Careful What You Ask For

In the “Careful What You Ask For” category, consider the timeworn political strategy of Republicans and their radio and television affiliates scaring the pants off the public.

It’s no wonder the Republicans are pulling out all the stops. As a conservative columnist noted recently: “America is in greater economic shape than any other major nation on earth. Crime is down. Abortion rates are down. Fourteen million new jobs have been created in five years.”

Not to mention the vast reduction in the number of Americans now in harm’s way amidst the endless religious wars of the Middle East.

So what are the threats that are said to eclipse an otherwise sunny future?

It’s the fearsome threat of all those “criminal” Latin Americans crossing our southern borders and, of course, a world full of dependably “murderous” Muslims anxious to bring down our democracy—all made worse by a sitting President who “spinelessly” fails to send armies to the Middle East to teach Iran and ISIS a thing or two.

Well, it has to be acknowledged that the fear strategy is indeed working again. In fact, it seems to be working a bit too well.

The GOP is finding its presidential race dominated by two Presidential hopefuls whose threats and tirades against illegal immigrants and Muslims etc. etc. are attracting large numbers of the nervous and frightened.

But these candidates’ success is sending shivers down the spines of the Republican establishment, according to a recent Politico story.

“There are at least two candidates who could utterly destroy the Republican bench for a generation if they became the nominee” says Mitch McConnell’s former chief of staff.

One of these two candidates, who inherited great wealth, trumpets (pun intended) a brilliant business career more notable for the number of bankruptcies than for smashing successes. Of him, a GOP stalwart who served in the last three Republican administrations says, “he has repeatedly revealed his ignorance of basic matters of national interest”, adding that “he would be the most unqualified president in American history”.

The other candidate is full of bombast, venom and ambition (but flexible, if need be). He may not be able to get along with anyone, much less his Republican Senate colleagues. But he’s the darling of a narrow band of the Republican rich and faithful who are so far to the right of the GOP conservative establishment that they gave up on Ronald Reagan who they deemed insufficiently ideologically pure.

With GOP leadership hoist on their own petard with this unhappy state of affairs, it will be interesting to see how they get out of this pickle. They’d like to somehow build consensus around a more mainstream candidate. Problem there is, other candidates are now beginning to follow the path of Trump and Cruz seeking similar success, Marco Rubio being a prime example.

Meanwhile, Politico reports, some down ballot Republicans across the country are already figuring out how to put distance between them and a Trump or Cruz Presidential candidacy.

I guess this is the sort of stuff that makes politics so endlessly interesting.

Chuck Wellborn

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