PowerLine – Dr. Carson Ends Campaign – Recapping Super Tuesday
- Dr. Carson Ends Campaign
- Dirty Campaign? Puh-leeeze
- Comey speaks, tersely
- Come, ye puzzlewits and honeyfuglers
- Recapping Super Tuesday
|Dr. Carson Ends Campaign
Posted: 02 Mar 2016 12:47 PM PST
CNN reports that Dr. Ben Carson is suspending his campaign and will not participate in the next presidential debate on Thursday:
Ben Carson doesn’t “see a political path forward” in the Republican presidential nomination process, and will not attend Thursday’s GOP presidential debate in his hometown of Detroit, he said in a statement. …
In an email to supporters, campaign chairman Bob Dees said the “political efforts must come to a close.”
I don’t expect Carson’s withdrawal to have a significant effect on the campaign. It is hard to say where his supporters are likely to go, but by the end there weren’t enough of them to matter, especially since they likely will fragment among the remaining candidates.
|Dirty Campaign? Puh-leeeze
Posted: 02 Mar 2016 08:48 AM PST
Once again, our media betters were filling dead air on TV last night about how “dirty” the GOP campaign is getting—why it’s the wurst in history! Okay, so Rubio made a joke about Trump that might get him banned from Power Line’s comments, but seriously?
Historian Tom DiBacco reminds us today in the Wall Street Journal that campaigns of the 19th century were just as nasty, of not more so, that today’s. He looks in particular at the 1828 election—the one where Andrew Jackson got his revenge against John Quincy Adams for the supposedly “stolen” election of 1824:
Jackson supporters accused Adams of having premarital relations with his wife and Jacksonian newspapers called him “The Pimp,” procuring young girls for Czar Alexander I when he was minister to Russia. Adams’s stewards contended that Jackson’s mother was “a common prostitute, brought to this country by the British soldiers.” . . .
Adams’s supporters lashed out at Jackson as a drunkard, duelist and cockfighter—and a man who couldn’t even spell “Europe” (he spelled it “Urope”). Jackson’s wife, Rachel, was called variously a “whore” and an “adulteress,” because she married Jackson before her divorce was final.
When people say Trump is the return of Jackson, they have a point.
But for perspective, let’s roll the tape back a few years, to when our friends at Reason TV took note of the actual insults of the election of 1800:
But if you really want mud-slinging, just imagine how Nietzsche would attack Kant:
How about a platform of “clean-burning existential experience”? (Perhaps that describes the rocket-fast acceleration of a Tesla?) Anyway: Kierkegaard 2016!
|Comey speaks, tersely
Posted: 02 Mar 2016 07:30 AM PST
On the rare occasions when she is asked about the FBI investigation arising from her use of an insecure email server to conduct official business as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton refers to it as “a security review.” It is, moreover, “a security review” that “was requested,” as though the FBI is doing someone a favor. The woman lies with the ease and abandon of a pathological liar.
Clinton makes it sound routine. The FBI, however, does not perform “security reviews.” It conducts criminal investigations. Its handling of the Clinton email matter clearly constitutes a criminal investigation.
Yesterday Rep. Steve Chabot asked FBI Director James Comey if he could say when the investigation would be concluded. He responded without saying much (video below):
“As you know we don’t talk about our investigations. What I can assure you is that I am very close, personally, to that investigation to ensure that we have the resources we need including people and technology. And that it is done the way the FBI tries to do all of its work: independently, competently, and promptly. That’s our goal and I’m confident that it’s being done that way but I can’t give you any more details than that.”
Note Comey’s use of the term “investigation” to describe the FBI’s work on the matter. Note also his proclamation of involvement in it. Whatever the outcome, he will bear responsibility. In the Obama/Clinton hall of mirrors, it’s almost refreshing.
|Come, ye puzzlewits and honeyfuglers
Posted: 02 Mar 2016 05:35 AM PST
As the contest for the GOP presidential nomination continues after last night, Donald Trump will continue to dish out his carefully crafted insults to Ted Cruz (“Liar”) and Marco Rubio (“Little Marco”), and Senators Cruz and Rubio will be hitting back. Trump slammed Rubio in the course of his victorious press conference last night; Cruz and Rubio both slammed Trump in the course of their remarks as well.
The insults don’t make an edifying theme. They don’t figure to taper any time soon. Moreover, the candidates’ followers have found inspiration to follow their leaders. Lloyd Grove, for example, documents the abuse sustained by commentators criticizing Trump.
We seek to understand the present in the light of the past. I have asked myself: when has so much rancor emerged among Republicans in the course of a presidential campaign?
One could advert to the 1964 campaign, when liberal Republicans such as Nelson Rockefeller, William Scranton and George Romney recoiled from the ascendance of Barry Goldwater. Goldwater’s forces took over the Republican Party and transformed it into the conservatives’ party. George Will argued that Goldwater “lost 44 states but won the future.”
Whereas Richard Nixon had found it necessary to enter into the so-called Treaty of Fifth Avenue in 1960, in 1964 liberal Republicans proved themselves a spent force. They came away with nothing as the party’s center of gravity shifted south and west. Goldwater of course lost massively to LBJ, but he transformed the party and no Republican was going to win the election a year after the assassination of JFK anyway. It simply wasn’t in the cards.
One could advert to the Ford-Reagan contest of 1976. Goldwater’s most notable supporter in 1964, Reagan came close to taking the nomination from the incumbent Republican president. Yet Reagan kept the challenge to Ford focused on the issues. His challenge was never personal.
I don’t think 2016 is comparable either to 1964 or 1976. To say the least, Hillary Clinton is vulnerable. She should be beaten. The prospect, however, grows dimmer every day, and personal animus has come to define the contest for the GOP nomination.
I may be mistaken, but in the spirt of inquiry I suggest that the intraparty hostility of the 1912 campaign makes a closer parallel. The circumstances and the issues are vastly different. William Howard Taft was Theodore Roosevelt’s hand-picked successor and the incumbent president; Roosevelt was the two-term former president. When Roosevelt came out of his restive retirement to challenge Taft for the nomination, the fur flew.
Lewis Gould took a look back in his 2008 Smithsonian article on the 1912 convention (and in his book on the 1912 election). I am reliably informed that the book to read on the 1912 election is the one by Sidney Milkis. The last chapter of Jean Yarbrough’s book on TR provides an invaluable guide to TR’s thought at the time.
Taft and Roosevelt had serious differences over important issues, but the differences descended to personal abuse. Gould recalls:
Taft dominated the Republican Party machinery in many states, but a few state primaries gave the voters a chance to express themselves. The president and his former friend took to the hustings, and across the country in the spring of 1912 the campaign rhetoric escalated. Roosevelt described Taft as a “puzzlewit,” while the president labeled Roosevelt a “honeyfugler.” Driven to distraction under Roosevelt’s attacks, Taft said in Massachusetts, “I was a man of straw; but I have been a man of straw long enough; every man who has blood in his body and who has been misrepresented as I have is forced to fight.” A delighted Roosevelt supporter commented that “Taft certainly made a great mistake when he began to ‘fight back.’ He has too big a paunch to have much of a punch, while a free-for-all, slap-bang, kick-him-in-the-belly, is just nuts for the chief.”
I can say this for the insults of 1912: they have expanded my vocabulary. “Puzzlewit” and “honeyfugler” were new to me, but I love them. I’m sure I’ll find them of use before long.
The convention failed to unite the party. Indeed, it led to Roosevelt’s walkout. Gould notes:
Roosevelt won all the Republican primaries against Taft except in Massachusetts. Taft dominated the caucuses that sent delegates to the state conventions. When the voting was done, neither man had the 540 delegates needed to win. Roosevelt had 411, Taft had 367 and minor candidates had 46, leaving 254 up for grabs. The Republican National Committee, dominated by the Taft forces, awarded 235 delegates to the president and 19 to Roosevelt, thereby ensuring Taft’s renomination. Roosevelt believed himself entitled to 72 delegates from Arizona, California, Texas and Washington that had been given to Taft. Firm in his conviction that the nomination was being stolen from him, Roosevelt decided to break the precedent that kept the candidates away from the national convention and lead his forces to Chicago in person. The night before the proceedings Roosevelt told cheering supporters that there was “a great moral issue” at stake and he should have “sixty to eighty lawfully elected delegates” added to his total. Otherwise, he said, the contested delegates should not vote. Roosevelt ended his speech declaring: “Fearless of the future; unheeding of our individual fates; with unflinching hearts and undimmed eyes; we stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord!”
The convention was not Armageddon, but to observers it seemed a close second. Shouts of “liar” and cries of “steamroller” punctuated the proceedings. One pro-Taft observer said that “a tension pervaded the Coliseum breathing the general feeling that a parting of the ways was imminent.” William Allen White, the famous Kansas editor, looked down from the press tables “into the human caldron that was boiling all around me.”
Having a lost a key procedural vote in advance of the first ballot, Roosevelt bolted the Republican Party. He moved on to run as the candidate of the Progressive Party. Doing so, he handed the election to Woodrow Wilson, the first president expressly to have disparaged the United States Constitution. Gould makes a different point, but his conclusion (as Paul Mirengoff intimates) stands: “That outcome would resonate for decades.”
|Recapping Super Tuesday
Posted: 01 Mar 2016 09:46 PM PST
Although he failed to run the table, Donald Trump had a very good Super Tuesday. Consider: (1) he won seven of ten contests (Alaska hasn’t reported yet); (2) he picked up the lion’s share of the delegates (though fewer than Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio combined; (3) Cruz, Rubio, and John Kasich all got enough of a sniff to remain in the race, in all likelihood, and thus continue to divide the anti-Trump vote (Ben Carson didn’t get a sniff but might stay in the race anyway.)
At this stage of the race, a good night for Trump is a bad night for everyone else. Of the also-rans, Cruz had the best night because he won two states and more delegates than anyone other than Trump.
But Cruz’s showing wasn’t very impressive, considering the favorable terrain of Super Tuesday. A reader tells me that, if you exclude Cruz’s home state, Marco Rubio actually won more votes than Cruz in the Southern states that voted tonight — Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Arkansas.
Rubio finally won a state, nearly won in Virginia, and outpolled Cruz in Georgia. But his attacks on Trump neither slowed the frontrunner down much nor breathed demonstrable new life into his own campaign. Rubio still must content himself with trying to spin second and third place finishes into successes.
Rubio has two weeks in which to make up a huge deficit (if the polls are accurate) in the make-or-break state of Florida. Does tonight offer him hope of accomplishing this? He did make up some ground in Virginia, so there may be a ray of hope. But no more than that.
Kasich did well in Vermont, but still has no wins. Carson, running in what should be good states for him, reached 10 percent only in Alabama. He still has no wins and no prospects of any.
In sum: (1) unless the dynamic of the race changes radically, Trump will begin to run the table as soon as we get to the winner-take-all primaries; (2) the dynamic of the race probably won’t change radically unless the field is quickly reduced to two candidates; (3) the field is likely to remain at four (or more) for the next two weeks.
On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders picked up a few nice wins — Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and (of course) Vermont. Wherever white Democrats predominate, he’s competitive at a minimum.
But let’s face it, Clinton is rolling up the delegates at a pace that will easily carry her to the nomination, barring developments on the legal front. She is the presumptive nominee.
When the day started, we already seemed headed to a Clinton-Trump race. At the end of the day, we’re even closer to that unhealthy contest.