Strange bedfellows: On the fleeting, doomed LGBT/Christian right ‘alliance’ on a Lincolnesque platform

Good day Austin. Greetings from Cleveland:

Politics makes strange bedfellows.

The deliberations the last two days in Cleveland of the Republican National Convention’s Platform Committee, offer a vivid example.

It got under way Monday morning with a prayer and the pledge of allegiance

And then Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the chair of the Platform Committee, gave the floor to Boyd Matheson, a member of the Platform Committee from deepest red Utah.

Matheson is a former chief of staff to Utah Sen. Mike Lee, and the president of the Sutherland Institute, which described itself as “a nonpartisan, state-based public policy organization located in Salt Lake City. Its mission: protecting freedom, constructively influencing Utah’s decision-makers, and promoting responsible citizenship. Sutherland Institute is recognized as the leading conservative think tank in the state of Utah.”

Matheson introduced to the members of the Platform Committee an idea he had been working on with Larry Arnn, a well-known conservative scholar who is president of Hillsdale College, which also has a very conservative profile.

From the Wall Street Journal on Hillsdale.

The liberal-arts school has about 1,500 students and is located a couple of hours west of Detroit in Hillsdale, Mich., a town of 8,000. Two things, primarily, brought the college to prominence: its refusal to take any money from the state or federal government, and its classical curriculum based on great books, the Western tradition and the American founding.

Hugh Hewitt recently wrote that “Arnn is easily among the handful of most influential conservative intellectuals in the country.”

Matheson’s and Arnn’s ambition (Arnn is not a delegate to the convention and was not present Monday) was to draft a platform that, like the 1860 Republican platform that Abraham Lincoln ran and won on, could, with elegant simplicity, fit on a single page and that people not on the platform committee, might actually read.





In a piece at the end of the June in the Washington Examiner, Matheson and Arnn had described what they were up to.

On the eve of a convention that threatens disorder, Republicans should learn from the greatness of their party’s past.

The platform upon which Abraham Lincoln ran for president in 1860 was one and a half pages and 1200 words — quite a contrast to the 65 page, 33,000 word GOP platform of 2012. Written in the succinct and beautiful language of principle, it was meant to be read by all Americans, not just policy elites, and to guide great political action rather than make promises to special interests.

Might such a document today help to heal the divisions in the party as a preparation to healing those in the nation?

The platform on which Lincoln ran gestated over six years, one of its early drafts being written at Hillsdale College. It is easy to state what was in that first platform. It said that “the maintenance of the principles promulgated in the Declaration of Independence and embodied in the Federal Constitution … is essential to the preservation of our Republican institutions; and that the Federal Constitution, the Rights of the States, and the Union of the States, must and shall be preserved.”

Its achievement was to reunite the Declaration and the Constitution at a time when one part of the country had departed from the nation’s principles and another from its constitutional forms.

Lincoln referred to the Declaration as an “apple of gold” adorned by a frame of silver — the Constitution. The Declaration supplies the principles and the Constitution supplies the structure of law to preserve those principles. At its founding, the Republican Party sought to put those two documents back together in order to reunite the nation.

Might it be wise for today’s Republicans to pursue a similar path?

Next month in Cleveland, the Republican Party could do nothing better than to emulate its original achievement. Its platform committee is at work right now and is there is strong interest in the idea of writing a short one. It should begin by stating in simple language the main issue at stake: does equality, the principle resounding from the Declaration of Independence, require a vast government to make Americans equal in ways that we are not? Or does it rather require a limited government that protects the decisive thing Americans have in common — our human nature and the rights inherent in that nature?

Following these principles, the Constitution establishes a form of law. All sovereignty is in the people, who ratified the Constitution through republican means. It delegates limited authority to three politically accountable branches at the federal level and reserves the rest to the people and to the states. For all its flexibility, the Constitution is not in this respect “living.” It establishes a powerful but limited government.

By contrast, our government today, under the doctrine of a “living” constitution, is a tool of limitless scope for the engineering of every aspect of our lives. As a result, we are becoming not citizens but subjects of a vast and failing bureaucratic social experiment.

The Trump candidacy, although unwelcome to many in the party, has the virtue of simplicity. He says that government belongs to, must respond to, and must in all cases seek to benefit the American people.

The federal government has become too centralized and many powers should be checked or returned to the states. The American people have the right to decide who joins them in citizenship. The military should be strong in defense of our nation and its interests. War should be undertaken cautiously, but when undertaken it should be fought fiercely and with the utmost speed. All agreements with other nations should be made in the interest of the American people. The social safety net, built at vast expense, should be made and kept secure.

One can find sanction for all of these opinions in the writings of Abraham Lincoln, and for many in that early Republican platform. One can also find general agreement in the likes of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, Mike Lee and Tom Cotton, Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse.

For all the perceived division in the party, the ground is laid to agree upon core principles and a few policies to implement them.

The devil, of course, is in the details. But platforms should not be about details. They should be about principles and broad lines of policy. The details will be worked out in due course between the President and Congress, as is right and good. The platform supplies a direction, not a specific route.

A Republican platform resembling Lincoln’s would actually be read. It would be discussed at kitchen tables, across back fences, in the press, and on social media.

Such a platform would unite Republicans in common purpose, as it did at the beginning, and point the way to healing our divided nation.

Republicans should begin writing such a platform — now.

Matheson arrived at the convention with that platform written and ready and distributed copies to the 112 members of the Platform Committee.

This tweet leads to Matheson’s remarks to the Platform Committee and the full, lean text of his draft.


Matheson also noted that David Barton of Aledo – along the Diana Denman of San Antonio, the two Texan on the Platform Committee – a leading figure in the conservative Christian world, and a collector of historic American artifacts, has in his possession the 1860 platform. You can come to see it later if you like.




The Platform Committee then broke up into its constituent subcommittees, and I attended the Constitution Subcommittee, on which Barton sat.

Sure enough, at the break, he showed me his original copies of the 1856 and 1860 Republican platforms, and a single page on which, side by side, were the 1864 Republican and Democratic platforms.




Barton said he very much liked Matheson’s draft, and said that even if it were not adopted by the convention next week in lieu of the platform the committee was in the process of rewriting, it might serve as a preamble or addendum to that longer platform, and help get the party used to the idea of going the way of a simple, readable platform in the future.

And Barton, Matheson later told me, had, in fact,contributed the first two clauses of their draft platform,

1. That the cornerstone of American government is the principle of human equality enunciated in the Declaration of Independence, under which all are equal in the rights with which they are endowed by their Creator, and that legitimate governments are instituted to secure these unalienable rights, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

2. That the Constitution of the United States, which derives its authority from the people it represents and by whom the powers of government are delegated, was ordained and established “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,” and that essential to these ends is the separation of the powers of government among three branches to establish a necessarily powerful but fundamentally limited federal government.


Let’s pause there.

Now, let’s turn to Rachel Hoff.

I interviewed Hoff in 2009. I was a reporter with the New Orleans Times-Picayune and I was writing a story about the campaign pitting Hoff, from D.C., against Audra Shay, from suburban New Orleans, to lead the Young Republican National Federation. Shay won but Hoff was impressive and she friended me on Facebook.

While I had not talked to her since, I had followed her progress, which included graduate studies at UT’s LBJ School. She is also a friend and political ally of Brendan and Randan Steinhauser in Austin.

As Brendan noted when I emailed him yesterday:

Rachel is definitely awesome. Let’s see, she was on the board of the local America’s Future Foundation Board — Austin chapter, along with Randan, myself, and Arif Panju with the Institute for Justice. AFF-Austin is a national, liberty-leaning young professionals organization. Rachel of course got her M.A. at the LBJ School at UT, and started the Barry Goldwater Society while there. I just love that she did that at the LBJ School. 🙂
She also worked for George Seay and William Inboden’s Clements Center at UT. In that role, she helped to bring Senator Rubio to Austin for a speech on national security … She can carry on a conversation on just about any topic, with anyone, anywhere. She’s a fascinating person and a dear friend.
On Monday, Jeremy Peters wrote about Hoff’s debut on the national stage in the New York Times.

CLEVELAND — Rachel Hoff on Monday became the first openly gay person to sit on the Republican Party’s Platform Committee.

But, she would not make history a second time. Facing overwhelming opposition and fighting back tears as she spoke to the committee, Ms. Hoff, a delegate from the District of Columbia, offered an amendment of a few paragraphs to the Republican platform that would have encouraged a “thoughtful conversation” within the party on same-sex marriage.

It received only about 30 votes from the 112-member committee, according to an unofficial count.

Ms. Hoff’s amendment did not call for the party to embrace same-sex unions. It called for an acknowledgment that a growing number of Republicans are changing their views on the issue and that opinions on marriage are “diverse and sincerely held.”

As Ms. Hoff addressed the committee, her voice broke. “We are your daughters, your sons, your friends, your neighbors, your colleagues,” she said. “All I ask today is that you include me and those like me.”

While she was received politely by her fellow committee members, their response was hardly enthusiastic. When she mentioned that she was their first openly gay member, barely anyone applauded.

But Ms. Hoff, a defense analyst at the American Action Forum, a Washington think tank, may have an ace up her sleeve. Her amendment appeared to receive enough votes to send the measure to the full convention for a vote when delegates convene next week.

Ms. Hoff may decide not to. But the prospect is certainly an unwelcome one for the Republican Party: A debate on the convention floor, on national television, over whether to extend an olive branch to people who disagree with the party’s official line on marriage.










Enter New York delegate Annie Dickerson, one of the handful of Hoff’s allies on the committee.





Who is Annie Dickerson? She is the “longtime fundraising adviser to Paul Singer.”

And who is Paul Singer?

From Inside Philanthropy:

OVERVIEW: The Paul E. Singer Foundation is the charitable outfit of hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, CEO of Elliott Management, and a Giving Pledge signatory. Much of the foundation’s grantmaking takes place in New York City.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, health, Jewish causes, LGBT rights

IP TAKE: Singer is known for his political views and giving. But he’s also a philanthropist active in New York City and in recent years education, health and several other causes have received support.

PROFILE: Singer grew up as one of three children in the New York City area. He received his B.S. in psychology from the University of Rochester and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He eventually founded the hedge fund Elliott Management Associates in 1977 with $1.3 million he gathered from friends and family. Singer resides in Manhattan and has a net worth of $1.8 billion.

On the one hand, Singer has been a vocal supporter of Republican causes and sits on the board of the Manhattan Institute for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank. On the other, he’s also supported gay rights. 

Singer and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had flirted with one another during the primaries.

From Jeremy Peters and Maggie Haberman in the New York Times back in February.

Ted Cruz sounded despondent at the possibility that same-sex marriage could become legal when he called into the radio show of Tony Perkins, a vehement opponent of gay rights, in February 2014. “Our heart weeps for the damage to traditional marriage that has been done,” Mr. Cruz said, urging conservatives to pray but also to fight back. “Be as wise as serpents and gentle as doves,” he said, quoting Scripture.

But seven months later, when Mr. Cruz visited the Midtown Manhattan office of a major Republican supporter of same-sex marriage, he sounded almost indifferent: If New York politicians wanted to legalize it, that was their business, he told Paul Singer, the billionaire investor who had bankrolled efforts to strike down laws forbidding same-sex marriage across the country. There was no reason the issue had to drive a wedge between the two men, the Texas senator said, according to a person briefed on the meeting who supports one of Mr. Cruz’s opponents. (Mr. Singer went on to endorse Senator Marco Rubio of Florida a year later.)

And, from Jeremy Peters’ story on yesterday’s concluding session of the Platform Committee:

Much of the most combative debate centered on language in the platform that describes gay and transgender people, and efforts to strip those words out and replace them with language proposed by a minority contingent of socially moderate delegates.

An amendment to specifically recognize that gay people are targets of the Islamic State caused a stir among more conservative delegates who said they felt there was no need to single out any one group. As the delegate who offered the amendment, Giovanni Cicione of Rhode Island, argued his case — by saying he believed it was an “innocuous and important” way to tell gay people the Republican Party does not exclude them — another delegate moved to shut off the debate.

Jim Bopp, a delegate from Indiana, said the Republican Party had always rejected “identity politics.” Arguing against the measure, he said, “Obviously, there’s an agenda here.”

The amendment was defeated, as were others in a similar vein.

But nearly every provision that expressed disapproval of homosexuality, same-sex marriage or transgender rights passed. The platform calls for overturning the Supreme Court marriage decision with a constitutional amendment and makes references to appointing judges “who respect traditional family values.”

“Has a dead horse been beaten enough yet?” asked Annie Dickerson, a committee member from New York, who chastised her colleagues for writing language offensive to gays into the platform “again and again and again.”

Additional provisions included those that promoted state laws to limit which restrooms transgender people could use, nodded to “conversion therapy” for gays by saying that parents should be free to make medical decisions about their children without interference and stated that “natural marriage” between a man and a woman is most likely to result in offspring who do not become drug-addicted or otherwise damaged.

After the Platform Committee, concluding a very long, adopted its platform, a delegate – and my guess was that it must have been Dickerson, moved to adopt the Lincoln’s 1860 platform in its stead.


At the time, I assumed it was a purely symbolic motion and that it referred, quite literally, to the 1860 platform, but it is possible that that simply was a shorthand for the Matheson platform written in the manner of the 1860 platform. Who knows. There was no explanation or debate.

But then Giovanni Cicione, the Rhode Island delegate, sought to explicitly offer the Matheson platform as an alternative, and was ruled out of order by Barrasso, who was overwhelmingly backed up by the committee. But Cicione said he had the signatures of 37 members of the committee on the Matheson platform, and that they would offer it as a minority report before the full convention next week.

Afterward, I talked with Barton and with Matheson, who were both still hopeful that the draft might be attached in some way or issued as some kind of supplement to the platform, but with no expectation or desire to see it simply replace the platform they had just spent two days writing.

I talked to Barton and his wife for quite a while after that, and at one point a reporter approached to ask about a CNN story on what had just transpired.

The CNN story was by Tai Kopan;

Pro-LGBT Republicans circulate petition to force floor debate

Cleveland (CNN) The group that has forced a series of difficult test votes on LGBT issues at the Republican National Convention early meetings plans to take that fight all the way to the floor of the convention.

Delegates and operatives working with the American Unity Fund, a pro-LGBT GOP issues advocacy group with the support of billionaire Paul Singer, were circulating petitions here in an effort to convince at least 28 members of the convention Platform Committee to sign off on a so-called “minority report” — a maneuver that would guarantee floor time for debate at the full convention next week.
The petition had the support of 37 delegates Tuesday night, according to a copy of the signatures shared with CNN.
The group tried to submit their signatures before proceedings on the platform closed Tuesday night, but were told they would need to wait until Monday, when the full convention convenes. They will have a one-hour window to physically hand in their signatures on Monday, at a time that has yet to be scheduled.
The proposal would not add LGBT language into the platform. Instead, it would replace the more than 60-page draft platform with a 1,200 word statement of 17 core principles of the Republican Party, a proposal by Utah delegate Boyd Matheson.
The proposal would not add LGBT language into the platform. Instead, it would replace the more than 60-page draft platform with a 1,200 word statement of 17 core principles of the Republican Party, a proposal by Utah delegate Boyd Matheson.
Shortly after they announced their intentions, however, Matheson delivered a press conference, ushered in and out by RNC staffers, where he repudiated the effort and claimed his proposal was “hijacked” for “divisive purposes.” Three other delegates who had signed on quickly told the press they would also be pulling out and had been misled on what they were supporting.
The group argues that moving to a simple, clearly stated platform removes all the controversy associated with the debate over LGBT issues and a host of other topics — and would be an advantage in offering a contrast with Democrats.
The move could also force a potentially messy floor debate on national television as Republicans try to defend all the elements of the lengthy platform, including provisions like one passed Monday declaring internet porn a “public health crisis” and the anti-LGBT language.

Matheson, and Barton and Denman and others, who were among the 37 who had signed on, felt betrayed, hoodwinked, snookered. They said they hadn’t thought what they were signing would become a minority report, and they certainly didn’t think they were part of an effort to undermine or challenge the longer platform’s conservative positions on LGBT issues.

Matheson and Barton last night drafted a statement they sent out today:


My Fellow Delegates:

It has been an honor serving with you the last several days! I admire and appreciate your extraordinary effort.
As you all know, my purpose in coming as a delegate to the Platform Committee was to create a focus on the many empowering and inspiring principles that unite us as a Party. On Monday, I shared a vision for a platform similar in style and length to the 1860 Republican Platform of Abraham Lincoln. You all received a copy of the proposed Platform of Principles that I prepared, highlighting core principles that unite us. I appreciated the encouragement and positive words from so many of you, and believe the discussion helped shape our conversations in our committee work. It was our goal to be able to include this Platform of Principles as a possible preamble to the full Platform.
In my speech on Monday, I warned that many would be watching us this week who want to divide us: the media, special interests, and the liberal left, to name a few. It has happened, and it came from among us. At the close of our session today, a CNN story broke that those who of you who pledged support for this plan were actually supporting the LGBT effort to take over the Platform, and ultimately the Convention.
Throughout the afternoon, many of you were approached to sign on to a document that was characterized as a resolution for adding the Platform of Principles to the full Platform. Many of you signed because you agreed with the idea of a simplified statement of principles and wanted to assist those efforts. But by the end of the day, the document you signed had, without our knowledge, turned into a Minority Report. We never wanted such a report and openly oppose one. Someone then took that Minority Report and went to the press, falsely alleging that it actually represented support for LGBT efforts at the Convention.  We believe the process was hijacked and deceptive tactics were used to mislead not only us but also you.
First, a Minority Report creates a divided Convention – it opens up a floor fight. We oppose that. We are confident that there was sufficient support in the Platform Committee to have added those principles as a simple preamble, following Senator Barasso’s excellent opening letter. As was evident over the last three days, we were a very unified group. This is the story that should have been reported, and we intend to remain a unified group at the Convention next week. Second, there was nothing in the Platform of Principles that even remotely relates to the LGBT agenda. Rather it supports the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, limited government, restrained judiciary, unborn life and traditional family, economic freedom, a strong military, and many other key issues on which we all agree – core principles which are also incorporated into the adopted platform.
We are pulling our names off what has been deceptively portrayed as a Minority Report, and we are denouncing this effort for what it is: a desperate and divisive attempt to advance a personal agenda at the expense of the over 100 delegates who have spent hours crafting the platform for 2016. We ask all of you who have signed this document to join us in taking your names off. We ask all of you to join us in affirming the approved platform.
Boyd Matheson (UT)
David Barton (TX)


But, when I talked to Hoff late last night, it was she who was outraged.

Matheson and Barton hadn’t been bamboozled, she said, they had simply exposed the depths of their fears of and animus toward the LGBT community.

Hoff, who said she had collected five or six signatures, and Dickerson and Cicione others, had merely listened to Matheson’s presentation Monday, read what he had written, embraced it, and without changing a word, sought to do precisely what he had said he wanted when he spoke before the committee and make this the party platform.

Hoff said it was only when Matheson and Barton and others saw in print that it had the support of Hoff and her allies that they felt the need to repudiate something they had been so enamored of hours earlier. That reaction, the recoiling, Hoff said, was “more revealing and more troubling” than anything that transpired during the actual Platform Committee sessions.

Samuel Popkin, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego, who used to teach at UT, liked something I wrote at First Reading about party platforms on the occasion of the 2014 Republican State Convention in Texas.

It’s probably a mistake to make too much of a party platform. They are like grade school finger-painting – more about self-expression and remaining usefully occupied than great art.

But they have a great virtue.

While much of politics is about obfuscation and obscuring what a candidate really thinks or would do behind market-tested slogans and bromides, platforms are painfully earnest documents that express what the party, or at any rate factions within the party, truly believe and care about. Sometimes, when the issue gets big enough – like immigration – the planks represent efforts to wrestle a consensus position out of competing points of view. But, most often, they offer a real peek at what the most devoted folks within the party are thinking.

But, when I talked with Popkin last week he said something about an essential function of party platforms that rang especially true yesterday.

“It’s a barrier to entry,” he said, explaining that when, as in this case, the Republican Party expresses its absolute opposition to abortion or gay marriage, “they are telling a lot of people, `You can’t come to the party.'”

Matheson and Arnn had said they wanted to create a document that would unite Republican behind a few great principles. As they wondered:

Might such a document today help to heal the divisions in the party as a preparation to healing those in the nation?

By one measure, they succeeded, fleetingly, beyond expectation.

But, when Matheson and his allies saw who they had found themselves bedfellows with, they leapt out of bed screaming bad faith and betrayal.

Unbound from Trump? On Curly Haugland, Beau Correll and Vanna White

Good morning Austin:

Yesterday I followed a circuitous path through the streets of downtown Cleveland and waited for a very slow elevator to take me to the 16th floor of the Superior Building on Superior Avenue where, in the ad hoc offices of a brand new organization called Delegates Unbound, I met Curly Haugland,


It was not exactly like making my way into the Sierra Maestra Mountains to meet Fidel Castro before the Revolution, because, of course, in this case, the stakes are higher.

That was just about deposing an island dictator and creating a Communist state 90 miles off the coast of Florida.

This is about stopping Donald Trump from becoming sovereign of The Free World.

Haugland, Curly, is a character from Bismarck, N.D. who has co-written what has become the downloadable Bible of the Stop Trump movement – Unbound: The Conscience of a Republican Delegate.

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 7.22.53 AM

Some background, from a Politico profile by Erick Trickey (not a bad name in its own right), way back in May.

Curly Haugland loves the rules. The stubborn 69-year-old pool-supply magnate is North Dakota’s top Republican gadfly, its rule-mongering crank, its official state pain in the ass. On the national GOP’s standing rules committee, he’s been the pedantic curmudgeon, the stubborn speed bump who for years has raised points of order only to watch establishment Republicans stampede over him.

Yet now, as his party teeters on the edge of civil war, Haugland has become one of the most dangerous men in politics: He’s the mainstream GOP’s last hope to deny Donald Trump the Republican nomination in Cleveland. It would take a miracle—and almost certainly lead to a historic split in the party—but there is still a way, buried in the labyrinthine rulebook, that the party could free delegates from their obligation to vote for Trump. To get there, the convention’s rules committee would need to travel a perilous road. But nobody knows the terrain better than Haugland, a self-taught maverick expert on the Republican convention rules, who has spent a decade pushing schemes to take power away from Republican primary voters and give it back to party insiders.

There is one article of faith in the Republican Party: On the convention’s first ballot, bound delegates are required to vote for the candidate to whom they’re bound. What you need to know about Haugland’s radical vision is this: He insists that’s not the case. Haugland has been trumpeting this nuclear option for months. In March, he blasted out a letter to fellow Republican National Committee members with the subject line: “NEWS FLASH: All Republican Delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention are Unbound!” He’s on a mission to let all the delegates at the convention in Cleveland to vote however they’d like on the first ballot, no matter whom their state’s voters chose.

This has long seemed like a crazy cause—who doesn’t want voters to decide? Back when Haugland was advocating the party assert its independence from a sitting Republican president, George W. Bush, Curlyism was viewed as a kind of benign, obscure heresy. But could this be the year Haugland’s strange view of the primary—that the party, not voters, chooses the nominee, as he often insists—finds its moment? In April, Eric O’Keefe, a Cruz supporter and Club for Growth activist, told the Wall Street Journal that he would lobby Republican delegates to assert their right to reject Trump at the convention. (O’Keefe did not return an email seeking comment.) Trump’s old pal Roger Stone has predicted for months that the Republican establishment would try to snatch the nomination from Trump at the convention, even if he won a pledged-delegate majority. Now that Trump’s opposition has dropped out, “the whole scenario is far, far less likely,” Stone says—but, he admits, it could still happen. “The Republican convention can do whatever it wants,” he says. “You can’t bring a lawsuit. There’s no jurisdiction.”

Now, as #NeverTrump conservatives begin to turn their attention to the possibility of a third-party candidate, it’s clear many GOP leaders are still deeply opposed to Trump as the nominee. The question is: How unhappy are they? And how far are they willing to go to stop him on the floor in Cleveland? Haugland knows the weird contours, obscure clauses and contradictory history of the party’s governing rules—so he knows the last, desperate hand the #NeverTrump crowd could play. He says he’s not taking sides in the presidential race—and, oddly enough, he even praises Trump. Still, now that Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, all that stands in the way of the Trump Train is the idea Haugland champions: that the party can rewrite the convention rules to undo the voters’ choice.


I am repeating this image of the Superior Building because Haugland asked that I not take a photo of him. He figures he probably has a lot of enemies in Cleveland, and the fewer people who can recognize him the better.

As it happens, Haugland said he is not really a part of the effort to stop Trump, to whom he is largely indifferent. What he is about is defending the prerogatives of the delegates. That is also of paramount importance to Dane Waters, the founder of Delegates Unbound, who was seated alongside Haugland, and who agrees with Haugland that the best system for a party selecting a nominee would be scrap presidential primaries and caucuses altogether, and instead have each state to hold conventions, elect delegates – like North Dakota does now – that are not bound to any candidate, and come together in Cleveland or wherever and choose the best candidate to bear their party’s standard.

But to Waters, a Floridian who is “founder, president and co-chairman of the Initiative & Referendum Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating people about the initiative and referendum process” – Trump being the most “toxic” potential nominee of his lifetime, offers a ripe – and urgent – opportunity to assert delegates’ rightful role.

This cuts against the popular grain that the popular will must be respected, that Trump won fair and square and it would be reneging on democracy to deny him now. But Waters scoffs at all that. Trump was, he said, altogether, the choice of less than half of Republican voters, and a tiny fraction of all registered voters, and besides, “It’s absurd for the RNC to sit there and say because you voted for someone in February you still have to be bound to that someone in July.”

I wrote in today’s paper about the effort of some Texas delegates, notably former Travis Country Republican Chairman James Dickey, to unbind the delegates and stop Trump.

Republicans, Dickey believes, ought to be more republican, and not neuter the delegates and deny them their deliberative function. Pure democracy can have untoward outcomes, said Dickey, who was defeated for re-election as county chairman this year by Robert Morrow, a man whose personal eccentricities are only exceeded by his exotic political worldview, but who Travis County voters preferred to the sober and experienced Dickey apparently because of his more pleasing last name and superior ballot placement.

Dickey fears that, with Trump, Republicans nationally are in danger of repeating the folly of Travis Country Republicans.

In any case, within hours of my encounter with Curly, the Trump campaign was trumpeting a victory in federal court in a case in which a delegate – Beau Correll Jr. – a Cruz supporter who was bound to vote for Trump, went to court seeking to be unbound because he believed Trump “is unfit to serve as President of the United States” and that voting for him would violate his conscience.

From the Trump campaign:

Federal Court Sides With Grassroots Activists: RNC Delegates Are Bound to Follow Election Results

Delegates Remain Committed to Donald J. Trump;
Anti-Trump Effort Dealt Crippling Blow
(New York) July 11, 2016 – Senior United States District Judge Robert E. Payne today ruled in favor of Trump campaign delegates who had argued – in line with overwhelming public opinion – that RNC delegates must follow election results and that delegates cannot be stolen at the national convention. Delegate Beau Correll, Jr., had brought the suit against the Commonwealth of Virginia hoping to reject the will of the voters, but was soundly defeated.

Specifically, the Court found that RNC Rule 16, which binds delegates based on their election results, “is in effect presently and that it controls the allocation and binding of delegates as to their voting at convention.” (p. 6) The Court held that the Plaintiff’s “expert testimony” from Erling ‘Curly’ Haugland was not credible, lacked “textual support,” (p.6) and that “delegates are bound by RNC Rule 16.” (p. 7)

Further, the Court found that by signing the “Declaration and Statement of Qualification,” RNC delegates are bound by RNC Rule 16(c)(2) (p. 10), and that this Declaration obligated Correll to vote in accordance with Republican Party rules and Virginia’s election results. (p. 46)

Trump Campaign Attorney and former FEC Chairman Don McGahn issued the following statement:

“The court has confirmed what we have said all along: Rule 16 is in effect and thus delegates, including Correll, are bound to vote in accordance with the election results. The court did not buy what Curly Haugland was selling, and noted that his testimony has no support in the rule’s text and was contradicted by his own book, Unbound. This case puts his unbound theory to rest, and is a fatal blow to the Anti-Trump agitators.”



But that was not the universal take on the federal court ruling.


From Beau.


From Free the Delegates, an organization allied with Delegates Unbound, launched by Cruz supporters in Colorado.

Trump loses key court battle!

 This afternoon, in a groundbreaking decision, the courts overturned a Virginia state law that bound delegates to cast their convention votes for the winner of the state’s primary.

The suit, which alleged that such a law violates the First Amendment rights of delegates, was brought by Beau Correll — a Virginia delegate and a founding member of Free the Delegates.

He said:

“Delegates to the Republican National Convention who cherish their freedom of speech, association, and voting their conscience applaud today’s favorable decision by the federal court. This ruling establishes fresh precedent that the Rules Committee, all delegates to the Convention, and the Trump campaign themselves must take heed of. The strong-arm of the government has no business commandeering the actions of private individuals in private organizations, such as political parties.

As more than 20 states are now in play from a Constitutional perspective, it is my hope that this shall be known as a turning point leading to Cleveland. The advisable action, whether seen from a legal, moral, political or defense-of-our-republic standpoint is to allow delegates, elected by their peers and Republican constituencies, to support who they wish as the nominee for President of the United States.

To national political figures that are on the sidelines and awaiting your calling, I implore you to take a step forward from the darkness and into the light. Show us that you have the courage to stand for Leader of the Free World, appeal to the better angels of our nature, and to deliver this Republic from the abomination of a Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton presidency.”

This is a victory that puts upwards of 20 states in play, and could upend Donald Trump’s path to victory as more states unbind their delegates.

The  decision is here

So what gives?

Here was the Republican National Committee response:

What is going on here is that the court found that the state’s cannot punish delegates if they fail to vote as bound, but that doesn’t mean that the party can’t oblige its delegates to vote as bound.

From the Washington Times:

CLEVELAND — Virginia cannot impose criminal penalties on Republican convention delegates who refuse to vote for Donald Trump but the GOP can still force them to back the billionaire businessman, a federal judge ruled Monday.

Mr. Trump’s campaign said the decision clears the path for him to collect the nomination next week in Cleveland, saying Judge Robert E. Payne dealt a “fatal blow to the anti-Trump agitators.”

The agitators, however, said they live to fight another day, saying they always knew they would have to try to change the Republican National Committee’s rules at the convention. But at least now, they said, they won’t also have to worry about the additional penalties in state laws.

“The layers of the onion are being unpeeled,” said Carroll Correll Jr., a delegate to the convention who sued to overturn Virginia’s law.

With the opening of the convention a week away, delegates are already beginning to convene in Cleveland to hash out the party’s platform, to debate the convention rules and settle last-minute fights over the composition of the delegations.

(Carroll I guess is Beau, just like Curly is Erling.)

The federal court noted that under existing party Rule 16, the the national Republican Party requires that delegates be bound by their state’s primary, caucus or state convention results.


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But, Haugland said that is irrelevant, that that rule will have no bearing on the convention, which will adopt its own rules as its second order of business Monday after approving the Credentials Committee report.

Instead, Haugland points to Rule 37, which would enable any delegates who object to how their votes were cast by the chair of their state delegation when the presidential roll is called, to demand that the roll of the delegation be taken, enabling them to recast their votes in accordance with their conscience, and not the voters in their state.


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In the end, I think former Texas Republican State Chairman Steve Munisteri, who is a convention consultant to the RNC in Cleveland, has it right.

The decision of whether the delegates to the convention will be bound to vote as pledged rests with the delegates. If a majority of delegates want to unbind, they will be unbound. If a majority of the delegates are ready and willing to overthrow Trump, they can do that.

But they probably won’t.

As Munisteri has noted, to stop Trump you need an alternative, and there does not appear to be any candidate ready to lead the coup, or even be the beneficiary of it.

Waters said he is confident that if the delegates are unbound, “a white knight” will emerge.

From Kevin Diaz at the Houston Chronicle

Cruz delegate Kendal Unruh, a Colorado activist and a leader of the group Free the Delegates, said in an interview that the coalition includes backers of all of Trump’s primary rivals. “It’s heavily weighted towards Cruz,” she said, “but there’s nobody’s fingerprints on this.”

If not Trump, who?

Opponents of the anti-Trump rebellion point to the lack of a consensus alternative as the movement’s most glaring weakness. To Unruh, that has been its strength, distancing the effort from any particular candidate.

“I call it the Vanna White effect,” she said, referring to the hostess of TV’s “Wheel of Fortune.” “It wouldn’t have worked to have a candidate involved.”

White knight? Vanna White?

Stay tuned.

True grit: A timeline of Gov. Greg Abbott’s arduous journey from Jackson Hole to Dallas

Good morning Austin:

I arrived in Cleveland yesterday, a week ahead of the start of the Republican National Convention, to cover meetings of the convention’s Platform and Rules Committees, which will have a lot to do with how the convention will proceed.

Sunrise in Cleveland
Sunrise in Cleveland


Cleveland is a handsome city. Glad to be here. But, of course, the nation’s eyes are on Texas, on Dallas. Remarkably, all five stories on the front page of Sunday’s New York Times were related to Thursday’s terrible event in Dallas.


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On Tuesday, President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former President George W. Bush will all be at a memorial service for the slain officers in Dallas.

I imagine Gov. Greg Abbott will be there as well, but that may depend on what doctors at the Brooke Army Medical Center Burn Unit in San Antonio tell him today after inspecting the wounds he suffered when he was accidentally scalded with hot water Thursday while on holiday with his family in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, just before the shootings in Dallas.

I wrote about the governor’s very unfortunate experience, and how, with true grit, he set about getting to Dallas to join with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and other officials for a press conference that set a tone of unity and healing at a raw and painful moment in the history of Dallas, of Texas and of America.

Abbott spoke of unity.

“Today, on this day, and in the coming days, the primary message is one word, and that is unity.”

And he talked of healing, giving not the slightest indication of how his own ravaged body was, even as he spoke, struggling mightily to heal from fresh and grievous wounds.

I had more details that I could put in the story. And so here is a timeline of events based on my conversations with Abbott communications director Matt Hirsch and Abbott’s chief of staff, Daniel Hodge. I realize that it is more than you may need or want to know, but I thought it was all interesting and since I had the information, I figured I would share it.


  • Gov. Abbott, his wife Cecilia, and daughter, Audrey, back home after her first year at the University of Southern California, travel to Jackson Hole, for a long weekend holiday.


  • Late afternoon. The Governor is burned when he is accidentally scalded by hot water at the lodge where he is staying. No details about exactly what happened. He suffers second- and third-degree burns on his legs below the knees, and especially his feet. He was supposed to be attending a Republican Governors Association event that night.
  • Governor driven to hospital by Texas Department of Public Safety. En route to hospital, Governor calls Deputy Chief of Staff Robert Allen back in Austin (aside from the troopers, no staff is with the governor in Jackson Hole) to tell him about incident and notifies he cannot attend RGA event.
  • Robert Allen calls Daniel Hodge, notifies that Governor is en route to hospital.
  • Governor calls Daniel Hodge from hospital; conversation takes place while doctors are removing burned skin from the Governor’s lower legs and feet.  7:20 pm
  • Daniel Hodge notifies Matt Hirsch.
  • Governor calls Daniel Hodge from hospital; relays initial plan for him to return to Texas on Sunday and receive treatment in San Antonio.
  • Governor calls Daniel Hodge in vehicle from hospital to confirm that he will return to Texas on Sunday; DH tells Governor to get some rest and indicates they won’t speak again until the morning.
  • Matt Hirsch working up statement on accident and how it may affect Gov.’s schedule for the next couple of weeks: Matt sends around draft statement at 9:30 pm
  • DPS Director Steve McCraw notifies Daniel Hodge about initial reports of shooting in Dallas.
  • Director McCraw notifies Daniel Hodge that there is at least one confirmed officer death in Dallas and one confirmed officer wounded in Dallas.
  • Daniel Hodge calls Governor to notify him about initial reports of incident in Dallas.
  • Director McCraw provides Daniel Hodge additional confirmed information about incident in Dallas.
  • Daniel Hodge calls Governor; Governor tells DH to make plans for return to Texas and visit to Dallas immediately. Governor instructs DH to set up meeting with Mayor Mike Rawlings and legislative delegation in Dallas. DH notes risk of infection and asks if he wants to consult with the doctors. Governor says that’s he is going to be in Dallas, that’s an order. Governor also tells DH that, after meeting with the Mayor, he wants to visit injured officers at the hospital before returning to Austin. DH: “Yes sir.”
  • Governor calls Director McCraw. 10:15 pm
  • Governor asks Daniel Hodge for Mayor Rawlings’ cell phone number and calls the Mayor. The Governor offers help and discusses with Mayor the need to show unity—but does not mention his injury. 11:05 pm
  • Governor instructs Daniel Hodge to have the Mansion lit blue on Friday night in honor of fallen officers. 11:15PM. Robert Allen, who is in charge of arrangements at the Mansion, has to find vendor who can make that happen. DH: “The governor wanted it done and it was our job to make it happen.”
  • Numerous subsequent calls between Governor and Daniel Hodge, as well as Robert Allen and Matt Hirsch well past midnight.
  • Daniel Hodge notifies Governor that senior staff will gather at 8:30 am to finalize plans for all the Governor’s directives in response to shooting in Dallas. While on the phone with the Governor, Daniel Hodge receives confirmation from scheduling that a charter flight has been secured. DH notifies Governor that a charter has been secured and can depart Jackson Hole at 11:30 am.



  • Press Secretary John Wittman purchase orthopedic shoes for Governor to wear at event in Dallas. 6:00 am. Because of the burns, the Governor could not wear boots or shoes, and he didn’t want to call attention to his condition. Apparently, no one at the press conference took any special notice of Abbott’s footwear.
  • White House calls Governor seeking to arrange call between Governor and President. DH passes along cell phone number for DPS body agent who will be with the Governor throughout the day. 6:30 am
  • Daniel Hodge sees advance team (John Wittman, Matt Sniadecki, Garrett Neeren) about to depart in the underground Capitol parking garage; holds impromptu meeting, confirms advance has secured orthopedic shoes to cover Governor’s bandaged feet—and two neckties (a choice of blue and red) for the Governor to wear in Dallas. The Governor had gone on holiday without any ties. 7:15 am
  • Daniel Hodge contacts First Lady to check on Governor, notifies her that President may call the Governor. 8:00 am
  • Robert Allen contacts Mayor Rawlings’ office to arrange meeting with Governor, Mayor, and Police Chief for later that day.
  • Robert Allen, Deputy Chief of Staff Reed Clay, Matt Hirsch convene in Daniel Hodge’s office to finalize game plan for the day. Matt Hirsch recommends open letter to Texans to be published in Dallas Morning News. Staff writes first draft. 8:30 am
  • Governor calls Daniel Hodge to get feedback on 8:30 am meeting, confirm that all directives are being implemented. DH, along with Robert Allen, Matt Hirsch, and Reed Clay brief Governor on game plan for the day. During call, Matt Hirsch recommends that Governor send open letter to all Texans regarding the tragic events in Dallas. Governor approves and asks to see draft of the letter.
  • DPS Detail transports Governor to hospital in Jackson Hole for treatment, dressing of wounds.
  • DPS Detail transports Governor to Jackson Hole airport. While en route to the airport, Governor reviews and approves open letter. 11:00 am MDT / 12:00 pm CDT
  • Governor, First Lady, and DPS Detail board charter flight Charter departs Jackson Hole, Wyoming. 11:45 am MDT / 12:45 pm CDT. Audrey Abbott remains in Jackson Hole along with a friend and the friend’s family.
  • Charter flight lands in Casper, Wyoming, to get a full load of fuel for flight to Dallas. Governor calls Daniel Hodge during fuel stop to get an update on events in Texas. DH informs Governor that Dallas officials indicated all officers had been released from the hospital and consequently there will be no hospital visit, thus the Governor will return to Austin after meeting with officials at City Hall.
  • Charter flight departs Casper, Wyoming for Dallas, Texas. 1:07 pm MDT / 2:07 pm CDT
  • Governor lands at Love Field in Dallas, Texas. Executive Aide Garrett Neeren provides the orthopedic shoes and  choice of ties for the Governor to wear in Dallas.4 :00 pm
  • Governor meets with Mayor Rawlings and Police Chief Brown at Dallas City Hall. 4:40 pm
  • Governor and Mayor Rawlings hold a press conference at City Hall joined by Attorney General Paxton and members of the Dallas Delegation of the Texas Legislature. Lt. Governor Patrick was invited to attend the press conference but, after spending the entire day in Dallas, had to return to Houston for a previously scheduled event.
  • Governor calls Daniel Hodge and Matt Hirsch en route to airport for update on events.
  • Governor boards charter flight at Love Field for return to Austin. 6:00 pm
  • Governor and First Family land in Austin, return to Governor’s Mansion. 7:15 pm.
  • Governor’s Mansion is lit with blue lights in honor of fallen officers. 9:00 pm


  • Governor calls Daniel Hodge to get update on developments. 11:00 am.
  • White House calls Daniel Hodge to arrange call between President and Governor. 2:00 pm
  • Daniel Hodge calls Governor to inform him President will be calling within the next hour.
  • Governor transported to St. David’s Hospital in Austin to have his wounds dressed. While the wounds were being dressed, President Obama called the Governor. 3:00 pm
  • Doctors at St. David’s hospital confirm that Governor has third and second degree burns on lower legs and feet.



  • Governor transported to St. David’s Hospital in Austin to have his wounds dressed.



  • Governor will receive treatment at Brooke Army Medical Center Burn Unit. 1:00 pm
  • Treating physicians at Brooke Army Medical Center Burn Unit will advise Governor on daily treatment plan for burns.

Will Gov. Abbott make it to the convention here? I don’t know.

He was to lead the delegation from the largest red state. There are certainly excellent medical facilities here. It would be a chance to raise his national profile, though he wasn’t asked to speak at the convention.

But it remains to be seen whether next week’s convention is one that he would regret missing, or one that will leave those who do attend it thinking that, on the whole, they would, a la W.C. Fields, rather have been  in Philadelphia.

But, of course, that would be the Democratic Convention, the week after next.

Meanwhile, I don’t know whether it was the TV in my hotel room, but MSNBC, and only MSNBC, this morning deployed some avant-garde camera work.

This is a full screen shot from Morning Joe.

Mika's ear
Mika’s ear






Was Trump’s Star of Donald more Wyatt Earp, Joe Arpaio or Star of David?

Good morning Austin.

Happy Fifth of July.

As I commenced writing this I was watching Yankee Doodle Dandy, one of my favorite all-time movies, with James Cagney playing George M. Cohan, who was born on the Fourth, or maybe the Third of July. Here is Cagney, as Cohan, tap dancing down the White House steps after being told by FDR that he was being awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his patriotic songs.

Meanwhile, in case you missed it, here was Donald J. Trump’s Fourth of July message.

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Not a lot about the Founding Fathers, or the Declaration of Independence, or the meaning of America. But DJT is running for president and there was that very odd meme that he tweeted Saturday that required a little bit of explaining.


But Trump’s strategy wasn’t just to delete – it was delete and defend.

So we are confronted with the epic question – when is a six-pointed star a Star of David, and when is it a generic sheriff’s badge?

The sheriff/marshal’s badge often has five points.



But not always.


Wyatt Earp had a six-pointed star.



But, then again, Wyatt Earp’s longtime, common-law wife – Josephine Marcus – was Jewish and he is buried alongside here at a Jewish cemetery in Colma, California.

Here’s Unpacking Dreams, a number from the all-woman musical, I Married Wyatt Earp.

But it’s not just Earp who had a six-pointed star.

Trump’s favorite sheriff – Sheriff  Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona – has a six-pointed badge.



And here’s a six-pointed star that is described as a “blank sheriff badge stock illustration.”


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But, I look at that star and I see a Star of David.

Then this from Anthony Smith at Mic.


Mic discovered Sunday that Donald Trump’s Twitter account wasn’t the first place the meme appeared. The image was previously featured on /pol/ — an Internet message board for the alt-right, a digital movement of neo-Nazis, anti-Semites and white supremacists newly emboldened by the success of Trump’s rhetoric — as early as June 22, over a week before Trump’s team tweeted it.

Though the thread where the meme was featured no longer exists, you can find it by searching the URL in, a “time capsule of the internet” that saves unalterable text and graphic of webpages. Doing so allows you to see the thread on /pol/ as it originally existed.

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 8.14.01 PM

Here are some other images from the same message board:


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There is also link to this list of Jewish control of the Internet, media, banking, government, society, etc.

The post immediately following the Hillary Clinton six-pointed star meme picks up a thread expressing concern about Trump’s Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, whose father donated to the Clinton Foundation.

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On the other hand, Drudge linked to a story recalling Trump’s history of opening a Palm Beach golf course to blacks and Jews.

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Trump’s social media director, Dan Scavino, tweeted an explanation that they came up with meme from “an anti-Hillary Twitter user,” and that he replaced the six-pointed star with a circle because, of course, “as the Social Media Director of the campaign, I would never offend anyone …:

Never Offend. Really?





But this defense doesn’t really add up.




As you may recall, earlier in the campaign, Trump seemed to have trouble placing who Duke was, though he had denounced him earlier in his career.

Meanwhile, ten years ago I wrote a piece for The Forward about the tension between David Duke and Jared Taylor and between Jews and neo-Nazis in the white nationalist movement.

For the small, hardy band of right-wing Jews who attended this past weekend’s American Renaissance Conference, the biennial gathering of white nationalists ended on a sour note.

The events Saturday, February 25, passed without major incident. But then, late Sunday morning, none other than former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke approached the microphone on the floor during the question-and-answer session for French writer Guillaume Faye. After congratulating Faye for stirring remarks that “touched my genes,” Duke asked if there weren’t an even more insidious threat to the West than Islam.

“There is a power in the world that dominates our media, influences our government and that has led to the internal destruction of our will and our spirit,” Duke said.

“Tell us, tell us,” came a call from the back of the room.

“I’m not going to say it,” Duke said to rising laughter.

But Michael Hart, a squat, balding Jewish astrophysicist from Maryland, was not amused. He rose from his seat, strode toward Duke (who loomed over him like an Aryan giant), spit out a curse – “You f…ing Nazi, you’ve disgraced this meeting” – and exited.

As it happens, only a few minutes earlier Hart, a mainstay of American Renaissance conferences, had been trying to reassure Herschel Elias, a first-time attendee from suburban Philadelphia, that he should not let his observation that the meeting was “infiltrated by Nazis and Holocaust deniers” ruin his impression of American Renaissance.

“The speakers aren’t Nazis,” Hart assured him. “Jared isn’t a Nazi.”

Jared is Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance magazine. He founded the publication 1990, and since 1994 he had sponsored the biennial conference that bears its name. A former liberal, Taylor is glib, gracious and genial, capable of putting his white nationalism in the most benign and commonsense terms.

“We mean well to all people,” he said in his address at this year’s conference, “but our own people come first.”

The conference has attracted ever larger crowds, with this year’s event drawing about 300 people – all white (no more than 5% Jewish) and most of them male. The attendees are united by a common belief in black intellectual inferiority, opposition to non-white immigration and ardor for maintaining America’s white majority. By the end of this seventh biennial conference, however, the delicate state of his coalition seemed apparent.

Hart, who spoke at the 1996 conference about his plan for a racial partition of the United States, said that Taylor now had to face the fact that he must purge the Nazis or lose the Jews. “He can’t expect Jews to come if there are Nazis here,” Hart said.

And therein lies Taylor’s dilemma.

From the start, he has been trying to de-Nazify the movement and draw the white nationalist circle wider to include Jews of European descent. But to many on the far right, taking the Jew-hatred out of white nationalism is like taking the Christ out of Christmas – a sacrilege. Actually inviting Jews into the movement is an act of lunacy, or betrayal, to them.

In a January First Reading, I wrote about Taylor’s involvement with a robo-call for Trump in Iowa.

 “Donald Trump,” Taylor has written, “may be the last hope for a president who would be good for white people.”

On June 17, Taylor posted a Dear Mr. Trump video expanding on this claim.



Whites not only trust government the least of any group, they are the most pessimistic about the country. Half of all whites think their children are going to be worse off than themselves. Whites are twice as likely than Hispanics to think that and 50 percent more likely than blacks. So it’s whites, your key supporters, who have the least faith and government and think the country is going to the dogs.


Mr. Trump, like it or not, you have become the spokesman for white people. For blacks and Hispanics that’s clearly what you are and that’s why they hate you. For whites, it’s not so clear, but they have a keen sense that’s something is wrong with their country, and they think you can do something about it.

Now I know you don’t see yourself as a spokesman for whites. I doubt you’ve ever thought very much about race. But you have healthy instincts, just like the people who support you. You’re willing to say unfashionable things about race, and about other things as well, despite all the PC propaganda.

White people love that.

I don’t mean to paint white people who support Trump with a broad brush.

My experience talking with Trump supporters at the few Trump rallies I’ve attended suggests are far richer and more complex reality.

In the new New Yorker, the wonderful writer, George Saunders, has a critical yet empathetic look at Who Are All These Trump Supporters? At the candidate’s rallies, a new understanding of America emerges.

It begins:

Trump is wearing the red baseball cap, or not. From this distance, he is strangely handsome, well proportioned, puts you in mind of a sea captain: Alan Hale from “Gilligan’s Island,” say, had Hale been slimmer, richer, more self-confident. We are afforded a side view of a head of silver-yellow hair and a hawklike orange-red face, the cheeks of which, if stared at steadily enough, will seem, through some optical illusion, to glow orange-redder at moments when the crowd is especially pleased. If you’ve ever, watching “The Apprentice,” entertained fantasies of how you might fare in the boardroom (the Donald, recognizing your excellent qualities with his professional businessman’s acumen, does not fire you but, on the contrary, pulls you aside to assign you some important non-TV, real-world mission), you may, for a brief, embarrassing instant, as he scans the crowd, expect him to recognize you.

He is blessing us here in San Jose, California, with his celebrity, promising never to disappoint us, letting us in on the latest bit of inside-baseball campaign strategy: “Lyin’ Ted” is no longer to be Lyin’ Ted; henceforth he will be just “Ted.” Hillary, however, shall be “Lyin’ Crooked.” And, by the way, Hillary has to go to jail. The statute of limitations is five years, and if he gets elected in November, well . . . The crowd sends forth a coarse blood roar. “She’s guilty as hell,” he snarls.

He growls, rants, shouts, digresses, careens from shtick nugget to shtick nugget, rhapsodizes over past landslides, name-drops Ivanka, Melania, Mike Tyson, Newt Gingrich, Bobby Knight, Bill O’Reilly. His right shoulder thrusts out as he makes the pinched-finger mudra with downswinging arm. His trademark double-eye squint evokes that group of beanie-hatted street-tough Munchkin kids; you expect him to kick gruffly at an imaginary stone. In person, his autocratic streak is presentationally complicated by a Ralph Kramdenesque vulnerability. He’s a man who has just dropped a can opener into his wife’s freshly baked pie. He’s not about to start grovelling about it, and yet he’s sorry—but, come on, it was an accident. He’s sorry, he’s sorry, O.K., but do you expect him to say it? He’s a good guy. Anyway, he didn’t do it.

Once, Jack Benny, whose character was known for frugality and selfishness, got a huge laugh by glancing down at the baseball he was supposed to be first-pitching, pocketing it, and walking off the field. Trump, similarly, knows how well we know him from TV. He is who he is. So sue me, O.K.? I probably shouldn’t say this, but oops—just did. (Hillary’s attack ads? “So false. Ah, some of them aren’t that false, actually.”) It’s oddly riveting, watching someone take such pleasure in going so much farther out on thin ice than anyone else as famous would dare to go. His crowds are ever hopeful for the next thrilling rude swerve. “There could be no politics which gave warmth to one’s body until the country had recovered its imagination, its pioneer lust for the unexpected and incalculable,” Norman Mailer wrote in 1960.

The speeches themselves are nearly all empty assertion. Assertion and bragging. Assertion, bragging, and defensiveness. He is always boasting about the size of this crowd or that crowd, refuting some slight from someone who has treated him “very unfairly,” underscoring his sincerity via adjectival pile-on (he’s “going to appoint beautiful, incredible, unbelievable Supreme Court Justices”). He lies, bullies, menaces, dishes it out but can’t seem to take it, exhibits such a muddy understanding of certain American principles (the press is free, torture illegal, criticism and libel two different things) that he might be a seventeenth-century Austrian prince time-transported here to mess with us. Sometimes it seems that he truly does not give a shit, and you imagine his minders cringing backstage. Other times you imagine them bored, checking their phones, convinced that nothing will ever touch him. Increasingly, his wild veering seems to occur against his will, as if he were not the great, sly strategist we have taken him for but, rather, someone compelled by an inner music that sometimes produces good dancing and sometimes causes him to bring a bookshelf crashing down on an old Mexican lady. Get more, that inner music seems to be telling him. Get, finally, enough. Refute a lifetime of critics. Create a pile of unprecedented testimonials, attendance receipts, polling numbers, and pundit gasps that will, once and for all, prove—what?

Please read the rest.

Meanwhile, as all this was happening, Austin’s Vincent Harris, who has done social media for, among others, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Dan Patrick, was, fleetingly, apparently, doing social media for Donald Trump.

Psalm 107:1King James Version (KJV)

107 O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

The week after next, barring unlikely developments, Donald Trump will become the Republican nominee for president. Bill Clinton appears determined to do everything in his power to help give Trump a fighting chance against Hillary. But, if Trump doesn’t want to squander that long-shot opportunity, it might be a good idea for him to either hire Vincent Harris, or maybe just find an intern, to de-Nazify his Twitter memes before he clicks Tweet.