Tag Archives: GOP establishment

TEA Party? Where have you gone?

Don’t you remember when the 2010 midterm election produced a “shellacking” of the Democrats? It was delivered by what was then called the TEA Party.

Eight years ago, the TEA Party was the dominant insurgent force within the Republican Party. The TEA Party comprised Republicans who were fed up with being taxed too much.

Indeed, in recent years I’ve been using the term “TEA Party” in all capital letters, because it was born of a movement that proclaimed itself to be “Taxed Enough Already,” hence TEA Party is an acronym.

The TEA Party drove then-House Speaker John Boehner — a leader of the “establishment wing” of the Republican Party — to just this side of nuts. Indeed, U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Clarendon Republican and a friend/ally of Boehner, told me he believed Boehner was going to bail from the House because he was tired of battling the rebels within his GOP caucus.

It turned out Thornberry was right. Boehner quit the speakership and the House in 2015. He’d had enough.

The TEA Party has its share of lawmakers who’ve taken their message forward. Ted Cruz of Texas is one of them.

But since about 2016, we hear less of the TEA Party and more of another insurgent group of Republican lawmakers calling themselves the Freedom Caucus. It, too, is a low-tax outfit committed to cutting government spending on programs that have become part of the national fabric. You know, programs such as Medicare, Medicaid … those kinds of things.

The Freedom Caucus has picked up where the TEA Party (seemingly) left off in opposing the Affordable Care Act. They want to repeal the ACA, but I haven’t heard about whether to simply repair the ACA, make it better, preserve those elements of it that are working.

The Freedom Caucus has become every bit the political gadfly that the TEA Party became to the point of sending a speaker of the House of Representatives packing in the middle of his term.

It’s not that I miss the TEA Party. I don’t. I’m just wondering out loud how these movements come and go and how replacement insurgencies come to the fore.

I happen to favor good government, not necessarily big government. The TEA Party — wherever it is — wants to gut government. As one who appreciates the role government plays to improve people’s lives, I wouldn’t mind one bit if the TEA Party would simply vanish, never to be heard from again.

Same for the Freedom Caucus.

Trump has tossed the shackles … just now?

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Wait a second!

All this time I thought we were seeing the crude, rude and crass Donald J. Trump campaign for the presidency of the United States.

Now he tells us he’s been unshackled by the niceties of having to adhere to the good manners demanded of him by the Republican Party establishment. He’s going to war with the likes of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who this week has declared he no longer can “defend” Trump and that he’s going to spend all his energy trying to retain the GOP majority in Congress.

Does this mean he’s going to go even lower than he’s gone to date? Are the future insults against his foes going to make all the previous ones seem like fairy tales in comparison?

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Yes, I do believe the GOP nominee is going to take this campaign straight into the gutter as it heads down the stretch with Trump trying to overtake Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Good luck with that, Mr. Trump.

Clinton said she doesn’t intend to take the bait. “When they go low, we go high,” Clinton said the other night, quoting first lady Michelle Obama, who — along with her husband — knows a thing or three about how low political enemies can go.

So, here we are. Less than a month to go and we’re being threatened yet again by the GOP nominee’s pledge to go filthy against Clinton.

As if the video recording of his boasting about sexual assault against women isn’t enough.

Surely he’ll fire up the base of his party, which will stay with him to the end. As for the rest of the country, let’s just wait for everyone else’s reaction.

My sense is that the rest of us won’t like what Trump is threatening to do. Not one damn bit.

Trump, GOP draw closer … still have a long way to go

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Now we hear that Donald J. Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have closed the rift between them.

Fine, if you’re a Republican. I guess.

Are they anywhere near closing the deal in the wake of their 45-minute meeting in Washington, D.C.?

Let’s see:

— Trump won’t touch entitlement spending, but he vows to erase the budget deficit quickly.

— Trump opposes trade agreements that allow for freer trade between the United States and our international partners.

— Trump wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

— Trump says he’s fine with Japan and South Korea developing nuclear arsenals.

— Trump says President Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction in a deliberate deception to start a war with Iraq.

— Trump wants foreign governments to pay us back for the assistance we give them.

— Trump is open to the United States withdrawing from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

— Trump says rich people should pay more in taxes.

I’m pretty sure that Speaker Ryan disagrees fundamentally with all those views. The presumptive presidential nominee’s view on tax policy and trade run completely counter to standard conservative Republican orthodoxy.

I know I’m missing a few examples. Those are the ones that come to mind immediately.

Trump has said “party unity” is overrated. Now he’s all in favor of it.

I will await the outcome of this run-up to the GOP convention in Cleveland along with the rest of the nation.

If Trump caves in to GOP policy, he risks ticking off his ardent followers.

If the “GOP establishment” surrenders to Trump, then the true-blue Republican faithful will be left standing in the rain.

Ryan today talked about standing firm on “core principles,” which I believe he possesses. Trump’s principles? I’m still waiting for him to reveal them.

 

Ryan: We’re heading for ‘divisiveness’ as a nation

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Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan is partially correct when he says the nation “is becoming divisive.”

I believe we’re already there, Mr. Speaker.

It’s not a condition that has just developed overnight, or certainly during the current election cycle.

It seems to my reckoning to have its roots in the 2000 election season, when a candidate for president was elected by the narrowest margin imaginable — and under circumstances that to this day hasn’t been accepted by many millions of Americans.

George W. Bush won the presidency after the Supreme Court stopped the recounting of ballots in Florida. The Texas governor had 537 more votes than Al Gore in that state. He won that state’s electoral votes, giving him the election — even though Gore had amassed more popular votes nationally than Bush.

For the record, I’ve never doubted the legitimacy of Bush’s election as president. The constitutional system worked.

But …

The spillover through the next several elections has seen a palpable division among Americans.

The current campaign has delivered an intense ratcheting up of the division that’s been there for some time now.

I’m not a fan of the speaker, but I do applaud him for speaking to our national idealism. He clearly was taking dead aim at the tone being delivered on the campaign trail by Donald J. Trump, who he didn’t mention by name. Everyone in the congressional conference room who heard Ryan knew of whom he was speaking.

As Politico described Ryan’s remarks: “He decried identity politics, criticizing those who pit groups of Americans against each other. He said the nation’s political system doesn’t need to be this bad. He accused both parties of staying comfortably in their corners, only talking to those who agree with them.”

Ain’t that the truth?

There once was a time when members of Congress — from both parties — talked openly with each other about how to legislate for the good of their states or the country. The Texas congressional delegation was known to have bipartisan breakfasts weekly, with House members breaking bread with each other and talking about issues that needed attention.

It doesn’t happen these days.

Instead, we’re seeing and hearing candidates and their rhetoric demonizing “the other side.” The No. 1 instigator of this campaign-trail anger is the GOP’s leading presidential candidate — Trump.

Ryan’s message will not resonate with the segment of the population that has bought into the Us vs. Them mantra that Trump and others are promoting. Ryan is now seen as a member of the hated “establishment.”

Ryan said: “What really bothers me the most about politics these days is this notion of identity politics. That we’re going to win election by dividing people. That we’re going to win by talking to people in ways that divide them and separate them from other people. Rather than inspiring people on our common humanity, on our common ideals, on our common culture, on things that should unify us.”

Is his message too sunny, too optimistic, too idealistic?

For the sake of our political future, I hope not.

Wondering if Trump will bolt the party

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Peter Wehner doesn’t strike me as a wacked-out Republican loon.

He writes pretty well, if the essay in today’s New York Times is an indication.

The man is frightened at the prospect of Donald J. Trump becoming his party’s next presidential nominee. And he expresses that fear — right along with a lot of other Republican wise men and women — with profound eloquence.

Check out his essay here.

He says the Founders were afraid of people such as Trump. They feared strongmen rising to the top of the political heap. As he says in his NYT essay:

“The founders, knowing history and human nature, took great care to devise a system that would prevent demagogues and those with authoritarian tendencies from rising up in America. That system has been extraordinarily successful. We have never before faced the prospect of a political strongman becoming president.

“Until now.”

I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of commentary in recent weeks about the Republican strategies being devised to deny Trump the party nomination. And as I take it all in I remind myself of things Trump said earlier in this campaign about how he would respond if he’s treated badly at the GOP convention this summer.

He’s suggested, then recanted, and then suggested again that he might launch an independent bid for president if Republicans aren’t nice to him. He wants to be treated “fairly,” he has said.

If I were advising Trump, I’d be examining all these efforts to wrest the nomination from my guy and I would conclude: Hey, these guys flat-out don’t like Trump; they aren’t being nice, fair, even-handed … none of it.

If Trump is true to his word, that he wants fair treatment and would resort to other means to win the White House if he’s mistreated by his party moguls, then my strong hunch is that he might be cooking some plans to strike back at those Republican honchos.

After all, he’s already exhibited a serious mean streak all along the campaign trail so far.

Does anyone really think this fellow is incapable of creating maximum chaos?

And if you do believe he never in a million years would do anything to stick it in the GOP’s eye, check this out.

Then … get back to me.

Obama: Trump is GOP creation

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Count me as one American who was impressed with former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s brutal critique of Donald J. Trump’s rise to political power.

I listened the other morning to every word of Mitt’s 17-minute speech in Utah. (Yes, I’ll call him Mitt because I like the sound of the name.)

Mitt sought to stand for the GOP “establishment” in its effort to stop Trump’s nomination as the party’s next nominee for presidential of the United States.

It didn’t go over universally well, though.

Some folks wondered whether Mitt was the right guy to carry the message forward. After all, he lost fairly handily to President Obama in 2012 and, by the way, he did so even with the coveted endorsement of one Donald J. Trump.

One of the doubters happens to be the president his own self.

Obama said the GOP is just “shocked that there’s gambling” going on here.

Speaking at a Texas Democratic fundraiser, Obama took particular pleasure in reminding donors that the GOP establishment stood by silently while Trump and others promoted the wacky notion that the president was born in a faraway land, that he was an illegitimate candidate for president.

“As long as it was directed at me, they were fine with it. It was a hoot,” Obama told the Austin crowd.

I understand where the president is coming from on this matter. Indeed, it continues to boggle my admittedly feeble mind that Obama’s place of birth was even an issue in the first place, given that his mother was an American citizen, which by my reading of the U.S. Constitution granted U.S. citizenship to Baby Barack the moment he took his first breath.

But the GOP brass didn’t care to silence the idiocy being spewed by Donald Trump and others.

So now they’re shocked and dismayed at what they’ve helped create?

I still stand behind Mitt’s criticism of Trump. If only, though, he would acknowledge the mistake he made in seeking Trump’s endorsement.

 

What took so long to go after Trump?

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The 11th version of the Republican Party presidential debate circus provided one more frontal assault tonight by the three remaining viable challengers to frontrunner Donald J. Trump.

I’m going to join others around the country in asking: What took these guys so long to muster up the guts to go after this guy?

Mitt Romney this morning unleashed a blistering critique of Trump. He challenged his temperament, judgment, his business acumen, his ethics, his morals, his shallowness … have I left anything out?

Then tonight Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich continued their assault on Trump.

This comes after months of seeking to “stay on the high road.” They were cowed by Trump’s lambasting of others who dared criticize him. Trump pointed gleefully at how others who would take shots at him would see their own campaigns evaporate.

Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham? All gone.

Jeb Bush? Toast.

The rest of them? See you later.

Cruz wants to be the last man standing in the anti-Trump brigade, according to the Texas Tribune. But another strategy is beginning to develop: It is to keep the field crowded and denying Trump the ability to gather enough delegates to win the GOP nomination outright on the first ballot at the party convention this summer in Cleveland.

Trump’s incredible crassness has been ripe for criticism all along.

His foes, such as they’ve been to date, have chickened out.

I’ll give former Texas Gov. Perry credit, though, for sticking it to Trump early — only to see his own presidential campaign fizzle out.

Were the other guys afraid that would happen to them as well?

 

 

Get ready for the battering, Mr. Trump

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There are times when my mind wanders into seriously weird flights of fancy imagination. This is one of those times.

Take the future of Donald J. Trump’s candidacy for president of the United States.

All the smart money today suggests that Trump’s Republican nomination campaign is going to take big leap forward once they count the ballots in the 12 Super Tuesday primary states.

The likely Democratic nominee figures to be Hillary Rodham Clinton.

We all know that the Clinton political machine is a formidable beast. It is well-funded, well-organized, well-tooled — and well-supplied with opposition research staffers who spend their waking hours digging up dirt on political foes.

Let’s play this out.

Suppose Trump captures the Republican nomination in Cleveland this summer and Clinton walks out of the Philly convention with her party’s nomination.

Then the battle will be joined.

Clinton’s public life has been pretty much an open book for, oh, the past 20-plus years, dating back to her husband’s first campaign for president. Trump’s public life? Not so much.

It figures to be opened gaping wide for all to see and hear.

The Republican Party hierarchy doesn’t trust Trump. They believe he’s a faux Republican. We’ve been exposed in Texas to a devastating 30-second TV ad that contains only Trump’s words in which he declares himself to be pro-choice on abortion, that he considers himself to be a Democrat, in favor of universal health care and in which he thinks Hillary Clinton is just a fantastic person.

On top of that, you need to watch a brilliant comedic put-down of Trump by John Oliver.

Here it is.

It’s long, but it’s hilarious. It also rings so very true.

And this kind of thing marks only the beginning of the evisceration that Trump will face if he secures the GOP presidential nomination.

Now let’s ponder another admittedly remotely possible outcome.

I cannot shake this very strange feeling that he really and truly doesn’t want to be exposed fully for the fraudulent circus-clown act that he is.

I’m going to wonder aloud now about whether Trump intends to take this fight all the way.

Just suppose this master of political theatrics does the unthinkable. He goes to the convention having taken all the battering that his so-called fellow Republicans have delivered.

Then he decides, “You know what? I don’t need this. I’m really wealthy. I have several beautiful homes. A gorgeous wife. I have all the creature comforts. I think I’ll just declare that I’m out. I’ll release my delegates. Maybe I’ll make an endorsement. And then I’ll go home.”

Wouldn’t it deliver the final blow to the GOP brass that has sought to take him down? He could toss the convention into utter chaos and leave it to that very same brass to figure out how to nominate a candidate. He could stick it straight into the party’s gut.

I cannot predict whether he’ll accrue enough delegates prior to the convention to secure the nomination. I also am not going to predict that the scenario I’ve just described actually will take place.

However, given the incredible twists, turns and gyrations this campaign that taken to date, nothing — not a single, solitary thing — would surprise me.

Mischief possible on Election Day?

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Texas’ open primary system is going to be on display.

As it should.

The state’s election system provides opportunity for polling-station mischief. There might be some of it played out Tuesday, but in this wacky, unpredictable, topsy-turvy election season it would seem to be the diciest of propositions.

Texans aren’t “registered” with political parties. We go to the polls with unmarked voter registration cards. We choose which primary to cast ballots: Democrat or Republican. We can zig or zag our way to the polling station of our choice.

How does the mischief come into play? There could be those who are loyal to one party but who might venture into the other party’s polling place to vote the candidate they believe will be the weakest against the candidate of their choice.

Parties are able to muster up concerted efforts in that regard, although it’s at times difficult to prove.

In 2008, heavily Republican precincts in Texas saw a huge spike in Democratic primary voter activity as Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama battled for their party’s nomination. Clinton won the primary and it was whispered that a lot of Republicans crossed over to vote for her hoping Democrats would nominate her to run against Sen. John McCain in the fall.

Indeed, I spoke to several Republican friends who actually admitted to doing precisely that: voting for Clinton and hoping she would be nominated.

It didn’t work out that way; Obama got the Democratic nod and went on to thump McCain in the general election.

Can such a thing happen on Tuesday? I keep reading about Republican Party “establishment” honchos sweating bullets over the prospect of Donald J. Trump winning their party’s nomination. Might that spur some Democrats to cross over to vote for Trump hoping to push the reality TV celebrity and real estate mogul toward the GOP nomination?

In another time and era, perhaps that could be the case. This  year? Well, it might be a case of being “careful what you wish for” if such a conspiracy materializes across Texas. Democrats wanted Republicans to nominate Ronald Reagan in 1980 — and look how that turned out.

I’ve never been one to “waste” a vote by playing that game. I tend to cherish my vote as something that gives me pride. I’m not seeking to sound righteous. I’m just saying that in my humble view, game-playing with one’s vote cheapens this rite of citizenship.

Of course, I cannot possibly pretend to speak for others.

Let’s just see how it plays out.

 

As GOP field thins out, so might Trump’s support

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An interesting dynamic might be unfolding as the Republican presidential field continues to thin out.

It involves Donald J. Trump and the support he’s been able to get so far.

I believe it’s fair to ask: Who are the voters supporting the dropouts going to endorse?

The GOP field now is down to seven candidates; it started out at 17, if you’ll recall.

Some of the so-called “establishment” candidates have packed it in. The latest significant casualty was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Others have gone by the wayside and none of them appears to be friends of Trump, who’s managed to insult his way to the top of the GOP heap.

I’m wondering if Trump’s support now will dwindle as Republican voters who were loyal, say, to Christie, or Mike Huckabee, or Rick Santorum, or Bobby Jindal start looking around for someone else to support.

Ted Cruz is mining the ultraconservative voters. Marco Rubio, although now severely damaged by the battering he took in the most recent GOP debate, is on the hunt for the same folks. John Kasich, my favorite Republican, also is beginning to gather some steam. Jeb Bush also could find himself thrust into the game.

All of these individuals stand to gain from the remnants of support that rallied around the candidates who’ve departed the campaign trail.

Where does that leave Trump? With his base of support, comprising voters who somehow are infatuated with the candidate’s brashness and don’t seem to care one little bit that he doesn’t seem to possess a political philosophy on which he would govern.

Let’s just watch this thing continue to play out.

I’ve seen the polls that show Trump still leading in South Carolina. However, as we’ve seen in previous election cycles, the Palmetto State is where the GOP campaign has been known to get nasty … as in real nasty.

I’m now wondering how well Trump will hold up when the mud starts flying.