American Hustle, Trump style

No, I’m not talking about the hair.  It’s his campaign, a classic hustle.  It can work.  Arnold Schwarzenegger, who resembles Trump in so many ways, showed how it’s done in California.  It’s a little dismaying to see this kind of hustle working in the USA.  I have no doubt whatsoever he’ll come up short.  We’re not Italy.  Yet.

I caught Special Report on Fox, and saw Brett Baier do an interview with him.  It wasn’t very friendly.  I’m assuming he knows his voters better than I do, but when he talked about how well he’s always gotten along with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and how close he is to Chuck Schumer, and how he’ll be able to do deals with them, he turns off a lot of Republicans.  He’s ahead in the polls because we hate all the politicians in Washington, not just the Republicans.  In fact, most Republican voters dislike Pelosi and Reid as much or more than McConnell.  This is fodder for an attack.

After getting him to proclaim himself Ethanol Man, Baier asked if there’s anything the government is doing that it shouldn’t be involved in.  Trump thought, and thought hard.  His mind was spinning.  He was stumped.  Finally he said the banks are over regulated.

That’s it.  He thinks the government’s too hard on banks.  I’d wager if you asked a Republican primary voter if loosening bank regulation was the best way to cut back on government you’d get a different response.  One of the strongest components of the political tide sweeping Republicans into power is the fear and loathing of the federal government.  Trump’s lame reply to this question is more fodder.

Speaking of attack ads I saw the latest from the Cruz campaign, and it was just what I was hoping for.  Manhattan values vs. Iowa values.  Very well done.   We’ll see how it plays.

NRO editor Rich Lowry is out with a good piece on ethanol.  I’d be shocked if this didn’t come up in the debate.  I don’t know how Cruz should play it.  He can’t do anything that hurts his chances in Iowa.  On the other hand there will be a lot of people from New Hampshire watching as well.  Dicey.

Roger L. Simon is a screenwriter who became a conservative after 9-11.  He’s new to politics.  In PJ Media he says the bookies are putting Rubio’s chances ahead of Cruz’s, and therefor Rubio can win easier than Cruz.  The betting website I go to, tipped by 538.com, is Election Betting Odds.  And Roger’s right, they give Cruz an 11.3% chance, barely above the 10.5% chance they give to Bush.  Until recently they gave Hillary a 55% shot (it’s now down to 48.  this is the one to short).  In other words these guys don’t know their butt from a broom handle.

I happened to catch a few minutes of Rush today, and he was saying all the Donald ever talks about is making deals.  It got me thinking, and, since I’m an American, I wrote a piece for American Thinker.  There’s too much dealership, and not enough leadership.  D.C.’s crawling with deals and deal makers.  Leaders, not so much.

There is such a thing as Iowa values.  They’re similar to the Kansas values that Bob Dole talked about in his acceptance speech back in ’96.  I saw it from the convention floor and it made an impression on me.  Mark Helprin, a gifted writer, came up with the words.

“…[T]he first thing you learn on the prairie is the relative size of a man compared to the lay of the land.  And under the immense sky of where I was born and raised, a man is very small, and if he thinks otherwise he is wrong.”

Maybe it’s different in Manhattan.

It’s my party, and I’ll cry If I want to.

That’s what came to mind when I saw the Dump Trump edition of NRO.  Yes, gentlemen and ladies, we know Donald Trump is not a conservative, and it matters to us not one whit.  So speaks the tribe of Trump.

He could pull a gun on Megyn Kelly Thursday night, and it wouldn’t cost the Donald a vote.  He has a tribe that identifies with him, a tribe that he speaks for.  To them, he is the strong horse.  Conservatism and liberalism really don’t mean anything to these people.  What matters is that Donald Trump is on their side.  Every politician in Washington, Republican and Democrat, has sold these people down the river.  Nobody speaks for them.  But he’s got their back, and will take anybody on.  And it sure looks as though none of this is going to change.  Polls.

While his tribe is strong, it’s not big enough to win the nomination.  Yet without this great bloc of votes the nominee will have a hard time winning.  These are the people Ted Cruz is counting on in the general.  He’s not tacking to the center, he’s holding firm on the right, and looking for reinforcements.  From the tribe that Trump leads.

In the Washington Examiner Byron York reports on a trip to New Hampshire, and conversations with local Republican officials.  None of them know any members of Trump’s tribe.  They wonder who these people are, and if they really exist. In other words, they’re the people we Republicans have been trying to get to the polls since forever.  And there they are, except they’re all for Trump.  Ron Dreher at The American Conservative goes into all this in a bit more depth.

If you’re a sports fan you’ve probably had a player on your favorite team who was a jerk.  A jerk you’d cheer your head off for if he gets the winning score.  He’s wearing your colors, he represents your side, and he’s a winner.  He’s Donald Trump, the Manny Rodriguez of politics.   Just win, baby.

So it’s time for the gang at NRO to sit back, pour a glass of port, and reread some Patrick O’Brian novels.  Trump’s not a conservative, and it doesn’t matter.

What matters is how he and his tribe react when he loses.  And lose he will.  While his behavior only endears him to the tribe, he has completely alienated a solid majority of the Republican primary electorate.  There’s a majority out there waiting to coalesce around the alternative, whenever his identity becomes clear.

Which naturally brings me back to ethanol.  Robert Bryce, in the once prestigious NRO, makes a devastating case against the entire biofuel scam.  It’s worse than you think.  It’s a classic insider, crony capitalist ripoff of the taxpayer and the consumer.  And when Trump got in bed with Big Corn he married it.  Even in the tribe of Trump there are those who can be made to understood that he didn’t do this because he was fighting for them.  They pay the price of this crap.  He did for himself, to win votes using taxpayer money  — the ultimate insider Washington game.  This won’t hurt him much in Iowa, the capital of Big Corn.  But if Cruz can make this case in New Hampshire he’ll get a listen.

I see in Politico that a Cruz Super-pac is taking on Gov. Branstad in Iowa.  Good for them.  He speaks for a lot of Iowans, but not all of them.  I hope they’re able to get their message through all the clutter.

I saw Trump ask the crowd at one of his rallies if he should sue over Cruz’s ineligibility.  I think Cruz should challenge him to do it.  And ask him to see if he can get Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe to represent him.  Trump apparently puts great stock in Tribe’s opinions.  Is this, I would ask, a potential Supreme Court nominee in a Trump administration?

So sue me, Donald.  Come on, big guy.  Put your money where your mouth is.

Archie Bunker for President?

In what substantive respect would an Archie Bunker campaign differ from the Donald’s?  And are the people of this country so pissed off at the fecklessness of the Republican Party that they’ll put a Ted Baxter version of Archie in the White House?

The answers are: none, and we’ll find out a week from tomorrow.

It sure looks to me that Trump’s attacks on Cruz are working, along with Big Corn’s.  Cruz is just beginning to fire back.  I can’t imagine why his super-pacs (who all coordinate closely with one another) would hold off.  Now’s the time, for Pete’s sake.

As for the candidate, I think he should talk not about New York values, but Trump values, as compared to his own, and those of most Iowans.  And one of those values is basic human decency, consideration and respect for others.  Any man who descends to the playground level of insult, as his preferred method of attack, lacks the most fundamental of values:  treating people with respect.  A list of his coarse insults, and their targets, is quite long, and very revealing.  He’s a bully, pure and simple.  He enjoys putting people down, even if they’re physically handicapped.

It’s fine to be angry, but no level of anger justifies this kind of behavior, most particularly in a Presidential candidate. I can’t believe many people in Iowa, of all places, would find it acceptable.  I guess this is line of attack is pretty personal, and Trump will be offended.  But it’s legitimate.

And that’s the reason he won’t get the nomination, even if he does pull off a win in Iowa.  That bully temperament will never get more than a third of the vote.  And at some point the two thirds who find him completely unacceptable will have a choice between him and the last man standing, almost certainly Cruz or Rubio.  And they won’t choose Trump.  Period.

Peter Ferrara is an acquaintance, and a very bright guy.  He’s up in American Thinker with an endorsement of Cruz.  Very well done, Peter.

Also in AT is a blog post from editor Thomas Lifson.  If you’ve got a degree from Hahvard you should check it out, right away, for the good of all concerned.

What to say about all the polls?  I read where they have to make 35 calls to get one interview.  It’s hard for me to believe that that one person out of 35 who agrees to a survey interview is not somehow different than the 34 who refuse.  What kind of a person is he, and does that affect his politics?  The latest polling fiasco was the Kentucky Governor’s race, which had Bevin losing by five in a race he won by nine.  Maybe it was just a case of an error in predicting turnout, but the polling has been off around the world, usually underestimating the vote on the right.  My fingersptzengefuhl tells me Cruz’s people turn out, and Trump’s not as much.

The Cruz schwerpunkt in New Hampshire can happen if Manchester Union Leader publisher Joe McQuaid wants to make it happen.  It’s right up his alley, as he is the foremost defender of New Hampshire’s role as the first in the nation primary.  He’s endorsed Christie, but can’t stand Trump.  After what McQuaid has seen in Iowa, I think he’s going to endorse Cruz as well, for Cruz has fought, while Trump embraced, Big Corn.  And Big Corn is the creation, and the prime beneficiary, of the hated (by Joe McQuaid) Iowa caucus.

If you fight Big Corn, you’re fighting for New Hampshire.

The Cult of Donald Trump

Bill Kristol thinks Trump is a confidence man, kind of like the Music Man coming to River City, Iowa, selling the gullible townsfolk on the idea of a marching band to be led by 76 trombones.  But I think he’s more like the leader of a cult.  A cult built around his identity as an irresistible force, a commercial genius, and a speaker of hard truths.  He doesn’t have supporters, he has believers.

And he believes in them, for their total belief in him is completely justified. He told a crowd in Iowa today that he could walk down 5th Avenue and shoot someone, and it wouldn’t affect his standing.  That’s how strong the cult is, in his mind.

Another sign of how his mind is working is the closing line of one of his ads.  After promising jobs, prosperity and bringing America back, he looks into the camera and closes by saying, “And I will make you happy.”

He’s getting weird.  And it’s going to hurt him.  Not everyone who likes his program is part of the cult.  If he keeps up this bizarre behavior he’ll start slipping.

If he wins Iowa it won’t be because of the cult. It will be the Iowans who vote their pocketbooks.  In the Almanac of American Politics, Michael Barone thinks as many as 50,000 jobs in Iowa are directly or indirectly tied to ethanol.  For an economy the size of Iowa, that’s a whole lot of jobs, many of them paying very well.  Thousands of hard working men and women of Iowa support their families working for Big Corn.  The economic impact on the entire state of shutting that industry down would be tough to take.  And without the federal mandate, and federal subsidies, I don’t see how it survives.  There’s no demand for this stuff.

People generally vote in their own self interest, and just about everyone that’s part of Big Corn will oppose Cruz.  The key is everybody else.  Even if they aren’t affected directly, property values could go down, friends and neighbors lose work, and the whole state has to undergo a painful economic adjustment.

But at the same time a lot of these people  –37%, to be exact, according to Ann Selzer’s numbers — know damn full and well that ethanol is a giant boondoggle.  It’s the kind of thing that’s destroying this country, and propelling us toward national bankruptcy.  It’s a big scam, and these people know it.  Cruz is the only guy with the guts to come into Iowa and tell the truth.  I think he gets rewarded.

I think Cruz will win by a healthy margin a week from Monday.  I don’t think I’ve seen his campaign screw anything up, and I’m sure his turnout operation is all fired up and raring to go.  These kids are having the times of their lives.  They’ve got a winner, they’re making history, and life is good.

I’m a little jealous.  It wasn’t like that back in ’64 with Goldwater.  We knew we couldn’t beat Johnson.  But kicking Nelson Rockefeller’s ass was fun, and Barry was a truly great guy that we all liked a lot.  And we were all introduced to the Gipper.

A woman named Katie Packer has formed Our Principles PAC to do attacks on Trump.  It looks as though her thinking is along the same lines I’ve been suggesting.  She looks legit.  They don’t have a website, so I guess they’re not looking for donations from the public.  This is promising.

I could be all wrong, and Trump wins Iowa.  As long as Cruz is a close second, he can count himself a winner as well.  While he couldn’t beat Big Corn, he alone was willing to fight it, and thanks to the thousands who did vote for him, he proved that his message of fighting the special interests and the Washington cartel resonates.

And he won’t have to fight Big Corn in New Hampshire.  Rather, he can bare the scars he suffered at its hands.

Trump just kissed off Nevada, and much of the West

Here’s the link to my AT article on what we could expect in a Trump administration, based on his stance on ethanol.  The Trumpster commenters don’t care about ethanol, only about immigration.  When Trump falls the key to his most loyal supporters will be the winner’s position on that issue alone.   If the Donald were to endorse the victor, and he did so based on his belief that the border would, in fact, be sealed by that candidate, I think he’d bring most of his people with him.  So even though he’s liable to get even stranger as he starts to lose, it’s important to stay civil, if not cordial.  Trump bruises easily, and requires special handling.

Around 87% of Nevada is owned by the federal government, 67% by the Bureau of Land Management alone.  That’s just fine with Trump.  He doesn’t want the State, and the people, of Nevada to have control over their own land.  It’s better off under the control of the Washington D.C. bureaucracy.

Rnad Paul wants to sell it or give it to the states.  Eventually I suspect Cruz will come around as well.  This issue can be decisive not only in Nevada, but in Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Alaska and Arizona.  It’s an important issue in Colorado and New Mexico.

Needless to say, it’s just another proof of Trump’s ignorance of conservatism, and, in this case, the West.

It will cost him, if he’s still even in it after South Carolina.