Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Cruising the Web

I'm constantly amazed how almost every day our political attention is taken up with such trivial controversies. Now the political world is fixated on Ted Cruz having to fire his communications director for posting a video purporting to show that Marco Rubio had insulted the Bible. It was clear that the video was a false story. I'm not sure that firing the campaign staffer will end the undercurrent of accusations that Cruz is running a dirty campaign. Having watched politics a long time, I don't think that firing an aide is the end to a candidate's campaign. I remember Reagan firing John Sears as campaign director after the New Hampshire primary in 1980. And remember Michael Dukakis firing his campaign manager, John Sasso, for leaking the video demonstrating that Joe Biden had plagiarized a speech about his supposed autobiography. That's what was called a dirty trick back in 1988 - releasing a video of a candidate's own words. I never understood why that was an action necessitating firing. It always seemed quite legitimate to demonstrate that a candidate had plagiarized a speech about his own autobiography especially when that candidate, Joe Biden, had a history of plagiarizing in law school.

This story about the video with phony subtitles trying to indicate that Marco Rubio, in front of Cruz's staff and father, would have insulted the Bible is of a different order than Sasso's supposed dirty behavior. But the point is that neither Reagan nor Dukakis lost their quest for the nomination after firing campaign managers. And firing a communications director that few had ever heard of isn't going to be what derails Ted Cruz's campaign. What does hurt him is to have the day before the Nevada caucuses filled with more discussion of whether or not Cruz is running a dirty campaign. His campaign doesn't seem exceptionally dirty to me, but accusations are what important, not reality. So Trump and Rubio can keep talking about how dirty Cruz is and that might give people the idea that perception is reality. And then that perception will help defang future accusations that the Cruz campaign makes against his opponents.

As Scott McKay writes, the problem with Ted Cruz's campaign isn't his communications director, but his vision for how he could put together a winning race by appealing to Christian conservatives.
The first miscalculation is that if Cruz says “I’m one of you” to the religious Right and the evangelical community loudly and often enough, he’s going to dominate the vote within that community. That hasn’t happened, as his losing South Carolina among evangelical voters to Donald Trump of all people demonstrates, for a number of reasons.

Evangelicals are obviously a great deal more diverse as a voting bloc than you would think. Merely advertising your purity on the pro-life and anti-gay marriage fronts doesn’t necessarily lock up their votes, particularly in a GOP primary where every candidate will give lip service to their positions. Evangelicals have kids who can’t find jobs just like everybody else, they’d like a raise just like everybody else, they think the EPA and IRS are awful just like everybody else, they’re scared to death about the monsters growing bolder around the world just like everybody else and they want to know what you’re going to do about it. If all you do is narrowcast to them on social and cultural issues, it’s not enough.

One reason it’s not enough is that the Christian Right is waking up to the fact that for two generations it has been getting clobbered in the culture, and is now terrified by the perception that everybody younger than 30 thinks it’s perfectly OK to impose negative legal consequences on icky Christian bakeries who want to opt out of baking cakes for gay weddings. The panic is at such a level that a movie plot line we’ve seen a million times now describes religious conservative voters. They’re basically the peaceful natives in Avatar, The Last Samurai (those natives weren’t all that peaceful, but they were backward and that’s good enough), Quigley Down Under, Witness, and Pale Rider who are looking for their protector from the powerful bad guys out there, and it’s OK if the protector comes from a background at odds with the peaceful natives.

Meaning, even though nothing about him suitably identifies him as their ally, Donald Trump is perfectly acceptable as the protector of Christian conservatives, and for many he’s more acceptable than Cruz. Why? Because they think Cruz is too much like them and can’t win any votes among the nonreligious while Trump speaks the language of the non-churchgoing and can defend the peaceful Christians from the heathen Democrat bad guys who are gathering for the next attack. Such is the crisis of confidence among religious conservatives in 21st century America that an anti-hero who brags about sexual trysts with married women is seen as more realistic than the real McCoy.

The other problem with that appeal is that if you’re going to be the Christian candidate in the race your hands are tied with respect to the kind of campaign you can run. You have to run as Ned Flanders, because that’s the standard people demand of self-describing Christian politicians. And nobody thinks Ned Flanders is getting elected president, particularly not when Trump is on the ballot.

And Ted Cruz is not Ned Flanders. Ted Cruz has, and this is a compliment, a wide mean streak in him. His campaign manager Jeff Roe is made of the same stuff as the legendary Lee Atwater. These guys have what it takes to win a street fight with the Democrats, and that’s something we are actually looking for in a Republican nominee. But it hardly fits with a narrative that he’s the Holy Roller in the race and it looks hypocritical. It also makes that “TrusTED” slogan serving as the backdrop at all his speeches look like a lie.
Got that? Donald Trump is Harrison Ford leading an army of the Amish in Witness.

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John Podhoretz refutes
all the analysis of why Jeb Bush failed this year. He was doomed before he even began.
Jeb was a dead duck before he ran. I saw him speak at two events in New York in October 2014, and the idea that this was the guy an angry and energetic party was going to choose to be its standard bearer was utterly risible. He was bland when he was not dull, and even speaking on an issue about which he is supposedly passionate — education — he had nothing of interest to say. And it wasn’t because he was wonky. I’m wonky. And I’m interested in the subject. What he was pitching was moderate-conservative boilerplate, and he wasn’t even doing it very well. There was no juice, no fire, he sucked the air and enthusiasm out of rooms that were eager to hear him.

The fact that he was able to raise more than $100 million from a network of what the service culture calls “ultra-high-net-worth individuals” — meaning people who know how to make colossal sums of money in part because they don’t spend their days reading polls and Twitter and following politics at a granular level — was nowhere near as meaningful as some were led to believe. That money was raised in no small measure to keep Mitt Romney out of the race, which suggests just how conventionally minded and linear the Jeb Bush team was. Romney would no more have flourished in the 2015 environment than Bush did, even though he could have run on saying he was right about Russia and the country would have been in better shape had it gone with him in 2012. If in the Romney scenario, Trump had gotten in as well, he would have chewed Romney up and spit him out. “Look at what Mitt did to poor Rick Santorum.” “Look at Mitt, picking on poor Newt Gingrich.” “Mitt, you had your chance, and you blew it, you GAVE us Obama.”
I've always thought that Bush was doomed because the country just didn't want another Bush. So even if Trump hadn't been in the campaign, Jeb would still have gone nowhere. THis is especially true in a year when the Republicans were anticipating fighting against Hillary Clinton. The last thing the Republicans would want would be to run another candidate whose very name shouted "Yesterday's news" when they were running against a Democrat who personified yesterday.

Podhoretz also points out another problem that the whole Bush apparatus had.
And they were operating far more on the basis of emotion than candidacies should. Their utter obsession with the supposed betrayal of Jeb by Marco Rubio — they called him Judas, and not humorously — was an example of that. It’s startling how deeply personal his decision-making was and how we were expected to understand that and give him credit for wrestling with it. We saw it in the persistent reports on Jeb’s self-examination of his motivations and feelings and whether he could run “joyously,” and how he was running to be the “adult,” and how he thought he might have to “lose the primary to win the general,” and later how he was to be praised for taking on Trump as though doing so had been a selfless act in which he was taking one for the team. We saw it in his difficulty figuring out just what to say about his brother’s presidency and the Iraq war, which he basically made into a public matter.

Nobody cares about how a candidate feels. Nobody cares what his motivations are. Nobody cares about his internal struggles to bring himself to choose to run. As Jeb himself said in his town-hall appearance last week, elections are about the voters and not about the candidate. The post-mortems suggest that Jeb was the ideas candidate in the race, but that’s just not the case. He was the biography candidate more than anyone else — the one you were supposed to admire because of his experience doing things a decade ago and implicitly because in his blood he represented the continuity with a better Republican past in the race.
I feel badly for Jeb Bush. I liked him a lot when he was governor. I would have supported him in 2008, though he would have had no chance in that environment. I may have supported him in 2012, but that was probably too late for him. He still has a lot to contribute to public life. I would like to see him working as a leader for school reform policies such as charter schools and voucher programs. He was a pioneer for those programs in Florida and could do a lot for those policies.

Of course, nothing says you're a candidate of yesterday than talking about women who "left their kitchens o go out and go door-to-door and put yard signs up" your first run for office. Was John Kerry trying to rub voters' faces in the fact that he's so old, he still remembers when most women were stay-at-home moms and he doesn't even get that that is a bit condescending. And, as Ed Morrissey writes,
Hoo boy. That makes “binders full of women” look like Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” — especially since the “binders full of women” actually was an explanation of the empowerment of women during Mitt Romney’s term as governor of Massachusetts. This comes across as an assumption that all of his female support back in 1979 was from hausfraus. That may have been somewhat more the case back in 1979 than today, but much of the shift of women entering the workforce had already begun by that time — and Kasich’s framing of that support sounds more like it belongs from twenty years prior to that.

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The ironies continue to pile up. C-Span uncovered this 1992 speech by Joe Biden.
Joe Biden argued in 1992 that the president should not nominate any Supreme Court candidates until after that year’s presidential election.

“It would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is underway — and it is — action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over,” Biden, then a Delaware senator, said in June of 1992. “That is what is fair to the nominee and essential to the process.”

The video, unearthed by C-SPAN on Monday, comes as Vice President Biden has argued that President Obama should nominate a replacement to the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died just more than a week ago. Republicans are arguing that the next president, elected in November, should nominate the next justice.

Speaking on the Senate floor in 1992, Biden said: “It is my view that if a Supreme Court justice resigns tomorrow, or within the next several weeks, or resigns at the end of the summer, President Bush should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not — and not — name a nominee until after the November election is completed.”
He added,
Mr. Biden even said the Senate’s decision shouldn’t depend on the merits of a particular nominee. The inconveniences of a High Court with only eight Justices “are quite minor compared to the cost that a nominee, the President, the Senate and the Nation would have to pay for what would assuredly be a bitter fight, no matter how good a person is nominated by the President,” he said.
Of course, that was totally different. Back then the Democrats controlled the Senate and a Republican was in the White House. Clearly, it is an entirely different story when those parties are reversed.

Well, this will change the entire campaign. Bob Dole is now endorsing Marco Rubio. His endorsement did so much to help Jeb Bush.

This is the logic that the Democrats believe in - it is somehow unconstitutional to ask voters to prove their citizenship when they register to vote. Hans A. von Spakovsky reports on what happened during Monday's hearing on this issue. It did not go well for the Department of Justice.

Micah Morrison of Judicial Watch reports on the documents that they released this week outlining the case that the Indipendent Counsel had gathered against Hillary Clinton in the Whitewater investigation. They eventually decided not to bring the case because it was mostly circumstantial and was very complicated so they could never win a prosecution of a sitting First Lady. As Morrison explains, this all still matters because there is a pattern of behavior that Hillary has demonstrated over her time in public life.
But the past is prologue, the leopard does not change its spots.

Patterns of dissembling and obstruction, financial favors and shaky stories, extend from Whitewater and the cattle trades of yore to State Dept. emails and Clinton Foundation buckraking today.

Fall guys emerged in Whitewater, and one can already see the shadows of these subalterns on the horizon in the email mess.

Investigations were kicked past the presidential election in Whitewater, and you can bet the ranch that in 2016 the Justice Department bar will be set very high for indictment of a leading presidential candidate.
Ron Fournier is fretting over Hillary's inability to put the whole honest issue behind her.
But to misled [sic] the public knowingly is a lie, a breach of trust, and something that a former first lady, senator, and secretary of state should be able to rule out. Clinton can’t—at least not honestly. From the firings of White House travel office employees in 1993 to the 2015 email scandal that still haunts this campaign, Clinton has a history of deflections, deception, and untruths.

Her supporters will explain that she has been the victim of outrageous attacks from extremist Republicans, and there’s some truth to that. Vince Foster killed himself; he wasn’t killed. Whitewater was a screwy land deal, not a scandal. But the sleazy acts of a vast right-wing conspiracy don’t give Clinton a free pass.

Even admirers of Clinton worry about her credibility deficit. In Nevada, as in Iowa and New Hampshire, Democratic voters who cared most about backing a candidate who's honest and trustworthy or one who cares about people like them overwhelmingly supported Sanders, according to exit polls.
Jim Geraghty points to the weaknesses that Nevada's polls demonstrates for Hillary. She's just the wrong candidate for the populist moment of today's politics.
He is crushing her among young voters; the entrance poll in Nevada showed her losing voters aged 17 to 29 by 68 points, and those aged 30 to 44 by 27 points. Democratic voters consistently say he is more honest and cares more about people like them.

These are not the usual weaknesses for a Democratic nominee, and we haven’t even gotten to the FBI investigation yet. Sure, most of those 7 million Sanders voters will fall in line by November, but the more it looks like the Democratic National Committee stacked the deck in her favor, the angrier they will be at the “Washington establishment.” And as Jeb Bush learned in the Republican primary, this is the wrong cycle to be seen as the “establishment.”

....What have we seen of Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail in 2016? She’s the kind of outsider who has lived in Washington since 1993. The kind of outsider who insists she doesn’t “exemplify the establishment” because she’s “a woman running to be the first woman president.” The kind of “everyday American” who insists she can relate to the financial worries of the middle class, telling tales of being “dead broke” when she left the White House, right around the time she signed an $8-million book deal.

And up against a 74-year-old socialist who relentlessly repeats the same far-left message in grating Brooklynese, Clinton has proven herself slow-footed, clumsy on the attack, unfocused, laughably dishonest, and as quick to blame her staff as ever. Just imagine how she’d fare against the media-fueled Godzilla that is the Trump campaign.

Sure, Trump trails Clinton in most head-to-head polling. But none of Clinton’s weaknesses as a candidate are going to disappear once she wins the nomination. If American politics have truly arrived at a populist moment, she’s about the worst standard-bearer Democrats could ask for.

Jay Nordlinger has a question he'd ask if he could be the journalist in a Democratic debate.
I’m sure this would be seen by many as McCarthyite, Red-baiting — but I’d like to ask Bernie and Hillary, “Whom do you admire more? Fidel Castro or Reagan? Which do you admire more? The Republican party or the Cuban government?”

From Bernie, you might get an interesting answer. He is pretty candid about his beliefs — witness his self-avowal as a socialist. Hillary? More slippery, of course.

There are so many things Democrats can’t say. They can’t say “radical Islam.” They can’t say “All lives matter.” They can’t even say “illegal immigrant” — Hillary has pledged never to use the term. Has Bernie? I haven’t seen it.

In the Democratic party, can you get away with saying you admire Reagan more than Castro? That would have to be tested. What if there were a Bernie/Hillary split?
That would indeed be a funny moment.

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Matt Lewis explains how liberals would go after Marco Rubio if he were indeed the GOP candidate.
By my reading (and you should read his whole piece), Sargent is arguing that—in order to have a shot at the nomination—the base has forced Rubio to campaign in a less optimistic manner. What is more, he has not risen to the occasion by confronting Trump over some of his unseemly statements.

The reason I think this is an important argument is that if Marco Rubio does, in fact, win the nomination, you can be sure that (along with calling him a “robot”) liberals will seek to undermine his appeal by making these exact arguments. They will say that Rubio pushed his optimistic message aside in order to pander to the base’s worst instincts. They will say he abandoned immigration reform. And they will suggest that he did not show political courage by standing up to Donald Trump when he said outrageous things (and is thus complicit in Trump’s sins).

They will do this because Rubio (as a young, eloquent, charismatic, Hispanic conservative) poses a serous threat to liberalism.

The good news for Rubio is that it will be easier for him to run as an optimistic General Election candidate than it was for him to run as an angry primary candidate. Most politicians have a natural disposition, and Rubio is naturally optimistic.

But the best politicians (see Reagan and Clinton) channel both optimism and indignation, and running in this milieu has required Rubio to demonstrate a healthy dose of indignation. Has he pulled it off? I don’t think Rubio has betrayed his positive image, or that his recent comments constitute overt pandering or a dumbing down of his message (I suspect some observers will differ with me on this).

Now, a few words regarding the specific suggestion that “The GOP Marco Rubio hopes to lead may not exist.” Good leaders don’t just reflect–or even merely represent—their base (especially not their worst instincts). Instead, they lead them to follow their better angels.

The WSJ ridicules Donald Trump's obfuscating about releasing his tax returns.
Mr. Trump says he doesn’t have to release his tax returns because his business is fabulous, though at some point he may release them, maybe, but there’s no rush because, well, he doesn’t say, though in January he said “we’re working on that now” and that they would be “very beautiful.” In any case he’s going to fix the country because he’s a business success. By the time Mr. Stephanopoulos surrenders for the next guest, viewers can’t remember what the original question was.

As we wrote Saturday, Mr. Trump should release his tax returns now to avoid Mitt Romney’s mistake of waiting for Democrats to make an issue of it, which they will. As the potential GOP nominee, he also owes the details to Republicans so they know as much as they can about the man who would be President. Is there something in those tax returns you want to hide, Mr. Trump?

Nate Silver looks at the arguments between those who are Trump Optimists and Trump Skeptics. His conclusion:
Betting markets, weighing all of this information, see the Republican race thusly: Trump at about 50 percent to win the nomination, Rubio at 40 percent, and the rest of the field at 10 percent. I might quibble here and there, but that seems like basically a sound assessment. Now, let’s get back to arguing on Twitter.
But Byron York talks to several Republican analysts who think it might already be too late to stop Trump especially with Kasich and Carson still in the race. And Kasich has no incentive to drop out with polls showing him close to Trump in his home state.
Yes, most see it as too late to stop Trump by March 1. For one thing, early voting has already begun; about one-third of the SEC primary votes will already have been cast by the time election day dawns. That, the thinking goes, helps Trump, not only because he leads in most of the polls but because early voters are casting votes in the glow of Trump's South Carolina win.

For another thing, the field is still too big. Even after Jeb Bush's withdrawal, there are still John Kasich and Ben Carson keeping the race from narrowing to a three-way contest between Trump and Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. "Until the GOP race gets down to three candidates, and two end this vanity tour, Trump is like a locomotive roaring down the tracks," Reed told me in an earlier email exchange.

So far, Kasich and Carson have shown no inclination to leave their "vanity tour." As far as Carson is concerned, it's fair to say that few completely understand his motives for staying in. But Kasich still has a "plausible" path forward, said Black, and will likely stay in through the Michigan primary on March 8 and, possibly, his home state of Ohio on March 15.

"You're not going to convince anybody who's still in to get out now," said Black.

Given that, insiders don't see any chance to stop Trump on March 1. The real deadline is March 15, with the Florida and Ohio primaries and the beginning of the GOP's winner-take-all phase.

Of course, that's still not a lot of time. One might think there would be a super-duper top priority, all-hands-on-deck, 24-7, stop-Trump effort going on right now, with lots of meetings and game plans and check-writing.

Or maybe not. "There's no organized move that I'm aware of," Malek told me. "Just a lot of folks surmising after South Carolina that we have only one alternative."

That alternative, of course, is Rubio.
Bush's financial supporters are now all rushing over to support Rubio and the money and endorsements may well be pouring in. We'll see how much that helps Rubio. It sure didn't do much for Jeb.

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Bret Stephens laughs
at the lament of conservative radio hosts Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh criticizing Donald Trump's liberal statements attack George W. Bush and sounding like Code Pink.
It is terrible. So where were Messrs. Limbaugh and Levin last summer, when the Trump candidacy was still a big soap bubble, waiting to be popped by the likes of them?

In July, Mr. Trump said of John McCain, “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” The Donald’s trademark insult—coyly calibrated to appeal to voters who lack the brains or the decency to be appalled—should have been the tombstone of his campaign. But it wasn’t, thanks not least to a loud assist from Mr. Limbaugh.

“Trump can survive this. Trump is surviving this,” Mr. Limbaugh exalted. “The American people haven’t seen something like this in a long time. They have not seen an embattled public figure stand up for himself, double down and tell everybody to go to hell.”

In fact, Americans have often seen such figures: Marcus Garvey, Henry Wallace, Joe McCarthy, Lyndon LaRouche. We just used to have the good sense to dismiss them as eccentrics, lowlifes or clowns. What we haven’t seen are the modern-day keepers of mainstream conservatism developing schoolgirl crushes on the bad boy of the GOP class. “The Republicans are impotent!” swooned Mr. Levin in one September broadcast. “And now this guy [Mr. Trump], who may not be a down-the-line conservative, is standing up to them. And he’s kicking them all over the place.”

Mr. Levin has since become more critical of Mr. Trump, though Mr. Limbaugh seems to be hedging his bets. But both men provided Mr. Trump with the margin of respectability he needed in the early months to make his campaign credible with Republican voters.

So Mr. Trump had once supported socialized medicine? That didn’t matter, said Mr. Levin, because the candidate opposed ObamaCare now. So Mr. Trump was conspicuously ignorant about major foreign-policy issues? Who cares, since he was passionate about the “invasion,” as Mr. Limbaugh calls it, of Latin American migrants. So Mr. Trump wants to ban Muslim immigration? Well, Mr. Levin says, at least “Trump has opened the way” to a “national discussion.”

Above all, the Trump candidacy was supposed to serve its purpose as a truck bomb against the “GOP Establishment”—namely, Republicans in Congress who don’t think repeatedly shutting down the government is a smart political tactic; editorial pages, this one especially, that believe in immigration reform and think the GOP can only win as a party of aspiration and inclusion, not fences and deportation; and anyone else who thinks it’s enough to fault Barack Obama for being a lousy president without also accusing him of being a sworn enemy of the United States.

Well, congratulations, fellas. If your avowed purpose was to knock Jeb Bush out of the race, you’ve won. It must feel great.

Then again, it’s looking less great for Ted Cruz, your preferred candidate, who could only manage a third-place finish in a very red state. And it’s looking even worse for the Republican Party, which shows every sign of wanting to give its presidential nomination to an unelectable buffoon who would lose in a rout—to Bernie Sanders.
It’s a lucky thing for conservatives that the likeliest alternative to Mr. Trump for the nomination is the very “establishment Republican” Marco Rubio, the non-jerk of the season who could actually win in November. Too bad his task will be that much harder thanks to the ideological drunks who, when they knew better, cheered the Donald on.
Exactly so. Those hosts were so enthralled with Trump's statements on immigration and his attacks on the GOP establishment that they just ignored how he was not a true conservative. Meanwhile, their approbation gave Trump the conservative seal of approval. And now they're waking up to the Frankenstein they helped create.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Last ponders
how Trumpism corrupts its more prominent supporters. They're forced to defend his more outrageous Code Pink remarks.
Trumpism, in other words, looked like a political movement that could — and possibly even should — be incorporated into the GOP.

There is some truth to much of this. But it turns out that Trumpism has corrosive effects, too. Witness how it has corrupted people in its orbit.

Nine months ago, if you had asked Sarah Palin, Scott Brown, Jerry Falwell Jr., or Ann Coulter whether they would endorse a figure who takes the Code Pink, Michael Moore, MoveOn.org view of Iraq ("Bush lied, people died"), one suspects they all would have recoiled at the prospect. Yet in the hours after Trump insisted that George W. Bush intentionally lied the country into war, not one of the major figures who have endorsed him was willing to contradict his claim.
Instead they duck reporters' questions as to whether or not they agree with him.
It is almost certain that none of Trump's endorsers actually believes this theory [that Bush lied about WMD to get us to go to war in Iraq] either. And yet these public figures refuse to contradict Trump's assertion because they do believe that acceptance of every one of Trump's utterances is the price of admission for Trumpism.

You see evidence of the ill-effects of Trumpism not just in Trump's endorsers, but among his enablers in conservative media, too. Rush Limbaugh, for instance, admitted that with his "Bush lied" line, "Trump sounded like the Daily Kos blog." "[O]n a Republican debate stage, defending Planned Parenthood in language used by the left, going after George W. Bush and Jeb Bush and the entire Bush family, for the most part, using the terminology of Democrats, people think that Trump was out of control, that he had emotional incontinence that night," Limbaugh said.

But Limbaugh then proceeded to construct an alibi for Trump. He floated the idea that, because South Carolina is an open primary, Trump was really just "strategically" "making a move on independents and Democrats."

People who ought to know better — who almost certainly do know better — seem to have embraced this article of faith: Trump is leading in the polls. Anyone leading in the polls is brilliant. So Trump is brilliant. Therefore everything Trump does or says must be brilliant, too.

This weird, unfalsifiable dogma winds up crowding out honest analysis among Trump's endorsers and enablers. They see their suspension of rationality as the cost of doing business in promoting Trumpism. If that truly is the price of Trumpism — if one can't be against illegal immigration and the donor class, yet also think that conspiracy theorists ought not be suffered in high office — then it is too high.
And while Rush Limbaugh likes to trumpet how he's right so very often and sees things that others don't, I wonder if he's come back to tell his audience that the whole idea that Trump was appealing to Democratic voters in South Carolina's open primary was belied by the fact that only 2% of those who turned out on Saturday's GOP primary were Democrats. There weren't enough of them to determine which candidate they supported. I guess Rush could still argue that Trump was trying for those voters even though they never showed up. But I go with Occam's Razor here. Rather than construct a convoluted tactical maneuver for Trump's words, how about that he actually believes that Bush lied and people died? He's a guy prone to believing conspiracy theories about all sorts of ideas so why not that? For example, take his claim that the Republican Party is packing the audiences at debates with anti-Trump supporters and that is why they boo him instead of accepting that each candidate gets a certain number of tickets and all the supporters of the other candidates find what Trump says worth booing?

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Andrew Kirrell piles on blaming the media for Donald Trump's ability to get his message out for free. Fox News has been particularly ripe with Trump supporters to push his message.
Just like the presidential candidate, Trump’s biggest TV defenders have an appetite for attention—from the famous (Ann Coulter) to the up-and-coming (Kayleigh McEnany).

Vacuuming up as much media attention as humanly possible—a key element of Donald Trump’s campaign strategy—requires an army of campaign surrogates to represent the big man in an endless stream of cable news appearances and shout-fests.

Enter the Trumpkins: a merry band of media-loving talking heads who’ve become cable news mainstays as the reality TV star dominates national polling and steamrolls through several state primary votes.
Fox News, as The Daily Beast has noted, has its own in-house roster of Trump defenders in Eric Bolling, Jeanine Pirro, Andrea Tantaros, and Jesse Watters. Prime-time star Sean Hannity, too, has taken heat for appearing too friendly to Trump’s candidacy.

Ann Coulter, meanwhile, acts as a roving surrogate, bringing her aggressively xenophobic brand of pro-Trump commentary to every outlet possible, including social media.

One day she’s sparring with the ladies of The View; the next she’s tweeting hateful remarks about the South Carolina governor endorsing Trump’s newest rival; and the next she’s on MSNBC to bash a fellow conservative or even Fox News for not going far enough in the fight against “illegal aliens.”
He points to Jeffrey Lord who appears on CNN a lot to advocate for Trump and has even written a book, What America Needs: The Case for Trump.
What CNN personality S.E. Cupp said of Lord last year could apply just as easily to the rest of his highly skilled, dogged fellow Trumpkins: “I don’t envy Jeffrey having to carry Donald Trump’s decidedly fetid water every day. It’s not an enviable job and he does it very well.”
Yup. Trumpism corrupts, but unfortunately, there are all sorts of media personalities grabbing their few minutes of fame to audition as fervent acolytes of the new cult.