Friday, April 29, 2016

Can Republicans Govern Their Mouths?

Back in the day, back in a time that some of us still remember the Republican Party was the party of self-control, self-discipline, modesty, decorum and propriety. The Democratic Party had gathered all the ill-tempered louts, the obnoxious graduate students, the hippies, the yippies, the campus Red Guards and Brown Shirts, and the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

On the one side was the uber-polite George H. W. Bush. On the other side was an adulterous predator named Bill Clinton. Republicans embodied civic virtues, the values of patriotism and loyalty, while Democrats were self-absorbed, self-indulgent, drug-taking, sexually-liberated narcissists.

People are saying that Donald Trump will attack Hillary Clinton because she enabled her husband’s bad behavior. And yet, the Democrats will almost assuredly, at a time and place of their choosing, offer a one name counterthrust: Dennis Hastert. As you know the Republican former Speaker of the House of Representatives is going off to jail for fifteen months for trying to bribe victims of his child molestation into silence.

So much for the Grand Old Party. So much for the party of political virtue.

Now that the Republican Party seems to have become Donald Trump’s Party, one might say that, if anything, Trump, who recently waxed inelegant about John Kasich’s table manners, did not get to the verge of locking in the Republican presidential nomination by manifesting good manners, decorum or propriety. We are a long way from Ronald Reagan’s eleventh commandment: thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.

The Donald has been vulgar and repugnant and offensive. He has almost encouraged thuggery. He has insulted his way to the nomination. Rush Limbaugh is becoming joyfully paroxysmic over the thought that Trump is going to attack Hillary Clinton. If Rush imagines that the Clinton machine will not respond in kind, Rush is allowing his emotions to cloud his reason. As I said, think Dennis Hastert.

Now that the Republican Party has plight its troth to Donald Trump, we have the unseemly spectacle of the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, one John Boehner, letting loose, expressing his true feelings, breaking Ronald Reagan’s eleventh commandment by speaking very, very ill of another Republican.

Speaking at Stanford University, the deposed Speaker, a man who was clearly not up to the job, blamed it on Ted Cruz. Calling Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh,” Boehner went on to say that:

I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.

As it happens, Boehner golfs with Donald Trump. He exchanges texts with Donald Trump. As the voice of a repudiated Republican establishment, Boehner can live with Donald Trump. He cannot live with Ted Cruz. 

For his part Boehner declared that he would never vote for Ted Cruz. He added that his fellow Ohioan John Kasich is difficult.

Cruz responded that Boehner was channeling his inner Donald Trump, but clearly the Republican establishment hates Cruz because Cruz was instrumental in bringing down Boehner. Now we find that Republican primary voters are voting for Trump because they have been led to believe that he is the anti-establishment candidate. Insiders know that the establishment can live with Trump because Trump does not know enough to cause them very much trouble. Cruz does. They are horrified at the prospect of facing a President Cruz. Things are getting curiouser and curiouser.

And, let’s not forget that Rep. Peter King, normally sane and sensible, said that if Ted Cruz is the nominee he would take cyanide. Now we know the issue in the campaign: Lena Dunham and Rosie O'Donnell leave the country or Peter King kills himself.

King said:

“Maybe he gives Lucifer a bad name by comparing him to Ted Cruz. Listen, what John Boehner was most concerned about was Ted Cruz perpetrated a fraud and a hoax when he brought about the shutdown of the government on some kind of a vague promise that he was gonna be able to take Obamacare out of the budget or to end Obamacare.

Surely, it is possible for grown adult men to have a difference of opinion over tactics. You might think that fighting over Obamacare was a losing proposition, but you might also think that it would have been worth some political points to stand up for a principle and to force an Obama veto.

Forget the arguments. Forget the substantive disagreement over tactics and strategy. Forget it all. These men are allowing their emotions to overthrow their rational faculties. They have certainly commanded the news cycle, but they look like indecorous and disloyal loudmouths. Worse yet, they look like they have no self-discipline

At the least, they are showing that the Republican Party is divided against itself. They are showing that they do not hold to the virtue of party loyalty and do not know how to control their mouths. If you cannot govern your mouth how can anyone entrust you with governing the country.

As I said, in the bad old days, Republicans had some manners. They did not speak ill about their fellow Republicans. They did not divide the party over issues of personal pique. They did not try to destroy each other.

The least we can say is that the Grand Old Party has not been doing very well in the polls. Its reputation has declined markedly over the past several months. Politicians might not care about it, but we should not ignore these new polls, reported by Eric Levitz in New York Magazine:

Back in October, Pew found 37 percent of the country viewed the GOP favorably, while 58 percent saw it in a negative light. Today, those numbers are 33 and 62, respectively. That downturn is driven almost entirely by Republicans souring on their own party: In the current poll, 68 percent of red America views the GOP favorably, down from 79 percent last fall.

Trump is doubtlessly responsible for much of that dip. The GOP front-runner has alienated Republicans who don’t like menstruation jokes and anti-trade populism, while simultaneously encouraging those who do like those things to see the party as a corrupt institution hell-bent on defying their will.  

Meanwhile, 61 percent of Hispanics and 79 percent of African-Americans have a negative view of the Party of Lincoln, while majorities in both groups approve of Democrats. Even white people are losing their taste for elephant, with 58 percent giving the GOP a thumbs-down. The party’s friendliest audience is whites without college degrees — and 52 percent of them don’t like Republicans.

It doesn’t seem like a formula for victory, but, what do I know. The Republicans still have Hillary to unify them, and the populace does not much like the Democrats either:

America isn’t crazy about Democrats either. Half of the country views Team Blue unfavorably, while 45 percent approve. And a full quarter of the American public says, “A pox on both their houses.”

Still, Republicans are in a much worse place than their friends across the aisle. The last time 62 percent of the country disliked the GOP was 1992. Oddly enough, that was also the last time a (non-incumbent) Democrat named Clinton won the White House.

Or else, as Ross Douthat puts it:

No Republican (or Democratic) primary in generations has produced a nominee with anything like Trump’s unfavorable ratings or long general-election odds, and you would think the combination of eight years of Obama and the hated Hillary waiting in the wings would have concentrated voters’ minds on that, ah, problematic aspect of Trump’s candidacy.

But, he continues, most Republicans, following the lead of Rush Limbaugh, have now convinced themselves that Trump is the most electable candidate.
Douthat addresses the argument, proposed by Will Rahn, that Trump has a good chance to win because his policies are moderate and non-ideological. If the American electorate is fed up with ideologues, he might be just the antidote.

Rahn wrote:

Hillary’s weak points aside, Trump also has one main advantage, which is that he’d be probably the most moderate nominee in decades. Now, Trump is not normally what we think of when we think of moderates – “reactionary moderate” is perhaps the best term to describe him. But border walls and Muslim bans aside, Trump really most closely resembles an old-school northeastern centrist Republican.

Trump likes the welfare state. He’s made protecting entitlements central to his pitch. It’s safe to say that he’s likely, at heart, socially liberal — the story of how he became anti-abortion, for example, doesn’t make a great deal of sense. … And given the milieu he’s always existed in, it’s hard to believe he really opposes gay marriage, either.

Rahn added that Trump has done well to avoid taking positions on policy issues, because that gives him more flexibility. But, we do not know whether Trump can stand up in an extended one-on-one debate over policy and history.

Of course, many Republicans believe that nominating a moderate candidate is a very bad idea. That being the caveat, we note Douthat’s point, namely that many people who hold moderate viewpoints will not vote for Trump because they viscerally do not like Trump, as a human being. As you know, we do not vote for ideas; we vote for people. And we rarely vote for people we do not respect and do not like:

… this logic lacks the cultural imagination required to see that Trump’s positions won’t get a hearing with groups that might find them appealing otherwise, precisely because they’re associated with, well, Donald Trump himself.

Are there Hispanic swing voters who would vote for a Republican who promised to protect entitlements and avoid messy foreign wars? Sure. Are there upper-middle-class white women who would vote for a Republican who seemed to be friendly to gay rights and favorably disposed to Planned Parenthood? No doubt. Are there African-American voters who would support a candidate who wants to renegotiate trade deals, limit low-skilled immigration and spend more money on U.S. infrastructure? I’m certain there are.

But will any of these constituencies vote for Donald Trump? For Trump the rank misogynist, Trump the KKK-flirter, Trump the deport-the-Mexican-rapists candidate? If you read seven of Trump’s positions to the median Hispanic voter, they might agree with five or six of them … but Trump’s favorability/unfavorability ratings with Hispanics are 12/77. If you go back to last August, before the campaign began, Trump had a 20 percent favorable rating with African-Americans; by Republican standards that’s not terrible. Six months of race-baiting later, he’s winning 5 percent of the black vote against Hillary Clinton. And women … well, he’s losing women, let’s put it that way, on a scale that no Republican nominee ever has before.

Good luck with all that.  


Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: And yet, the Democrats will almost assuredly, at a time and place of their choosing, offer a one name counterthrust: Dennis Hastert. As you know the Republican former Speaker of the House of Representatives is going off to jail for fifteen months for trying to bribe victims of his child molestation into silence.

Ignoring the partisan politic problems, the case of Hastert is certainly illuminating of something, and also that his jail term isn't because of decade old child molestation, but because of bribery to silence. It is interesting also that giving money as a bribe is illegal, while receiving bribe money isn't. I should read more to find out how the story finally broke out. Did Hastert finally run out of money?

Maybe the conspiracies about the Clinton murders are true, and we certainly can see how the best way to end a cycle of bribery is to make your victims disappear. And if the Clintons are not actually responsible for the long list of deaths that can be documented, at least there's more evidence for Russia's Putin's heavy hands. 90 SUSPICIOUS DEATHS OF INDIVIDUALS CLOSE TO BILL CLINTON, 81 WHILE PRESIDENT FRONTLINE investigates the accusations of criminality and corruption that have surrounded Vladimir Putin's reign in Russia.

It's more curious to imagine whether Trump's boastful thuggery is just an act, or if he also has skeletons in his closet, or if elected president, would he follow in the footsteps of Putin and start eliminating his detractors?

But back to Hastert, his case is also interesting in relation to the mixed-gender bathroom controversies, the certainty by some on the right that perverts and child abusers will use this loophole to accost little girls in the women's bathroom. And we do tend to always imagine its men as abusers, and girls as the innocent victims. But could it be that the loudest voices against deviant transgender individuals isn't made by perverts themselves, knowing their own lustful thoughts on little girls, projecting those thoughts on the transsexual deviants?

At least that's consistent with Ted Haggard's anti-homosexual preaching that ended up exposing his own homosexual activities. And I'm sure in his mind he was thinking - if we can just convert all the homosexuals, his urges would be relieved because all men would be straight, and wouldn't try to corrupt him by their gyrating flesh.

And lastly I do wonder what people like Hastert should have done? If one of his coworkers or friends had hints of his "preferences" and challenged him on it, and if he had been honest, and confessed he had a problem, perhaps it could have been stopped sooner. And yet, after discovering you're "a monster", capable of abusing children, or even just one, what should he do?

We know that child sex offenders are the MOST hated in society, and even in prison, he's going to be the lowest of the low, someone that even ordinary murderers and adult rapists can self-righteously hate, and take out their aggression against. I'm sure Hastert will be given special protection in prison for his high status, and vulnerability to being a victim himself from other prisoners.

So it makes sense, whenever Hastert finally stopped his child sexual abuse activities decades ago, it had to be a secret he had to carry for the rest of his life, and he had to lie and bribe people as necessary, even without his political status. It is astounding that he "got away with it" at all, much less decades. And I suppose that also shows the shame and confusion of boy victims, wondering like any girl or woman rape victim, perhaps they deserved it, perhaps they gave some signs.

Anyway, to me Hastert shows that we can't predict who is dangerous to our children, and bathroom laws aren't going to protect anyone, even if they makes us feel better that we've done all we can.

sestamibi said...

"On the one side was the uber-polite George H. W. Bush. On the other side was an adulterous predator named Bill Clinton. Republicans embodied civic virtues, the values of patriotism and loyalty, while Democrats were self-absorbed, self-indulgent, drug-taking, sexually-liberated narcissists."

Right, and who won that race??

I'm sick and tired of hearing about how the GOP can't get down and dirty because then we'd be stooping to the Left's level. I didn't vote for Trump in the NY primary, but damn well will vote for him in November over Hillary. His crudeness is a feature, not a bug, in my book, and a refreshing response to the Clinton attack machine.

priss rules said...

Maybe we should ban talking. Mouth Talk may offend the mute like Vagina Monologue offends the trans-gender.

Anonymous said...

Ares has spoken. A lot.

Recruiting Animal said...

What you said is not clear to me.

Do you want politicians who lie -- by never saying what they really think about people in their own party.

Or do you want politicians who don't exaggerate the truth by letting their bruised egos and personal pique guide their statements and bury the truth.

I think you have fused two different things.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Ronald Reagan said: thou shalt not speak ill of other Republicans. I want politicians who do not trash talk members of their own party, candidates for the presidential nomination. There's nothing truthful about such trash talk... you can disagree without being totally disagreeable. And a house divided against itself cannot stand... the same goes for a political party. As I have been saying from the onset of this campaign season the Rep party, what with its trash talk and its endless stream of vanity candidates, looks like it does not take the presidency seriously and is not capable of governing.

Marsh said...

Yes, Stuart, you're a good conservative. You embrace passivity. Conservatism isn't an ideology, it's an attitude.

William F Buckly once said conservatism stands on the train tracks of history and shouts, no. I'm sorry, but all that will get you is run over. And that's exactly what's happened to us. We mistakenly thought "true conservatives" would fight against the onslaught. For years we kept electing them. But, they never had any intention of fighting, hell, they never had any intention of pushing back! And during the Obama reign they couldn't even be bothered to shout no.

Conservatism is dead to us. We want a fighter. Why is that so hard for you to grasp?

If I have raccoons in my attic, I don't give a Damn if the guy I hire swears or sends out mean tweets. I just want him to get the job done.

The reason the gee oh pee is taking a nose dive w/ Americans is not b/c Trump says mean things, it's b/c they are doing everything they can to stop the will of the people. They are fighting Trump at every turn. And while some may be accepting his inevitability, many aren't. They are publicly stating they will vote for Hillary before they see him become President.

Yet, you don't write about the ramifications of that. No, you are fixated on mean talk.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Only one conservative has been fighting these past years and his name is not Trump.

Marsh said...

What did he win for us? Or conserve?

Marsh said...

Tell me about how he has spoken out against the congress not producing a budget. Or how he spoke out against Paul Ryan removing the debt ceiling entirely.

Marsh said...

Tell me about what a constitutional hero he is and what a steadfast champion of Israel he is when he helped craft the Corker Bill.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

The following from Caroline Glick, in the Jerusalem Post:

Over his four years in the Senate, Cruz has worked tirelessly to block Obama’s domestic and foreign policy agenda. He has been Israel’s most outspoken ally. He has been the most outspoken critic of Obama’s nuclear and financial capitulation to Iran and his betrayal of America’s Sunni allies.

Cruz has used all the power of his office as senator to fight the Obama administration’s radical policies. But that is not all he has done. Cruz has worked with grassroots organizations in Texas and throughout the country to empower the public to stand up for its rights.

One of the strangest lines of attack against Cruz has been the claim that he is an opportunist. Cruz, it is argued, doesn’t actually believe in the causes he fights for. He’s just doing it to get donations, or media exposure, or votes.

But this is preposterous. Most of the things that Cruz has done for Israel for instance, have brought him no advantage. Cruz did more than any other Republican to force the administration to end its ban on US flights to Israel during Operation Protective Edge. The same is true of his leading role in galvanizing opposition to Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

No large Jewish donors have rallied to Cruz’s side as a result of his tireless efforts to defend Israel and the US alliance with the Jewish state. Conservative Jewish commentators have lined up behind Senator Marco Rubio, who has taken the lead far less often than Cruz in defending Israel.

Even worse, unlike Cruz, Rubio has supported some of Obama’s worst policies in the Middle East. These include Obama’s decision to support the overthrow of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and instigate the overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. These policies, which Rubio and his conservative Jewish supporters backed, rival Obama’s nuclear pact with Iran in terms of their disastrous impact on pro-American governments, including Israel, on global security and on US national security.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

More from Caroline Glick:

Trump, for his part, has advocated Middle East policies that are barely comprehensible and wracked with inconsistency and surprising hostility toward Israel.

On the one hand, Trump continuously insists that as president he will be the greatest thing that ever happened to Israel.

But on the second hand, a month ago, he told Jewish Republicans that he won’t recognize that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and blamed Israel for the absence of peace with the Palestinians.

But on the third hand, a week ago, he told an evangelical Christian reporter that he backs moving the US embassy to Jerusalem “one hundred percent.”

Marsh said...

All of his good talk is cheap. He worked w/ Obama to craft the Corker Bill. And no amount of his carefully crafted rhetoric can wash the stain of that bill off from him.

No republican will ever get the Jewish American vote, no matter how positively they speak of Israel. Of course, Cruz wasn't trying to get THEIR vote. He was after the evangelical vote, who are very pro-Israel.

Trump's speech to AIPAC did not strike me as hostile, incoherent, or incomprehensible.'s_Speech_to_AIPAC_-_Transcript/49952/0/38/38/Y/M.html

So sorry, Stuart, I'm not persuaded.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...


As things get clear after the nomination melee over these many months (on both sides), it's time to make a preliminary selection, given all that has gone on to date, and the speculation about what lies ahead...

Stuart Schneiderman: If Donald J. Trump is the Republican Party nominee for President of the United States of America, and faces Hillary Rodham Clinton of the Democratic Party for nomination to the same office, will YOU vote for Trump or Hillary?

No more hypotheticals and appeals to the past. We're not living in the past. The American conservative intellectual scene is getting trounced by the popular will. Either the people -- the non-political, normal, fed-up Republican voters -- who have to live in modern America know something consevative writers don't, or the conservative writers (who view themselves as the standard-bearers for the movement) are missing something.

So let's beak it down to a simple question to our esteemed blogger, Mr. Schneiderman: assuming the scenario I have outlined above, will you vote for (a) Trump, (b) Hillary, or (c) one of the other party nominees on the ballot before you in New York City on Tuesday, November 8, 2016?

I await your answer, sir...

With profound, longtime respect,


Ares Olympus said...

IAC, is asking for a survey - should we bother voting btween Donald vs Hillary?

Many Sanders supporters are asking the same question. Fortunately we don't have national popular vote election. So with plurality-rule by state, and with my Minnesota and Stuart's New York both 98% chance going Democratic no matter what, third party protest votes are mostly harmless, and can help increase the chance the winner won't have a majority of the national popular vote, decreasing the appearance of a "mandate".

Jill Stein will likely win the Green Party vote again, and Gary Johnson the Libertarian candidate.,_2016#Major_third_parties

But Gary won't help Stuart's cause, just another social liberal.
In his campaign for the Libertarian Party nomination, he stated he opposed foreign wars and pledged to cut the military budget by 43 percent in his first term as president. He would cut the military's overseas bases, uniformed and civilian personnel, research and development, intelligence, and nuclear weapons programs. He has stated his opposition to US involvement in the War in Afghanistan and opposed the US involvement in the Libyan Civil War.

He has stated that he does not believe Iran is a military threat, would use his presidential power to prevent Israel from attacking Iran, and would not follow Israel, or any other ally, into a war that it had initiated.

There's lots other, but many states have difficult standards for getting on the ballot. Michael Moore tried running Ficus the plant for congress, mainly for unopposed incumbents, but perhaps Ficus is ready for president?

And you can always write in Lizard People if you want to make a splash.

But maybe Ted and Carly still have a chance, and maybe Carly's singing can sooth the savage souls at the Republican national convention before the second ballot?

priss rules said...

"Back in the day, back in a time that some of us still remember the Republican Party was the party of self-control, self-discipline, modesty, decorum and propriety."

In our swagger culture, those are seen as weakness.

Also, too many candidates seem timid than proper. They seem to be looking over their shoulders at the donors or tip-toeing thru PC mine field in an era when even making a joke about transgender people is grounds for eternal damnation.

The culture has degenerated into idiocracy.

This is what passes for a 'conservative' nowadays: