The Trump Cabinet Takes Shape

It sounds more and more like Donald Trump is going the Doris Kearns Goodwin “Team of Rivals” approach to the Presidency.

Last night it was confirmed that retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn will be the national security advisor.

I’m hearing that Jeff Sessions is a lock for the Attorney General position.

I’m also hearing that Nikki Haley does not want the Secretary of State position so much as her Lieutenant Governor, Henry McMaster, is desperate to get Governor Haley out of South Carolina so he can be Governor without having to withstand a primary. McMaster was an early Trump supporter.

If Sessions is AG and not Secretary of Defense and Haley is not Secretary of State, suddenly the stakes have gotten a lot higher for the meeting with Mitt Romney this weekend.

Obama is Rewriting History to Get Hillary Clinton Elected

According to Politico, President Barack Obama slammed Donald Trump in a campaign speech this week on both his taxes and how he talks about women. The president also hit Trump’s Capitol Hill Republican supporters, saying that those who ditched Trump after this past weekend did so far too late, and that those who back him are putting politics in front of principle.

The stump speech was pretty good, if Politico’s reporting is any indication. But it highlights just how far Obama is willing to whitewash history to get Hillary Clinton elected.

First, Obama was right on about Republicans who are expressing shock at what was released this past weekend. Trump’s a boor, we all know it, yet they pretended like his decade-old comments were a surprise. As Obama noted:

“I mean, we saw this coming. He’s been saying really bad stuff for a while now,” Obama said. “What did you think? He was just gonna transform himself? I mean, I’m 55. It’s hard for me to change. I know at 70 it’s gonna be harder.”

However, that’s pretty much the only good point the President made. He also criticized Trump for legally not paying taxes, saying “that means you are not a responsible citizen.” This makes for good rhetoric, but it falls flat in light of how two former Obama White House officials — Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius — broke tax laws before being brought into the Obama administration.

Trump backers were also criticized for simultaneously bashing their nominee while standing with him. I guess Obama doesn’t want Bernie Sanders supporting Hillary, then. And speaking of criticism, it’s nakedly partisan to see the President bashing Trump for sex comments while ignoring the Clinton practices and policies that are a) illegal, b) corrupt, and c) endanger national security.

Finally, Obama reiterated that while Mitt Romney was wrong on politics, he was a good person possessed certain qualities that Obama says are absent from Trump. This is a rewriting of history, as former Romney staffer Andrew Clark has pointed out.

Pining For Perot

If #NeverTrump is real, we who believe that both the Republican and Democratic presumptive nominees are maggot-filled bloated death carcasses for conservative values must face reality. Reality means we have to acknowledge the one-way-ticket nature of the task, and do it anyway.

Buchanan quoted Priebus:

“It’s a suicide mission,” said the Republican Party Chairman.

Reince Priebus was commenting on a Washington Post story about Mitt Romney and William Kristol’s plot to recruit a third-party conservative candidate to sink Donald Trump.

Indeed, the quote conjures the image of Denethor flinging himself onto his son Faramir’s death pyre after exclaiming “Gondor has no king. Gondor needs no king!” But Denethor had lost all hope against the hordes of Mordor. We, however, will live to fight again, though perhaps under a different banner.

First in our reality checklist is this fact: #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary are not mutually exclusive, and in fact can and do exist in the same political river. Yes, Hillary will be an absolute nightmare for conservatives, and for American interests. As a triumvirate presidency (a topic for another post), including co-President Bill and co-President Barack, the failed policies of the America-hating left will continue to be foisted on us for another four years.

So we are #NeverHillary. But we are also #NeverTrump, because the Golden Combover’s dog whistles will do more to dismantle American liberty than perhaps any liberal big-government nanny-stater could ever hope for.

In a conversation today, I was asked why I’m so hard over against Trump by someone who isn’t really a Trump supporter, but wanted to understand why–if he would potentially be ineffective–I think he’s so dangerous. I wrote about this notion before of comparing Trump’s ascendance to the end of the Roman Republic and the rise of Julius Caesar. Julius was the populist, last elected leader of the republic, but he made the way for the first real emperor, Augustus.

Trump’s pure, undiluted populism, untainted by actual conservative values (which sinks Buchanan’s parallels to Goldwater), combined with his expertise in persuasion and manipulation, will usher in a new class of leaders. Instead of politicians, we will have more of this kind of huckster rising up to take a turn at the helm.

America’s polity used to have counterweights and guardrails of a sort to keep our republic from careening into despotism. It was in fact the Founders’ greatest fear and they took great care to create high hurdles to prevent it. In the end, it’s our society’s guardrails that gave us the ultimate protection: Belief in Biblical morality, a sense of conscience and shame, a sense of fighting for right versus self-worship. In the last 50 years, those guardrails have eroded to the point where they’re simply faded yellow lines with no cultural power or relevance.

In 1992, Peggy Noonan warned that American society had lost its sense of shame, and along with it, had closed its heart. “Message to society: What you applaud, you encourage. And: Watch out what you celebrate.” We now celebrate every excursion from Biblical norms as shackles being broken from prudish values into a new personal freedom. But in doing so, we have removed the heart, the shame, the conscience, and the guardrails that protected our society from plunging into the darkness below.

Donald Trump represents an attempt to turn back time to a place where we had the guardrails through the sheer force of his will. But the guardrails are gone. He himself does not possess the humility, character, or sense of shame to restore them; indeed Trump joins in the celebration when the guardrails are dismantled and snickers at those who lament over them.

Supporting Trump adds the GOP’s voice to the celebration of the destruction of our own culture. So we are #NeverTrump. But who will take on the suicide mission?

Buchanan recommends–even dares–Mitt Romney to fling himself into the funeral pyre, calling it a Kamikaze mission.

If Romney believes that Trump is an unacceptable nominee and would be an intolerable president, and that Republicans have a moral obligation to prevent this, why does Romney not man up and take on the assignment himself?

Now, admittedly, Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, where Romney attended, does not have a long tradition of producing suicide bombers. Yet, Romney is asking others to undertake a mission that will kill their careers and make them pariahs in their party, but will not do it himself.

I would love to see Mitt Romney run as a third party candidate. He has little to lose, having shot his entire ammunition belt in 2012. When I voted for Romney in 2012, I held my nose to do it, but only for a few missed breaths. I actually thought a Romney White House would be a decent-acting administration, carrying the GOP banner well, if somewhat awkwardly for conservatives.

In 2016, I’d actually get excited about a Romney run in the general election. That in itself really says a lot. Buchanan compared a Romney #NeverTrump run to John Anderson’s doomed candidacy in 1980 against Reagan. There’s no comparison (either between Reagan and Trump or between Anderson and Romney). I’d even say that bringing up Reagan in defense of Trump should be handled like a violation of Godwin’s Law. He who does it automatically loses an argument based on reducio ad Reagan. Trump is as much like Reagan as Tupac was like Sinatra.

A #NeverTrump third party run is more like Ross Perot in 1992. Perot was a cross between Trump and Ron Paul, but he was the real thing versus a Macy’s Thanksgiving parade inflatable of himself. I voted for Perot in ’92. Now I pine for Perot, who threw himself on the funeral pyre in protest of the “read my lips” betrayal. But in doing so, he revived the GOP, opened the way for Gingrich’s Contract with America, and the biggest economic boon to the country since WWII.

With Trump, we’ll get Woodrow Wilson. With Hillary, we’ll get pre-WWII Franklin Roosevelt. But if we can stand for #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary through a Romney bid, and cause Trump to potentially lose all 50 states, we can clear the way for a new GOP, or whatever comes after.

If we don’t, I fear we won’t have anything come after.

Thanks For Nothing Mitt, You Actually Helped Trump

Mitt Romney represents everything the GOPe stands for and everything that’s wrong with party politics. He was the “hold your nose” candidate for many conservatives in 2012. He was supposed to be the political savior who destroys President Obama and reverses everything the Democrats did in Obama’s first term.

It was all a mirage. Donald Trump was absolutely right when he said that Mitt Romney was a failed candidate who should have beaten Obama easily but squandered it. Romney didn’t engage at critical moments in the race. He left Benghazi on the table, allowed CNN  moderator Obama shill Candy Crowley to lead him by the nose, and generally acted like a disaffected rich person who summers at Lake Winnipesaukee with his perfect Mormon family and car-surfing dog.

Romney’s face was the face of shame from the day after election day 2012–which coincidentally was the same day Trump trademarked “Make America Great Again.” Like Batman created The Joker, Romney created Trump.

Unfortunately, Romney isn’t the alter-ego of some scarred justice vigilante with the tools to engage his nemesis. He’s just an investment banker whose political time is long gone. When Romney came out to blast Trump, all he did was remind everyone of everything wrong with the Republican Party, and why people are so attracted to Trump.

Now Democrats are mocking us, who stand against Trump, even more because we’ve been given the golden finger and thumb in the shape of an “L” on our forehead, delivered straight from the Establishment Himself. I normally don’t quote the New York Post, but their editorial board summed it up nicely.

Romney actually popped back in the news half a year ago — when he (reluctantly) opted out of the 2016 race because he figured Jeb Bush had a better shot.

Anyway, on Thursday, Romney speaks at the University of Utah on “the state of the 2016 presidential race.” By all accounts, it’s a bid to rally the anti-Trump cause and set the agenda for that evening’s GOP debate.

Because a one-term governor of Massachusetts — the author of RomneyCare, the model for ObamaCare — is the obvious guy to save the Republican Party.

He’s definitely gunning for Trump — his opening salvo came last week when he suggested there might be a “bombshell” in Trump’s tax returns.

(Hey, at least Mitt’s learned something: That’s the same shot-in-the-dark cheap shot Sen. Harry Reid tossed at Romney for months back in 2012.)

In fact — as Utah’s Sen. Orrin Hatch said outright to CNN — it looks like Romney’s aiming for a deadlocked GOP convention that would then nominate . . . him.

Because he hasn’t led Republicans to enough disasters.

Just go away, Mitt. Just go away.

Romney could not have spoken at a worse time to incite Trump’s legions into frothy paroxysms against everyone-who’s-ever-been-elected-to-office. After Romney’s speech, everything Cruz said became Charlie Brown’s teacher to the Trumpkins. They weren’t even listening. They only heard their master’s voice.

This is why over 55 percent of the 454,816 (as of Friday morning) who took Matt Drudge‘s “who won the debate” poll went for Trump, who could not have made less sense if he were reading Martini’s part in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. These Trumpkins are not insane, but they are reacting to what they see as the GOP engineering the race, rigging it for “their man.”

At this point, Trump has made the definition of “establishment” so malleable and bereft of meaning that he could call Cruz, Rubio, Mike Lee and Ben Sasse “establishment” while accepting endorsements from Gov. Chris Christie, Rep. Chris Collins (Heritage Action Score 48%), Rep. Duncan Hunter (Heritage Action Score 72%), and Rep. Tom Marino (Heritage Action Score 53%). Cruz has a 100% score and Rubio is 94%. The word “conservative” has no meaning (unless you call them “cuckservatives” which means “anyone but Trump”).

All Romney accomplished was to give Trump another millstone to attempt to hang on Cruz and Rubio’s necks. If Romney is against Trump, then by association Cruz and Rubio must be with Romney.

Thanks a lot, Mitt. If we need any more favors, we won’t ask.

Romney: ‘Trump Is Playing The American Public For Suckers’

I’m not the biggest fan of Mitt Romney. He’s a RomneyCare, big-government, big-business conservative in the mold of the 1970’s GOP instead of the Reagan revolution. He lost the 2012 election because he failed to engage Obama on Benghazi and ignored his own poor demographics.

Donald Trump saw this coming and poo-poohed the man he endorsed in 2012, saying Romney begged him.

I’m sure Romney did not beg anything. It’s just another lie from the Trump lie factory. Like I said, in 2012 Romney was my “hold my nose” candidate. Trump is my #NeverTrump.

And on this topic, Romney should be taken seriously. He blasted Trump today in a speech from Salt Lake City, Utah.

He’s playing the members of the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat. His domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president. And his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill. I’m convinced America has greatness ahead. And this is a time for choosing.

Yes. It is a time for choosing.

In a Close Election, Trump’s God Talk Matter

Back during the 2012 cycle, a number of commentators from Jonah Goldberg to me noted that Mitt Romney seemed to speak conservatism as if it was a foreign language. It did not come easy to him. He really had to work up to a defense of the free market, small government, and leaving people alone. Conservatives recognized it and just could not get energized about the guy.

Donald Trump has a following among some evangelicals, but it is not a wide swath of evangelicals — perhaps a third according to some recent polls. Perhaps that much. But I am willing to bet that, like with Ted Cruz, the evangelicals who support Trump are evangelicals who are actively engaged in the “save America” enterprise as a product of their faith. There is nothing wrong with that, but if followed too closely it makes America an idol.

Here’s the problem with Trump and evangelicalism and why that 33%, according to the latest Wall Street Journal poll, is probably more a ceiling than a floor. Trump, like Romney with conservatism, speaks Christianity as a foreign language.

The “Two Corinthians” statement yesterday is just the latest in a long line of Trumpisms on faith that do not register with evangelicals. Certainly saying “two” Corinthians instead of “second” Corinthians is common in Europe, but it is not very common in the United States.

On top of that, Trump has previously said he did not need to ask God for forgiveness. He also could not name is favorite passage in the Bible or his favorite book of the Bible. Combine all those with his Tim Russert interview on gay marriage and abortion and New York values and you have a candidate that evangelicals hear talking as if he is using an unpolished interpreter.

This matters in a close election, as polling in Iowa shows. Trump is making a real play for evangelical voters. He is going back and forth to Iowa repeatedly in the coming days. But unfortunately for Trump, his Christian rhetoric sounds foreign to the evangelicals he courts.

The Consultant Class is Weighing Down the Rubio Campaign

Senator Marco Rubio has now hired another Mitt Romney team member. This time it is Lanhee Chen, who was Romney’s policy director.

He’s got Romney’s New Hampshire guy on his PAC team.

Rubio also hired Rich Beeson, who had been the RNC’s political director guy sending contracts back to his former colleagues at FLS, before leaving to go ruin Romney’s campaign with Project ORCA. Oh, yes, Rubio has also hired the technical team that designed Project ORCA.

Back in March, the Washington Post wrote

Seeking out Romney’s former policy aides has been another endeavor as Rubio looks to cast himself as a thoughtful and well-versed contender.

Now “thoughtful and well-versed” reads more like loser.

I want Rubio to do well. He’s a terrific guy with an optimistic message. But the more Team Romney hires he has made the worse he has done in the polling. We don’t need Romney 3.0 in 2016, nor do we need a clone of Romney 2.0 in 2016. We need Marco Rubio to be Rubio.

The odds of that happening diminish each day and, frankly, I believe Rubio has a number of people around him who’ve decided his actual play is to use a Presidential run to springboard into the Florida Governor’s Mansion. That’s not what he needs to be elected President.