Monday, 09 May 2016

#NeverTrump Neocons Are Split — for Hillary, 3rd Party, or ....

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The #NeverTrump naysayers of the Republican Party establishment and the Neoconservative commentariat are imploding — in several directions. The most extreme anti-Trumpers are saying they’ll switch parties and vote for Hillary Clinton. Others are trying to field Republican candidates to launch a third party ticket. Other Never Trumpers say they’ll cross over to the Libertarian Party, which already has a national organization and ballot status in all 50 states. Still others are advocating staying in the GOP but refusing to vote in the presidential race.

Donald Trump all but sewed up the Republican Party nomination with his overwhelming victory in the Indiana primary on May 3. With his last remaining GOP contenders, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, having now dropped out, Trump appears to be unstoppable (barring GOP Convention shenanigans by party leaders in Cleveland). This has the Never Trump forces, who have been frothing at the mouth over “The Donald” for months, ready to take even more desperate measures.

In an interview with Bloomberg News on May 5, longtime Republican strategist and chattering class maven Mary Matalin announced that she had left the Republican Party and, earlier that day, registered as a Libertarian. In a follow-up interview on the Glenn Beck Radio Program last Friday, Matalin told Beck: “Everyone keeps saying that Trump hijacked the party. How about we left the keys in the car with the motor running? It’s not a Jeffersonian, Madisonian representative republic — that’s not what the party represents anymore.”

“I didn’t leave it; it left me,” Matalin added. “When we had a standard-bearer with impeccable credentials in Ted Cruz and he’s loathed by the party leaders and he’s called a ‘wacko bird’ by the party leaders, where does that leave us? They left us!”

However, Matalin, who is perhaps best known for being married to Bill and Hillary Clinton hatchet man (and infamous TV ranter) James Carville, has for many years been supporting and defending the indefensible, as represented by Republican leaders in the White House and Congress. In a May 6 column for Breitbart.com, Joel B. Pollak noted the lack of credibility in Matalin’s moral outrage over Trump, especially after her defenses of GOP leaders such as former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and fundraiser/lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

“Trump has his flaws,” wrote Pollak, “and, if his worst critics are to be believed, he could be even worse than DeLay or Abramoff (from whom Matalin also defended the GOP on Meet the Press). But the idea that they are tolerable within the Republican Party, while Trump is somehow contaminating to everyone on the Republican voter rolls, is not credible. If anything, they represent the cloistered world of Capitol cronies Trump’s voters hope he will sweep away. Perhaps Matalin is getting out while she can.”

Speaking of Glenn Beck, Mary Matalin’s appearance on his radio show was but one of many jabs, stabs, and vitriolic attacks by the former FOX TV commentator aimed at Trump. Like Matalin, Beck has been a fervent Ted Cruz supporter and has turned his radio show and his Internet site and TV show, The Blaze, into full-on pro-Cruz, anti-Trump platforms. In one of his quirkier attacks on Trump, Beck and members of his staff oiled their faces and then rubbed them in bowls of Cheetos to approximate Trump’s orange-ish, John Boehnerish, perpetual tan. 

The day after Trump’s triumph in Indiana, Beck delivered his mournful video epitaph for the Republican Party on The Blaze. TalkingPointsMemo.com (TPM) described the performance as a “slow motion breakdown over Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.” Because of Trump, said Beck, “You will never elect another GOP person to high office ever again.” The TPM story, entitled “Glenn Beck Melts Down Over Trump: We’ll ‘Never Have Another GOP Prez Ever Again,’” reported regarding Beck’s lengthy monologue/dirge: 

Beck, who campaigned for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), reasoned Clinton would “legalize” as many voters as possible as President and meanwhile, “the GOP is going to be completely racist.”

“You will never have another Republican President ever again,” he said.

With Trump as the face of the party, Beck said he makes all Republicans “crony capitalists” and “pretty racist” by association, and repeatedly said he would not tolerate his children thinking he backed Trump.

“I don’t want my children to look at that man and say, ‘Yeah, he’s my President.’ I won’t have that I will not endorse it, I will not tolerate it,” he said. “For my children’s sake, for capitalism’s sake, for the Constitution’s sake, for the party’s sake, you have no chance of winning." 

Bill Kristol’s Weak-kneed Standard

It has come as no surprise that political gadfly and Weekly Standard editor William Kristol used Trump’s Indiana win to formalize what he has been threatening to do for the past year, in the event that Trump becomes the GOP’s presumptive nominee: start a third party “insurgency.”

In a Weekly Standard column entitled “Neither Clinton Nor Trump,” Neocon guru Kristol says “it was wrong to nominate Donald Trump.” “The good news,” he says, “is that it is not too late to give Republican voters, a majority of whom have not supported Donald Trump in the primaries, an alternative. An independent Republican candidate can help prevent the conflation of the Republican party with Trump and of conservatism with Trumpism. Such a candidate could also appeal to many independents and some Democrats. He or she could win.”

For the past year or so Kristol has been promoting a GOP presidential draft ticket featuring current Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) or former Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). The Washington Post reported last Friday that Kristol had met the previous day with Mitt Romney to discuss a third party run. According to Kristol, he is seeking Romney’s financial and political support for whichever candidate he is able to field, if Romney won’t make another run for the White House himself. While demuring on entering the race himself, Romney reportedly expressed his support for Kristol's effort.

Dump Trump for Hillary?

Mark Salter is not your everyday name to the average voter, but he is well known inside the D.C. Beltway, most notably as former chief of staff to Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and as senior adviser to McCain’s failed 2008 presidential campaign. He’s gone further than most GOP establishment regulars in rejecting Donald Trump — going all the way to saying he’s backing Hillary Clinton. Following Trump’s Indiana victory, Salter adopted Clinton’s “I’m With Her” campaign slogan, tweeting: “the GOP is going to nominate for President a guy who reads the National Enquirer and thinks it's on the level. I'm with her.”

Of course, it's not difficult to make the argument that Mark Salter and other Beltway regulars of similar ilk have always been "with" Hillary — and with Teddy Kennedy, Chuck Schumer, Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi — on many key issues. Salter's  former boss, John McCain, has supported numerous Democrat Party/Big Government programs advocated by Clinton (most notably, perhaps, illegal alien amnesty and every other effort to assist the subversive open borders movement), so his “defection” to Hillary is no major shock.

However, Kansas billionaire Charles Koch, who boasts some of the GOP’s deepest pockets, has said “It’s possible” he may choose Clinton over Trump, if that’s the choice in November.

Never, Never, Never Trumpers

While some former anti-Trumpers have now endorsed him — Gov. Bobby Jindal, Dr. Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, for instance — a much longer list of establishment Republicans refuse to do so, with some adding very public denouncements of Trump. Most, though, have not yet revealed which of the above opposition options they will choose. Among the prominent GOP politicians who continue to oppose Trump are: Former Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, former Florida Governor (and presidential aspirant) Jeb Bush, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Arizona Senator John McCain, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, former New York Governor George Pataki, former Pennsylvania Governor and former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

A passel of Republican/neocon pundits and writers have taken the #NeverTrump pledge. After scribbling and babbling for decades in support of previous Republican administrations that have taken us to the edge of the abyss with unconstitutional and immoral polices and legislation (from illegal, undeclared foreign wars to tyranny by regulatory agencies, to beyond-profligate spending, to expanded “abortion rights” and “gay rights,” etc.), these alleged “voices” of conservatism — largely emanating from the National Review-Weekly Standard-Fox News orbit — have now discovered a conscience that tells them a Trump presidency would be beyond the pale. They include:

George Will — Washington Post columnist and TV commentator
Jennifer Rubin — Washington Post columnist
Jonah Goldberg — senior editor, National Review
Max Boot — senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), contributing editor to the Weekly Standard, and former foreign policy adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio
Bill Kristol — editor, Weekly Standard
Glenn Beck — radio host
Mark Levin — radio host
Charlie Sykes — radio host
Mona Charen — columnist, National Review
Linda Chavez — columnist, Fox News commentator
David French — writer at National Review
Stephen Gutowski — writer at the Washington Free Beacon
Stephen Hayes — senior writer at the Weekly Standard
Quin Hillyer — contributing editor at National Review Online; senior editor at the American Spectator
Philip Klein — managing editor at the Washington Examiner
Lachlan Markey — writer for the Washington Free Beacon
David McIntosh — president, Club for Growth
Katie Pavlich — Townhall editor and Hill columnist
Tara Setmayer — CNN analyst and former GOP staffer
Ben Shapiro — editor-in-chief, The Daily Wire
Peter Wehner — writer for Commentary magazine and New York Times contributor

Photo of Donald Trump: AP Images

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