Rachel Maddow

The Donald Trump Show (Trolling the Gap)

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This is your reminder―

Since launching his presidential campaign, however, Trump has largely ignored what used to be his signature issue. Fox’s Bill O’Reilly broached the subject last night:

O’REILLY: Do you think your birther position has hurt you among African Americans?

TRUMP: I don’t know. I have no idea. I don’t even talk about it anymore, Bill…. I guess with, maybe some. I don’t know why. I really don’t know why. But I don’t think―very few people, you are the first one that’s brought that up in a while.

For the record, Trump fielded a question about this as recently as Monday―the day before this O’Reilly interview. When the candidate said no one has brought up this issue “in a while,” that clearly wasn’t true.

(Benen)

―that Donald Trump is the candidate of the internet troll. The whole pro wrestling metaphor really is tempting, all things considered, but let’s just file that under some manner of reality television. You know, to some degree we’re supposed to believe pro wrestling, too.

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A Strange Moment in History

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during an election night event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, 15 March 2016. (Detail of photo by Lynne Sladky/AP Photo)

This couldn’t have waited until tomorrow?

Striding into history, Hillary Clinton will become the first woman to top the presidential ticket of a major U.S. political party, capturing commitments Monday from the number of delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination.

(Yen, et al.)

It seems for the moment this development has any number of people puzzled. On msnbc, Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, and Andrea Mitchell all offered double-takes over the timing. While it is certainly possible to understand a certain notion, that these superdelegates decided to start wrapping up the Democratic Show in favor of turning to the Big Show, the idea that professional political hands couldn’t see the problem with the timing is problematic. Then again, maybe they didn’t coordinate. We might note this isn’t like when South Dakota upped its prestige a notch when its superdelegates decided to clinch the nomination for Donald Trump. Right now, as far as we can tell, of the ninety-five Democratic superdelegates who had yet to commit publicly during repeated inquiries over the last seven months, some did this time around, and AP just happens to be able to turn its eye to history, scooping the candidate herself.

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Clowntastic

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

“The truth is that Republicans are at a crossroads. What we are seeing is a surrogate battle to determine whether the GOP will be a sort of populist/protectionist party, or a more cosmopolitan and compassionate one. And if those are the two world views that will eventually clash, Cruz and Rubio are much better representatives than, say, Trump and Bush.”

Matt Lewis

Conservative stalwart Matt Lewis offers an intriguing commentary considering the real potential of a marquee showdown between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. The junior U.S. Senators from Florida and Texas respectively enjoy competitive positions in the polls, and thus stand out as leading candidates to ascend as Dr. Ben Carson tumbles and pretty much everyone else wonders when Trump will follow. The Roll Call op-ed opens:

“The two people to watch are Cruz and Rubio,” Charles Krauthammer declared on Tuesday’s episode of Fox News’ “Special Report.” Call it wishful thinking or conventional wisdom (or both), but there is an assumption that this clash of titans might eventually occur—and I, for one, am rooting for it.

And we can skip ahead to the ending, a pretense of obvious afterthought―that both Cruz and Rubio can win the general against Hillary Clinton―long enough to remember that Lewis is, after all, a conservative pitch man. Cruz can’t win; Rubio has a chance if he can overcome the deer and headlight air of youthful inexperienceα he often demonstrates so aptly when rattling through talking points that thoroughly defy his comprehension. That is to say, we can attend the pretense of afterthought long enough to dismiss it.

Nonetheless, Mr. Lewis offers an insightful analysis that includes the benefit of also sounding reasonable:

Most people I know think a Trump candidacy would be disastrous, but there is division regarding just how freaked out we should be. Some, like statistician Nate Silver, argue that we are putting too much stock in these early polls showing Trump ahead for a variety of reasons, including the fact that “the vast majority of eventual Republican voters haven’t made up their minds yet.”

Others argue that this is fantasy. All the previous predictions about a Trump collapse were premature, and besides, he’s a paradigm-shifting candidate; the old rules no longer apply.

Having said all that, it’s not absurd to believe that voters will finally come to their senses, and that Cruz and Rubio might eventually emerge as representatives of their various “lanes” to face off in a sort of championship battle to determine who will represent the GOP in the general election.

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The Rand Paul Show (Complication)

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., prepares to address the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference which featured speeches by conservative politicians at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, June 18, 2015. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP)

This is not quite the same as the whole complaint that government doesn’t work, but still, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) offers something in a lesson about the moral of the story. The Kentucky junior has been working hard for a while, now, trying to find a way to circumvent the Bluegrass State law prohibiting him from running for both President and U.S. Senate. And in August, he found a way, convincing the state’s GOP to hold an extraneous, costly caucus that Mr. Paul will pay for.

And while the question of his procedural genius seemed well-enough established in the 2012 cycle when Rand Paul’s created a competitive presidential contest by maneuvering in the caucuses, the current contest presents its own challenges. The scion of fake libertarianism struggles to break five percent support, and has averaged less than one percent support in polls released over the last week. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker suspended his campaign on the eve of Iowa numbers putting him ahead of Rand Paul, and while the punditry marvels at another establishment candidate and Beltway favorite languishing in the polls, there is another facet of the Rand Paul Show worth attending:

Paul’s shallow support in Congress mirrors the kind of support his presidential campaign has earned in GOP primary polls. That has prompted some concerns to be raised about his strength in what should be a safe re-election race for a Republican.

“Sen. Paul earned a lot of goodwill with his efforts last year to help Republicans win back the majority and I suspect party leaders have wanted to give him some deserved leeway” for how long to carry on both campaigns, said Brian Walsh, a Republican operative who has worked on House and Senate races for more than a decade. “But there’s no question that every seat will be critical to holding the majority, that every senator running for re-election will need to spend a lot of time back home and at some point soon Senator Paul will have to make a decision on his future.”

(Yokley)

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The Lindsey Graham Show (Sad Polly)

Detail of frame from The Rachel Maddow Show, msnbc, 9 September 2015.

It is almost enough to feel sorry for Lindsey Graham:

PPP’s newest South Carolina poll finds a clear message for Lindsey Graham from Republican voters in the state: drop out. 78% of GOP primary voters think Graham should end his Presidential bid, compared to only 15% who think he should continue on with it.

(Jensen)

Ouch.

The South Carolina Republican won’t even make the main stage for the CNN debate in his home state.

Which is, in turn, it’s own bizarre debacle.

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Image note: Detail of frame from The Rachel Maddow Show, msnbc, 9 September 2015, depicting results of a Public Policy Polling survey of South Carolina Republican voters, showing they would prefer their U.S. Senator, Lindsey Graham, drop out of the 2016 GOP presidential race.

Jensen, Tom. “SC Republcans to Graham: Drop Out”. Public Policy Polling. 9 September 2015.

Maddow, Rachel. “Let’s play gutterball! A dive to the bottom of 2016’s primary polling”. The Rachel Maddow Show. msnbc. 9 September 2015.

—————. “Rick Perry drops out, leaving only 16 Republican presidential candidates”. The Rachel Maddow Show. msnbc. 11 September 2015.

The Marco Rubio Show (Gaffe Rig)

Marco Rubio: A New American Century

There are so many places to go and bizarre spectacles to see, but for the moment these paragraphs from Steve Benen ought to be devastating:

Rubio, a member of both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee, is basing much of his campaign on his alleged expertise on international affairs. The far-right Floridian would love nothing more than to be seen as the candidate who has a “deep understanding” of “the threats that the world is facing.”

But Rubio has run into Trump-like problems of his own. Just last week, in a big speech on foreign policy, the GOP senator told an embarrassing whopper about military preparedness, touching on an issue Rubio should have understood far better.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., arrives for the Senate Republicans' policy lunch in the Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty)In June, Rubio was asked about his approach towards Iraq. Told that his policy sounds like nation-building, the senator responded, “Well, it’s not nation-building. We are assisting them in building their nation.”

Just this year, Rubio has flubbed the details of Iran’s Green Revolution. His criticisms on the Obama administration’s approach towards Israel were quickly discredited as nonsense. His statements of nuclear diplomacy were practically gibberish.

In the spring, Rubio had a memorable confrontation with Secretary of State John Kerry, which was a debacle – the senator stumbled badly on several key details, and Kerry made him look pretty foolish.

Soon after, Rhonda Swan, a Florida-based journalist, wrote that the Republican senator “should be embarrassed.” Swan added, “By his own standard that the next president have a ‘clear view of what’s happening in the world’ and a ‘practical plan for how to engage America in global affairs,’ Rubio fails the test.”

What’s more, as readers may recall, when Rubio has tried to articulate a substantive vision, he’s relied a little too heavily on shallow, bumper-sticker-style sloganeering, rather than actual policy measures. Rubio declared “our strategy” on national security should mirror Liam Neeson’s catchphrase in the film “Taken”: “We will look for you, we will find you and we will kill you.”

Soon after, the candidate’s team unveiled the “Rubio Doctrine”, described by Charles Pierce as “three banalities strung together in such a way as to sound profound and to say nothing.”

And yet the narrative leads with Donald Trump.

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Absurd

Detail of frame from The Rachel Maddow Show, msnbc, 6 May 2015.

This is important: Over the years we witness much political wrangling over our American military. Even the question of whether our service members should answer to the law can become fraught with the cheap politics of patriotism. But a question has been nagging at me for years: Why do conservatives get to abuse our service members this way?

Via msnbc:

The perils of political paranoia in Texas (MaddowBlog, 29 April)

Cruz sympathizes with ‘Jade Helm 15’ conspiracy theorists (MaddowBlog, 4 May)

Walmart, Pentagon try to knock down conspiracy theory (MaddowBlog, 5 May)

Fearful Texas GOP base amuses nation with conspiracy panic (TRMS, 6 May)

Two points:

(1) Look me in the eye and tell me our service members would do it. I dare you.

(2) This insulting nonsense has reached the top valence of American politics, with at least three Republican presidential candidates joining in: Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

There is no point three.

This is absurd.

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Image note: Detail of frame from The Rachel Maddow Show, msnbc, 6 May 2015.

The Jeb Bush Show (Lonely Own Man)

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush waits backstage before speaking at the Iowa Agriculture Summit, March 7, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

It really is kind of sad. Jeb Bush’s struggle to define himself as something other than the latest edition of a political dynasty becomes one of the unsung debacles of the richest clown in the car. Or, as Steve Benen of msnbc has chronicled:

“Jeb Bush’s dubious new pitch: ‘I am my own man'” (18 February 2015)

“Jeb Bush steps on his ‘own man’ message” (24 March 2015)

“Jeb’s ‘I am my own man’ pitch takes another hit” (27 March 2015)

“Jeb throws the ‘I am my own man’ pitch out the window” (1 April 2015)

This is what it comes to:

After Jeb Bush turned to his mother, father, and brother to help raise money for his super PAC, I joked last week that the Republican might have to turn to Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, Jeb’s son, for the next fundraising appeal. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it’s tough to joke about these guys.

Rachel noted on the show last night that George P. Bush did, in fact, write the latest fundraising pitch for his father’s Right to Rise PAC.

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Image note:Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush waits backstage before speaking at the Iowa Agriculture Summit, March 7, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

More Missouri Madness

New York City, 30 March 2015: Rachel Maddow interviews Dave Helling of the Kansas City Star during an episode of The Rachel Maddow Show for msnbc in New York City, 30 March 2015, discussing the apparent suicide of Robert “Spence” Jackson, communications director to former State Auditor Tom Schweich, who took his own life last month after accusing Missouri GOP Chairman John Hancock of a whisper campaign accusing Schweich, a 2016 gubernatorial hopeful, of being Jewish.

It … it happened … again.

For the second time in a month, Missourians struggled Monday to understand the unfathomable — why a leading political figure in the state would take his own life.

Robert “Spence” Jackson, a prominent Republican spokesman and media liaison for more than a decade, was found dead Sunday night in the bedroom of his Jefferson City apartment.

He died from a single gunshot from a .357 Magnum revolver, police said. He left a note. Authorities consider the death a suicide.

They were unwilling Monday to officially tie Jackson’s death to that of his boss, former Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich, who shot himself Feb. 26. But politicians and consultants easily connected the two events.

(Helling and Hancock)

Rachel Maddow hosted Kansas City Star reporter Dave Helling on Monday, in hopes of trying to put at least some of the pieces together.Robert "Spence" Jackson died 27 March 2015 of an apparent suicide. Mr. Jackson's death is the second suicide in Missouri's 2016 Republican gubernatorial primary, after his boss and friend, State Auditor Tom Schweich, took his own life a month ago after alleging a whisper campaign against him by state Republican Party Chairman John Hancock, accusing that he was Jewish. (Photo via Kansas City Star)

The Missouri GOP verges on coming apart; Mr. Helling describes in his interview with Maddow calls for the proximal players in this awful chapter to simply step away in order for the party to save itself. One might also wonder if that would have any real effect; will a handful of closely associated Republicans choosing to depart change enough about the Grand Old Party in the Show-Me State? After all, the looming question here is what, exactly, is going on with Missouri Republicans?

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Image note: Top―Rachel Maddow interviews Dave Helling regarding the apparent suicide of Robert “Spence” Jackson, 30 March 2015, on The Rachel Maddow Show for msnbc. Right―Robert “Spence” Jackson. (Photo via Kansas City Star)

Helling, Dave and Jason Hancock. “Tom Schweich spokesman Spence Jackson found dead of apparent suicide”. The Kansas City Star. 30 March 2015.

Maddow, Rachel. “Second suicide shocks Missouri Republicans”. The Rachel Maddow Show. msnbc. 30 March 2015.

A Disaster in Missouri

Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich, candidate for Republican gubernatorial nomination in August, 2016, committed suicide 26 February 2015, amid swirling rumors of a bizarre anti-Semitic conspiracy against him despite the fact that he was an Episcopalian.

That elections should not have death tolls is itself a grim enough statement insofar as there exist circumstances in the human endeavor requiring such reminders; but these are the United States of America, and, really, elections should not have death tolls.

Rachel Maddow tries to summarize the circumstances surrounding the apparent suicide of Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich.

Tony Messenger, editorial page editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Had I not ignored his phone call to me at 9:41 Thursday morning — I was doing a thing at my kids’ school district — I might have been the last person to talk to the man who wanted to be governor. It made for a chilling day in which I decided to do something I’ve never done before as a reporter: reveal the contents of off-the-record conversations with a source. That source is now dead. I believe it’s what he would have wanted.

Mr. Messenger again, in an official statement released via the Post-Dispatch.

The story itself is unbelievable, not for any implication that this is something other than a suicide. Rather, the question of how and why things got so far out of hand.

Steve Kraske and Dave Helling of the Kansas City Star bring us a statement from Missouri Republican Party Chairman John Hancock that pretty much makes the point:

I would like to set the record straight, once and for all: Until recently, I mistakenly believed that Tom Schweich was Jewish, but it was simply a part of what I believed to be his biography—no different than the fact that he was from St. Louis and had graduated from Harvard Law School. While I do not recall doing so, it is possible that I mentioned Tom’s faith in passing during one of the many conversations I have each day. There was absolutely nothing malicious about my intent, and I certainty was not attempting to “inject religion” into the governor’s race, as some have suggested (in fact, I have never met with donors or raised money on behalf of the Hanaway campaign).

If words seem to fail, there is a reason.

This is apparently the scandal at the heart of it all. This is apparently the reason Tom Schweich has killed himself.

Elections should not have death tolls. What is happening in our society that we are seeing these outcomes? How does having Jewish ancestry even come into play in the first place? And how is it that this is the second year in a row we have seen a suicide in a primary election?

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Maddow, Rachel. “A shocking death in a harsh Republican primary in Missouri”. The Rachel Maddow Show. msnbc. 27 February 2015.

Messenger, Tony. “From voicemail to voicemail: The short political life and times of Tom Schweich”. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 27 February 2015.

—————. “Statement of Tony Messenger, Post-Dispatch Editorial Page Editor, on Schweich Death”. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 26 February 2015.

Kraske, Steve and Dave Helling. “Missouri GOP chairman denies spreading rumors about Tom Schweich’s religion”. The Kansas City Star. 27 February 2015.