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Interesting. A few months ago the idea of Rubio losing a Florida Republican Senate primary would have seemed ridiculous, but he proved himself to be such a paper tiger running for president that it doesn’t hardly seem crazy at all. I still tend to doubt it will happen, but given that he’s sunk far beneath even my own low opinion of the man by pretending that the Orlando shooting was anything to him other than a convenient pivot point to get into the race he swore he wouldn’t enter, I’ll be rooting for it.

 

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Lev filed this under: ,  

I find myself without much of a strong opinion on the issues. If I lived in the UK I figure I would vote Remain, but sometimes I read American writers with really strong opinions and I just don’t see the urgency for us. In or out, life is pretty much going to go on for us as normal for us. What really strikes me is just how uninspiring the British political classes are–my distaste for David Cameron and George Osborne was I thought pretty strong, though Michael Gove and Boris Johnson have easily surpassed it. At this point the Leave people seem to simply be throwing out the names of countries (with the implication that they’d eventually join the EU and add to dreaded immigration totals), even though Turkey is unlikely to ever be a member of the EU and the math just doesn’t work out for a new peasant underclass of Albanians to swamp Britain (the former has about 1/20 the population of the latter, and not all of those are going to leave home, and of those not all are going to go to Britain, etc.). Whatever. Remain probably will win, but not by enough to settle the issue forever.

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How did Trump win the primaries? I’ve been working on a theory that he essentially did to the Republican Party what they’ve been doing to American society for the past two generations: divided and conquered it with polarization. He split off the Bush people, turned their latest office contestant into a despised joke and let Jeb! die off quietly. (The irony of the father’s tolerance of racebaiting (via Ailes and Atwater) creating a new GOP in which the son could not find purchase is both rich and satisfying, as is his being alive to see it.) Then Trump split the religious right into Trump and Cruz camps and turned Cruz into a pariah among many of the voters he needed, undermining Cruz’s integrity by calling out his aggressive tactics, making a mockery of any claim to moral leadership. He outsourced the work of taking down Rubio to Chris Christie, and then added Christie to his team. He basically ignored Kasich, which was the smart move there. So he won with 38%, likely the absolute maximum he could have gotten, but it was perfectly orchestrated so as to be enough. Karl Rove would toast him if he weren’t too busy crying into his beer.

Which is what makes this so comical. The notion that Democrats are “choosing” Muslims over LGBT people by, I guess, not supporting Trump’s immigration policies is a perfect example of why Trump’s skill set worked so brilliantly in the primaries but does not scale up to the general election. A wedge issue is only successful if the larger group actually supports it, and the Muslim ban does not do well outside of Republican primary voters. Seems obvious to me that Trump’s already used up his ammunition on Hillary and it did nothing, while the Democrats have just begun to hit Trump.

Given how poorly it’s going for Trump, you have to figure the odds of a convention coup are rising, but that cure would probably be worse than the disease. The only way it ends less than catastrophically for them is if Trump takes himself out of the race, and the likelihood of that depends on how much of a team player you think Trump to be.

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Lev filed this under: ,  

The reason John McCain is saying this is because of this. It would be glorious for him to lose on this note.

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I can’t imagine who would be better suited to be Donald Trump’s running mate than Newt Gingrich, and I’d be quite surprised if it doesn’t happen. As the prototypical “stupid person’s idea of a smart person” alone, Gingrich should be irresistible to Trump. As a longtime (and extremely successful) purveyor of the nastiest form of partisanship, thinly veiled race hatred and entitlement-shredding (admittedly, he was rather less successful on the last one) who still somehow managed to be respected by the press for ages, Gingrich should be an unusually helpful asset (and mentor) for Trump. Like Trump, he’s a serial exaggerator and resume-inflater (his claims to have “brought down” Jim Wright are a bit undermined by the fact that every ethics charge he brought against Wright was dismissed). And given Trump’s contempt for the media, you can’t top this:

Come on, how can Trump pass that up? What, he’s going to pick some loser like Tim Pawlenty?

(Incidentally, I continue to think that Gingrich is more right than not on the substance of that clip, although coming from the man who spent years and millions of taxpayer dollars investigating Bill Clinton’s sexual behavior, the unacknowledged hypocrisy is massive.)

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Rubio deciding to run for another Senate term at the last minute is a profoundly dumb decision for whatever chances he might have at resuming a political career. Why would voters give him another term after he (self-admittedly) neglected his job for a year and then got flattened by Trump in his home state’s primary? Let’s not forget that whole “hating the Senate” thing, or that he’s not doing at all well in the polls. Not at all. Put simply, it beggars the mind why Marco Rubio would want to make a hasty run for office with Latino-repelling Donald Trump at the top of the ticket. It seems like such a desperation move, as though he thought his defeat would mean anything other than a Bobby Jindal-style political oblivion for himself. It just goes to show you how central media hype was to his ascent (and, very possibly, to his conception of himself): without a level of noise from the media equivalent to ten Metallica concerts about what an amazing politician he is, he faded into utter obscurity within three months of being touted as a likely next president. It stands to reason that if he were confident in the chances of a second presidential campaign or a run for the senate or governorship in 2018, he would not be doing this, when the humiliations and mistakes are so fresh.

Some have made the case for Rubio as the ultimate party hack. In that case, it would be richly ironic if party pressure based largely on defunct media hype convinced Rubio to undertake a disastrous Senate race–i.e., that his assiduous courting of the party destroyed him completely. No great loss if it did.

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Josh Marshall:

What’s most telling about this is that little of this has been due to bad luck or news events out of Trump’s control. With the partial exception of the release of Trump University documents, it’s been almost entirely from Trump himself. A month ago Republican elected officials were unenthusiastically but resolutely rallying around Trump. Since then they’ve slowly been reduced to a public and political version of a family dealing with a hopeless addict or a degenerate gambler. They keep saying, insisting he’ll change, only to have him provide more evidence he can’t, won’t and has no intention to. Their very indulgence seems to prompt more unbridled behavior.

The disgraceful way Trump handled the hours after the Orlando atrocity seems to have confirmed for many Republicans that change will never change or pivot or whatever other phrase we’re now using. It’s not an act. It’s him. How this couldn’t have been clear months ago is a topic for the psychology of denial and wishful thinking. But now it seems clear.

No single poll should ever carry that much weight. But yesterday’s Bloomberg Poll, which is actually in line with the trend of polls of recent weeks, will probably serve as a wake-up call for where things could go. (ABC and CBS both have polls out this morning which lack ‘horse race’ numbers – probably coming soon – but show equally devastating approval numbers for Trump.) The GOP might pay a catastrophic price for months with the party headed by a man who is erratic, morally rudderless, mercurial and emotionally unstable – and that on his better days.

As I’ve said before, the nation really dodged a bullet here. It was easy to see how either Marco Rubio or John Kasich (perhaps even Jeb Bush, maybe, possibly) could have superficially rebranded themselves as a different kind of Republican by means purely rhetorical and symbolic changes, with aid of a compliant media. Thankfully none of those guys were any good at actually building a winning campaign.

If you want my advice, don’t bother giving any money to Hillary for the general election–Trump is likely to be woefully underfunded anyway. Put it instead on the Democratic challengers to John McCain and Chuck Grassley. I doubt many of the swing-state Republican Senators survive a Trump blowout, but these two will need a bit more of a push to lose, so…

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