Evan McMullin: From Never Trump to Never Gillespie

Evan McMullin must be looking to expand his brand.  Since his #NeverTrump shtick failed to impress Jeff Zucker enough for MSNBC to give him a show, it looks as if the erstwhile conscience of conservatism has moved on to attempted sabotage against other Republicans.  Or, as McMullin himself tells it:

Marketing 101, Evan—the sequel almost never does as well as the original, especially when nobody went to see the original in the first place.  Besides, #NeverGillespie just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Still, you have to give McMullin some credit—at least he’s not afraid to fall on his face, as his original campaign to play spoiler between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton shows.  But if that campaign went over like the New Coke of politics, this one seems more like Crystal Pepsi:  misbegotten from the start and incompetent in execution, yet so inconsequential in the scheme of things that it will scarcely be remembered.  If Northam wins, nobody will think that McMullin had anything to do with it.  And if Gillespie wins, McMullin will simply become the punchline in another joke.  It’s all downside, bruh.

I am left to wonder about this whole “white nationalism” angle, though.  As shades of pale go, Evan McMullin ranks at the extreme upper end of the spectrum.  He’s like a stockbroker who does a karaoke version of “Bust a Move” at his office Christmas party and trips all over the lyrics before the end of the first verse.  His idea of gangsta is less Tupac Shakur and more Vanilla Ice.  For him to call anyone out for being too Caucasian is beyond me.  If I didn’t know better, I’d swear the Latino Victory Fund hired McMullin to come up with that pickup truck ad.  Of course, if Evan had done it, he probably would have added “Just-a Good Ole Boys” to the soundtrack to make sure that everybody got the point.

On the bright side, however, at least he makes everyone who reluctantly pulled the lever for Donald Trump feel better about their vote.

McMullin Abandons Credibility, Calls Trump “First Russian President”

I voted for Evan McMullin in 2016. I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Donald Trump, especially when I was confident that Hillary Clinton wouldn’t take Georgia. I desperately wanted to vote for Austin Petersen as a Libertarian, but that party went with Gary Johnson instead. So I felt like my only choice was Evan McMullin was the only candidate I could stand behind, and I wrote him in.

I took a lot of heat from friends for my choice. One friend on Facebook told me to get off my high horse, while another asked me if I could reconcile not voting for Trump with my conscience. (Oddly enough, that same second friend raked me over the coals when I shared a Babylon Bee article satirizing Jen Hatmaker, telling me that if I spent more time with LGBT people I wouldn’t be so insensitive.)

In the run up to the election, McMullin had a clear conservative message that resonated with me. Yes, his bid for the White House was quixotic, but he gave conservatives a choice they could be proud of. It was easy for me to vote for him and still hold my head high, again partially because I knew I could vote third party and still not hand Georgia’s electoral votes over to Hillary Clinton.

Since the election, McMullin’s message has become somewhat of a more nuanced version of the eight-year-old’s argument: “Donald Trump’s a jerk.” Unlike so many conservatives who are at least willing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt and call balls and strikes when necessary, McMullin is operating from a hardline Never Trump stance.

Late Tuesday night, McMullin quote-tweeted a tweet from the president, adding a comment that should make conservatives recoil in horror.

America’s first Russian president? Wow, the most ardent leftists should be proud, because McMullin is now parroting their line. When the concept of collusion with Russia is the left’s default argument against a Republican chief executive, conservatives would do well to avoid it like the plague. Yet McMullin throws the line around as though it’s a credible assertion.

But it’s not credible. And neither is McMullin if he’s going to repackage leftist talking points to attack the president. It’s one thing to call out Trump when he does something stupid or when he breaks a promise; it’s a whole other thing to mimic a leftist attack that doesn’t ring true. That’s certainly no way to provide a conservative alternative to today’s Republican party.

 

What (Or Who) Is Bugging House Republicans?

President Trump has hinted that there are “tapes” of his conversations with James Comey, but the Oval Office apparently isn’t the only place in Washington that is bugged. Earlier this week, the Washington Post published an account of a June 2016 meeting of the House Republican leadership in which Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Cal.) joked about Donald Trump being on the Russian payroll. Now House leaders are concerned that there might be more revelations from past closed door sessions.

Axios reports that Republicans are scrambling to determine the source of the leak even as they wait for the next shoe to drop. “The unknown is frustrating,” said one GOP aide.

The Post story notes that the conversation occurred on the day after news broke that Russians were responsible for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. The conversation reportedly took place shortly after McCarthy and Speaker Ryan had met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Vladimir Groysman, who had discussed Putin’s tactic of “financing people in our governments to undo our governments” and using “very sophisticated” propaganda throughout Europe.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: [Rep. Dana] Rohrabacher (R-Cal.) and Trump,” McCarthy joked. “Swear to God.” McCarthy also speculated that the hack of the DNC was to steal Democrat opposition research on Donald Trump.

The Post reports that the remark drew laughs before Speaker Paul Ryan interjected, “This is off the record,” and admonished those present, “No leaks…. This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

Rohrabacher, like Trump, has a reputation as a defender of the President Vladimir Putin and the current Russian regime. In November 2016, Politico profiled Rohrabacher as “Putin’s favorite congressman.”

Adam Entous, the author of the Post story, says that the article was based on both a written transcript and “a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post.” If Entous’s claims of a recording are accurate, it is possible that either someone at the meeting was recording the conversation or that a bug had been planted in the room.

There are two prime suspects for the source of the recording. One is that a bug was planted by a member of the Ukrainian delegation. The “Kiev, Ukraine” dateline of the Post story lends some credence to this possibility, but the Axios sources within the GOP say that it is unlikely since security teams regularly sweep the capitol for bugs and, to their knowledge, none has been found.

A more likely possibility, the sources say, is that the meeting was recorded by Evan McMullin, a leadership aide last June who became an independent presidential candidate. Jonathan Swan, author of the Axios story, says that his sources say that the Post denied that McMullin was the leaker and that there is no evidence that he was responsible. If McMullin was the leaker, it is unclear why he would wait to use the tapes now rather than during his presidential campaign.

Regardless of where the recording originated, Republican leaders are concerned about what leaks may come next. If the leaker was McMullin, he attended many private meetings and would have had the opportunity to record reams of sensitive information. If the bug is still active, it could be used to undermine GOP legislative strategies.

Leaks have become commonplace in Washington over the past few years. From the Russian leaks of Democratic emails to disaffected staffers leaking embarrassing information about Donald Trump to the president’s own leak of classified information to the Russians, it seems that no one in Washington can be counted on to keep a secret.

Evan McMullin Flexes His Brand

Failed presidential candidate Evan McMullin, once considered by some to be the last great hope for American conservatism, has been at it again.  Attempting to demonstrate that his vaunted principles are about as authentic as a Jack In The Box taco, today he posted the following observations about the ongoing drama of Mike Flynn’s resignation as national security adviser on Twitter:

And…

Yep, Evan’s gotta keep selling that brand.  After all, those cable news appearances and speeches aren’t gonna book themselves, are they?

What’s really sad here is that McMullin knows better.  As a guy who has worked in the intelligence community, it should scare the hell out of him that rogue elements within that community–very likely working with former officials from the Obama administration–have been breaking the law to leak information that has the sole purpose of doing political damage to a duly elected president.  Does McMullin really think that it’s in the best interests of the United States to have an unelected Deep State pulling the strings and controlling everything, essentially nullifying the concept of representative government?  How is that in any way principled?  And how is that in any way conservative?

Down this way lays a very dark path.  It means that the White House will have to operate from the assumption that its own intelligence agencies cannot be trusted.  What happens when a critical piece of information comes in, but the president doesn’t know if it’s genuine or just another political trap set by his enemies at the CIA, or the NSA, or the FBI?  Will he act on it in time?  Can he?  The potential for catastrophe in this kind of scenario cannot be overstated. We already live in a dangerous world.  This kind of nonsense will only make it even more dangerous.

But what’s all that, when there’s a #NeverTrump brand to protect?

By the way, Bill Kristol–one of McMullin’s big boosters–also got in on the act:

Some conservative principles you got there, Bill.

Evan McMullin Has Found His Brand

As any marketing exec would tell you, branding is everything.  It’s the thing that imprints a product on your mind and immediately causes you to make an association whenever you think of that product category.  It’s why we say “Coke” when we’re talking about cola, or “iPad” when we’re talking about a computer tablet.

Well, Evan McMullin seems to have decided on his brand, and guess what?  It’s #NeverTrump:

That’s right, folks.  When you order up a big, steamin’ pile of #NeverTrump, Evan McMullin wants you to think of him.  Not conservatism, or principles, or federalism, or any of that other stuff he prattled on about when he ran his quixotic presidential campaign.  Nope, he just wants you to know that he is now part of #TheResistance, and what he is resisting is Donald J. Trump.

Not Trump’s policies, mind you, but the man himself.  The tweet above pretty much spells it out.  On no planet known to man would a conservative standing on principle advocate an attorney general (acting or no) openly defying an executive order from the president.  If Sally Yates truly felt that she could not enforce the order in good conscience, her only acceptable course of action would be to resign.  As it stood,  Yates–who was on her way out the door as soon as Jeff Sessions is confirmed–only wanted to score some cheap political points to elevate her status in the Democrat Party.  McMullin, who is not a rube, understands this perfectly well–and yet here he is defending Yates in the cynical hope that his Mouse That Roared antics might raise some jack for his new Stand Up Republic PAC.

Hey, Evan–news flash:  there really are those of us out here who want to help keep the Trump administration on a conservative path.  You’ll only make that job harder if any criticism gets cast as knee-jerk opposition spewing from a bunch of #NeverTrump poseurs.  If that’s the best Stand Up Republic has to offer, let me give you a piece of free advice:  sit the hell down.

Don’t Be A Sore Loser, Evan McMullin

I have a lot of concerns about Bannon and Flynn, but this is a ridiculous tweet when it comes to Jeff Sessions.

Jeff Sessions, thirty years ago, was rejected by the United States Senate to be a federal district judge in Alabama because of comments about the NAACP and KKK.

Thirty years later, Jeff Sessions is a sixty-nine year old United States Senator respected by both sides of the aisle who has taken a hard line on immigration and terrorism, but has had a diverse office and earned a lot of respect in Alabama across the aisle and across races.

If we are going to use thirty year old issues to smear people for office we might as well give up having any government and just have anarchy. But to presume a person cannot change in thirty years is ridiculous and it is just as ridiculous to presume a person has not changed because you disagree with him on policy issues.

The people who are calling Jeff Sessions a racist have probably spent little if any time with him in the past three decades.

And frankly, throwing the label “racist” at people like Jeff Sessions undermines the serious concerns about Bannon, Flynn, and others. If we take an all or nothing approach to the Trump administration and if we conclude that anyone willing to work in that administration is unfit for office, we will be putting party over country.

The very reason Evan McMullin ran was to put country over party, so he among all others should probably not paint with such a broad brush.

What to Watch on Election Night

After almost two years in the making, Election Day 2016 is almost here. Thanks to Russia, WikiLeaks and the FBI, the election looks to be much closer than many of us thought it would be. Polling is close, but favoring Hillary Clinton. At this point, it is by no means a blowout and Donald Trump does have a chance of winning.

There are several very important races on the East Coast where polls will close first. The swing states of Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia will all be among the first states in the nation to be decided. Virginia has been generally assumed to be leaning toward Clinton so the other three states are all must-win for Trump. Although wildly inconsistent, polling seems to show Clinton ahead in North Carolina and Trump leading in Ohio. Florida is a dead heat. If Trump doesn’t carry Florida, North Carolina and Ohio the race may well be over before polls close in the Central Time Zone.

There are also three blue states to watch that have been soft in their support for Clinton. Even if he wins all the swing states, Trump must flip at least one sizable blue state or states worth about 12 electoral votes to win the Electoral College. Some observers believe that Pennsylvania is his best chance to do that. If Trump manages to flip Pennsylvania and take the swing states, the Clinton campaign will have a long night.

New Hampshire and Maine’s second congressional district also give Trump a chance to peel off some of Hillary’s electoral votes. Polls in New Hampshire have closed in recent weeks with several polls showing Trump in the lead. These small prizes probably won’t decide the election, but could signal a shift in the electoral map.

There is also one traditional red state to watch. A recent poll in Georgia showed Trump with only a one-point lead. Other polls over the past few months showed a tight race in the Peach State. Georgia will probably rally toward Trump, but a Clinton victory there could mean a rout for Donald Trump.

In the central states, Iowa is the only traditional swing state. Trump is currently favored there and it is the most likely swing state for him to flip.

A bad night for Hillary Clinton might see close races in Michigan and Wisconsin. She is favored in both typically blue states, but by single-digit margins. Trump originally had high hopes of competing in these Rust Belt states, but was never able to gain traction.

The red state of Texas showed a tight race several weeks ago, but the gap has since opened in favor of Trump. Still, a large Hispanic electorate could mean problems for Donald Trump. If Georgia goes for Hillary, keep a close eye on Texas.

Moving west, there are four states to watch. Colorado and Nevada are traditionally considered swing states and both remain in tossup status. Colorado is favored for Clinton, but the race is very tight. The situation is the same in Nevada where Trump holds a slight edge in polling.

Arizona is another red state to watch. Over the past few weeks, Hillary Clinton was actually able to take the lead for a brief time in this border state that typically goes Republican. Trump regained some ground to take a slight lead, but is still running well behind Sen. John McCain (R) in his reelection bid. Like Texas, Trump’s weakness with Hispanic voters could cause him problems in Arizona.

The deep red state of Utah will be one of the most interesting states to watch. Native son Evan McMullin is mounting a surprisingly strong independent campaign and was in the lead for a short time. Trump is currently favored but uneven polling for third party candidates may mean that McMullin has a better chance than generally believed.

The presidential election is only part of the night. Equally, if not more, important, are several races to determine control of the Senate. Democrats need five seats to take control of the Senate and there are eight battleground races for Republican seats. The outcome here may be even closer than the presidential race.

Of the eight races, the Republicans are only the favorite in Florida where Marco Rubio should be reelected. The Democrats are favored in Illinois and Wisconsin. That leaves three tossup races in Missouri, New Hampshire and North Carolina. Indiana and Pennsylvania also recently moved from likely Democratic to tossup status as polling for the Republican incumbents improved.

Additionally, the Democrats are defending one Senate seat in a tossup race. Republican Joe Heck is fighting hard for Harry Reid’s seat in Nevada. The race has been within the margin of error of most polls.

In the House of Representatives, the Republicans are expected to lose seats, the big question is how many. There seems to be little question that Republicans will still control the House next term. This will provide a firewall against the Clinton agenda if Hillary wins and the Democrats take the Senate. It will not prevent Hillary from appointing radical judges, however.

Trump’s path to the presidency is a narrow one. Trump must win all of the swing states that are still in play plus at least one blue state. Hillary has an easier task. She can block him by winning Florida or North Carolina and holding Pennsylvania. The battle for the Senate is much less clear with six tossup races to watch.

One way or another, the long national nightmare of the 2016 campaign is almost over. We are about to embark on an entirely new one.

Why This Conservative Voted McMullin and Not Trump

 

I’m a lifelong conservative who has voted Republican as long as I can remember. Growing up, I watched President Reagan swing Georgia from a state where a Republican couldn’t get elected dogcatcher to a state that was almost totally red. A defining moment of my political life was when I saw President Reagan live at a campaign rally in Atlanta. I started listening to Rush Limbaugh on talk radio in the 1990s and have been writing my conservative Christian blog since 2007.

This makes it all the more surprising for people when they find out that I’m not voting for Donald Trump. In fact, I voted early last week and cast my ballot for Evan McMullin, the independent conservative.

Why I voted for McMullin and why I didn’t vote for Trump are closely intertwined. The bottom line for me is that I don’t believe that either Trump or Hillary should be president. In fact, I don’t believe that either Trump or Hillary should be allowed anywhere near the White House. Not even on a tour group.

People say that if I don’t want Hillary to be president, I should support Donald Trump. The truth is that I oppose Trump for many of the same reasons that I oppose Hillary Clinton. The two candidates are evenly matched in many areas. Trump and Hillary both have deep character flaws. Both are chronic liars. Both are dishonest. Both are corrupt.

I had always said that I would vote Republican as long as the party supported my beliefs and values. Under Donald Trump, it no longer does.

Hillary’s corruption is well known, but when I looked into Trump’s background, I found a seemingly endless list of scandals even before the revelation of his sexual harassment problem. Not paying workers, using eminent domain to take the homes of less wealthy and connected Americans, and openly bragging about bribing elected officials are only the icing on the cake. His unsatisfied clients say Trump was literally a con man who stole tens of thousands of dollars from hardworking real estate investors through Trump University and then allegedly paid off state attorneys general like Pam Bondi in Florida to cover his tracks.

I’ve been told that Trump’s corruption is less damning because he was in the private sector or that the amounts of money involved were less than the Clinton Foundation payoffs. In truth, corruption is a matter of the heart. If Trump would steal from a guy who has to max out his credit card to pay Trump University tuition, why would he not steal from the taxpayers of the United States or use his position to line his own pockets?

If Christian conservatives like me put aside our ethical problems with Trump to defeat Hillary, what have we won? Trump is a New York liberal who, until he started planning to run for president, held traditional liberal views. Even while running as a Republican he has advocated universal government healthcare and raising the minimum wage, supported federal money for Planned Parenthood, and has even adopted Democrat positions on gun control. You would be hard pressed to find any of Donald Trump’s positions which involve shrinking government or making it less powerful. If we elect Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, we will only have succeeded in electing a different liberal.

Trump is even worse than Hillary on some issues. Trump bragged that his trade policy was “very similar” to that of Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders. An analysis of Trump’s tariffs and rejection of trade deals found that they would probably cause a recession that might cost as many as 5 million American jobs.

He is no less of an isolationist when it comes to military alliances. He has threatened not to defend NATO allies and called NATO itself “obsolete,” even as Vladimir Putin’s forces carve off pieces of the Ukraine. Trump has said that he is open to proliferation of nuclear weapons and threatened to withdraw American troops from South Korea and Japan where they have stabilized East Asia for the past 60 years.

It was not being too strong that caused the last world war, it was being too deferential to expansionist dictatorships. This is a problem for Trump as well. Trump seems to have a fascination with dictators, but his admiration for Vladimir Putin is particularly troubling, from their bromance last fall to the growing body of evidence that Russia is interfering with the election in a way that benefits Trump. Russia’s investment in Trump may have already paid off. This year’s Republican Party platform dropped a proposal to arm Ukraine against the Russian invaders. The change reportedly came from the Trump campaign. Trump also seems ready to yield America’s role in the Middle East to Russia.

I can find no evidence that Trump is the America-loving conservative that he claims to be. There seems to be no Emmaus road moment that he can point to that led him to change his mind on so many issues. I can find no evidence that he is anything other than an actor playing a role. He is a liberal playing a conservative and occasionally he lapses into his true beliefs or cynically changes positions where he sees a potential benefit.

The character problems, liberal ideology and erratic behavior are red flags that warn about Trump’s lack of judgment. Just as Hillary Clinton’s use of an unapproved private email server and solicitation of donations in exchange for access while Secretary of State are disqualifying, Trump’s many scandals are a warning to voters that he is not to be trusted either.

In fact, almost everything about both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton seems to resonate as a warning against making them president. I cannot think of two people that I believe are less equipped to handle presidential authority and responsibility than the Terrible Two.

Some argue that Trump would surround himself with good people who would keep him in line. I think the reverse is true. One need only watch Mike Pence’s debate performance to see the corrupting influence of Trump on the Republican Party. Pence made excuses for Donald Trump and transparently denied that Trump said things that everyone has seen him say on video. What would four years with Trump as leader of the GOP do to the America’s conservative party?

Just when I was considering voting for Gary Johnson as protest or even not voting at all since Johnson showed himself to be a nut, Evan McMullin announced his candidacy.

After watching several interviews of McMullin, I boarded the “Evan Express.” McMullin is essentially a traditional Republican. He is a pro-life, free trade, strong defense, small government conservative. After working for the Republicans in the House of Representatives as a policy advisor, McMullin knows his stuff. He seems to be more knowledgeable than any other candidate, including Hillary Clinton. It is unfortunate that he was not included in the debates.

What really sold me on McMullin was not his policy chops though. What sold me on McMullin was simply the fact that, in a race dominated by two people who are, to use Hillary’s word, deplorable, he was an honest, decent man. He is the sort of person who tries to bring people together, rather than drive wedges between demographics to glom onto a few more votes.

I know that McMullin is a long shot. On the other hand, McMullin’s odds of becoming president are far greater than the odds of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton becoming a president that I can be proud of. Given the choice between sacrificing my beliefs to elect an untrustworthy, liberal Republican who I believe would be a disaster for the country or supporting a candidate that who shares my beliefs, I decided to vote my conscience.