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American politics 2016

[ 47 ] February 27, 2016 |

The scenario Karl Rove outlined was bleak.

Addressing a luncheon of Republican governors and donors in Washington on Feb. 19, he warned that Donald J. Trump’s increasingly likely nomination would be catastrophic, dooming the party in November. But Mr. Rove, the master strategist of George W. Bush’s campaigns, insisted it was not too late for them to stop Mr. Trump, according to three people present.

At a meeting of Republican governors the next morning, Paul R. LePage of Maine called for action. Seated at a long boardroom table at the Willard Hotel, he erupted in frustration over the state of the 2016 race, saying Mr. Trump’s nomination would deeply wound the Republican Party. Mr. LePage urged the governors to draft an open letter “to the people,” disavowing Mr. Trump and his divisive brand of politics.

The suggestion was not taken up.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage endorsed Donald Trump for president Friday, lending the GOP front-runner the backing of another northeastern governor on the same day Chris Christie offered his support.

“I’ll be very honest. I originally said I’d like it to be a governor, but unfortunately, the American people are not going for a governor this year. So I’m going to endorse Donald Trump,” LePage said on the “Howie Carr Show,” a syndicated talk radio show based in Boston.

LePage endorsed Christie in July, but switched gears after Christie dropped out of the race. LePage’s endorsement comes mere hours after Christie endorsed Trump at a rally in Texas.

“I was Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular. So I think I should support him since we’re one of the same cloth,” said LePage, an outspoken politician whose comments have often thrown him in the spotlight — just like Trump.

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  • N__B

    I was Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular.

    “Why are they confessing?”

    “They’re not. They’re bragging.”

    • T.E. Shaw

      I’m gonna be so pissed when The Big Short loses out to The Revenant.

      • N__B

        I’m hoping the bear wins an award for mauling Leo.

        • aaronl

          Did you mean Glenn Ennis? No, of course not. What makes your suggestion such a great analogy for the present campaign is that the bear attack was CGI — so giving the ‘bear’ the win effectively requires us to buy into make-believe.

          • N__B

            What I meant is that, while I generally like DiCaprio, his shameless Oscar-begging and the annoyance of watching the not-very-good Revenant had me hoping that a large carnivore would try to eat him.

      • Barry Freed

        Mad Max: Fury Road or GTFO

      • Karen24

        We went to see “The Revenant” two weeks ago. Our sons wanted to see “Deadpool,” and they sold them tickets, but then decided that the 14-year-old was too young for a comic book movie, so he came to the other movie with us. His review: “Tom Hardy and Leonardo di Caprio fight to the death for an Oscar.”

        • Murc

          Our sons wanted to see “Deadpool,” and they sold them tickets, but then decided that the 14-year-old was too young for a comic book movie, so he came to the other movie with us.

          Deadpool is a hard R. It didn’t get that rating because of swearing; it got it because of human beings being turned into piles of ground meat on-screen and for a whole lot of T and A. (I can now say I’ve seen Ryan Reynolds dick.) The fact that it’s a “comic book movie” is irrelevant to those facts.

          The theater made the right call; they can get into deep trouble with the MPAA for letting kids into R-rated movies without an accompanying parent or adult guardian.

          • Jordan

            they can get into deep trouble with the MPAA for letting kids into R-rated movies without an accompanying parent or adult guardian.

            Is that really true?

            • Malaclypse

              No.

              • Jordan

                Hehe.

            • Murc

              Is that really true?

              Yes, actually.

              I mean… the MPAA doesn’t have people watching everyone all the time. It’s a bit of an open secret that kids get into R-rated movies all the time.

              But the MPAA doesn’t like bad publicity. If you’ve ever seen a movie theater with a sign that says “ID required for all R-rated tickets” it is because the MPAA has said “if your local news runs a story about someone who was clearly fourteen buying R-rated tickets, or about theater staff knowingly letting unsupervised minors into one, we’ll stop distributing to you so fast.”

              And even above and beyond that, no theater manager wants to be in the position of someone screaming at them “YOU LET MY KIDS WATCH FILTH!” “Sir, it’s rated R, and you bought the tickets…” “IT’S A COMIC BOOK MOVIE, IT ISN’T SUPPOSED TO HAVE BOOBIES! YOU SHOULD HAVE STOPPED ME!” “You’re meant to accompany them…” “YOU LET ME SEND THEM IN UNSUPERVISED, THIS IS YOUR FAULT!”

              • Malaclypse

                Back in the 90s, I worked in a theater in Allston for 5 years or so. Nobody gave a shit. I mean, you wouldn’t sell to a bunch of 12-year-olds, but that was because they would be asses and draw attention, not because of the MPAA.

                • Murc

                  It may come as a surprise to you that things might have changed in a bit in an intervening two decades.

                  Well, okay. That’s unfair. This could just be a local thing for me, or unique to the national chains around here.

                • efgoldman

                  Back in the 90s, I worked in a theater in Allston for 5 years or so. Nobody gave a shit.

                  Dunno’ why, but I thought the Allston Cinema closed before that.
                  When I was a kid, it was an ordinary neighborhood third-run, double feature on Saturday, theater.

              • aaronl

                That’s really just a longer version of “no”. The last time I was in an R-rated movie full of ill-behaved, unsupervised teenagers, at a theater that loves to brag about its family values and Christian ownership, the manager said in effect, “Once their parents buy them the tickets, they can see the show.”

                Can you find me a single case, from anywhere in the nation, of a theater being refused permission to show films after allowing unsupervised < 17-year-old kids into an R-rated movie?

          • Karen24

            I was only irritated that they waited until we bought the ticket to explain this.

            • Murc

              That’s a bit of a dick move, yeah.

    • GoDeep

      He’s Donald Trump without all the money or the great hair.

  • Barry Freed

    I’m worried about an incipient national popcorn shortage.

    • GoDeep

      I’m more of a Goober girl when I’m watching comedies.

      • Hogan

        I hope it’s a comedy. And not the kind that ends like Dr. Strangelove.

    • efgoldman

      I’m worried about an incipient national popcorn shortage.

      Maybe an alcohol shortage, too.

      • Hogan

        DON’T EVEN JOKE ABOUT THAT.

  • Docrailgun

    That wacky Turdblossom. It’s good that Rove is keeping busy – that way he’ll be sure to go to the same hell Scalia scuttled off to.

    • CrunchyFrog

      Well, Scalia, as I said earlier, is in for a hell of a shock. He thought he was being Pius. Rove, OTOH, is one of those guys who, if he believes in hell, knows he’s going there and thinks he’ll run the place when he gets there.

    • efgoldman

      That wacky Turdblossom.

      Ol’ Turd hasn’t won anything since 2004. His election night 2012 meltdown should disqualify him from consulting for anyone, anywhere, and for collecting money. But we’re talking about Republiklowns here; they don’t do rational.

  • NonyNony

    I’ll be very honest. I originally said I’d like it to be a governor, but unfortunately, the American people are not going for a governor this year.

    Translation: Republican voters have rejected the various assholes that I might endorse and have winnowed it down to a choice of three. Two of them I despise, so Trump it is.

    I know LePage really isn’t in the GOP “establishment” as such, but still – I suspect that there are a lot of GOP political figures who are making this calculus right now and thinking that with Trump they have a shot at making the long odds and winning the lottery but with Cruz or Rubio they’re dead in the water for the general election.

    (I think that’s largely correct – I originally thought that Rubio would be the guy who would be hardest to beat in the general election but now? Pffft. The guy’s so easy to rattle and so damaged already that I think he’d get curbstomped by Martin O’Malley, let alone Clinton or Sanders. And while Cruz fires up the base, I this Trump basically has all of his positives while having only some of his negatives. I can see Jeb and Rubio voters settling for Trump a lot quicker than they’ll settle for Cruz)

    • FMguru

      I agree. In a way, it reminds me of the calculus that went into the selection of Palin back in 2008. McCain was clearly on his way to defeat, picking a traditional Midwestern bowl of mush like Pawlenty as VP wouldn’t change than, so taking a long shot on an untested obscurity with the potential to change the course of the race was a defensible gamble. It didn’t work out that way (long shots and hail mary passes seldom do), but the logic was sound. Same thing with Trump.

      I also think there’s some calculation on a personal level for these pols. Trump doesn’t have a big circle of political allies and policy advisers so if he does manage to win there will be a much larger than usual number of appointments available. Being in the first wave of establishment figures to break for Trump puts you at the front of the line for cabinet-level jobs in the unlikely event of a Trump administration. I doubt it’s coincidental that LePage, like Christie, is hugely unpopular in his home state and won’t have much of a political career there once his term as Governor is up.

      • CrunchyFrog

        McCain’s preference was Liebermann. It makes sense, if you think about it. His whole career was based on being the GOP guy who’d go against his own party, the contrarian. He was told, however, in no uncertain terms that the GOP machine wouldn’t support him in the general election if he did so. (Once again demonstrating the superiority of the GOP machine to the Democrats – how the Democrats didn’t figure out that the guy the right wing recruited to knock out liberal Republican Lowell Weicker was going to be a right wing dick in disguise is beyond me, but there you go.)

        When they told him he needed a wingnut he realized it was pretty slim pickings. He also knew that he had to swing for the fences given the electoral climate – and this was still weeks before the financial crash. Given the noise raised by the PUMAs a female candidate made a lot of sense, and the GOP had a surprisingly strong bench of them (Hutchinson, Whitman, etc.) but they all were pro-choice!!!! Haley hadn’t been elected yet, as were others who now have some name recognition. So that left him with Palin. Sure, she came across as a bit of a dumb hick, but his staff figured they could train her and in the worst case scenario she’d come across as another Dan Quayle. They had no idea that she was untrainable and would make Quayle look like Einstein.

        But yes, even in retrospect the risk is understandable. I know there is a line of thought that doing so risked the country, in the off-chance that somehow McCain might actually win, but realistically a President Palin would have had a very short life expectancy.

        • aaronl

          I think it was more basic. Lieberman was McCain’s friend and had long been a Senate colleague. Lieberman, for reasons that seem to be rooted in factors including 9/11 and his party’s rejection of him as a presidential candidate in 2004, decided to effectively split from the Democrats. I think McCain saw the opportunity to add to the ticket somebody he knew and trusted, and who he could use to try to convince swing voters that the Democrats were weak. As for his being told, “That would be suicide with the Republican base”, or words to that effect, that seems to be pretty much indisputable. It may not have even been necessary to voice the words, as even the rumor of having Lieberman on the ticket caused a significant, negative reaction within the Republican party.

          • Scott P.

            Lieberman split from the Democrats because he lost the Democratic primary to Lamont and then ran as an independent.

        • efgoldman

          President Palin would have had a very short life expectancy.

          Literally?

      • efgoldman

        but the logic was sound

        Not if Grandpa Walnuts or any of his “braintrust” had talked to her for more than five minutes.

        • Gareth

          I’m still fascinated that Palin was asked very early in the process whether she believed in evolution, and she did. That really was a good question for McCain to ask, but there were so many more he could have.

    • I suspect that there are a lot of GOP political figures who are making this calculus right now and thinking that with Trump they have a shot at making the long odds and winning the lottery but with Cruz or Rubio they’re dead in the water for the general election.

      I’d say that’s giving them way too much credit. These are the same fools who genuinely believed Mittens was going to win in a walk right up until about 7pm on Election Day.

      The Trump disgust comes from the other direction. They think this election is a given – in their closed world Hillary Clinton is little better than Satan and about as popular – and they see Trump as the one guy who can lose it for them. Now that he’s looking for real, they’re talking themselves into it any way they can.

  • Assistant Professor

    “…Mr. Rove, the master strategist…”

    No.

    Just no.

    The only thing that Karl Rove is a “master strategist” at is getting the press to buy his bullsh*t that he’s a Machiavellian genius. In no known universe should “barely eked out a hundred and fifty-ish votes under highly questionable circumstances” and “won re-election as a wartime incumbent” be regarded as marks of Machiavellian genius or master strategy.

    • pianomover

      Rove and American Crossroads is a grift in danger of failing bigtime.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      The only thing that Karl Rove is a “master strategist” at is getting the press to buy his bullsh*t that he’s a Machiavellian genius.

      Rove is a “master” at “baiting” reality-based liberals.

    • Scott Lemieux

      To be Scrupulously Fair, he did pull off the astonishing feat of getting Republicans elected in Texas and Alabama.

    • “barely eked out a hundred and fifty-ish votes under highly questionable circumstances”

      Much as I hate the son of a bitch, I’m forced to conclude that he deserves a lot of credit/blame for that. His grand Mark Hanna act was always bullshit, but so many tiny things could’ve swung that election that the way he played the press and made Fuckhead more likable than he’d be at pretty much any other part of his public life really counted. He malingers around Republican media circles because that’s where the money is, but the 2000 election was one of those rare cases where the campaign manager actually deserves a lot of credit.

      His masterpiece trashed the country and set the planet on fire, so he should be exiled from polite discourse, but once upon a time he was very good at his job.

  • Joe_JP

    It does give MSNBC a lot to talk about (including with help from Cruz knockoffs) though might require kicking Melissa Harris-Perry to the curb. But, I’m told the whole race is super-fascinating so not to worry.

    • Drexciya

      Maintaining the illusion of a legitimate political process requires telling the few voices of color allowed through the door to leave the impact of their color right outside of it. As long as talking about Trump brings more attention than talking about and encouraging the forces that act as rejections of what he represents, such networks will move forward as they have.

      Semi-relatedly, I would like to see some people openly grapple with how Beyonce can contain no political content or meaning when the process of analyzing what that content/meaning might be was sufficient cause to sink one of the only black women with their own national platform to discuss politics:

      It was Super Bowl Sunday. The previous afternoon, Beyoncé surprised her fans by releasing a politically charged new song, “Formation.”

      Conversations about race, gender and politics are a cornerstone of Harris-Perry’s acclaimed talk show. But executives at MSNBC wanted her to just cover presidential politics that day — no time for “Formation.”

      “Her executive producer had to fight for it,” according to a source who recounted the skirmish.

      Harris-Perry won the Beyoncé battle but lost the war, which had been raging for months. She has not hosted since that day. On Friday, she spoke out publicly, saying she had been “silenced” by MSNBC and placed in a form of cable news purgatory.

      • petesh

        [snark] So firing MH-P is all Beyoncé’s fault.

        Oh, right, they didn’t fire her, they just made her position completely untenable. So that’s all right then. [/snark]

        • efgoldman

          So firing MH-P is all Beyoncé’s fault

          Everything that isn’t Barack Obama’s fault is Beyonce’s or Cam Newton’s fault.

  • djw

    As much as I loathe the rise of Donald Trump, that’s an extremely satisfying read.

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