Jeb Bush didn't stand up to Trump convincingly enough but he hit the nail on the head in December when he labeled Trump the "chaos candidate." Too bad no one was paying any attention to Bush by then. Trump wants chaos. He's learned how to profit when everything seems to be falling apart; it's part of his business model-- part of whatever passes for a creed he has. It's why he makes oafish remarks that celebrate the housing collapse and it's informed his decisions on his own serial bankruptcies. And it accounts for the war he's promulgating against Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich and Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz. Mark Halperin reported Friday that "Trump plans to create and fund super-PACs specifically aimed at ending the political careers of Ted Cruz and John Kasich should either run for office again" and that he'd put $20 million into them, maybe more. "Kasich, 64," he wrote, "cannot run again for Ohio governor due to the state’s term limits. The 45-year-old Cruz is up for re-election in 2018. Both men have indicated an interest in running for president again in 2020, when they would either face Hillary Clinton or mount a primary challenge to a sitting Republican, Trump."
Kasich, who Trump offered to make his running mate and give control of domestic and foreign affairs, predicted that Trump probably can't win his state. No Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio. Campaigning for a Republican congressional candidate in Bucks County Friday, Kasich said that "Ohio's a snapshot of the country. People in Ohio want to see a positive agenda, a positive way to move forward." He said he wouldn't actively campaign against Trump, refused to say he would even vote for him and seems unlikely to be interested in activating the Republican Party machinery in Ohio on Trump's behalf, concentrating instead on trying to help endangered Rob Portman win his Senate reelection bid.
Trump has been very negative about Ohio lately-- forcing the host delegation to sit behind Pennsylvania at the convention, a kind of collective punishment-- and has said he thinks he can make up the loss of Ohio by winning bright blue states like New Jersey and California. Republican Party leaders have asked him to not waste his resources and energy campaigning in New Jersey and California.
Trump probably figures after he stands in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoots someone and still wins the GOP primary, he can toss hand grenades down 6th Street in Austin, at the Alamo or from the 75th floor of the JPMorgan Chase Tower in Houston without losing Texas in November. And it speaks to the dysfunction and atrophy of the Texas Democratic Party that he could well be right. The last Democrat to win a presidential election in Texas was when Jimmy Carter beat Jerry Ford there in 1976. More recently, Democrats struggle to get 40% of the vote-- neither Gore nor Kerry did and Obama wound up with just 41.4% in 2012. But Trump's war against Ted Cruz, who may be hated by normal people everywhere, is regarded as something of a principled hero in his home state, he may actually be putting Texas into play.
In this year's Texas primaries, 2,832,234 Republicans voted while just 1,433,908 Democrats went to the polls. Texas has 254 counties. Trump won 6 of them, including Hudspeth County east of El Paso where he took 76 votes to Ted Cruz's 71, and Zapata County down on the Rio Grande, where Trump's 34 votes bested Cruz's 32 votes. But in the big counties that determine election outcomes, Trump got wiped out. The biggest county in the state is Harris County (Houston), population 4,441,370. This was how the votes panned out in Harris Co:
• Hillary- 156,729
• Cruz- 147,721
• Trump- 79,793
• Bernie- 63,246
• Rubio- 63,199
The second biggest county-- population 2,518,638-- is Dallas County, not exactly Trump country either... not by any stretch of the imagination:
• Hillary- 113,574
• Cruz- 61,072
• Rubio- 45,962
• Bernie- 44,231
• Trump- 43,301
Right next door is Tarrant County, basically Ft. Worth, with a population of 1,945,360... still not Trump territory.
• Cruz- 88,867
• Hillary- 67,590
• Trump- 56,023
• Rubio- 43,689
• Bernie- 35,507
Fast-growing Bexar County-- San Antonio-- is the 4th biggest county with 1,855,86 and Trump flopped there too, with less support than Bernie and barely beating Rubio.
• Hillary- 76,5012
• Cruz- 54,115
• Bernie- 36,720
• Trump- 32,701
• Rubio- 30,683
You'd probably expect trouble for Trumpism in Austin, seat of the 5th biggest county in the state-- and you'd be correct. The population is 1,151,145 and this was the breakdown in the primaries-- in which Trump came in last of all the candidates:
• Bernie- 73,889
• Hillary- 69,314
• Cruz- 25,757
• Rubio- 24,815
• Trump- 21,469
Collin County (Plano, just north of Dallas) is the 6th biggest with a population of 885,241. It's a deep red stronghold... but wasn't Trumpish either, the kind of place where he's got to win over the Cruz voters if he hopes to win the more important Republican state in the entire country:
• Cruz- 46,094
• Trump- 29,772
• Rubio- 27,082
• Hillary- 23,591
• Bernie- 16,082
Next in population comes El Paso County, with 833,487 people. I guess they never heard of Trump out there; he came in dead last.
• Hillary- 36,067
• Bernie- 17,176
• Cruz- 10,919
• Rubio- 7,378
• Trump- 7,270
Hidalgo County (population 831,073) is down in the Rio Grande Valley and Trump wouldn't win any of his beauty pageants there either:
• Hillary- 40,276
• Bernie- 15,894
• Cruz- 7,098
• Trump- 5,521
• Rubio- 4,153
Back into the North Texas red-belt, next up is Denton County north of Ft. Worth, with a population of 753,363-- lots of people, mostly Republicans, but, again, Trump should be wooing the Cruz voters, not alienating them.
• Cruz- 39,404
• Trump- 24,341
• Rubio- 21,007
• Hillary- 16,470
• Bernie- 15,750
Ft. Bend County, southwest of Houston is the 10th biggest-- population 685,345-- and it is part of the suburban Republican heartland.
• Cruz- 31,422
• Hillary- 29,248
• Trump- 16,924
• Rubio- 13,388
• Bernie- 9,765
Montgomery County (population 518,947), also suburban Houston, is Texas' 11th biggest and is very, very reliably Republican, the kind of place that allows the GOP to run up huge statewide totals election after election.If Trump wins over the Cruz voters in places like the Houston 'burbs, he won't have to worry about Clinton doing what no other Democrat has managed since Carter.
• Cruz- 43,797
• Trump- 24,150
• Rubio- 13,398
• Hillary- 7,540
• Bernie- 5,040
And let's round this little survey out with an even dozen counties, Williamson, the very Republican north Austin suburbs, being the 12th biggest in the state with 489,250 people.
• Cruz- 23,880
• Trump- 17,318
• Hillary- 16,374
• Rubio- 14,716
• Bernie- 14,501
One deranged Trump operative, Michael Caputo has joined with lunatics like Sarah Palin in prosecuting Trump's war against Cruz. Caputo is trying to lure Rick Perry-- who endorsed Trump after calling him a "barking carnival act"-- into running against Cruz. Caputo has been pushing a news story about Cruz campaigning for a far right extremist state Senator, Mike Crane, in his runoff against Drew Ferguson for the congressional seat being vacated by Lynn Westmoreland. Ferguson is best known for telling people it's OK to shoot policemen, an extreme position on the far right fringes of the Republican Party. This is the ad on TV now while Cruz is in Georgia campaigning for Crane:
This is right up Trump's alley and Cruz is already getting bad press for it in Georgia. In fact, the Georgia Fraternal Order of Police is protesting Cruz. The group's vice president said Georgia police are disappointed in Cruz for coming to Crane's aid. "With the recent events in Dallas, Texas, I find it sad that Senator Cruz would allow himself to be pulled into the political cesspool by a candidate who has openly promoted shooting law enforcement officers."
I was shocked to read in the NY Times that far right sociopath and hedge fund crook, Robert Mercer, who shoveled at least $13,500,400-- but likely far more-- into Cruz's campaign this year, publicly excoriated Cruz for being mean to Trumpy-the-Clown. They accused him of breaking his pledge to support Trump and then accused Hillary of plotting to "repeal both the First and Second Amendments of the Bill of Rights." Vegas Mafia gambling czar and Republican Party kingpin Sheldon Adelson is also mad and barred Cruz from his suite after he spoke at the convention.
Meanwhile, transplanted Texan GOP activist Chris Ladd, now living in Illinois, posted the Willie Nelson video below and wrote an open letter of resignation to York Township Republican Committee Chairman Cuzzone:
The Iraq War, the financial meltdown, the utter failure of supply-side theory, climate denial, and our strange pursuit of theocratic legislation have all been troubling. Yet it seemed that America’s party of commerce, trade, and pragmatism might still have time to sober up. Remaining engaged in the party implied a contribution to that renaissance, an investment in hope. Donald Trump has put an end to that hope.
From his fairy-tale wall to his schoolyard bullying and his flirtation with violent racists, Donald Trump offers America a singular narrative-- a tale of cowards. Fearful people, convinced of our inadequacy, trembling before a world alight with imaginary threats, crave a demagogue. Neither party has ever elevated to this level a more toxic figure, one that calls forth the darkest elements of our national character.
With three decades invested in the Republican Party, there is a powerful temptation to shrug and soldier on. Despite the bold rhetoric, we all know Trump will lose. Why throw away a great personal investment over one bad nominee? Trump is not merely a poor candidate, but an indictment of our character. Preserving a party is not a morally defensible goal if that party has lost its legitimacy.
Watching Ronald Reagan as a boy, I recall how bold it was for him to declare ‘morning again’ in America. In a country menaced by Communism and burdened by a struggling economy, the audacity of Reagan’s optimism inspired a generation.
Fast-forward to our present leadership and the nature of our dilemma is clear. I watched Paul Ryan speak at Donald Trump’s convention the way a young child watches his father march off to prison. Thousands of Republican figures that loathe Donald Trump, understand the danger he represents, and privately hope he loses, are publicly declaring their support for him. In Illinois our local and state GOP organizations, faced with a choice, have decided on complicity.
Our leaders’ compromise preserves their personal capital at our collective cost. Their refusal to dissent robs all Republicans of moral cover. Evasion and cowardice has prevailed over conscience. We are now, and shall indefinitely remain, the Party of Donald Trump.
I will not contribute my name, my work, or my character to an utterly indefensible cause. No sensible adult demands moral purity from a political party, but conscience is meaningless without constraints. A party willing to lend its collective capital to Donald Trump has entered a compromise beyond any credible threshold of legitimacy. There is no redemption in being one of the “good Nazis.”
I hereby resign my position as a York Township Republican committeeman. My thirty-year tenure as a Republican is over.
Friday, after listening to Trump's speech, Republican propagandist Matt Continetti was moved to write a scathing report, The Demagogue Rises, for the Washington Free Beacon, a prominent right-wing website. It's a chilling indictment of their party's presidential candidate from a Republican perspective:
Donald Trump delivered the longest, loudest convention speech in recent memory when he accepted the Republican nomination for president Thursday evening. He made no attempt to “pivot to the general election,” moderate his agenda, smooth over rough rhetoric. Gone was Mitt Romney’s Etch-a-Sketch, tossed into a dustbin with George W. Bush’s Freedom Agenda, George H.W. Bush’s Thousand Points of Light, Ronald Reagan’s Morning in America. Trump was his usual self: brash, boisterous, overbearing, defiant, inimitable, roiling with anger over the state of the country and the corruption, ineffectiveness, and arrogance of the nation’s elite. Trump won’t change, won’t learn, won’t listen, won’t apologize, won’t cavil, won’t conform to the traditions of presidential politics or adhere to the norms of political discourse. He doesn’t care about facts, he wants to overturn the postwar international order, he champions the will to power, he mercilessly attacks opponents. He’s a demagogue in dark suits, electric ties. I can only imagine what he’d be capable of if he were competent.
Because he’s not competent. He is actually truly, magnificently inept. The convention was a mess, haphazard, disorganized, weird. The botched roll call vote, Melania’s plagiarism, Ted Cruz’s hand grenade, the leaked speech draft-- all of these gaffes and scandals occurred against the backdrop of dismal attendance, chants to put Hillary in prison, bizarre speakers, rambling addresses, early departures, and testimonies to Trump’s greatness. His campaign has practically no money, no advertising, no infrastructure, no grassroots operation. The other day, when he expressed uncertainty about whether the United States would lead NATO in defense of the Baltic States if they were attacked by Russia, Trump made history by provoking an international incident without even being president. Many GOP officials wouldn’t come near the convention, including Ohio’s popular governor. There are two Republican parties for the moment: the party led by Trump and the Republican Party in exile, the party of Kasich and Larry Hogan and Nikki Haley and Charlie Baker and Brian Sandoval and Mark Kirk and Ted Cruz. Election Day won’t just determine who will succeed President Obama. It will also determine the fate of Donald J. Trump’s hostile takeover of the GOP.