Political Hay

Political Hay

Trump Fights, So Trump Leads

By 9.24.15

Scene One: It is a day or so after Ronald Reagan won-re-election with a 49-state landslide and Walter Mondale mused to the press about Reagan’s acting ability as a factor in the election.

Scene Two: Coming off the CNN Reagan Library debate, where, like its Fox predecessor, the audience soared into the 20-something millions, Donald Trump paid a visit to Stephen Colbert’s new show. And what happened? Here’s the headline from Deadline Hollywood

Stephen Colbert Gets Big Donald Trump Ratings Bump

The story begins:

Donald Trump’s ratings Midas touch worked again, this time for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. With the firebrand Republican presidential candidate as guest last night, Late Show drew a 3.7 household (HH) rating in the overnight markets, the highest since September 8 premiere (4.9) and up +61% from last Tuesday.

Political Hay

The Empty Outrage About Ben Carson

By 9.23.15

Fresh from the Kim Davis controversy, during which liberals took the position that traditional Christians should no longer hold the government office of marriage clerk, liberals are denouncing Ben Carson for “bigotry” against Muslims. They piously quote the Constitution’s line from Article VI that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Of course, Carson never denied that Muslim Americans are eligible to run for office. He simply said that he wouldn’t vote for one who supported Sharia law. America’s founding fathers would have agreed.

They didn’t confuse eligibility with fitness for office. They had no problem voting against atheists and other adherents to beliefs that they deemed dangerous. The Left is pushing an idea that the founders regarded as mindless and destructive, namely, that the people are somehow constitutionally obligated to treat the religious beliefs of all candidates as equally valid, that it is somehow “un-American” for a voter to prefer a Christian candidate to a non-Christian one.

Political Hay

Both Parties Threatened at Their Core

By 9.23.15

Both parties are increasingly concerned about their respective wings. Heading into 2016’s presidential race, the Democratic and Republican establishments have only a tenuous grip on their core ideological supporters. They are right to be worried. Damage there in the primaries could be hard to overcome in next November’s election.

For mainstream Democrats, Hillary Clinton is the anointed one — predestined to be president. For Republicans, she is the liberal they love to hate. For increasing numbers of Democrats, however, she is the liberal they most hate to love.

As 2016 approaches, Clinton is threatened with being the Democrats’ bridesmaid again. Having lost to her party’s left in 2008 — then led by Obama – according to mounting evidence, she is losing to it again — this time, enthralled by Senator Bernie Sanders.

Hillary can seem to only capture Democrats’ head, but not their heart.

Political Hay

Blah, Blah, Blah

By 9.18.15

CNN’s Republican debate left viewers with the same disquieting feeling as a forced screening of Heaven’s Gate. That three hours felt like three years.

America is on the verge of its greatest century, blah, blah, blah, how we can fix a broken Washington, blah, blah, blah, every one of us has potential, blah, blah, blah, I’m ready to lead, blah, blah, blah, the United States is not to be trifled with, blah, blah, blah, the political establishment in Washington, D.C. in both political parties is completely out of touch, blah, blah, blah, we'll reignite the promise of America, blah, blah, blah, the world desperately needs our leadership, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Political Hay

About Last Night

By 9.17.15

From left to right (from the TV viewer's perspective), two sentences on each candidate's performance in last night's CNN debate:

Rand Paul tried hard — perhaps too hard — to go after Donald Trump, with modest success offset by his coming across as slightly whiny. His answers continue to offer an interesting and unusual perspective, more focused on liberty and the Constitution than many of the others, but his campaign nevertheless feels like its tires are spinning badly.

Mike Huckabee made a particular effort to be upbeat, to avoid criticizing other Republicans, and to make a strong moral case in the few questions that came his way. However if you imagine each of the candidates being asked “Why do you want to be president?” he's the one I have the hardest time imagining answering the question adequately.

Political Hay

Separated at Patent Reform

By 9.17.15

When two of the biggest conservative stars in Congress disagree on something, it’s generally a sign that at least one of two things is happening: Either some great principle is at stake, or some fact has been misunderstood by one party.

As it happens, when it comes to the disagreement between Ted Cruz and Mike Lee over the idea of patent reform, both are true.

On the surface, it’s hardly obvious why the two should differ, with Lee supporting patent reform, and Cruz opposing it.

Political Hay

Liberalizing Reagan

By 9.16.15

“God, this is impressive,” said Steven Weisman, a New York Times political reporter, as he watched the nation mourn Ronald Reagan in 2004. “But the man they’re talking about is not the President I covered every day.” One might say the same about the media’s sudden respect for Ronald Reagan as a supposed liberal Republican. That isn’t the Reagan Weisman covered either.

In the 1980s, the media frequently cast Reagan as a crude right-winger. Today, it gushes about him as the model moderate Republican. Expect one of the moderators at tonight’s debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to hit the candidates with some version of the question: Why aren’t you as liberal as Reagan?

During his presidency, the media called him extreme and stubborn. Now he is “pragmatic” and had a “knack for compromise,” as a recent Washington Post headline put it.

Political Hay

Using Faith as a Weapon

By 9.13.15

Ever since Frank Luntz asked Donald Trump whether he’d ever asked for God’s forgiveness at the Family Leadership Summit, and Trump gave the “wrong” answer, people who think they know the “right” answer have been using his faith as an instrument of attack, each for his own purpose.

After a pause during which he seemed seriously to be considering the question, and perhaps struggling with it, Trump responded, “I’m not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right.” Not the words of a theologian perhaps, but neither is it the slick, focus-group-honed response that we’ve come to expect of our politicians.

Political Hay

A Week of Insult, Jail, and Redemption

By 9.11.15

Donald Trump is a brave truth-teller…right?

When he says to Rolling Stone about Carly Fiorina, Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!” don’t you think he’s probably talking about her face? Don’t you think he’s just calling her ugly?

Instead, he claims he was talking about Fiorina’s “persona.” Seriously, Donald? You expect us to believe such an obvious lie? Even Hillary couldn’t get away with such a whopper. So grow a pair and fess up.

Trump then went on to slam Fiorina’s professional career and called Ben Carson an “OK doctor.” A one-man wrecking crew, The Donald.

Political Hay

The Trump Transaction

By 9.3.15

Earlier this week Steve Deace wrote an excellent Washington Times column suggesting that conservatives face a fundamental choice when confronted with the 17-person GOP presidential field and the emergence of Donald Trump as the leader in the polls. Deace said the choice is whether conservatives are going to make their peace with Trump as the standard-bearer for the movement despite his various deficiencies and lack of conservative pedigree, or to consolidate their support behind another candidate in the race.

Deace has endorsed Ted Cruz as that candidate, and I’ll admit in an element of full disclosure (as readers of this column have doubtless surmised by now) that I’m moving in the same direction.