PowerLine – And the Award for the Biggest Green Weenie Goes To. .

PowerLine – And the Award for the Biggest Green Weenie Goes To. .

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Will this year be an 1860 moment? No such luck

Posted: 01 Mar 2016 03:18 PM PST

(Paul Mirengoff)In an interview with Chuck Todd, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse discussed the possibility that this year’s election might be “an 1860 moment.” He’s referring to the dissolution of the Whig Party and its replacement by the Republicans. The process produced “four-ish choices” (as Sasse put it) in 1860, and he submits that if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, “the American people are going to get a lot better choices in November.”

The closer analogy might be to 1856, the first year in which there was a Republican nominee (John Charles Fremont). That year produced a three-man race that also included Democrat James Buchanan and former president Millard Fillmore of the American (or “Know Nothing”) party.

Fillmore didn’t at all resemble Donald Trump in most respects. However, he was, in effect, the standard-bearer of the pre-existing party (he had been a Whig president), as Trump likely will be this year. Moreover, the American party was strongly nativist.

Buchanan, the Democrat, won in 1856. He turned out to be the worst president in American history, in my view. Just saying.

I see 2020, not 2016, as the potential 1860 moment. Assuming Trump is nominated, don’t expect a Lincolnesque figure to save the day this year. But assuming Trump loses, I see the conservative movement rallying around a formidable, reliable, and electable conservative in four years.

In some ways, 2016 reminds me of certain elections later in the 19th century. On several occasions, the GOP nominated candidates so unappealing to many prominent Republicans that they flirted with (and in some instances supported) opposition candidates. The unappealing nominees were President Grant (1872) and James Blaine (1884). The conflicted Republicans were men like Carl Schurz, Henry Cabot Lodge, and the young Theodore Roosevelt.

Decades later, Roosevelt bolted the GOP to run as a third-party candidate against William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson. The election of 1912 made an indelible impression on Republicans, all but killing the third party impulse for generations.

In 1964, when my liberal Republican congressman (and later Senator) Charles “Mac” Mathias, refused to denounce the candidacy of ultra-conservative Barry Goldwater, he explained to his unhappy constituents that he remembered his father and grandfather talking about how disastrous the 1912 Republican breach had been.

Since 1964, we have seen Democrats vote in large numbers for Richard Nixon (1972) and Ronald Reagan (1980 and 1984). We have also seen Republican voters fail to turnout to the degree the party hoped. But only in 1992 did Republican voters support to any appreciable degree a candidate other than the GOP nominee. And even then, Republican leaders and prominent personalities steadfastly backed the party’s nominee.

Remembering the 1992 outcome should send a shiver down the spine of Republicans — the same sort that Mac Mathias talked about when speaking of the 1912 election. Many conservative Republicans may soon have to decide which is more intense — that shiver or the one caused by the thought of a Donald Trump presidency.

And the Award for the Biggest Green Weenie Goes To. . .

Posted: 01 Mar 2016 12:43 PM PST

(Steven Hayward)It goes without saying that Leo Di Caprio wins the coveted Power Line Green Weenie Award for his climate change screech that accompanied his Oscar win for best actor Sunday night. I guess Marlon Brando’s sidekick, Whatshername Littlefeather or something, wasn’t available.

The Guardian, of all places, offers some nice details about Leo’s interest in saving the planet:

Leonardo DiCaprio was a climate champion long before the actor wrapped himself in an animal carcass, vomited up raw bison liver, and risked hypothermia for his Oscar-winning role in Revenant.

Well yeah, but did he have to keep vomiting up pure Gore in his acceptance speech? Well, speaking of Gore, whaddyaknow?

The two [di Caprio and Al Gore] met by chance in first class on a flight to Europe.

A first class flight? What—were both of their private jets in the shop that week? How awful.

“Leo talked to Al the whole flight over, he picked Al’s brain the entire night, and it was a red eye,” said Kailee Kreider, who was the working for Gore. “The two of them talked all night. That is pretty unusual.”

The actor has stayed in regular contact with noted researchers – such as Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University. “I have talked with him and his folks frequently over the phone,” Mann said in an email. The actor and the climate scientist met for the first time last October in a bar in New York’s west village.

So let me get this straight (so to speak): Leo was having climate change “Mann-splained” to him in bar in West Village, eh? That’s how rumors get started.


Yep, a couple of Green Weenies for sure.

A Reminder from 1980

Posted: 01 Mar 2016 08:59 AM PST

(Steven Hayward)Everyone says Trump can’t win in November. But everyone said he’d fade from contention in the GOP primaries by now. Which I why I am not so sure.

A reminder from 1980, from volume 1 of my Age of Reagan:

The two Republicans Carter’s political team feared most were Sen. Howard Baker and George Bush. Their favorite opponent: Ronald Reagan. Handling the extremist 69 year-old ex-movie actor would be an easy piece of work, they thought, especially now that the issue of war and peace would be at center stage of the 1980 campaign. “The American people,” Hamilton Jordan said, “are not going to elect a seventy-year-old, right-wing, ex-movie actor to be president.” The polls supported Jordan’s confidence. In mid-December, a Gallup poll showed Carter leading Reagan by a whopping 60 to 36 percent in a head-to-head matchup. Pat Caddell was confident of Reagan’s weaknesses. “There’s so much to work with, when you look at the data you just salivate.”

We all know how that turned out. The Democrats who “salivated” at Reagan’s supposed weaknesses ended up drooling all over themselves for the next eight years.

CLARIFICATION: Many readers seem to think I am equating Trump with Reagan. Most assuredly not! I should think my previous post, “The Donald and the Terminator,” would have made this clear. The point is that “expert political judgment” can be wildly wrong. Somebody is voting for Trump. A lot of somebodies. With just about everyone having been wrong up to this point, why can’t they be wrong about November?

The Donald and the Terminator

Posted: 01 Mar 2016 07:13 AM PST

(Steven Hayward)While we await the results from Super Tuesday (was ever a primary event better named for someone like Trump?), today’s best commentary comes from William McGurn in the Wall Street Journal, comparing Donald to Arnold:

As with Mr. Trump today, a potent combination of celebrity and political incorrectness transform Mr. Schwarzenegger into a larger than life figure when set against ordinary pols. Just as Mr. Trump now campaigns against the Washington establishment, Mr. Schwarzenegger entered office vowing to “blow up the boxes” in Sacramento. The early popular success both men enjoyed, moreover, resulted in their being heralded as the future of the Republican Party. . .

But here’s the thing about bluster. Against entrenched interests, it almost always loses. For a simple reason: The interests are entrenched because they know how to game the system. American history is thus littered with elected populists foundering in office on the presumption that their personal appeal would be enough to carry the day.

That’s what happened to Mr. Schwarzenegger.

And, I will add, the California GOP, already in bad shape, has not recovered from its misadventure with the Governator.

I confess

Posted: 01 Mar 2016 03:53 AM PST

(Scott Johnson)I could support any of the remaining GOP presidential contenders, but I am opposed to the nomination of Donald Trump. I think he is deepening the rancor within the Republican Party and contributing to its defeat if not destruction. I fear that his testament will be President Hillary Clinton, a Democratic Congress and a leftist Supreme Court for the foreseeable future. I take it that my opposition to Trump requires some kind of a confession.

I confess that I attended Dartmouth College. I am therefore an Ivy League elitist out of touch with the truths of Trump. However, I respectfully ask you to consider that I was admitted to one of the last all-men’s classes at Dartmouth. I would never have been admitted under coeducation. So that may slightly mitigate the offense.

I confess that I became a dedicated conservative as a graduate student in English at Yale in 1973-74. It was another Ivy League thing, I admit. Having spent more time in the library reading back issues of National Review than studying Middlemarch, however, I left after a year. I found the English Department just too weird. So that too may slightly mitigate the offense.

I confess that I attended law school. That’s a black mark, I concede. Even worse, I’m grateful for my legal education. I thought it helped me begin to understand the way the world works. I attended law school, but plead that it was at a public university. So please take that into account.

I confess that I think my legal education gave me some understanding of the constitutional protections the Supreme Court has accorded speech in the “bills” of the modern era. You know, those “bills” that afford a wide ambit to the constitutional protection of defamatory speech affecting public figures.

I confess to believing Donald Trump erred a couple of times over in saying he would reform libel laws when he is elected president so that he can sue newspapers for libel. He’s not going to be elected president and he’s not going to reverse New York Times v. Sullivan, decided 9-0 by the Supreme Court in 1964. I admit to suspecting he has been counseled over the years regarding the law and knows he is wrong but doesn’t care.

I confess to having thought that the Supreme Court’s “bills” even let public figures defame each other without worrying about defamation lawsuits. Even worse, I even suspect that Trump has liberally availed himself of the legal protection he decries.

I confess that I believe in affording the maximum legal protection to political speech. I admit that my legal eduction even led me to believe the Supreme Court has erred in finding campaign finance laws inhibiting political speech to be constitutional. On the other hand, I support current law allowing Trump to self-fund his campaign on First Amendment principles. So I have that going for me.

I confess that I must think I’m entitled to share my views with Trump supporters even if they think my disagreement with them marks me out as someone who thinks he’s superior. If I’m really being self-critical, I would go so far as to say I think that even well-meaning voters are prone to error.

I confess that I attended the Minnesota caucuses for the first time in 1976 on a cold winter evening to support the candidacy of Ronald Reagan against Gerald Ford. I admit that I have voted for every Republican presidential candidate since Ford in 1976. I admit that I must be some kind of a Republican Party shill.

I would confess that I’m a member of the establishment if I understood what it meant.

Strike that. I confess to being a member of the establishment even if I don’t understand what it means. I oppose Donald Trump, and that’s enough. That I am a member of the establishment is probably the best that can be said of me.

I confess that I harbor guilty thoughts. I think that Donald Trump is an embarrassment to his faithful supporters. I think that many of them even know it, but cut him slack because they believe his heart is in the right place on the issues they care about.

I confess that I doubt Trump’s heart is in the right place on the issues his supporters care about.

I confess that I think Trump is quite a cynical man.

I confess that I think Trump doesn’t know very much about the issues he purports to care about.

I confess that I fear Trump will lose hugely to Hillary Clinton. I think he will lose so hugely that his loss will usher in a Democratic Senate and possibly even a Democratic House. I fear Trump’s loss will make us long for the days of the congressional RINOs who opposed Obamacare.

I confess that I will miss Senator Johnson.

I confess I will miss Senator Kirk.

I confess that I will miss Senator Portman.

I confess that I will miss Senator Toomey.

I confess that I think Senator Sessions will miss them too, as ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee on immigration.

I confess that there are reasonable grounds for disagreement and that I may be mistaken. So perhaps I am making progress.

I respectfully ask for permission to end my confession here at this point. I need to save some material for the self-criticism at our next struggle session.

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