Trump may well be the likely nominee. That may be regretted as it portends an unnecessary type and level of struggle for the general election
On Tuesday, the day after the Iowa caucuses, Gary Bauer writing at American Values, a former candidate for the Republican presidential nomination himself, someone who we have frequently referred to, wrote a commentary that irked me enough to write a response to what I interpreted as its triumphalism and non-sequiturs as regards the results Monday night. In subsequent days, seeing others write far more irksome pieces I should be busy indeed if I was so compelled but this will serve as vehicle enough. Set forth below with edits for this publication and a political cartoon from the estimable Michael Ramirez, sometimes wrong but always biting.
(To Gary Bauer)
Your commentary regarding the money spent in the Iowa caucuses is wanting while the whole of the article has the feel triumphalism. It is the general election which all this is supposed to be about and in my judgement trepidation is in order if Trump is the nominee. Accordingly, to paraphrase William F Buckley ~~ it ought to be about the best to serve who can also win. Trump established himself as not all that good an executive compared to Ron DeSantis and as far as winning, any of four Republican candidates going into the Iowa precinct caucuses could beat Joe Biden given Biden’s terrible polling.
Regarding your comments my point / counterpoints follow.
In EOD-1-16-24 you say:
To win a clear majority of the vote on a night of severe weather and ice-covered roads was extraordinary.
Why? I live in Iowa, it was darn cold Monday night and the plows had not been through a lot of the side streets. I attended my precinct serving as a party official and have attended my precinct caucuses since at least 1980. You have campaigned in Iowa. Does not the weather affect every camp’s turnout, particularly if the bad weather was not localized (and it was not)? Would the same percentages in balmy weather not be extraordinary? That is a neutral observation from me as a DeSantis supporter.
You refer to a “clear majority”. Well the process does produce a hard-count and Trump obtained 51% and the others 49% combined. But that means barely half of the Republicans who felt the call to show up thought Trump the best candidate to go forward. Or did they? For the most part every Republican candidate’s supporters are desperate to get the country back. However I think a lot of the Trump vote was a sort of catharsis, sentiment or sympathy and would not survive as fully had Trump not been so “clever” — as in lacking the integrity to debate the others — rather than preside over controlled rallies, fan boy interviews, and tossing epithets at his opponents — the substance of his campaign. Too many of Trump’s supporters are oblivious to the effect of Trump’s personality on the majority of women voters. It is not intelligent voting but it is voting. For the most part with no-party women it is not really issues as much as personality. That is driving a lot of the Haley vote and will be more pronounced in the general.
Given Biden as the opponent, Trump or DeSantis could get 60% of the male vote. I think DeSantis has a better chance at surpassing the 40% of the female vote needed and with enough to overcome the Democrat cheating.
The general election campaign that can be built around such a photogenic family, the articulate wife with a compelling story of her own and the candidate’s personal record hasn’t happened for Republicans in modern history (perhaps ever) or for Democrats in 64 years and the Dems sure as heck do not have such a compelling combination now. This could be a popular and an electoral win the Dems can not cheat enough to alter. That is unless you think Trump would never endorse DeSantis and takes his devotees to a write-in campaign. Ask yourself, what kind of person then is Trump now as he at least allows talk of doing that as he refuses to pledge to support the Republican nominee?
IS THERE ANY ONE OF THOSE ACTIVELY CAMPAIGNING FOR THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION THAT YOU WOULD NOT SUPPORT OVER A DEMOCRAT, AND I MEAN ANY DEMOCRAT ON THE POLITICAL SCENE TODAY? The only rational CONSERVATIVE decision is no there is not, so how can you give any credence to the disturbing indeed disqualifying attitude of Trump? If you have not then please explain why as to your answer and why Trump should get away with it?
We know Trump is an egotist, it comes out in every rally and I have attended five and listened to others. It is no longer something I can pass off as a shtick. It hit me hardest due to his lack of contriteness over the iatrogenic devastation of Project Warped Speed. But I assume you will make excuses for him on that . . . he meant well . . . he was mislead — let’s agree to disagree on his culpability on that.
However, regarding Trump’s incredible ego, how do you explain Trump’s response to questions about Nikki Haley’s Civil War comments? Ponder Trump’s remarks and get back to your readers on that. Trump’s comments are jaw-dropping ignorant as he implies he is well-read on the Civil War while implying if only he had been there to employ his negotiation skills . . . ( I guess the same ones that got the wall built, Mexico to pay for it, Obama Care fixed, gargantuan deficit spending packages approved perpetuating big-government, and not being able to “negotiate” /parlay his true successes juxtaposed to a Joe Biden in spite of Democrat cheating . . .
Read it and other of Trumps pontifications honestly and you will understand how a lot of people may be seeing Trump’s ramblings as approaching Joe Biden level. With increasing years the preciseness, the elocution, not to mention propriety are harder to pass off in “context”.
Believe it or not, Trump was outspent in Iowa by both DeSantis and Haley. In fact, Trump spent $340 per vote cast for him, while DeSantis spent $1,697 per vote and Haley spent $1,797 per vote.
The spending angle you emphasize as regards the Iowa caucuses is askew. They are meaningless figures unless you think Trump was on the same footing starting from scratch introducing himself to Iowans and did not have the benefit of the lions share of free media from outlets like yours and a couple dozen others I monitor, an ongoing apologia that Republican caucus goers tune in to far more frequently than liberal legacy media. Over the last seven years the value of that far eclipses the paid media figures in your gee-whiz comparison.
Oh to be sure there have been critiques of Trump in those news and commentary outlets but the zeitgeist has been sympathetic over the law-fare being waged against Trump. It is a sentiment I largely share but I believe not one that makes him either a great executive or the only candidate who can win or the best candidate to go forward. I also think that sentiment should not douse the reality that Trump was not shy about using law-fare in his business dealings to get what he wanted, including the use of eminent domain, law-suits, bankruptcy, and other species of law-fare. Do you deny that?
The criminal charges are what I have the most personal sympathy for Trump about. But Trump is not naive, nor was he a non-politician babe in the woods when he got to DC. Besides his 8 years pursuing the presidency he has been playing politics at local state and national levels to get the things done he wanted. Who seriously believes someone coming out of the rough and tumble of New York City politics can innocently claim ignorance of treachery and double dealings in politics. Yet Trump’s ego lets him be rolled repeatedly.
Other factors that also negate any validity to the implication you would like to impart to the spending totals comes from the very article you reference for the figures you use. Quoting that article: “Trump has largely avoided criticism on the Iowa airwaves, as Haley and DeSantis have devoted only a fraction of their ad budgets to targeting the front-runner compared to the sums they’ve directed toward attacking each other. Emphasis mine. Paraphrasing: By their analysis of airwave spending, only a fraction of the ad budgets targeted the front-runner (Trump) compared to the sums they directed toward attacking each other.
I believe not going somewhat negative early on, was a mistaken call by DeSantis. Whether not doing so was out of deference or to let Trump blabber on about disloyalty or something when Trump is one of the most disloyal Republicans I have seen in my decades of political involvement including those who actually abandon the party, and I live in Jim Leach’s old district. It is Trumps continuous veiled threat. Clearly he is mostly about Trump, not about Republicans, the conservative alternative party winning.
A short-time Republican even today Trump has less creds than DeSantis as to elected executive service, not to mention that DeSantis was a MAGA (TEA Party) type Republican winning on his own fighting the good fight in congress when Trump was still praising Hillary. May I mention that middle-class raised DeSantis chose service to country out of school rather than a no doubt lucrative career as a Yale then Harvard Law grad. Trump chose real-estate and dating.
Trump is definitively disloyal to the party. Refusing to pledge to support the considered opinion of the Republican caucus and primary voters, a disqualifying matter ironically put in place to protect him, another aspect to his disloyalty. Then there is his refusing to debate, an insult to the process, however clumsy it is an important way for people to evaluate candidates under pressure as they age rather than controlled environments.
And his accusative aura generates the return favor because he hires based on flattery and perhaps boob size. His disparagement of Republican processes (you do remember his claim that he was cheated out of Iowa in 2016) the Party whose nomination he still covets because he needs to be on the ballot but has never cheated him but he and his devotees have cheated it, by bullying past unifying requirements and processes by threatening to bolt on any pretext. The admittedly pathetic apparat he installed of course looks the other way. Trump’s aura is disloyalty and privilege among the worst order as it has been his pattern in his personal life.
Not going more negative earlier was particularly a mistake (in hindsight) for DeSantis for the above reasons and Trumps predictable MO. While all the candidates had some marginal lifting done for them by Haley’s friends at AFP and their poorly defined attack line on Trump — “chaos” “can’t win” — however well funded — supposedly allowing them to take the high road or something — and go nowhere. The candidate who fleshes out with insightful accuracy Trump’s failures , as a personnel executive, as a big spender, as a do little or do nothing on health care and social security, as actually a squish on key aspects of the culture wars along with Haley, but especially for the iatrogenic devastation he helped inflict with HIS project “warped speed”. A mass scale genetic manipulation foisted (I did not say forced but that is a subtlety of propaganda on his watch producing the same effect) on the public allowing the uninformed use of humans as lab mice. His warped speed only successfully immunized big pharma while lining their pockets. Whatever could possibly go wrong did.
This from Mr. “stand-up to corporate America, stand up to the bureaucracy”. Trump was too easily rolled and all it took was his distractions and some flattery, (something that can be built in again by the Swamp) a guy who was too interested in his next election, snap decisions rather than educating himself about what was being done what the concoction really was, that he was telling people to be like lab-mice. And don’t get me started on his current continued promised pay-offs to Big Ethanol and Big Wind dominating Iowa’s corn crop for gas tanks instead of bellies in the face of devastating food inflation.
I saw or heard a lot of ads. Millions from each went to ad runs not against Trump but which in essence benefited Trump in that they tore down each other rather than call out Trump early on for his many clear shortcomings as an executive. To be sure money was spent to attack Trump but the greater amount to attack one another reduces the gee wiz total you dramatize does it not? Add in the value of “earned” media from outlets actually tuned into by conservative voters who ignore mainstream media when comparing to paid media makes the isolation of raw numbers meaningless.
This New York Times article that I just noticed as I write this also lends support to the irrelevance of the air-time dollars spent as well. In other words maybe they all wasted their money but Trump then prevails with all the hagiography in outlets like yours. Trump did some of what we paid him to do. That is a pure Trumpian analysis from a guy who made a lot of his celebrity bones firing people and moving on to whomever he thought were better choices (a pattern his personal life as well). We are the board he is but CEO. We get to hire and fire. It is a Trump thing.
And to be sure Trump’s opponents have raised a lot of money but so has Trump. He just did not spend as much in Iowa as a percentage of what he has been raising as his legal bills are formidable and it is undeniable that millions of his allied pac money goes to that while raising it in part on the theme of being assaulted by “RINO’s”. He could be laying waste to Democrats instead he is being tied up in court, all part of the plan (and vulnerability) while we give him a lot of sympathy votes and cash. But we do not owe Trump any more than he owes Rudy Giuliani.
“Some people say that if the other candidates had united around one alternative, the results would have essentially been a tie. But that doesn’t reflect reality.”
The first sentance is of course a tautology. That “it does not reflect reality” (you do not say why) might depend on Trump’s propensity to “eat a live rat on stage”(say or do something really stupid for no good reason) and with his mouth because it is too late after the nomination and destroy OUR chances (should he be the nominee) at defeating EVEN Joe Biden which I believe any of the now three remaining candidates could do (including Trump if he could stifle himself having contributed to his own failure against Biden because of his public persona last time around. I still work full-time in a shop, all male, I had four male siblings growing up and banter, insult, are /were part of the interplay but that did/does not happen toward women when they can hear it. It seems most men know they don’t like it when it is directed at them regardless of how serious. Seeing it in a leader many reject him on that basis. However superficial it is that simple and Trump does not get it, and that is his woman problem and why another politician with similar to Trump policies would have won in 2020 overcoming the cheating.
Vivek Ramaswamy dropped out of the race last night and threw his support to Trump. If DeSantis drops out, polling shows that the majority of his voters would back Trump. Combined, Trump, DeSantis and Ramaswamy won 80% of the vote last night.
And in all seriousness if Trump became debilitated (he is not likely to die) as he is it appears “obese” and seventy-eight would not a great majority of his fans support a Ron DeSantis? So what does polling show if Trump drops out? And how much does that matter when to be president one must be elected in a general plebiscite not a party plebiscite. Trump can get 60% of the men vote. Will he , can he, get at least 40% of the women vote at least in enough of the electoral college numerating states? It was a women problem before with Trump but not on issues as much as his aura — his mouth, his formulations, his insults. Do you deny that? Mushy no-party women in the general are more a risk with Trump.
In this 2024 election we are in a warped way lucky to face Joe Biden and have the Democrat bench so weak. We ought to do this with the right guy. All the more reason to elect a superior executive, with more appeal to younger people including women, one who has not signaled revenge (not a great selling point in the general) and who is not a lame duck out of the gate, and is still so easily distracted by flattery, celebrity and flatterers,
A few weeks ago, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who has been a real star in the past month as she took on the academic establishment, endorsed Donald Trump. Last night, she called on the other candidates to step aside.
Yes well Chip Roy and Tom Massie have called on Trump to step aside. So, what is your point. She has tied herself to Trump. As has now Ted Cruz who is up for reelection. Sort of like Chuck Grassley did, incredibly.
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich put it bluntly when he told Sean Hannity last night, “He’s the nominee. Get over it. He is the nominee. He’s going to win the nomination.”
Let me put it bluntly Newt: Maybe so but I want to win THE GENERAL with a guy with better executive talent and I think the greater appeal to women to dampen their anti-Trump attitude however superficial it is, and who has an appealing young family. I want to win with someone with an actual longer MAGA resume, more articulate, more insightful, less prone to eating a live rat on stage, a better fighter not a flailer, a veteran from the middle class who chose service to country at a young age compared to Trump who was too busy to do so as it might interfere with his dating schedule.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention that former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson also dropped out after finishing in sixth place with less than 200 votes.
Gee wiz if he spent $360,000, he would have surpassed Nikki in cost per vote.
Speaking of RINOs as Trump does everyone (although rendering it meaningless as he bandies it about so ridiculously) . . . seriously Chip Roy a RINO?! We have problems with Hutchinson to be sure but what is a better definition of a RINO then the disuniting tactic of someone who refuses to pledge to support the nominee of the Party whose nomination he covets, the result of grassroots participation, and who refuses to even recognize longer serving Republicans then him on a debate stage? So far that includes Christie (who changed his mind after pledging to do so to get on stage now taking it back, and Trump
In conclusion I will grant Trump is a competent professional wrestling impresario with a feel for the audience. As to the latter I am personally feeling vibes of a sort of country-club or manor-born demeanor (the depth and elocutions) who is willing to mix it up with the little people and pretend he is one of them.