Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Last Call For Weld Damn There, Bill

Looks like Mike Pence isn't the only Veep candidate more interested in shaping a post-Trump GOP than helping his running mate win in November.

The Libertarian vice presidential candidate, William F. Weld, said Tuesday that he plans to focus exclusively on blasting Donald Trump over the next five weeks, a strategic pivot aimed at denying Trump the White House and giving himself a key role in helping to rebuild the GOP. 
Weld’s comments in a Globe interview mark a major shift in his mission since he pledged at the Libertarian convention in May that he would remain a Libertarian for life and would do all he could to help elect his running mate, Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico. 
But things have changed. Johnson has committed several high-profile gaffes in recent weeks that revealed apparent weak spots in his foreign-policy knowledge. Meanwhile, Trump had seemed to be surging back into contention after he fell well behind in the polls in early August. 
While Weld insisted he still supports Johnson, he said he is now interested primarily in blocking Trump from winning the presidency and then potentially working with longtime Republican leaders such as Mitt Romney and Haley Barbour to create a new path for the party after the election.

Maybe somebody is going to come up with a new playbook, and I don’t know who it’s going to be, but it would be fun to participate,” Weld said in a telephone interview from Atlanta, where he was holding a fund-raiser and rally and planned to watch and tweet about Tuesday night’s vice-presidential debate featuring his major-party rivals, Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence.

Insert joke about Libertarians just being Republicans who want to legalize weed here.

In all seriousness, if Bill Weld wants to keep Donald Trump out of the White House, the best thing he can do is talk Gary Johnson into dropping out and supporting Hillary Clinton. We all know that's never going to happen, but that would be not only the most effective way to stop Trump, it would also be the right thing to do.

At least Weld has his eyes on the larger picture.

As far as rebuilding the GOP, well the Republican party will still exist in some form after 2016, what form that takes I couldn't tell you.  The last time they tried to fix their problems, the post-mortem of 2012 was thrown in the nearest incinerator and it produced Trump and the current era of overt GOP racists.

Fixing the party again may get us somebody worse.  You know, like Ted Cruz.

Mike's Pence-ive Defense Of Trump

I'm with Vox's Matt Yglesias on last night's debate: Mike Pence pulled off a pretty good demonstration of how the GOP will continue after Trump loses in November: simply pretend The Donald never happened.

Republican Party elected officials in contested races around the country have been grappling with a basic but profound issue all year — how do you stand up for the GOP and conservative principles and against Hillary Clinton without getting sucked into defending every crazy, offensive, or weird thing that Donald Trump said? It can be a tough line to walk, as New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte learned this week
Debating Tim Kaine Tuesday night, Mike Pence taught a master class in how it’s done. Every time Kaine attacked, Pence parried and deftly shifted the conversation to something else entirely. 
When Kaine demanded that Pence defend Trump’s secrecy on his taxes, Pence ducked and talked about how low taxes are good for economic growth. When Kaine offered an extended list of Trump insults that he said he couldn’t believe Pence would defend, Pence didn’t defend them — he pivoted to complaining about Clinton and the “basket of deplorables.” Pence was tight, disciplined, and focused on his talking points. He never took the bait, never let himself get dragged into unfavorable terrain, and simply ignored subjects he didn’t want to discuss. 
It was a genuinely bravura performance, one that a passel of GOP senators and Congress members running in tough races ought to study. The problem is Trump is at the top of the ticket.

In other words, the GOP are already masters of gaslighting and fact-free rhetoric, so why wouldn't pretending Donald Trump is invisible not work in 2018 and 2020?  Vox's Dara Lind follows up on this and a lot of it comes back to race:

The question is this: Has the median American voter has moved so far to the left on race in the last decade that she won’t get upset by the implication that America’s race problem runs so deep it probably includes her? (Democrats only other option is mastering the art of mobilization of nonwhite voters so thoroughly that they can change where the median voter is by changing the population of voters — a much tougher battle.) 
Or is it just that Donald Trump, short-tempered and Twitter-fingered as he is, is such an anomaly that he liberates Democrats from the task of moderating their own message?
Mike Pence, by all appearances, believes the latter: that there is a large population of people who really don’t like being called racist but who, for Trump-specific reasons, don’t like Trump. 
It’s not that Tim Kaine (or Clinton, or other Democrats) can’t defend their racial ideology. At least during the section on implicit bias — one of the clearest, most honest segments of the night — Kaine showed he was willing to address the meat of what Pence was saying. 
But it’s not clear that Kaine (or Clinton, or other Democrats) think that those defenses will persuade enough of the American public. Kaine wasn’t satisfied simply to offer an explanation of what implicit bias actually is, and how it manifests itself in criminal justice. He felt the need to pivot to a riff on Donald Trump’s insults, and all the things the Republican nominee hasn’t apologized for. 
The political theory behind what Mike Pence was doing Tuesday night — the theory behind the new law-and-order conservatism — is that without Donald Trump to pivot to, Democrats won’t win the argument on race with “mainstream” America

In other words, pretend that somehow, Donald Trump's overt racism does not represent the GOP as a whole, and there are plenty of Republicans who are going to buy into that and move on after November.  The Village Media certainly will.

So yes, expect the "Pence Defense" going forward.  "We're not racist, gay-hating Islamophobic bigots, that was Donald Trump, and you're the real racists for thinking otherwise!" will be the order of the day until at least 2020.

How well they will be able to get away with it depends on a number of things, but that's what's coming for sure.

Orange You Going To Be His Friend, Kelly?

The Donald Trump rain of destruction on GOP downticket candidates is starting to take a real toll on Republicans being able to keep control of the Senate and several state legislatures (not that Republicans not named Trump aren't somehow contributing to their own demise) but NH GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte looked comical this week when stuck with the question of whether or not Trump makes a good role model for America's kids.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said she would “absolutely” point to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump as a role model for children but still declined to endorse him for president in an awkward answer to a debate question Monday night.

During the second debate of 2016 in the critical New Hampshire Senate race, Ayotte, who faces a tough challenge from New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan (D), was asked whether she sees Trump as a role model. 
“Well, I think that certainly there are many role models that we have, and I believe he can serve as president, and so absolutely I would do that,” Ayotte said. 
When asked why she still won’t endorse Trump outright, she reiterated that she differs with him on certain issues and then pivoted to hit Hassan for the governor's support of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. 
“Because I’ve had some disagreements with him, and I’ve been quite clear about those disagreements,” Ayotte said. 
“And this is an area where Gov. Hassan has been lockstep with Secretary Clinton. I haven’t heard major disagreements that she’s had with Secretary Clinton, so who’s going to stand up on behalf of the people of New Hampshire?”

And then Ayotte immediately ran away from her own statement, screaming.

Following the debate, Ayotte walked back her comment in a statement sent by the campaign, saying she "misspoke." She said neither Trump nor Clinton are good role models for her own children.

"I misspoke tonight. While I would hope all of our children would aspire to be president, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton have set a good example and I wouldn't hold up either of them as role models for my kids," Ayotte said.

Those pretzel knots that GOP candidates are tying themselves into over Trump are cutting off blood flow to the brain. Who knew?


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