Trump Does the Pennsylvania Political Polka - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Trump Does the Pennsylvania Political Polka

Strike up the music the band has begun

The Pennsylvania Polka.
Pick out your partner and join in the fun
The Pennsylvania Polka.
It started in Scranton, it’s now No. 1
It’s bound to entertain you
Everybody has a mania
To do the polka from Pennsylvania

And so go the beginning lyrics to what is perhaps (qualifier intended for fans of other songs) the unofficial hymn to William Penn’s Commonwealth. Way back there when Gerald Ford was president I recall being at a GOP fundraiser in Philadelphia where Ford and former Pennsylvania Governor and then-Ford UN Ambassador William Scranton were the stars. In the middle of the event, the band conveniently struck up the Pennsylvania Polka, which features the line that “It started in Scranton” — the namesake ancestral hometown of Bill Scranton — and the ex-governor jumped to his feet with wife Mary and actually did the polka to the roar of the crowd.

Bill Scranton was one very popular governor. But he never came close to carrying all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties when he was elected governor. As a matter of fact, neither has any other popular Pennsylvania politician. Not to mention neither has any presidential candidate or sitting president, including the very popular FDR and Ronald Reagan.

But last Tuesday night? Donald Trump did just that. Yes, indeed, the billionaire next door from neighboring New York carried all 67 of Pennsylvania’s counties. Yes, it was a primary. But nonetheless it was a feat unaccomplished by Reagan or FDR at the height of their popularity, not to mention and endless stream of popular governors and senators of both parties in either a primary or a general. Not to put too fine a point on this, but some version of this feat was accomplished by Trump in GOP primaries in Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Connecticut on the same day.

And Ted Cruz? Trump defeated him by more than double Cruz’s 21% vote total. With Cruz doing equally dismally in the other four Northeastern states.

Look. I love Ted Cruz and he at this point is none too happy with me. But at some point, folks, ya gotta demonstrate vote-getting ability around the United States if you want to be President of the United States. And the harsh fact here is that Senator Cruz just hasn’t gotten his act together. It’s all well and good to pick the estimable Carly Fiorina as your running mate in some sort of Hail Mary situation — or even pick her in a non-Hail Mary situation. But with the possible and solitary selection of Texan Lyndon Johnson to help JFK win in 1960, there has been no vice-presidential running mate who has evidenced any ability to carry the number one guy over the finish line.

To the contrary, as witness the selection of the unpopular Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew (by Nixon in 1968) and the un-ready and young Indiana Senator Dan Quayle in 1988 (by G.H.W. Bush), not to mention the popular performance of Democrat and Maine Senator Ed Muskie in 1968 (by Hubert Humphrey) and if anything comes clear it is that LBJ was the exception who proved the rule. The rule being that VP selections don’t really help or hurt to any discernible degree. Voters want to know about the top banana. And in Cruz’s case, he hasn’t been able to sell himself, let alone convince voters that his Fiorina selection is anything more than yet another political Hail Mary pass that, like the crazy anti-Trump Cruz/Kasich alliance that imploded almost immediately upon announcement, is going anywhere.

Years ago, on the eve of what would be a failed re-election attempt, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter told a group of state conservatives that Pennsylvania was a purple state. Certainly it may have seemed that way in the day. But Specter was never accused of being a wild-eyed radical in any fashion that stuck — and even in his five winning Senate elections never once did Arlen Specter carry all 67 Pennsylvania counties.

What does this mean in practical terms? Here’s the headline from PennLive, the on-line version of my hometown Harrisburg, Pennsylvania newspaper:

Trump shows a ground game; backs up big Pa. popular vote win with big RNC delegate haul

The story reads in part:

It turns out Pennsylvania was a “winner-take-most-delegates” state for Republican primary winner Donald J. Trump, after all.

If they live up to their collective word, Pennsylvania’s newly-elected Republican National Convention delegation is going to be carrying at least 55 first-ballot votes for the New York businessman.

And that means the “stop Trump” movement lost a golden opportunity to gain some traction: Barring any political back-tracking, the GOP’s frontrunner is now within 250 delegates of a first-ballot majority.

Here’s why.

Most national delegate trackers on Tuesday night — including only the 17 at-large votes he pocketed in Pennsylvania for winning the statewide popular vote.

But based on — and what delegate candidates told PennLive, other news organizations and voters this spring about their intent — Trump’s in line to get at least 55 votes of the state’s 71 delegates at the July convention.

Maybe more.

And that would leave the GOP’s frontrunner with roughly 988 delegates as of Wednesday morning.

In other words? Donald Trump just polkaed his way into the bulk of the 71-member Pennsylvania delegation — if not even more or all of it.

And politely put? Carly Fiorina may well be a swell dance partner. But unfortunately for Senator Cruz, he’s the one who has to do the leading in this dance, and alas he doesn’t know how to do the political version of the Pennsylvania polka. The fact that New Yorker Trump — albeit with a degree from Wharton, one of the Commonwealth’s finest schools — knows how to do the Pennsylvania political polka here in such an overwhelming fashion? This says everything one needs to know about a potential GOP nominee who might indeed be able to break an almost quarter-century long habit of Republican presidential nominees being absolutely unable to put one political front in front of another when November presidential elections roll around.

As the old song says:

“Strike up the music the band has begun…”

To borrow from Rocky Balboa, that famous if fictional Pennsylvania hero? Yo Adrienne! Donald Trump knows how to do the Pennsylvania political polka!

Bob McDonnell’s Revenge;

Seven years into the Age of Obama, we’ve become used to, and in fact now expect, the application of federal law, or lack thereof, to depend on politics. Particularly when it comes to the president’s debauched Department of Justice.

Can there be any doubt about this? It began almost before the president even took office, with the decision to quash the prosecution of the New Black Panthers in Philadelphia on voter intimidation charges arising from the 2008 election, in a case that was about as open-and-shut as one could get and in fact had been won by the Bush Justice Department. Next came the decision to let the unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation terror-financing case skate.

Then came a whole host of famous scandals in which the administration and its Attorney General not only refused to prosecute its allies for clear violations of federal law but to openly boast no such prosecutions would be forthcoming — Fast And Furious, the IRS persecution of conservative groups, the targeting of Fox News’ James Rosen and the AP as terror suspects, then-HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s attempts to essentially solicit bribes from the insurance industry in an effort to kick-start the financing of Obamacare, the Pigford scandal, the multiple cases of malfeasance involved with the General Services Administration scandal, Solyndra, the Lisa Jackson-“Richard Windsor” e-mail affair, the violation of the War Powers Act that resulted in the attacks on Libya — and the blowback in Benghazi which resulted in the deaths of American ambassador Chris Stevens and three others in government service there, the Joe Sestak buyoff affair of 2010…

That’s not a comprehensive list, and you wouldn’t expect it to be; after all, federal corruption prosecutions are at a 20-year low — down almost 40 percent since 1995. That’s an awful lot of scot-free crooks.

And we don’t even need to address the Hillary Clinton e-mail case, though it’s the humpback whale in the room. It’s reasonably clear there is a host of federal charges due the former secretary of state for her breathtaking misuse of government documents and reckless negligence in storing state secrets on an unsecured server in a Denver apartment bathroom. How certain are you that a case will be brought before Clinton stands for election in November?

But in the meantime there have been a host of prosecutorial aggressions which have been similarly obnoxious in their political nature. When the president suggested one appropriate use of political power was to “punish your enemies,” he wasn’t kidding.

Just ask Dinesh D’Souza, who had to spend eight months of sleepless nights in a San Diego halfway house populated with rapists, murderers, gang-bangers and other dangerous people, and then in almost Orwellian fashion undergo psychiatric counseling, because he committed the unpardonable crime against democracy of using straw donors to float some $20,000 to Wendy Long, a college friend in a hopeless campaign against New York Senator Kirstin Gillibrand in 2010.

D’Souza may well have deserved some punishment for what he did, which was criminal not only by the letter but more prominently in its stupidity; if he’d just called a lawyer and set up a PAC he could have directly contributed far more to Long’s campaign effort with no trouble at all. But while D’Souza has repeatedly admitted his culpability and repented of the poor judgement which put him at odds with the law, it must be said that his actions were hardly the first of their kind. He’s just the only one who ever lost his freedom for them; usually straw-donor cases, and even ones far, far larger than his, are taken care of through fines. Just ask New York hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, who funneled $180,000 worth of straw donations to Democrat candidates, including Hillary Clinton, and got off with three years’ probation and a fine.

If D’Souza’s case wasn’t fishy enough consider that of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the Coptic Christian filmmaker who was incorrectly blamed for the Benghazi massacre by Obama and Clinton because of a poor YouTube production of an anti-Islamic video. Nakoula spent a year in jail on a trumped-up charge of a parole violation for an unrelated matter after Clinton had vowed to “get” the people responsible for that video in an off-the-record statement to the families of the Benghazi victims.

Or Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who found himself the subject of prosecutorial interest only after he had the temerity to question Obama’s Iran deal.

In that spirit, it should be interesting that this week the Supreme Court heard arguments in the unusual corruption case surrounding former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, at one time a rising Republican star but now just hoping to stay out of prison following a conviction on charges he used his office to help Jonnie R. Williams Sr., a businessman who had showered the governor and his wife with luxury products, loans, and vacations worth more than $175,000, gain state contracts.

Except the gifts Williams gave McDonnell were legal. And though the governor admitted he did make introductions for his friend and benefactor, whose company made diet supplements, there was never any real evidence that Williams derived any benefit from the state. No contracts, no payments, no evidence of any actual influence being traded.

The same federal government that has dropped corruption prosecutions to a 20-year low jumped on the McDonnell case and ruined his life and career for accepting legal gifts and tendering no apparent consideration for them. When McDonnell’s appeal hit the Supreme Court Wednesday, the Justice Department didn’t fare very well — and it wasn’t just the four conservatives raking the government’s lawyer over the coals. Stephen Breyer, usually a committed leftist, said of the corruption statute used in the case that as applied “it puts at risk behavior that is common,” and it is “a recipe for giving the Justice Department and prosecutors enormous power over elected officials.”

McDonnell’s actions were anything but wise, and the scandal that erupted when they were found out rightly tarnished his political career. But if making introductions or asking government officials to consider aid to, or business with, someone he was connected to without actually exerting influence to secure those advantages is corruption, how is a Congressman supposed to act on behalf of a constituent? How is a state legislator supposed to attempt to steer a constituent through bureaucratic red tape? How is a city councilman supposed to help with zoning restrictions that don’t make sense?

The answer to this, of course, is that the Congressman, state legislator, or city councilman simply ought to be a Democrat, and a friend of Obama’s, and there will then be no problem with whatever actions he might take for whatever consideration he exacts out of those he helps.

Even the New York Times, whose treatment of McDonnell during his ordeal hasn’t been especially friendly, reported that based on the oral arguments in the case on Wednesday he’s likely to prevail.

And if he does, he’ll be able to recite the famous question asked by former Reagan Labor Secretary Raymond Donovan, who after being acquitted on charges of fraud and larceny in 1987 asked, “Which office do I go to get my reputation back?”

McDonnell might not deserve such redemption. But it’s high time we recognized the atrocious injustice of this administration and the abuse of power it has inflicted on the American people.

And should fortune smile on us and deliver the Democrats out of power next year, we should insist on a reckoning for that abuse of power.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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