Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Is the GOP Having a Nervous Breakdown?

Is the Republican Party having a nervous breakdown?

That’s what it looks like to many Americans. It makes for great entertainment, but it doesn't bode well electorally. 

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the candidates who are leading the field for the Republican presidential nomination are the least qualified. The candidates who are lagging and those who have dropped out are the most qualified.

If that sounds like rational thinking to you, you don’t know much about rational thinking.

Of course, we know what it all means. We have heard it from a television personality who goes by the name of Kennedy.

According to Kennedy, the Republican Party is angry and frustrated because the current president is acting more like a dictator than a leader. People vote for Republicans. They elect Republicans to just about every public office. The result: Barack Hussein acts as though nothing has happened.

Regardless of what the people think, regardless of what the Congress thinks, Barack Obama does what he pleases. Think about Obama’s immigration policy, which he justified doing by executive fiat because Congress did not act. What did Congress do to stop it? What could they have done to stop it? People do have a right to be furious, but why not be slightly more furious at Barack Hussein Obama and the Democratic Party. And why not do what is necessary to ensure that the next president is a Republican, and not just in name only?

Or, take the Iran nuclear deal. A large majority of Americans and a large majority of members of Congress do not approve of it. It does not matter. The deal is now in force.

Americans feel like they are being bullied. It is not a good feeling. So, they want to bring in a bigger bully, someone who will take the gloves off, a street fighter, someone with brass knuckles who will bully the bully. It makes a certain amount of sense. Or at least it would if there were any chance that Donald Trump would ever be elected.

But, a large majority of Republicans believe that Trump is their most electable candidate. They are saying this just as Trump begins to fade, as the aura seems to be dissipating into thin air.

Trump’s problem is that he is one-note. He lacks the relevant experience and does not know anything about the vast majority of the issues that would confront a president. Empty as he is, he wears out his welcome. Being all show and no substance, Trump is currently fading in the polls because people are getting bored with the shtick.

To look at the bright side,, Trump seems to have saved us from Jeb Bush and that might be a sufficient accomplishment. His charge that Bush is low energy resonated because Jeb always seems somewhat weak at the knees.

And yet, Trump could think of nothing very original to throw at Ben Carson than to accuse him of being low energy. Thereby, he opened himself up to the obvious retort, offered last night by Bill O’Reilly. The host of the O’Reilly Factor was laughing at the bloviating billionaire. He noted that someone who was capable of standing on his feet for fifteen hours performing brain surgery—a field where you cannot make mistakes, because if you cut the wrong brain cell it will not heal or grow back—is not low energy. Carson’s poise and self-control are positive character traits, especially when compared to a candidate who pretends to be out of control.

When it comes to Trump, there’s no there there, there’s no command of the facts or the issues. It is inevitable that Republicans, no matter how angry they are, or better, no matter how willing they are to be led around by their anger, will tire of the exercise.

To be scrupulously fair to the Donald, people have flocked to his candidacy because he represents the opposite of today’s beaten-down whimpering metrosexual hypersensitive American male. For his supporters Trump has been the antidote to the wussified American man.

The point is well taken. Yet, the antidote to today’s diminished American man is a man who can do the job, who can function effectively as the president, not someone who is dancing on a very thin resume. Some people thought that Dwight Eisenhower had low energy, too. But, he was an effective leader. One needs to understand the difference between posturing and achievement.

Many Republicans blame their Congressional leaders for having effectively bent over and submitted to Obama. Surely Republicans could make more of a show of having a spine. They should relish confrontation. And yet, doing so would mean attacking a man the American people put in the White House. You reap what you sow.

Apparently, the average Republican voter reasons like this: Republicans in Washington have been looking ineffectual, so why not nominate a candidate who will really be ineffectual, like Dr. Ben Carson. One admires Carson as much as anyone, but it is unthinkable that a plurality of Republican voters actually believe that he is qualified for the presidency, or that, when push comes to vote, he would win an election against Hillary Clinton.

In a normal year, in a year when people were thinking with their minds and not with their rage, they would find much to like in a candidate like John Kasich. Of course, they would have found much to like in Scott Walker and Rick Perry, too. A lot of good that did.

NPR explains:

In any other year, Kasich might be an ideal GOP candidate. He's the two-term governor of Ohio, a pivotal swing state that Republicans have never won the White House without. Kasich was reelected in a landslide last year and his approval ratings in Ohio remain very high.

Kasich has served in Congress. He knows the federal budget and has balanced it. He has worked on foreign policy. He has governed effectively. What’s not to like?

Apparently, he’s too low energy for all of the tough, manly GOP voters, people like Trump supporter Mike Tyson. So, yesterday Kasich said that the current Republican presidential primary campaign is downright “crazy.”

It makes a certain amount of sense. Beyond Trump and Carson, Republican voters are gaga over inexperienced first-term senators, because electing a first-term senator has worked out so well in the past. And, let’s not forget Carly Fiorina, an excellent debater who seems to believe that for having failed to run a major corporation she is qualified to run the country.

Anyway, Kasich is angry because Trump is taking credit for the Ford Motor Company’s decision-- taken last spring, by the way-- to continue manufacturing some of its trucks in Ohio. One must note that the negotiations that led to this decision began in 2011.

Three days ago Trump tweeted:

Word is that Ford Motor, because of my constant badgering at packed events, is going to cancel their deal to go to Mexico and stay in U.S.

Three minutes later Trump doubled down on the bogus claim:

Do you think I will get credit for keeping Ford in U.S. Who cares, my supporters know the truth. Think what can be done as president!

Now we know what Trump can do as president. Talk the talk but not walk the walk. Make false claims and yell at anyone who does not believe them.

What’s the real story? NPR reports it:

The real story appears to be this. Ford has decided to move some pickup truck production from Mexico to Ohio, but that deal was announced back in the Spring. And Ohio's governor is proud of it.

"I went to Detroit and had a lot of meetings with the auto companies," Kasich said, referring to the time shortly after he took office in 2011 when Ford received state tax incentives. That benefit has been traced to the decision to move the truck manufacturing back to Ohio. Ford executives have criticized Trump and praised Kasich in response to the flare up.

Without naming Trump, Kasich said, "Anybody else that's in here trying to say that something they did today affected something in 2011 must be living in a time machine or something."

On the one side you have a governor who accomplished something substantive, who kept manufacturing jobs in his state. On the other side you have a candidate who takes credit for something that he did not accomplish, thus, who burnishes his resume with a lie.

So, naturally the Republican Party is infatuated with the latter while ignoring the former. Let’s be clear here. When you are running against someone who lies all the time, someone whose initials are HRC, you cannot attack her when your leading candidate tells lies himself.

Kasich continued, saying that the Republican campaign had become “crazy, as in, nuts. NPR reports:

"Look, we're hearing all kinds of crazy things right now on the campaign trail," Kasich added. "One of the guys wants to abolish Medicare and Medicaid. Another guy wants to deport 10 million people out of America."

There, Kasich was referring to retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who recently talked about replacing Medicare and medicaid with private health savings accounts, but later insisted he wasn't proposing the elimination of the programs. Kasich also sounded like he was calling out Trump, who has repeatedly talked about deporting millions of immigrants who are in the country illegally.

And keep in mind, Marco Rubio, splendid human being, does not believe in the life of the mother exception for abortion. How do you think that is going to go down once the country finds out about it?

True enough, Kasich is not the only candidate who could win the election and get the job done. The trouble is, neither Trump nor Carson nor Fiorina is in that group.


KCFleming said...

I wonder if the whole world doesn't simply go mad once in awhile.

The electorate seems to believe in increasingly unsustainable and often contradictory positions.
We've become balkanized by politics, and disagreement is reason for defenestration and banishment.
The Democrats have succeeded in using the IRS against its enemies with impunity.
College campuses, once hotbeds of dissent, are as rigid and rule-bound as Imams, with heretics forbidden to speak and thoughtcrime is punished.
And Trump makes me feel like when Minnesota elected Jesse "The body" Ventura, and then Al Franken.

The embodiment of "the second time as farce".

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

It doesn't matter. Nothing the Republicans does matters.

The magic pot of gold (the U.S. Government) will continue to grow, and grow, and grow... with no countervailing force. Nothing to stand in its way. It will never ebb. It will only get bigger and control more of our lives in the idealists' (of both Demoblican and Republicrat persuasions) seeking to use the almighty, all-powerful "law" to control our lives and determine our choices, promise after empty promise. It's madness. No one will stop it. The trappings of power are just too delicious for egomaniac politicos and growing numbers of imbecile, infantile voters lapping up "their share" of largesse from the public trough.

Some complain that the Congressional Conservative Caucus are a bunch of idiots. I don't see many greater idiots out there than John Boehner, and his desperate attempts to not stand up to the President. Any opposition to the President's agenda is labeled "racist" by the mainstream media, zombie activists, and Democrat stooges. It's embarrassing. The Republicans are stymied because they don't want to be called "racists." Wow, what courage. Why vote for people who are terrified by bogeymen? Those aren't men. Those are pretty-boys who would sell themselves for thirty pieces of silver. Again, this is the attraction of Trump. He just says what he thinks, straight... no chaser. You may not like what he says, but he's clear. It's refreshing.

Our country is run on the premises of a divisive Leftist narrative where we are cast into a variety of victim classes while the political class laughs as we spit and hiss at each other.

Worst of all, on Friday the Justice Department announced that it's OPEN SEASON (even doe permits) on citizens who dare challenge the Washington, D.C. worldview of spending, gossiping and ruining peoples' lives for their own gain, all while producing nothing of value whatsoever. Washington is a waystation for massive quantities of our nation's wealth, where millions of middlemen take a cut before the remainder is distributed to the "poor and needy" -- ostensibly the reason we need all these programs in the first place. What a canard. This kind off thinking -- that we'll get "our share" today or someday -- becomes the shackles that bind us. The idea that there will be no DOJ prosecutions in the IRS scandal would be a farcical hilarity if it weren't so devastating. As Kimberly Strassel has amply pointed out, the IRS targeting scandal is distinctly different from scandals before. Prior scandals were about the political class targeting other politicians or explicit political actors or institutional groups behaving in a political fashion. The Tea Party was a grassroots effort led and funded by mindbogglingly ordinary citizens concerned about our nation's spending trajectory, which remains out of control. The Democrats responded organizing the the phony Occupy _____ "movement" and by unleashing a politicized Internal Revenue Service. It was, is, and remains despicable. And Lois Lerner is now luxuriating in her secure retirement after many years of loyal service to the cause, all self-referentially and self-righteously justified because of Citizens United. This is the modern bureaucrat: the activist who is above the law.

So of course Conservatives are having a nervous breakdown. They see the country falling into lawlessness, and the Chamber of Commerce getting their way with crony capitalism funded through subsidy, regulation and tax loopholes of all kinds. The Democrats give money away for all kinds of transfer payments (EITC), ineffective programs (job training), and phony problems (the debt ceiling). This leviathan has no constraints, nor controls. It is an immense, non-thinking beast. All that money, and we're still running up deficits. It's never, ever enough.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Otherwise, everything's just fine. I may sound pessimistic or cynical with these comments, but I assure you I'm not. I'm as sober in writing this as I am at church. This is the way the political landscape looks to me. The rest of the media talk is an ESPN-inspired personality mash of conflict, baiting, labeling, leading questions, phony numbers, etc. Don't think so? Explain to me why Anderson Cooper is on the air. He's a socialite blowhard.

Sam L. said...

My Magic 8-Ball tells me: Answer hazy; Ask again later. I'm going with that answer.

A-Bax said...

The whole "but Trump and Carson aren't qualified" line of thought seems to fundamentally miss the point.

Think back to when liberals were (rightly) denounced for having a "pre 9-11" mindset when attempting to foist Guantanamo prisoners onto the mainland US, or use the justice system to go after enemy combatants, etc. The same dynamic is going on now, with the GOP and conservatives. Many, many critics of Trump have what I think of as a "pre-Obama" mindset.

All these qualifications, positions, talking points mean JS is the politician can't fight. If they're too cowed by PC BS to stand up for themselves. Witness John Roberts and Paul Ryan. These guys are worse than worthless.

All the beltway candidates, with the possible exception of Cruz, are worthless. They will not fight, because they have not fought.

Post-Obama world is one without much rule of law. It's a Cold Civil War out there, and we need Generals.

Ares Olympus said...

KCFleming: And Trump makes me feel like when Minnesota elected Jesse "The body" Ventura, and then Al Franken.

Actually Minnesota voted for Independent Jesse Ventura for Governor from 1998-2002, and then Republican Tim Pawlenty from 2002-2010, and then Democrat millionaire Mark Dayton from 2010-2018.

In contrast we elected Republican Norm Coleman to the US Senate in 2002 when incumbent Democrat Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash 10 days before the election and beat step-in candidate Vice President Walter Mondale (The guy who lost the presidency in 1984 by 49 states). Then finally Al Franken beat Norm Coleman in a close election in 2008, within a few hundred votes, while Independent candidate Dean Barkley got 437,000 votes, over 15%. Barkley actually was appointed to the Senate for 2 months by Ventura in 2002 to finish Wellstone's term.

So Minnesota likes to stir things up, but generally does lean Democrat since the last republican we supported Nixon in 1972 with the rest of the country.

I haven't heard who the Minnesota Republicans are supporting for president. I'd always wish Minnesota has more sensible republicans. At least when I went to their caucus in 2002 and became a local delegate, I was impressed by their willingness to debate every issue on their resolutions. (In contrast I found the Democrats, or DFL is much more beholden to unions, and I was disappointed to hear people where only there because their union told the to go and who to support.)

Finally to the nervous breakdown, I don't know what we can call this on going disaster. Minnesotans were angry in 1998 and voted for Ventura, but state elections are easier to be rebellious. No one thought Ventura could win. So if Trump became the GOP candidate, it would be a scary thing, and it would be a 2-way race, and no 36% vote surprise victories like Trump got.

But who knows, if a strong third party candidate arose and split the Left's vote, we could really see a President Trump on a sub 40% election. It's happened before. Wilson won in 1912 on 41.8% on a split with Roosevelt, and Clinton won in 1992 with 43.0% on a split with Perot.

Democracy is messy and sometimes I can understand that "I want to piss off the world" vote, and who knows, if Ventura can pick good experts as a small town mayor rising to state governor, perhaps Trump can also be elected on his ignorance, and delegate his knowledge to some sort of experts that just happen to be competent?

I rather consider Ronald Reagan a figure head president, and remember some democrats thought the world was ending, and some republicans as well, and it didn't turn out as bad as it might have. Sure he slept through one two many meetings and lost control of the legality of his arms sales, but he also stood up to the Soviets and scared them into bankrupting themselves.

Who can say who would make the best president. Bush II talked to God, and God told him to invade Iraq, and it almost worked out, if only McCain could have kept the 50 year occupation going another 8 years.

I've lost hope I could know what's best, and the idea of running for office and claiming I have special knowledge of how to clean up a messed up world, we'll my confidence is too small for that. I'd rather just hope more people avoid debt for the next economic crisis. OTOH, perhaps it'll all be forgiven, in exchange for some community services perhaps, so maybe the debt carriers are still the smart ones, and they'll be rewarded.

I rather wish Ron Paul was running. At least his attacks on the Federal Reserve were closer to the mark than our debates on who to impeach next.

Anonymous said...

John Harwood's performance tonight is exhibit A proof that the media journalists who are impaneled to be moderators or inquisitors for Republican debates are a disgrace. -$$$

Ares Olympus said...

p.s. Here's an article with Kasich's raging against his rivals, can't be bad at this point, sounds much closer to a Teddy Roosevelt style presidential rage.
On Bush: "One of the candidates said he's known as Veto Corleone. He's so proud of the fact that he vetoes everything, you what vetoes are? Vetoes are a sign you can't get what you want," Kasich said.

"What has happened to our party? What has happened to the conservative movement?" Kasich asked. He added that he is "sick and tired of listening to this nonsense."

"If we turn this country over to somebody with wild ideas who thinks they can scream and bluster or operate their way to success, it's my kids that are going to be at risk, and your kids, and your grandchildren."

"I'm going to have call it like it is as long as I'm in this race," Kasich said. "I'm done with being polite and listening to this nonsense, and it's time we educate the American people about the consequences of very bad choices."

"Folks, we had better be careful we don't turn this country over to somebody who is not capable of running it."

If republican voters ever get over themselves, they should hope Kasich is still in the race by then.

KCFleming said...

"Actually Minnesota voted for..."

No, 'actually Minnesota voted for two incompetent unprepared nutters' is what I said, and that remains correct.

Anonymous said...

So it's Hillary, eh? With her competence, probity, splendid record of public service, and assaulting the President with such force, the SS guys were scared. And Bill's $2 Billion foundation, muchly funded by foreigners.

As I recall, the current POTUS was a Chicago Machine guy, a part time professor, a no-show or "Present" senator for a few years, and devotee of Rev. Wright. Oh, he went to Harvard.

Both infinitely more qualified than a mere Billionaire who builds things, learned how politics works to do it, employs K's of people, tons of executive experience, no legal problems, undeniable charisma, and a curious penchant for saying what he really thinks. Nah! -- Rich Lara

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Of course, no one around here is supporting HRC. As for DT, zero experience in government, zero experience as govt executive zero experience creating jobs through govt policy, zero experience in foreign affairs, zero knowledge of foreign affairs or the history thereof. DT is arguing something like this: he was a builder, he has worked a lot with bankers, he knows bankers, therefore, he is eminently qualified to be CEO of a bank. Huh?

Ares Olympus said...

It looks like David Brooks is leaning towards gen-Xer, Marco Rubio.

Stuart: And keep in mind, Marco Rubio, splendid human being, does not believe in the life of the mother exception for abortion. How do you think that is going to go down once the country finds out about it?

What did he really say?
Rubio identifies as pro-life. He strongly opposes the Supreme Court's ruling in Roe v. Wade, and has stated that the "right to life is a fundamental one that trumps virtually any other right I can imagine". In August 2015, Rubio explained that he opposed abortions in cases of rape and incest.
“I personally believe that you do not correct one tragedy with a second tragedy,” Rubio said. “I believe all human life, irrespective of the circumstance in which it came into being, is worthy of protection.... If I have to weigh the two equities here, I have to err on the side of life.”
Rubio was careful to say that his views on abortion are “personally how I feel,” which provides potential space between his beliefs and governing strategy. But voters do not always hear such distinctions.
During the debate, Rubio objected to Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly's question about how he squares his support for abortion exceptions with his Catholic faith.
“I'm not sure that's a correct assessment of my record,” Rubio said.
“You don't favor a rape and incest exception?” Kelly asked.
“I have never said that. And I have never advocated that,” Rubio said. “What I have advocated is that we pass a law in this country that says all life at every stage of development is worthy of protection.”
Rubio has backed legislation that included the exceptions as part of broader abortion prohibitions on later-term abortions.

I think Rubio would lose to Hillary in the general election, although its not a guarantee, and it is somewhat contingent upon the economy going on smoothly through election day.

Hillary isn't just a vote for the first woman president, but a vote for Status Quo. And Rubio as a self-declared Tea-Party candidate, he's got a chance to promote a conservative point of view win-or-lose, and see if the Independents will buy into it.

If you compare him to the Real-Deal Nutter from Minnesota, retired congressman Michele Bachmann, Rubio looks relatively rational and capable. And with his young age, you could even imagine him losing to HRC in 2016, while calling out all the excesses of 8 years under Obama, there's not much to lose to let Hillary fail miserable as a one-term first woman president. Then 2020 will be riper for a tea party rebellion, ideally one shaped by Rubio for the next 4 years.

On the other hand, perhaps a Kasich-Rubio ticket would combine the best of these two, allowing wisdom of age on top, and a strong speaker for VP who can articulate an alternative vision for America.

If only republican candidates didn't have to deal with irrational republican voters, it might be smooth sailing. How a candidate avoids feeling insane with Trump and Carlson's support, I don't know. And that's where we started I guess.

But we still have 12 months for good sense to arise, once this righteous anger is heard and validated?