Monthly Archives: December 2015

Hating On The GOP, From The Right

It’s still too early to say how they’ll actually vote, but so far Republican voters seem to be even more intent than usual on liking an outsider, anti-GOP-establishment Presidential candidate.

To be sure, the Republican rank-and-file have long lusted after a pure-hearted conservative warrior, untainted by the compromising realities of governance, willing to feed the preferred belief that moderation leads the party to certain defeat. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Ben Carson are politically superior to Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, and others before them, but are essentially selling the same thing.

I think their greater success to date stems at least in part to the movement-conservative marketplace’s fundamental incompatibility with a successful Republican Party — which the national GOP has taken great strides towards becoming, in the past few election cycles.

For about a decade I’ve written and talked about the effect of what I call the “movement-conservative marketplace,” which is the vast industry making money off of right wingers. Some of it is familiar to those outside of its influence: FOX News, Rush Limbaugh, the National Rifle Association’s political committee, and the like. But much of it you are less likely to stumble across if you’re not among its consumer base. There is a wide-ranging, multi-billion-dollar industry of political committees, think tanks, publishers, web sites, newsletters, and more. (See this 2009 article for more description of how this works.)

That marketplace thrives on discontent. It requires dangerous enemies to warn against at all times, because that’s what the market rewards. That includes Mexicans at the border, Muslims on the attack, and anti-Christmas warriors; it also must include the politicians failing to protect you against these evils.

It is demonstrably true that this marketplace thrives when Democrats have control of the government; they are the easy and obvious opposition to fight against. The marketplace had a massive growth spurt during the Bill Clinton Presidency, stagnated or declined during the George W. Bush years, and exploded during the 2008 Barack Obama campaign and his subsequent years in office.

But that success — via Republican failure — has been blunted as the GOP has made gains. Since 2010 Republicans have held the majority in the House of Representatives (no more fundraising off evil Speaker Nancy Pelosi!), and most of the state governors’ offices.

And, beginning in January 2015, Republicans held a majority in the US Senate as well. Even the Supreme Court remains majority Republican-appointed.

The only Democrat left with any power, it seems, is Obama. And in his lame-duck final year, even he has a diminished power to generate money-making levels of fear and loathing.

As a result, I would argue, the movement-conservative marketplace has increasingly trained its hyperbolic hatred against Republican politicians (and Justices), for betraying their conservative voters. The vitriol against so-called RINOs is not new by any means, but my sense is that it has increased significantly within the marketplace this year — a year in which the greatest celebration in that marketplace came at the ouster of one of the most successful GOP party-builders of my lifetime, John Boehner.

Consumers of the movement-conservative marketplace have been buffeted all year with animus against the feckless establishment Republicans, who are blamed for failing to stop same-sex marriage, ObamaCare, Planned Parenthood, Syrian refugees, Common Core, debt increases, illegal immigration, the Iran nuclear deal, and any other bogey men in the arsenal.

So, no wonder those same consumers want to be seduced by those standing athwart that Republican establishment.

And, naturally, that same marketplace has been, for months, praising those anti-establishment candidates. Of course they are. Not only do Trump and Cruz better fit the narrative they’ve been weaving all year, but as noted above, the marketplace has a strong vested interest in seeing the least electable Republican seize the nomination.

They’re likely to fare far better, financially, with Hillary Clinton in the White House than with Marco Rubio there.

Again, this is partly just an accelerating trend. As recently as 2010 GOP National Committeeman Ron Kaufman could argue to me with a straight face (though I wasn’t convinced) that Southern Republicans tend to respect the “next in line” order of selecting a nominee. By 2012, Kaufman’s man Mitt Romney was struggling to get 30% in those states, against Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul.

But I think it’s accelerated in part because of the GOP’s success in 2010 and 2014 — and the resulting anti-GOP reaction from the movement-conservative marketplace.

That doesn’t have me convinced that an anti-establishment candidate can actually win the party’s nomination. That remains to be seen. But I think it’s worth considering  as we contemplate the current state of the race.

Quick Look Around

Should be a slow campaign news week — with Christmas coming, the whole week is pretty much a news-dump opportunity.

But slow news weeks mean that those who are paying attention will focus excessively on what little is available. Thus we have much ado about schlonging, Trump’s dickish verbification of a Yiddishism that probably shouldn’t have be thrown in a female candidate’s face.

Trump’s attempt at potty humor also crapped out, as he tried to make sport of Hillary Clinton’s bathroom break and instead offended all peeing voters.

Something tells me this too will pass.

That was more interesting, though, than Lindsey Graham dropping out of the 2016 Presidential race yesterday, to nobody’s surprise. He had pretty clearly run just to get to speak in a few nationally televised debates, and last week’s (early JV warm-up debate) was almost certainly the last he’ll be invited to.

Probably more important: CNN’s Teddy Schleifer tweets that “Steve Chartan, the chief strategist for the House Freedom Caucus, is joining Ted Cruz’s official staff as Legislative Director.”

Cruz is doing a very good job of consolidating the evangelical and Tea Party conservatives, which should make him a very strong force in the delegate-heavy Southern primaries.

And, no surprise in this news about Clinton’s oppo research , but I just need to say that Team Hillary’s limitless devotion to sleezy David Brock baffles me.

Least edifying thing in the 2016 Presidential campaign yesterday: World Net Daily asked Phyllis Schlafly whether Donald Trump is the last hope for America.

Oh and the FDA came out with a less-discriminatory but still discriminatory rule on taking blood from The Gayz.

Anything else you want me to comment on?

Back To Blogging

Hey folks, I’m going to really try to get back to blogging for 2016. Aren’t you lucky! (Maybe I’ll even get around to redesigning it to look decent. We’ll see.)

Be sure to let me know what types of things you’d like to see me use this space for. I’m sure I’ll be commenting on the Presidential campaign, other political action, and policy matters.

And, I’ll point to where you can read or hear my verbiage elsewhere. For example, today you can read my latest “Dateline DC” column at WGBH News. I wrap up last week’s passage of the omnibus and tax extenders package, from the perspective of the New England delegations.

By the way, some of you may have already received the January, 2016 issue of Boston Magazine, with the “Best Bostonians” feature that I’ve been working on for quite some time. I’ll have more to say on that, but let me know your thoughts!

Anyway… watch this space, as they say.