Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Newt Gingrich Prepares To Defect To Trump

by JASmius

It's been an awfully long time since I've had a serious, sustained bone of contention with the GOP "establishment," but that day might soon be finally coming back 'round again, lurching towards Trump Tower to be born:

[The former House Speaker] blamed Marco Rubio for some of that mudslinging, saying the Florida senator’s personal attacks on Trump after last Thursday’s debate may have backfired. “I suspect it hurt Rubio,” Gingrich says. “Rubio’s not an attack dog. Chris Christie’s an attack dog. Christie knows how to do that, Rubio doesn’t. And Rubio ends up, I think, looking silly.”

Couldn't disagree more, Mr. Newt.   Rubio was the first Pachyderm to figure out the way to combat the bmillionaire slumlord: by treating him the way he treats everybody else.  It was highly effective.  And it was as obvious as it's always been to everybody not in the Republican primary race: go after his ego, and his thin-skinnedness would take it from there.  As I said last week, it was glorious.

Put another way, if the electorate is all speaking Klingon, it's pointless to try to communicate with them in Sanskrit.  Rubes laid on the body blows, the ridicule, the derision, but here's the difference: (1) none of it was "mudslinging," because everything he said about Trump was true; and (2) he didn't do it angrily or belligerently, but gleefully, with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye.  I daresay the Florida senator went after The Donald the way Ronald Reagan would have.  Humor was one of his most devastating weapons, after all.  Which is precisely why Rubio didn't look silly.  To the contrary, he looked liberated, and like he was having the time of his life.

And given that nothing else anybody has tried against Trump has worked in this cycle, I hardly think that fighting fire with fire had much of a chance of "backfiring".  Besides, Governor Christie wasn't available, and when he was, what did his "attack-dogging" get him besides a big, fat 7% in New Hampshire, where the Big Show had lived for the preceding year?

Gingrich also chided Republicans suggesting they won’t get behind Trump should he win the nomination. “I believe when you’re faced with a choice with Clinton corruption, appointing radical judges with a disastrous foreign policy, it’s very hard for any serious Republican to not support the Republican nominee,” he told reporters.

Not once you come to grips with the fact that none of the things Newt mentioned would be ANY different under Donald Trump.  For all the speculation that a Trump-Hillary race would be the "dirtiest" in decades, the two really are two sides of the same coin, and their only source of conflict would be that they wanted the same "prize" and only one of them could have it.  Indeed, the notion that Gingrich is trying to blandly put over is the essence of the Trump con, that somehow he would be "not Hillary," and using her as a scarecrow would enough to distract Republican voters from the fact that he's a virtual carbon copy of her - or, rather, of her husband, since the one marked difference between them is that he's (supposedly) "entertaining," and she, of course, is not.

So the reason, according to Newt, why we're supposed to "fall into line" is that Trump is "our" Clinton/Obama hybrid?  Including their policy platforms?  Just because he'll have an "R" after his name?  Sorry, I'll pass.  Partisan loyalty can cover an awfully big tent - I ultimately even suppressed my gag reflex and voted for John McCain in 2008 even though I'd known for over a year that we were going to get massacred that November - but it is not this elastic, and for the same reason I've been preaching all along: Trump is not a Republican, not a conservative, and knows the nuances of the nuclear triad better than he does constitutional originalism.  Having an "R" after your name is not the same thing.

Which leads me to the half-bone I have to pick with Allahpundit for, not endorsing Newt's capitulation, but conceding it as accurate:

The problem for anti-Trumpers is that the last eight months, and especially the month of February, were an extended lesson in just how few serious conservatives the party really has. And if all Newt means here is that some of the people crying “Never Trump!” right now will eventually suck it up and vote for him over Hillary in November, well, that’s true. Whatever gaudy numbers the polls show at the moment about a huge minority of Republicans refusing to vote for Trump in the general election will gradually erode under establishment pressure. Most Republican congressmen will fall in line behind Trump, if only because their donors are twisting their arms to do so.  Attack ads will remind the right repeatedly, for months on end, just how contemptible the Clintons are. Respected party elders, starting with Newt Gingrich, will be enlisted to cajole conservatives to come home. With the exception of Glenn Beck and possibly Mark Levin, the stars of conservative talk radio will align behind the nominee too. That’s a lot of cumulative persuasion. Some group of NeverTrumpers will continue to hold out, led by people like Ben Sasse and (almost inevitably) Mike Lee, but I’d bet on election day the total number who stay home and/or split for a third party is in single digits. People are tribal creatures, and starting a new tribe in the middle of an election is a heavy lift.

Will the "establishment" do as AP predicts here?  I'm tempted to cynically concede that - the "GOPe" is mercenary about keeping "the machine" (of which they are in charge) going, regardless of its direction, right?  Isn't that a Tea Party article of faith? - but I'm not so sure.  Mitch McConnell has certainly drawn a line in the sand, and Paul Ryan isn't making any "kiss and make up" gestures.  Trump has picked up Jeff Sessions and a couple of House back benchers, but there are far more Republicans on Capitol Hill who are disavowing Hairboy like he refused to distance himself from David Duke the other day.  Is there a chance that this disaffection erodes over the course of the spring and summer?  Possibly, but again, I don't think it will, not to the degree that AP thinks.

You know why?  Because that theory is....what?  A conventional rule of thumb.  Just like the ones that had Trump being a fad, a "flavor of the month" and fading last fall, and exiting the race long before any votes could actually be cast.  He's "changed all the rules," we're told, and all the usual norms are "out the window," and now it's all "up in the air" and "totally unpredictable"....except, apparently, for the NEW rule of thumb that holds that everything, no matter what happens, by definition MUST work in Trump's favor.

But why?  Why can't anything go wrong for Trump?  Like 15% or 20% or 25% of the GOP not "falling into line," not "closing ranks," and standing on their principles instead and maintaining the boycott of Trump all the way to November 8th?  Why is all the conventional wisdom that benefits Trump "out the window" but any that hurts him still held to be sacrosanct?

As I pointed out this morning, we've already lost the White House for this cycle.  The GOP civil war guarantees that regardless of who finally lands the nomination, a significant portion of the base will take a walk on that nominee, and no fearmongering about Mrs. Clinton will change that (remember how much difference eerily similar scarecrowing about "Speaker Nancy Pelosi" made in the 2006 midterms?  Precisely none.  And at which wing of the GOP was that aimed?  Disaffected conservatives).  Trumplicans would do it out of puerile spite (because cultists don't have any principles), whereas we will do so out of the very conservative principles they betrayed and abandoned.  Either way, the result will be the same: President Sanders or President Rodham and another Donk SuperCongress.

It is inevitable - and all the doing of the un-Republican who is effectively clinching our nomination as we speak.

Mr. Newt and whatever other party "elders" opt for collaboration are going to find out sooner or later that sometimes, there really are bridges too far.

Exit thought: It's a pity that Will Rogers....

....never met Donald Trump, huh?

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