It’s time to Break It Down!
As I’ve often noted, my mantra regarding this blog is to remain nimble. I seldom decide in advance what the topic of the day will be. As Tuesday unfolded my attention began to drift toward crafting a piece on guns. Over the course of the day I saw stories about two instances that inflamed my sensibilities on the topic.
In one instance a 45-year-old security guard was sleeping with a pistol under her pillow in her home in New Orleans. During the course of the night the gun inadvertently fired, killing her 3-year-old grandson last Wednesday. What a dreadful occurrence; I can’t imagine the emotional pain and suffering that grandmother is experiencing. Multiply that exponentially for the parents.
In the second case, last Thursday in Renton, Washington, 10 miles South of Seattle, a man went to a theater. Ostensibly to prevent a mass shooting, he took his gun with him. He smuggled it into a Cinema that prohibits guns. As it turns out, the man was high on anxiety pills and intoxicated from beer. According to witnesses at the scene, while fumbling with his gun, he shot, most likely accidentally, a woman patron, who was watching “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” The shooter then fled the scene. The victim was in stable condition after having been shot in the torso. Police arrested the suspect after his father called and reported the shooting.
This was another absolutely horrible, and so unnecessary, outcome. The good news in this case is, at least no one died. Still, there is no denying, accidental gun violence is still violence, and still a function of the preponderance of guns in our society. An even more significant point is, chances are, without breaking a sweat, anyone could recite new cases, accidental or intentional, by the time Wednesday rolls around next week. That’s wack!
But I digress. As the title makes clear, this post is intended to frame a discussion about the bombastic, self-proclaimed high-energy, billionaire GOP frontrunner for the Party’s nomination to seek the Presidency…Donald John Trump. He is perennially loquacious, and never meets a superlative too large to embrace, or to repeat. Mr. Trump grabbed the Republican race for President by the proverbial short hairs, almost from onset of his June 16, 2015 Announcement at Trump Tower in New York.
The Donald drew a picture of an America in peril, regularly “getting beat” by a number of other nations, including China, Japan, Mexico, and even the terrorist group, ISIS. He declared that America is in trouble, the American Dream is dead, and he…is running to “Make America Great Again.” Along the way he disparaged Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly, threw shade on former Presidential Candidate and Arizona Senator John McCain, insisting he was not a war hero, and belittled Senator Lindsey Graham in his home state of South Carolina. First he spoke dismissively of him, then he revealed Graham’s cell phone to the media and the public during an appearance in the Palmetto State. He was just getting started.
Almost immediately an interesting phenomenon began emerging. While the media and the professional political class on both sides of the aisle predicted that the New Yorker would be a fleeting item on the political landscape, Mr. Trump defied the odds and consistently put his GOP competitors on their heels. Each time one of what has increasingly become a member of the GOP also-rans brandished the cheeky temerity to challenge him, he has responded by issuing a series of tweets and/or verbal jabs, always conveniently covered by the media, to push them into or near irrelevancy. So much so, until some of them, most notably, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, and the aforementioned South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, were among the first wave to issue statements of no mas, raise White Flags of surrender, and sheepishly exit the campaign.
The list of used-to-be relevant icons deserves a note of special comment. On it are such political luminaries as South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, former Utah Governor/former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, now former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former New York Governor George Pataki, and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. All are a part of the GOP’s mainline establishment heritage. This list, it should be mentioned, is significant for who is on it, as well as for who is not.
The list of folks still competing includes Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and of course, the Major Domo of Elephants in the room, Donald J. Trump. Yes, there are still candidates representing the so-called establishment of the Party, including Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, Jim Gilmore, and Chris Christie. Then there is Mr. Trump’s apparent nemesis, at the moment anyway, Ted Cruz. More about him later.
Real Clear Politics produces a compendium of Polls, including data from ABC News/Washington Post, CNN/ORC, Fox News, Monmouth, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, and CBC/New York Times. Polling from January 21 – January 24 shows Trump leading second place Ted Cruz nationally in every poll…by double digits, from a low of 13 percentage points (33%-20%) in the NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll to 22% (41%-19%) in the CNN/ORC Poll.
Marco Rubio is the only other candidate averaging double figure polling, with double digits in all but the CNN/ORC Poll. Ben Carson, who briefly led the field, is the only other candidate breaking double digits in any of the polls, reaching 12% in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll.
The numbers reflect the schism that has characterized the essence of the entire race for the GOP side. In many ways the 2016 Campaign has been, for the group formerly known as the Party of Lincoln, an anti-establishmentarian campaign. In a metaphoric flourish, the candidates who did not make the cut were akin to students who flunked out in the first semester. They were, by and large, representatives of what was heretofore the establishment, principally Republican Governors and Senators. Staying with the metaphor, the folks moving on to the second semester includes three individuals who have not only never held public office previously, but who are committed to challenge the efficacy of traditional politics, even traditional Republican politics, at its very core.
Of the remaining candidates, the top two contenders appear to be Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Trump has never held office, but promises to “Make Our Country Great Again.” Cruz has been a member of the Senate since 2013, but entered Congress as a Tea Party devotee, intent upon reformatting the politics of Washington from the ground up. He is still best known for his pivotal role in the Fall 2013 Government Shutdown. Trump and Ted; this is the vibe the contemporary GOP seems content to roll with. The previously mentioned vanquished Lindsey Graham, when asked if he had to choose between the two had this to say:
“It’s like being shot or poisoned,” the South Carolina Republican said. “What does it really matter?”
As the Iowa Caucuses approach on Monday, the GOP candidates are scheduled to engage in their last Televised Debate before matters get real as the voting commences. This particular event will be hosted by Fox News and will feature noted Trump foil, Megyn Kelly. Ms. Kelly managed to place herself firmly on Trump’s bad side last year when Fox hosted a debate and she asked him a question to which he took exception. The relationship between the two has been sporadically rocky since then.
A series of exchanges between Fox News and Trump yesterday steadily escalated. Trump polled his Twitter feed asking whether he should participate in the Debate. In a simultaneous Instagram video, he said:
“Megyn Kelly’s really biased against me. She knows that, I know that, everybody knows that. Do you really think she can be fair at a debate?”
In response, Fox concocted a tongue-in-cheek reply in the form of a public statement from the Network:
“We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president — a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings,” the statement said.
At this point, as they say, “It was on like Donkey Kong!” First Trump issued a tweet. He referred to Fox’s statement as:
“A pathetic attempt by Fox News to try and build up ratings for the #GOPDebate.” He went on to say, “Without me they’d have no ratings!”
As the day progressed, Trump said he would probably not attend the Debate. He indicated he would likely create a separate event at the same time and give the funds raised by the event to veterans groups. As the evening progressed, CNN reported a spokesperson said he would definitely skip the event:
“We’ll have an event here in Iowa, with potentially another network, to raise money for wounded warriors,” campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said. “And Fox will go from probably having 24 million viewers to about 2 million.”
This semi-chaotic breakdown of the normal order was predictable. It is just one aspect of the illogical conclusions that are sure to result from individuals and a Party that pride themselves in eschewing convention at every imaginable step. Remember this is a scenario born in the mind a guy who within the past week boasted that he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone and not lose any votes from his supporters. Clearly, he does not believe that conventions of any sort apply to him. Ted Cruz may have shut down the Government, but Donald Trump blew off Roger Ailes and Fox News. At least that’s what he has said he will do. In a “What have you done for me lately” world, “Donald Plays The Trump Card; Drops Mic!”
I’m done; holla back!
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