Political Hay

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.

Political Hay

CNN: GOP Establishment Plots ‘Trump Takedown’

By 9.1.15

CNN is on the case. (And yes, full disclosure, I am now a CNN commentator.)

As discussed on John King’s Inside Politics, and seen here on the CNN website, the main headline reads:

GOP establishment plans Trump takedown

The sub-head reads:

An anti-Trump ad deluge after Labor Day?

And the story says:

It’s no secret the Republican establishment is unnerved by Donald Trump and his lead in national and key state polls.

And now, after weeks of assuming his support would be fleeting, there is a debate about how to take aim at Trump -- and just who should finance such an effort.

CNN’s Maeve Reston noted that most GOP strategists see risks in having the attacks come from the other candidates or their directly affiliated super PACs. So, she reports, there is conversation about what other group might raise money for anti-Trump TV ads.

Political Hay

The Middle Finger Mob

By 8.31.15

I don’t blame Donald Trump supporters for being angry. Angry with government, angry with the fecklessness of the GOP, angry with fellow voters imprudent enough to re-elect Barack Obama after seeing the harm he caused in his first term, angry with the use/abuse of American law and generosity by those who have “anchor babies” or participate in “birth tourism” to gain taxpayer-funded benefits if not de facto citizenship.

I disagree with those who say Trump’s supporters aren’t actually angry; after all I’m angry about those things too. Who doesn’t want to flip off this presidency (and certain aspects of the last one), this Congress (and the last ten), and even the Supreme Court at their wanton abdication of their oaths of office to protect and defend the Constitution and faithfully execute the laws of the United States?

Political Hay

Trump the Trickster and Our National Identity

By 8.26.15

The rise of Donald Trump, which at the same time is a repudiation of a well-thinking and comfortable Republican establishment, represents a critical point of inflection in our understanding of the wellsprings of human action. Oddly enough, it’s best illuminated by Friedrich Nietzsche in this little allegory from Thus Spoke Zarathustra:

Political Hay

Jeb Bush Silent on Mark Levin’s Challenge

By 8.25.15

“Why does baloney reject the meat grinder?” So answered William F. Buckley, Jr. when he was asked why the most popular Democrat of 1967 — New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy — refused to come on Buckley’s television show Firing Line to discuss the issues of the day.

The Buckley remark comes to mind as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush — the GOP Establishment favorite in the presidential race — is silent as a church mouse in response to an on-air challenge from Mark Levin to appear on Mark’s radio show for a discussion of birthright citizenship. 

Bush has been out there defending “birthright citizenship.” As reported in Politico

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush split from many of his fellow GOP presidential contenders on Tuesday and staunchly defended birthright citizenship for children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrants — saying it is a constitutional right that should be protected.

Political Hay

The Big Tent Republican They Don’t Like

By 8.19.15

Baffled by Donald Trump’s persistent lead in the polls, establishment Republicans are scrambling to find arguments with which to stop him. So far they have hit him not from the right but from the left, calling him a heartless nativist, a sexist boor, and a reckless hawk. This has only served to drive him deeper into the arms of conservatives.

Meanwhile, to confuse matters even more, Trump attacks establishment favorites such as Jeb Bush not from the right but from the left, accusing him, for example, of insufficient support for big-government funding of “women’s health issues.” Interpreting that phrase as a euphemism for funding Planned Parenthood-like activities, Bush had said in an interview that he didn’t favor it. Ever since then, Trump has cast it as a campaign-ending gaffe, a criticism one would expect from an MSNBC liberal, not from a conservative Republican. “What he said was unbelievable,” said Trump. “Essentially he said he was not going to fund it. I think that will go down as Jeb Bush’s 47% — the 47% to Romney that probably cost him the election.”

Political Hay

Hannity Answers Beck on Trump

By 8.18.15

Glenn Beck doesn’t get it.

Specifically, Beck turned to a lengthy post on his Facebook page and asked (in part here) this about conservatives and Donald Trump:

This is not an attack, this is an honest question….

I really want to understand.

I get that Trump is reflective of what people are feeling; secure the border; fight to win; don't give in to china etc. I really do understand that he is saying things that people are feeling. Justifiably.

I get the fact that he is saying that America is a great place and that we can be great again. That is rare and refreshing.

I understand that he is seen and has the proof in New York City, as a guy who can get things done.

I understand and like the fact that he just says what he is thinking. No politically correct bs; no focus groups and he does it with out apologizing.

But here is what I don't understand.

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