During the debate last night, my husband (who was traveling) texted me, “Cruz and Rubio don’t get that by relentlessly attacking Trump they’re making him a sympathetic character and America loves the underdog. It creates an irony of the front-runner being the guy you feel sorry for.” At around the same time, my ten-year-old son who was watching with me, said, “Mom, you should make the title of your thing [blogpost?] tomorrow, ‘Trump versus All,’ because all the other candidates are picking on him.” This morning’s WSJ had a front-page headline “Trump Is Attacked From All Corners.” So, is the GOP strategy working? Maybe. If their strategy is to get an uber-hawk elected president regardless of the “D” or “R” handle while at the same time laying off the blame, then yes, yes it is.
I think it’s time to question some assumptions and ask ourselves: Who does the right really want to see in the White House? The media on the right does much better when there’s a Democrat to demonize in the White House, while the cronies among the military-industrial-congressional complex (that’s what the draft of Ike’s speech called it) just want war without limit in time and space. No one but a Democrat could silence the anti-war left enough to make that happen. So if the power-brokers of the GOP want Hillary–and with the Clinton’s deep ties to everyone from Bush to Trump to Goldman Sachs, there’s reason to think that that is exactly what they want–but doesn’t want to commit suicide, they might have to do a little maneuvering. To serve these dual purposes, perhaps they came up with a plan worthy of David Axelrod. (Hey, perhaps he’s actually the one who came up with it!) What might such a plan look like? Here’s an idea…
Put up a candidate whom the GOP establishment can appear to reject but who can still win the nomination. Feed into every populist meme you can identify as long as they attract a plurality of voters, not a majority. Put up opponents who will look to be splitting the ticket before the nomination, lending plausibility to the notion that someone could win the nomination without now or ever getting majority support, even among Republicans. Then come out guns ablazin’ after there’s too much momentum to stop that nomination from happening, but in plenty of time to give Hillary a stockpile of ammo against the nominee in the general election.
Who would be the cast of characters in such a drama? Given the blowback that is sure to result, willing players would be people whose political aspirations cannot realistically include the presidency–except for perhaps one hero who fights the good fight (or is too naive to realize he’s being set-up). These might be…
JEB Bush…His brother’s unprecedented unpopularity was a knife in the heart of JEB being a viable middle-of-the-road presidential candidate.
Ted Cruz…The only documentation indicating nationality status Cruz ever produced was a Canadian birth certificate. Until he shows documentation of his parents’ citizenship status when he was born and of his own process to get a US passport while admittedly a citizen of Canada, the assumption must be that these documents would prove that he is not qualified to be president. Knowing he could never be president, he’s got nothing to lose.
Mitt Romney and John McCain…The only two Republicans on the planet who can be absolutely positive they will never be the Republican nominee given that they are both proven losers in that role.
Marco Rubio…He needs practice on the national stage and might come out smelling like a rose. Our hero?
Donald Trump…He either wins or gets a lifetime’s worth of publicity and friends in high office. Why not?
Come to think of it, the Democrats could do the exact same thing to get Hillary the win in the primaries…put up a senior citizen socialist who could never ever win the presidency but would welcome the opportunity to take advantage of the big platform to spread his values (such as they are). Elizabeth Warren, for example, can’t take a fall like that because she still has dreams…
In the immortal words of Clinton mentor, Carrol Quigley,
The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to the doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can “throw the rascals out” at any election without leading to any profound or extreme shifts in policy. (Tragedy & Hope)
Update (3/16/2016): There seems to be a lot of transparent reverse-psychology stunts being pulled to serve the cause…check out these headlines concerning recent “attacks on Trump”:
In case you don’t want to read through the comments below, this is what I think the proposal to Trump several years ago might have sounded like: