Political Hay

Political Hay

Trump and the Reagan-Bush Divide

By 8.6.15

The two Republicans Carter’s political team feared most were Sen. Howard Baker and George Bush. Their favorite opponent: Ronald Reagan. Handling the extremist 69-year old ex-movie actor would be an easy piece of work, they thought, especially now that the issue of war and peace would be at the center stage of the 1980 campaign. “The American people,” (Carter White House chief of staff) Hamilton Jordan said, “are not going to elect a seventy-year old, right-wing, ex-movie actor to be president.” The polls supported Jordan’s confidence. In mid-December, a Gallup Poll showed Carter leading Reagan by a whopping 60 to 36 percent in a head-to-head match-up. (Carter pollster) Pat Caddell was confident of Reagan’s weakness. “There’s so much to work with, when you look at the data you just salivate.”
— Steven F. Hayward, The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order 1964-1980

Political Hay

The Biden Bull Market

By 8.5.15

The chattering class is all atwitter about the possibility of Vice President Joe Biden entering the Democratic presidential primary race. Whether or not it happens, the fact that (as Douglas Adams would have put it) “the slightest thought has begun to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing Joe’s mind” is great news for Republicans and a nightmare for the less-inevitable-by-the-day Hillary Clinton.

Political Hay

My Friends and Fellow Republicans

By 8.3.15

It is to you, friends and fellow Republicans, that these remarks are addressed, primarily.

We live in an open society based on the free circulation of ideas, the availability of information, and our political system is one of inclusiveness, so, to be quite honest and to avoid any false reticence, these remarks are also addressed to Americans who do not belong to our party and if fact consider themselves opposed to it — they would vote against us. Our system depends, however, on the interest of all Americans in civic and political affairs. I think it is a good thing for Democrats and independents, indeed even the socialists who support the comrade senator from Vermont who is giving the former senator from New York a stiff battle for their party’s nomination, to pay attention to the competition of men and ideas in the Republican Party, just as I expect Republicans to pay attention to what goes on among our political opponents.

Political Hay

Hillary’s ‘Progressive’ Demise

By 7.31.15

Barack Obama is the most “Progressive” of recent, and perhaps of all, American presidents. Indeed he is the only recent Democratic president rightly characterized as “Progressive” rather than just liberal.

But with massive increases in government debt and food stamp use, declines in labor force participation, the impending insolvency of the Social Security Disability Fund, relentless unemployment among African-Americans and deteriorating race relations, and by far the worst economic “recovery” in modern American history, one has to ask (in the sarcastic style of my Jewish grandma), “This is progress?!?”

Political Hay

Trump and the Media: Business as Usual But With a Key Difference

By 7.30.15

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Donald Trump raped his wife! Mogul hates breast-pumping lawyer! Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Pardon me if I roll my eyes. Or just laugh out loud at the cynicism of the whole thing.

The other day the Daily Beast ran a story — this story right here — that purported to tell a presumably gullible public that Donald Trump had raped his wife. Really. The headline was as follows:

Ex-Wife: Donald Trump Made Me Feel ‘Violated’ During Sex: Ivana Trump once accused the real-estate tycoon of ‘rape,’ although she later clarified: not in the ‘criminal sense.’

The very first paragraph of this story by reporter Tim Mak read as follows:

Donald Trump introduced his presidential campaign to the world with a slur against Mexican immigrants, accusing them of being “rapists” and bringing crime into the country. 

Political Hay

The Republic As Prey

By 7.28.15

On Friday, Sen. Ted Cruz made the most significant break with a party leadership in modern memory when he called Republican majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar over a clandestine deal the latter had made with Democrats to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.

Cruz’s war of words with McConnell has an element of strategy to it — he’s without question positioning himself as the anti-establishment GOP hopeful among the “serious” candidates in the 2016 field — but he’s also expressing sincerely and widely held concerns that the Republican Party is powerless to stop the Obama administration’s compound abuses of power through the choice of McConnell and John Boehner.

The GOP leadership in both houses of Congress has perfected something Ace of Spades appropriately called “Failure Theater” back in March — namely, that all of the attempts to move a conservative agenda forward or even to stop the Obama administration’s various power grabs don’t just fall short but are intended to do so while presenting the duped voters back home with a “Well, we tried” shrug.

Political Hay

Hypocrisy and Incompetence: Why the GOP Fails

By 7.23.15

In a snapshot? Jeb Bush and John McCain have just illustrated exactly why Donald Trump is surging in the polls.

The other day, Governor Bush came out four square for lobbyist reform. As reported in the Hill:

Bush called for three reforms: 1) broadening the official definition of lobbyist to include ambiguous work such as "government relations"; 2) increasing lobbying disclosure from quarterly to weekly; and 3) extending the lobbying "cooling off" period to six years for former members of Congress. He also pledged to limit lobbying of his White House by former administration officials.

But back in January? Here’s the headline from Politico:  

Jeb Bush courts D.C. lobbyists: His allies are being asked to raise $50,000 each for the likely 2016 hopeful.

Among other things the article reports:

Political Hay

Trump and the Chattering Class

By 7.22.15

It is a toss-up as to who is more bombastic: Donald Trump or his critics in the chattering class. The latter is generating sympathy for him among primary voters by reacting so hysterically and pompously to a handful of off-the-cuff remarks. How bad can he be, they conclude, if liberals are calling for him to “leave the race” and boycotting him like a Christian baker?

In some respects, Trump’s critics exceed his bombast. They obnoxiously present themselves as arbiters of who is and who is not worthy of running in a party they hate. Their unsolicited advice on the “best candidate for the GOP” is always fatal.

So if primary voters are shrugging off their sanctimonious treatment of a trivial exchange of insults between John McCain and Trump, that’s no surprise. They long ago learned not to take the chattering class’s self-important outrage seriously.

Political Hay

The Media Missed the Main Event

By 7.21.15

First, let’s briefly analyze the latest pro wrestling spectacle surrounding Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. There is better, and more important, material on the other side of this column.

Trump is more showman than leader, more carnival barker than politician. As such, he will flourish in the early stages of his White House run so long as he manages to entertain the masses — and when the public’s expectations change from “keep me interested” to “look presidential,” he’s no longer going to be a major factor in the GOP race.

What Trump is doing, and what he did again in scoffing at ancient establishmentarian senator John McCain’s Vietnam record (“He’s a war hero because he was captured; I like people who weren’t captured,” a direct plagiarism of a 2008 Chris Rock comedy bit), isn’t just political theater. He’s sticking pins in the political establishment.

Political Hay

The Donald Battles the Establishment

By 7.20.15

John McCain is a war hero. Period.

Unless, of course, he’s a threat to Democrats and Barack Obama — as he was in September of 2008 as the Republican nominee for president. Then the man whose honor is suddenly being defended by outraged Establishment figures from both parties and the media was no longer a war hero. No, back there in the fall of 2008 McCain was being savaged as a mean SOB with an uncontrollable temper — a man who threatened to physically strike a wheelchair-bound, oxygen-dependent mother of a missing Vietnam serviceman. When he wasn’t busy causing another woman to be slammed into a wall. And that’s all well aside from using a Senate hearing to torment a third woman — a witness for the families of missing servicemen — with such open prosecutorial-style contempt that the woman was reduced to tears.