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Republicans Are Worried about Another Term for "the Orange Jesus"

An increasing number of Republicans are worried about what would happen if Donald Trump wins another term as president. They remember all the fighting they had with him the first time and are fearful that it would only be worse the second time around. Indeed, as president, he was constantly feuding with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who will probably continue to be the top Republican in the Senate, at least until Jan. 3, 2027. That's a minimum of 2 years of Trump and McConnell at each other's throats.

Republicans' worries are showing up in endorsements. Despite Trump's massive lead in all the polls, only 13 of the 49 Republican senators and about 80 of the 221 Republican representatives have endorsed him. That's very telling, given the near certainty that he will be the Republican presidential nominee. And it will cause huge problems if Trump is elected president because he is going to go all out to punish those among the 36 Republican senators and roughly 140 Republican representatives who haven't endorsed him if they are still in Congress come Jan. 3, 2025. That won't lead to smooth sailing.

Many Senate Republicans who are worried sick about Trump believe that Nikki Haley is their last best hope of stopping him. They like the fact that she is not going to blindside them with preposterous off-the-wall statements that they will then be asked about. They think that she is also more electable than Trump because she does not alienate suburban women and independents the way Trump does. For example, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said Haley "seems to be" emerging as the leading alternative to Trump. Many of them have written off Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and don't think he can stage a comeback. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said of DeSantis: "Using a Florida/NASA analogy, I think the launch window has passed."

As president, Trump is likely to nominate people that the senators know are completely incompetent for top positions and are being chosen exclusively for their willingness to do whatever their lord and master wants. He is going to ask for laws that the senators know have no chance of passing, especially if Democrats control the House. He's going to ask the House to impeach judges who have ruled against him. He is going to say extremely controversial things and reporters will ask members of Congress if they agree with them.

When asked if he and his colleagues were worried about clashing with Trump, Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) said: "Shit, yeah. The orange Jesus?" Rep. Max Miller (R-OH), a former Trump aide, said Trump would work closely with "allies like me who are moderately pragmatic, that are all in on the America First agenda than more unpredictable conservatives like the eight (including [Rep. Andy] Biggs) who voted to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy." In other words, Trump is going to ignore, dump on, and punish Republicans who haven't exhibited sufficient loyalty to him.

The next 11 months of campaigning could be just as bad. Trump's call to replace the ACA is making Republicans nervous. They know such talk is not a winner and want him to shut up, but he won't. They are concerned that he will back candidates who can't win. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) said there is plenty of dread among his colleagues about Trump's return to the spotlight, but "everyone is being more private about it." Simpson also said they are all worried about "4 years of revenge" if Trump wins. (V)

Liz Cheney's Book Is Out Today

Former representative Liz Cheney's new book, Oath and Honor will be officially out later today, but copies have already leaked out. In the book, Cheney warns that Americans are sleepwalking into a dictatorship. She believes Donald Trump will end the U.S. republic if he wins. Sunday she was interviewed by CBS' John Dickerson. He asked her if Trump is a fascist. She said: "I think that he certainly is employing fascist techniques. I think that the tools that he is using are tools that we've seen used by authoritarians, fascists, tyrants around the world."

The book calls many of her former House colleagues "enablers" and "collaborators," some of them by name. These include former speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and current speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA). She writes that these people can't be trusted with power and that the dangers are ongoing and the stakes couldn't be higher. She also noted that many House members believed that Trump should be impeached and convicted but were afraid to vote for impeachment because they feared for their security and for that of their families.

Trump is apparently a speed reader because he is already attacking Cheney about a number of items in the book. She claims that he knew he lost the 2020 election and became depressed and stopped eating. This got McCarthy worried, so he went to Mar-a-Lago for a visit. Trump has denied this on his failing boutique social media network. He wrote: "That statement is not true. I was not depressed, I WAS ANGRY, and it was not that I was not eating, it was that I was eating too much. But that's not why Keven [sic] McCarthy was there. He was at Mar-a-Lago to get my support and to bring the Republican Party together."

Trump is not the only one who gives the book only one star. Trump's spokesman, Steven Cheung, said the book should be repurposed as toilet paper. Since Cheung has been a giant a** for years, we guess he would know. McCarthy's office has implied that Cheney is deranged. No doubt there will be a lot more about the book today. (V)

Five Times Primaries Were Surprising

The Republican primary race has been static for some time now. Yes, candidates have been dropping like flies and there will be a debate for second place tomorrow, but it seems the fundamentals are frozen in place now. However, surprises can happen and have happened in the past, even in the final stretches or after one or two nominating contests. Here are five examples from the last 20 years where expectations were upended, even in the final stretches or after a few voters got to chime in.

  • Democrats in 2004: After many Democratic members of Congress voted to authorize the use of military force in Iraq, plenty of Democrats who opposed the war there were very angry. One of them was Howard Dean, a former low-profile governor of Vermont. He decided the anti-war Democrats needed a voice, so he announced that he was running for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. There was instantly a surge of support for him. However, not everyone was anti-war. Former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, for one, was pro-war, and he also jumped in. For months, the main battle seemed to be Dean vs. Gephardt. This went on until shortly before the Iowa caucuses. The attacks each one hurled at the other one turned off Iowans, allowing John Kerry to win in Iowa. Dean tried to buck up his supporters, but a defective sound system turned his remarks into the "scream heard round the world" and finished off Dean. Kerry went on to win the nomination—and lose the election.

  • Republicans in 2008: At this point in the 2008 cycle, one poll released by The Washington Post/ABC News put Rudy Giuliani on top by 6 points, outside the margin of error. Second was Mike Huckabee. Third was Mitt Romney. They were trailed by actor Fred Thompson and John McCain—in fifth place. Although Giuliani, a Catholic, was way ahead nationally, he didn't campaign much in Iowa because he knew that he wouldn't be a big hit with all the evangelical Protestants there. Romney, a lifelong member of the LDS Church, wasn't afraid of that and campaigned heavily in Iowa. In one poll taken in Oct. 2007, he led in the Hawkeye State by 23 points, roughly Donald Trump's lead there now. Another guy who campaigned in Iowa was a neighbor, Mike Huckabee, whose persona was that of an avuncular southern preacher. He said he was a conservative, but not mad at anyone. To everyone's surprise, Huckabee crushed Romney by 10 points and finished him off. But Huckabee was a terrible fit for New Hampshire and Romney was badly damaged by his loss in Iowa, so John McCain came back from the dead and won New Hampshire. From then on, there was no stopping him.

  • Democrats in 2008: All through 2007, everyone "knew" that Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in to win all the primaries and cruise to the nomination and victory easily. They especially knew that while Iowa had never voted for a woman, the overwhelmingly white state was certainly not going to vote for a Black candidate, especially not a "skinny kid with a funny name," as Barack Obama described himself. Surprise, surprise. Shoo-in Clinton came in third, after Obama, who won by 8 points, and John Edwards. Edwards dropped out later and Obama and Clinton duked it out. No one saw that coming. And virtually no serious observer of politics expected Obama to get the nomination and win the presidency. It came completely out of the blue.

  • Republicans in 2012: In Dec. 2011, the person leading in the polls of the Republican primary was former Speaker Newt Gingrich. Remember him? He was leading nationally by double digits. He was the Trump of his day, supported by the grass roots and hated by the establishment. Also running was Rick Santorum. He was fundamentally a more ascetic version of Huckabee. He had won two Senate terms in Pennsylvania, but was crushed trying for the third one. Nevertheless, his open and very visible religiosity propelled him to a narrow victory in Iowa. Gingrich was shocked and knocked off his pedestal. He was also a poor fit for New Hampshire, which was won by the former governor of an adjacent state, Mitt Romney. Gingrich managed to win South Carolina and eventually his own state of Georgia, but those were his only wins. Santorum used Iowa as a springboard to win 11 states in the Midwest and South, but in the end Romney, not Gingrich, got the nomination, and Gingrich fizzled out despite a massive lead in December, just before Iowa.

  • Democrats in 2020: Joe Biden was well known in the fall of 2019, but he wasn't the hot new kid like Pete Buttigieg or a progressive favorite like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Biden was a tired old retread that nobody really wanted. He certainly wasn't leading in any polls. He was crushed in Iowa, coming in fourth after Buttigieg, Sanders, and Warren. In New Hampshire it got only worse. Not only was he behind those three, but also behind Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN). He was then crushed by Sanders in Nevada. Everyone wrote Biden off as roadkill. Then he won South Carolina by 30 points and many other candidates dropped out, making it easier for Biden to consolidate the not-Bernie vote. A week after Super Tuesday, Biden was the presumptive nominee.

So the early leader(s) often didn't do so well, even when they had big leads in December before election year. Of course, the only person in recent times with a hold on his supporters as tight as Donald Trump has is Bernie Sanders. But Sanders' base is much smaller than Trump's, so Sanders' grip on them wasn't enough (because their numbers are too small). Nevertheless, there have been quite a few surprises in the past 20 years so a surprise in 2024, while unlikely, wouldn't be unprecedented. (V)

Border Talks Are in Deep Trouble

Joe Biden asked Congress to approve $106 billion for aid to Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan, and for beefing up border security. The border part is proving to be very difficult. Basically, Republicans know Biden really wants the aid parts so they are demanding that the border be shut down and nobody new allowed in. This is a nonstarter for many Democrats. The lead Democrat in the negotiations, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), said that the discussions have fallen apart. The lead Republican, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), was more bullish about the state of the talks. He said: "We're still swapping paperwork and we're still having conversations. This doesn't feel like a breakdown to me."

The Republicans are by far in a stronger position here. They wouldn't mind the funding bill failing as it would show Biden as being weak. Also, many Republicans don't want to fund Ukraine anymore. If the bill failed, they would introduce a new bill to fund only Israel and Democrats would probably grudgingly vote for it. Democrats really want to fund Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, but find shutting down the border completely too high a price to pay. But what do they do when Republicans simply say: "OK, then no bill. Bye."

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) is also in the mix, in part because her state has a long border with Mexico and in part because she is one of the few senators who has at least some credibility with both parties. She is suggesting that both parties have to be more realistic about what can be achieved. They don't seem to want to do that now.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said he might hold a vote on the bill this week. Lankford responded by saying that if he did, Republicans would filibuster it. Since Ukraine is running out of weapons and ammo, Democrats are under a lot of pressure to give Republicans most of what they want, but they don't want to. The weird thing is that closing the border would take away one of the Republicans' strongest arguments against Democrats in 2024, but for internal reasons, they don't want to accept the gift the Republicans are trying to hand them. (V)

New York Could Determine Control of the House

The special election in NY-03 is making Republicans very nervous. New York is a heavily Democratic state. Nevertheless, three Republicans are in D+x districts (including the vacant one), one is in an EVEN district, and two more are in R+3 districts. That's six districts that are potentially flippable. If the courts give the state legislature permission to regerrymander the map, those districts could be made easy to win and one more (Staten Island) could be made competitive. If all the stars align, the Democrats could pick up seven seats just in New York. That alone would be enough to take control of the House. Consequently, a lot of attention is being focused on the Empire State.

Republicans got a bit of bad news there last week. Liz Whitmer Gereghty dropped out of the primary in NY-17, clearing the way for former representative Mondaire Jones to win the primary and cruise to election. Gereghty is the sister of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) and had access to national Democrats. However, the progressive Jones had more support from local Democrats in Westchester County. Gereghty's decision to quit the race saved the Democrats from an expensive primary and allows them to focus entirely on beating Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY) in the D+3 district. Lawler is no doubt sweating bullets now. He's in deep trouble.

Both parties are expecting Democrats to run against "George Santos" not only in the special election in NY-03, but in all the contested NY districts in Nov. 2024. By running the same campaign everywhere, they can order "Republicans are corrupt" bumper stickers in large quantities and get a discount from the printer. Of course, Republicans may try to divert attention to New Jersey, where Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is under indictment. However, Menendez has virtually no chance of winning the Democratic primary against two well known opponents, Tammy Murphy, wife of Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ), and Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ). Murphy herself is very active in Democratic politics and knows everyone, even without her gubernatorial husband's connections, and the Murphys are worth north of $50 million. Kim is a popular sitting member of Congress who has run winning campaigns before. One of them will almost certainly be the Democratic candidate, and then, with Menendez disposed of, it will be tough for Republicans to exploit his corruption.

Of course, if the courts allow the New York state legislature to redraw the map, all bets are off.

California is another key state with a number of vulnerable Republicans in districts Joe Biden won. Of the Biden 18, the districts where a Republican represents a district Joe Biden won, six are in New York and five are in California. So control of the House will be fought over in two of the bluest states. (V)

Lake Is Not Making Progress with Moderates

Fire-breathing pretend-governor Kari Lake (R) is running for the Senate in Arizona. In 2022, she dissed moderate Republicans during her whole campaign. The high point was when she asked a roomful of people if there were any McCain Republicans in the room, and said that, if so, they should get the hell out. The crowd loved it. Now she is desperate to get those McCain Republicans back and it is not working. They remember all too well what she said and did in 2022 and don't trust her for a second.

Republican strategists in Arizona don't think she is going to be able to pull it off. Her fiery style and refusal to concede go over well with Donald Trump's true believers, but Arizona has become a purple state and the true believers aren't a majority there. She also still insists that Trump won in 2020. Lake must get the moderates to win; if Kyrsten Sinema decides to run, many of those moderate Republicans will vote for Sinema and doom Lake. And if Sinema doesn't run, some of the moderates will vote Democratic or will skip the race entirely.

Republican strategist Daniel Scarpinato said: "She's going to be the nominee unless an asteroid hits Arizona, and she's going to need to consolidate Republicans in order to win. It's going to take time for some of those wounds to heal. My advice would be keep doing it. It's got to be something that's consistent and not one and done." But Lake didn't just misspeak one time; her whole brand was hostility to "RINOs."

Indeed, McCain wasn't the only Republican Lake targeted in 2022. In the primary she ran against Karrin Taylor Robson. She described Robson as someone who "married a billionaire twice her age" who gave her a blank check to run for office. Robson and her supporters found that deeply offensive. Robson was not some Johanna-come-lately to politics. Her father was president of the Arizona state Senate and her brother was a member of the Maricopa Board of Supervisors. She has a J.D. degree from ASU and was a member of the state Board of Regents. When Lake asked Robson for her support recently, Robson said she was too busy with state Senate races to help out.

Lake has also attacked the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and county recorder. They have received death threats. She can sure dish it out. We don't know if she can also take incoming fire. Some people think she is a Black person (or maybe a biracial person) who tries to pass as a white person by wearing half an inch of makeup. It wouldn't be hard to imagine some rich person who doesn't especially like her to set up a super PAC and begin running ads saying she should be proud of her heritage, not hide it.

Another problem that is making it harder for Lake to reach moderate Republicans is that she camped out at Mar-a-Lago for weeks earlier this year, apparently trying to get Donald Trump to promise to make her his running mate. It looks like he didn't fall for her. Maybe she's not his type. People who don't like Trump aren't going to see Project Veep as a plus for her.

Lake says that she has a good relationship with the NRSC, but there are a lot of competitive Senate races in 2024 and if the chairman, Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), thinks that she is never going to win over moderate Republicans, he may decide to spend his money elsewhere.

Some of Lake's policy proposals from 2022 still rankle. One of the things she said in her 2022 gubernatorial race was that she wanted to install video cameras in all the classrooms in Arizona so she could identify (and then fire) all woke teachers. That didn't go over real big with teachers. Count on Democratic candidate Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) bringing that up a couple of times. Former Republican congressman Matt Salmon, a long-time Arizona conservative, strongly opposed the camera idea. He said: "She employs the politics of personal destruction, and she'll say anything—the most vile things in the world—to get ahead. I'm sorry, I just can't forget that."

Lake seems to have made her bed and is now going to have to sleep in it. She was a fire-breathing MAGA type in 2022 who vilified and mocked anyone who wasn't MAGA enough. Now she wants their help. Good luck with that against a Latino Marine veteran who served in Iraq and who has been elected to the House from Phoenix four times, never with less than 74% of the vote. (V)

Why Do People Watch Fox "News"?

Fox "News" doesn't actually have a lot of actual news on it, so why do millions of people watch it? Psychologist Michael Bader, who doesn't agree with anything said on Fox, actually watched Fox for a month to try to understand why it is the most popular cable network. He wrote up his findings on Salon, which is as far to the left as Fox is to the right (but that doesn't really negate his observations).

According to Bader, almost everything on Fox revolves around one or more of these seven deadly sins:

  1. Illegal aliens are flooding the country and pose a threat to everyone else.
  2. Democratic-run cities are exploding with homelessness and violent crime.
  3. The FBI and DoJ have been weaponized to persecute conservatives, especially Donald Trump.
  4. Joe and Hunter Biden are gangsters who have surrendered to America's enemy, China.
  5. Gender-affirming care is a ghoulish form of castration and butchery.
  6. Schools are making kids feel guilty about America's history of racism, sexism, and homophobia.
  7. Poor people want free goodies and the government is giving it to them.

There are a few more, like the climate change hoax, but these are the biggies. The common threads running through all of them are fear and envy, two powerful emotions that cannot be combatted with mere facts. Many people feel powerless in their own lives. This is what they see. Prices are going up and their wages are not. Social changes that they consider not only immoral but preposterous are considered to be progress. The media are telling them that driving the SUV they are struggling to pay for will destroy the planet. Crime appears to be everywhere. The government hates people like them. The list goes on.

Naturally they try to understand how this is happening. Fox tells them. It is the liberal elite/deep state/Democrats who want all these things and they are powerful enough to force their views on decent hard-working Americans who don't want them. They are outraged and bitter. Fox very intentionally keeps them outraged and bitter. It is addicting to be a perpetual victim with none of your troubles being your own fault. At the same time, viewers are envious of all the material and other advantages the liberal elites and immigrants are said to enjoy.

With this story repeated hour after hour and day after day, viewers become furious. Other networks, like CNN and MSNBC, don't feed their victimhood at all. They don't even recognize it. Then when Donald Trump comes along and says: "I understand how you feel and I can fix the system so it doesn't screw you anymore," they respond to him and forgive his many sins since only he understands they are not deplorables, but the salt of the earth. (V)

A December to Rhymember, Parts II and III: Potpourri

The poetry editor was not well enough to add this feature to yesterday's post, but the newest antibiotic seems to be working, so you get a double dose today. Leading off is L.M. in Tampa, FL:

Great beasts with a hump
cannot pass through tiny holes
and neither will Trump.

This one is from A.G. in Scranton, PA, who is, as you can guess, a veteran:

When posting "Thank you for your service."
Ensure it's not just from your soul's surface.
When you look you the mirror,
We hope you see clearer,
That the "Like" that you'll get ain't the purpose.

An overview of the state of the Republican primary, courtesy of D.C. in Delray Beach, FL:

A one-time governor named Haley
Was advancing in the polls almost daily
When her campaign hit a bump
By the name of Don Trump
Who had more delegates than the lady

Florida has a Senator named Scott
Who didn't win election by a lot
He's got plenty of dough
But he's not in the know
For him I'll vote next time... NOT

Florida has a guv named DeSantis
In his marriage we wonder where the pants is
Cause his wife calls the shots
He listens to others not
And does what she says needs emphasis

Florida once elected a guy named Marco
Who ran for prez and came up a zero
He pours syrup on his waffles
He's so lazy it's awful
Let's hope next time he's a no-no

Trump says he'll extinguish O-Care
And replace it with something not there
Nor is it over here
Nor in the dregs of my beer
Nor can Rs find a bill about it anywhere

And finally, C.G. in Bologna, Italy, reminds us of an ongoing disdain for the American news media:

Roses are red
results are not yet in
the media likes Republicans
and wants them to win

More tomorrow! Send your submissions here. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Dec04 DeSantis' Super PAC Is in Complete Meltdown
Dec04 Johnson's Job Just Got Tougher
Dec04 Senate Republicans Are Not Interested in Repealing the ACA
Dec04 Domestic Oil Production Is Up and It Could Be Good News for Environmentalists
Dec04 Chris Christie May Not Make the Stage at the Next Republican Debate
Dec04 Presidents Are Not Immune to All Lawsuits
Dec04 Trump's Former Lawyer Is Cooperating with Nevada Prosecutors in Fake Electors Case
Dec04 Georgia Republicans Unveil a New House Map...
Dec04 ...But a Florida Appeals Court Upholds the Old Map
Dec04 Florida Republican Party Faces a Crisis
Dec02 Bye, "George"
Dec02 Sandra Day O'Connor Is Dead at 93
Dec02 Saturday Q&A
Dec01 DeSantis, Newsom Debate
Dec01 The Missing Piece of the Trump-Obamacare Puzzle
Dec01 Trump Gets Gagged Again
Dec01 No Democratic Primary in Florida
Dec01 "Santos'" Goose Looks to Be Cooked
Dec01 A December to Rhymember, Part I: Never a Silent Night
Dec01 This Week in Schadenfreude: Jesus Day
Dec01 This Week in Freudenfreude: Now That's an Obituary
Nov30 The Three Fantasies That Explain Why Congress Does Not Work
Nov30 Democrats Might Be Willing to Accept a Compromise on the Border
Nov30 Does Trump Have a Ceiling?
Nov30 It's the Savings, Stupid
Nov30 Liz Cheney's Book: Trump Knew He Lost
Nov30 Pence Spills the Beans to Smith
Nov30 Biden Campaigns against Boebert in Her Own District
Nov30 Republicans Support Local Control--Except When They Don't
Nov30 Monica Lewinsky Turns Constitutional Scholar
Nov30 Henry Kissinger Is Dead
Nov29 Koch Will Try to Block Trump with Nikki Haley
Nov29 Inflation Is Quite Deflating
Nov29 Tuberville Prepares to Punt
Nov29 Get Ready for Another Debate
Nov29 America Bids Farewell to Rosalynn Carter
Nov29 Sununu Says He Would Vote for Donald Trump in 2024
Nov29 It's Almost Rhyme Time!
Nov28 Trump Apparently Wants to Hand the Democrats Another Campaign Issue
Nov28 Biden Less Popular Than Any Governor
Nov28 Inflation? Not So Much, Say the Numbers
Nov28 Tuberville About to Come Up Short... Again
Nov28 Kevin McCarthy, Historian
Nov28 Sports Illustrated Goes There
Nov27 Will Abortion Save the Democrats in 2024?
Nov27 Could A Big Mac Sink Biden?
Nov27 Are Democrats Freaking Out over the Wrong Thing?
Nov27 The Second Time Is Not Usually the Charm
Nov27 States Want to Count the Votes Faster in 2024
Nov27 Georgia Not on My Mind