Jennifer Rubin: Pro-Trump Republicans will get nothing, not even retention of a House majority – The Washington Post

Quinnipiac finds: “By a 54 – 38 percent margin, American voters want the Democratic Party to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives. This is the widest margin ever measured for this question in a Quinnipiac University poll, exceeding a 5 percentage point margin for Republicans in 2013.” You wonder whether that number has to hit 20 percent before Republicans stop circling the wagon around an incompetent, scandal-plagued and uniquely dishonest administration. (At least Richard Nixon’s White House could keep its story straight.)

And yet Republicans (in Congress and in right-leaning media) by and large embarrass themselves by defending the president, eschewing calls for a special counsel, remaining unconcerned with the precedent of firing an FBI director investigating the White House and confirming some of the worst nominees in history, including an attorney general who appears to have reneged on his promise to recuse himself and raised questions about his participation in a scheme to fire Comey under false pretexts.

You do wonder when a political survival instinct will kick in.

14 comments on “Jennifer Rubin: Pro-Trump Republicans will get nothing, not even retention of a House majority – The Washington Post

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  1. P Ryan’s first assessment of the AHCA’s chances of passage, something like “this is our only shot” seems to express a greater anxiety that they only have the WH and Con. majorities because of a variety manipulations they’ve been able to make to the electoral process, and to the biases of the processes itself. And they these are not durable against the long term trends. So it’s “now or never” ie there is a basic desperation to their political calculus. My experience is that people do not make consistently good decisions under the duress of desperation. So a variant of political survival has already kicked in, and for the time being seems to be crowding out the form That JR wonders about

    • Bob, I really can’t help but marvel at the stated assumption of your comment: namely, that the Republican control of the Presidency and Congress is “not durable against the long term trends.” Granted, there’s been a lot of talk on that line over the past fifteen years or so, much of it plainly self-serving. But what we saw in the last national election was a veritable collapse of the Democratic Party on a national basis–a showing that really ought to alarm every committed Democrat but apparently does not, given the paucity of self-critical analysis from that quarter.

      We hear endlessly about how Russia “stole” the election (by releasing internal comments of Clinton campaign and DNC insiders that were widely viewed as being offensive) and how Jim Comey disrupted Hillary’s sure-fire election prospects at the eleventh hour. We’ve heard relatively little about how moribund Hillary was as a presidential candidate and as a corollary how moribund the Democratic National Committee cum Politburo is–the Wikileaks documents exposed the way in which the DNC rigged the outcome of the nomination process in the face of a groundswell of enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders. By contrast, we surely learned that the Republican National Committee played fair and square by their candidates–and proceeded to win a major victory.

      Yes, the Democrats are strong in certain prominent urban enclaves on the West and East coasts. Yet, the fact that the Democrats failed to win the last election against a candidate widely presumed to be unelectable, that they lost the Senate to boot, and that they suffered a calamitous decline in their representation in state legislatures would seem to testify to the widespread unpopularity of the Democratic Party across an extensive geographic distribution–and, unfortunately for the Democrats, popularity across an extensive geographic distribution is just how elections for both the President and Congress are structured in this country. Whether talk of “long term trends” disfavoring the Republican Party turns out to be true or false, those long term trends won’t affect the short term of the 2018 or 2020 elections.

      If one is going to speculate on the imminent demise of the Republican Party on the national level, one can only do so by positing the correlative rise of the Democrats. It really doesn’t matter much if millions of Hispanics keep piling up in California or if thousands of Somalis keep piling up in Minnesota. Long term trends like that don’t help the Democrats win the Presidency or the Congress; and, in the meantime, those same trends antagonize the white working class throughout the country–and the white working class really is a critical constituency. Right now, President Trump has a lock on that constituency (witness the continuing enthusiasm of his rallies), which isn’t concentrated in a few enclaves but is evenly distributed throughout the states. Will the Democrats do anything to pick that lock or will they double down on the same elite bourgeois ideology of “diversity” that lost them the white working class in the first place? All signs point to the latter prospect.

      As for Speaker Ryan’s comments on the “one shot” of passage for the AHCA, that seems to me a reference only to internal dynamics of the Republicans in Congress vis a vis Obamacare, not to their electoral prospects overall. I can’t imagine that any Republican official at this point in time is sweating the party’s prospects against a moribund Democratic Party that is in process of losing its historically core constituency.

      • Wade you raise a lot of good points pointing to the frequent political dynamic of not only both the R’s and D’s, but pols everywhere through all time ie snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. While I don’t agree with a number of your specifics, the general point remains.

        However what I had in mind especially in my comment, and for some time now, is how many people seem to vote R but want the D program to a significant degree. The current health care debate illustrates this.

        Many people voted for Trump, and R in general, but want the benefits and protections of the ACA. Or rather want, enhanced benefits and at least the current protections of the ACA.

        R’s frame this as “of course people want to keep stuff once they get it” as if the task of the R’s is to protect people from themselves. Most people don’t like the ACA not because it impinges on their liberty, but because it doesn’t sufficiently solve the problem of obtaining medical insurance for people in the individual market.

        Building on CK’s comment, the R’s sunk costs in the ideology of negative liberty have made it quite difficult for them to propose govt actions to even begin to solve the problems people identify themselves.

        Put another way, Paul Ryan’s frequent appeal for “conservative solutions” just about always, to this observer, privilege “conservative” over “solutions”.

    • Or there’s a sunk costs syndrome going on as well. They gave in to what became the Tea Party, beginning at latest with the failure of “Compassionate Conservatism,” and their only unifying theory, vis-a-vis the federal government and its intrinsically progressive constitution, is negation. They’ve now put more than 10 years into it, and they have no choice or interest-calculus other than to continue as they have been until someone or -thing compels them to stop.

      • they have no choice or interest-calculus other than to continue as they have been until someone or -thing compels them to stop.

        Yes–and we’ve yet to hear any plausible scenario about what that “someone or -thing” would look like, let alone be. A Democratic Party besotted by an alienating bourgeois ideology practically calibrated to offend (and even demonize) the white working class and relegated to coastal enclaves, however locally strong (I mean, have you looked at a map of last year’s election on a county by county basis?), almost certainly isn’t the “someone or -thing”. Ergo…

        • A framed map depicting the 2016 popular vote distribution, which roughly replicated the current US population distribution by density if you color-coded low density in red, high in blue, was recently spotted being brought into the White House. If we view the character of the US government to be of, by, and for the people rather than of, by, and for the acres, the map points to a distorted view of electoral support for the President in November 2016. Treating counties as equivalent units amounts to an even more extreme distortion, kind of an intellectual gerrymander, since “county” in the U.S. covers the ground, as it were, from Pop. 82 Loving, Texas, to Pop. 10,000,000 Los Angeles, CA. By land mass it covers 53 sq. mi. Kalawao, HI, to my own beloved San Bernardino, 51,590 sq. mi. I’ll not pause to review the so-called “county equivalents,” and instead end my Google-Wikipedia researches here.

          Anyway, I’ll readily acknowledge, as often in the past I have been among the first to note, that, if you judge results by attachment of the letter R to numbers of representatives at all levels of government, vs attachment of the letter D, then the R party has done quite well for itself up to the present moment. The exercise in which Jennifer Rubin in her column, and bob and I way down here, have been indulging, is one in which credibility is lent to the Q poll, as in, “if the election were held today” and so on: So: If the Q polls and other polls are to be trusted at all – are as close to the final results as were, say, the much-abused 2016 presidential election polls – if the election were held today, and voting decisions roughly matched polled party preferences according to historical patterns, then… the very same judgment currently declaring the Rs the great historical winners will have to be reversed, just as similar ones were reversed in 2006 – 8, prior to the next reversal, and so on.

          There are other ways to assess results. The judgment of history in 1942 might have seemed, to those who have no understanding of the idea of the judgment of history, wholly in favor of the German Reich and Co, or of Napoleonic France in 1812, etc., very etc. In short, the someone or -thing is surely coming, as it comes to all, great empires and nobodies on or off the internet. The question now is whether what the Rs finally leave behind will be a shattered visage of Donald Trump and the inscription “Look on my works, ye Haters and Losers, and despair!”

        • Additionally: What matters most to Republicans, or in politics as in many other matters to the “white working class,” may be whether they believe or perceive themselves or their status to be in grave jeopardy. They seem to believe the flood is coming, so it’s matter of seizing and fortifying as much of the high ground as possible. If and after the wave hits, they may face an empowered majority that will see little or no or anyway much less reason not to adopt the same or many of the very same tactics to reinforce their power and impose their will, regardless of formerly respected constraints that the “conservative” party, in its desperation, has been willing to undermine.

    • It occurs to me that, in my preceding comment, I said that the Democrats “lost the Senate to boot” in last year’s election. I’d like to think that anyone reading along would take my larger meaning despite the mistaken expression, but before anyone corrects me, permit me to acknowledge the mistake. If I could revise that clause it would read something like “failed to take either chamber of Congress” or some such.

  2. Quinnipiac finds: “By a 54 – 38 percent margin, American voters want the Democratic Party to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives. This is the widest margin ever measured for this question in a Quinnipiac University poll, exceeding a 5 percentage point margin for Republicans in 2013.” You wonder whether that number has to hit 20 percent before Republicans, etc.

    I’d like to think the flaw in this–regarding “control of the U.S. House of Representatives”–would go without saying.

    When voters on a district by district basis begin to evince a similar tendency, then we’ll know Republican control of the House is endangered, but not before then.

    an incompetent, scandal-plagued and uniquely dishonest administration.

    That’s right, folks. More dishonest and scandal-plagued than the Nixon administration during the Watergate crisis–more dishonest than LBJ and the Gulf of Tonkin–more dishonest than JFK and his serial adulteries and concealed health problems–more dishonest than Bill Clinton and “that woman, Ms. Lewinsky”–

    remaining unconcerned with the precedent of firing an FBI director

    There was widespread and bipartisan dissatisfaction with Jim Comey. As to “the precedent” of firing an FBI director, it certainly isn’t unprecendented–and if it were, it would probably be desirable to establish one, since the position of FBI director itself has a somewhat chequered history.

    confirming some of the worst nominees in history

    Gee, that’s “fairly described”, isn’t it? That’s not a sectarian perspective.

    including an attorney general who appears to have reneged on his promise to recuse himself

    Really? So an attorney general who recuses himself from a particular investigation can no longer superintend the FBI director?

    Well, even were that the case–which, of course, it isn’t–that doesn’t prevent the deputy attorney general (let alone the President of the United States himself) from superintending the FBI director.

    • Mr. McKenzie – there’s no timer til the next break for a commercial, so no point at all in selectively quoting a text that’s right up there for all three of us to see. When Rubin writes “the precedent of firing an FBI director investigating the White House,” and you shorten it to “the precedent of firing an FBI director” in order to frame some bit of ridicule first in her direction, then presumably in the direction of anyone who finds what she has to say of interest, you’re not arguing a point worth arguing. You’re trolling us or playing to a non-existent gallery.

      Ditto when Rubin attaches the word “uniquely” to “dishonest,” but you respond as though she had extended the adverb comprehensively to the full list of adjectives. Specifically on the matter of honesty, the assessment she is referencing is quite defensible. All presidents have lied. All people lie. Few presidents or people compare to Trump on the matter of compressing so many prevarications, contradictions, falsehoods, and distortions into such small spaces so constantly and so consistently, and in making flagrantly dishonest arguments central to his political practice, from Birtherism to the latest fumbled cover-up. The only stories he seems able to keep straight for any extended time are the most flagrantly ridiculous: That his inauguration was fantastically well-attended and his inaugural speech highly rated, that millions of illegal immigrants were the only reason he did not win more raw votes than crooked Hillary, etc. Otherwise, given the President’s manifest verbal and intellectual disabilities, his difficulty holding or completing a thought at all, or recalling what he himself was saying a few years, months, weeks, days, or minutes ago, or caring, the question is whether he and the Administration he leads are capable of honesty, as the term is commonly understood, except inadvertently.

  3. If we view the character of the US government to be of, by, and for the people rather than of, by, and for the acres, the map points to a distorted view of electoral support for the President in November 2016.

    My point, of course, had nothing to do with “government of, by, and for the acres” (a clever formulation, I’ll grant) but rather with the Democrats’ failure to win a crucial national election for the lack of a few more acres. Given the stakes, is the expectation that the Democrats ought to have been able to win a few more acres out in the dreary, retrograde and bigoted heartland–the “Jesusland” of liberal cartography–so unreasonable? And I submit that their inability to do so has everything to do with their myopia.

    As to “government of, by, and for the people”–according to Harry Jaffa in A New Birth of Freedom, Lincoln’s ideal of popular government which that famous phrase embodies has everything to do with strict conformity to law, with the “rule of law” as such, and the reason Lincoln associated the secession of the South with an assault on the ideal of “government of, by, and for the people” was that they did not seek to secede via a legal process, they just unilaterally decreed it.

    On that reading, “government of, by, and for the people” really has little to do with the ostensible injustice of the will of the voters of L.A. County being frustrated as regards their choice for President of the United States–since a mound of ten million human beings doesn’t really get at the ideal of “government of, by, and for the people”–and everything to do with “strict conformity to law”. And that necessarily–and obviously–means the law pertaining to Presidential elections which mandates the Electoral College, and the laws pertaining to Congressional elections which, unfortunately for the Democrats, have an awful lot to do with acres and counties and states.

    • I’d go much further than perhaps you might expect in supporting your criticism of the Democrats here, or crucial aspects of it. There’s no reason the Electoral College should be a problem for a party that truly captured the “soul” or “spirit” of the nation, and the “WWC” at minimum has a claim on that soul or spirit (or idea or essence…), if not possibly the exclusive claim on which White Supremacists insist.

      So, I accept that there is a peculiar, very typical blindspot among modern American liberals or left-liberals regarding this deficit. Their blindspot refers (or fails to refer them) back to itself: They are blind to their blindness. They are also Dunning-Kruger victims on this one. They cannot, for example, abide the argument which tends to get expressed by racists as “if Blacks can have Black Power, why can’t we have White Power?” The problem is that answering this question truly adequately would necessarily involve us in matters about which neither side and no one else is prepared to speak in any political context. The problem is, for us, philosophic and historical. Our inability and unwillingness to address it defines us in many ways. I discussed the matter, or one major aspect of it, in more detail in my pieces on “Chait’s Insanity,” though it also shows up in the Left-Liberal “thymotic” deficit or problem with Jacksonianism.

      We seem to be without exception mediocrities and hopeless cranks when it comes to these topics. That’s what it means to be trapped within one’s era by history. Anyone capable of comprehending the situation is pre-emptively barred from doing so to any effect. It’s left to the naturally very decadent products of a very decadent political system to blunder their way through – people like those in the Trump Administration and their counterparts in Congress, but not just them by any means. We’re still waiting to find out if America can manage to work things out despite Americans and everyone else, as it has in the past.

  4. I don’t know, CK, if you or anyone reading along has had a chance to see this yet, but it’s so relevant to the discussion you and bob and I were having here, that I’d like to append it to the thread if I may.

    I think it squares nicely with the position I took in the exchange–especially the idea that the Democratic Party is deeply troubled electorally, and that the roots of that trouble lie in the party’s subscription to alienating ideologies.

    Sifting through the wreckage of the 2016 election, Democratic pollsters, strategists and sympathetic academics have reached some unnerving conclusions.

    What the autopsy reveals is that Democratic losses among working class voters were not limited to whites; that crucial constituencies within the party see its leaders as alien; and that unity over economic populism may not be able to turn back the conservative tide.

    Equally disturbing, winning back former party loyalists who switched to Trump will be tough: these white voters’ views on immigration and race are in direct conflict with fundamental Democratic tenets.

    • Thanks, Mr. McK. I don’t see the Rs in any better a position, nor the independents for that matter. All the People’s Political Scientists and all the People’s Political Consultants can’t solve the peculiar form of paralysis built into America’s contradictory constitution (not the same as, but certainly including the form of its written Constitution). It seems to take catastrophe to do that work, but the great news is that we are sure to get catastrophe. Indeed, we may already have gotten it, and may just be waiting for the larger waves to reach the shore.

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