Trump Cards

Is Massachusetts-based progressive blogger David Kravitz on to something with his prediction for the 2016 Republican presidential ticket?

You don’t think it’s going to be [Donald] Trump? Who else is it going to be? Jeb Bush, the supposed choice of the establishment, who has turned out to be an absolutely terrible candidate for president, who foolishly lets himself get baited by Trump, and who sinks a little further with each new poll? Scott Walker, who looked like a real contender until he started, you know, saying things in public, and until people started looking at his actual record in Wisconsin? Marco Rubio, whose positions on some issues (e.g., abortion) are so extreme as to be nearly disqualifying, who also has failed to meet expectations, and who is consistently polling worse than fellow Floridian Jeb Bush – to say nothing of his epic fail when delivering the GOP response to the 2013 State of the Union address? Carly Fiorina, who is running on her business record which mostly consists of nearly managing to single-handedly destroy one of the most storied technology companies in America? Ted Cruz, the only person the GOP establishment hates more than Donald Trump? John Kasich, who will sink like a stone (all the way down from 4%) once GOP primary voters realize that he kinda likes Obamacare? Christie? Jindal? Perry? Huckabee? Rand? Come on.

Fact is, none of the other GOP candidates can figure out how to deal with Trump. He baits them, and they keep falling for it. He insults them, and they splutter and look awkward and sad about it. It’s fair for GOP voters to ask if the other candidates can’t handle Donald Trump, HOW ARE THEY GOING TO HANDLE ISIS? Or Hillary Clinton, for that matter?

Furthermore, Trump has figured out a couple of things that the other Republican candidates haven’t. First, most Americans – and this includes most Republicans – basically like Social Security. Trump does too, and to my knowledge he’s the only GOP candidate to say so. Second, most Americans basically hate the fact that wealthy donors wield so much influence in politics. Trump doesn’t need donors – he’s practically dead last in terms of fundraising – and he has been railing very effectively on this topic, declaring the campaign finance system “broken” and himself independent of it. It’s something Trump says that even lefties sorta like. Third, Trump – like most Americans – thinks that really rich people (including himself) should be willing to pay more taxes, and he’s expressed interest in eliminating the infamous “carried interest” loophole that helps the hedge fund guys pay next to nothing…

In short, Trump seems to me as likely as anyone (and more likely than most) to be the Republican nominee. So, who would he pick to run with him? Ben Carson strikes me as the most obvious choice. Carson is (a) African-American, which would help Trump rebut the racism charge; (b) not a politician, which is consistent with Trump’s apparent belief that most (if not all) elected officials are nitwits; (c) actually pretty popular with Republican voters, at least right now; and (d) open to the possibility. Furthermore, he’s one of the few other GOP contenders whom Trump hasn’t yet insulted.

So. Trump-Carson 2016. You heard it here first.

I can’t really see Trump selecting another political amateur like Carson as his running mate; presumably he would need someone with far more gravitas than the guy who once compared Obamacare to slavery. If the idea is to symbolically offset racism charges, it’s more likely that Trump would select someone like Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), who is just as conservative as Carson, but not nearly as clownish as the demagogic doctor.

Scott may have some truly awful policy views, but he’s neither a Sarah Palin-style airhead nor a Paul Ryan-style huckster. I was struck by the power of his remarks in the wake of the Charleston, South Carolina church shooting, largely because it’s so rare these days to hear actual empathy from Republicans:

A Trump-Scott GOP ticket would be an interesting one, to say the least. (Here’s a question: if such a ticket loses, who do you think Republicans will put most of the blame on?)

UPDATE: MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow note that Trump has completed his transformation from GOP outsider to GOP hack.

SECOND UPDATE: More from the New York Times.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.