitting the ground to meet its victims, walking down the sloping streets of a neighborhood where each house was being emptied before the mold could conquer it.

“Everybody gripes about the government until they need it – sort of like a lawyer,” said Graham, the state’s senior senator and a struggling candidate for president who is among the diminishing number of Republicans still talking about the great things government can do.

In a week that began with Hurricane Joaquin’s floods and ended with the House Republican caucus rejecting the heir apparent to House Speaker John Boehner, flood relief stood out as an ironic topic in this key early nominating state. Skepticism of Washington and fear of federal power, always strong here, have rarely been stronger. Several of South Carolina’s Republican members of Congress are among the leaders of the rebellion underway inside the GOP.

All of it cements the uncertainty pervading the Republican presidential nominating contest — here and across the country. Much like in Washington, where the abrupt withdrawal from the speaker’s race of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) signaled total party chaos, the view is fading that, eventually, this presidential race will get back to normal.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who recently called South Carolina a “lock,” is at 5.7 percent here, according to the RealClearPolitics average. That’s good enough for only fifth place, 28 points behind frontrunner Donald Trump and 12 behind former neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Four years ago, on his way to losing the state primary, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney never polled lower than 13 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), another establishment favorite who is ahead of Bush nationally and rising in recent polls, is currently even further behind in South Carolina, with a RealClearPolitics average of just 5 percent.

“The pattern of crowning the nominee has been broken,” said Barry Wynn, a former South Carolina GOP chairman whose office is festooned with Bush memorabilia, down to a “I Miss W” coffee mug…

“I tell ya, in retrospect, I don’t think we got a lot from George W. Bush,” said state senator Lee Bright, a 2014 primary opponent of Graham who now co-chairs the South Carolina presidential campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). “You’d hope with the justices he appointed we’d see some improvement. We didn’t. Bush definitely didn’t move the ball for conservatives. If he’d have done half as much for conservatives as Obama did for liberals, anybody named Bush would have been our next president.”…

Emphases mine, of course.

Saturday Morning Cartoons Open Thread

gop leadership dumpster fire danziger

(Jeff Danziger’s website)

Count on Politico to be earnestly solicitous of the badly bruised (self-abused) Republican caucus, describing “The 14 days the House went to hell”:

[T]he man whom party honchos are begging to run for one of the most powerful jobs in Washington — 45-year-old Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin — wants none of it…

The upshot is that House Republicans, for the time being, will be left with the same speaker several dozen of them just forced out — only in lame-duck form. Which nicely sums up the state of the House GOP Conference: Those who want to be speaker can’t line up the votes, and the one person who’s popular enough to win is desperate to avoid the job…

With Ryan demurring, literally dozens of lawmakers have been floated — or floated themselves — for the speaker’s job. Yet it’s not clear if any of them have support. Here’s a short list: Reps. Lynn Westmoreland (Ga.), Conaway, Peter Roskam (Ill.), Tom Cole (Okla.), John Kline (Minn.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Jeff Miller (Fla.), Bill Flores (Texas) and Pete Sessions (Texas). That’s 4 percent of the House Republican Conference…

And that doesn’t even include one of the first and loudest aspirants to lunge for the throne:

… possibly because Rep. Chaffetz was forced to wrap up his week by admitting that his personal show trial against Planned Parenthood “failed to find any wrongdoing.”

Another highly-touted candidate has made it as clear as possible that he’d just as rather some other notoriety-seeking grifter accept the poisoned chalice:
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Open Thread: I {Heart} Repubs in Disarray!

The standing “leadership” fustercluck has been a rich gift to snarkists, but seriously: The more energy these mopes expend scheming to destroy each other, the less they have to devote to destroying the American commonwealth for the rest of us.

I’m hoping this show runs longer than The Mousetrap in London. But with a higher body count!

(Complete with surprise twist, at the very end of this thread.)

Elspeth Reeve, “The Republican House Today Was More Melodramatic Than High School“:

… “Be­fore John Boehner stepped down, I said if John Boehner steps down, the same people who were try­ing to take John Boehner down, will try to frag the next guy. … Well, that is just what happened,” Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania told National Journal. Fragging is when soldiers kill one of their own. It is a rather intense metaphor for guys walking around in Brooks Brothers suits. A more apt metaphor might be high school—it’s like prom, except conservative House Republicans dumped pig blood all over the prom queen…

The way the news broke was emblematic of the chaos that took hold today: The press found out about McCarthy’s withdrawal when Representative Ryan Costello bumbled out of this morning’s caucus meeting. “Apparently I broke the news about McCarthy; blame it on being a Freshman and going out the wrong door,” he tweeted…

Mr. McCarthy’s shocking move echoed the stunning events of December 1998, when another Republican speaker-in-waiting, Representative Robert L. Livingston of Louisiana, was forced to withdraw because of marital infidelities. Republicans scrambled to find an acceptable consensus pick, and J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois was plucked from out of almost nowhere to become speaker of the House.

Blindsided by the McCarthy withdrawal, Republicans were assessing their options Thursday even as Mr. Boehner sought to calm nerves by declaring that he would stay in the job until a replacement was found. But in 1998, House Republicans had a strongman in their majority whip, Tom DeLay of Texas, to rally the rank and file behind his choice. No such figure exists today…

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Open Thread: JEB!, Ripe to Rot

Universally beloved commentor Amir Khalid flags a Daily Beast article by (former Daily Caller star) Will Rahn, “Jeb Bush Should Face Facts: It’s Time to Drop Out“…

… After all that money spent, you’re still sagging nationally and in fourth place in New Hampshire, a state you need to win. You’ve had nearly a year to make your case. It isn’t working. You should pack it in.

The conventional wisdom a few months ago was that your brother’s catastrophic presidency would be your bid’s biggest hurdle. Now, in a fit of desperation, it looks like you’re about to draft him to stump for you. Putting aside that George W. is still despised by a not-insignificant swath of the Republican electorate, how is that going to play in the general should you somehow win the nomination? You’re making the Democrats’ job easy, Jeb. They’ll be more than happy to attach you to his legacy, and you’re doing that for them.

Speaking of the Democrats, we know what will happen if you drag this out through next spring. The going thinking right now is that the guys really low in the polls—your Rand Pauls and George Patakis—should be next to drop out. But what damage do they do to the GOP by staying in? You Bushes, meanwhile, for all your patrician aloofness, are some of the dirtiest campaigners out there, and every jab you get in at your fellow establishmentarians like Marco Rubio is going to be used against them by the left. It’s one thing to toughen up a nominee in a primary fight—it’s another to make them damaged goods, unready to lead. If you’ve got some golden piece of oppo that will take Rubio or John Kasich out of consideration, by all means use it now. Otherwise, time to step aside…

Yeah, like Bar Bush would ever permit John Ellis to jump off this train before it jumps the tracks. He’ll never be her favorite son, but he does seem to be the one who inherited the most from her — all the stolid, cruel, uncaring “patrician” contempt for everyone in the world that is not of the Bush clan.

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Open Thread: Repubs in Disarray, Speaker Edition

Excellent summary of the “grandstanding charlatan” from Digby, at Salon:

Everywhere you turned, it seemed Jason Chaffetz was on television, so much so that if you didn’t know better you might think he was running for speaker himself. Lo and behold, by the weekend, he was. A week that started off with him brow-beating the director of Planned Parenthood ended with him on “Fox News Sunday” and explaining to Politico that his rationale for running for Speaker was his superior communication skills. (And truthfully, compared to McCarthy, he’s Winston Churchill.)…

The son of a man once married to Kitty Dukakis, wife of 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael, Chaffetz started off as a Jewish Democrat, then converted to Mormonism during his last year of college in Utah — and Republicanism when former President Ronald Reagan was hired as a motivational speaker for Nu Skin, the “multi-level marketing” company (think Amway) which employed Chaffetz for a decade before he entered politics. He worked as chief of staff for the famously moderate Gov. Jon Huntsman and then beat the very conservative Representative Chris Cannon by running against him from the right in the 2010 Tea Party electoral bloodbath. On Election Night, Cannon said, “the extremists who don’t want to win elections have taken over the party. We don’t want that to happen in Utah. Politics is way too important to leave to the boors.”…

And despite his politically eclectic past, Chaffetz has stuck to his arch-conservative guns during the five years he’s been in Congress. He wants to slash Social Security, ban gay marriage and look into impeaching President Obama. Still, he sees himself as a sort of mediator between the hard-core Tea Party insurrectionists and everyone else — perhaps because he’s been everything from a liberal Democrat to a moderate Republican to a hard-right zealot, depending on where the opportunities lie at any given moment.

He is a good communicator, except for the fact that he seems to have a tiny problem with the truth, which he perfectly illustrated in the Planned Parenthood hearing, when he offered up a chart so misleading that it caused Politifact to call it not only misleading, but, quoting one expert, “ethically wrong.” And while he may have a point that Kevin McCarthy screwed the pooch on Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi committee, his own history of being loose-lipped and excitable puts McCarthy’s little faux pas to shame…

Pass the popcorn… and the Gallagher-style plastic ponchos.