When this presidential primary began, we heard from a lot of Republicans about how deep their bench was because they produced 17 candidates. At least that’s the kind of thing they said when the cameras were on. There was a lot of gloating about their wealth of choices this time around.
But with talk about the possibility of using a contested convention to stop Donald Trump, at least right now we know that they’re saying something very different behind closed doors. I found the conversation about all that on Morning Joe last Friday to be fascinating. The group pretty quickly dismissed the idea of a brokered convention, but they went on to try and conjure up what Reince Priebus’ options might be at this point.
Let’s first of all acknowledge that things like the emergence of huge super pacs after the Citizens United ruling have pretty much neutered the power of the RNC. That’s exactly why there were 17 candidates in the first place. But even if there was something Priebus could do, the reality they are facing now is that taking Trump down probably means the emergence of Ted Cruz – which would be even worse news for the RNC. Marco Rubio doesn’t seem to be able to gain much traction and folks are increasingly having a hard time seeing a path to victory for him. What struck me about that Morning Joe conversation was the one name that never crossed anyone’s lips: Jeb Bush. That’s exactly why we are increasingly hearing stories about a potential comeback from the crook and bully of New Jersey…puhleeze.
The reality is that the GOP field isn’t looking so good right now. Given that, it is only natural (for Republicans) that we’re beginning to hear the makings of a “blame game.” Yesterday, Frank Luntz reported what he’d heard from his focus group with Trump supporters and basically blamed it all on President Obama. That’s a theme that is starting to emerge. And here’s how former Dubya campaign strategist Matthew Dowd put it on twitter yesterday.
sad thing about politics today: Trump Cruz Hillary all polarizing and have no capacity to end dysfunction in dc. time to end party duopoly
— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) December 13, 2015
I can only assume that it assuages some of their grief to equate Hillary Clinton with Trump and Cruz as a “polarizing” figure. But at some point, this “party of personal responsibility” really needs to look at themselves and realize that it was the embrace of post-policy obstruction based on fear mongering that brought them to this place. They are the ones who tilled the soil that wound up producing candidates like Trump and Cruz by abandoning any effort to develop a platform that addressed the issues we face in favor of stirring up the nativism of their base. That’s why Marco Rubio had to abandon any real effort at immigration reform – opening the door for Trump’s “deport em all” nonsense.
Simply pointing a finger at President Obama or Hillary Clinton to blame them isn’t going to cut it. They look like four year-olds trying to take the heat off themselves by saying “S/he started it!”