Category Archives: GOP Leadership

Day 66: POLITICO panel of “expert GOPs” see Trump’s trip as a success

There’s never been any question that something’s seriously awry with the perceptive capabilities of the entire Grand Old Party about its own successes and failures — most recently, 2012’s “skewed polls” nonsense and Mitt Romney’s belief in his bad polling and Karl Rove’s Election Night meltdown live on FOX News over Ohio being called for Barack Obama.  Now we have further evidence: the professional GOP evaluation of Donald Trump’s disastrous trip to Mexico.

You recall this week’s trip?  Where Donald Trump was contradicted about illegal immigration, in Spanish, by the President of Mexico, from an adjacent podium?  Where Donald Trump was rebuked by the Mexican president for his lies about whether the ‘paid-for-by-Mexico wall’ even came up?  Where Donald Trump traveled afterwards to Phoenix to give the darkest speech yet of his presidential campaign?

POLITICO has a panel of professionals in eleven swing states.  Some are Democrats; some are GOPs.  They have been surveyed throughout the campaign for their opinions about the state of the race.  And the panel of GOPs was just surveyed for their opinion of Trump’s trip.

How did a large majority of these professional Republicans characterize his trip?


Two-thirds of GOP members of The POLITICO Caucus — a panel of activists, operatives and strategists in 11 key battleground states — rated the Republican nominee’s meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto, followed by an evening rally in Phoenix in which he reiterated his robust immigration proposals, as hugely or moderately successful, despite the potential contradiction between the two events.

These are the people running the GOP in the few swing states that left in this election.  They consider this trip, the presidential “summit” in Mexico and the Phoenix speech, a great  success.


“A week after teasing a softening, Trump went full Viagra in his Phoenix speech, burying the crowd in red meat as he returned to his portrayal of America as a dystopian wasteland ruled by criminal aliens,” one Iowa Republican said. “


“He’s like a kid who takes Ritalin in the morning, and it wears off in the late afternoon,” said a New Hampshire Republican. “The result is two totally different kids in the same day. His parents are constantly monitoring how long it’s been since he took his last dose.”

But one Virginia Republican disagreed. “No one will remember the speech in a week,” the Republican said. “The visual of him with the Mexican president will be in peoples’ minds.”

For Democrats, Trump’s day was almost unanimously a failure: Only a combined 17 percent rated it moderately or hugely successful.

I don’t know if the Republican or Democratic experts are right.  But their perceptions sure are different, and GOP perceptions have been very wrong recently.  It’s almost as if they don’t have their finger on the pulse of the *entire* electorate, only a sliver of it.

As long as these incorrect perceptions are reaching the top of the Trump campaign, I think they’ll make the same mistakes Mitt Romney made: belief in their own victory, despite reality’s known liberal bias.



Day 83: Trump Campaign™ Steps on “Black Voter Outreach” Speech with Staff Shakeup


Last night, in 1% African-American West Bend, Wisconsin, Donald Trump read aloud his second “teleprompter speech” in as many days.  Billed as a Law-and-Order speech, it was recognized among the GOP cognoscenti as an historic outreach to African-American voters, like never seen before:


“Consider how dangerous that was,” Giuliani said. “Going into Milwaukee in the middle of the riot and talking about law and order, but also talking about what needs to be done to help minority communities, African-American communities, poor communities, to come out of the situation that they’re in.”

“I think this is the best speech that any Republican, at least, has ever given,” Giuliani said of Trump’s address Tuesday night.

Poor Abe!  Poor TR!  Poor Ike!  Poor Ronnie!  The GOP pantheon brought low….

The very next day, however, Our Liberal Media shifted focus entirely, ignoring this ahistoric rehash of Richard Nixon’s 1968 anti-crime speechifying to instead cover minor changes in the Trump Campaign™.

LAS VEGAS — Donald J. Trump has shaken up his presidential campaign for the second time in two months, hiring a top executive from the conservative website Breitbart News and promoting a senior adviser in an effort to right his faltering campaign.

Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC, will become the Republican campaign’s chief executive, and Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser and pollster for Mr. Trump and his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, will become the campaign manager.

Who is Steve Bannon?  Why, only the most dangerous political operative in America, according to Bloomberg News:

Bannon’s life is a succession of Gatsbyish reinventions that made him rich and landed him squarely in the middle of the 2016 presidential race: He’s been a naval officer, investment banker, minor Hollywood player, and political impresario. When former Disney chief Michael Ovitz’s empire was falling to pieces, Bannon sat Ovitz down in his living room and delivered the news that he was finished. When Sarah Palin was at the height of her fame, Bannon was whispering in her ear. When Donald Trump decided to blow up the Republican presidential field, Bannon encouraged his circus-like visit to the U.S.-Mexico border. John Boehner just quit as House speaker because of the mutinous frenzy Bannon and his confederates whipped up among conservatives. Today, backed by mysterious investors and a stream of Seinfeld royalties, he sits at the nexus of what Hillary Clinton once dubbed “the vast right-wing conspiracy,” where he and his network have done more than anyone else to complicate her presidential ambitions—and they plan to do more. But this “conspiracy,” at least under Bannon, has mutated into something different from what Clinton described: It’s as eager to go after establishment Republicans such as Boehner or Jeb Bush as Democrats like Clinton.

Just the kind of guy to help Donald Trump pivot to being presidential in the general election, wouldn’t you say?  A Palin-whisperer!

Roger Ailes righted the Reagan campaign with his cri du coeur: “Let Ronnie Be Ronnie!”

The question, three decades later: will “Let Donnie Be Donnie!” resonate as well?

Day 84: “It would please the czar if you would….”

Trump campaign chairman and/or manager Paul Manafort [politico link]:

“The suggestion that I accepted cash payments is unfounded, silly and nonsensical.”

Never a good look, denying one has relations with foreign powers while managing a presidential campaign.  Especially when there’s a handwritten ledger showing more than twelve million dollars in previously undisclosed cash payments.

But now that he’s denied it, what else can we do?  It’s not as if Paul Manafort still works for Putin’s man in Ukraine, or his employment there overlapped with his employment with Trump.  Oh, wait:

His furniture and personal items were still there as recently as May.

This was all predicted back in April, by the way:

Manafort has offered his services to not one but two presidents driven from power through popular revolution — Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine and Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines. He has lobbied for Saudi Arabia, a Bahamanian president suspected of narco-trafficking and a former Angolan rebel leader accused of torture.

For this work, Manafort has been well-compensated. He told a congressional oversight panel in 1989 that his firm normally accepted only clients who would pay at least $250,000 a year as a retainer.

Spy Magazine reported that his firm received $600,000 one year as compensation for his work for Angolan rebel leader, Jonas Savimbi. The Daily Beast reported that Manafort’s work for the Saudis netted him $250,000 for six months of work in 1984. A Justice Department form filed in 2008 from a subcontractor to Manafort’s firm said the PR work alone on behalf of Ukraine’s government was paid at $35,000 a month.

In 2013, Manafort surfaced in a French influence-peddling scandal involving Edouard Balladur, who was prime minister in the mid-1990s. Manafort acknowledged in a Virginia court that he was paid by an adviser to the Saudi royal court more than $200,000 for advice he provided on security issues. That adviser in turn funneled the profits of an arms sale back into Balladur’s political campaign.

Paul Manafort made the usual, similar disclaimer at that time, back in April:

When asked about his Ukraine lobbying on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, he said that Trump was now his only client.

I suppose today’s “unfounded, silly, and nonsensical” is an improvement, somehow?  But have we evidence that, in fact, Manafort’s only client is Donald Trump?

Who else might be?

Day 90: Had enough “otherwise,” RNC?

Rule Number 9 of the Republican National Committee, in its entirety *my bold*


Filling Vacancies in Nominations

(a) The Republican National Committee is hereby authorized and empowered to fill any and all vacancies which may occur by reason of death, declination, or otherwise of the Republican candidate for President of the United States or the Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States, as nominated by the national convention, or the Republican National Committee may reconvene the national convention for the purpose of filling any such vacancies.

(b) In voting under this rule, the Republican National Committee members representing any state shall be entitled to cast the same number of votes as said state was entitled to cast at the national convention.

(c) In the event that the members of the Republican National Committee from any state shall not be in agreement in the casting of votes hereunder, the votes of such state shall be divided equally, including fractional votes, among the members of the Republican National Committee present or voting by proxy.

(d) No candidate shall be chosen to fill any such vacancy except upon receiving a majority of the votes entitled to be cast in the election.

Had enough “otherwise” — especially after today’s Second Amendment travesty, RNC?

Your move.

Day 93: (YesterSaturday) Newt Makes $4.6Million Disappear

Disgraced former Speaker of the House and failed presidential aspirant Newt “Take My Wife, Please!” Gingrich has filed an FEC campaign resolution plan for his abortive-but-successful-at-bookselling 2012 presidential campaign.  You will be unsurprised to learn that the “plan” involves turning $4,600,000 into ZERO DOLLARS.

Because it is owed by Newt to someone else.  Lots of someone elses:

Newt Gingrich apparently has no plans to pay back dozens of small businesses that made yard signs and TV ads for his 2012 presidential campaign. Gingrich filed a document with the Federal Election Commission this week detailing a debt settlement plan to finally terminate his 2012 presidential campaign committee. The document shows that “Newt 2012” plans to stiff 114 businesses and consultants that are altogether owed $4.6 million.

N. Leroy Gingrich, Definer of Civilization’s Rules and Leader (Perhaps) of The Civilizing Forces [Charlie Pierce] proposes to make this $4,600,000 disappear.  He’s going to turn it into “zero dollars.”   Isn’t this the fellow who goes on and on about debt rotting our nation?

To whom is this money owed, you might ask?

The Gingrich campaign’s IOU’s are spread across the county and owed to organizations large and small. The biggest chunk of the debt, nearly $1 million, is owed for Gingrich’s use of private jets to fly from event to event through charter travel company Moby Dick Airways. The campaign also owes more than $400,000 for Gingrich’s personal security to the Patriot Group, and $128,000 to the Winston Group, a top Republican polling company based in Washington.

Several other well-known names are also among Gingrich’s creditors, including former Rep. J.C. Watts and Herman Cain for “strategic consulting” and travel, as well as Kellyanne Conway’s The Polling Company, which conducted polls for the Gingrich campaign and is owed more than $20,000.

The campaign’s former manager is still out $27,000 in salary, while the landlord for an office space in Columbia, South Carolinea, is looking for $1,136 in outstanding rent. The last Comcast bill in New Hampshire never got paid, nor did a $718 tab for catering in Sarasota, Florida. Fed-Ex is looking for $33,732 from the campaign, while Twitter was never paid for a $9,000 media buy.

Former Rep. John Sweeney, who is owed more than $24,000 for paying ballot access fees for the campaign, said he still hasn’t been paid and hasn’t heard from the campaign for about six months.

Newt Gingrich must have has decided he’ll never again need political consultants, private planes, Comcast, pollsters, private security, or Black GOPs like Herman Cain and JC Watts.

Because what Trump Cabinet member does?


Day 96: “What is this, an intervention?”

Yeah, we’ve all heard it.

In popular culture, we’ve seen it in the movies or on television, or we’ve read it in books or even in magazine headlines at the checkout stand.  Some of us have even been on one side or another of that question ourselves in real life!  And the answer — if the adoring assembled don’t immediately yell “Surprise! Happy Birthday!”–  usually is, “Yes [yournamehere] it is.  We care about you and we’re worried.”

Who to include is always a challenge.  You want to bring close friends and family members who will model good behavior as you work through the challenge of getting the object of the intervention to recognize, acknowledge, and agree to face the issues.  Not everybody who participates needs to be always-sober, or currently drug-free, or completely free of anger issues (depending upon the reason for the intervention).  But you need some stalwarts who can help steer the ship.

Key Republicans close to Donald Trump’s orbit are plotting an intervention with the candidate after a disastrous 48 hours led some influential voices in the party to question whether Trump can stay at the top of the Republican ticket without catastrophic consequences for his campaign and the GOP at large.

“Influential voices” you say?  So who has RNC chair Reince Priebus corralled into being a part of this admittedly very challenging assignment?  What upright, steady, forthright citizens among party elders does the RNC chair want to have next to him when he faces Donald Trump about his “issues?”

Republican National Committee head Reince Priebus, former Republican New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are among the Trump endorsers hoping to talk the real estate mogul into a dramatic reset of his campaign in the coming days, sources tell NBC News.

Because when I think of without-ego, selfless, steady-headed public servants, these two guys spring to mind.

Good luck, Reince: you’ll be lucky to come out of that room alive.



Day 97:”If Obama’s for it, we’re against it!”


Trapped in a very sticky wicket of their own design since the early years of the health care debate in Obama’s first term: GOP leadership and officeholders reflexively oppose anything Obama proposes.  A Grand Bargain to cut Social Security benefits while reforming the tax code and reducing the growth of public debt?  “Never!”  Punish Syria with bombs for its use of chemical weapons on its own citizens? “Nope!”   Even the public/private hybrid health care insurance delivery proposal that became the ACA, then “Obamacare” — despite its birth pains at the Heritage Foundation — did not get a single GOP vote in either house of Congress.

Charlie Pierce thinks today’s announcement by the President that Donald Trump is “woefully unprepared” is only the latest example of Obama being Obama in his last year in the office:

The president keeps looking into that big bag of fcks and, dammit, as The New York Times reports, if he still doesn’t find it to be empty.

I think there’s more here than meets the eye.

In his strongest denunciation of Donald J. Trump so far, President Obama on Tuesday said Mr. Trump was “unfit to serve as president” and urged the leaders of the Republican Party to withdraw their backing for his candidacy.

….  “The question they have to ask themselves is: If you are repeatedly having to say in very strong terms that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him?” Mr. Obama said at a news conference at the White House.

Got it?

It’s President Obama’s suggestion that the GOP leadership withdraw their support of Donald Trump.  It’s Obama’s idea now.   The President has skillfully used the GOP leadership’s mantra about himself against them.  The Republican National Committee  cannot now meet in secret — whether at the Skull and Bones treehouse in New Haven, or the Bush compound in Kennebunkport, or Reince Priebus’s Tardis — to Dump Trump.    Having asked them how they can denounce Trump but still support him, the President has boxed them in: Priebus, McConnell, Ryan, Christie, Rubio, McCain, Cruz, Walker, every Bush, every GOP Senator and every GOP governor and every GOP congress critter.  All of them.

They can’t very well Dump Trump now, no matter what outrages he commits tomorrow or next week.  It was the President’s idea!  Get it?

Since nothing President Obama suggests can be adopted by the GOP, it’s toxic.  It’s toxic if it’s got his name on it, and Dump Trump is now Obama’s suggestion.  With a headline like this one in today’s New York Times, how can they?

Obama Says Republicans Should Withdraw Support for Trump


The very last thing any Republican leader can do now is withdraw support for Trump; they’ll be named and shamed as Obama’s stooge.  What are they going to tell their party base?  “Oh, well, once the President suggested it, we thought we ought to go ahead and Dump Trump….”


They’ve spent almost eight years explaining to their party loyalists that *anything* this President proposes, they’ll oppose.  If he’s for it, they’re against it.  Even if they were for it yesterday (cf Grand Bargain, Syria bombing, health insurance hybridization) they are against it now that it’s Obama’s idea.

Anything.  Even a suggestion of a sane, good-faith effort to save their party in November.

So, Mr Pierce, there’s one more fck in that bag in the Oval Office after all: it’s “let me endorse that idea for you!”  President Obama used it very wisely today; lucky for us all, it’s not one-use-only.  I expect we may very well see him roll it out, with grave intonation and with the best intention, to great success, until his successor is inaugurated next January.