I pointed out last week that the GOP was facing a version of the prisoner dilemma, whereby they could stick together and try to stick it to Trump or act in their own selfish self interest and cosy up to the heir hair apparent (as Chris Christie did….and what the hell was he thinking while he stood there behind Trump!).
Well it would seem after Super Tuesday, the rest of the GOP tried to imagine a Trump presidency… and after seeing visions of mushroom clouds, or him being hauled away in a straitjacket to the funny farm on his first day….or (more than likely!) Hilary giving her victory speech after sweeping the electoral college….they dug in their heels, threw their toys out of the pram and said hell no!
Over the last week, Trump has been subjected to a barrage of criticism from both his fellow candidates and from many GOP grandees. Mitt Romney called him a phony, a big fat phony. John McCain, joined in declaring him unfit for office, while 116 members of the GOP national security committee (which includes several ex-cabinet minsters, advisers and defence analysts) declared in a letter that Trump was “wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle” “He swings from isolationism to military adventurism within the space of one sentence”.
And of course the Bush family do not like him (meaning we can add both still living Republican presidents to his enemies list). And as for those who see Trump as another Reagan, well as I discussed in a recent article, that is not the case and furthermore Reagan’s own son has been critical of Trump. So when we say the GOP establishment is against him, let us be clear, we mean pretty much an entire generation of the GOP including all living presidential candidates, presidents, many of the senior staff in those regimes and much of Congress including both the leaders of the house and senate.
I also mentioned in my prior article how Fox news faced a dilemma, in whether or not to go after Trump. The latest GOP debate suggests they’ve clearly decided to get the knifes out. They ambushed him on a number of fronts, notably Trump university (a degree mill scam Trump set up to capitalise on his Apprentice fame). Fox also introduced a new feature to the debates, a sort of “bullshit corrector” whereby if any of the candidates came out with some ridiculous grade A BS, the moderators would flash up an infographic proving he was talking codswollop.
Needless to say, Trump fell foul of this regularly, notably over his claim to be able to save $300 billion from the Medicare budget by negotiating a better price with drug companies. It was pointed out that the US spends a total of just $78 billion on drugs through Medicare, so even if he got all the drugs for free, he’s still be short by about $222 billion! Although oddly enough Trump was more interested in defending the size of his….hands.
I would note that I’ve long called for this in debates before (some sort of BS detector so that outragious claims can be proven to be false), notably in EU debates involving Farage and the out camp. It also does seem to suggest that Fox aren’t quite as incompetent as they’d like to pretend to be. As the Young Turks commented, Fox can do good journalism when they want to, its just they usually prefer not to as it means they can get away with the sort of silly lies and half-truths (e.g. how Birmingham is totally Muslim) they broadcast instead. But I digress….
The Red Convention
Plan A for the Republican National Committiee (RNC) had been to wait and let Trump self destruct all by himself, same as happened to many of his business ventures. While this will probably happen eventually, it probably won’t happen until after the primaries, perhaps even after the election and the RNC don’t want to wait. Plan B was to clear the field and leave in one clear challenger. But that hasn’t worked out either. So plan C seems to be to keep as many of the contenders in the field for as long as possible and deny him a majority. In effect they plan to sabotage their own primary voting system, so that the decision on the candidate will then fall to the RNC grandee’s at the convention in July, who are already working out how to knife Trump as painlessly as possible.
However, this tactic will benefit Ted Cruz more than anybody. Trouble is, there are plenty who consider him as dangerous, if not worse than Trump. And he is likely to be equally unelectable. While some polls do put him ahead of Hilary, this is probably because many voters aren’t familiar with his policies. For example, Ted Cruz wants a flat tax of 10%. The US gross domestic product is $18tn, the federal budget is $3.8tn. Even if the 10% tax is somehow applied to the entire GDP (which it won’t!). That still leaves him short by about $2tn! Doubling the flat tax might work, but that would amount to a massive tax hike for everyone who isn’t a millionaire and a tax cut for the wealthy.
I suspect the RNC plan is therefore to ice Cruz at the convention also, probably by leaking some documents regarding his ineligibility to be president to the press at a critical stage of the convention. I have this vision of Romney (who speaks French) calling out to him as he enters the convention hall “Bon Chance” and Cruz replying “Merci”. Or maybe one of his aides will be caught at the border shipping in maple syrup (some varieties are banned in the US) and poutine?
That would push things the way of the chosen one Marco Rubio. He stands the best chance of defeating Hilary, but let’s face it he’s just a kid. I’m convinced he shows up to these debates on a skate board shouting cowabunga to Trump as he passes him. Rubio is the preferred candidate by the RNC simply because he can be controlled. And he can be controlled because if doesn’t anything he wasn’t supposed to do his mom will ground him.
In short, the GOP convention in July could get as bloody as the red wedding in Game of Thrones. But its likely that neither Trump nor Cruz will go quietly. If Trump has captured the most delegates, but is denied the nomination, then he’ll likely walk and run as an independent, splitting the party. And similarly I can’t see Ted Cruz going down without a fight, likely they’d have to give him a senior cabinet post or something. He might even ally with Trump or run as an independent himself.
Alternatively if the RNC don’t get their way, Trump being anointed at the convention could well prompt a series of high profile resignations and defections to the Democrats (perhaps giving Obama enough of a majority to push a few more things through). I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of some moderate republican (perhaps Romney or Paul Ryan) even running against Trump as an independent.
Why the GOP has to lose in November….to save itself
All in all, what the GOP has on its hands is a mess and a mess of their own creation. For years they’ve adopted a tactic of bait and switch, manipulating their base with the most outrageous lies, using fear and scare tactics, focusing on what are essentially fringe issues (abortion, vaccines, creationism), or adopting obviously contrarian and hypocritical position on issues (i.e. gun control, ignoring that many countries have liberal guns laws, but strong gun regulation and as a result few gun deaths…and ignoring the ease with which terrorists could exploit a lack of gun regulation). In all cases the intent of these tactics was to prevent the political debate moving onto more pressing topics (such as who was responsible for the financial crisis and is it any coincidence that since Reagan’s cuts to the top rate of taxes the US now has a deficit problem).
Indeed, the GOP’s attempts threat to filibuster to stop Obama appointing a new chief justice highlights everything wrong with the party. With the Supreme court now effectively split it cannot do its job effectively, its back log of cases will grow, and one of its key jobs is to curb the executive powers of the president (so if you are afraid of President Obama one can scarcely think of a dumber thing to do than delay the appointment of a supreme court justice). The court also oversees legislation passed by Congress. So in effect the GOP are arguing for a shutdown of the entire US government for the next 10 months or so.
If that sounds crazy, well the problem is its not that crazy to Republicans, as they’ve effectively shut down Congress for the last few years as they try to wait out the clock on Obama’s presidency, ignoring many of the issues their supporters worry about, be it the rising deficit or the fact that many are still struggling from the aftermath of the Great recession. In essence they’ve treated their supporters like sheep and now the sheep on animal farm are rebelling. Trump and Cruz are the inevitable consequences of this policy and its going to earn them Hilary Clinton as president.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not necessarily a fan of Hilary. If I had a vote in November, the only situation I’d vote for her would be to stop Cruz or Trump (although that said fallout boy is a climate denier….from Florida! That’s like being a snow denier from Alaska!) and then only if I lived in a swing state, otherwise I’d probably vote for a third party candidate. Which is exactly what I’d advise any Republicans who genuinely care about their party to do, regardless of who gets the nomination. If you can’t bring yourself to vote for Hilary, vote for a third party candidate or sit out the election. The GOP losing to Hilary and losing big, might just be enough of a shock to the system to knock some sense into the party.
The leadership would be forced to realise that they need to treat their supporters as voters and not sheep and that they need come up with policies that will actually help them, rather than soundbites. While the Tea party wing will be forced to realise that if they keep putting forward wingnut’s for election with crackpot policies they’ll loose every time to ever more left wing democrats.