Republican Primaries Going Forward

Ted Cruz WisconsinTed Cruz’s victory in Wisconsin last night was by 13% over Donald Trump, a gap no poll predicted would be so wide. Cruz has a tendency to outperform the polls, and it showed again in this primary. John Kasich was an also-ran—again.

Cruz won 36 of the state’s 42 delegates. This was a state that many had called “perfect” for Trump. That was a premature call.

Over the past couple of weeks, Cruz has won Utah with 69% of the vote, North Dakota by getting 18 of the 25 delegates there (Trump has only one outspoken supporter among those delegates), and as Colorado began its drawn-out process of choosing delegates, Cruz picked up the first 6; more will be chosen later this week, and he is expected to dominate the rest of the selections.

Normally, when someone wins, the loser comes out with a statement of congratulations, while pledging to win the next time. Not so Trump and his campaign. What issued from the Trump camp had to be the most graceless, whiniest response yet. I won’t bother you with the entire statement; you can find it online easily. But here are some highlights:

  • Trump continued his theme by referring to Cruz as “Lyin’ Ted”
  • He said the result was based on false advertising
  • Cruz, the statement asserted, was “attempting to steal the nomination”
  • Cruz was being “used” by the party bosses
  • And, to top everything, the statement said Cruz “was coordinating with his own Super PAC’s (which is illegal)”

What was the proof offered for that last accusation? Nothing. Nothing at all. Just believe us. It had to be the reason why we lost.

Donald TrumpYou see, in Trump World, there is no such thing as an honest win for the other guy. Trump, you understand, is a winner, never a loser. So if it appears that he lost, it had to be due to some kind of chicanery and fraud.

That’s the Trump theme, and he will be sticking to it, regardless.

What should we expect in the coming primaries?

Already, everyone is saying New York, which is next, will be Trump’s crowning achievement, as if winning one’s home state is not to be expected. Here’s what to watch for in New York. Will the huge lead Trump currently enjoys in the polls there start to come down as Republicans ponder what has taken place in Wisconsin and in those other states I mentioned where Cruz is ascending?

New York also is not a solid winner-take-all state if Trump can be pulled down below 50% of the vote. Watch the polls carefully over the next two weeks; Trump’s numbers may begin to slide; Cruz’s may start rising. And if Cruz once again outperforms those polls, Trump may win, but not with nearly as many delegates as he thinks.

Pennsylvania, we’re told, is not good for Cruz. Pay attention. Pennsylvania’s primary is different than most. None of the delegates going to the convention from that state are bound by the election results. What, you say? Is this another “dirty trick” to deny Trump the nomination? Hardly. This is the way Pennsylvania always has done it, long before anyone ever heard of Donald Trump. The Cruz people are very organized, unlike the Trump campaign’s fly-by-night approach. You can be sure they are currently helping line up a slate of delegates more amenable to a Cruz nomination.

It’s too hard to predict beyond that, simply because what transpires from now until those elections will make a difference. Will Trump continue his headlong plunge into baseless accusations and bizarre behavior? What outrageous statement will he make next that will turn off voters?

States like Indiana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana are all Cruz territory. This is not over.

What do I predict? No one will get the 1237 delegates necessary for nomination prior to the convention. The decision will be made there, and the Cruz team is at the top of its game right now—not playing tricks, but doing what all good campaigns do, preparing for that convention vote. If Trump doesn’t get the magic number after the first ballot, he’s never going to get it.

At this point, I think the possibility of a Cruz nomination is greater than a Trump nomination. And no, Mr. Trump, it won’t be because the nomination was stolen from you; it will have been won by the rules, fair and square.

Please note that I’m not saying Cruz will win, but I’m far more optimistic than I was before. We’ll just have to see how this rolls out over the next two months.

Let Fox Be Fox Once Again

Today’s post will be tinged with sadness—sadness over some loss of trust in what was, and still can be, the best news organization in the nation.

Two decades ago, I received my news primarily through CNN and MSNBC. Fox was not yet on my cable system. Both CNN and MSNBC leaned left, but there were enough sensible people, at least a hint of balance, that I could reasonably watch them.

Fox News LogoI was delighted when Fox News finally became a staple on every cable system; my first experience with Fox on a regular basis came in 2001 when I moved to the northern Virginia region.

It was truly a breath of fresh news air. For the first time, my beliefs—Christian and conservative—were treated with respect. I never expected a channel that mirrored me precisely, but Fox was a source I could trust better than those other two options, and both CNN and MSNBC shifted even more to the left during this time.

I still make Fox my “go to” network, my default, so to speak. Yet this election cycle has punctured its vaunted image of being fair and balanced. No, it hasn’t become a left-wing clone of those other two channels; it has, though, via a number of its on-air hosts, veered dangerously close to becoming a cheerleader for Donald Trump.

Now, I realize that commentators comment, and they are perfectly free to say what they think, but the obvious bias for Trump appearing on far too many of its programs has made watching Fox much less appealing than before.

I’ve always loved Fox and Friends in the mornings. The hosts are witty, yet serious about the kinds of issues I am serious about. Lately, though, some of the coverage has become cringeworthy, particularly when Trump is allowed to phone in his views nearly every day and is not challenged on anything he says.

Eric BollingThe Five always has been an interesting exchange from hosts with varying angles of thinking, but Eric Bolling, who sits right in the middle, has become such a Trump sycophant that he is now difficult to watch. His Saturday program on the economy used to have a place for Michelle Fields, the reporter manhandled by Trump’s chief of staff, but once that incident occurred, Bolling banned her from returning. The excuse is that now she can’t be objective. If so, why does that standard not apply to Bolling as well?

As an aside, one of The Five‘s co-hosts, Greg Gutfeld, noted on the program how the Trump issue is dividing the network. Someone needs to listen to him.

Sean HannityThe Fox evening lineup has constantly demolished its competition. Now I see Greta Van Susteren and Sean Hannity practically panting at the opportunity to highlight Trump. Greta gave him a full hour last night; Hannity is doing the same tonight. Two nights in a row? Really?

To be fair, Hannity has also hosted Cruz a couple of times, and he complains that Cruz has not been open to more interviews. Yet his affection is so clearly for Trump that it oozes out of every pore. The Cruz people say they have no real desire to appear on Hannity’s program again because he has resorted to using Trump talking points. I noticed that in the last interview he did with Cruz.

Bill O’Reilly has been more balanced overall than Greta and Hannity, but even he seems to enjoy those Trump visits in a chummy kind of way. Yes, he has been better at challenging Trump on occasion, but he never gets to the bottom of the Trump falseness the way he seeks to do with others.

Megyn KellyThe only bright spot of complete integrity with respect to coverage of Trump is Megyn Kelly, and you know she is being a genuine journalist just by Trump’s obsession with her and his ongoing Twitter war demeaning her publicly.

Kelly is to be commended for not allowing Trump to dictate her coverage. She is now, for me, the only fresh air on the network’s evening lineup, and the only one I trust to bring a fair and balanced perspective. She has shown class by not responding to Trump in kind even while suffering his Twitter barrage of insults. She has shown herself to be the most professional of all the hosts.

Cruz has an hour with Kelly this evening. I can understand why his team chose her for this. She has never refrained from asking him the tough questions, but she has allowed him to answer without being interrupted by another Trump talking point.

Let me add here that when Fox hosted Republican primary debates, I think the network shined. All the candidates were treated equally and all were asked the hard questions they had to know how to answer if they went to the general election. So kudos on that front.

So, where am I on my view of Fox? It’s a mixed bag at the moment. As I said at the top, this commentary is tinged with sadness. I want Fox to be a trusted source. I sincerely hope it can restore its former image. I will continue to watch as much as I can, but the remote control can easily change to something else if Trump adulation becomes more than I can stomach.

Let Fox be Fox once again.

Cruz & Trump: The Obvious Contrast

I sincerely hope tomorrow’s blog can be on a different topic, but since there was a townhall last night on CNN, I feel I must make a few comments on that. It was a three-hour event with the first hour a Q&A with Ted Cruz, the second with Donald Trump, and the third with John Kasich. I watched the first two hours, frankly because I considered the Kasich hour to be unnecessary. I don’t mean that as anything mean-spirited, but simply as a matter of fact. He has no viable road to the nomination.

Regular readers are already more than aware of my views on those other two candidates. Last night only strengthened those views. Cruz was sharp, clear on the issues with real specificity, and presidential in tone and manner.

Trump was his usual self—brash, accusing, blustery, non-responsive to most questions because he has little depth of understanding of the issues, and generally boorish and unpresidential.

I thought the contrast between the two was so obvious that I cannot fathom how any thinking person could possibly opt for the latter.

CNN TownhallI also watched the people in the background, sitting behind the candidates. Their reactions to Cruz seemed to indicate appreciation and agreement with his comments; reactions to Trump were the shaking of heads (back and forth, not up and down), rolling of eyes, sour looks, and lack of enthusiasm for most of what he had to offer.

When one questioner asked Trump if he had ever had to apologize for something, he couldn’t think of anything. Amazing.

Scott WalkerThe Wisconsin primary is next Tuesday. Cruz now has the endorsement of Gov. Scott Walker, who will be campaigning with him until then. He has the support of the popular radio hosts. If you have followed the campaign closely, you know that when Trump was interviewed by two of them, it didn’t go well with him. He actually hung up on one of them.

This looks like a Cruz victory in the making. What with Trump’s ongoing antics and now the arrest of his chief campaign operative for battery toward a woman reporter, I’m hoping that we are now seeing the beginning of the end for this woebegone candidacy, a candidacy that never should have been attempted in the first place.

But wait, you say, what about all the delegates he has won? How can Cruz overcome that? If Cruz takes Wisconsin, it could be a harbinger of bad times for Trump, bad enough to eventually deny him the needed delegates for the nomination.

I’m all for a contested convention; in that atmosphere, after the first ballot, if Trump doesn’t get the nod, everything shifts in favor of Cruz after that. Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. But perhaps a successful one.

Trump in the Gutter

This past week, the Trump campaign, and the candidate himself, hit new lows morally. It all began with an anti-Trump Super Pac running an ad (I understand it was primarily on Facebook) with a revealing photo of his current wife, asking voters if this is really what they want in a First Lady.

Let’s be clear about one thing: Trump has never minded showing off his various wives in any manner of dress or undress. This photo was already out there in public as part of one of her modeling poses. Yet he feigns outrage over it and immediately accuses Cruz of being responsible for the ad. In a tweet, he also then promised to come after Cruz’s wife with some revelation from her past.

Cruz repudiated the ad that very day (despite what some would have you believe) and informed the press—some of whom still don’t get it—that the Super Pac behind it has no connections with his campaign.

Trump then upped the ante by tweeting again. The Tweeter-in-Chief juxtaposed two pictures, one of his wife in a glamor shot, and the other of Heidi Cruz in a not-so-flattering pose (one wonders if that one was photoshopped), declaring that the pictures themselves should resolve any outstanding issues, as if outward beauty is the standard for everything.

Tweet

Then the coup de grace: a National Enquirer story about Ted Cruz’s five mistresses. Really? Two of the women named have already pronounced the story false, one of whom is Trump’s chief spokeswoman. Cruz has called the story “garbage,” and those who know Cruz well say this would be entirely out of character for him.

Trump, for his part, denies any advance knowledge of that story. He may be telling the truth this time because he wants plausible deniability. You see, the editor of the Enquirer is a personal friend and that rag has officially endorsed Trump for president.

Let me ask this in all seriousness: would you want the National Enquirer endorsing you for anything?

The timing is highly suspicious anyway. Other news organizations have been investigating this rumor for months and have found nothing to substantiate it. That’s why they never reported it. Leave that to the National Enquirer, the source of all the news that’s fit to print (sarcasm alert!).

Yesterday I came across an article written by a woman who used to work on the communications end of the Trump campaign. It was quite an eye-opening inside look at how the campaign developed. She says Trump never really expected to win, and is as surprised as anyone else at his quick rise to the top. Now, she says, ego has taken over.

She also now says that she no longer can support Trump because she saw that he has no real answers for anything. I could have told her that. For those interested in her whole story, go here for the full treatment. It’s a good read.

I cannot support Donald Trump on any count, whether we’re talking about his personal character or his supposed political convictions that change according to what he thinks will help him win:

Former Self

More than ever, I am NeverTrump.

Arizona & Utah: Significance?

Ted Cruz 4I had to go to bed last night before any results came in from the Utah caucuses. I awoke this morning to an incomplete accounting of those results, but Cruz has won in a blowout, currently at 69% of the vote, while Trump came in slightly behind Kasich at only 14%. Cruz gets all 40 Utah delegates.

Arizona went for Trump, but once again, despite all the talk of a race being “over,” he was unable to break the 50% mark, getting about 47%. Kasich, in what is supposedly a three-man race (if you really think he’s still in it), came in fourth, behind early votes for Rubio.

Early voting is the big culprit this year. Cruz lost Louisiana only because so many voted early, later regretting their support for Trump after his debate-stage antics. If you recall, Cruz won the vote in Louisiana among those who waited for the actual day of the primary.

Trump probably would have won Arizona anyway, but once more the early voting, I believe, was a factor in the spread of victory, with Cruz coming in a distant second at 24%. Most of Rubio’s voters would have switched to Cruz without that early-voting process.

The other factor that has worked against Cruz is the stubbornness of candidates who refuse to leave the race when it is obvious they can’t win. Rubio staying in as long as he did led to Cruz losing two states he probably would have won—North Carolina and Missouri. Kasich’s woebegone campaign took enough votes in Illinois that Cruz fell short there as well.

I continue to believe that if this had been a true two-man race from South Carolina on, the delegate count now would be extremely tight between Trump and Cruz.

The Cruz campaign is looking to a win in Wisconsin next. It’s time—no, past time—for Governor Scott Walker to come out publicly on Cruz’s side. His support could be crucial for a Cruz victory.

So how is the media going to play last night’s results? Look for an increasing theme that touts Trump’s eventual nomination, focusing on Arizona primarily. Cruz’s Utah triumph, far more smashing than anything Trump has won, will be largely ignored as an anomaly.

No, this is not over, despite what the media will tell you. The upcoming primaries are still crucial as to how this all will play out.

Why I Am NeverTrump: An Apologetic

Increasingly, I’ve had people ask me, both in person and in writing (via Facebook, primarily), what I will do if faced with a decision between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the general election. That question deserves a sober answer, and I will do my best today to achieve that. What I say won’t convince everyone, but it will be an honest response.

In the manner of good writing, as I teach my students, I begin with my thesis: I will never vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in a general election.

That stance will obviously raise genuine concerns and objections. I know, because I have raised the same concerns in the past. Let me provide that background and then do my best to explain my current position.

As a historian, I show my classes how a divided party and/or support for a third-party candidacy leads to someone else winning who might not have done so normally.

In previous elections, often saddled with a nominee I did not prefer, I would dutifully vote for that person anyway because the alternative was unthinkable. That’s why I voted for John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012.

I’ve always maintained, though, that if I could see no difference between the candidates, and if the Republican candidate was going to destroy the basic principles in which I believe, that I would have to consider other options.

That’s where I am today.

I’ve often said, when speaking to Republican groups, that I am first and foremost a Christian, secondly a constitutionalist, and then a Republican, and I will remain a Republican as long as my Christian constitutional beliefs are fairly represented by the party and its leaders. With Donald Trump as the presidential nominee, I believe my views would no longer be an essential ingredient of Republican politics and policies.

I look at Hillary Clinton—for whom I could never vote, not only because of who she is but because of what her party stands for—and Donald Trump, and I see so little difference in the potential for disaster that I cannot, with a clear conscience before God, vote for either one.

Hillary vs. Trump

The greatest objection is, of course, that it would be far more damaging to the country if a Clinton once again occupied the Oval Office. Surely, we are told, Trump can’t be nearly as bad as that.

I certainly have sympathy for that objection, and the prospect of a Hillary presidency sends chills down my Christian principled constitutionalist conservative spine. But after months of watching Trump’s antics, listening to his words (the same ones over and over), and reading his ongoing Twitter Tirade, I have concluded that he not only is just as awful as Hillary, but potentially more disastrous for the country.

I have written a litany of my concerns in other posts. I would recommend you go to my February 22 and March 14 posts (see the calendar on the sidebar for easy access), but I can summarize here:

  • Trump’s personal character is abominable, both in the past and now. He is both immoral and amoral, depending on the circumstance, and has no concept of repentance and the need for God’s forgiveness for his many sins. Instead, he is an arrogant braggart of the worst variety.
  • His past support for anti-Christian and anti-conservative policies and politicians is more the mark of the inner man than any current protestations of “conversion” to constitutional and conservative principles. He is basically unprincipled.
  • He displays an unfettered bitterness toward anyone who questions him seriously (e.g., Megyn Kelly) and carries on a juvenile stream of consciousness on Twitter wholly unbecoming of a presidential candidate.
  • He exemplifies the stereotype of the con artist who thinks he can sell to anyone, and unfortunately, with far too many of the electorate, he is proving his point.
  • He thinks he is smarter than anyone else. When asked with whom he consults on foreign policy, his response was (and I quote): “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things. . . . But my primary consultant is myself and I have, you know, a good instinct for this stuff.” I kid you not.

Meeting with Advisors

Those are only the outlines of my issues with Trump. As I said, for more specifics, go to those other posts.

Further, I believe a Trump candidacy will destroy what remains of principle in the Republican party. Both Hillary and Trump will be bad for the nation, but only Trump can take down the party with him. When both parties are then corrupted, we may be facing our own American Armageddon.

I do not answer to any person for my vote. I answer to God only. If I cannot, in good conscience, justify voting for Donald Trump, I would be unfaithful to God if I proceeded to do so anyway. I could not live with that.

There is talk of the rise of another party to counter the Republicans should the inexcusable occur and Trump becomes the nominee. The only time in American history when that worked was when the Whig party, divided over the issue of slavery, bit the dust. Out of the ashes, another party emerged: it was called Republican.

If the current version of the Republican party fractures itself in the same manner as the Whigs did in the early 1850s, there is the possibility that a new party could rise up to take its place, but that is just speculation for now. I’m not yet ready to sign on for a new party; I would prefer that Republicans come to their senses instead.

This campaign season is not over. There still is a chance that Trump can be derailed on his way to party domination. No, the answer is not John Kasich.

Aced It

He lives in the fantasy that everyone will turn to him in a contested convention. That will not happen. Even most Republicans are a little tired of him:

Mailman

Our only hope is Ted Cruz, who is a strong Christian, who stands on principle, who believes in and defends the Constitution wholeheartedly, and who truly understands the conservative philosophy of government and life.

We’re told he cannot win enough delegates prior to the convention. That may be true. But if he wins enough to keep Trump from the magic 1237 number, the convention can then decide between the two, and it is still possible that principle will prevail and the Republican party won’t commit suicide.

By the way, when people say to me that not voting for Trump in a general election will guarantee a Clinton presidency, and that I will be to blame for that, my response is this:

No, your support of Trump in the primaries is what caused a Clinton presidency. You chose to jump on board a train that was destined to crash and burn. I am not to blame for that. Rather, you put me in a position where I could not conscientiously vote for a man who is uncategorically unfit for the office of the presidency. Before God, I could do no other than withdraw my support.

I come to this conclusion with a heavy heart, but we are not yet at the point of despair, or at least we shouldn’t be. The primary season looms before us still. Many states will make their choice between now and the convention. If we can avoid a Trump nomination, a Republican presidency, with a man who may be the best nominee the party has put before the voters since Ronald Reagan, is yet within reach.

Another “Just Say No” Program

Missouri is still too close to call between Cruz and Trump. Other than that, Kasich took his home state of Ohio and Trump took Illinois, Florida, and North Carolina. There’s no denying Trump got the majority of the delegates and is closer than ever to the nomination. That’s truly sad. It’s the Republican party’s version of something that I think is going on in sports this week:

March Madness

Madness is not too strong a term for what is transpiring. Republicans are on the cusp of nominating the most corrupt, most immoral, most arrogant candidate in the history of this fabled party. He’s closer in temperament and character to a juvenile delinquent (are we still allowed to use an esteem-damaging term like that?) than to a serious candidate with answers to the governmental problems we face.

Ask him what he would do—and this applies to any issue—and he will respond that he is so amazing he can cut a great deal and he gets along with everyone and America is going to be great again and anyone who thinks otherwise is nasty and the wall with Mexico just got ten feet higher and he will surround himself with the best people and did he mention how amazing he is and everything will now be tremendous and everyone will love what he will do and did he forget to mention that he gets along with everyone and his supporters are the most loyal in the country and they will vote for him even if he shoots someone dead on Fifth Avenue. And he’s amazing.

I'm Amazing

No one can be allowed to criticize The Donald without being warned of dire consequences and if the Republican convention should nominate someone else if he hasn’t reached the 1237 delegates needed to gain the nomination outright, there might be riots. Not that he’s hinting to his most rabid followers that he would approve such a measure. Of course not.

And all that talk about business failures and lawsuits for fraud is just “little stuff,” nothing to be bothered about:

Belly Up

What has come over Republican primary voters? What is missing here?

Common Sense

Marco Rubio, after losing his home state of Florida by about 20 points, finally faced up to the truth that he had no path to the nomination. His concession speech was superb and I appreciate the strong Christian message it contained.

Yet it came a few weeks too late. His decision to remain in the race probably cost Cruz North Carolina and possibly Missouri, thereby giving Trump more delegates than he would have earned in a direct one-on-one with Cruz.

Studies show that 47% of Rubio supporters will probably now go for Cruz, while only 13% will migrate over to Trump. Another 27% would go to . . .

Oh, yes, there is still another person in the race. John Kasich performed a valuable service in denying Trump Ohio’s delegates, but he has done his job for the good of the country and needs to step aside. However, he is saying he will go all the way to the convention and eventually get the nomination when they all turn to him as the savior of the party.

Kasich is living in a dream world now. He is already mathematically out of the running for enough delegates. His stubborn resistance to the reality of his situation will only drain more votes from Cruz, the only candidate left with any chance at all to derail Trump.

The party of Lincoln is about to commit suicide. One wonders what Lincoln would have thought of these developments.

No

Another “Just Say No” program would be very welcome at this point.

Are we doomed to endure a Trump-Clinton choice?

Wall We'd Pay For

I’m not content to settle for that. I will continue to hope and pray for the Cruz alternative.