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Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes – Conservatives Turn on Trump Edition

Every day brings news of more Republicans getting fed up with Trump’s polarizing insanity and his  ‘Reign of Rage.’ In “Bush administration alums form pro-Biden super PAC,” Tal Axelrod reports at The Hill: “Former officials from the George W. Bush administration have formed a super PAC to support former Vice President Joe Biden’s White House campaign…The super PAC, dubbed 43 Alumni For Biden, referring to the 43rd president, was formed Monday, according to a Tuesday filing with the Federal Election Commission…Karen Kirksey, a former Treasury Department official from the Bush administration, is listed as the group’s treasurer and custodian of records.”

At Newsweek, Jason Lemon reports, “Senator John Thune, the Senate Majority Whip, has come out against deploying military troops to quell unrest in cities across the country, backing similar remarks made by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, which were at odds with President Donald Trump’s previous warnings….”I think that these tasks ought to be relegated as much as possible to the state and local authorities, the law enforcement and police,” Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, told reporters on Wednesday. The senator noted that “the goal always is to de-escalate, not escalate.”…The GOP lawmaker added that he believes “the Defense Department by and large ought to stay out of the political fray. They’ve got a job to do and we count on them heavily to do it.”

A few other GOP senators added their comments. As reported by Marianne Levine, Andrew Desiderio and Burgess Everett at Politico: “There is a fundamental — a constitutional — right to protest, and I’m against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the Word of God as a political prop,” added Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who also decried rioting and looting. “Every public servant in America should be lowering the temperature.”…And Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said it was “definitely not” right for peaceful protesters, who were gathered around Lafayette Park in front of the White House, to be sprayed with tear gas. And he criticized the president for walking to St. John’s Episcopal Church right before the 7 p.m. curfew, because “everyone knew there were going to be protesters in that area.”

Then there’s Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker, who has a few choice words about Trump’s failed ‘leadership’ of recent weeks, as reported by Paul LeBlanc in “Massachusetts GOP governor rips Trump’s ‘bitterness, combativeness and self-interest‘” at CNN politics: “Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday excoriated President Donald Trump’s “bitterness, combativeness and self-interest” as nationwide protests have intensified over the death of George Floyd..The Republican governor made the comments at a press conference when asked about Trump’s video teleconference call, in which the President urged state leaders to aggressively target violent protesters. The call came after nearly a week of protests across the country that at times have turned violent over the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who died at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis…”I heard what the President said today about dominating and fighting. I know I should be surprised when I hear incendiary words like this from him, but I’m not,” Baker told reporters. “At so many times during these past several weeks when the country needed compassion and leadership the most, it was simply nowhere to be found.”…Instead, he continued, “we got bitterness, combativeness and self-interest. That’s not what we need in Boston, it’s not what we need right now in Massachusetts and it’s definitely not what we need across this great country of ours either.”

From The Guardian: “Former defense secretary James Mattis has broken his silence on the Trump administration, fiercely criticizing the president’s handling of the recent mass protests over George Floyd’s death….In statement published by the Atlantic, Mattis accuses the president of dividing the country and ordering the military to violate the constitutional rights of Americans….“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us,” Mattis writes. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.” ..Mattis, who resigned as defense secretary in 2018 in protest over Trump’s widely criticized decision to withdraw US forces from Syria, goes on to accuse the president of having violated the rights of Americans for a photo op in Washington DC this week….“When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution,”the statement says. “Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.””

Conservative columnist George Will also weighed in, as Eric Black reports at MinnPost: “A long-time famous columnist with a large vocabulary lost his you-know-what with the latest – what’s the word, antics? lies? degradations? or depredations? or both, or all of the above? — committed by the current occupant of the Oval Office and the famous columnist wrote these three paragraphs which some (not me) might view as intemperate: “The president’s provocations — his coarsening of public discourse that lowers the threshold for acting out by people as mentally crippled as he — do not excuse the violent few. They must be punished. He must be removed. …This unraveling presidency began with the Crybaby-in-Chief banging his spoon on his highchair tray to protest a photograph — a photograph — showing that his inauguration crowd the day before had been smaller than the one four years previous…This weak person’s idea of a strong person, this chest-pounding advertisement of his own gnawing insecurities, this low-rent Lear raging on his Twitter-heath has proven that the phrase malignant buffoon is not an oxymoron.” Black continues, “Which squishy liberal said this about Donald John Trump? I won’t drag it out any longer. It was columnist George F. Will of the Washington Post, a long-time leader of American conservatism who still sets the standard for conservative thought and argumentation among those who haven’t traded in their lifelong principles for Trumpian lies, insults and other expostulations.”

Another passage from Will’s much-quoted article: “The nation’s downward spiral into acrimony and sporadic anarchy has had many causes much larger than the small man who is the great exacerbator of them. Most of the causes predate his presidency, and most will survive its January terminus. The measures necessary for restoration of national equilibrium are many and will be protracted far beyond his removal. One such measure must be the removal of those in Congress who, unlike the sycophantic mediocrities who cosset him in the White House, will not disappear “magically,” as Eric Trump said the coronavirus would. Voters must dispatch his congressional enablers, especially the senators who still gambol around his ankles with a canine hunger for petting…In life’s unforgiving arithmetic, we are the sum of our choices. Congressional Republicans have made theirs for more than 1,200 days. We cannot know all the measures necessary to restore the nation’s domestic health and international standing, but we know the first step: Senate Republicans must be routed, as condign punishment for their Vichyite collaboration, leaving the Republican remnant to wonder: Was it sensible to sacrifice dignity, such as it ever was, and to shed principles, if convictions so easily jettisoned could be dignified as principles, for . . . what?”

Former four-star Marine General John Allen joins the fray in his article, “A Moment of National Shame and Peril—and Hope: We may be witnessing the beginning of the end of American democracy, but there is still a way to stop the descent” at Foreign Policy (paywalled). As Ken Meyer reports at Mediaite, “Retired Marine Corps General John Allen, the U.S. envoy to the global coalition against ISIS who currently serves as president of the Brookings Institution, said President Donald Trump’s threats to wield the U.S. military against the American people could be a harbinger for the end of democracy in America…In an opinion piece for Foreign Policy magazine, Allen condemned Trump for his lack of leadership since the death of George Floyd sparked social unrest throughout the nation. The former envoy blasted Trump for his conduct earlier in the week, saying “to even the casual observer, Monday was awful for the United States and its democracy.”…“The slide of the United States into illiberalism may well have begun on June 1, 2020,” said Allen. “Remember the date. It may well signal the beginning of the end of the American experiment.”

Meyer continues, “The op-ed goes on to criticize the Trump administration for their focus on rioters and looters when “the truth is that they are minuscule in numbers. The vast majority of the people protesting in the streets are justifiably furious at the murder of George Floyd, but they’re even angrier over pervasive injustice, mass incarceration, frequent false arrests, and an institutionalized devaluation of black lives and property.”…Finally, Allen condemned the use of force against D.C. protesters who “had done nothing to warrant such an attack.”…“It wasn’t enough that peaceful protesters had just been deprived of their first-amendment rights — this photo-op sought to legitimize that abuse with a layer of religion,” Allen wrote. “Donald Trump isn’t religious, has no need of religion, and doesn’t care about the devout, except insofar as they serve his political needs. We know why he did all this on Monday. He even said so while holding the Bible and standing in front of the church. It was about MAGA—’making America great again.’”

3 comments on “Political Strategy Notes – Conservatives Turn on Trump Edition

  1. Candace on

    the criticism from the military officials is especially important right now because it may discourage the current administration from trying what they did and threatened to do to protesters in November, or if they do it anyway (which if at the white house they will) speaking out could provide support to say no to attacking Americans.

    To add to this:
    At Foreign Policy:
    By Jack Detsch, Robbie Gramer | June 5, 2020

    “Hundreds of Former National Security Officials Condemn Trump’s Response to Protests
    In a letter, more than 200 former senior diplomats and military leaders say there is “no role” for the U.S. military to deal with protesters exercising free speech rights.”

    At Washington Post
    By Matt Zapotosky, June 10, 2020

    “More than 1,250 former Justice Dept. workers call for internal watchdog to probe Barr role in clearing demonstrators from Lafayette Square”

  2. Victor on

    Yes, we should validate Republican voters who have switched, are considering switching or abstaining.

    But this is too close to validating the Republican establishment or even Republican politicians.

    Right now there are many Republican senators specially trying to distance themselves from Trump so they can win reelection.

    We need to insist on tying them to Trump and specially to McConnell.

    If we validate so called Republican intellectuals and/or Republican moderates we are doing the dirty work for these politicians.

    We need to achieve the ouster of Trump but also clear Democratic majorities in Congress.

  3. Martin Lawford on

    How could a political beginner like Donald Trump defeat fourteen Republican governors and Senators for their party’s nomination? Don’t ask the Republican elite, because they still don’t know.


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