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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Dear #NeverTrump, In a two-person contest, one MUST lose

On the final day of the 2016 primary season, we begin with the news that potential independent candidate David French has wised-up and announced he won’t be running for president after all. French’s declaration was featured in some online news outlets, but don’t be shocked if you hadn’t heard anything about it.

With French out of the picture, it’s back to the drawing board for Bill Kristol and the rest of the #NeverTrump movement. Not even an obscure political writer like French with serious contempt for the Republican nominee Hillary Clintonaccepted their increasingly desperate overtures to run for the top job as an independent candidate and make a fool of himself in the process.

French offers his reasoning in National Review, “Here is a sentence I never thought I’d type: After days of prayer, reflection, and serious study of the possibilities, I am not going to run as an independent candidate for president of the United States…

“[T]he best chance for success goes to a person who either is extraordinarily wealthy (or has immediate access to extraordinary wealth) or is a transformational political talent. I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve my country, and I thank God for the successes I’ve had as a lawyer and a writer, but it is plain to me that I’m not the right person for this effort.”

In other words, #NeverTrump is again searching for a political savior. The list of possibilities is quite small.

Yesterday I jokingly put forth Peyton Manning for the #NeverTrump cause, and the future Hall of Fame quarterback seems to meet French’s criteria nicely. But the #NeverTrump miracle candidate isn’t – and won’t – come forward, because there just isn’t anyone who fits the description who is willing to disembowel himself on such a fruitless exercise.

In his piece, French says he and his family were viciously attacked by Trump supporters for expressing their views. Erick Erickson said the same thing in the not so distant past. We feel for these people who have publicly conveyed their opinions and fallen victim to some fringe freaks who hide behind their computers.

But it doesn’t make #NeverTrump’s positions any more worthwhile. Their sole purpose again returns to trying to convince people not to participate in this year’s election.

Beyond that, I must pose the question: what is it about Trump in particular that gets the #NeverTrump people so obstinate in their opposition?

Many of these same people – at least the conservatives among them – were just as opposed to the candidacies of Mitt Romney and John McCain in 2012 and 2008, at least during the primaries. I myself remember writing numerous times about Romney’s and McCain’s apostasies against conservatism. There was almost as much anti-Romney and anti-McCain angst back then as there was against Trump this cycle.

The reason? Conservatives disagreed with their policies. Some may forget, but John “maverick” McCain was terrific on issues such as the pro-life cause but was suspect on tax reform, immigration and for some, on his overly aggressive Bush-like foreign policy. For Romney, his flip-flopping on healthcare was legendary as well as his spotted past on the pro-life cause, etc…

Conservatives and many Republicans preferred other candidates in the primaries in those years, but got behind the nominees once the general election matchup was set and people rallied against Obama on both occasions.

Obama promised to transform America. Anyone who opposed him wanted to avoid the almost certain disaster his candidacy represented. It turns out we were right – Obama has proven to be every bit as bad a president as was feared back then.

It’s similarly easy to envision how Hillary Clinton will finish off what’s left of traditional America if she sets foot again in the White House. From a policy standpoint, there likely isn’t a single issue any reasonable conservative or Republican will agree with her on -- except the neocons might be closer to her views on foreign policy than Trump’s.

So if we establish that policy alone isn’t the motivating factor behind rejecting Trump, it becomes a matter of his temperament and “fitness” for office. In questioning Trump’s bombastic style and oversized personality, it seems the #NeverTrump people are being a tad shallow in their evaluation of the candidate.

Ask a liberal what they don’t like about Trump and they’ll no doubt list personal characteristics. He’s offensive to women. He’s rude. He’s a racist. He’ll set the country back decades on the “progress” they’ve made on civil rights and women’s rights… They’re basically just parroting anything Hillary says.

They don’t even talk about policy, just a bunch of personal whining against Trump the man. It’s not that much different than detesting a basketball coach who wins games but throws chairs in the process. We get it, they don’t like him. Many of us Ted Cruz supporters understand the argument. We didn’t like it when Trump was arrogantly chastising everyone, especially our candidate and his family. He’s caustic, childish and boorish at times.

But in terms of policy, is there really that great of a gap? Since Trump has never served in office, we don’t really know where he stands on many issues and have only his word in terms of what he intends to do in office.

But there are some concrete proposals as well. We have his “American first” foreign policy speech outlining his views in that arena and his list of Supreme Court nominees.

We also have Trump’s immigration proposals as outlined by Senator Jeff Sessions from last year and his tax plan which he’s often indicated is subject to revision. There are a few other areas outlined on his website, including his trade policy. These are the issues Trump’s based his campaign on, the same ones that have won him a majority of the delegates in the Republican Party.

With Trump, everything appears fungible. As the master of the Art of the Deal, he’s introduced some opening positions and the rest is subject to negotiation.

Trump’s an outsider, a first-time politician who doesn’t conform to the niceties of politics and wants to bring a new, non-politically correct attitude to Washington. Unorthodox to say the least, but if you’re #NeverTrump, chances are you’re basing most of your opposition to his candidacy on your dislike of Trump the man.

That’s not enough of a reason to sit by and watch while Hillary brings down the Republic. Trump may end up being a horrible president, but he would be infinitely superior to the known quantity of Hillary Clinton, who promises to be every bit as bad as Obama but in a screechy pantsuit package.

Lastly, the #NeverTrump movement seems unwilling to accept the choice of the voters. True, Trump won with a much lower percentage of the overall Republican vote than any nominee in the recent past, but there’s no question he prevailed fair and square. The “rigged” system didn’t bring him down…only #NeverTrump promises to do that.

It’s good to see David French came to his senses and decided against an independent run for president. We’ll see how many of his partners in #NeverTrump-ness eventually get the message that this is ultimately a two-person race and one of them MUST lose.

Democrats to lose sleep waiting for California results to come in tonight

It’s safe to say many observers have been keeping their eye on June 7 as a potentially fateful day in American politics and it could still turn out that way – but only for the Democrats.

Today, voters in California, New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota go to the polls (Democrats also caucus in North Dakota). The Republican race was decided weeks ago but the Democrats are still undecided and the uncertainty may only get worse after today’s results.

Alexis Simendinger and Caitlin Huey-Burns of Real Clear Politics report, “In the long list of peculiarities in the 2016 race, Clinton finds herself caught in a tight race against Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders in liberal California, at the same time that Trump, already the conservatives’ standard-bearer, has been campaigning in the Golden State for a GOP contest victory he believes is assured Tuesday.

“Adding to the twists: Blue state New Jersey, governed by failed GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie, who endorsed Trump early, could hand Clinton the delegates she needs to mathematically button up the Democratic nomination hours before the battle with Sanders in California concludes.”

It doesn’t matter if Clinton locks up the nomination with an early victory in the east. All of Bernie Sanders’ voters already realize their vote is a protest vote by now. I would guess a Clinton win in New Jersey would only spur more of Sanders’ people to go the polls to make sure he comes out ahead in California.

If Clinton loses in ultra-liberal blue California, there are going to be a lot of people talking for the next month about how she only won the nomination because she’s the Democrat establishment’s favorite and the super delegates naturally flocked to her.

Trump on the other hand will almost assuredly win all of the remaining delegates on the Republican side. But should he lose even a few in California (which allocates delegates by congressional district) it would be deeply embarrassing for the Republican nominee. Needless to say, the #NeverTrumpers would crow over a lone scalp and say it’s a sure indication he’ll lose in November.

Many of us were counting on California to supply the drama in a down-to-the-wire Republican race, but it didn’t work out that way. With Trump as the nominee, the fight is now in trying to get conservatives and Republicans united against Hillary, a task that is proving to be more challenging than some would have expected.

One way or another, Democrats will be up late tonight watching the returns from the west. Republicans will get a good night’s sleep.

Little Marco bashes Trump for failing to be politically correct

Marco Rubio has taken a lot of heat of late for his remarks in support of Donald Trump as the Republican nominee as well as offering to speak on Trump’s behalf at the party convention next month.

Many former Rubio backers have raked him over hot coals for the betrayal. Perhaps in response, Rubio has joined some others in attacking Trump for his comments on the judge overseeing his civil case involving Trump University.

Gabby Morrongiello of the Washington Examiner reports, “Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told CNN last month he wouldn't become Donald Trump's ‘chief critic’ between now and the November election. Now, the ex-White House hopeful appears unable to stand on the sidelines while Trump attacks a federal judge over his Mexican descent.

“During an interview Monday with ABC's Channel 9, Rubio described U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel as ‘an American, born in the U.S. [and] a judge who has earned that position.’”

For the record, Curiel was appointed by Barack Obama. I have a hard time believing anyone nominated by Obama for any office has “earned that position”.

While I join his critics in agreeing Trump’s remarks weren’t the smartest thing in the world to do, I would point out they weren’t exactly racist. Trump was talking about potential bias from Curiel due to his Mexican heritage, not that he was incompetent in any way because he’s got Mexican blood.

Bias and racism isn’t the same thing. Rubio’s just piling on to make him look good and score political points by appearing “objective” when it comes to Trump.

That being said, Trump needs to be more “presidential” in the way he approaches public matters, knowing whatever he says about any minority group is automatically going to be spun by the media as a racist charge – especially Hispanics.

As for Rubio, he’s keeping his name in the news as he ponders running for reelection to his senate seat. The career politician in Florida has his own constituencies to satisfy.

John Kasich gets at least one vote in The Golden State

Finally today, as I argued above, it doesn’t matter anymore because the Republican race is already decided, but one of California’s most prominent Republicans just indicated he voted for John Kasich instead of the party nominee.

Nick Gass of Politico reports, “The former governor's spokesman responded to a Los Angeles Times reporter's question about his presidential choice by confirming that [Arnold] Schwarzenegger, who had previously endorsed and actively supported John Kasich, voted for him…

“Schwarzenegger, who is gearing up to succeed Donald Trump as the new ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ host, tweeted himself that he had filled out his vote-by-mail ballot…”

So the Terminator is going to start saying “You’re fired!” in replacing Donald Trump? This is almost too strange to be true.

In terms of the presidential race, Schwarzenegger’s say-so isn’t going to sway anyone for or against Trump. If ever there was an endorsement that truly didn’t have any consequence, it’s this one.

Kasich proved to be an also-ran who attracted a lot of attention but not many votes. Schwarzenegger was at one time considered a promising actor-politician. They both have something in common: they’re both losers who haven’t fulfilled potential.

Maybe Arnold should just fire himself.

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critique of this essay is warranted...

...if only to illustrate its rhetorical overreach.

--"#NeverTrump’s ... sole purpose again returns to trying to convince people not to participate in this year’s election." Incorrect. The goal is to help people recognize that "not trump" becomes "never trump" until/unless he demonstrates he recognizes his profound operational weaknesses by choosing Cruz for Veep [a person he can't fire].

--"what is it about Trump in particular that gets the #NeverTrump people so obstinate in their opposition?" Policy [whenever it's not contradicted in mid-sentence], Personality [deceit, etc.] and Procedure [outrage, pay-off, self-centered, etc.].

--"many of these same people – at least the conservatives among them – were just as opposed to the candidacies of Mitt Romney and John McCain in 2012 and 2008, at least during the primaries." Not I; Trump is an outlier, in every parameter.

--"In questioning Trump’s bombastic style and oversized personality, it seems the #NeverTrump people are being a tad shallow in their evaluation of the candidate." Wrong, we are fact-based, noting the recent anti-judge diatribes.

--"He’s caustic, childish and boorish at times. But in terms of policy, is there really that great of a gap? Since Trump has never served in office, we don’t really know where he stands on many issues and have only his word in terms of what he intends to do in office." You cannot dissociate behavior from content; after admitting he's yet to "pivot" into "presidential" [instead, veering in the opposite direction], you cannot psychologically compartmentalize and rationalize-away his overall demeanor.

--"But there are some concrete proposals as well. We have his 'American first' foreign policy speech outlining his views in that arena and his list of Supreme Court nominees. We also have Trump’s immigration proposals as outlined by Senator Jeff Sessions from last year and his tax plan which he’s often indicated is subject to revision. There are a few other areas outlined on his website, including his trade policy. These are the issues Trump’s based his campaign on, the same ones that have won him a majority of the delegates in the Republican Party." Nothing concrete here, for everything has been self-contradicted [within minutes, regarding foreign policy, with one day regarding his SCOTUS picks] and inexplicably contrasts with policies of past years [immigration, tax, trade]. These are the "fungible" postures that his adherents routinely ignore when delivering a plurality of GOP votes [admixed with x-over Dems, a la "Operation Chaos"].

--"if you’re #NeverTrump, chances are you’re basing most of your opposition to his candidacy on your dislike of Trump the man." Nope, when he says he has to negotiate whether Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of the Jewish state of Israel, he demonstrates [1]--ignorance, [2]--callousness, [3]--insincerity ... characteristics of the faux-supporters of Eretz Yisrael populating the Dem-Party.

There's more, but this should suffice to puncture the imagery of this piece.