Friday, June 3, 2016

Riding Trump's Coattails to Hell

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
"I love it but I hate the taste
Weight keeping me down."
-All My Life, The Foo Fighters
Paul Ryan's notably belated endorsement of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump today is certainly suspicious while ludicrous in any number of ways and levels. It betrayed once again that when its back is against the wall, Republicans will endorse anyone and anything as long as they run with the party banner regardless of what a downhill rolling dumpster fire the nominee is.
     Indeed, Republicans, in their ruthless quest for political primacy, seem to be the last political animals to be seduced by the notion of political purity. Political purity is a convenient trope thrown out by both sides when it's revealed that one presidential nominee or the other is deeply-flawed in some important way before being ordered to get in formation and support that person regardless of their lack of fitness for the highest office in the land.
     However, Republicans aren't doing that this time around in the Age of Trump. Republicans are plainly gobsmacked as they did not see Trump's rise to prominence this time around. In fact, their collective shudder and horror at the idea of a Trump presidency amplify the horror Democrats feel at the rise of the other insurgent candidate: Bernie Sanders.
     And Speaker Ryan's endorsement of Trump was just as lackluster and lukewarm and belated as that of Jerry's Brown's nod to Hillary Clinton earlier this week. And if bleeding heart liberalism were capable of anything other than schadenfreude, it'd pity the poor Republicans because, on their side of the tracks, Donald Trump's the only game in town. At least Democrats have a bit of flexibility.
     To borrow a page from the Rude Pundit, Ryan is like a broke straight guy forced to appear in a gay porno because the rent's overdue and the lights have been shut off. You know the type and can spot them right away: He gamely tries to play his part while the real pros work on him. His Exit Only sphincter clenches up and can't be entered or jerks his head away just before the Big Explosion. 
     Because your landlord's a complete, uncompromising asshole and anything, even this, is better than eviction.
     And, in cases such as this when a plainly unhinged lunatic such as Donald Trump claws his way to the top of the shit hill, we hear the usual Pravda-like dispatches from the party's trenches that the party is unified and standing behind their standard bearer to a man. There is no dissent in our ranks, comrades!
     ...except when there is.

Working For Me Will Set You Free
     See, the problem Trump has moreso than even the brain stem-driven condom fodder that came before Obama is optics and, as usual, they're not very good. There's the fascist thing, the racist thing, the Man Without a Filter Thing and the GOP's greatest weapon for the last several decades has been plausible deniability. And it's a weapon Trump's already stolen from them. The multiply bankrupted casino mogul has been on the road for the last 50 weeks telling Republican voters and Teabaggers exactly what they've been waiting to hear from mainstream Republican officials and candidates but haven't.
     And while we like to caricaturize Republicans as being thick necked morons, the truth is they're crunching the same numbers as the Democrats and have cause for alarm as are the Hillary cogs in her well-oiled machine: And, as with the Democrats, the party and its constituency is far, far from being unified and Paul Ryan's endorsement has not put much oil on the waters.
     Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said just yesterday that he worried Trump could have the "Goldwater Effect" on Latino voters (I guess he worries Trump will cost them the 50 or 60 Latinos that align themselves with the GOP). This was not only proven but perhaps even inspired by the news earlier yesterday that the Hispanic Outreach Director of the RNC quit her post because of Trump and that her successor isn't much more enamored of him.
     Since at least last winter, when it was becoming more and more inevitable that Trump would be the nominee, Republicans like Pete King were expressing their horror of a Trump presidency. Just last week, freshman Republican Senator Ben Sasse took to his Facebook account to express his refusal to endorse Donald Trump. Even Paul Ryan, the latest goosestepper taking up his position behind the cryptofascist, announced his endorsement in an article in his hometown paper yesterday. (One is amazed Ryan didn't wait another day and, as do all those who have to release unwelcome or controversial news, make his admission at the ass end of a news cycle which is after 5 PM on a Friday.)
     The best way to check to see who on the seedy side of the tracks is for Trump getting elected as America's first Chancellor is to use the Atlantic's handy dandy cheat sheet but I'll synopsize some of it for you.
     The Bushes are politely "abstaining" from either endorsing Trump or even attending the RNC convention in Cleveland. Yet one suspects the infamously clannish Bushes of being more butt hurt over Jeb's stinging rejection by conservative voters than out of any objection to Trump's positions.
     Perhaps most famously, Trump's been called out by a man who knows what it feels like to be massively unpopular even with right wing voters: Mitt Romney. Not only has the world's smarmiest game show host taken Trump to task for not releasing his tax returns, he's also called him a "lightweight." Newt Gingrich was hardly any kinder.

I'm on the Coattails to Hell! Coattails to Hell!
     And one of the things that probably makes Republicans sit up straight in a cold sweat in their mistress's beds at night is how Trump's undeniable divisiveness will play out at the polls during the smaller elections. How many gubernatorial, Congressional and Senate candidates and incumbents will want to ride Trump's coattails and how will it resonate with Republican voters in the November general election? After all, with all 435 seats up for grabs in the lower chamber, 34 Senate seats (24 being Republican) bring the ante up to 88% of Congressional seats being fought over.
     Straw, push and exit polls after primaries are about as useful and informative as Magic 8 Balls and robotic fortune tellers on Coney Island. And will Democratic and left wing-leaning Independents (among whom Sanders has a 40 point advantage over Clinton) capitalize on the weaknesses that will surely crop up for more vulnerable Republican candidates and incumbents?
     Democratic voters and party operatives certainly have to worry about such a thing with Hillary since their party, due largely to Sanders, is hardly any more unified than their colleagues on the other side of the aisle. How many Democrats will ride Hillary's pantsuits if she gets to be the nominee? See above.
     But Republicans have a lot to lose considering they currently have control of both chambers of Congress and Trump's path to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is far from unobstructed (especially if Sanders, by some small miracle, gets the nod in Philly). If they decide to hand Clinton the nomination using the corrupt and collusive super delegate system in the hallowed name of "party unity", they could conceivably hand the White House to Trump while fracturing the Democratic Party for decades as surely as a contested GOP convention could do to the Republican Party.
     The presidency, obviously, is this year's most important election not just for the nation but the entire planet. Yet it's just one and we're not hearing very much in the MSM how the presidential race will affect the hundreds of smaller races across the country. As stated, polls are almost invariably worthless so many months before an election. Yet as Trump's chances of success will no doubt affect the outcome of many lower races, how those candidates position themselves and whether they come out for or against Trump can also shape how and for whom those same voters will vote for president on November 8th.

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