Where Were the Sane Republicans?

Answering a question that gets a lot.

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I’ve been asked numerous times over the years variants of the question posed by long-time commenter <a href=”#comment-2090100″>Barry</a> on my “The Republican Party Jumps the Shark” post:

James, where the frack where people like you in the loooong slide of the GOP to this point?

I’ve been, among other things, writing here for 13-plus years decrying much of the slide. From quite literally the first day of posting here, I’ve been pushing back against over-the-top commentary from those on my side of the aisle. On the third substantive post, I rejected Jonah Goldberg’s argument that our European allies were being somehow ungrateful in not supporting our impending war in Iraq. On the very next post, I denounced Ann Coulter’s charge that American critics of the war were somehow committing treason. This, despite supporting the war myself and being more ideologically conservative at the time.  Along the way, I staunchly defended John Kerry against the Swift Boat attacks from Day 1 (I get stauncher in that as the story developed; defending Kerry was my initial reaction), lambasted John McCain for picking Sarah Palin within minutes of the announcement (the criticism got worse soon; I didn’t even know her at the time of the announcement), and opposed the Birthers and Tea Party from the beginning.

But the “Republican Party,” like the “Democratic Party,” is a label for a whole lot of disparate things.  From a comparative politics standpoint, there’s the party-in-government (the elected politicians and the party’s candidates for office); the party-in-organization (the National Committee and the various state and local party officials and, in some definitions, the various lobbyists, think tankers, pundits, and whatnot); and the party-in-electorate (those who vote for the party’s candidates).  The three have diverged substantially over the years.  Moreover, there’s a vast difference in the party from state-to-state and locality-to-locality.

As longtime readers of the site know, my ideology has shifted considerably over the years. That’s partly a consequence to having moved to the DC area from rural Alabama shortly before starting the site. Mostly, though, it’s been a function of near-daily interaction with this site’s commentariate over the last 13-odd years, getting mostly-thoughtful feedback on my thoughts and widening my aperture. (That it’s mostly the latter is confirmed by my “control,” fellow OTBer Steven Taylor, who has had a similar evolution despite staying put at Troy, where he’s risen to become Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.)  So, it’s certainly true that actions and statements by Republican leaders that I supported in 1994 or even 2004 would be anathema to me now.

At the same time, however, the party itself has changed, with the extremists gaining more control. The Tea Party managed to purge a lot of mainstream Republicans—including many who would have been considered Movement Conservatives a few years earlier—from the party’s ranks in the primary process. Still, at the national level, the party nominated relative centrist John McCain and Mitt Romney as its standard bearer in the last two elections.  While I had my disagreements with both men—and that’s especially true of post-defeat McCain, whose foreign policy views confound me—it was easy enough to support their candidacies.

Donald Trump is another thing entirely. While there’s a sense in which Trump is the culmination of all that’s been going wrong with the GOP for twenty years, he’s something more and less than that. He has no discernible ideology, unless one counts populist pandering. It’s not just that he espouses some extremely radical views on immigration and exhibits serial misogyny, although that’s disqualifying. He simply lacks the temperament or judgment to be president. He has no experience that would have prepared him for the office and, unlike 2008 Barack Obama—for whom the same thing was arguably true—he has shown no inclination to study. Nor has he surrounded himself with expert advisors.

That the base of the party has chosen this man as its nominee over several highly qualified candidates over a months-long campaign was the final signal that I’m simply not one of them any longer. I’ve been trying to fight the battle from within the party for years but the fight seems to be over.

 

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Donald Trump is another thing entirely. While there’s a sense in which Trump is the culmination of all that’s been going wrong with the GOP for twenty years, he’s something more and less than that.

    This is true insofar as a good bit of what he is espousing does not conform to the long-term attitudes of movement conservatives. But you are also correct that he does represent a great deal of what has been fueling the GOP for quite some time: the xenophobia and racism that has been allowed to percolate is part of it. The reliance on infotainment as a steady diet of many GOP voters is also part of it.

    Of course, it is ultimately the confluence of all of those things (and more) plus a highly fragmented field and primary rules that helped the plurality candidate. This allowed one faction of the party to take over and here we are.

  2. steve s says:

    good post.

  3. Mikey says:

    I’ve been trying to fight the battle from within the party for years but the fight seems to be over.

    For me it was over with the rise of the Tea Party and the consequent commitment of the GOP leadership to do nothing but oppose and obstruct the President. Trump is simply the most recent step on a path the Republican Party has been following for years.

  4. Monala says:

    I do appreciate a desire to stay within a group to try to change it from within.

  5. Tillman says:

    Now imagine growing up and coming of age during the party’s disintegration, but simultaneously being told by the media that both sides deserve equal respect. I’m in the older cohort of Millennials, but that basic cognitive dissonance that continues to this day is the experience when it’s not pure apathy.

  6. Pch101 says:

    I’m not sure good could have ever possibly come from a coalition of xenophobes, regressive Christian ideologues who are incapable of separating church from state, and the naive self-centered Ayn Rand brigade.

    These are groups that simply don’t deserve to be represented by a mainstream political party. Major political parties should be intentionally marginalizing them, not courting them.

  7. CSK says:

    The truly ironic thing is that the Trump Brigade feels as if the Tea Party has stabbed them in the back, presumably by not repealing APACA, impeaching Obama, banning abortion, ending immigration of non-northern Europeans, and a variety of other fantasies. They refuse to listen to any explanation of why any of this is impossible.

    These are people who will always turn on their perceived saviors, once those saviors get elected to office. They don’t know much, they run on their emotions, and they’ve been whipped into a frenzy by various talk radio hosts.

    They want every member of Congress voted out of office and replaced. What they don’t get is that the replacements will “betray” them once again.

  8. Moosebreath says:

    Good post, James. This must have been difficult to write.

    “It’s not just that he espouses some extremely radical views on immigration and exhibits serial misogyny, although that’s disqualifying. He simply lacks the temperament or judgment to be president. He has no experience that would have prepared him for the office and, unlike 2008 Barack Obama—for whom the same thing was arguably true—he has shown no inclination to study. Nor has he surrounded himself with expert advisors.”

    The saddest part is that these are all features, not bugs, to his supporters.

  9. Jeremy Tarone says:

    You’ve been at this for thirteen years? Fifteen years ago it was obvious the Republican party was in big trouble. Six years ago any intelligent human being would have figured out it was time to leave.
    Anyone calling themselves a Republican now is simply fooling themselves if they think they are doing anything to hold back the insanity that is the Republican party. If you are still voting Republican you are part of the problem.

    The reality is, people like you are the reason why the Republican party still has power even though it’s gone completely off the tracks. Two years into Obama’s presidency was enough to show Republicans no longer have any interest in governing for the people. Indeed, on the night Obama was sworn in the Republican party showed a brand new level of intransigence and obstruction and has only gotten worse ever since, even after every single lunatic thing they have done.

    You pointed to two people who are somewhat sane out of a party featuring hundreds of lunatics. The party is electing 9/11 truthers who believe the government is spraying mind control chemicals through plane contrails. Elected Republicans in the highest positions who agree that Americans are right to be concerned that President Obama was trying to take over Texas with the armed forces.

    So give yourself a hearty slap on the back, sit back and watch the Republican party burn your country to the ground. Get yourself a beer and some marshmallows and weenies, enjoy the show, because you are part of the group of people who made it happen. Your going to get upset now and come up with reasons why your not to blame. You only supported the not so insane people, right? You still supported the Republican party. You’ve been told for years that this is exactly where your party was going. It was obvious to anyone outside of the party. Those inside were making excuses. “I’m trying to fix it from within!”.
    It was the Republican party leadership that got together and decided to block everything that Obama did. Obama is a centrist, contrary to what Republicans believe and spout. The ACA was a Republican idea. But Republicans have gone so far to the right they call Obama a communist and a socialist. And they chose to block everything he would try to do. In a government system that requires bipartisanship to run.

    Walk away or take responsibility for supporting a party that’s gone completely insane.

  10. John Constantine says:

    Hey James, long time.

    It has been a long ride, but it’s still crystal clear that this isn’t a fluke. While certainly a strong strain, after 9/11 the whole demonification of the democratic party has been the dominant strategy of team conservative. And the demonification of government of any form has been a pillar of the the play book, which just accelerated exponentially when Obama was elected (for a variety of very bizarre reasons), has led what seems to be a decent plurality of team GOP being batshit crazy when you throw in the birther movement, the hilarious T party (baggin’!) and the total domination of conservative thought driven by Ben Carson email forwarding. I mean. My god. Sarah Palin.

    I remember the arguments we had over Iraq, then the aftermath and then the run up to the housing market collapse in 2008 (such a thing could never happen, I was thus educated by your comment community members). And even the strong defense of Palin. Not you so much that I remember, but a lot of your commenters.

    Still, you’ve changed. And against this backdrop of a Boschian nightmare, who wouldn’t? It’s an interesting litmus test.

    But there are stages of grief and acceptance is the last. For some value of “sane”, most of the “sane” Republicans are still in denial. Them that’s not are in the anger stage, which, you know, is not exactly helpful for a movement largely built on resentment and anger. But whatever. We still have bargaining to go through. And then, sweet acceptance.

    My dad finally told me he’s leaving the GOP, too. Which, is good to hear. He still despises Hillary, of course. So, nothing is really changed, has it? So I’ll just pencil in something for “acceptance phase” somewhere around… next June?

    It’s going to be another horrific year, unfortunately. For everyone. Seems like all the masks are being ripped off and lord have mercy, there’s a shit load of ugliness hiding underneath it.

    Yay.

  11. James Pearce says:

    @Pch101:

    These are groups that simply don’t deserve to be represented by a mainstream political party. Major political parties should be intentionally marginalizing them, not courting them.

    You say that as if these groups don’t exist and can be wished away.

    But they do exist, concentrated in large numbers in some areas, and that’s why they’re courted. And yes, they “deserve” to be represented by a mainstream political party just as much as anyone else. They don’t deserve to be marginalized. They deserve to be constrained. That’s all.

  12. Jeremy Tarone says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    wrote: “…xenophobia and racism that has been allowed to percolate is part of it.”

    Xenophobia and racism wasn’t “allowed”, it was used and promoted as a tool by the Republican party, it’s highest leaders and it’s media machine to get votes, support and bodies in the voting booths.

  13. CSK says:

    @Moosebreath:

    “The saddest part is that these are all features, not bugs, to his supporters.”

    Yes. Exactly. Trump licensed them to put their full ugliness on display in the guise of being a patriotic American.

  14. Bookdragon says:

    Sometimes the only thing left is to vote with your feet. Welcome to the club.

  15. Jenos Idanian says:

    I said this sentiment in another thread, Dr. Joyner, but I’ll rephrase it here.

    Your “sane” branch of the GOP is the branch that gave us Bush 41’s second term, President Dole, President McCain, and President Romney. It presented the game plan of putting forth a nice, “sane,” moderate candidate, who would put up a good fight, then lose graciously to the Democratic nominee, and they were fine with that.

    That was the plan, and that was how it played out.

    I can see three possible explanations for that.

    1) Since you brought up “sanity,” there’s the classic definition of insanity as doing the same thing, over and over, expecting different results. So maybe you’re the insane one.

    2) Your branch really is that incompetent, that they can’t find a candidate who can actually win.

    3) The constant losing is part of the plan — you’re perfectly comfortable with the Democrats, and have been helping them win.

    During all those failures, your branch told the peasants to shut up and listen to their betters, show up and vote for the chosen one, then go back and shut up again.

    This year, the plan went on as intended, but it was just a little premature. The peasants revolted and extended a huge — I’m sorry, a YUUUUUGE middle finger named Donald Trump. And your chosen candidates, instead of losing graciously to the Democratic nominee, lost ungraciously to that middle finger.

    I find myself underwhelmed with sympathy. All the warning signs were there — hell, the Congressional elections were dominated by the Tea Party movement. But instead of listening to them, or even trying to ally with or even co-opt them, you gave them the middle finger.

    Now you’re getting it right back, twice as hard, and you really don’t like that, do you?

  16. An Interested Party says:

    Indeed, on the night Obama was sworn in the Republican party showed a brand new level of intransigence and obstruction and has only gotten worse ever since, even after every single lunatic thing they have done.

    Humph, just imagine how the GOP will react on the day Hillary is sworn in…

  17. Pch101 says:

    @James Pearce:

    It’s not particularly smart to allow the inmates to run the asylum.

  18. al-Ameda says:

    That the base of the party has chosen this man as its nominee over several highly qualified candidates over a months-long campaign was the final signal that I’m simply not one of them any longer. I’ve been trying to fight the battle from within the party for years but the fight seems to be over.

    There’s a notion out there that about 27% of the electorate is crazy and will vote for a candidate or ballot initiative against all rational judgment and consideration – the Crazification Factor.

    I’ve come to believe it, it shows up in polling often enough. The problem that the Republican Party has today is that 90% of the Crazification is in their party, and those people are active and motivated.

  19. grumpy realist says:

    @Jenos Idanian: The problem is that the inmates took over the asylum.

    These are people who think that they can “default on the US debt” and not have it be a problem. These are people who think that they can cut taxes and POOF we’ll get more money coming into the Treasury (how’s that going in Kansas, BTW?). These are people who absolutely refuse to admit the existence of evolution or climate change.

    If Trump gets elected POTUS, I predict t that at some point in his rule he will be confronted with the equivalent of “ASTEROID! INCOMING!”

    And he will discover, just as the Soviets did with Chernobyl and the Urals, just as we learned with Katrina and the Challenger, that Mama. Nature. Cannot. Be. Bullied. And that The. Universe. Does. Not. Care.

  20. James Pearce says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    But instead of listening to them, or even trying to ally with or even co-opt them, you gave them the middle finger.

    Now you’re getting it right back, twice as hard

    Cute “First Blood” narrative there. But that’s not actually what’s going on…

    This is what’s happening: A diminishing faction of the Republican party is finding themselves more irrelevant and more outnumbered, and they’re being assholes about it. Hence all this “middle finger” business.

    It should be apparent that not everyone on the right is so nihilist.

    @Pch101:

    It’s not particularly smart to allow the inmates to run the asylum.

    No doubt, but from a general philosophical point of view, I’m not really into “intentionally marginalizing” people all that much.

    Like, that’s just not cool.

  21. Katharsis says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Of course, it is ultimately the confluence of all of those things (and more) plus a highly fragmented field and primary rules that helped the plurality candidate. This allowed one faction of the party to take over and here we are.

    I think this wording is little too kind, or perhaps is desperately crying for qualifiers. This ‘one faction’ is very large within the GOP, not some random heckler among equals. And for those that abandoned the GOP much earlier this is the point.

    FiveThirtyEight

    Shorter version: 3/4 of republican primary voters swing for Trump. Low income republicans in blue states would crawl over glass for him, while higher income republicans in red states are the only ones for Cruz (or shall we say not Trump).

    I’m not saying this is an exhaustive look, but it is one of many signs all pointing to the same thing: this is not a fluke.

  22. @Jeremy Tarone: I will rephrase/clarify and state that the xenophobia and racism was cultivated by some, allowed by others, and approached with utter denial by many others.

  23. @Katharsis: What I am getting at is that the parties are coalitions and the GOP is fragmented at the moment, and under different conditions (say, the rules used by the Democrats or a campaign with fewer candidates) Trump would have had a very different time in this process.

    The test will be how he does in November and what the lasting effects will be. A lot of Reps will vote for him out of tribal feelings or out of dislike of Clinton. Then the question becomes how much the GOP going forward a populist, nationalist party?

  24. All of my hedging language boils down to this: we cannot speak of any collective entity in a way that is 100% accurate about all members and segments of that collective. Hence any accurate discussion of “Liberals,” “Conservatives,” “Democrats,” “Republicans,” etc. requires caveats and qualifiers.

  25. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Shorter Jenos: The Republicans should have been nominating fascist demagogues all along.

  26. Gustopher says:

    Well, since the Sane Republicans did nothing while their party transformed itself into something that supports a neo-fascist, xenophobic demagogue, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Sane Republicans were off having tea with the Good Germans.

  27. Raoul says:

    Least we think JJ is among the sane, I do not believe he has repudiated his opinion on impeaching Clinton. At least he has walked back the Iraqi war but why does one need to wait for the deaths of 200,000 souls before questioning those views? From JJ I would like to see two things that I think would make for an interesting reading- 1-what happened to the GOP and 2 -why was he wrong.

  28. MarkedMan says:

    James, I sympathize with your plight. It must be tough to see a party you identified so strongly with change from underneath you. And it did change. While you and I will probably never agree on Reagan, I remember as you do that there used to be a core of the Republican Party that were practical and hard working and made the deals necessary to keep the country strong and moving forward. But I think part of your loss stems from seeing a political party in the same way you see a sports team. But perhaps the better analogy is that they are a firm asking to manage certain facets of a business you are responsible for. You evaluate them by the job they do and you can give them all or part of your business. You could be happy with them for years but once they start to slip you only spend so much time giving them constructive feedback before you have to move the work to someone else.

    You can mourn the way the Republican Party used to be but the truth is the old management is long gone and the new management is not running the business the same way. Sticking with them out of loyalty is wrong because you have to make your selection on what’s right for the country, and it’s also wrong because the people who you respected and trusted are gone. The new guys shouldn’t get it by default. In fact, those new guys are the ones who pushed your guys out in a hostile takeover.

  29. gVOR08 says:

    …there is no functioning institution called the Republican Party anymore. There was simply a vast universe of orbiting centers of power, some of them secular and some of them religious, some of them made up of a single wealthy person and some of them an aggregation of organized interest groups, all of them operating independently according to their own private physical laws. – Charles Pierce.

    Dr. Joyner, that had to be hard to write. IMHO most Republicans will eventually fall in line, at least through this election. But I don’t think you will. Many Republicans have actively or passively facilitated the growth of the Base. You have sometimes struck me as in the bubble, but for the most part you’ve been a voice of reason.

    Where do you go now? And what happens to our political parties? I’ve speculated that what will be called “the Republicans” will become a regional, nativist party and the moderate Rs will gravitate to the Dems, who are, sad to say, likely to welcome Neocons and corporatists. Seems ripe for eventually a third party that can challenge to replace “the Republicans”. But a genuine left party? Or a Third Way, No Labels sort of party between the Dems and Rs? There’s arguably an opening for a genuinely populist party, but it would have to be a coalition of “blue collar” whites and minorities, and I don’t see how that happens.

  30. Gustopher says:

    The Sane Republicans have spent the last 50 years making increasingly unpleasant deals with the devil — starting with the Sourthern Strategy and co-opting the racist vote.

    It started innocently enough, with a few racist dog whistles, and then Reagan gave us welfare queens driving Cadillacs, and fused that onto traditional conservative notions of individual responsibility and added a bit of Randian Objectivism to the mix. If people are poor it’s their own fault, and they are undeserving of help, also a lot of them are black.

    The Sane Republicans tut-tutted the Willie Horton ad. The Sane Republicans chuckled quietly to themselves over what a racist scumbag Jesse Helms was, but he was a reliable vote in the Senate, so that was ok.

    The Sane Republicans decided that winning was more important than any kind of principles or governance. “Government is the problem”

    The Sane Republicans tried to impeach a president over nonsense. The Sane Republicans shut down the government. The Sane Republicans took to off-cycle redistricting to lock in their majorities in the House, against hundreds of years of precedent. The Sane Republicans argued that George W. Bush’s Tax Cuts were the solution to an economic upturn, an economic downturn, terrorism and wars with no regard to any inconsistencies along the way. The Sane Republicans opposed Obama lock step for 8 years, even though his health plan was the Republican alternative to Clinton’s health plan in the 1990s. The Sane Republicans decided that threatening to default on the debt was a good idea. The Sane Republicans encouraged the Tea Party at every step of the way.

    The Sane Republicans brought Sarah Palin out of obscurity and pretended she was qualified to be VP. It fit with their “government is the problem” theme, I guess, if they have such contempt for actual governing that they would want to put her one 80 year old’s heartbeat away from the presidency.

    The Sane Republicans repackaged Mitt Romney, the man who implemented Obamacare at a state level, the moderate governor of a liberal state, as a “Severe Conservative” even though that made absolutely no sense.

    Where were the Sane Republicans? They were there the entire time, appealing to our worst instincts, willing to do more and more for smaller and smaller short term gains.

  31. Jenos Idanian says:

    @James Pearce: This is what’s happening: A diminishing faction of the Republican party is finding themselves more irrelevant and more outnumbered, and they’re being assholes about it. Hence all this “middle finger” business.

    Judging by the voting, I’d say that you’re calling our host the “irrelevant,” “outnumbered,” “assholes.” And I really can’t disagree with that assessment.

    And I think the process is proving rather Darwinian. Our host and his crew couldn’t adapt to the changing circumstances, so they’re making themselves irrelevant within the GOP.

    And their decision seems to be to make themselves even more irrelevant, by leaving the GOP. You might find yourself more comfortable with the Democrats’ positions, but don’t expect to get a very warm welcome. From what I’ve seen around here, you’ll need to do a whole lot of groveling and public confession of your sins and flagellating yourselves.

  32. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    Moreover, I would add that the problem is not that there are some xenophobic and racist elements in the GOP, but rather that the GOP that we are seeing at this moment is the face of the conservative movement. It’s possible that I am overstating the situation, but “the right” per se, is an empty truck, there’s nothing of value there anymore, and that is the real problem facing the JJs of the world.

    The early days of the National Review brought us, essentially, the writing staff of the 70s-80s era New Republic, with it’s advertisement “rethink liberalism and get paid for it.” That campaign brought out early neo-cons (or people who became neo) that were the core of Fox News while it was still informative–and before Charles Krauthammer became and old, used up, “get off my lawn” crank. Who’s going to rethink conservatism? It certainly needs it!

  33. grumpy realist says:

    My god, the screeching over at The Hill and Politico is epic. If you don’t support Trump to the max, you are considered a “RINO” and should be put to death for treason.

    (“RINO” seems to be one of those words, like “Marxist” and “Communist” and “fascist”, which simply gets thrown at an individual, totally irrelevant to what the individual actually believes. )

  34. Rob in CT says:

    For what it’s worth, James, I feel your pain.

    My own ideological transition was less painful, I think, because I’ve lived in CT, a blue state, for all but a few months of my life. So when the basic precepts of what I thought I knew about politics were blown up (2001-2003), it’s not like I was an outlier apostate. Rather, I was something fairly common here: a former “New England Republican.” Now, granted, I’ve moved significantly leftward since then and now cannot be accurately described as a mere lapsed NE Republican (because my views on econ/taxes are now waaaay to the left of that). Still, it was a fairly easy transition because of my surroundings. And my atheism. That too.

    But I have a glimmer of an inkling of what you may have felt over the past ~10 years, and you have my sympathy, even if I’ve given you some sh*t (and as I recall, I have).

  35. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Raoul: Least we think JJ is among the sane, I do not believe he has repudiated his opinion on impeaching Clinton. At least he has walked back the Iraqi war but why does one need to wait for the deaths of 200,000 souls before questioning those views? From JJ I would like to see two things that I think would make for an interesting reading- 1-what happened to the GOP and 2 -why was he wrong.

    I didn’t notice your comment when I spoke about the requisite self-denunciation, but that’s exactly what I was talking about.

    And don’t believe for an instant that that will be the end of it. You’ll be required to walk back a whole bunch of stuff with the promise of acceptance, but it’ll never be enough.

    That’s how they roll.

  36. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Gustopher: The Sane Republicans tut-tutted the Willie Horton ad. The Sane Republicans chuckled quietly to themselves over what a racist scumbag Jesse Helms was, but he was a reliable vote in the Senate, so that was ok.

    Willie Horton was discovered and pushed by Al Gore, and you gloss over Robert Byrd. How convenient.

  37. Pch101 says:

    @James Pearce:

    I’m not sure what kind of wingnut would earnestly believe that a White Power Caucus has a place in a mainstream political party. But this is the internet, after all.

  38. MBunge says:

    Everyone is responsible for their own actions, so the public supporting Trump deserves some blame if you are giving it out.

    But it was not the public who decided that the #1 priority of the GOP should be to make Obama a one-term President, and decided that before Obama even took office. That was Mitch McConnell, surely amongst the leaders of the “Sane Republicans.”

    And no, previous generations of House and Senate leaders in either party DID NOT think and feel and act the same way as McConnell.

    And it was not the public who willfully decided to empower the most irresponsible and extreme GOP members of the House by adopting a rule that NOTHING shall be approved in the House unless it can be passed ONLY with Republican votes. That was John Boehner, someone who would also belong in any group of “Sane Republicans.”

    Trump and his fans are not the problem. They are the symptom but the disease is, in fact, the so-called Sane Republicans Mr. Joyner is writing about.

    Mitt Romney, while he was actually running for President, was privately encouraging rich people to think the non-rich are human parasites. That’s sanity?

    Mike

  39. steve s says:

    @Gustopher: The Sane Republicans were also holding the eleventeenth investigation of Benghazi, in order to damage Hillary politically.

  40. Jenos Idanian says:

    @grumpy realist: The problem is that the inmates took over the asylum.

    As I noted, the “sane Republicans” have been trying the same strategies for decades, and have lost pretty much every single time. Maybe they’re the crazy ones. Maybe they’re the stupid ones. Maybe they’re the treasonous ones.

    If you have an alternate explanation for why they keep trying the same strategies and failing, I’d be curious. I outlined the three possibilities earlier, but I’ll recap it: they are insane for trying the same thing over and over, hoping that it’ll work this time; they’re so stupid that they can’t recognize that they keep losing, and ought to try something different; they’re not crazy or stupid, their string of losing to the Democrats is their actual plan, despite their declarations to the contrary.

    For the first time, the “inmates” are winning, and the GOP is winning. Perhaps it’s your definition of “insanity” that needs recalibrating.

  41. An Interested Party says:

    Your “sane” branch of the GOP is the branch that gave us Bush 41’s second term, President Dole, President McCain, and President Romney. It presented the game plan of putting forth a nice, “sane,” moderate candidate, who would put up a good fight, then lose graciously to the Democratic nominee, and they were fine with that.

    That was the plan, and that was how it played out.

    As if the insane branch of the GOP will do any better this year… *CHUCKLE* Well, one key difference will be that this time the loss won’t be so gracious…

  42. Rob in CT says:

    I have to agree with many other posts: the “sane” wing of the GOP made this bed.

    Though I do wonder about something.

    The Dems made a choice in the 60s. LBJ understood it clearly, if his timing was a bit off (“we’ve lost the South for a generation” should have been “we’ll lose the South consistently a generation from now”). And it’s not just the South – there are lots of people here in the North that the “Southern Strategy” appeals to. Oh my, yes. Note Trump’s primary vote % up here.

    Now… imagine for a moment that the GOP leaders of the 60s/70s said no, fuck this. We’re the party of Lincoln damnit. What then? What happens? Do we get a Nativist third party? Do both the big parties crack up? What? Voters driven by white resentment go where? Maybe they stay split between the two parties? I don’t know. What a counterfactual, eh?

    Now, I admit, I may have had a couple glasses of wine. This is not actually terribly plausible. But what if?…

  43. James Pearce says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Judging by the voting, I’d say that you’re calling our host the “irrelevant,” “outnumbered,” “assholes.”

    No. Judging by the voting, and the resulting turmoil, I’d say Trumpism and all that “middle finger” stuff has a shelf life of about 4 more months.*

    That’s what I mean by “irrelevant” and “outnumbered.”

    @Pch101:

    I’m not sure what kind of wingnut would earnestly believe that a White Power Caucus has a place in a mainstream political party.

    Me either.

    But then again, you weren’t talking about “intentionally marginalizing” the White Power Caucus, were you?

    * I could be wrong. But I suspect the Republicans will be doing a postmortem this winter, not preparing to take over the government.

  44. Gustopher says:

    @steve s: More generally, the Sane Republicans have spent the last thirty years attacking the notion and institutions of governance. With the obvious conclusion that the rubes now believe that the Presidency is an entry level position.

    That started in the Gincrich era, with the governmen shutdown and the impeachment.

    A clear line can be drawn from Ken Starr’s perpetually increasing and biased investigation, and the latest BENGHAZI!!!! “Investigation.”

    I suppose Bork fits in there somewhere, with Reagan nominating the guy who didn’t resign rather than firing the special prosecutor for Nixon. That should have disqualified him from any further government appointment, but it was ok since he was defending Republicans.

  45. stonetools says:

    The Republican Party since Reagan once stood on four pillars :

    1. Conservative economic agenda.
    2.Religious and cultural conservatism
    3.Militaristic foreign policy.
    4.White nationalism

    1. The conservative economic agenda was discredited by reality , including the 2008 economic crisis. Over the last 30 years, everyone except the super rich has lost ground, and it’s obvious to everyone except ideologues that massive tax cuts for the rich, indiscriminate deregulation, and cuts in social welfare spending for the poor and weak is simply a recipe for growing poverty and inequality.
    2. Social conservatism is simply not the force it has been. The culture wars are over, and the right lost. The so-cons are now left to argue, futilely, about transgendered people’s access to public restrooms. Seriously, WTF?
    3. Foreign policy militarism was discredited by Iraq. The neo-cons used to be triumphant within the Beltway: now they are an embattled minority.
    That leaves one pillar of popular support for the Republican Party and that’s white nationalism. Trump co-opted that, and his path was made smooth by the “sane Republicans” decision to reflexively oppose all things Obama, and to use racism, xenophobia, and a complicit right wing media to whip up passions against anything Obama related.
    Also of great assistance to Trump was the right’s relentless and successful attempt to de-legitimize the mainstream media and indeed objective analysis. When the sane Republicans tried to use the mainstream media to denounce Trump, it was easy for Trump to shrug that off. Anything that comes out of the MSM is just leftist propaganda anyway, right?
    Bottom line? The sane Republicans were there all the time, preparing the way for Trump. He is their monster.

  46. Jenos Idanian says:

    @James Pearce: No. Judging by the voting, and the resulting turmoil, I’d say Trumpism and all that “middle finger” stuff has a shelf life of about 4 more months.

    You’re awful cavalier with those predictions, sport. We’ve seen a lot of predictions about Trump, and they’ve so far been consistently wrong. I’ve lost count he’s been pronounced politically dead, and he’s outlived all the others.

    I’ll refrain from making predictions. I am curious, however, what makes you so confident in making yours. And if you’re confident to put anything behind it.

  47. Jenos Idanian says:

    @stonetools: Oh, great. I just had a thought: you probably believe that total crock of horsecrap you just spouted. You’re not just spouting talking points, you actually believe that.

    That’s such a terrifying thought, I might not sleep tonight.

  48. James Pearce says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    I’ll refrain from making predictions. I am curious, however, what makes you so confident in making yours. And if you’re confident to put anything behind it.

    A few things. The electoral map favors a Dem win, for one. For another, Trump has been struggling to get intra-party support, which indicates his message isn’t resonating with some of the voters it should be. After all, #NeverTrump isn’t a move left-ward. It’s a rejection of Trump’s rise to Republican leadership. If anything, Trump is the move leftward.

    Hillary also has some of the benefits of incumbency. She has already had a prominent role in the White House, as we’re judiciously reminded every time her e-mail server is brought up. Electing her president is like a promotion, probably one she doesn’t deserve, but it’s the safe play. Trump is the gamble. His only experience with government is filling out the forms.

    If we have to endure a whole summer of “middle fingers” bleeding into a fall of even more “middle fingers,” I would bet that the safe play will prevail. How much I’d bet would depend on the payout.

  49. Gustopher says:

    @James Pearce: You’ll get your country, whether you want to or not.

  50. Pch101 says:

    you weren’t talking about “intentionally marginalizing” the White Power Caucus, were you?

    Of course I am. Racism in the public sphere is unconstitutional, so it has no legitimate place in a constitutional democracy, particularly in what is allegedly a mainstream political party.

    Here’s a novel idea for the GOP: Cut the fringe believers loose so that they can become politically irrelevant. The Democrats won’t take them in, so they can be abandoned without empowering the other side.

  51. An Interested Party says:

    Also of great assistance to Trump was the right’s relentless and successful attempt to de-legitimize the mainstream media and indeed objective analysis. When the sane Republicans tried to use the mainstream media to denounce Trump, it was easy for Trump to shrug that off. Anything that comes out of the MSM is just leftist propaganda anyway, right?

    There certainly is a “chickens coming home to roost” feel to all of this, isn’t there? That’s fine as long as the GOP, and not the country as a whole, has to suffer for it…after all, Republicans created this mess and only have themselves to blame for it…

    You’re awful cavalier with those predictions, sport. We’ve seen a lot of predictions about Trump, and they’ve so far been consistently wrong. I’ve lost count he’s been pronounced politically dead, and he’s outlived all the others.

    He has indeed outlived others…other Republicans, that is, but the general election is very different than the Republican primaries…I’d love to know how anyone thinks Trump could win the general election while pissing off just about every non-white/non-male demographic group in the country…

  52. James Pearce says:

    @Gustopher:

    You’ll get your country, whether you want to or not.

    I’m confused. What do you mean by that?

    @Pch101:

    Of course I am.

    Ah, okay, so it’s racism you’re dealing with, when before it was the Christian idealogues and the Randians. Gotcha.

  53. Hal_10000 says:

    The sane Republicans were the ones like Boehner and Ryan trying to make a deal with Obama to get the budget under control. The sane ones are those like Kasich who had the temerity to say we shouldn’t tear up the Iran deal. You’ll see a lot of sane Republicans at the state level and in the rank and file. You’re seeing a lot of sane ones trying to stop Trump. One problem that is occurring in the attempt to stop Trump is that many Democrats and liberals are the boy who cried wolf. They spent so long telling us that Reagan or Bush 41 or Bush 43 or Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney were crazy extremists, that no one is listening anymore.

    All parties have insane elements, but the GOP chose to court and stoke the insane wing. And now it’s blown up in their faces.

  54. jukeboxgrad says:

    the GOP chose to court and stoke the insane wing

    Yes, which is why it was correct all along to condemn the leaders who did that.

    This thread is a good summary of how allegedly sane Republicans repeatedly planted the seeds of Trumpism. I’ll just mention a few of my favorite examples (one of which was also mentioned above). On 12/11/92, Saint Ronnie himself described Rush as “the Number One voice for conservatism.” On 8/29/08, McCain announced his running mate. On 2/2/12, Mitt said “Being in Donald Trump’s magnificent hotel and having his endorsement is a delight. I’m so honored and pleased to have his endorsement.”

    In each instance, the de facto head of the GOP was going out of his way to elevate a major clown. Not long ago a commenter at WP did a nice job of summarizing the problem:

    After 20 years of the GOP grooming, breeding and shaping a large herd of racists, bigots, and infantilized, paranoid radicals using Fox “news” and AM hate radio, the two-ton chicken has come home to roost. Their party is so overrun with crazies that it is ungovernable.

    The GOP is an asylum, and the inmates are in charge. And this is the natural result of a process that was supported by GOP leaders at the highest level.

  55. Davebo says:

    @James Pearce:

    * I could be wrong. But I suspect the Republicans will be doing a postmortem this winter, not preparing to take over the government.

    History shows there are always claims of doing said postmortem but it never really happens and if anything changes, it’s for the worse.

  56. michael reynolds says:

    James:

    All the bad things I’ve said about Republicans are now being said by Republicans. Interesting moment. Is that the tingle of complete and total vindication I feel? Or did I just sit in something?

    Remember when I first started coming around here many years ago and would say inflammatory things like, “The GOP cannot win elections without relying on racists?” So many people got a good laugh at that. Hah hah hah, Michael and his obsession. Yeah, well, guess what? The GOP cannot win without racists, without dog-whistling to racists, without winking at racism, and now the GOP is being consumed by the forces it thought it could arrogantly and immorally ride.

    My policy is to welcome all on my side, regardless of whether they got there 10 years ago or last week. And I applaud you, James, for being open about what I know is a tough thing to face. Really.

    But just so we’re clear, it’s always been about race. Pretending that politics in the United States isn’t about race is liking pretending that politics in Saudi Arabia isn’t about oil or religion. The GOP has been a white people’s party for a long time, since 1968. Reagan and his supposed ‘revolution’ was always just a Reagan mask over a Nixon face. It was always a fraud. Money, Bombs and Jesus, but always white money, white bombs, white Jesus.

    That said, I would point out that a lot of the people telling me I was wrong, that I was over-the-top, were liberals. If I am not mistaken brother Tillman among others took me to task on several occasions for my supposed fixation on race. Only it wasn’t my fixation, it was the conservative fixation, I just saw it earlier. Of course there are no points for figuring something out before others do. There’s a ‘right’ time to figure out the incandescently obvious: too damn late. That’s the approved time of discovery.

    And now we have one person, just one, standing between Trump and the White House: Hillary Clinton. And what could possibly bring Hillary down? The FBI and ISIS. A major ISIS attack inside the US – if timed right – could swing this to Trump. A point I believe I made about a billion times back in December, to even more self-righteous scolding than my “obsession” with race earned. A point I’m now hearing elements of the punditocracy acknowledge. And I suspect even my fellow liberals around here are beginning to get just a little worried, n’est ce pas? It’s not just Hillary’s career in the balance, it’s every single issue liberals care about, and it all hangs on whether or not ISIS or Al Qaeda can pull off a big one, and whether Hillary can be made to look soft compared to Trump. Trump who will promise armageddon, while Hillary talks sweet reason. Timing, that will decide it.

    But I don’t imagine my liberal friends are quite prepared to admit that I was right about that. So let’s put a pin in it, okay? It happens or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t happen you can all go on pretending that risking everything for the sake of smugness was justified. And if it does happen, hey, so we end up with a psychopath in the White House. Worth the risk, right? Right? What could go wrong?

    Let’s move on to my next over-the-top, too-soon point: we Democrats are in much better shape than the GOP, but that does not mean we’re in good shape. Our ideology is played out. We are pretty much out of people to liberate. Our campus wing is busily alienating voters and boxing us into positions it will be very hard to hold. We have profound cracks in the liberal base and in liberal thought. The GOP is bleeding out in the gutter, but we’re stumbling around with a tubercular cough and we don’t look so good.

    If liberals want to do something useful – never a sure bet – they will reach out to the campus wing and strongly suggest that they shut the f–k up, get behind Hillary, and hope to God she stays healthy and un-indicted and that the FBI – which we hope won’t catch Hillary – does catch ISIS. You know what that means for the kumbaya wing of the Democratic Party? It means they’d better hope the drones are hitting hard and getting the right guys in time. Pray for lots of explosions in Afghanistan and Iraq and Syria.

    Politics, people, is not about your feels. It is not about your ideal world. It is about power. The country is in danger right now because psychopaths like Trump understand that, and mush-brained liberals don’t. Stop being stupid, learn the game, play the game to win. Yes, even if it means temporarily setting your wonderfully refined moral sensibilities aside.

  57. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @michael reynolds: Thanks Michael, glad to hear from you!

  58. MBunge says:

    @Hal_10000: The sane Republicans were the ones like Boehner and Ryan trying to make a deal with Obama to get the budget under control

    Worrying about the budget in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression is as insane as it gets. Is it not now universally understood that one of the prime causes of our stil anemic recovery is lack of government stimulus? Whether comparing it to previous US recessions or to the even greater austerity policies adopted in Europe, the evidence seems clear.

    Ryan isn’t sane. He’s a macro-economy fetishist.

    Mike

  59. DrDaveT says:

    @stonetools:

    Also of great assistance to Trump was the right’s relentless and successful attempt to de-legitimize the mainstream media and indeed objective analysis.

    It’s hard to overstate how important these two trends have been, but I think it’s also important to distinguish them. The mainstream media have played along with the GOP strategy by abandoning any pretense of caring about facts. If a new law is passed, the MSM no longer offer analysis of what the actual effect of the law will be — except in terms of which party will gain or lose influence. They are neither competent to predict nor interested in predicting.

    Combine that with a right-wing media machine that has adopted the Revealed Truth approach to reality, and you have a situation where it is impossible for the public to hear policy analysis based on sound empirical evidence, because the MSM doesn’t know enough math or science to formulate the argument. Those who do formulate the argument are dismissed because Truth does not come from math and science, it comes from revelation and dogma. They have forgotten the second half of W. Edwards Deming’s famous dictum:

    In God we trust; all others bring data.

  60. DrDaveT says:

    @MBunge:

    Is it not now universally understood that one of the prime causes of our stil anemic recovery is lack of government stimulus?

    No, it is not. See above. Galileo and Paul Krugman understand this; the Church and the GOP are still relying on Scripture instead of data.

  61. MBunge says:

    @An Interested Party: I’d love to know how anyone thinks Trump could win the general election while pissing off just about every non-white/non-male demographic group in the country

    Just as people should have believed the polls that showed Trump was the GOP front-runner, we should believe the polls that show him far behind Hillary…right now. But one need look no further than Bill Clinton to see someone who reversed seemingly hopeless political circumstances.

    How can Trump win?

    1. Unite most of the GOP establishment. He doesn’t need all of it and he doesn’t need full throated support. He needs 90% of elected officials and party officials to tolerate him. Frankly, having folks like the impotent George Will, George W. Bush, Mitt “47%” Romney and neocon warmongers criticizing him is a plus for Trump in the general election.

    2. In the next 5 1/2 months, he needs to go to policy boot camp so he can learn to talk intelligently about issues for the 2 or 3 minutes that is all our modern media allows.

    3. Hillary and the Dems have to run the identity politics campaign it looks like the might be planning. If Trump is talking about jobs and keeping us out of foreign wars in October and Hillary is talking about Trump being a racist, sexist boor, he could win that argument.

    4. The 2016 voting public doesn’t look exactly like 2012 or 2008. Put a small drop in black turnout with bigger drops in youth and progressive turnout with Trump doing better with working class, lower educated voters and even significant increases in Latino turnout might not be enough.

    Or it might not take anything more than…

    5. Bill gets caught being serviced by another intern.

    Trump’s got an uphill climb but given how the institutions that are supposed to keep guys like him out of power have profoundly discredited thrmselves, he’s got a better chance than many give him.

    Mike

  62. Franklin says:

    @michael reynolds: Holy **ck, glad to hear your voice, errr … read your comment. Hope to see more!

    I even mostly agree with your post.

  63. DrDaveT says:

    @MBunge:

    In the next 5 1/2 months, he needs to go to policy boot camp so he can learn to talk intelligently about issues for the 2 or 3 minutes that is all our modern media allows.

    We’re safe, then.

    He might have the smarts to manage that. He certainly does not have either the self-awareness to know he needs it or the self-discipline to make himself do it.

    Trump’s worst moments to date have all been during debates, and those were intramural. He’s going to need Kevlar(TM) loafers.

  64. Pharaoh Narim says:

    @MBunge: Most of the pissed off people are folks that would never vote Republican anyway. Trump is trying to forge a new coalition and bring them out to vote. He probably fails but a new crop of future candidates is taking notes and will apply some professional best practices to what Trump has built Ad Hoc.

    The important lessons the Democratic Party will learn this cycle is that, like Culture Conservatism, Identity Politics are in their last stages of effectiveness. The juice is about squeezed out of that lemon. The other lesson is that a significant amount of voters that turned out and voted Democrat the past 2 elections turned out for Barack Obama….not the Party. Hillary Clinton is no Barack Obama. Her politics are 20 years old and several of the things she’s going to run on from Bills time in office turned out to be disasterous for minorities she’ll need to turn out for her. She won’t have as easy a time as she’s had with Sanders, that’s for sure.

  65. Pharaoh Narim says:

    @DrDaveT: This is a complete misread of Trump but a fitting one for George W. You’ll see.

  66. Hal_10000 says:

    On 12/11/92, Saint Ronnie himself described Rush as “the Number One voice for conservatism.”

    Reagan was right. It’s hard to believe, but Rush wasn’t bad back then. He was positive and upbeat. He was about ideas. I listened to him back then and enjoyed him. When the Republicans took over the Congress, he was all about what they should do to make government smaller and more functional. But sometime around 2004, he began to get really awful. And once Obama became President, I couldn’t even listen anymore. It was all negativism, all conspiracies, all “Obama hates America”.

    Worrying about the budget in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression is as insane as it gets. Is it not now universally understood that one of the prime causes of our stil anemic recovery is lack of government stimulus? Whether comparing it to previous US recessions or to the even greater austerity policies adopted in Europe, the evidence seems clear.

    1) the budget balancing kicked in once the financial crisis was over.
    2) It is definitely not “universally understood” that our anemic recovery is a result of a “lack of stimulus”. Only in the closed data-free minds of Keynesian Kool-aid drinkers is that understood.
    We’ve racked up $5 trillion in debt in the last 8 years. For Cripe’s sake, how much “stimulus” do you want? At what point do you put a fork in the stimulus (answer, to judge from Japan: never). We aren’t going to be able to borrow at 0% forever.

  67. Ravi says:

    @Hal_10000:

    We’ve racked up $5 trillion in debt in the last 8 years. For Cripe’s sake, how much “stimulus” do you want? At what point do you put a fork in the stimulus (answer, to judge from Japan: never). We aren’t going to be able to borrow at 0% forever.

    Yes, exactly. We won’t be able to borrow at close to 0% with below 2% inflation forever. That’s when you stop. When markets finally start telling you you’re really out of the ditch. Until then, you’re leaving dirt-cheap opportunities for high-return public investment (like lead abatement) on the table.

  68. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds: In any Presidential election, there is always the risk that there could be some sudden death or event or revelation that tips the scales. There is nothing particularly special about this election.

    If it doesn’t happen you can all go on pretending that risking everything for the sake of smugness was justified. And if it does happen, hey, so we end up with a psychopath in the White House. Worth the risk, right? Right? What could go wrong?

    The liberals didn’t risk anything. The liberals didn’t pick the GOP nominee. The liberals didn’t winnow the Republican field down to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. The liberals didn’t spend the past 50 years destroying the Republican Party by luring them into undermining governance. What amazing powers over the Republicans do you think the liberals have?

    All we can do is choose between pointing and laughing, and weeping. the former is a lot more fun than the latter.

    And if the BernieBros actually damage Clinton, then she was going to be destroyed in the general election anyway.

  69. jukeboxgrad says:

    Rush wasn’t bad back then

    It’s true that later he got worse, but at the time Reagan praised him, Rush had already said this:

    take that bone out of your nose and call me back

    Which should have been enough to disqualify him from being the “Number One voice for conservatism.”

  70. Barry says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “Willie Horton was discovered and pushed by Al Gore, and you gloss over Robert Byrd. How convenient.”

    Barry’s law – anybody who brings up Byrd as an example, without mentioning his repentance and penance, is correctly and justly assumed to be full of sh*t.

  71. Barry says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “As I noted, the “sane Republicans” have been trying the same strategies for decades, and have lost pretty much every single time. ”

    The combined Clinton-Obama Administration (1993 – 2017) must have been a rough time for you.

  72. MBunge says:

    @Hal_10000: We’ve racked up $5 trillion in debt in the last 8 years. For Cripe’s sake, how much “stimulus” do you want?

    And this is a good example of the fetishization I mentioned. Zero evidence of actually understanding the issue, just a totemic invocation of “deficits bad!”

    Mike

  73. grumpy realist says:
  74. grumpy realist says:

    @grumpy realist: I’m not upset at the steward checking, I’m upset at the brain-dead stupidity of someone who didn’t know what a differential equation was. If I were God, I would have dropped that woman out of the airplane without a parachute.

  75. @Jenos Idanian:

    As I noted, the “sane Republicans” have been trying the same strategies for decades, and have lost pretty much every single time.

    So the issue isn’t policy preferences or governing, it is winning?

    (And your assertion is nonsensical on its face since in recent “decades” the Republicans have held the presidency and the congress. I am not even sure what you are arguing).

  76. @grumpy realist:

    (“RINO” seems to be one of those words, like “Marxist” and “Communist” and “fascist”, which simply gets thrown at an individual, totally irrelevant to what the individual actually believes. )

    It is all pretty silly. As I have often noted, “Repulican” is a name. Hence “RINO” makes no sense when you really break it down. And, further, at the moment the definition of what the name means is shifting.

  77. @michael reynolds: Nice to see you back.

  78. C. Clavin says:

    I see Jenos is unequivocally supporting racism, mysoginy, mendacity, incoherent foreign policy, and economic ignorance.
    No surprises here.

  79. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: Welcome back, Michael. Nice to see you again.

  80. Hal_10000 says:

    @Ravi:

    Yes, exactly. We won’t be able to borrow at close to 0% with below 2% inflation forever. That’s when you stop. When markets finally start telling you you’re really out of the ditch. Until then, you’re leaving dirt-cheap opportunities for high-return public investment (like lead abatement) on the table.

    And what happens when that $19 trillion in debt has to be rolled over at higher rates?

    Keep sipping that Kool-aid.

  81. Pch101 says:

    @James Pearce:

    Er, we have more than one fringe group in the United States. And by definition, fringe ideas have no place in mainstream political parties.

  82. MBunge says:

    @Hal_10000: Keep sipping that Kool-aid.

    You don’t have even a remedial understanding of macro-economic policy. Given your professed background, that’s flatly embarrassing. You’re like a parent who wants to cut off your children’s feet because you’re afraid of how much shoes are going to cost.

    Mike

  83. grumpy realist says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Just because you can talk a whole bunch of idiots into supporting your platform does not mean that your platform is correct or has any relation with reality. I agree that it is quite possible, that by trolling and pandering to the worst instincts of humans, certain individuals can obtain political power.

    Now to see if they can keep it when reality slams up against them at a speed of 300 mph. Donald Trump is a man who is a meglomaniac whose only reflex action when dealing with anything is to bully and insult someone.

    Who can he bully and insult when South Florida starts getting flooded more and more due to the rising seas?
    Who can he bully and insult into submission when Zika becomes prevalent in the US, with continual increase in the number of microcephalic babies?
    Who can he bully and insult when the bee population continues to die off, causing problems in agriculture and food production?

    Reality does not care about politics.

  84. Mister Bluster says:

    @michael reynolds:..Is that the tingle of complete and total vindication I feel? Or did I just sit in something?

    Maybe is was a cactus in the desert you’ve been wandering around in like Moses…

  85. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:
    @Steven L. Taylor:
    @wr:
    Yes…welcome back.

  86. An Interested Party says:

    But one need look no further than Bill Clinton to see someone who reversed seemingly hopeless political circumstances.

    Donald Trump isn’t Bill Clinton…

    In the next 5 1/2 months, he needs to go to policy boot camp so he can learn to talk intelligently about issues for the 2 or 3 minutes that is all our modern media allows.

    Hmm, that may be a tall order for someone who shoots from the hip and spouts the most ridiculous things like Trump does…

    Put a small drop in black turnout with bigger drops in youth and progressive turnout with Trump doing better with working class, lower educated voters and even significant increases in Latino turnout might not be enough.

    Trump himself will help to make sure that there is a high turnout among minorities and most of them, especially Hispanics, will be voting against him…

    Bill gets caught being serviced by another intern.

    Well certainly Republicans and Hillary-haters can only hope…

  87. grumpy realist says:

    Best description of Trump EVAH! (from a thread over at Gawker commenting on Trump’s latest “interview”)

    Trump is a human Lorum Ipsum

  88. Ravi says:

    @Hal_10000:

    And what happens when that $19 trillion in debt has to be rolled over at higher rates?

    Keep sipping that Kool-aid.

    Oh, please. First, the public debt isn’t all due on the same day like a credit card bill. Treasury officials are more than capable managing the balance between short-term and long-term debt to minimize overall borrowing costs and preventing sudden shocks in interest payments. Debt refinancing would be a gradual adjusment happening in concert with other gradual adjustments (like interest rates). For that matter, considering how long the economy has been running below potential (and below target inflation) a small overshoot wouldn’t be a disaster.

    Second, you skipped over the part where we have lots of high-return public investements we’re not doing (lead abatement, fully funding Head Start, childhood asthma mitigation, mass transit, …). Between the direct returns and the stronger multiplier benefits at the ZLB, we’ll grow the economy far more than required to service the additional debt. If we run out of obvious high-return public investments and we’re still in the liquidity trap, then it might be worth having a discussion. In the meantime, refusing to borrow money to fund these kinds of projects is silly anti-debt hysteria and/or ridiculous anti-government ideology. I’ll let you decide where you fall on that spectrum.

  89. KM says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I’m not upset at the steward checking, I’m upset at the brain-dead stupidity of someone who didn’t know what a differential equation was.

    I don’t know what’s worse:

    – the failure to recognize a mathematical formula =/= potential terrorist. I’m going to give the general ignorance of math a painful pass here but the whole “OMG he’s doing NUMBERS and he’s brown!” would have overridden any lingering scholastic memories (if they even existed). Panic-induced stupidity does that.

    – the assumption that said terrorist would be solving it on the plane/”place of attack” and not, you know, beforehand. Or even if he wasn’t planned on doing anything right then and there, he would be working where others could see. Not everybody does their homework Monday at 7:58AM, lady. **fail**

    – the fact that she assumed the terrorist was smarter then her with his fancy numbers but dumb enough to do it where she could see (“common sense”). Why didn’t she assume he was working on something top secret instead for NASA or the CIA? *looks at his picture* Oh wait, nevermind…..

    Note to self: don’t do work on plane without doing a SMF-check on neighbors. *sigh*

  90. Jenos Idanian says:

    @grumpy realist: Just because you can talk a whole bunch of idiots into supporting your platform does not mean that your platform is correct or has any relation with reality.

    And just because you don’t like it means that it’s incorrect or out of tune with reality.

    And instead of trying to refute what I pointed out — that the “sane” branch our host favors has been meeting one popular definition of insanity for a couple of decades or so — you attack. Could it be because even you have to admit that the “sane branch’s” conduct has been truly indefensible?

    I may be crazy, but I’m not so crazy that I’m going to go along with them and keep doing the same old thing, hoping that this time it might actually work. I’m willing to take a chance on something different.

    And even if it fails, I am comfortable that it will fail in an entertainingly spectacular way. Compared with the all-too-predictable results of President Hillary, I’ll roll the dice.

  91. Jenos Idanian says:

    @stonetools: Also of great assistance to Trump was the right’s relentless and successful attempt to de-legitimize the mainstream media and indeed objective analysis.

    Ah, the mainstream media. How could the right do a better job of de-legitimizing the mainstream media than they do themselves?

    At his last White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Obama thanked them for helping him advance his agenda. And last week in the New York Times, a top Obama policy aide bragged about how he had conned the American people about the Iran deal — with the assistance (some willing, some unknowing) of the media.

    As The Good Professor likes to note, if you just consider most mainstream journalists as “Democratic operatives with bylines,” you’ll be on fairly safe ground.

  92. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    As The Good Professor likes to note, if you just consider most mainstream journalists as “Democratic operatives with bylines,” you’ll be on fairly safe ground.

    Conservatives are the most aggrieved self-proclaimed victims of mainstream media in America today. You have FoxNews to make up your message and talking points. Why doesn’t a conservative ownership group buy the New York Times and convert it to a Fox-style tabloid “news” operation?

  93. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    @michael reynolds: Whooo. Wlecome back man. We missed you 🙂

  94. Jenos Idanian says:

    @al-Ameda: I dunno why someone doesn’t buy the Times. I have a couple of hunches, though:

    1) It’s dying, financially, and would be a lousy investment.

    2) The main owner, Carlos Slim of Mexico, doesn’t want to sell.

    And odd how you just respond in platitudes when I cited two very specific examples of the bias.

    I answered your point, you gonna address my specifics?

    …didn’t think so.

  95. An Interested Party says:

    Why doesn’t a conservative ownership group buy the New York Times and convert it to a Fox-style tabloid “news” operation?

    Murdoch doesn’t need to do that…he already has the Wall Street Journal, among many other media possessions…

  96. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    As The Good Professor likes to note, if you just consider most mainstream journalists as “Democratic operatives with bylines,” you’ll be on fairly safe ground.

    Sometimes you say things that are surprisingly insightful. Most of the time, though, you say things like this.

    How, exactly, do you make the case that the purveyors of “equal time” and “both sides do it” and “balanced viewpoints” and “we don’t do math” are somehow Democratic operatives? Is it that the GOP position is so whacked that even equal time and credence is not enough to balance things out? Somehow I doubt that’s what you’re claiming…

  97. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Compared with the all-too-predictable results of President Hillary, I’ll roll the dice.

    The prospect of improved equality for women and a better economy are that horrific to you? Seek help, man.

  98. The mass media’s bias is for a story. This is especially true for 24 hour cable news outlets. They have been huge boosters of Trump because he gives them free content.

  99. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The mass media’s bias is for a story.

    This is so obvious that it is often completely forgotten. Current mass media care about truth only at the point where counterfactual reporting begins to hurt the brand. In the current right-wing mediasphere, that point is “never” — indeed, truthfulness hurts the brand — but the MSM has its own considerable tolerance for story-over-truth. Even when that means giving far too much credence to public health menaces like anti-vaccine activists and Paul Ryan’s budget plan.

  100. Jenos Idanian says:

    @DrDaveT: The prospect of improved equality for women and a better economy are that horrific to you? Seek help, man.

    Trump’s put tens of thousands of women to work, many in very well-paid positions of authority. Hillary’s main effort was to destroy her husband’s girlfriends. Hell, she did nothing about the “pay gap” for either the State Department or her own Senate staff.

    But Hillary says nice things, while Trump says mean things about specific women, so I can see how you’d prefer the style over the substance.

  101. grumpy realist says:

    @DrDaveT: He’s one of those people who wants to watch the whole world burn around him from the safe haven of a 50-story skyscraper while sipping a martini.

    Because it would be “amusing”

    Just like most trolls. And most of the rich, the writers for the WSJ, the NYT, and the Beltway twitterati, methinks. If the peasants revolt, the glitterati are going to assume that there will always be a gate and a bunch of soldiers to protect them.

  102. Jenos Idanian says:

    @grumpy realist: For the record, Trump is my second choice this fall. I’m still holding out hope for SMOD.

  103. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Trump’s put tens of thousands of women to work, many in very well-paid positions of authority.

    Seriously?

    Even if this were true (and it isn’t), so what? What does that have to do with what policies he would promote as President, or how effectual he would be at getting those policies turned into law, or how well they would work? I know it’s hard for you to remember, but running an economy is significantly different from running a company.

    Hillary’s main effort was to destroy her husband’s girlfriends

    Nah, she did that in her spare time. I figure Trump’s serial mail-order brides and Hillary’s exes-in-law are a wash.

    Hell, she did nothing about the “pay gap” for either the State Department or her own Senate staff.

    I would be fascinated* to hear what exactly you think either a Secretary of State or a junior Senator can do to affect State Department salaries.

    *(Not really)

  104. KM says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Trump’s put tens of thousands of women to work, many in very well-paid positions of authority.

    And added tens of thousands to unemployment rolls with his crap deals. It’s not even a wash. Trump is a terrible boss, a heavily documented fact. Well-paid is few and far between.

    And no, paying women money (even a lot of it) does not mean you get to talk sh^t about women in general or specific. We’re supposed to praise him for “many in authority”? Shades of binders full of women….. He didn’t “put” them there any more then he “put” the men there – they earned/back-stabbed/out-fought their way up the ladder. HR had more to do with it then Trump ever did.

  105. Jenos Idanian says:

    @DrDaveT: So, when Hillary was a US Senator, she couldn’t set pay policy for her own staffers? She couldn’t say “I want the women working for me to be paid as well as the men are” and make it stick?

    And as Secretary of State, she couldn’t tell the money people who reported to her to do the same?

    In neither case did she do anything. Either she chose not to (it wasn’t a priority for her) or she couldn’t do it (she’s horribly incompetent and/or weak).

    So let’s make her president!

  106. Jenos Idanian says:

    @KM: I’m kinda curious. How is it Trump is responsible for all those unemployed people, but NOT responsible for the people he hired and promoted?

    I also find it amusing how Trump gets full credit for his failures, but none for his successes. Why, it’s almost like there’s some kind of prejudice or bigotry or an agenda at play or something…

    Also, failures can be exceptionally valuable.

    “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

    “I have not failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

    “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all — in which case, you fail by default.”

    “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again. That is why I succeed.”

    “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”

    “If you are afraid of failure you don’t deserve to be successful.”

    Feel free to play Match The Quotes with the authors:

    Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, J. K. Rowling, Robert Kennedy, Thomas Edison, Nelson Mandela.

  107. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    And as Secretary of State, she couldn’t tell the money people who reported to her to do the same?

    Correct. Congratulations; you finally got one right.

  108. Jenos Idanian says:

    @DrDaveT: So, if the Secretary of State can’t have any influence on the pay rates of her people, who does set them? She couldn’t tell her top people “make that right,” and make it stick?

    I guess she was too busy turning Libya into an Islamic fundamentalist hellhole and promoting the Syrian genocide to tackle it…

  109. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    So, if the Secretary of State can’t have any influence on the pay rates of her people, who does set them?

    Seriously? You had no idea that the bosses of federal employees can’t just pay them whatever the hell they want to?

    Stunning.

    You might want to start here.

  110. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    So, if the Secretary of State can’t have any influence on the pay rates of her people, who does set them?

    Just when we think you could not possibly be any stupider…

  111. Jenos Idanian says:

    @DrDaveT: If those rules are so iron-clad, then why is there a pay differential for men and women?

    And how the dickens did Huma Abedin get so well paid while working at the State Department, if Hillary didn’t have any influence on pay rates? She had zero influence over promotions, raises, bonuses, and whatnot?

    And no one wants to talk about Hillary’s Senate staff pay rates. What a totally unexpected surprise that is.