National Review

The 2020 Republican Presidential Nomination Contest

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) flashes a thumbs up as he leaves the stage during the third day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, 20 July 2016.  (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

We might reasonably propose that it bodes naught but ill for Republicans that we might consider the 2020 GOP presidential nomination contest already afoot. We might also wish to be joking about that, but this is your Republican Party after all.

Before Ted Cruz’s memorable remarks at the Republican National Convention last night, the Texas senator hosted an outdoor event with supporters in Cleveland yesterday afternoon. As luck would have it, Donald Trump’s plane flew overhead when Cruz said the party had a nominee―and his backers started booing.

And while the timing was notable, so too was the fact that Cruz’s supporters chanted “2020” during the event.

Steve Benen continues, noting, “as ridiculous as this may seem to Americans who are already tired of the 2016 presidential race, there is little doubt that Republican jostling is well underway―in the 2020 race.”

Nor is Mr. Benen joking.

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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?

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The Ben Carson Show (And Your Mother, Too!)

“They tell you that there’s a war on women. There is no war on women. There may be a war on what’s inside of women, but there is no war on women in this country.” ―Dr. Ben Carson

So, you know, we finally got around to making up a quote image for Dr. Ben Carson’s wonderful war inside women gaffe.

Because, like, you know. You care. Or something.

And, you know, because if people are going to read, they tend to need pictures, too, these days. I mean, seriously, if you’re going to socmed another freaking cat video, why not this?

Because, you know, sure, why not? I mean, look, I’m not going to knock sports fans. But in truth, if most of the sports fans I know paid half as much attention to, you know … er, look, okay? I know. I come from a football family. And I get it. Sports really do affect our lives.

But compared to elections? Yeah, I know, maybe the trade seems inexplicable, giving up prospects when there’s no way it’s going to pay off five years down the road, but I am a father, goddamn it! Yeah, I like championship trophies and hoisting pints to victory as much as the next, but you know what I like even more? A world in which creepy old men aren’t declaring war on my daughter’s insides.

And by the juxtaposition, it is worth pointing out that those of us who have better awareness of the political farm leagues than, say, the baseball version from which we take the term, are slightly awestruck today as more evidence emerges that the Republican establishment is afraid of what might be about to happen. But that also throws the political calculus of what happens when and if Donald Trump actually does crash and burn the way the conventional wisdom once believed he must; Dr. Carson would, given the apparent mood among Republican voters at this moment, be a more likely nominee than, say, Jeb Bush.

And in the time you wasted reading my halfwitted justification for wasting it, you could have grabbed that image and sent it to a friend who probably needs it either for their own benefit, or as something to send to someone they know.

I mean, really. I have a daughter. And, you know, a mother. And lots and lots of friends and neighbors who just happen to be female. And not a one of them needs Ben Carson’s goddamn war inside their bodies.

And, you know, “Some of my friends are women!” hardly makes me special. Indeed, for the most part it makes me just like you.

Admit it. You know someone who needs to be paying attention right about now.

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Image note: Source photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call, 2015.

Johnson, Eliana. “The Establishment Thinks the Unthinkable: Trump Could Win the Nomination”. National Review. 19 October 2015.

The Ben Carson Show (Passing)

“I personally believe that this theory that Darwin came up with was something that was encouraged by the adversary, and it has become what is scientifically, politically correct.” (Dr. Ben Carson, 2012)

The Ben Carson phenomenon might well be passing; having emerged as a social conservative frontrunner, displacing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker out of the race, as well as the perennial Pennsylvania tantrum otherwise known as Rick Santorum, and comic relief upstart Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, both of whom should consider following the Cowardly Badger off the field.

It was only two weeks ago that Rich Lowry toddled over from his corner at National Review to explain for Politico why Dr. Carson is “the superior outsider”.

Carson’s rise suggests that it’s possible to catch the populist wave roiling Republican politics and yet not be an obnoxious braggart who abuses anyone who crosses him and will say or do anything as long as he’s getting attention. Ben Carson is a superior outsider to Donald Trump.

He is more gentlemanly and more conservative, with a more compelling life story. Carson is a man of faith who, despite his manifest accomplishments, has a quiet dignity and winsome modesty about him. Ben Carson is a throwback, whereas Donald Trump is a bold-faced name straight out of our swinish celebrity culture.

Then again, this is the same Rich Lowry who wrote the now-obscure rave review of Sarah Palin’s 2008 vice presidential debate performance, and we needn’t wonder why the National Review editor would rather that one be hard to find. And there is, of course, a reason we note Mr. Lowry’s poor judgment.

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The Donald Trump Show (Plants and Potsherds)

Donald Trump.

“If the DNC had scripted the last month or so, the party probably would have come up with a scenario that looks quite a bit like the one we’ve seen.”

Steve Benen

This is one of those occasions upon which I must disagree with Mr. Benen:

A Republican carnival barker would use racially charged, xenophobic rhetoric, which would propel him into the GOP’s top tier, pushing minority communities even further from the Republican Party. All the while, the GOP would find itself on the defensive, and more serious candidates would struggle to gain traction.

That is to say, no proper screenwriter would script such an episode except as naked farce. There is a reason truth insists on being stranger than fiction.

Benen also notes that some have made what seems the obvious point, that Trump, who has formerly identified with both parties, is a secret Democratic plant trying to wreck the Republican Party.

And also that for some, such as Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL26), the conspiracy theory is the best they’ve got: (more…)

Justice

People celebrate inside the Stonewall Inn, an iconic gay bar recently granted historic landmark status, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Today.

This is our honor.

• There is, of course, the decision itself: Obergefell v. Hodges (14-556)

• Or perhaps a headline: “Gay Marriage Supporters Win Supreme Court Victory”

• The author: “Kennedy: The Gay Marriage Justice”

• Another headline, this one somewhat overstated: “Texas Pastor Says He Will Set Himself On Fire In Protest Over Gay Marriage”

• Dissents or temper tantrums? “‘Ask the nearest hippie’: The conservative SCOTUS justices’ opinions on marriage equality are hilariously bitter”

• And why not ask a hippie? “We Asked the Nearest Hippie About Scalia: It Was David Crosby”

• Unfit for duty: “To avoid marrying gay couples, some Alabama counties have stopped marrying everyone”

• GOP presidential timber, part one: “Constitutional Remedies to a Lawless Supreme Court”

• Fifty-four years, cookie dough, and Stonewall celebrations: “From Ice Cream To Ian McKellen: Reactions To Same-Sex Marriage Ruling”

• GOP presidential timber, part two: “Jindal: ‘Let’s just get rid of the court'”

• GOP presidential timber, part three: “Scott Walker calls for Constitutional amendment to let states define marriage”

• What a real President of the United States sounds like: “Remarks by the President on the Supreme Court Decision on Marriage Equality”

I would at this time raise a glass to homophobic traditionalists from Sea to Shining Sea; without your dedicated, horrifying zeal, we might never have come this far. Indeed, your own cruelty and hatred shepherded this day.

Drink up, dreamers of hatred and supremacism; you’re running dry.

Then again, we also know you’re nowhere near finished, at least in your own minds. We’re here. We will hold the line. We know you’re targeting children, now, and we will hold the line.

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Image note: People celebrate inside the Stonewall Inn, an iconic gay bar recently granted historic landmark status, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

The Rick Santorum Show (Papal Froth)

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) in undated photo by Eric Gay/AP.

This is why we adore Rick Santorum:

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum says he loves Pope Francis, but he wants the pontiff to stop talking about climate change.

Santorum, a devout Catholic, told Philadelphia radio host Dom Giordano on Monday that the pope should “leave science to the scientists.”

His comments come as the pope, who earned a master’s degree in chemistry before turning to the priesthood, becomes increasingly vocal about climate change. Pope Francis is preparing a groundbreaking encyclical to be released in the coming weeks that’s expected to make the case that taking action to fight climate change is a moral and religious imperative.

(Mazza)

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The Rick Santorum Show (Splat and Burn)

Plant workers in Cabot, Pennsylvania watch former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum declare his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.  (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

As gifts go, I’ll take a Wire show, but I really won’t complain about the Frothy Clown akwardly probing for his seat in the 2016 GOP Clown Car. Trip Gabriel drew the short straw over at the New York Times:

Rick Santorum, the runner-up in the Republican nomination race four years ago, announced his second presidential bid on Wednesday, pledging to restore a middle class “hollowed out” by government policies.

A former United States senator from rural western Pennsylvania, he appealed primarily to social conservatives four years ago. But he has donned a new mantle of economic populism, one he calls “blue-collar conservatism.”

“Working families don’t need another president tied to big government or big money,” he said, criticizing Hillary Rodham Clinton and “big business” for pro-immigration policies he said had undercut American workers.

Mr. Santorum, 57, was the surprise winner of the Iowa caucuses in 2012, thanks to evangelical Christian voters, and he went on to win 10 other states, dragging out Mitt Romney’s quest for the nomination.

Still, he has struggled to catch on this time around. He is in danger of not making the 10-candidate cutoff for the first Republican debate on Aug. 6, which will be determined by standings in national polls.

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The Latest #GOP47 Absurdity

U.S. Senate letterhead, from "An Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran", authored by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), and released 9 March 2015, in an attempt to scuttle P5+1 negotiations and foster war with Iran.

As the #GOP47 themselves run out of excuses for their attempt to sink P5+1 negotiations in hopes of fostering a war with Iran, the conservative press will, naturally, attempt to step up to fill the silence.

Deroy Murdock of National Review burnishes his conservative credentials―as if contributing to FOX News and declaring his patriotic pride in torture wasn’t enough―trying to provide an astoundingly immature defense for the #GOP47:

National ReviewBefore U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and 46 of his GOP colleagues are frog-marched to the gallows and hanged for treason, one vital point of confusion must be cleared up. Say what you will about the Republicans’ open letter “to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” The Cotton/GOP letter regarding Tehran’s atom-bomb talks with Obama was not sent to the ayatollahs. Had Cotton & Co. actually delivered their communiqué to Iran’s mullahs — perhaps via a Swiss diplomatic pouch or something even more cloak and dagger — their critics would be on less swampy ground in calling them “traitors,” as the New York Daily News screamed.

Either through befuddlement or deceit, many of the Republicans’ detractors have echoed this gross inaccuracy.

This is a unique defense, to be certain, at least among professionals. Resorting to the, “Well, the #GOP47 didn’t actually do anything”, is the kind of useless pedantry we can get from internet discussion boards and news site comment threads.

But yes, that is Deroy Murdock’s defense of the #GOP47: The #GOP47 didn’t actually ‘send’ the letter.

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A Fairly Impressive (Republican) Wreck

Louisiana State Rep. Lenar Whitney (R-53)

“But never have I met any candidate quite as frightening or fact-averse as Louisiana state Rep. Lenar Whitney, 55, who visited my office last Wednesday. It’s tough to decide which party’s worst nightmare she would be.”

David Wasserman

It is not, by the logic of conventional wisdom, a good thing when the candidate actually frightens the Cook Political Report editor, but down Lou’siana way perhaps the Palin of the South and voters in Terrebonne Parish see it differently.

And let us be clear—”Palin of the South” is not an insult, regardless of however hilarious or horrifying or redundant others might find the phrase.

Sigh.

David Wasserman explains, for the Washington Post:

As a House analyst for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, I’ve personally interviewed over 300 congressional candidates over the course of seven years, both to get to know them and evaluate their chances of winning. I’ve been impressed by just as many Republicans as Democrats, and underwhelmed by equal numbers, too. Most are accustomed to tough questions.

But never have I met any candidate quite as frightening or fact-averse as Louisiana state Rep. Lenar Whitney, 55, who visited my office last Wednesday. It’s tough to decide which party’s worst nightmare she would be.

Then again, as bad reviews go, that one is pretty impressive.

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