Or at least making a good effort at it.
I summed up a lot of what happened last night in the GOP debate, in which Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio did a good tag-team routine on Donald Trump and exposed him as a fraud.
And Trump is definitely a fraud. He’s a fraud as a conservative, he’s a fraud as a plausible president, he’s a fraud as a reformer and he’s even a fraud as an informed citizen. For the first time in the 2016 campaign there was actually a full-throated effort to demonstrate that by other candidates capable of communicating it. Jeb Bush did what he could, but the marble-mouthed former Florida governor was no match for Trump’s glib repartee.
Rubio, whose value proposition to date has been that he’s the most electable Republican left in the field but can’t point as yet to a single state he’s likely to win, unloaded everything in his arsenal on Trump and quite a bit of it landed. He hit Trump on using illegal immigrants from Poland in the construction of Trump Tower, and noted that if Trump were to build that wall on the Mexican border the way he’s built in the past he’d be using illegals for it. He went after Trump for running a “fake university,” which ended up being a prominent topic of conversation. He hammered him on Israel. He even trashed his privileged upbringing: “If Donald Trump hadn’t inherited $200 million, he’d be selling $10 watches in Manhattan.”
And Rubio laid those punches down with a smile, looking like he was enjoying himself doing it.
Moreover, it wasn’t just Rubio laying licks on The Donald. Ted Cruz, who started the debate off in a rather low-key fashion, soon took to pounding him mercilessly on substance — he hung Trump’s past support for leftist Democrats around his neck, ripped him on Israel, popped him on Libya (and got a denial from Trump that he’d ever supported the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi, a denial that was almost immediately debunked by BuzzFeed complete with video of precisely such support), gave him trouble on immigration and hounded him on the question of his taxes — to which Trump responded he can’t release tax returns because he’s being audited, which is patent nonsense.
And Cruz also laid out a political scenario which for any candidate other than Trump would have to be disqualifying; namely that there is to be a trial in July in which he’s being sued by the students of Trump University for some $40 million that they allege they were defrauded out of, and the public-relations nightmare of his having to take time off the campaign trail to testify as a defendant at that trial is something no Republican voter should want to expose the party’s nominee to. Cruz might have overextended himself when pointing to polls showing him tied with or beating Hillary Clinton while Trump loses to her, which left him open to Trump’s response that he’s beating Cruz in the polls. But all in all, Cruz won virtually every exchange with Trump; even the ones where the frontrunner attacked him.
The tag-team act may or may not have shaken loose any of Trump’s supporters. What it did do was to expose that John Kasich and Ben Carson have no further business in this race. Kasich looked for all the world like he’s running either for re-election as governor of Ohio, or maybe Vice President in a Trump administration; Carson just seems like he likes being a candidate even though he doesn’t particularly want to do any of the actual work involved in running for office.
And therefore nobody ought to vote for either of them – you’re wasting your vote just like they’re wasting everyone’s time. Jim Geraghty at National Review referred to both as “human time-outs” with respect to their debate contributions.
If Kasich wasn’t so busy sucking up to Trump by refusing to make a play for the frontrunner’s votes, he might have been more fun to watch. For example, when Rubio went after Trump on the question of Israel and the Palestinians it was one of the more amusing moments in the debate…
The only thing missing was Rubio bringing up the Harry Ellis Die Hard reference to show what happens when arrogant slicksters try to negotiate with terrorists…
Cruz was less fun than Rubio, but laid down some harder blows. Like on Trump’s taxes and the Trump University case, for example…
At this point if you’re still a Trump supporter you’ve mentally checked out of this campaign. You’ve bought into the Trump persona and you couldn’t care less that there is no actual substance to any of it.
Which means you’ve essentially decided to become a Democrat voter. At least the Democrats are promising free stuff to their voters. Trump’s people come for much less.
Don’t try to make me understand it. I’m no longer interested. I understand the anger, I understand the desire to shake up the system, I understand the pushback against political correctness. Those are all reasons to keep Trump around in the campaign and let him throw his bombs until he gets bored. They’re not reasons to make him the GOP nominee.
If Trump’s the nominee I’m looking for a third-party candidate to support, and hopefully one will emerge. Maybe Mike Bloomberg will get in, and we can have Hillary, Bloomberg and Trump – because if we do, then an actual conservative can get into the race (maybe Rick Perry, for example) and run as the non-New York candidate. That four-way race would keep any candidate from getting to 270 electoral votes and put the election into the House of Representatives where the non-New York conservative could win. I’d be happy with that result.
– It’s interesting that Trump will have to spend his summer, in the middle of the campaign, getting cross-examined about that Trump University fraud lawsuit. The Democrat frontrunner could well have her own legal distractions – of a far more serious nature.
In a story published Thursday, Catherine Herridge of Fox News added incrementally to what we know about the ongoing investigation, but the buried lede may be word of the current mood at the FBI. Herridge quotes an unnamed source with knowledge of the investigation who tells her career professionals at the FBI, “will be angry and walk off if no indictment recommendation is followed through.”
That certainly makes it sound as if some portion of the FBI–presumably those with knowledge of the case–think there is enough evidence to recommend prosecution (of someone). They wouldn’t be ready to “walk off” unless they were pretty certain the evidence supported their conclusion. And, reading a bit more between the lines, it seems there is some impatience in the ranks to go ahead and conclude the matter in the way these professionals have already concluded is warranted.
At some point the FBI needs to either move on the recommendation for prosecution or announce they won’t be recommending any prosecution. A recommendation to prosecute someone close to Clinton would not knock her out of the race but it would add to public’s doubts about her overall honesty. And of course if the recommendation were to target Clinton herself that would be a game-changer which could swing votes toward Sanders or convince someone on the sidelines that now is the time to jump in the race. Whatever the case, it would be better to have the information out sooner rather than later.
We talked about this yesterday. The full scope of the Hillary e-mails issue doesn’t seem to be getting the airing it deserves, perhaps because nobody on the Right really wants to go there until it’s too late to replace Hillary as the Dems’ nominee. But it’s coming, and for her hell’s coming with it.
– Kudos to Brian Sandoval, the Republican governor of Nevada and former federal judge who was brought up by the Obama administration as a potential Supreme Court candidate this week.
Sandoval told the Obama administration to leave him out of the discussion and that he wasn’t interested.
That was a patriotic thing for him to do, and he deserves a lot of credit for it. A Supreme Court appointment is the pinnacle for people in the legal profession and it would be hard not to fight for it. But his name was being thrown around as bait against the Republicans who have already made their decision known that Obama is not going to appoint Antonin Scalia’s replacement.
Nominating a moderate Republican is meant to test that and to break Republican solidarity on that issue, and furthermore having Sandoval, who is of Mexican extraction, be stonewalled by the Senate Republicans would be used as evidence that Republicans hate Hispanics (and given that two of the three finalists for the party’s presidential nomination are Cuban-Americans, that would be an especially disingenuous charge, but nothing is beneath Obama).
Sandoval saw that ploy for what it was, and declined to be Obama’s pawn yesterday. Which sent Josh Earnest to the microphones to deny that he was ever in consideration.
Setting those guys loose in a Bass Pro is ridiculous. What else is ridiculous is the fact that in Memphis they turned a perfectly good basketball arena into a retail mecca.