Lead-up to U.S. 2016 elections – Republicans Part II

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The Most Extreme Republican Platform in Memory

Barring some bizarre meltdown by the candidate, unexpected clusterfucks on the floor, or a violent confrontation between protesters and police, [none of which possibilities can be totally discounted] Trump is going to come out with a bounce in the polls that may well put him ahead of Hillary.
That’s normal. To be expected. And nothing to get too worried about. When it’s her turn, she’ll get the same kind of bounce.

FiveThirtyEight
What does Donald Trump believe? Where the candidate stands on 10 issues
The Electoral College: The Only Thing That Matters

The Reviews Are In: Conservatives Say The DNC Was ‘Disaster’ For The GOP
The [last night of the Democratic National Convention] also hammered home the stark tonal difference between the two conventions. After Trump painted America as a downcast country in need of a billionaire savior, night after night of all-star DNC speakers preached a sermon of American exceptionalism, with values that unify us all – talking points once exclusively owned by Republicans.
It was enough to give a lot of conservatives whiplash. Here are just a few of them praising the DNC and bemoaning the state of affairs in their own party.
25 July
Putin Trump muralTrump’s Putin love is starting to look like a defining aspect of his presidential run
(Daily Kos) Donald Trump’s embrace of Russian President Vladimir Putin may be about much, much more than Trump’s admiration for autocrats, blowhards, and anyone who says nice things about Donald Trump. Loyalty to Putin’s Russia may actually be a defining theme of Trump’s candidacy for president of the United States, and Putin’s Russia may be trying to help Trump out—with the leak of Democratic National Committee emails, for instance.
24 July
Donald Trump’s and Vladimir Putin’s Shared Agenda Should Alarm Anyone Concerned About Democracy
This is all we should ask Trump about until November
(Esquire) In brief: In his business dealings, He, Trump seems increasingly dependent on money from Russia and from the former Soviet republics within its increasingly active sphere of influence. This is because most of the big banks on this side of the pond won’t go near him without HazMat suits. (Gee, could it be that his sudden emergence as a Warren-esque crusader against the “rigged system” of the banksters is less of a principled opposition and simply pure animal vengeance? Unpossible!) As Marshall points out, this isn’t exactly a deep corporate secret, as The Washington Postexplained
23 July
Cleo Paskal — Trump’s cards: immigrants, guns, police, terror, faith
(The Sunday Guardian) For much of the past year, as Trump went from strength to strength, the Republican establishment writhed in an attempt to wriggle out from his strengthening grasp. There was even talk of a contested convention. So understanding what actually happened in Cleveland is important not just to get an idea of how Trump might be as a candidate, or even President, but to understand the deep transformation within one of the two major political parties in the US.
There were, at the very least, three components to this convention: what did happen, what didn’t happen, and the coverage. But first, let’s get this out of the way. What does Trump think of India? So far, everything seems fine. In January, he told CNN, “India is doing great. Nobody talks about it.” And that’s been about it. Nothing much in the stump speeches, and nothing at the convention. So, now, back to the convention.
22 July
RNC Delegates
Quartz summarizes:
Donald Trump painted a dark picture of the United States.The Republican presidential nominee described the US as being afflicted by crime and violence—backing his view with distorted statistics—and offered himself as the leader who could quickly fix the problem. Trump railed against illegal immigrants, free-trade agreements, and blamed Hillary Clinton for pretty much all the ills of the world.
Jon Stewart Takes Over ‘The Late Show,’ Lets Loose on Trump Supporters
It turns out all we needed to get Jon Stewart to return to late-night was have the Republicans nominate Donald Trump as their presidential candidate. (OK, so that was a pretty big ask.) On Thursday night’s episode of The Late Show, Stewart delivered a vintage, scathing retort to Trump followers and Fox News’ political commentators for their support of the real estate mogul.
David Brooks: The Dark Knight
Welcome to a world without rules. (I want you to read this paragraph in your super-scary movie trailer voice.) Welcome to a world in which families are mowed down by illegal immigrants, in which cops die in the streets, in which Muslims rampage the innocents and threaten our very way of life, in which the fear of violent death lurks in every human heart.
Sometimes in that blood-drenched world a dark knight arises. You don’t have to admire or like this knight. But you need this knight. He is your muscle and your voice in a dark, corrupt and malevolent world.
Such has been the argument of nearly every demagogue since the dawn of time. Aaron Burr claimed Spain threatened the U.S in 1806. A. Mitchell Palmer exaggerated the Red Scare in 1919 and Joe McCarthy did it in 1950.
And such was Donald Trump’s law-and-order argument in Cleveland on Thursday night. This was a compelling text that turned into more than an hour of humorless shouting. It was a dystopian message that found an audience and then pummeled them to exhaustion.
Donald Trump’s convention proved it: the old GOP is dead
(Vox) After four days in Cleveland observing the Republican convention, something has become clear: Donald Trump has transformed the values of the Republican Party. Gone are the three pillars of free market economics, social conservatism, and an ambitious foreign policy that have defined the party for decades.
What has taken its place, at least temporarily, is pure anger — anger at immigrants, anger at elites, and, above all, anger at Hillary Clinton. This anger has taken the form of a furious populism, one dominated by rage at out-groups rather than abstract political ideals.
There are very few positive notes in this new Republican Party — other than Donald J. Trump. Trump isn’t just a good candidate for president; he is the solution to all that ails us.
Republican Convention Night 4: Analysis
Times reporters provided live analysis on the last night of the Republican National Convention on Thursday. Here are the highlights and our fact checks.
One thing you look for at conventions is any sign of a candidate moving to the center for the general election. Given Trump’s law-and-order acceptance speech and appearances by Sheriff Joe Arpaio (huge cheers), Jerry Falwell Jr. and Tony Perkins, the answer looks like no.
The problem with this convention, at this point, is that the parts that have been tremendously entertaining have been the parts most damaging for the candidate.
21 July
Donald Trump’s Convention: Day 3
Arguments, provocations and observations from Times Opinion writers.
Best line so far is from Reuters morning brief “The only way that Ted Cruz could have made a more dramatic impression at the Republican National Convention is if his face melted away Raiders Of The Lost Ark-style on the rostrum before the assembled guests.”
Republican Cruz says he’s not Trump’s ‘servile puppy dog’
The conservative senator from Texas stood his ground on Thursday. He refused to say whether he would vote for Trump, who had maligned Cruz’s wife for her physical appearance and had suggested that his father was linked to late President John F. Kennedy’s assassin.
(Bloomberg) As soon as it was clear beyond doubt that Senator Ted Cruz wasn’t going to endorse Donald Trump in his speech at the Republican convention, it was also clear that Cruz’s speech was the only one that was going to be discussed the next day
Convention Boos, Blasts Cruz For Not Endorsing Trump
donald-trump-melania-trumpThree Problems with the Melania Trump Plagiarism Admission
The second issue raised by McIver’s letter concerns the continued mixing of Trump’s business and political organizations. McIver works for the Trump Organization, and her letter was on Trump Organization letterhead. If she did in fact contribute to Melania Trump’s speech, then her time working for the campaign could be considered an in-kind donation. … Finally, McIver’s explanation for what happened serves Melania poorly, putting her at the center of the plagiarism scandal rather than making her an innocent victim of her staff.
How Donald Trump Picked His Running Mate
(NYT) One day this past May, Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., reached out to a senior adviser to Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who left the presidential race just a few weeks before. As a candidate, Kasich declared in March that Trump was “really not prepared to be president of the United States,” and the following month he took the highly unusual step of coordinating with his rival Senator Ted Cruz in an effort to deny Trump the nomination. But according to the Kasich adviser (who spoke only under the condition that he not be named), Donald Jr. wanted to make him an offer nonetheless: Did he have any interest in being the most powerful vice president in history?
When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of?
“Making America great again” was the casual reply

G.O.P. Convention Day 2 Takeaways:
A Party Unites, at Least for a Night
(NYT) The second night of the Republican National Convention was a whipsaw of conflicting themes and messages. The printed schedule suggested a focus on jobs and economic policy. The reality: A party learning to acclimate itself to Donald J. Trump, figure out if he can win a national election, and help him (if possible). The establishment is now with Trump. … the party’s senior leadership executed a final quashing of lingering anti-Trump efforts on the convention floor, they presided over Mr. Trump’s installation as the duly chosen Republican Party presidential nominee. … because the rules obligated them to, but also because it was politically necessary. If Trump loses the White House, it is imperative to the party’s establishment that he do so convincingly, undeniably, without sabotage, so that they cannot be blamed for the defeat. … Donald Trump Jr., an executive at the family business, gave a longer biographical tale of his father, told with sincerity and affection, dusted with a sprinkle of a Trumpian economic policy. (But just a sprinkle.) … Mr. Christie, a former federal prosecutor, laid out a case against Hillary Clinton as though he were in a courtroom.
Tiffany Trump’s Sad, Vague Tribute to Her Distant Father
It was almost too easy to psychoanalyze —to see a young woman eager for the attention and approval of a father she barely knows. Alas, Donald wasn’t in Cleveland to watch his daughter’s big debut. He had flown back to New York for the night.
Melania Trump’s Secret Speechwriter: Michelle Obama?
The wife of the Republican nominee apparently borrowed passages from the first lady’s speech at the 2008 Denver Democratic National Convention
As the old political axiom goes, it’s not the crime but the cover-up. The plagiarism is a strange unforced error, but how many voters really care about Melania Trump borrowing a few sentences? With a quick apology, the story might fade quickly. But the Trump campaign’s insistent denials are taking some of the wind out of an otherwise successful speech that was the high point of an otherwise inconsistent first night in Cleveland.
On Melania Trump’s plagiarism, a laid-off journalist watching in an L.A. Starbucks scooped everyone
18 July
The Republicans waged a 3-decade war on government. They got Trump.
(Vox) Trumpism may have parallels in populist, nativist movements abroad, but it is also the culmination of a proud political party’s steady descent into a deeply destructive and dysfunctional state.
While that descent has been underway for a long time, it has accelerated its pace in recent years. We noted four years ago the dysfunction of the Republican Party, arguing that its obstructionism, anti-intellectualism, and attacks on American institutions were making responsible governance impossible. The rise of Trump completes the script, confirming our thesis in explicit fashion.
donald-trump-pence-running-mateAll the Most Excruciating Moments From the Trump/Pence Nightmare 60 Minutes Interview
(Gawker) Over the course of 20 minutes, the mood shifted from painfully tense to unbearably, painfully tense as Trump repeatedly interrupted both interviewer Lesley Stahl and new best friend Pence, who spent the majority of the time chuckling off to the side while everyone talked about him like he wasn’t right there.
Trump and Pence’s Awkward Marriage on Display in ’60 Minutes’
(Fortune) Donald Trump and his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, don’t have much in common—politically, philosophically or personally. And their awkward marriage was on full display in the first interview the two gave together on Sunday on “60 Minutes”
Cleveland police union urges governor to suspend open-carry gun law
Baton Rouge shooting puts police on guard on eve of Republican convention as union boss says, ‘Leadership needs to stand up and defend these police officers
“An AR-15, a shotgun, multiple handguns. It’s irresponsible of those folks, especially right now, to be coming downtown with open carry AR’s or anything else,” Loomis told CNN. “I couldn’t care less if it’s legal or not.
“We are constitutional law enforcement, we love the constitution, support it and defend it, but you can’t go into a crowded theater and scream fire. And that’s exactly what they’re doing by bringing those guns down there.”
Republican Convention to Kick Off With Many Party Stalwarts Absent
(WSJ) Excuses range from entertaining to predictable, just as Donald Trump looks to cast himself as a unifier
In a historic break from tradition at this week’s four-day celebration of the Republican Party in Cleveland, at least a dozen Republican senators, four governors, the past two Republican presidents and the past two GOP nominees intend to skip their party’s national nominating convention—just as presumptive nominee Donald Trump tries to show he is unifying the party.
It isn’t unusual for politicians to skip a convention, particularly for those who are facing tough re-election challenges and must devote their time to campaigning. But the sheer number of high-profile Republicans avoiding the party’s marquee event in 2016 is noteworthy, signaling the extent to which the billionaire businessman’s coronation has fractured the party.
16 July
Several unknowns heading into GOP convention
The Republican National Convention gets started Monday, but there’s still questions about how well the event will be secured. And also, reportedly, how the event will be paid for.
Even at VP event, it’s all about Donald Trump
(USA Today) Trump did assert that Pence was his first choice — an aside that was made necessary by the messiest vice presidential process since the last Indianan was picked as a running mate. In 1988, a boyish-looking Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle bounded onto a dock in New Orleans as George H.W. Bush’s pick. Within 24 hours, he was engulfed in questions about his military service during the Vietnam War.
This time, Trump insisted in a TV interview late Thursday that he hadn’t made a “final, final decision” even after he had summoned Pence to New York. That fueled speculation that Trump was reconsidering and fueled hopes among allies of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie that he might still be in the running.
TrumpPenceLOGOFINAL-582x436 That did not take long!
Trump-Pence Logo Completely Scrubbed from Campaign Website
(Daily Kos) You won’t have the Trump-Pence logo to kick around anymore!
Here are the best tweets that came out of the Trump-Pence ticket’s new logo
(Vox) The logo, which the Trump-Pence campaign will presumably use until the general election in November, hasn’t found many fans among on the internet
15 July
Did Trump Just Make a Huge Mistake?
(Politico) Mike Pence was billed as a great communicator and smart political player. But in Indiana, his repeated fumbles nearly cost him his political career.
Donald Trump just turned a key moment into a complete mess (once again)
(WaPost) Donald Trump has selected Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) as his running mate. But … Trump managed to do just about everything possible to draw attention away from the assets that Pence provides to his campaign and, instead, to make his campaign look like a mess.
On Thursday morning, the Pence story broke and the campaign denied that a decision had been made, which isn’t uncommon. But for once, it seems as though a decision maybe hadn’t been made — or, worse, that it had been made and then Trump pulled back.
… The postponement lacks any logical explanation whatsoever — particularly because Trump went ahead and made his announcement on Friday morning anyway, albeit on Twitter.
11 July
Dallas Shooting and Open-Carry Laws Loom Over Cleveland Convention Plans
(NYT) The violence in Dallas last week is intensifying worries in Cleveland about visitors and protesters taking firearms downtown during the Republican National Convention, where thousands of people plan to demonstrate.
Ohio’s open-carry laws mean that those who legally own guns can take them into the 1.7-square-mile area where many of the events and protests connected to the Republican convention will be held next week.
… within the convention area, the Secret Service will set up a smaller perimeter near the Quicken Loans Arena that will have stricter security and prohibit guns. Delegates to the convention, for example, will not be able to take their guns onto the convention floor. Well that’s a relief!
8 July
A Conservative Showdown Over Gun Control
(The Atlantic) Disagreement among House Republicans might be a sign of deeper division ahead. … nearly a month after a terrorist attack at an Orlando nightclub, House Republicans remain deeply divided over how to respond. The discord on display may be a sign of hardening conservative battle lines—and that would spell trouble for House Speaker Paul Ryan.
It’s nothing new for conservative members of the House—and the House Freedom Caucus in particular—to protest the actions of Republican leaders. But factions within the House Republican coalition may grow increasingly divided with Donald Trump as the de facto Republican standard-bearer, argues Matt Mayer, a visiting fellow at the free-market oriented American Enterprise Institute. The reason? Trump’s presence at the top of the ticket creates more uncertainty than there might be during a typical presidential election for a variety of reasons such as his willingness to court controversy, stray from conservative orthodoxy, and the fact that he so far appears to be a weak general-election candidate.
Would Donald Trump Quit if He Wins the Election? He Doesn’t Rule It Out
(NYT) It is, of course, entirely possible that Mr. Trump is playing coy to earn more news coverage. But the notion of the intensely competitive Mr. Trump’s being more interested in winning the presidency than serving as president is not exactly a foreign concept to close observers of this presidential race.
Early in the contest, his rivals, Republican operatives and many reporters questioned the seriousness of his candidacy. His knack for creating controversy out of thin air (this week’s edition: the Star of David Twitter post) and his inclination toward self-destructive comments did not instill confidence in a political culture that values on-message discipline in its candidates.
7 July
Paul Ryan, GOP settle on a new anti-Clinton scheme
(MSNBC) For many years, once the national conventions wrap up, major-party presidential nominees have received high-level intelligence briefings ahead of the election. The goal is entirely practical: if someone is poised to possibly become president, it’s important that they’re up to speed and fully prepared on Inauguration Day.
This year, however, isn’t a normal year, and several prominent figures – some in intelligence agencies, some Bush/Cheney administration veterans – have expressed concern about sharing sensitive information with Donald Trump. The man isn’t exactly known for his careful restraint.
And it’s against this backdrop that congressional Republicans have decided they don’t want Hillary Clinton to have classified briefings, either.
Trump, seeking GOP unity, has tense meeting with Senate Republicans
(Mother Jones) Donald Trump’s private meeting Thursday with Senate Republicans — designed to foster greater party unity ahead of the national convention in Cleveland — grew combative as the presumptive presidential nominee admonished three senators who have been critical of his candidacy and predicted they would lose their reelection bids, according to two Republican officials with direct knowledge of the exchanges.
6 July
Where Republicans Stand on Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet
The presumptive nominee is making almost no progress on unifying the party he purportedly leads.
How do you solve a problem like The Donald? For Republicans and conservatives, the time for hoping Trump would simply burn himself out, collapse, and go away is over. Now they have to figure out what they’ll do: Sign up with Trump in the name of party unity, and distaste for Hillary Clinton? Or risk alienating the Republican nominee and reject him?
As the chaotic and failed attempts to stop Trump over the 10 months have shown, there’s no obviously right choice for how conservatives should respond. But which choice are people making? Here’s a list of some major figures and where they stand on Trump—right now. We’ll keep it updated as other important people take stances, or as these ones change their views about Trump.
27 June
Hardly anybody wants to speak at Trump’s convention
POLITICO reached out to more than 50 prominent Republicans. Few said they plan to attend the convention in Cleveland, let alone speak.
The widespread lack of interest, Republicans say, boils down to one thing: the growing consensus that it’s best to steer clear of Trump.
“Everyone has to make their own choice, but at this point, 70 percent of the American public doesn’t like Donald Trump. That’s as toxic as we’ve seen in American politics,” said Stuart Stevens, a longtime Republican strategist who helped to craft the party’s 2012 convention. “Normally, people want to speak at national conventions. It launched Barack Obama’s political career.”

Donald Trump Atlantic cover June 2016The Mind of Donald Trump
Narcissism, disagreeableness, grandiosity—a psychologist investigates how Trump’s extraordinary personality might shape his possible presidency.
By Dan P. McAdams
Many questions have arisen about Trump during this campaign season—about his platform, his knowledge of issues, his inflammatory language, his level of comfort with political violence. This article touches on some of that. But its central aim is to create a psychological portrait of the man. Who is he, really? How does his mind work? How might he go about making decisions in office, were he to become president? And what does all that suggest about the sort of president he’d be?
A large and rapidly growing body of research shows that people’s temperament, their characteristic motivations and goals, and their internal conceptions of themselves are powerful predictors of what they will feel, think, and do in the future, and powerful aids in explaining why. In the realm of politics, psychologists have recently demonstrated how fundamental features of human personality—such as extroversion and narcissism—shaped the distinctive leadership styles of past U. S. presidents, and the decisions they made. While a range of factors, such as world events and political realities, determine what political leaders can and will do in office, foundational tendencies in human personality, which differ dramatically from one leader to the next, are among them.
Many questions have arisen about Trump during this campaign season—about his platform, his knowledge of issues, his inflammatory language, his level of comfort with political violence. This article touches on some of that. But its central aim is to create a psychological portrait of the man. Who is he, really? How does his mind work? How might he go about making decisions in office, were he to become president? And what does all that suggest about the sort of president he’d be? (The Atlantic Magazine June 2016)

25 June
George Will leaves the GOP
(Politico) A report from PJ Media quoted Will as saying: “This is not my party.”
24 June
Donald Trump’s Brexit press conference was beyond bizarre
Donald Trump is in the midst of a two-day trip to Scotland, a visit that happened to coincide with Britain voting on Thursday to leave the European Union — an absolutely seismic moment in the history of the E.U. Trump held a press conference early Friday to talk about Brexit and lots of other things from his golf course at Turnberry. It was another classic of the genre.
20 June
Donald Trump Fires Corey Lewandowski, His Campaign Manager
(NYT)   With the Republican National Convention looming next month, Mr. Trump is facing the urgent task of broadening his team to include people with previous presidential campaign experience. Mr. Trump also has been turning his attention to fund-raising for the first time, which Mr. Lewandowski had assumed oversight of and something that has gone slowly for the campaign. The campaign has aired no ads for the general election campaign and there has been no “super PAC” that received a clear public blessing from Mr. Trump and his top advisers.
14 June
Trump shuts out The Washington Post: How did we get here?
The Washington Post is the latest publication to have its press credentials revoked by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, a pattern that experts say is unprecedented and yet not unexpected. … Other organizations that have had their press credentials revoked by the Republican candidate include BuzzFeed, Politico, The Daily Beast, and The Huffington Post.
Fact-Checking Donald Trump’s Orlando Response Speech
11 June

David Brooks: The Governing Cancer of Our Time
(NYT) Politics is an activity in which you recognize the simultaneous existence of different groups, interests and opinions. You try to find some way to balance or reconcile or compromise those interests, or at least a majority of them. You follow a set of rules, enshrined in a constitution or in custom, to help you reach these compromises in a way everybody considers legitimate.
The downside of politics is that people never really get everything they want. It’s messy, limited and no issue is ever really settled. Politics is a muddled activity in which people have to recognize restraints and settle for less than they want. Disappointment is normal.
But that’s sort of the beauty of politics, too. It involves an endless conversation in which we learn about other people and see things from their vantage point and try to balance their needs against our own. Plus, it’s better than the alternative: rule by some authoritarian tyrant who tries to govern by clobbering everyone in his way. …
I printed out a Times list of the insults Trump has hurled on Twitter. The list took up 33 pages. Trump’s style is bashing and pummeling. Everyone who opposes or disagrees with him is an idiot, a moron or a loser. The implied promise of his campaign is that he will come to Washington and bully his way through.
Trump’s supporters aren’t looking for a political process to address their needs. They are looking for a superhero. As the political scientist Matthew MacWilliams found, the one trait that best predicts whether you’re a Trump supporter is how high you score on tests that measure authoritarianism.
This isn’t just an American phenomenon. Politics is in retreat and authoritarianism is on the rise worldwide. The answer to Trump is politics. It’s acknowledging other people exist. It’s taking pleasure in that difference and hammering out workable arrangements. As Harold Laski put it, “We shall make the basis of our state consent to disagreement. Therein shall we ensure its deepest harmony.” (26 February 2016)

Donald Trump faces uphill climb to the White House
(AP via PBS) There is a path for the billionaire real estate mogul and reality TV star to find his way to 270. But it’s narrow, given the map’s opening tilt toward the Democratic Party, and hinges on Trump’s ability to continue to defy political norms.
Where does Trump begin his journey? A look at four questions he’ll need to answer successfully to beat Clinton. The primary season ends Tuesday with the Democratic contest in the District of Columbia:
8 June
Donald Trump Says His Remarks on Judge Were ‘Misconstrued’
Donald J. Trump, who said last week that a Mexican-American judge was biased against him because of his heritage, said on Tuesday that his remarks had been “misconstrued” and that he did not think that the judge’s ethnicity created a conflict of interest.
“I do not feel that one’s heritage makes them incapable of being impartial,” Mr. Trump said in a long statement in which he continued to raise questions about his treatment in the Trump University case.
Mr. Trump created a firestorm last week when he suggested that Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel, who was born in Indiana, was not handling his case fairly because of his immigration policies, which include deporting immigrants in the country illegally and building a wall along the southern border. The remarks were considered racist by Democrats and Republicans, several of whom distanced themselves from the presumptive Republican nominee.

(The Atlantic) The 2016 U.S. Presidential Race: A Cheat Sheet
2016 Republican Presidential Candidates
2016 Primary Results and Calendar
Factbox: How would a brokered Republican convention work?

7 June
Trump wins GOP California primary
If some Republicans harbored hopes of edging Trump off the Republican ticket at the party convention, that was dashed in Tuesday’s uncontested GOP primaries. Trump ended the night with enough delegates who are required by party rules to vote for him, whatever their personal views.
(PBS Newshour) Donald Trump has won the Republican presidential primary in California, the biggest prize in his triumphant run to become the GOP nominee.
Trump will now go on to the national convention in July with more than enough delegates to become the official nominee, but his candidacy remains a source of controversy, with many in the GOP struggling to rally behind the brash billionaire.
Donald Trump also won Republican primaries in New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota, capping an otherwise difficult day for the presumptive GOP nominee. Party leaders recoiled at Trump’s comments about a Hispanic judge, with one senator even pulling his endorsement.
16 May
What Atlantic City Casino Workers Know About the Trump Brand
(NYT) Local 54 of the city’s casino workers, is fascinated by how his political winning streak plays out just beyond a battered Atlantic City, a destination once identified with Mr. Trump that serves now as a reality check. His name has disappeared from three casinos, one of which has closed. Across the city, casino workers have lost pensions and health care in bankruptcy proceedings, and four of 12 casinos closed in recent years, with thousands of jobs lost. Home foreclosures are multiplying and the city has suffered such a precipitous loss in revenue that the state is threatening a takeover.
“Carl Icahn as Trump’s secretary of the Treasury?” Ms. McMorris asks with alarm of Mr. Trump’s billionaire ally, who has been mentioned as a possible cabinet choice in a Trump administration. Mr. Icahn owns the Trump Taj Mahal … and has been keeping the casino afloat since it filed for bankruptcy in 2014, in part by eliminating union benefits.
13 May
Donald Trump and the Twilight of White America
Racial resentment and economic anxiety are not separate forces. For many Trump supporters, they are inextricably linked.
(The Atlantic) Some of Trump’s policy statements, on issues like the minimum wage and taxes, are like wisps of smoke—coming into existence, curling into strange shapes, and disappearing within moments. But his bedrock promises all relate to the white American middle’s central fears, including Hispanic immigration and global trade. In his first 100 days, he says, he would act to close the country. He would send additional security to the south and seal the Mexican border. He would begin the design and construction of the Mexican Wall. He would initiate plans to round up more than 10 million undocumented immigrants to send them overseas. He would potentially ban Muslim immigrants from entering the county.
It is not enough to say that Trump is a purely racial phenomenon. Nor is it complete to argue that he is the perfectly predictable result of economic upheaval. Rather, in the last half-century, several events have pushed conservative white American middle-class men to conflate their majoritarian, economic, and cultural decline. Economic anxiety and racial resentment are not entirely separate things, but rather like buttresses in an arch, supporting each other in the creation of something larger—Donald Trump.
The Lie of Trump’s ‘Self-Funding’ Campaign
(The Atlantic) Pundits are calling foul on the presumptive Republican nominee for starting to court donors, but he’s depended on donations and loans to himself all along.
Major Republican donors are split, with some, like Adelson, getting in line; others refusing to go along; and the majority keeping quiet for now. As for the super PACs, the largest ones haven’t done a great to help their candidates this year, though the primary and the general election are different beasts. Meanwhile, another pro-Trump super PAC bears some of the hallmarks of a “scam PAC.” As a matter of principle, it’s hard to reconcile Trump’s wildly popular claims of self-funding with his recent turn toward raising money. In practice, however, the new approach is hardly any change at all from his MO throughout the race.
8 May
Donald Trump’s Warning to Paul Ryan Signals Further G.O.P. Discord
(NYT) The rift in the Republican Party grew deeper on Sunday and threatened to upset the July convention as Donald J. Trump refused to rule out blocking Paul D. Ryan, the speaker of the House, from serving as the convention’s chairman.
Mr. Trump’s warning was his latest affront to Republicans who have urged him to adopt a more cooperative and unifying tone. And it amounted to an extraordinary escalation in tensions between the party’s presumptive nominee and its highest-ranking officeholder.
In a series of television interviews that aired Sunday, Mr. Trump demonstrated little interest in making peace with party leaders like Mr. Ryan who have called on him to more convincingly lay out his commitment to the issues and ideas that have animated the conservative movement for the last generation.
Four of the last five Republican presidential nominees — George Bush, George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney — have said they will skip the convention in Cleveland. … Mr. Ryan, who serves as the convention’s ceremonial chairman, has made the provocative declaration that he is not ready to support his party’s likely nominee
5 May
With Donald Trump in Charge, Republicans Have a Day of Reckoning
Republican elected officials, donors and strategists grappled uncomfortably on Wednesday with the inevitability of Donald J. Trump as their presidential nominee, an unexpectedly sudden denouement that left many in a state of political paralysis and others vowing to oppose the party’s new standard-bearer.
While some called for unity, many Republican leaders refrained from falling in line behind Mr. Trump, with dozens avoiding inquiries about where they stood or saying they wanted Mr. Trump to detail his policies or tone down his language first. Others tied themselves in knots as they praised and criticized Mr. Trump in a single breath, or suggested that they could abide Mr. Trump but loathed his agenda.
Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who is in a tough re-election race, signaled that she would “support” Mr. Trump but not “endorse” him, as a spokeswoman put it, a rhetorical contortion that other Republicans repeated privately.
4 May
Clinton Releases a Brutal Anti-Trump Ad
And she gets Republicans to do the dirty work for her.
With Ted Cruz and John Kasich out of the race, Donald Trump has become the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. On Wednesday, Hillary Clinton’s campaign wasted no time switching to general election mode, releasing a web video criticizing Trump. But Clinton didn’t do it in her own words; the ad is a compilation of unkind things Trump’s fellow Republicans have said about him during the party’s nomination campaign.
It’s Trump
Ted Cruz suspends his campaign after losing Indiana, all but assuring the front-runner of the Republican nomination.
(The Atlantic) “Republican nominee Donald Trump.”
That phrase, once the stuff of fantasy, is now all but set in stone. The entertainer scored a huge victory on Tuesday in Indiana, as Senator Ted Cruz of Texas announced that he was ending his bid for president after being routed in the Hoosier State.
Trump will be the first major-party nominee without prior experience in elected office since General Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. With most of the vote in, Trump was on course to win around a large majority of the state’s 57 delegates. Those numbers, the subject of obsessive calculation and analysis over the last month, have now become somewhat academic. With Cruz out of the race, Trump is effectively assured of winning a majority of the delegates ahead of the July Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
28 April
The Perks of Retirement:John Boehner, the former Republican U.S. House speaker who has laid low and mostly Instagrammed photos of himself mowing the lawn since his retirement last fall, came back in full force when he called his former colleague and presidential candidate Ted Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh.” Not everyone can be as blunt as Boehner, but other top Republicans’ feelings are no secret: They don’t like Donald Trump, but they don’t like Cruz either, and many have resigned themselves to a Clinton win.
How to Save the Republican Party
In Trump’s aftermath, his enemies on the right will have to take stock and propose a meaningful alternative vision for the GOP’s future.
(The Atlantic) Trump’s almost certain failure in November will likewise drag after him other conservative causes, notably immigration restriction. Republican elites will be quick to blame a Trump loss on his immigration message. The way would then be cleared for a President Clinton and Speaker Ryan to do the immigration deal that congressional leaders wanted to do with President Obama in 2013. And if, by some freak chance, Donald Trump were to win the presidency, immigration restrictionists would discover—as so many have discovered before them—how little a Donald Trump commitment is worth.
23 April
Republican financier Koch says Clinton might make better president
(Reuters) Koch, in an interview to air on Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” program, said that in some respects Bill Clinton had been a better president than George W. Bush, who Koch said had increased government spending. Then when asked if Hillary Clinton would be a better president than the Republicans currently running, he said, “It’s possible, it’s possible.”
ABC said Koch, who along brother David leads an influential political organization called Freedom Partners, has been displeased so far with the tone of the Republican presidential race
20 April
(NYT First Draft) Mr. Trump was poised to take most of the 95 Republican delegates at stake, substantially adding to his lead over Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and significantly improving his chances of winning the Republican nomination. Mr. Trump … seemed like a different candidate. As he spoke in the lobby of Trump Tower, there were no freewheeling presentations of steaks and bottled water, as in the past. There was no reference to “Lyin’ Ted” or “Crooked Hillary.” He called his opponent “Senator Cruz” instead, and he made no mention of Mrs. Clinton.
It reflected the growing influence of Paul J. Manafort, whom Mr. Trump has empowered with a greater purview in his campaign.
18 April
Kelly McParland: Paul Ryan’s very smart decision to leave Republicans in the lurch
Paul Ryan made a smart decision when he declared he would not accept the Republican party nomination for president this summer, no matter how desperate the party may be to avoid choosing Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.
It’s tempting to say it’s the smartest decision of Ryan’s life, except that he’s made several previous choices that could also contend for that distinction. And there’s a commonality to them: by declining to push himself forward, Ryan has succeeded in becoming the candidate everyone wants. Well, maybe not everyone – the no-prisoners wing of the party hasn’t finished playing Russian roulette yet, and may not be satisfied until there’s nothing left of the organization but a smoking ruin.
His popularity is an indication of how far the party has shifted since the advent of the tea party — or perhaps how desperate it has become. Once a favourite of the extreme right, he’s now viewed as a consensus candidate who can sell himself as a tax-cutting fiscal hawk, while appealing to moderates who see him as more reasonable and pragmatic than the party’s phalanx of hardliners.
14 April
Trump would be a disaster, but Cruz would be apocalyptic
(Boston Globe) Unlike Trump, whose political viewpoints are as unsteady as a screen door in a hurricane, Cruz doesn’t waver. He voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, wants to undercut abortion rights, and denounces marriage equality and LGBT protections. He trumpets carpet-bombing ISIS, even though military leaders say that is neither a logical nor moral option. He resists even the most basic gun control measures. He wants to ban refugees from regions linked to terrorism.
Say what you will about Cruz, but we’ve always known where he stands — and it’s on the backs of the poor, the necks of women, and the rights of everyone who rejects his mean, cauterized vision for this country and the world.
12 April

Paul_Ryan--113th_Congress--No Paul Ryan Means Still More Anger
Even after Ryan’s declaration, there were some political figures who still consider Ryan a possible nominee. Harold Ickes, a top adviser to Priorities USA, the super PAC supporting Clinton, envisaged a scenario in which Ryan would find himself having difficulty turning down the nomination.
What makes Ryan’s statement painful to Republican leaders and a welcome relief to Democrats is that there is a consensus in both parties that Ryan is far better equipped to capitalize on Hillary Clinton’s vulnerabilities than either Trump or Cruz — both of whom have negative ratings that come close to or exceed Clinton’s.
The exceptionally hostile views of all three leading candidates gave momentum — at least until Tuesday afternoon — to speculation among Republican leaders about a Ryan nomination. They do not want to blow the opportunity of a winnable contest. That their speculation can no longer focus on Ryan does not mean that their speculation will end.
At the same time, all the talk split members of the Republican establishment into two camps: those who hoped to see Ryan or some other noncandidate nominated and those who see any attempt to nominate Ryan or another noncandidate as a rejection of the 14.6 million votes cast for Trump and Cruz so far. Between them, Trump and Cruz have won 55 percent of the votes in Republican primaries and caucuses.
Paul Ryan: ‘Count Me Out’ of 2016 Presidential Run
“I simply believe that if you want to be the nominee — to be the president — you should actually run for it. I chose not to. Therefore, I should not be considered. Period.”
The Wisconsin lawmaker has been suggested as a potential presidential contender if no current Republican candidate nets the 1237 delegates required to win the nomination. A contested GOP convention could impact party morale.
While Ryan ruled out becoming the party nominee and said it should be someone who ran for president this cycle, he encouraged rule clarification that would only allow someone who ran during the current cycle to be put forward.
8 April
The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet
A rough guide to controversies surrounding the Republican front-runner, from mafia ties to anti-trust violations to bankruptcy.
(The Atlantic) The breadth of Trump’s controversies is truly yuge, ranging from allegations of mafia ties to unscrupulous business dealings, and from racial discrimination to alleged marital rape. The stretch over more than four decades, from the mid-1970s to the present day. To catalogue the full sweep of allegations would require thousands of words and lump together the trivial with the truly scandalous. Including business deals that have simply failed, without any hint of impropriety, would require thousands more. This is a snapshot of some of the most interesting and largest of those scandals.
5 April
Will Cruz’s Wisconsin Win Block Trump’s Path?
Cruz still badly trails Trump in the delegate count, but by taking the lion’s share of Wisconsin’s delegates, the Texan makes it harder for Trump to reach the magic threshold of 1,237 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination. That, in turn, means the GOP is more likely to go its convention in Cleveland with its nominee undecided. … On the Republican side, the result may have been as much about dislike of Trump as it was about affection for Cruz. (Exit polls showed that more than a quarter of Republican voters would vote for either Hillary Clinton or a third-party candidate if Trump were the nominee.) Trump’s angry, aggrieved message seemed to turn off many voters in the state, and Wisconsin is full of voters with whom Trump has struggled all along, especially college-educated and religious voters.
1 April
Donald Trump’s poll numbers collapse as general election looms
(MSNBC) While Trump was never popular outside of his loyal slice of GOP voters, a raft of new polls show his national position hitting new lows, including with groups that are supposed to form his base.
A collection of recent surveys by Real Clear Politics finds, on average, 30 percent of respondents hold a favorable view of Trump versus 63 percent who hold a negative one. Those numbers are roughly parallel to former President George W. Bush’s approval ratings during his final months in office, which set the stage for President Barack Obama’s landslide victory.
America’s widespread loathing for Trump puts further pressure on Republican delegates to deny him the nomination in July if he falls short of a majority, a move that would set off an ugly civil war — but one that some in the party believe would be necessary to stave off generational damage.
Trump’s worsening position comes after a tumultuous period in which he has faced widespread criticism within his party over his violent rhetoric and, more recently, his attack on Sen. Ted Cruz’s wife, Heidi Cruz. The news has not improved much in recent days, which featured the arrest of Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandoski and Trump’s flip flop over “punishment” for women who terminate their pregnancy.
Trump’s remarks on abortion Wednesday infuriated Republicans and pro-life activists who have spent years trying to train candidates to avoid inflammatory rhetoric and positions around the issue. Trump walked back his comments the same day, but his frequent blow-ups are heightening fears within the GOP that Republicans down the ballot will spend the entire election reacting to his stumbles.
RELATED: Why Trump’s controversies matter for all Republicans
For the first time this cycle, some analysts are suggesting the Republican House majority — commonly thought to be impregnable until at least 2022 thanks to GOP-friendly maps — could come into play if Trump’s numbers were to hold and the party fractured over his candidacy. As for the Senate, Democrats started the year on offense thanks to an outsize number of vulnerable GOP seats and it’s hard to imagine the majority not changing hands in a crushing Trump defeat.
30 March
GOP CANDIDATES WALK BACK PLEDGES TO SUPPORT NOMINEE Donald Trump said the Republican National Committee had treated him unfairly after refusing to say he’d back the GOP nominee if it was not him. Ted Cruz and John Kasich also wouldn’t say if they’d back the nominee when asked at CNN’s town hall Tuesday night. And Trump refused to fire campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was charged with the assault of reporter Michelle Fields. [Christina Wilkie, HuffPost]
28 March
Trump’s Top Strategist Just Quit And Wrote This Brutal Open Letter To Trump Voters
“I don’t think even Trump thought he would get this far. And I don’t even know that he wanted to, which is perhaps the scariest prospect of all. He certainly was never prepared or equipped to go all the way to the White House, but his ego has now taken over the driver’s seat, and nothing else matters. The Donald does not fail. The Donald does not have any weakness. The Donald is his own biggest enemy”
(Quartz Daily Brief) Donald Trump said America hasn’t been great in 116 years In an an extensive foreign-policy interview with The New York Times, the US presidential candidate gave his views on halting Saudi oil shipments, NATO (“it’s obsolete”), and Edward Snowden (“horrible”). No doubt in a gesture that was entirely unrelated, John Kerry said the presidential campaign was turning into a global “embarrassment.”
The inmates are truly running the asylum.
Why Won’t They Allow Precious Firearms At The GOP Convention?
It’s a monumental moment in history. Instead of the 2016 presidential candidates being the primary focus of current news stories, the venue hosting the Republican National Convention is the overriding issue crowding news sites.
And it all started with a petition. Posted on Monday on Change.org, the petition requested 5,000 signatures, a number that has since quadrupled, for the allowance of firearms inside the Convention, which takes place in Cleveland in July. According to Fox News, guns at the GOP Convention were banned by the Secret Service in 2012.
21 March
We met with Donald Trump. Electing him will still be a radical risk.
(WaPost editorial) AS DONALD Trump observed during a visit to The Post on Monday, we have been critical of his candidacy, so give him credit for agreeing to sit down with us and answer questions for more than an hour. Unfortunately, the visit provided no reassurance regarding Mr. Trump’s fitness for the presidency. “I’m not a radical person,” he told us as he was leaving. But his answers left little doubt how radical a risk the nation would be taking in entrusting the White House to him.
20 March
Stop mooning over John Kasich: He’s not more “reasonable” than Trump, he’s just better at camouflaging his agenda
The desire of moderates to push “moderation” as a valuable brand for its own sake is a terrible idea
‘Moderate’ John Kasich Is Actually Terrifying
Kasich may not be the racist egomaniac Trump is, but he’d take America backward in a thousand ways
(RollingStone) Despite his carefully cultivated appearance, and despite comparisons to the moron and the goblin left standing next to him, John Kasich is no moderate. A cursory look at his record proves the opposite: On the issues that matter, Kasich is a deep-red conservative who would do everything in his power to move America in an uglier, more regressive direction.
Let’s look at just one issue: the right of women in Ohio to get an abortion when they need one. As governor, Kasich has done everything in his power to put roadblock after roadblock in their way.
… Thanks to Kasich, women in Ohio who need an abortion must undergo an ultrasound — and a doctor must describe the fetus to them — a condescending, harassing provision that implies women don’t understand what being pregnant actually is, and that once they find out, they won’t want an abortion anymore.  …
That’s the real John Kasich. Not the friendly dad on the debate stage shaking his head at all the bickering. Not the guy who attended a same-sex wedding — the one who went, and still opposes same-sex marriage. Not the one who sounds reasonable and kind — the one who would keep a rape victim from learning where she can end her pregnancy.
The Republican Party has three choices left: a man who would fundamentally destroy the values that actually make America great, a conservative true believer who would take America backward in a thousand different directions… and Ted Cruz. Worth revisiting this article from 2015: : The Unpleasant Charisma of John Kasich
He’s tamed the federal budget and brought Ohio’s economy back from the brink. His next target might be the White House—and he could be 2016’s most interesting candidate.
17 March
Paul Ryan Doesn’t Think He’ll Have To Denounce Donald Trump
(HuffPost) Ryan still seems to be holding out hope that Trump won’t be the nominee, and that he won’t have to reconsider his “I’ll support whoever our nominee is“ pledge.
On Thursday, Ryan, who two months ago said it was “ridiculous“ for the press to suggest there could be a brokered Republican convention, seemed to acknowledge that a contested vote in Cleveland was a distinct possibility.
Ryan said the GOP nomination was a democratic process, and if a candidate doesn’t receive “sufficient delegates, then it goes to the convention, and the delegates make that decision.”
But he did add that he has a responsibility to speak out if anybody — “not just Donald Trump” — is misrepresenting the Republican party or “disfiguring conservatism,” and said he would continue to do that.
One thing Ryan was quite definitive about, however, was speculation that he might run for the White House himself. He recently responded “we’ll see“ when asked about running in a contested convention, and former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) recently said he’d like Ryan to become the nominee in a brokered convention as well. Speaking about the idea on Tuesday, Ryan was about as Shermanesque as a potential future candidate for the presidency can get.
“It’s not going to be me. It should be somebody running for president,” he said, adding that he wanted to “put this thing to rest and move on.
Donald Trump winning the US presidency is considered one of the top 10 risks facing the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.
(BBC) The research firm warns he could disrupt the global economy and heighten political and security risks in the US.
However, it does not expect Mr Trump to defeat Hillary Clinton who it sees as “his most likely Democratic contender”.
He is rated as riskier than Britain leaving the European Union or an armed clash in the South China Sea.
Reminder: John Kasich Is Also Evil
(Gawker) With Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio out of the running, Ohio Governor John Kasich is the establishment candidate no one saw coming. And sure, compared to the rest of the GOP’s increasingly terrifying sideshows in suits, Kasich comes across as sane. But don’t be fooled: John Kasich is just as much of a monster as the rest—he just hides it better
(NYT First Draft) Mr. Trump, a reality television star whose show “The Apprentice” was based on whittling down contenders, is fond of reminding people that, at one point, there were 17 candidates, most of whom he helped drive from the race. There are now three. Many of those fallen candidates had years of political experience, and teams of pollsters.
Mr. Trump quickly figured out the three issues that were important to the Republican primary electorate: trade, immigration and ending years of George W. Bush-era foreign policy pronouncements. And he did not have a pollster guiding him.
16 March
The GOP Elites Have Themselves to Blame
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship
Trump’s the symptom, not the disease. The Republican establishment has been infecting the body politic for years.
(Common Dreams) From their “Dark Money” bagman Karl Rove to their philosophical guru David Brooks, the GOP elites are in a tizzy over saving the Republican Party from Donald Trump and the other intruders, extremists and crackpots who have fallen in behind Trump as if he were the Pied Piper of Hamelin. But who will save the party from the elites?
Look around at just some of the other sheer lunacy their party perpetrates when it’s not trying to shut government down, redistribute wealth upward, and prevent the president of the United States (who, the last time we looked, has the constitutional right and mandate) from filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court.
How Rubio’s campaign failed: problems from the start
(Reuters) Marco Rubio had all that you need in a Republican presidential candidate: fluency on the issues, a conservative outlook, crossover appeal as a Cuban-American, and youthful good looks.
But in an election year when anyone associated with the Republican establishment is seen as tainted, Rubio ended his campaign after New York real estate mogul Donald Trump won the coveted primary, or nominating contest, in Rubio’s home state of Florida on Tuesday.
13 March
A Hail Mary heave to block Trump’s nomination — a series of Republican favorite-son candidacies could stop Trump from picking up the 1,237 delegates he needs to take the nomination.
12 March
Interesting suggestion – Paul Ryan is considered a moderate? Cannot believe that Mitt Romney might be the chosen candidate after his previous failures as a campaigner …
Nicholas Kristof writes in his newsletter:  Tuesday, when a number of states including Florida and Ohio hold their primaries, will be a big day for the presidential campaign. I do think that one plausible scenario is that no Republican candidate gets the necessary number of delegates, leading to a brokered convention. I think it then becomes difficult to give the nomination to someone who came in second or third, so the party nominates Paul Ryan (or Mitt Romney). I’d say that’s an unlikely scenario, but it’s one that people are talking about and is not impossible. What a political roller coaster this year is!
12 March
The geography of Trumpism
(NYT) The places where Trump has done well cut across many of the usual fault lines of American politics — North and South, liberal and conservative, rural and suburban. One element common to a significant share of his supporters is that they have largely missed the generation-long transition of the United States away from manufacturing and into a diverse, information-driven economy deeply intertwined with the rest of the world. …
Mr. Trump also has healthy shares of support from the affluent and the well educated — that point should not be lost. But in the places where support for him runs the strongest, the proportion of the white population that didn’t finish high school is relatively high. So is the proportion of working-age adults who neither have a job nor are looking for one. The third-strongest correlation among hundreds of variables tested: the preponderance of mobile homes.
“It’s a nonurban, blue-collar and now apparently quite angry population,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. “They’re not people who have moved around a lot, and things have been changing away from them, but they live in areas that feel stagnant in a lot of ways.”
11 March
At Nancy Reagan’s Funeral, Honoring the Queen of a Republican Camelot
(NYT) Nancy Reagan was memorialized at her funeral at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Friday, closing a chapter of history revered by conservatives as the Republican Camelot.
Eulogists paid tribute to the former first lady whose fierce, unwavering devotion was essential to Ronald Reagan’s success. But mourners were also saying goodbye to an era in the 1980s that has been romanticized by time — and the current meltdown of order and civility in Republican politics.
Mrs. Reagan planned every detail, including the guest list. Her funeral also served as a high-level mixer for opposing sides of the American establishment: Michelle Obama was there, as were two former Democratic first ladies, Hillary Clinton and Rosalynn Carter. So was Caroline Kennedy, the United States ambassador to Japan. From the Republican side came former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura. Gov. Jerry Brown of California, whose father, Edmund G. Brown, lost to Mr. Reagan in the 1966 election for governor, was there, too. So was Mr. Brown’s immediate predecessor, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who sat next to his wife, the former television reporter Maria Shriver.
Even the rivals in Thursday night’s Republican debate, which began with a moment of silence in Mrs. Reagan’s honor, seemed to mind their manners as a kind of homage to her notions of decorum. Donald J. Trump marveled at how “civil” the discussion had turned.
Neil Gabler: Blowing the Biggest Political Story of the Last Fifty Years
The shocking story isn’t the rise of Donald Trump but how the GOP slowly morphed into a party of hate and obstruction.
(Moyers & company) … the real story – one the popularity of Trump’s candidacy has revealed and inarguably the biggest political story of the last 50 years — is the decades-long transformation of Republicanism from a business-centered, small town, white Protestant set of beliefs into quite possibly America’s primary institutional force of bigotry, intellectual dishonesty, ignorance, warmongering, intractability and cruelty against the vulnerable and powerless. …
Something happened in American politics over the last 25 or 30 years to release our demons and remove our shame. The media didn’t want to look. Now Trump has come along to reap what the conservatives had sown, and stir up those demons, and the media are suddenly in high dudgeon. Where were they when America needed them?
Why Trump’s Endorsements Should Scare Your Pants Off
Collaborators like Ben Carson are just as dangerous as fanatics
(Rolling Stone) All along, Beltway pundits have insisted that Trump could never win because there just aren’t enough people in America who are that stupid. What those people missed is that there are always plenty of otherwise sane people who tend to fold and hop in line at the first show of strength.
Christie was the first of the major politicians, and there will be more. The next step will probably be a series of defections in the media and among the corporate donor class. They won’t be fanatics. But like Christie on stage on Super Tuesday, they’ll keep their mouths shut. And that will be enough.
3 March
HRH_007 re Donald Trump
Mitt Romney did Donald Trump a BIG favor by attacking him
Mitt Romney savaged Donald Trump as deeply dishonest and fundamentally unelectable in a much-touted speech in Utah today, an attempt by the 2012 Republican presidential nominee to force a reexamination of the real estate billionaire before he gets any closer to locking up the GOP nomination. …
Romney is the face of the establishment. …
He’s also the embodiment of everything Trump has built his entire campaign against. Romney is too cautious, too mannerly, not tough enough for Trump’s taste. He’s the face of a Republican Party that lost twice to Barack Obama. He’s part of the problem, not the solution. (CNN) Romney implores: Bring down Trump
2 March
Americans, Brace Yourselves for the Bunga Bunga
Like Silvio Berlusconi, Donald Trump is entertaining the masses. He’s also damaging his country’s democracy for a generation
(Foreign Policy) Now that Super Tuesday has brought the Republican nomination, and possibly the White House, within the grasp of Donald Trump, my home country of Italy may have a few lessons to offer America in dealing with his particular brand of leadership. No, not from our time under Mussolini — though Il Duce’s unexpected relevance in an American presidential campaign in 2016 is indeed unsettling. I’m thinking rather of what Italian politics suffered during the 1990s and 2000s, when we elected a billionaire with an abrasive style and a populist flair to govern us. The name of our Trump was Silvio Berlusconi and — spoiler alert — he did not make Italy great again.
As Tony Deutsch comments so accurately: Berlusconi’s damage was limited to Italy. Merkel and Sarkozi treated him as a bad joke, the damage to the EU was minimal. An American president is not subject to that kind of damage control.
1 March
As Donald Trump Rolls Up Victories, the G.O.P. Split Widens to a Chasm
(NYT) Even as he rolled up commanding victories in seven states on Tuesday, Mr. Trump confronted a loud and persistent refusal to rally around him as leading figures in his own party denounced his slow disavowal of white supremacists, elected officials boldly discouraged constituents from backing him, and lifelong Republicans declared that they would boycott the election if he is their nominee.
ANALYSIS: Super Tuesday Bringing Super Meltdown to Republican Party
(ABC) Faced with the increasing likelihood of a Donald Trump nomination, the Republican Party and its voters are headed in opposite directions — with destructive potential consequences the likes of which no major political party has seen in more than a century.
Republican voters are on the verge of selecting a nominee. The party establishment, meanwhile, is largely in panic mode — with talk of a contested convention or third-party candidacies suddenly the most realistic ways to block a candidate they fear will harm the GOP for decades.
(NYT First Draft on politics) Super Tuesday offers Mr. Trump an opportunity to send a resounding message about the depth and breadth of his support. His string of recent victories — in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — suggests his anti-establishment message has wide appeal. And while he might not be able to overtake Senator Ted Cruz in his home state, Texas, were Mr. Trump to sweep the remaining 10 states where Republicans are voting, winning in nearly every region of the country on a single day, there would be little doubt he is positioned to become the Republican standard-bearer.
Mr. Trump has begun to render obsolete the defining divisions of region, religion and ideology that have characterized recent Republican presidential primaries. If he can do so on a wider map — winning evangelical conservatives in the rural South and secular moderates in the urban Northeast — he will demonstrate that he is leading a realignment and creating something new: a Trump coalition.
The Race Within a Race
Mr. Trump is favored on Tuesday in every state except Texas, but the battle between Mr. Cruz and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida for second place is an important one. If one of the freshman senators were to emerge as a decisive runner-up, he could make the case that the other should exit the race to give the party a better chance at stopping Mr. Trump.

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