Sunday, February 21, 2016

Politix Update: GOP Establishment Bloodied As Trump Nomination Becomes Likely

I was going to follow Mitch McConnell's lead and not offer any new opinions until after the election, but the gruesome sounds emanating from the train wreck known as the Republican presidential race following the South Carolina primary yesterday are much too enticing.   
The capitulation of the Grand Old Party establishment to the forces of nativism, bigotry and evil that accelerated with the selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate eight short years ago is now pretty much complete with Donald Trump running the tables in South Carolina and a pitiful Jeb Bush dropping out, bringing a quarter century of his family's political primacy to a crashing end.  The gadzillionaire reality TV star whom the pundits scoffed at and party bigs gave the raspberry when he floated down the escalator at Trump Tower last June to announce his candidacy, goes into the Super Tuesday primaries next week with the wind at his back and the Republican nomination within his grasp.   
Trump carried all but South Carolina's two most affluent counties where Marco Rubio, the party's remaining if battered establishment hope, prevailed.  Beyond the crushing rejection of that establishment by the state's substantially white Republican electorate, a carbon copy of what happened 11 days ago in New Hampshire, arcane delegate selection rules that were to grease the skids for a Bush nomination now favor Trump.   
Some 25 percent of the delegates to the Republican National Convention will be awarded in the 24 state primaries and caucuses, including biggies Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Virginia and Tennessee.  The top mainstream candidate -- who is now Rubio with his pathetic third-place finish  -- is likely to fall more than 100 delegates short of what he might have earned and, according to New York Times numbers guru Nate Cohn, is in danger of earning no delegates at all in Texas and several other of the largest states if he can't clear a 20 percent vote threshold.   
Worse yet for the establishment, a quirk in the rules would award the delegates earned by candidates who failed to clear the threshold to Trump and Ted Cruz.  Then there is this bit of history: No Republican presidential candidate has won both New Hampshire and South Carolina and gone on to lose the party's nomination.   
Campaigning in South Carolina last week, Trump was the bumbling naif on the stump even more than usual, and at times sounded like a fricking liberal, but his supporters don't care that he's a supercilious idiot because he talks about the things that matter to them.  Addressing supporters in Spartansburg last night, he figuratively gave the Inside the Beltway crowd the middle finger.   
"A couple of the pundits said, 'Well, if a couple of the other candidates drop out, if you add their scores together, it's going to equal Trump. ' "  The crowd booed lustily and Trump threw his hands out.  "Right?  They're geniuses."
I cannot recall as stunning a capitulation in modern American political history, let alone one as richly deserved, as is the coup de grĂ¢ce delivered not by Trump, but by his rapid supporters.  And, lest we forget, there is the execrable Cruz dogging Trump's Gucci loafers.   
Has Trump finally jarred the party establishment from its prolonged self denial?  Possibly, but then it may be too late to prevent a Trump general election candidacy, or at least an extraordinarily vicious convention fight.  This is unless -- and only if -- Cruz or Rubio drop out and it becomes a two-horse race, and neither showed any signs of doing so.   
Nor did they show any appetite for attacking the once and future Trump.   
Less important than the fact that Hillary Clinton won yesterday's Nevada caucuses is that Bernie Sanders lost.  Nevada is uncannily representative of the national electorate as a whole, and by that measure he should have done better than he did.   
Here's another measure: Clinton already has a huge delegate lead (502 to 70, with 2,383 needed to win the nomination) going into the Democratic South Carolina primary next Saturday.  The state has a substantial black population, motivated and Democrat, and Sanders is unlikely to do well, a taste of what might be to come in many of the Democratic primaries on Super Tuesday.  In other words, we're back to how the race looked at the beginning of the year, and it could be all over bar the shouting in only a couple of weeks.   
Clinton touched on Sanders' biggest vulnerability in her victory speech in Las Vegas last night.   
"The truth is, we aren't a single-issue country," she declared.  "We need more than a plan for the big banks."


© 2015-2016 SHAUN D. MULLEN.


No comments: