Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Conservative Establishment & Its Media Grow More Hysterical At Trump's Rise

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WSJ's Brett Stephens - wrote a blistering polemic against Trump and "Trumpkins" yesterday.

Even before Donald Trump's landslide victory in the Nevada caucuses last night the knives of the conservative media (and even center-right media) and the GOP establishment were out in force trying to undermine the blustery real estate mogul's creds.

Exhibit 'A' was WSJ columnist Brett Stephens' article 'The Trumpkins' Lament'  wherein he quoted noted Right wing talk radio shock jocks, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin - who ridiculed the notion Trump is a real conservative.  Quoting Limbaugh (referencing Trump's blaming Bush Jr. for 9/11, e.g. "it happened on his watch":

"Trump sounded like any average host on MSNBC and he defended Planned Parenthood in language used by the Left".

And then quoting the even more irascible Levin:

"He sounds like a radical kook. To have the leading Republican nominee for President of the United States to make these kinds of statements - and he's even been praised by Code Pink and every left wing kook organization that hates America, To have him praised for what he said? For what?"

Stephens is not sympathetic to the whining of these radio jocks, observing:

"Where were the Messrs. Levin and Limbaugh last summer when the Trump candidacy was still a big  soap bubble waiting to be popped by the likes of them?"

In other words, the two Right wing blowhards had the ability to halt and maybe overturn the Trump bandwagon but didn't.  Hence, it's too late for these two original "Trumpkins" to be lamenting his rise now. 

Still, Stephens holds out hope that the lone "establishment" guy - Marco Rubio - can prevail. He writes:

"It is a lucky thing for conservatives that the likeliest alternative to Mr. Trump is 'the very establishment Republican', Marco Rubio, the non-jerk of the season who could actually win in November".

Echoing the conservative media's polls (e.g. WSJ/NBC from 2/21) that Trump has even higher negatives among the general electorate (33%) than Hillary (13%) and also much higher opposition in his own party. In other words, polling discloses even if the anti-establishment Bernie Sanders doesn't win, his supporters will still vote for Hillary by 79%-19%, while the voters for other GOP candidates would only turn to Trump by 51- 39%.  In other words, Hillary grabs more of the leftover Sanders' votes than the Donald does of those other GOP candidates who drop out.

Hence, the conservative media conclusion he can't win in November because he can't get the general support he needs to beat Hillary. (Now the presumptive Dem nominee, and certainly from her superdelegate count).

As another WSJ columnist (Gerald Seib, Feb. 22, p. A4) also notes:

"there is little consolidation in the anti-Trump lanes and still too many of them to suit party establishment figures eager to stop Mr. Trump"


"Big money and big establishment support will be flowing to Mr. Rubio in coming days; the establishment will effectively anoint him the alternative to Mr. Trump".

A WSJ editorial, meanwhile ('America's Moment of Trump'),  seems to blame a certain core of Trump voters who it terms "confirmed cliff divers".  I.e. jumping off a high cliff with no thought whatever of Trump's capability to win in November. The Journal's consistent knocks have been that Trump isn't a genuine conservative - even economically.

WSJ's Greg Ip writes,  for example (Feb. 18, p. A2):

"Thus far there is no coherent economics evident in the policies of Mr. Trump."

Noting - like other commentators - that Trump's tax plan would blow a hole in the budget bigger than the Donald's ego. (And then the media establishment has the gall to describes Sanders' plans as 'pie in the sky' or 'unworkable').

Numerous other WSJ analyses as well as one appearing in the Financial Times yesterday a.m. ('FT View: How To Stop Trump')  point out that Trump is exploiting a deep seated anger, perhaps even rage, in a sector of the electorate. The FT observed that there seems to be scant ideology shared by the supporters, and more an enthusiastic embrace of the Donald's yen for 'uncouth rhetoric' and 'un-PC zingers'.  In many respects, Trump appears to be channeling that segment's Id or even "hate" of whatever - maybe Obama, maybe Dems, or the political establishment itself.

Hence the drive to try to disrupt Trump's momentum and ultimately knock him off his track to the nomination. The FT, for example, advocates the media and other pols using Trump's own uncouth language and zinger style against him. Be uncouth, up to a point. My problem with that is what is "up to a point" and why would anyone believe it'd convince Trumpies to back off? Clearly, if some uncouth establishment alternative existed he would already be embraced as the front runner. The NV win shows this is a myth, also that the Cuban upstart Marco Rubio is not that guy.

Trump, according to the FT, The Economist, and even WSJ, is giving bombastic voice to powerful anger seething in the 30-40 percent of GOP voters backing him. Those media mavens and the conservative establishment are hoping fervently that the other 60-70 percent (of non-Trump voters) will keep the faith by adhering to the party's stated aims and real conservative norms,  not blindly jump ship for Trump.

But that remains to be seen, and it could just be a lot of wishful thinking.

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