#NeverTrump’s new golden boy: Daily Bullshit, July 21, 2016 (updated again)

Updated for Wall Street Journal coverage of Ted Cruz’s speech[1] and further thoughts on the now even more sharply-defined fissure appearing within conservatism. Updated again for a report on the declaration of a state of emergency to facilitate a purge that’s already completely ridiculous in Turkey,[2] yet more on Ted Cruz’s speech, yet more on the divisions within the Republican Party and within conservatism, and Roger Ailes’ resignation from Fox News.[3]


Ted Cruz

Between #NeverTrump, Melania Trump’s plagiarism, and Ted Cruz, pundits are having a field day with the Republican National Convention.

If Ted Cruz had simply not mentioned Trump, it would have been a mild deal but not a huge thing. He did much more than that. He affirmatively not only refused to endorse Trump but exhorted fellow Republicans not to vote for Trump. Yes, he used the coded phrasing “vote your conscience.” But in context that meant with with crystal clarity: Your Republican identity in no way obligates you to vote for Donald Trump. Rather ‘vote your conscience’ and do not vote for Donald Trump. Because a conservative true to his conscience cannot do so.[4]

It was, of course, much too late to vote against Donald Trump’s nomination; he officially won it Tuesday night.[5] And it’s unclear who Cruz’s supporters would vote for in the general election as an alternative to Trump. But “[u]nlike Rubio, Walker, Pence, and so many others with 2020 ambitions, [Cruz] took a stand, even though it meant loud boos. He’s betting that his party isn’t the party of Trump. We’ll see if he’s right.”[6] But what’s even weirder is that party officials and even Donald Trump apparently let it happen.[7]

If Andrew Prokop is correct in suggesting that Cruz is “betting that his party isn’t the party of Trump”[8] it’s also possible that functionalist conservatives and the Trump team are betting that Trump at least makes a decent showing in the general election:

The reaction has been fascinating. People who can’t stand Ted Cruz or weren’t fans are saying they have to give him credit; people who voted for him are declaring on Twitter they’re ashamed of their vote. I keep hearing people say Cruz’s decision was selfish. The problem with this assessment is that it only pays off for him under one scenario. If Trump wins the presidency, Cruz’s life in the Senate is going to be miserable. If Trump loses narrowly, Cruz turns into the face of the GOP holdouts and he becomes a convenient scapegoat. Only in a scenario where Trump loses badly, and the party broadly agrees that nominating him was a terrible mistake, does Cruz look like the guy who was trying to take away the keys from a drunk driver.[9]

Fig. 1. Tom Toles, July 21, 2016, via GoComics, fair use.

Be all that as it may, any illusion of Republican unity is now shot to hell. We don’t know any more about the number of dissenters than we did yesterday because many #NeverTrump folks had already gone home.[10] But the convention is where the image of Republicans uniting to take on the evil Hillary Clinton is supposed to take shape.[11] Apart from chanting “Lock her up,”[12] it hasn’t.

Nor should Ted Cruz be dismissed as an electoral outlier as I might with the neoconservatives inside the Beltway whom I thought to form the core of the #NeverTrump movement. First, while Cruz was still in the primary contest, he seemed to do a better job of appealing to social conservatives. Second, as the fusionist National Review rejected Trump,[13] it endorsed Cruz.[14] This is still not the kind of thing that necessarily makes a difference in the election this year, but it raises serious questions down the road about the relationship between authoritarian populists and paleoconservatives on the one hand and other conservatives on the other. And for the Republican Party especially, it divides the base between social conservatives and authoritarian populists.

There is of course the question of how much Trump can actually transform the GOP. That remains the biggest unknown. On the eve of the convention, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam—respected, young, mainstream conservative intellectuals—published an essay in the New York Times that was largely Trumpian in its prescriptions, calling for less immigration, less foreign military intervention, more tax policy favoring the middle and working classes. Designed to appeal to the real interests of Trump voters. Yet the two cast their piece as “anti-Trump,” calling Trump a demagogue, and assuming that he couldn’t possibly implement their agenda. It’s a loss to Trump that he hasn’t won over people who so largely agree with him, but a sign too of the remaining power of the Republican establishment, which can make even people who mostly agree with Trump unable—so far—to see themselves as potential Trump backers.[15]

Reid J. Epstein, “Despite Boos, Ted Cruz Won’t Endorse Donald Trump,” Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/despite-boos-ted-cruz-wont-endorse-donald-trump-1469068878

Josh Marshall, “Ted Turns the Tables on Trump. Hard,” Talking Points Memo, July 20, 2016, http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/ted-turns-the-tables-on-trump-hard

Josh Marshall, [microblog post], Twitter, July 21, 2016, https://twitter.com/joshtpm/status/755957089143549952

Andrew Prokop, “Ted Cruz just humiliated Donald Trump by refusing to endorse him during his convention speech,” Vox, July 21, 2016, http://www.vox.com/2016/7/20/12244126/rnc-convention-ted-cruz-donald-trump-boos

Donald Trump, [microblog post], Twitter, July 21, 2016, https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/755972015249645568


Horse race

Even if Republicans fail to defeat Hillary Clinton, they are already undermining her presidency. As I wrote on July 12,

Cops kill Black men and go unpunished. Hillary Clinton mishandles classified information and goes unpunished. The Bush administration not only illegally invaded Iraq but committed war crimes and goes unpunished. Bankers plunge the country into the worst recession since the Great Depression and go unpunished. But Barack Obama “insist[s] that we are not as divided as we seem.”[7] This is Obama’s legacy before anything else: He took care of the powerful and left everyone else to twist on the vine.[16]

Even if she didn’t have her own record to contend with, Clinton inherits the legacies of her husband and of Obama. That’s going to be a problem.

Nick Gass, “‘Lock her up’ chant rules Republican convention,” Politico, July 20, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/rnc-2016-lock-her-up-chant-hillary-clinton-225916


Syria

Katie Zavadski, “U.S.-Backed ‘Moderate’ Rebels Behead a Child Near Aleppo,” Daily Beast, July 19, 2016, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/07/19/u-s-backed-moderate-rebels-behead-a-child-near-aleppo.html


Donald Trump

Scott McConnell, “An Uneasy Alliance With the GOP,” American Conservative, July 20, 2016, http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/an-uneasy-alliance-with-the-gop/

Jonathan Swan, “Powerful Republican family holding out against nominee,” Hill, July 20, 2016, http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/288590-powerful-republican-family-holding-out-againstinee


Turkish coup

As of yesterday, over 50,000 people had already been detained, fired, or suspended[17] Today, “nearly 10,000 people have been arrested while hundreds of schools have been closed. Nearly 60,000 civil service employees have also been dismissed from their posts suspended, forced to resign or had their licenses revoked since Friday.”[18] And now, Recep Tayyip Erdogan declares a state of emergency to “in order to remove swiftly all the elements of the terrorist organization involved in the coup attempt.”[19]

Associated Press, “Arrests mount in Turkey after failed coup,” Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, July 21, 2016, http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/arrests-mount-in-turkey-after-failed-coup-1.3688939

Deutschewelle, “Turkish President Erdogan declares three-month state of emergency following coup attempt,” July 20, 2016, http://www.dw.com/en/turkish-president-erdogan-declares-three-month-state-of-emergency-following-coup-attempt/a-19415502


Roger Ailes

Joe Flint, “Roger Ailes Resigns From Fox News; Rupert Murdoch to Take Over,” Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/roger-ailes-resigns-from-fox-news-rupert-murdoch-to-take-over-1469132116


  1. [1]Reid J. Epstein, “Despite Boos, Ted Cruz Won’t Endorse Donald Trump,” Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/despite-boos-ted-cruz-wont-endorse-donald-trump-1469068878
  2. [2]Associated Press, “Arrests mount in Turkey after failed coup,” Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, July 21, 2016, http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/arrests-mount-in-turkey-after-failed-coup-1.3688939; Deutschewelle, “Turkish President Erdogan declares three-month state of emergency following coup attempt,” July 20, 2016, http://www.dw.com/en/turkish-president-erdogan-declares-three-month-state-of-emergency-following-coup-attempt/a-19415502
  3. [3]Joe Flint, “Roger Ailes Resigns From Fox News; Rupert Murdoch to Take Over,” Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/roger-ailes-resigns-from-fox-news-rupert-murdoch-to-take-over-1469132116
  4. [4]Josh Marshall, “Ted Turns the Tables on Trump. Hard,” Talking Points Memo, July 20, 2016, http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/ted-turns-the-tables-on-trump-hard
  5. [5]Jonathan Easley, “GOP nominates Trump for president,” Hill, July 19, 2016, http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/288418-gopinates-trump-for-president
  6. [6]Andrew Prokop, “Ted Cruz just humiliated Donald Trump by refusing to endorse him during his convention speech,” Vox, July 21, 2016, http://www.vox.com/2016/7/20/12244126/rnc-convention-ted-cruz-donald-trump-boos
  7. [7]Josh Marshall, [microblog post], Twitter, July 21, 2016, https://twitter.com/joshtpm/status/755957089143549952; Donald Trump, [microblog post], Twitter, July 21, 2016, https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/755972015249645568
  8. [8]Andrew Prokop, “Ted Cruz just humiliated Donald Trump by refusing to endorse him during his convention speech,” Vox, July 21, 2016, http://www.vox.com/2016/7/20/12244126/rnc-convention-ted-cruz-donald-trump-boos
  9. [9]Jim Geraghty to Morning Jolt list, July 21, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/
  10. [10]Reid J. Epstein, “Why ‘Never Trump’ Never Really Happened in Cleveland,” Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2016, http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2016/07/20/why-never-trump-never-really-happened-in-cleveland/
  11. [11]Kyle Cheney and Seung Min Kim, “GOP gives Trump half-hearted embrace,” Politico, July 20, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/trump-relationship-republicans-convention-225891; Niall Stanage, “GOP works to unify around Trump,” Hill, July 20, 2016, http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/288450-gop-works-to-unify-around-trump
  12. [12]Nick Gass, “‘Lock her up’ chant rules Republican convention,” Politico, July 20, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/rnc-2016-lock-her-up-chant-hillary-clinton-225916
  13. [13]National Review, “Against Trump,” January 21, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/430137/donald-trump-conservative-movement-menace
  14. [14]National Review, “Ted Cruz for President,” March 11, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/432682/ted-cruz-national-review-endorses-texas-senator-president
  15. [15]Scott McConnell, “An Uneasy Alliance With the GOP,” American Conservative, July 20, 2016, http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/an-uneasy-alliance-with-the-gop/
  16. [16]David Benfell, “The only revolution I’m seeing is in my stomach,” Daily Bullshit, July 12, 2016, https://parts-unknown.org/reading/2016/07/12/the-only-revolution-im-seeing-is-in-my-stomach-daily-bullshit-july-12-2016/
  17. [17]British Broadcasting Corporation, “Turkey coup attempt: Crackdown toll passes 50,000,” July 20, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36842073
  18. [18]Associated Press, “Arrests mount in Turkey after failed coup,” Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, July 21, 2016, http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/arrests-mount-in-turkey-after-failed-coup-1.3688939
  19. [19]Recep Tayyip Erdogan, quoted in Deutschewelle, “Turkish President Erdogan declares three-month state of emergency following coup attempt,” July 20, 2016, http://www.dw.com/en/turkish-president-erdogan-declares-three-month-state-of-emergency-following-coup-attempt/a-19415502

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