Waiting for a Volunteer Mouse
Recall the tale of the mouse who had a brilliant idea to tie a bell on a the cat’s tail so they would know when the cat was around? The mouse who hatched the plan called for volunteers. No one stepped up.
And so it is with the Republican party. Everyone sees the need to take on a cat named Trump, but no volunteers can be found.
Cat and Mouse Game
The New York Times phrases the cat and mouse game this way: Wary of Donald Trump, G.O.P. Leaders Are Caught in a Standoff.
For months, much of the Republican Party’s establishment has been uneasy about the rise of Donald J. Trump, concerned that he was overwhelming the presidential primary contest and encouraging other candidates to mimic his incendiary speech. Now, though, irritation is giving way to panic as it becomes increasingly plausible that Mr. Trump could be the party’s standard-bearer and imperil the careers of other Republicans.
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Many leading Republican officials, strategists and donors now say they fear that Mr. Trump’s nomination would lead to an electoral wipeout, a sweeping defeat that could undo some of the gains Republicans have made in recent congressional, state and local elections. But in a party that lacks a true leader or anything in the way of consensus — and with the combative Mr. Trump certain to scorch anyone who takes him on — a fierce dispute has arisen about what can be done to stop his candidacy and whether anyone should even try.
That has led to a standoff of sorts: Almost everyone in the party’s upper echelons agrees something must be done, and almost no one is willing to do it.
“You have to deal with Trump berating you every day of the week,” explained a strategist briefed on the thinking of both groups [hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer and another led by the industrialists Charles G. and David H. Koch].
“I think it would play into his hands and only validate him,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee. “A ‘Stop Trump’ effort wouldn’t work, and it might help him.”
Triumph of Trumpism
Financial Times writer Edwards Luce proclaims Trumpism has Triumphed, Whoever Wins the Republican Nomination.
Sinclair Lewis, the American novelist, is supposed to have said: “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross”. It has long been easy — far too easy — to write off Donald Trump as a self-promoting celebrity with little chance of winning the White House. His chances remain low (Nate Silver, the guru of election data, puts them at 10 per cent, which is nevertheless five times more than when he started). But our lens is still too rosy. Whether Mr Trump defies the odds, or eventually fizzles out, is beside the point. The outrageousness of his success has paved the way for others to try. Mr Trump’s invective has disrupted the character of US politics. It will be hard to change.
For proof of that, look no further than Mr Trump’s “moderate” rivals in the Republican race. Instead of offering an alternative, mainstream candidates are moving ever closer towards Mr Trump’s nativism. Jeb Bush, the original establishment favourite, now believes the US should only accept Syrian refugees if they are Christian. This year Mr Bush referred to children of undocumented aliens as “anchor babies” — so named because the illegal immigrants allegedly come to the US to ensure their unborn will have citizenship. Contrast this to what he said in February before Mr Trump entered the race: “We should welcome all immigrants,” Mr Bush told the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “[As Americans] we come in 34 different flavours.”
Chris Christie, the ultimate moderate, since he governs the Democratic state of New Jersey, believes the US should accept no Syrian refugees at all regardless of religious background, even if they are “three-year-old orphans”.
Meanwhile, John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, and ultimate insider, last week said that the US should set up a federal agency to promote Judeo-Christian values. Until Mr Trump, most Republicans rejected the “clash of civilisations” view of the world. Now it is normal.
With rivals such as this, does Mr Trump need friends? It will become ever harder for the likes of Messrs Bush, Christie and Kasich to disown what they have said. All three have tried to qualify their various Trumpist lapses. But such straying is occurring more often and few notice their qualifications. Moreover, their self-editing reinforces Mr Trump’s contention that the Republican establishment is run by a bunch of mealy-mouths who lack conviction.
One lesson of Mr Trump’s rise is that voters reward clarity. Having already muddied the waters, moderates are in little position to bring Mr Trump down when they think he goes too far. Last week, Mr Trump said there should be a database of Muslim Americans. He even hinted that they should carry identity cards. Few paid attention to his rivals’ tut tutting. The Republican establishment is paralysed with fear. Appeasing him makes him worse. … His brand of politics has already been validated.
Triumph of LePenism
In France, voters on the left and center-right think Marine Le Pen’s National Front (FN) party would be a disaster for the country. FN has never won a regional election. Care to guess who is leading the polls?
Breitbart reports Marine Le Pen And Front National Surge In French Regional Elections.
Ms. Le Pen is now the overwhelming favourite to capture north-western France and the Marseille-Nice region in elections set for the next two weekends, according to polls published yesterday. Such is the backing for the party that it might harvest as many votes as its conservative and centrist rivals combined.
The FN is also running neck-and-neck with Nicolas Sarkozy’s centre-right party, Les Républicains, in the Burgundy-Franche-Comté region in eastern France.
A series of regional polls by BVA on Sunday, and published by the Independent, showed the FN gaining between 4 and 7 per cent compared to similar polls before the terrorist assault on Paris.
The FN has never won a regional government before. The regional elections are the first political test for French President Francois Hollande since the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. With the country reeling from that violence and grappling with border controls, FN candidates are showing “a significant increase” in support across the country, BVA said.
The FN would get 28 per cent of votes in the first round of elections starting Saturday, the same as a combination of parties including the Republicans and the centrist MoDem, according to an Ifop opinion poll published in Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper.
Her opponents try and define her message as “racist” and “xenophobic” when she says: “The absolute rejection of Islamic fundamentalism must be proclaimed loudly and clearly” but voters are listening in ever increasing numbers.
Ms. Le Pen would become a representative for the North Pas de Calais-Picardie region if the latest polls prove correct. Her niece, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, is the party’s candidate to lead the Provence-Côte d’Azur region.
Le Pen Blasts EU
Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French National Front party, has slammed the EU’s handling of foreign and migrant policy, saying that current problems in France stem from a lack of foresight in geopolitics and ‘blind conformity in relations with Islamist states.’
Le Pen said that problems in France are rooted in the country’s “crazy immigration policy, made without discernment, and with the abandoning of the principle of assimilation.”
Le Pen went on to remark that “clandestine people and those who spread hatred should be systematically expelled to their countries of origin.”
“The government and its president are confined to symbols. They don’t fear a paradox when they call people to wave the national flag, to invoke the nation but always appeal to post-national logic, meaning anti-national from Brussels.”
Le Pen is currently on trial in Lyons facing hate speech charges for comments made at a rally in 2010, when she compared Muslims praying in the streets to the Nazi occupation. She has denied any wrongdoing, but could face up to a year in prison if found guilty of inciting racial hatred.
Middle Ground Anywhere?
Voters in the US have to choose between the likes of Clinton (who will carry on Obama’s open door refugee policy), and someone like Donald Trump, or even worse yet, John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, who said the US should set up a federal agency to promote Judeo-Christian values.
In Germany, Merkel’s open door policy has led to “Peak Merkel” and increasing support for the Euroskeptic, anti-immigration AfD party. Even members of Merkel’s party are fed up with her stance.
In France, the established parties are waiting for someone to take on Le Pen, while increasingly promoting anti-immigration policies she supports.
Not a mouse can be found in the US or in France, willing to tie a warning bell on the lead cat’s tail. Voters are caught in the middle, having to choose between extreme candidates on every issue from abortion to immigration to war-mongering to torture.
Trump’s increasingly extreme message, coupled with his announcement he supports totally discredited torture procedures such as waterboarding, makes Trump hard to take? But what is the alternative?
- Clinton’s proposal to take in 65,000 Syrians as a “good start”
- Trump’s national database of Muslim Americans coupled with his proposal to close mosques
- Kasich’s federal agency to promote Judeo-Christian values
- Flip-flopping of Bush regarding “anchor babies”
- Ted Cruz’s proposal to take Christian Syrians but not Muslims
And that’s just one issue.
Do you want Warmonger Clinton on the left? Warmongers Cruz, Rubio, or Graham, on the right?
Abortion with no restrictions? No abortions at all?
In retrospect, it’s not so much a triumph of Trumpism, but rather a triumph of extremism on nearly every issue, on both sides of the aisle. There is not much of a middle ground on anything. Immigration just happens to be the hot button at the moment.
None of the Above
My preferred choice would be a Libertarian like Ron Paul. But a middle-of-the-road candidate with moderate views on tax hikes, spending cuts, welfare, military spending, abortion, etc., would likely win a presidential election by a landslide except for one not-so-small problem: only extreme candidates can get nominated.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock