Jonathan Easley

Cheap Sarcasm (w/Apologies to The Hill)

#DimensionTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., 28 June 2017. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo/File)

Would someone please correct me, as I’m wrong?

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied Friday that former Presidents Obama and George W. Bush were referring to President Trump when they warned in separate speeches Thursday about politicians sowing anger and division in the country.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP Photo)“Our understanding is that those comments were not directed towards the president and, in fact, when these two individuals, both past presidents, have criticized the president, they’ve done so by name and very rarely do it without being pretty direct, as both of them tend to be,” Sanders said. “So we will take them at their word that these actions and comments were not directed at the president.”

(Easley)

The thing is, I’m loath to pick on The Hill, this time around, but perhaps someone accidentally edited out the part where White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders actually quoted or cited former Presidents Bush and Obama when claiming to “take them at their word”.

That is to say, she didn’t just make it up, right?

(more…)

Absurdly Unsurprising

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., 3 February 2016. (Detail of photo by Reuters/Gary Cameron)

The lede is the sort of thing that brings that mix of suprise and recognition that there really is nothing surprising about it. Jonathan Easley of The Hill explains that, “Allies of Ben Carson will launch a super-PAC later this month with the aim of turning out evangelical voters for Donald Trump and down-ballot Republicans”, and should the portmanteaux be gruckle or choan, because, to the one, of course they will, and, to the other, why not.

More particularly, what is afoot is that Bill Millis, a Carson fundraiser, is helping put together “an ambitious network of nonprofit advocacy groups” intended to help the Republican nominee apparent work the evangelical crowd.

This is an important point:

The groups have obtained the rights to a database and email list started by televangelist and Liberty University founder Jerry Falwell, and later maintained by Carl Townsend, who founded the influential Christian ministries group InService USA.

“It’s the largest existing database in the world that can send messages to churches, pastors, evangelicals, and Christians of all kinds,” said Sam Casey, a conservative lawyer who is acting as general counsel to the groups.

Indeed, it is nearly a scary prospect, especially recalling the Reagan awakening of 1980. The question this time is just how desperate is the evangelical identity politic. It seems nearly a trembling anticipation to hear the first preacher tell us Donald Trump is a changed man finding his way to Christ.

Laughing will be appropriate, come the day. Calling bullshit will be requisite. And while we might caution one ought to at least attempt some semblance of politeness about calling bullshit, there will be days when such a feat is impossible. Priority will out.

____________________

Image note: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., 3 February 2016. (Detail of photo by Reuters/Gary Cameron)

Easley, Jonathan. “Carson allies to target evangelicals with pro-Trump super-PAC”. The Hill. 4 June 2016.

The Reluctant President (Weather Balloon)

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (R-01) addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, 6 March 2014.  (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

We might plead that it is almost impossible to stay in front of the tale of the RNC preparing for a brokered convention. Still, though, last week’s Washington Post report and the growing hardline backlash that has fading right-wing star Dr. Ben Carson declaring he would quit the GOP if the Committee organized a floor fight have brought us one of those basic moments, an optic for which the metric is obvious: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan warding off speculation that he will be nominated to run for president.

With GOP presidential hopefuls set to square off in Las Vegas, Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday quashed speculation from House colleagues and the media that he could be drafted as the party’s nominee in the event of a deadlocked convention next summer.

“That is ridiculous talk. That’s is just dumb speculation,” the Wisconsin Republican said at a Politico breakfast. “I’m doing this job.

“You guys should just stop all that speculation.”

Several House Republicans told The Hill last week they see a scenario in which Ryan, the GOP’s vice presidential nominee in 2012, could end up winning the nomination if no candidate wraps up a majority of delegates by the time the convention rolls around next July.

(Wong)

This is one of those occasions when you can see the script coming, but shake it off because, you know, come on, just how cynical can we be, right?

Thus, when the Reluctant Speaker who would become the Reluctant Nominee and thus the Reluctant President finds himself pointing out that the question is based on straw fantasies grasped by desperate Party hands, it is not so much that we ought to believe him, but also the fact that the basic proposition itself is so extraordinary even in terms of an extraordinary cycle. Extra-extraordinary. Extraordinary squared.

Something about Carcharodon goes here.

This is your Republican Party.

____________________

Image note: Congressman Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, 6 March 2014. Detail of photo by Gage Skidmore.

Costa, Robert and Tom Hamburger. “GOP preparing for contested convention”. The Washington Post. 10 December 2015.

Easley, Jonathan. “Conservative backlash grows against brokered convention”. The Hill. 11 December 2015.

McCaskill, Nolan D. and Kyle Cheney. “Ben Carson blasts RNC, threatens to leave Republican Party”. Politico. 11 December 2015.

Wong, Scott. “Ryan quashes talk that he’ll be GOP nominee”. The Hill. 15 December 2015.

The Lindsey Graham Show (Establishment Avenger Strikes Again)

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) addressed the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, D.C., 3 December 2015. (Photo: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

It is so worth paying attention to Lindsey Graham.

The senior U.S. Senator from South Carolina continues his trek through the Republican presidential contest, quietly posturing himself as the only sane candidate in the room.

The Establishment Avenger strikes again:

Instead of joining the other candidates in jockeying over whose pro-Israel credentials are the greatest, underdog candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) took an unusual approach. For the first 20 minutes of his remarks, he eviscerated rival candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for what he described as Cruz’s alienating stance on abortion and other social issues.

“How many of you believe we’ve got a problem with young women as Republicans?” Graham asked the RJC crowd, which was largely old, white and male.

“How about abortion?” continued the anti-abortion senator. “I believe that you can be pro-life and win an election. But if you are going to tell a woman who has been raped she has to carry the child of a rapist, you’re losing most Americans,” he said to a cheering room. “Good luck with that.”

“Not the speech you thought you were going to hear?” Graham asked the audience. “[It’s] not the speech I thought I was going to give.”

(Schulberg)

While Donald Trump went about his signature brand of uniquely awful spectacle, and other Republican candidates pitched their pro-Israeli bona fides, Mr. Graham “found his purpose”, according to Jonathan Easley and Jonathan Swan, of The Hill; we might beg to differ insofar as the Establishment Avenger is simply following his purpose, having wanted a piece of Sen. Cruz (R-TX) from the outset.

Really, what are the chances that Lindsey Graham, playing the role of Sane Republican in the Room, can endure long enough to emerge as the last viable contender to unseat the insanity gripping the season two months before the voting begins? Nonetheless, it is so worth paying attention to the Lindsey Graham Show.

This is the GOP’s only hope.

I know, I know. It slays me, too.

____________________

Image note: Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) addressed the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, D.C., 3 December 2015. (Photo: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

Easley, Jonathan and Jonathan Swan. “Five takeaways from Republican Jewish Coalition presidential forum”. The Hill. 3 December 2015.

Schulberg, Jessica. “A GOP Presidential Candidate Just Told A Room Full Of Donors To Get Real About Rape and Abortion”. The Huffington Post. 3 December 2015.

The Donald Trump Show (Typing in Stereo)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, D.C., 3 December 2015.

“On Thursday, Republican front-runner Donald Trump delivered a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition in which he essentially praised members of the organization for being a bunch of Shylocks.”

Scott Eric Kaufman

Daring openings are what they are, and Scott Eric Kaufman of Salon delivers one that might well be, according to murmur and buzz, worth its punch.

Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed chose a more sober lede that pretty much makes the point:

Donald Trump repeatedly invoked stereotypes about Jews and money during a speech to a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting on Thursday.

Zack Beauchamp summarized for Vox―

The nicest thing that you can say about these comments is that they play on ancient stereotypes of Jews as money-grubbing merchants. The meanest thing you can say is that they’re outright anti-Semitic.

―and pointed to some social media reaction, including Chemi Shalev of Haaretz, who tweeted his critique: “The time that Trump spit on a Jewish audience and everyone pretended they were in a water park”.

(more…)

A Clown Car Presentation: Insurevirentaderble

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 12 June 2015.

Never read too much into any one poll, but the lede from Associated Press is nonetheless troubling:

Republican voters view Donald Trump as their strongest general election candidate, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that highlights the sharp contrast between the party’s voters and its top professionals regarding the billionaire businessman’s ultimate political strength.

But wait, there’s more:

Seven in 10 Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say Trump could win in November 2016 if he is nominated, and that’s the most who say so of any candidate. By comparison, 6 in 10 say the same for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who, like Trump, has tapped into the powerful wave of antiestablishment anger defining the early phases of the 2016 contest.

And then there is the reality check: “Trump and Carson are considered among the least electable general election candidates by the Republican Party’s professionals, those who are in the business of helping candidates run campaigns and win elections”, explain Steve Peoples and Emily Swanson, and in truth one need not be a political professional to figure that out. Still, though, how superstitious do we really wish to be?

(more…)

Some Guy Who Thinks He Can Be President

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, during the Iowa Agriculture Summit, Saturday, March 7, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa.  (Photo by Mark Peterson/Redux for MSNBC)

“Satire is tough when some politicians become caricatures of themselves.”

Steve Benen

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has potsherds. Some of the finest-grained potsherds in existence.

Again we reiterate the importance of narrative; the tale sounds silly enough in the straightforward reporting, but the commentary can lend appreciable dimensions:

When reports surfaced last week that Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) may face criminal charges as part of a federal corruption probe, it seemed like a possible opportunity for Republicans. Because so many of the recent political scandals have involved GOP officials, I thought Republicans might connect Menendez and Oregon’s John Kitzhaber to make the case there’s something rotten in the Democratic ranks.

But Kasie Hunt reported from Iowa over the weekend that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has a very different attack in mind.

Cruz also suggested pending federal charges against New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez were politically motivated – tied to Menendez’s support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition to a U.S. deal with Iran over their nuclear program.

“The timing is curious,” Cruz said .... “It raises a suggestion to other Democrats that if you dare part from the Obama White House, that criminal prosecutions will be used potentially as a political weapon as well,” Cruz said. “That’s a serious concern.”

The Texas Republican added, “This investigation has been going on for over a year and yet the very week they announce a pending indictment comes within hours after Sen. Menendez showing courage to speak out against President Obama’s dangerous foreign policy that is risking the national security of this country.”

Greg Sargent noted the other day that he was planning to joke about the right concocting a conspiracy theory involving Menendez, the White House, and Iran, but the mockery was already too late. “They’re already saying [it],” Greg said.

(more…)