Thursday, May 26, 2016

Volunteers For the Republican (Expletive) Patrol

So this crossed my screen as I read Balloon Juice today, that Newt Gingrich - ex-Speaker of the House, Hypocrite Supreme, and Fifth-Worst Person to Ever Come Out of Georgia - is actively campaigning to be Trump's Vice Presidential tag-team partner:

The Newt’s thin skin and enormous ego are indeed very reminiscent of a certain short-fingered vulgarian, and Gingrich’s inability to keep his eye on the prize (or his pecker in his pants) were largely responsible for the implosion of the GOP’s ‘new permanent majority’ twenty years ago. Putting him under the lights with Deadbeat Donald over the next five months would mean taking bets on which of the two would throw a total pants-soiling hissy-fit first… and whether it would be directed at the other half of the ticket.

While Anne Laurie is treating this as good news - because Newt's not all that popular even among fellow Republicans - I'm still wary of the entire situation. Partly because Trump's polling numbers are NOT going down as I would want, and I'd much prefer Trump going with a greater brain-fart candidate that would truly alienate everyone from here to "iHeart" Pluto.

Another part of it is that while Gingrich's "permanent majority" fell out of power by 2006, by 2010 an even worse version of the Republican Congress rose from those ashes. So nothing can be taken for granted here.

And the thing is, Newt's not the only one. Ex-Governor Rick Perry has been actively petitioning, among several other celebrity wannabes and hangers-on. The supposed split among the Republican ranks hasn't really happened as hoped for, because the overriding tribal affiliation to the Party has resumed control of every Far Right wingnut's mind.

They may not WANT Trump in their deepest part of their collective soul, but they will support him because they have to, even if it means twisting their bent logic - "Oh, he's not REALLY that racist or sexist or ignorant of facts" - into tighter knots than ever before.

And so, there are volunteers for the Shit Detail that is the Number Two Guy on the Trump ticket.

I've pondered before why anyone would take the Vice Presidency - historically speaking, it's an office that had been alienated by nearly every President who preferred their own counsel and Cabinet - outside of party loyalty. It's been a place where political careers go to die (literally in some cases: there are as many dead Veeps as there have been dead Presidents). Granted, ever since the Cold War and the need for proper succession made the Veep job more vital, it's still mostly a hanger-on job: very few modern Vice Presidents successfully become Presidents on their own terms (sorry, Al) and even then never with two full terms (sorry, Bush the Elder and Van Buren).

A lot of it had to do with the office being used to "balance" the party ticket: to placate the faction that lost the Presidency race. Because of that, the Vice President was someone philosophically opposed - sometimes personally opposed - to the Boss, who knew it and would never build a rapport.

Nowadays, the Vice Presidency job has a relatively high profile - due to 25th Amendment considerations, Veeps have to be in the loop more often and their counsel more valued. In the proper environment, a popular Vice President could move post-office into a party role as mentor, with a lot of perks and fewer headaches. So there is some value to being a Veep now.

For Newt - someone who's been driven from high office and looking for some kind of comeback (I'm surprised he never tried for the governor's seat, like most exiles from DC tend to aim for) - even being a Vice President nominee could bring him back into a major intra-party role. That could explain part of his interest.

There's another possibility: getting into the Oval Office with Trump getting kicked out of it...

The Republican Party leadership - plus a lot of outside observers, myself included - still have the nagging feeling that Trump really isn't interested or motivated to really be President. That is, he's running because he started it and can't back out as he needs to satisfy that bloated narcissistic Id of his. This is a guy who likes things handed to him on a gold platter and for things to be easy: whenever anything in his business or personal life gets too hard to cope with, he's shown the habit of dropping that problem like a hot potato and running away.

His World-view and Character is of someone who avoids the major conflict even as he drives towards it, diverts the matter into bankruptcy or divorce court, and moves on to another "easy money" project without a care. For all his tough talk and bluster, he doesn't stick to anything of lasting import or value.

As Trump gets closer to the possibility of winning the whole campaign, more observers are noting how implausible - if not impossible - many of Trump's political promises can even see the light of day. Not so much his offer of a massive tax-cut plan - a Republican Congress will eagerly pass it or something similarly bad - but the promises of mass deportation of illegals, the massive border wall with Mexico, and a trade war with China.

Trump can't change or avoid those promises - although he'd have to if he "pivots" to a moderate stance that abhors such frivolity and race hatred - so he'll likely have to offer something fulfilling those plans if he's President by January 2017. And then he - and the Republican Congress - are going to slam into some serious Brick Walls of Reality:

Those examples prove why - in the Real World as a lot of President-Elects find out real fucking fast - the President of the United States is a lot less powerful than the job title (LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD) makes it seem. You can talk and promise all you want, but once you sit in that chair you're going to find that throne room becomes a prison awful quick...

Ergo: if Trump gets into the Oval Office, he's going to get frustrated with the limits of power he's going to run into. He's going to slam hard not only into the political realities of foreign policy and military interventionism, but he's also going to run against the separation of powers between his office and Capitol Hill.

While it's likely Trump will inherit a Republican-controlled Congress if he wins, it's also likely he's going to inherit a Congress that's out-of-control with the backbencher Tea Party factions making the Speaker and Senate Majority Leader's lives a living hell. Getting any bills through Congress can become a conflict, and Trump's managerial style of bullying and taking what he wants is going to rub a lot of political egos - you never deal with One Congress, you're dealing with 535 Maniacs - the wrong way.

I have marked Trump as a severe Active-Negative character, and historical trends with A-N types - Adams, Buchanan, Wilson, Hoover, LBJ, Nixon, Carter - even with a favorable Congress had a lot of bad blood spilled. Trump could well cause a Constitutional crisis with Congress without even planning to, and given his nature of "bluff first, quit later" it can play out one of two ways.

Trump could quit when the going gets tough, or Trump could get seriously impeached - by his fellow Republicans, whose leadership you'll recall are NOT really fans of his - because he'll cross a line that should never be crossed. And we're talking about Trump whose long list of failures and con jobs point to a man who never paid a price for crossing any lines, and will likely commit a mortal sin before his first week in office is over.

If we're playing out this game, both possibilities equal one result: the Vice President when Trump leaves becomes President.

Now all of a sudden, being Veep is a more appealing position. Despite the likelihood of public humiliation of being Trump's Bell-Boy carrying his luggage - hi, Chris Christie! - the high odds of Trump quitting or getting "fired" for his inevitable transgressions would make it all worth one's while.

It'd be an easy way to sneak into an office that Newt - or Perry, or Palin, or any of the other volunteers - was never able to win on his/her own. If they play it right they could present themselves as "savior" to their party (and the nation) and make a run in 2020 as the incumbent. As long as Trump's disastrous yet short reign didn't cause a massive calamity like a global depression or yet another ground war of doom, they would get good odds to win...

So I'm not surprised by the number of eager cadets lining up for the demeaning job of Trump's Sidekick.

I'm actually a little horrified, because there's enough of these Republicans in party leadership positions genuinely believing they got a shot to win. They can't be that deluded, can they...?

Oh, and ego alert here: I was off by one blog count, so this is actually my 999th blog article. THE NEXT ONE is 1000. I gotta make it count...


dinthebeast said...

I don't think the Republicans would throw him out of office, they only do that to Democrats. What horrifies me is the "Cheney effect"; which will be 10X worse with Trump because he actually (has already said he) doesn't want to do the job, and is looking for a veep who can do it for him. So, like Cheney did with W, the vice president will be taking care of the details and policy positions while Trump takes care of all of the ego stroking functions (which, as he will find out, aren't really much fun) and a Republican congress will protect him from the blowback his actions precipitate (as a part of covering their own asses) and the right wing dog will have once again caught the car it was chasing and have no fucking idea what to do with it, except for enacting as many of their destructive policies as they can as fast as they can. So we'll get a nation-wide version of the god damn Brownback experiment, and be dealing with the awful, awful Republicans Trump will appoint as they burrow their way into the (big) government they hate so much and do their dead level best to destroy it, while the country deteriorates and the slim little opportunity we have to reverse course on climate change passes us by and we resign ourselves to watching Florida (and West Oakland) disappear beneath the rising sea levels...
So once again with feeling: HEAR YE ALL DEMOCRATS (and sane people in general) VOTE, GOD DAMN IT! If we all just vote this time, we can't lose. Yes, it's gonna be ugly to the extreme, but not nearly as ugly as it will be if Trump wins.

-Doug in Oakland

Pinku-Sensei said...

As both Paul Krugman and Ezra Klein have written, Newt is a dumb person's idea of a smart man, just like Trump is a poor person's idea of a rich man. Just the same, Newt is still smart (he *is* Dr. Gingrich, after all, and I will give respect to a fellow Ph.D.) just as Trump is still rich. Therefore, Newt is definitely smart enough to have figured all of this out already. That written, neither Newt nor Trump is as smart or as rich as they think they are.

Paul said...

Another argument I'm seeing online has been how the Veep in a potential Trump administration is going to be very much like Dick Cheney: where the President is going to be willingly disconnected from the day-to-day operations, leaving the real decision-making to his handlers. In this environment the Vice President can commit a lot of sins and hide it all behind the aegis of "national security" along with having the plausible deniability from a President Trump who won't know and won't care.

The worst of both worlds.