Friday, July 24, 2015

Welcome to the Big Top

The Republicans have raised a big tent but it isn't the tent they had imagined.  What they have now is a big circus tent with Donald Trump as its Ringmaster.  Only problem is that he wants confusion to reign and not order, lashing out at his rivals, pundits and perceived nemeses alike.  The latest stop on his whirlwind tour of the country is the Mexican border at Laredo, Texas, where he fired up small crowds with his overused invectives, as if his mere presence alone brought down the number of illegals crossing the border.

To read this WP article, he didn't make that much of a "splash," as many border officials chose not to attend his rally, and the Laredo mayor appeared overly cautious in regard to the Trumpster's statements.  No problemo, The Donald rattled on just the same because he knew his message wasn't for local consumption but rather for national consumption, showing that he isn't afraid of El Chapo or any notorious Mexican who may be thinking to take out a hit on him.

Rick Perry is among the growing number of Republicans who has had enough of the Donald, but there isn't much he can do about it at this point. The only thing the GOP can hope for is that Trump self-destructs, and the sooner the better.  With only two weeks before the first televised national debate, Trump is clearly in command of the event, leading in the polls by double digits and setting the debate topics in loud bold letters.

The other problem the GOP faces is that while some candidates have come out strongly against the Donald.  Others have supported him, notably Ted Cruz.  Even Ben Carson has offered praise for the Trumpster, presumably because he and Ted want some of that mojo that Donald has to rub off on their forgotten campaigns.

Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham is doing his darnedest to get into the debate, showing the many ways he can destroy his cell phone after the Donald gave out his number.  Lindsey has called in a lot of favors, appearing on a great number of talk shows in the run up to the debate, hoping he can crack the three per cent needed for an invitation.

The first GOP debate promises to be the biggest event of the season and no one wants to be left out.  Here's how Forbes handicaps the "State of the Debate" as of yesterday.  Rick Perry is currently sitting on the number ten spot, with Rick Santorum only 0.7 per cent behind him.   This particular poll only gives Trump a two-point edge over Jeb Bush, but other polls have him as much as 11 points ahead of Bush, so the GOP will have to come up with its version of the Bowl Champion Series combined poll to sort out the final order.

It turned out to be a pretty good ploy, as it calls much more attention to the debate than it deserves.  None of these guys have distinguished themselves in the early going.  Jeb threw another wild pitch on Medicare, saying he would phase it out if elected President.  Apparently, this was in an appeal to the Koch Brothers, who have vowed to put upwards of one billion dollars into this year's election cycle.  Of course, this was the guy who sold out the Florida education system with vouchers, and is still promoting the same failed notion anywhere he can.

The Republicans candidates all have teed off on Obama's Iran nuclear peace agreement.  Scott Walker has been the most vociferous, saying he would "blow up any Iran Deal" on "day one."  Even Rand Paul, initially a supporter of negotiations, is hedging his bets, demanding there be a military trump card.  No one ever said it was off the table, not even John Kerry, but the aim here is to avert war not find unwarranted excuses to have another one.

If fifteen losers weren't enough, John Kasich threw his hat into the ring this week.  Ohio will be a hotly contested state but very few people know Kasich outside Ohio, so he has a lot of catching up to do if he plans to be at the debate come August 6.

Clearly the man of the hour remains Donald Trump pulling one stunt after another that has left his political opponents bemused, bothered and more often bewildered as how to react to him.  Whatever he says seems to strike home with the base of the Republican party.  His pernicious attacks on John McCain, Lindsey Graham and now Rick Perry only serve to endear him more to his rabid following.  By comparison he has been rather tame with the others, particularly Jeb Bush, but all that could change in two weeks.

The Debate promises to be a huge ratings bonanza for Fox News.  You were wondering why they were riding in Trump's coach?  All this cheerleading from the Fox crew serves its own interests, as Fox will be televising the first debate in Cleveland, the home of Rock and Roll.  If nothing else, Gov. Kasich can be there to greet the contestants.

This is the State of the GOP.  The Republican National Committee has no one to blame but itself for allowing events to swirl out of control like this.  The RNC was hoping it could raise a big tent and potentially lure disgruntled Latino and Black Democrats into their fold, but the Donald has pretty much killed that notion, although he loudly proclaims that Latinos love him.  So far, there hasn't been much demonstration of that, but Donald knows all too well that it doesn't matter as far as the primaries are concerned.  This is all about appealing to the angry white male voter, assuming Trump will stick around for Iowa and New Hampshire in January.

Donald doesn't like to spend his money, what little liquid cash he has.  As Mark Cuban pointed out, the numbers Trump has been throwing around are meaningless, and a recent assessment placed Trump's net worth at $1.4 billion, well below the $10 bn he most recently claimed.  This means he will either have to fork out his hard-earned cash or tap into a motherlode of contributions, as he has to quickly organize campaign committees in the states he plans to run in, otherwise he might not even make it on the ballot.  So far, there hasn't been much indication that he has put any thought into these pesky matters.

Further proof, not that one needs much, that Donald is just riding the early wave of this political campaign as one big publicity stunt and will pull out long before the first primaries roll around.  This is why guys like Ted Cruz and Ben Carson pay deference to him, as they want the sloppy seconds that spill over from his overfull plate of poll numbers.

The problem for the GOP after the Donald leaves is what to do for an encore.  No one had been able to generate anywhere near this much excitement among the Republican electorate to date, and there is nothing to indicate that anyone of them will be able to pick up where the Donald left off, which means a lot of folks will simply head for the exits.  Like it or not, Trump has been good for the Republican party, energizing it where all others had failed.  Of course, it wasn't exactly the type of excitement the GOP wanted, but then beggars can't be choosy.

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