Why Carly? If you love Ted Cruz, you’ll like Carly Fiorina

Good day Austin:

With the benefit of a little time for contemplation of Ted Cruz’s choice of Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential running-mate, I remain underwhelmed.

For Fiorina, it’s all good. It’s great

Much as she protested to the contrary, her presidential candidacy always seemed an audition of her availability as a candidate for vice president and, voilà, here she is, with the buttons to prove it.

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 6.29.14 AM

And I’m sure she was thoroughly vetted, including a musical audition before Cruz’s daughters – Caroline, 8, and Catherine, 4.

But the timing of the announcement suggests that it is all about Trump’s sweeping triumph Tuesday in five Northeastern states – which, for the record, Cruz dismissed as Manhattan writ large – and slowing or reversing Trump’s accelerating momentum, seizing the spotlight and dominating the news cycle.

For weeks, the Cruz campaign had proved its finesse at winning delegates in the caucus and convention process, and to filling the actual ranks of even those delegations pledged to vote for Trump with surreptitious Cruz supporters who, once Trump was denied the nomination on the first ballot, would reveal themselves to be Cruz true believers on a second or third ballot.

After Cruz’s big win in Wisconsin, it appeared that Trump could be stopped short of the requisite 1,237 delegates, and Cruz would emerge as the only plausible alternative.

But then Trump won big in New York, which was no surprise, and then won huge in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island, which was not all the surprising, except that the victory was so big and broad, and Cruz’s performance was so anemic, that it became harder for Cruz to keep calling Trump a sore loser,  or to deny that Trump had a plausible path to 1,237 delegates, pre-convention.

So, yes, by all means, recharge your campaign, do something bold, change the subject.

But to me, the Fiorina choice merely drove home the point that Cruz is reeling and Trump on the verge, and nothing about the choice of Fiorina will reverse that.

If Cruz wins Indiana, the stratagem may have proved brilliant.

But, on Wednesday, the announcement landed with a thud – it was a Hail Mary, a Hail Carly, a buzzer shot, or this, from the New York Times:

Mr. Cruz’s decision to rush out a vice-presidential pick before next week’s primary in Indiana, which is becoming make-or-break for his candidacy, was the political equivalent of a student pulling a fire alarm to avoid an exam: It was certain to draw attention and carried the possibility of meeting its immediate goal, but seemed unlikely to forestall the eventual reckoning.

The problem is that when it comes to the drama and theatrics of politics, Ted Cruz is no Donald Trump

From a story I wrote with Sean Collins Walsh back in February.

Rubio and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas effectively teamed up with one another Thursday night in the most sustained and successful assault yet on Trump, who was standing center stage between the two young first-term senators during a GOP presidential debate at the University of Houston. But, by midday Friday, Rubio was being double-teamed by Trump and by Christie, who had proved to be Rubio’s nemesis at the New Hampshire debate that cost the Florida senator his early momentum from a surprisingly strong third-place showing in Iowa and sent him reeling to a fifth-place finish in the Granite State.


In what could be described as a Trumpian performance, Rubio also joked that Trump might have wet his pants during the debate and had a sweat mustache.

The sheer ferociousness and aggressive humor of Rubio’s attack had the political media agog, but, even as he was speaking, Trump tweeted: “Lightweight choker Marco Rubio looks like a little boy on stage. Not presidential material!”

And soon enough, Trump had out-Trumped Rubio, introducing Christie to stunned reporters at a news conference in Dallas at which the former rival, but longtime friend, endorsed Trump as the man who can defeat Hillary Clinton and be the “strong leader” America needs.

Trump’s counterpunch gained enormous heft with the dramatic entrance of Christie, who slammed Rubio for missing Senate votes while running for president: “President of the United States is not a no-show job like you treated the United States Senate.”

Campaigning in Nashville, Cruz said of Christie, “I think the endorsement was probably troubling news for the Rubio campaign.”

By daybreak, Rubio seemed to be gaining traction in presenting himself as the establishment hope to stop Trump. But the Christie endorsement could foreshadow growing Republican establishment acceptance of what could, in the aftermath of Super Tuesday, appear to be a Trump juggernaut.

Then Trump took the stage at the Fort Worth Convention Center to raucous applause and chants of “U.S.A.” from a crowd estimated at about 7,000, and he wasted no time ripping into Rubio as a “lightweight senator who’s losing big” and a “little frightened puppy.” He said Rubio applies makeup with a trowel to cover up his big ears, and that he sweats so prodigiously that he leaves a puddle of sweat under him when speaking publicly. Trump added, “He’s a nasty guy, and we don’t need nasty.”

Christie’s endorsement also lent an air of gravitas to the Trump campaign, even as Rubio had appeared to hit a nerve with his characterization of the tycoon-turned-reality-TV-star as nothing more than a big-talking flimflam man.

Trump’s deployment of Christie was brilliant. It came as an utter surprise. It seized the news cycle, and reversed the momentum on a dime. It was a setback from which Rubio never recovered. Christie took a beating for reducing himself to Mr. Trump’s butler, but that didn’t hurt Trump. It made you think that Trump was a  more formidable candidate.

But the Cruz campaign leaked days ago that it had been vetting Fiorina, losing the element of surprise, and unlike Christie endorsing Trump, Fiorina had nothing to lose and everything to gain by hooking up with Cruz, and so it didn’t cause anyone still deciding about Cruz to pause and go, “Huh, I didn’t see that coming. That’s interesting. Maybe I should give him a second look.”

Imagine though, if Cruz had unveiled his choice of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, or even Little Marco. It would have been arresting and made people think, well, if an impressive person like that with plenty to lose is throwing his or her lot with Cruz, maybe I’ve underestimated him and he still can win it.

While I’m sure that Fiorina and the Cruzes have been having a ball campaigning with one another the last seven weeks = just as Fiorina described it – it also seems possible that  sometime a few days ago, Ted and Heidi Cruz locked eyes as Carly and the girls were engaged in a particularly animated game of Chinese checkers, as if to say, “This is getting a little weird. Maybe if we offer her the vice presidency she’ll give us a little breathing space.”

And, there was also one telling line in Cruz’s presentation of Fiorina that rubbed me the wrong way.

“There’s an old adage in management that A’s hire A’s and B’s hire C’s.”

The line fell flat among the Cruz supporters, many of whom probably got the occasional `B,” or recall that the last president Republicans elected was George W. “Gentlemen’s C” Bush.

Here’s what some other people think about the Fiorina choice.

From Chris Cillizza. at the Washington Post.

Announcing Fiorina is a big swing at story-changing.  Cruz has to hope that the coverage over the next few days — both in Indiana and nationally — will focus on Fiorina and why it was smart of him to pick her. Every second that cable TV and local media outlets spend talking about Cruz and Carly is a second that Trump doesn’t dominate the conversation. And what recent history has told us is that when Trump dominates the conversation, he almost always wins.

This is rightly understood as a desperate attempt to re-take the momentum in the race before it’s too late. To Cruz’s credit, he’s trying it. (I’m a big believer in leaving it all out on the field. If you are going to lose, lose with all of your best plays called. Or something.)

Let’s take as a given that since Fiorina’s campaign ended and she endorsed Cruz on March 9, the two have found out that they have a genuine rapport and share a vision for the country. And let’s also assume that Fiorina has passed some sort of basic (or more-than-basic) vet by the Cruz campaign. (Remember that Fiorina not only ran for president in 2016 but also ran for Senate in 2010.)

What else does she bring Cruz?  In order of importance:

* A woman.  Trump’s numbers among female voters — especially in a general election — are disastrous.  Cruz has struggled to drive that message home in the primary but is clearly hoping that by elevating Fiorina to I’ll-pick-her-if-I-can-pick-anyone status that Fiorina can help reach female voters who the Texas senator needs, not just in Indiana but going forward in the race.

* A Californian. Fiorina is a known commodity in California Republican circles due in large part to her 2010 Senate campaign which, although she lost, got better post-campaign reviews than the gubernatorial effort run by fellow wealthy businesswoman Meg Whitman. Cruz is banking on Fiorina as an able surrogate for him in California — both in front of the camera and behind the scenes — in advance of the state’s June 7 primary. By that point, Trump should be nearing the 1,237 delegates he needs to be the nominee, and depriving him of a handful here and there in California congressional districts may be Cruz’s only option. He believes Fiorina can help that cause.

* An attack dog. This works on a near-term and long-term basis. In the near term, Cruz now has an attack dog who has proven to be relatively effective in battling Trump. Fiorina’s reputation on that front is largely built on a single exchange during a CNN-sponsored debate in September 2015 in which she appeared to get the better of the real estate mogul who has made comments about her face. (Yes, really.)

From Erica Greider at Texas Monthly:
What’s surprising about this is the timing, of course, rather than the choice itself. Fiorina was among the 17 candidates for this year’s Republican presidential nomination, and having dropped out after the New Hampshire primary, she announced her support for Cruz in March. The former Hewlett Packard CEO certainly would have been expected to be on Cruz’s shortlist, because though her own bid came up short, she is well-equipped to play the “attack dog” role that running mates sometimes adopt—not just against Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominee, but against Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner.
It’s highly unorthodox, though, for Cruz to announce his running-mate pick at this point, since he has yet to secure the nomination and is seemingly unlikely to do so, especially after yesterday’s primaries in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut, and Rhode Island—in which Trump won not just every state, but, to their enduring ignominy, every county in each of those states. And the fact that Cruz and Fiorina are set to announce their agreement in Indianapolis underlines the obvious implication: Cruz is trying to give his campaign a boost before next week’s increasingly crucial Indiana primary.
With that said, I’m hard-pressed to fault Cruz for this Hail Mary. His prospects of winning the nomination are, at this point, not excessively auspicious, but still—would we prefer him to admit defeat, pack it in, and begin making preparations for 2020? That would, perhaps, be a shrewd play on his part. But it would also, under the circumstances, be a serious blow to both the party and the nation. It may be too late for Cruz to stop Trump from winning. But no one with any commitment to our civic health should resent him for trying.
But, if you are not already favorably disposed to Cruz, Fiorina, and the evident Cruz-Fiorina chemistry, is not going to do much for you, and, while Fiorina sings sweely, her default setting is stern-to-the-point-of -grating,
As in this remark to MSNBC today on John Kasich:
“He didn’t get the memo, when you can’t win you need to get out,” Fiorina said.
Which would have sounded better before Tuesday, when Kasich ran ahead of Cruz in four of five states.
But, beyond that, it is simply no way to try to draw Kasich voters in Indiana – from which Kasich, per a deal/non-deal with Cruz, is keeping his distance.
If you are a Kasich supporter in Indiana who is thinking of voting strategically for Cruz to slow Trump, and you see Cruz pick Fiorina – blowing up any possibility of a Cruz-Kasich ticket – and then Fiorina insult Kasich, well, no thanks.

From Avik Roy at Forbes, who was the policy director for Rick Perry, and then moved over to the Rubio campaign:

On Tuesday, Donald Trump crushed the opposition, winning 110 of the 119 bound delegates available in the “Acela primary” of northeastern states. Ted Cruz tried to bounce back by naming former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his Vice Presidential pick. Cruz is hoping that Fiorina’s roots in California could help him compete better in that state’s crucial June 7 primary. But the Fiorina pick could well assure Donald Trump the GOP nomination.

If Cruz wants to deny Trump the nomination, he has to sweep in Indiana, and hope to split California. Right now, he isn’t doing either. Cruz and Trump are neck-and-neck in Indiana, and Trump is up by double digits in California.

So, how does Cruz beat Trump? His hope is that Fiorina will serve as an attack dog—the traditional veep role—and bring Trump down a notch or two. Maybe.

But Cruz has a bigger problem. It’s that so many conservatives who don’t like Trump also don’t like him. In Indiana, for example, anti-Trump voters beat pro-Trump voters 51 to 38 percent. In California, anti-Trump voters win 45 to 43 percent.

In both cases, a large portion of the anti-Trump vote is going to Ohio Gov. John Kasich: 19 percentage points in Indiana, and 18 in California.

On Monday, the campaigns of Kasich and Cruz announced that they would be cooperating in upcoming Republican primary states, in an effort to deny Donald Trump the GOP nod. But within hours of their announcements, Kasich was undermining the deal, urging his followers to vote for him even in Cruz-friendly states.

For better or worse, Kasich has become the vessel of moderate Republican voters: the suburban, upper-income folks who prefer pragmatism to bomb-throwing. And Carly Fiorina is, at least rhetorically, a Cruz-style firebrand.

There’s also the fact that pragmatic conservatives tend to favor someone for veep who has deep experience in governing and legislating, something that Fiorina does not.

In other words, Cruz picked one of the few people in the 2016 field who will struggle to appeal to Kasich voters and unite the GOP around Ted Cruz.

Maybe that won’t matter, given Fiorina’s intelligence and rhetorical verve. But there’s just as much reason to believe that Fiorina pick will drive Kasich voters further away from Cruz, at precisely the time when he needs them.

In which case, Cruz is toast.

The underlying problem here is that Cruz’s campaign is premised on the view that the way you win is to be the purest, most unflinching conservative in the race. Period. Broadening your appeal equals undermining your appeal. In presenting his ideological doppelgänger yesterday as his running mate, Cruz said they would offer “a choice, not an echo” – a very telling echo of Barry Goldwater’s announcement of his 1964 candidacy for president that won him in the nomination but ended in his being buried in the Johnson landslide.

From Goldwater’s announcement on Jan. 3, 1964:

I’ve been spelling out my position now for 10 years in the Senate and for years before that here in my own state. I will spell it out even further in the months to come. I was once asked what kind of Republican I was. I replied that I was not a “me-too” Republican. That still holds. I will not change my beliefs to win votes. I will offer a choice, not an echo. This will not be an engagement of personalities. It will be in engagement of principles.

In the Senate, Cruz was Goldwater on steroids. And the choice of Fiorina does nothing to make Cruz more palatable to more mainstream or establishment Republicans, who loath him as much more as Trump.

From the Stanford Daily at Stanford University, where former House Speaker John Boehner spoke yesterday.

“Lucifer in the flesh,” the former speaker said. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”


Boehner for the most part accepted Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee, though he did express his surprise at the candidate’s success. While he did not praise Trump’s policies, the Speaker did say he would vote for Trump in the general election if he becomes the Republican nominee. The former Speaker said he would not, however, vote for Cruz.

Asked about that today, Cruz, Fiorina by his side, seized on Boeher’s comments as defining exactly why he is running and what he is running against – rolling Boehner into the Trump-Clinton Washington cartel.

I’ve never worked with John Boehner. Truth f the matter is I don’t know the man. I’ve met John Boehner two or three times in my life. If I’ve said 50 words to John Boehner in my life, I’d be surprised. And everyone one them has consisted of pleasantries.

When John Boehner calls me Lucifer, he’s not directing at me, he’s directing it at you

What Boehner is angry with me for is standing with the American people.,

“What made John Boehner mad is that I led a movement of the people to hold Washington accountable.

Meanwhile, there was Rick Perry, who endorsed and campaigned for Cruz after his own campaign ended,  on  The View yesterday, saying that while he doesn’t think the nomination is sewn up for Trump and there is still a way for Cruz to win yet, if Trump, who he once called a “cancer on conservatism,” is the nominee, he will vote for him.


I asked Rutgers University political scientist yesterday whether the Fiorina choice made sense to him.

To be honest, no, on first cut.

Although, perhaps it is a play to address Trump’s apparent woman problem. I’m thinking about the Our Principles PAC super PAC that ran the anti-Trump ad with many women just using the phrases he has said about women generally, which seemed like a potentially effective ad.

Seen in that light, it could be a strategic move, especially if followed by direct attacks on Trump and his history with women, done by Fiorina.

But of course, the problem is that it also seems pretentious, to announce this, when he has virtually no chance of actually being the nominee.

See, also, Ronald Reagan tapping Sen. Richard Schweiker of PA in 1976 to try to make a last-ditch play for “liberal” GOP delegates to upset Ford. But Reagan actually had a chance to win the nomination.

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 7.59.49 AM


On the lessons of Vietnam: I wonder who’s Kissinger now. Obama? Cruz? Clinton? Kerry?

Good day Austin:

I finally see what Jill St. John saw in Henry Kissinger.

It’s the timbre of his voice that sets your heart aflutter and fells you emotionally – Timber!


jwj Vietnam Summit 3577

Of course, I’m familiar with Kissinger’s slow, accented, deeply lower-register delivery, but seeing him  – hearing it – up close and personal last night at the Vietnam War Summit  at the LBJ Library was the difference between watching Jurassic World on TV and experiencing it in an Imax theater.

Also, I think The Voice is deeper and more gravelly and guttural than ever, perhaps because, as last night, at 93 come May 27, Kissinger’s chin now rests on his chest as he speaks

Listening, I realized how much of his credibility depends on the quality of his voice, the measured delivery and the muddiness of his accent, which lends a slight veil of mystery to exactly what he said, a useful tool for a diplomat.

It left me wondering, if you were to dub in Mike Tyson’s high-pitched lisping voice would anybody have paid attention to him?

The first day of the Vietnam War summit confirms the sense that the United States was doomed in Vietnam because its leaders – and the American people – were simply not willing to do – practically or morally – what it would take to destroy the enemy, and that bombing the enemy to the bargaining table was doomed because the enemy was willing to bear any cost – no matter how high – to prevail, which meant reuniting Vietnam as a single, unified, Communist country, and that they had no interest in negotiating any kind of compromise.

That said, it was all a matter of once you got in and realized you were doomed, how do you get out.

Here is what Kissinger said (or what I thought he said. on a couple of occasions his low German accent left a particular word not precisely intelligible.).

Speaking of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford, Kissinger said:

All of the presidents were haunted in their way. Each of them was dedicated to finding a peaceful solution. Each of them had the dilemma of how you relate American honor to the ending of the war. There was nobody who wanted war. Nobody who wanted to escalate the war. They all wanted peace but  the question is what conditions they would (accept) without turning over the millions who had relied on the word of previous presidents who had committed themselves.

Kissinger said the American people, isolated as they are from the rest of the world, “have a tendency to think peace is the normal condition among people or countries and when there is a war or there is instability, it is sort of an accident which you can remedy by one set of actions, after which you can  go back to a situation of civility.”

“We’ve been involved in five wars since World War II,” Kissinger said. “We’ve entered each of these wars with wide public consensus. But, after some period of time, we needed an extrication strategy. The best extrication strategy is to get out, but you can also call that defeat.

“If you cannot describe objectives that you can sustain you should exit, he said.

“You have to distinguish  those things you will do only f you have allies and those you must do because your national security requires it.”

“We have to learn … not to get into  conflicts unless you can describe an end that you are wiling to sustain and unless you willing in the extreme to sustain it alone, or,  to know when you have to end it.”

“Those are lessons from Vietnam.”

Very good.


We also have to learn to moderate our domestic debate because, in the course of the Vietnam War what started as reasonable debate about  whether we were engaged in a process that we could master, turned into an attack on the moral quality of America’s leaders and when one teaches one’s people that …  for 20 years, that they are run by criminals and fools, then you  can get a political debate that becomes more and more violent and we suffer from it in some of our current political debate.

Among those who questioned the moral authority of America’s leaders during Vietnam was John Kerry, who served in Vietnam and then challenged he war as a leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Kerry, now secretary of state, will speak the LBJ Library’s Vietnam War Summit tonight.

Kissinger noted the symbolic irony “that Secretary Kerry is coming here tomorrow night. He was walking around with a placard outside the White House when I served there. We’ve become good friends in the interval and he came to my 90th birthday and made a toast.”

It was too bad, Kissinger said, that he and Kerry “didn’t have an opportunity to talk” back when they were on opposite side of the White House fence during Vietnam.

It will be interesting to hear what Kerry has to say tonight about the lessons of Vietnam because, it appears that in the Obama administration, it is Obama, far more than either Kerry or his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, who seems to be informed by Vietnam in his reluctance to intervene abroad if he does not believe it represents an existential threat to the United States, and if he does not think the American people have the will to see it through.

This became clear in Jeffrey Goldberg’s revealing interview(s) with Obama in the Atlantic.

Over the past year, John Kerry has visited the White House regularly to ask Obama to violate Syria’s sovereignty. On several occasions, Kerry has asked Obama to launch missiles at specific regime targets, under cover of night, to “send a message” to the regime. The goal, Kerry has said, is not to overthrow Assad but to encourage him, and Iran and Russia, to negotiate peace. When the Assad alliance has had the upper hand on the battlefield, as it has these past several months, it has shown no inclination to take seriously Kerry’s entreaties to negotiate in good faith. A few cruise missiles, Kerry has argued, might concentrate the attention of Assad and his backers. “Kerry’s looking like a chump with the Russians, because he has no leverage,” a senior administration official told me.

The U.S. wouldn’t have to claim credit for the attacks, Kerry has told Obama—but Assad would surely know the missiles’ return address.

Obama has steadfastly resisted Kerry’s requests, and seems to have grown impatient with his lobbying. Recently, when Kerry handed Obama a written outline of new steps to bring more pressure to bear on Assad, Obama said, “Oh, another proposal?” Administration officials have told me that Vice President Biden, too, has become frustrated with Kerry’s demands for action. He has said privately to the secretary of state, “John, remember Vietnam? Remember how that started?” At a National Security Council meeting held at the Pentagon in December, Obama announced that no one except the secretary of defense should bring him proposals for military action. Pentagon officials understood Obama’s announcement to be a brushback pitch directed at Kerry.

 J. Scott Applewhite
J. Scott Applewhite

Ditto Obama on Clinton and Libya.

But what sealed Obama’s fatalistic view was the failure of his administration’s intervention in Libya, in 2011. That intervention was meant to prevent the country’s then-dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, from slaughtering the people of Benghazi, as he was threatening to do. Obama did not want to join the fight; he was counseled by Joe Biden and his first-term secretary of defense Robert Gates, among others, to steer clear. But a strong faction within the national-security team—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice, who was then the ambassador to the United Nations, along with Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes, and Antony Blinken, who was then Biden’s national-security adviser—lobbied hard to protect Benghazi, and prevailed. (Biden, who is acerbic about Clinton’s foreign-policy judgment, has said privately, “Hillary just wants to be Golda Meir.”) American bombs fell, the people of Benghazi were spared from what may or may not have been a massacre, and Qaddafi was captured and executed.

But Obama says today of the intervention, “It didn’t work.” The U.S., he believes, planned the Libya operation carefully—and yet the country is still a disaster.

The cover of last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine was a piece by Mark Landler on How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders sought to exploit Clinton’s affinity for Kissinger at a Democratic debate back in February.

From Gary J. Bass at Politico:

ll the dastardly deeds for which Henry Kissinger can be blamed, here’s an especially odd one: he made Hillary Clinton lose a foreign policy debate with Bernie Sanders. Last night at the Democratic presidential debate in Milwaukee, in a moment to baffle the youthful voters who helped give Sanders his crushing victory over Clinton in the New Hampshire primary, Sanders (age 74) blasted his opponent (age 68) for being too cozy with Kissinger (age 92).

Kissinger usually gets a free pass in Washington, where celebrity has a way of overshadowing historical analysis, but it’s still jarring to see Hillary Clinton embracing him. After all, in her youth, she protested against the Vietnam war and served as a staffer on the House Judiciary Committee considering impeaching President Richard Nixon for Watergate. But in more recent days, she lauded Kissinger’s historic outreach to China in her 2014 memoir Hard Choices, and wrote a fawning Washington Post review of his latest book in September 2014, calling him a personal friend and adviser while praising the book as “vintage Kissinger, with his singular combination of breadth and acuity.”

Despite Kissinger’s efforts to cultivate Clinton and other grandees, his reputation has been undermined by the realities revealed on the White House tapes. In 1969, he recommended a risky nuclear alert in 1969 to spook the Soviet Union. In September 1971, he privately told Nixon, “If we had done Cambodia in ’66, and Laos in ’67, the war would be history.” And in 1971, in one of the darkest American chapters of the Cold War, he and Nixon supported a brutal military dictatorship in Pakistan while it unleashed a devastating crackdown on what was then East Pakistan and is now Bangladesh. Both the CIA and the State Department conservatively estimated that about two hundred thousand people perished, while ten million desperate Bengali refugees fled into India. Kissinger joked about the massacre of Bengali Hindus, and privately scorned those Americans who “bleed” for “the dying Bengalis.”

In the Milwaukee debate, Sanders announced that he had a “very profound difference” with Clinton. “In her book and in this last debate, she talked about getting the approval or the support or the mentoring of Henry Kissinger,” he said with disbelief. “Now I find it rather amazing, because I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country. I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger.” He slammed Kissinger for bombing Cambodia, which “created the instability for Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge to come in, who then butchered some three million innocent people, one of the worst genocides in the history of the world. So count me in as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger.”

photo by Alex Brandon
photo by Alex Brandon

Sanders’ attack was doubly effective, giving him a rare chance to put his rival—a confident former secretary of state who is noticeably more adept on world politics—on the defensive on foreign policy, while also tarring Clinton as a profane creature of Washington. He got to showcase himself as someone who hadn’t been slowly corrupted by establishment cronyism. And the voters who are likeliest to care about this 1970s flashback aren’t Sanders’ young enthusiasts, but baby boomers who should be in Clinton’s camp.

Sanders had a point about Cambodia, although the history isn’t as straightforward as he suggested. While Kissinger deserves some credit for his efforts to end the Vietnam war, he also escalated the conflict and promoted sideshow wars in Laos and Cambodia. When massive bombing failed to wipe out communist sanctuaries inside Cambodia, Kissinger, while considering the arguments of dovish White House staffers, came to support a U.S. ground invasion, which was launched in May 1970. In December of that year, when Nixon complained that the U.S. Air Force was merely “bombing jungles” in Cambodia, Kissinger passed along the order: “A massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. Anything that flies on anything that moves.”

According to a leading Cambodia historian, Ben Kiernan at Yale University, the civilian death toll from these bombing campaigns drove many Cambodians to rally to the radical Khmer Rouge, which went from being a relatively minor guerrilla force to conquering Phnom Penh in April 1975. That November, a few months after the Khmer Rouge began their bloody reign, Kissinger asked Thailand’s foreign minister about a top Khmer Rouge leader: “How many people did he kill? Tens of thousands?” Then Kissinger added, “You should also tell the Cambodians [the Khmer Rouge] that we will be friends with them. They are murderous thugs, but we won’t let that stand in our way.”

Hillary Clinton’s response in the Milwaukee debate was flat-footed. Surely there must be issues where she disagrees with Kissinger. But rather than offering any criticism of him, or mentioning her own opposition to the Vietnam war, she ducked by saying that “whatever the complaints you want to make about him are,” Kissinger is worth talking to because of his “his ongoing relationships with the leaders of China”—a formulation which, while correctly noting Kissinger’s formidable guanxi in Beijing, sounds like cronyism taken to a global level.

Sanders was on much shakier ground when he slammed Kissinger as a proponent of the domino theory in Vietnam, which he, in a particularly Seinfeldian moment, explained in yadda-yadda terms: “You know, if Vietnam goes, China, da-da-da-da-da-da-da.” (He seemed aware that many of his young supporters would not know what the domino theory was: “Not everybody remembers that, you do, I do.”) But China, then in the throes of Mao Zedong’s radical Cultural Revolution, had been communist since 1949, so could hardly be a falling domino; the domino theory was propagated by plenty of Democrats in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations; and Kissinger’s main linkage of China with Vietnam was to hope that an American opening to China would help to end the Vietnam war. More broadly, there’s still ample opportunity for Clinton operatives to beat up Sanders for a New Left critique of American foreign interventionism and globalization.

Mark Updegrove, director of the LBJ Library and Kissinger’s interlocutor  last night, asked the war criminal question.

There are many who allege that you are a war criminal due to the systematic carpet bombing of Laos and Cambodia. Why was that bombing necessary?

Kissinger said it was necessary and successful and reduced causalities.

But, before he got to that he said, “I think the word `war criminal’ should not be thrown around in the domestic debate. It is a shameful reflection on the people who use it.”

And, he said, “First there was no carpet bombing. That is absolute nonsense, it’s not true.”

In other words, if you don’t want to be accused of war crimes, “carpet bombing” – suggesting indiscriminate bombing with significant civilian casualties – is best avoided.

But that apparently is not a lesson Ted Cruz has learned.

For many months he has said, “If I am elected president, we will utterly destroy ISIS. We won’t weaken them. We won’t degrade them. We will utterly destroy them. We will carpet bomb them into oblivion”

He has described a desire to “make the sand glow.”

Cinton has said that kind of “tough talk,” suggests that Cruz is “in over his head.”

On ABC This Week, Jonathan Karl had this exchange with Charles Koch, who one would presume Cruz might have wanted or even thought would be in his corner.

JONATHAN KARL: And when you hear another top presidential candidate talking about making the sand glow and carpet bombing in the Middle East…

CHARLES KOCH: Well, that’s gotta be hyperbole, but I mean that a candidate, whether they believe it or not, would think that appeals to the American people. This is frightening.

Cruz, meanwhile, was the victim of some political carpet bombing in yesterday’s five Northeast and Middle Atlantic primaries.

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 5.39.57 AM

Not good for Cruz

But Cruz seemed bright and bushy this morning in Indiana.

“I recognize Donald Trump did well at home,”  Cruz said, with “home” in this case referring to a huge stretch of the Northeast.

But, as he insisted Tuesday night, the campaign now “moves back to more favorable terrain.”

Meaning Indiana, which votes Tuesday.

To that end, Cruz promised a big announcement at 4 p.m. today, 3 p.m. our time.

Speculation focused on his announcing a running mate. Carly Fiorina is the name that has been mentioned. That would be good for Fiorina but I don’s see how it does much for Ted in making him more appealing or in proving his electability or governing capacity.

Nikki Haley, yes. Carly Fiorina, no.

Or maybe he’s got the endorsement of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence – or better yet is naming Pence his running mate – which would outmatch Trump’s endorsement Wednesday by Bobby Knight.

In any case, Cruz constructed Trump’s success as a media plot to guarantee a general election between “two rich liberal New Yorkers” in Trump and Clinton, who he said are indistinguishable on the issues.


“The media is going to have some heart palpitations tonight,” he said of Trump’s impending victory.


Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 5.12.26 AM

The problem for Cruz, however, is that Trump has now succeeded in a far broader swath of America than he has, most especially in sweeping the South, with the notable exception of Texas. which was to have been Cruz’s home turf.


New York Times
New York Times

“Ted Cruz is now a marginal, regional candidate. a loser,” Mike Barnicle said on Morning Joe this morning.

For Cruz, “Indiana is the Alamo,” said Kasie Hunt on MSBNC.

And from Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

Trump is not at all conventional. That introduces a lot of unpredictability into the equation.

I think there’s a good chance that Trump would lose even worse than Cruz. But he could also do substantially better. Do I think Trump will win the presidency? No. Let’s be clear: nominating Trump is an epic disaster for the GOP. I think he’s too unpopular with too many key segments of the electorate. But he has more upside potential than Cruz.

And from FiveTbirtyEight, noting that Trump is prevailing amid declining turnout:

So it may not be that undecided voters are gravitating to Trump so much as anti-Trump Republicans are discouraged. Trump faces unusually high levels of intraparty opposition for a front-runner — or at least, he had seemed to until the past two weeks. But Kasich and Ted Cruz are also deeply flawed, and somewhat factional, candidates. It’s asking a lot of voters to cast a tactical vote against Trump when that tactic requires (i) going to a contested convention in order to (ii) deny the candidate with the plurality of votes and delegates the nomination in order to (iii) give the nomination to a candidate they don’t particularly like anyway. The #NeverTrump voters might not be voting for Trump, but they might be staying at home.


Indiana is important not only because of its delegates, but also because it will give us an indication as to whether the apparent change in Republican attitudes is temporary or permanent. If Trump wins Indiana despite its middling-to-fair (from his standpoint) demographics, he won’t quite be the presumptive nominee because he’ll still need to follow through with a decent performance in California. But he’ll at least be in the liminal zone that Hillary Clinton spent a lot of time in, with the race not quite wrapped up mathematically but close enough that something (a gaffe, a scandal) would have to intervene to deny him the nomination. Incidentally, Trump’s potential support from the uncommitted delegates in Pennsylvania will give him more margin of error in that situation.

If Trump loses Indiana, however, that will suggest the race is still fairly volatile week-to-week, that he’s very likely to lose states such as Nebraska that vote later in May, and that the geographic and demographic divergences in the GOP haven’t reversed themselves so much as become more exaggerated. It will improve the morale of anti-Trump voters and change the tone of press coverage. And mathematically, it will make it hard (although not quite impossible) for Trump to win 1,237 delegates outright; he’d be back to fighting tooth-and-nail for every uncommitted delegate.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in Indiana. But Trump’s strong results over the past two weeks have changed the Hoosier State from potentially being “must-win” for Trump to probably being “must-win” for his opponents.

And this cautionary word from Josh Kraushaar at National Journal.

The GOP nom­in­a­tion fight is go­ing down to the wire, and In­di­ana is the only con­test left that could go either way. Every little shift mat­ters. Cruz doesn’t have as much mo­mentum en­ter­ing In­di­ana as he did in the run-up to Wis­con­sin, but he doesn’t need a 13-point blo­wout to stop Trump, either. Even a razor-thin vic­tory should net Cruz a ma­jor­ity of del­eg­ates in the state. The al­li­ance that the Cruz and Kasich cam­paigns brokered wasn’t pretty, but it could be the tac­tic­al de­cision that blocks Trump from the GOP nom­in­a­tion.

Finally, there’s this.


Country Joe McDonald: One, two, three, what were we fighting for?

Good morning Austin:

Here is Country Joe McDonald at Woodstock.

That was the summer of 1969.

(I wasn’t there but I do remember seeing the ad, probably in the Village Voice, thinking it looked pretty cool and briefly trying to figure out if there was any way, at the age of 15, for me to get there.)

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.16.06 PMBy then, LBJ was out of office.

Three years later, in 1972, McDonald was in San Antonio for a gig with Bill Belmont, his longtime friend/road manager/producer who, like McDonald had served in the Navy.

McDonald recalls:

For some reason, Bill asked where the LBJ Ranch was and we decided that we would go out there, so the two of us drove out on this little tiny, two-lane road and then all of a sudden we saw this gate and this arch thing that said, LBJ Ranch, on it. I couldn’t believe it, and far away there was an airstrip, a tiny airstrip, and then were was nothing but sage brush, nothing, and we were standing in front of this gate. We walked over to this gate and we noticed there was this camera and we got really paranoid and freaked out and we got back in our car and we went back.

So, Country Joe didn’t meet LBJ that night, didn’t get to serenade him with  I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die Rag, or, even more apropos, his LBJ song, Super Bird.

Look up yonder in the sky, now, what is that I pray?
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a man insane, it’s my President LBJ.
He’s flying high way up in the sky just like Superman,
But I got a little piece of kryptonite,
Yes, I’ll bring him back to land.

Sad come out Lyndon with your hands held high,
Drop your guns, baby, and reach for the sky.
I’ve got you surrounded and you ain’t got a chance.
Gonna send you back to Texas make you work on your ranch,
Yeah, yeah, oh yeah.

But McDonald, 74, is coming to the LBJ Library for the Vietnam War Summit that runs today through Thursday, part of a select group of invitees who will discuss the meaning and the lessons of the war.

He will appear with Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary, and Bob Santelli, director of the Grammy Museum on a panel:

One, Two, Three: What Are We Fighting For? – Musical artists discuss how the music of the times helped to offer comfort to our troops in Vietnam while fueling the anti-war movement at home.

Here are the complete lyrics I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag.

Yeah, come on all of you, big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He’s got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in Vietnam
So put down your books and pick up a gun,
We’re gonna have a whole lotta fun.

And it’s one, two, three,
What are we fighting for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it’s five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.

Well, come on generals, let’s move fast;
Your big chance has come at last.
Gotta go out and get those reds-
The only good commie is the one who’s dead
And you know that peace can only be won
When we’ve blown ‘em all to kingdom come.

And it’s one, two, three,
What are we fighting for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it’s five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why
Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.

Well, come on Wall Street, don’t move slow,
Why man, this is war au-go-go.
There’s plenty good money to be made
By supplying the Army with the tools of the trade,
Just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb,
They drop it on the Viet Cong.

And it’s one, two, three,
What are we fighting for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam.
And it’s five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why
whoopee! we’re all gonna die.

Well, come on mothers throughout the land,
Pack your boys off to Vietnam.
Come on fathers, don’t hesitate,
Send ‘em off before it’s too late.
Be the first one on your block
To have your boy come home in a box.

And it’s one, two, three
What are we fighting for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam.
And it’s five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,
whoopee! we’re all gonna die.

I wrote about the summit on Sunday, and about Country Joe McDonald coming to the summit in today’s paper.

I talked to McDonald last week and really enjoyed the conversation.

Tom Hayden will be at the summit and may be the most controversial figure on the program, a lightning rod for passions on the war ever since visiting Hanoi – most famously with his future, now ex-wife, Jane Fonda – and expressing an identity with America’s enemy in wartime, back in 1972, the same year McDonald peered briefly into the security camera at the LBJ Ranch.

McDonald, while also an iconic figure of the anti-war movement, said he has never met  or spoken with Hayden.

His life, and relationship to the war, followed a very different trajectory.

Both of Country Joe McDonald’s parents were Communists.

My  mother loved meetings. She was raised by her mother who was a Communist Russian immigrant and one of the first people to drive a truck in Russia and would always drive my mother to Communist Party meetings. So my mother dropped out of high school, this was in D.C., because she was passing out literature and stuff for the Communist Party in the ghetto. My grandmother was a Communist and my father was an anarchist and a Zionist and they fought their whole life over that.

His father, Worden “Mac” McDonald, was the Communist son of a Presbyterian minister from Oklahoma, who had moved to Washington.

He would go to the train station in D.C. and pick up the Communist newspaper on his motorcycle and deliver it to my mother, who was the secretary of the Communist Party in D.C.

Joe was named for Joseph Stalin. (He said Stalin was sometimes known as Country Joe.)

When he was young, the family moved to El Monte. His father worked for Pacific Bell but, after 19 years, a year shy of being vested in the pension plan, he was sacked after he was called before HUAC – the House – Activities Committee.

He became a gardener in Los Angeles Country. We went from middle class to nothing. We never got welfare or anything but we had nothing. I was 12 years old. He sold eggs and chickens in Watts out of a refrigerated panel truck that played Old McDonald Had a Farm, like an ice cream truck.

At 17, in 1959, McDonald enlisted in the Navy – “To travel and have sex, which I think is a pretty standard reason, and I did both.”

Because of his age, he had to have his mother sign papers saying it was OK.

I said. `You got to sign this ,’and she signed it. She didn’t encourage me. She just signed it. Maybe she was trying to get me out of the house. We didn’t have that much money. I was living in the garage.

In 1965, McDonald, pursuing a career in music, moved to Berkeley.

His parents followed and his mother found a welcoming political culture.

She got involved in politics, starting in about 1969, 1970. She served two terms on the city council and also on the rent control board and as city auditor. They loved her and she loved it. She loved going to meetings and talking about politics. She loved politics.

Here is some of a 1977 AP story after her election as auditor.

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 1.57.23 AM

And from her 1989 obituary in the New York Times:

Mrs. McDonald, an avowed Marxist, entered Berkeley politics when she moved there in 1967. She began with four-hour vigils each Sunday in front of City Hall in protest against the Vietnam War. In 1975 she was elected City Auditor and served four years; in 1979 she was elected to the City Council. In 1982 she ran unsuccessfully for state controller as the Peace and Freedom Party candidate.

Mrs. McDonald was born in Washington, the child of Russian immigrants. Her mother was a Communist, her father a Zionist and anarchist. She joined the Young Communist League at the age of 12 and had been arrested more than two dozen times by the time she was 18.

It was Country Joe’s appearance at Woodstock, in the flesh, on the album and in the film, that vaulted him into the national consciousness.
Here is how he appeared in the film, with a bouncing ball to follow the lyrics and sing along.
Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 7.02.25 AM

His performance of Fixin’ to Die was preceded by McDonald’s leading Woodstock Nation in an obscene cheer that captured the spirit of the moment.

Some background from McDonald:

Vanguard Records did not want Country Joe And The Fish to record the “Fixing-to-Die Rag” on the first LP Electric Music for the Mind and Body; but by the time of the second LP they relented. In fact the second Vanguard Records LP was titled I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die. As band leader, I did not feel that the music industry was giving us our deserved credit and strokes for creating great wonderful rock and roll music so I made the executive decision that we would give a cheer for ourselves on the record right before we performed the song “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag.” Each member of the band (Barry Melton, Bruce Barthol, David Cohen, Gary “Chicken” Hirsh and myself) yelled one letter and the remaining member yelled “what’s that spell?” We overdubbed ourselves and workers from the Vanguard Records office answering each yelled command: “gimme an F,” “gimme an I,” “gimme an S,” “gimme an H,” and then “what’s that spell?” yelled many times — the answer being “Fish Fish Fish,” of course.

Time passed and audiences, having heard the record, were prepared to spell F-I-S-H out in front of us performing the “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag.” The mood in the country began to sour over the Vietnam War. While playing the Schaefer Beer Festival in New York City, Gary “Chicken” Hirsh got the great idea to change the “FISH” cheer to the “F—” cheer that night for the first time! We did. And the audience loved it. We were kicked off of the Schaefer Beer Festival for life and also paid to STAY OFF of the Ed Sullivan TV show which had paid us in advance for a future appearance. They said “keep the money but you will never be on the Ed Sullivan show.” Today it is sometimes stated that Country Joe and The Fish played on the Ed Sullivan show. This is because surviving records show our scheduled appearance but in fact we did not appear by their personal request.

The modified F cheer, McDonald said, “really expresses how we felt about he war. It’s America’s anger word, and we were just angry, angry, angry. We’re still angry about the war and still coping with the war. We’re still dying from the war.”

Interestingly, though, McDonald’s growing up Jewish, the son of Communists, and his service in the Navy,  all combined to ingrain in him a skepticism and undermine the kind of idealism that could propel a Tom Hayden to more radical action.

As a Jew,  I knew when the pogroms can come they can find you. In the military, you can’t fight the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  And from my father’s experience with the House Un-American Activities Committee, I knew that if the government wants to come and get you, they can.

Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin decided to sacrifice their lives to try to bring the man down. I just thought,`No, you’re not going to do that, that’s not going to happen. You’re not going to stick it to the man. The man is going to stick it to you.’

McDonald said his approach is more “serpentine,” recalling a scene from the Alan Arkin-Peter Falk comedy, The In-Laws, in which Falk, as some kind of CIA agent, instructs Arkin, a dentist, to avoid a hail of bullets by running in a zig zag – “serpentine, Shell, serpentine!” – pattern.

In 1969 Country Joe and the Fish performed `Fixin’ to Die Rag” on the David Frost Show. Charles Robb and Lynda Bird Johnson, who will be participating in the summit, were on the same show.

“I have about 50 letters that were sent to the David Frost Show complaining that it’s disgusting that these horrible, filthy, degenerate hippies sang their disgusting song about bringing your boy home in a box,” McDonald said.

A sampling of that mail:

December 4, 1969

Dear David Frost,

We both have great respect for your show and watch it daily. We considered it great and high class. However today after Lynda Bird and Charles Robb -how dare you give us that bearded slob who looks like a tate murderer!!!! [All band members were clean-shaven at this time –TW] he sang like an animal in pain!!!!!!! If you omit his kind, be assured your rating will not go down!

Mr. & Mrs. H.H
North Miami Beach, Florida

December 6, 1969

Mr. Frost

I must protest vehemently your presentation of the obnoxious singing group called “Country Joe and the Fish” singing that repugnant song concerning the war in Viet Nam.

The lyrics appalled me especially the line: “be the first one on your block to have your boy come home in a box.” In behalf of every mother whose son died in Viet Nam I am asking you in all humanity not to present these dirty unwashed people to us again with all their verbal diarrhea spewing from their filthy minds and mouths. I refuse to patronize any of the sponsors if this situation ever occurs again.

Carbondale, Pennsylvania

December 5, 1969


Last night, December 4, 1969, the show was excellent except for the last few minutes. Why-oh-why did the beautiful interview with the Robbs have to be debased by a hoarse voiced, hairy unwashed creature giving forth with what I assumed was supposed to be a song?

I thought it was a most unfortunate finale to one of the otherwise best shows you have ever done.

Bowie, Maryland

December 4, 1969

Dear David Frost,

We both have great respect for your show and watch it daily. We considered it great and high class. However today after Lynda Bird and Charles Robb -how dare you give us that bearded slob who looks like a tate murderer!!!! [All band members were clean-shaven at this time –TW] he sang like an animal in pain!!!!!!! If you omit his kind, be assured your rating will not go down!

Mr. & Mrs. H.H
North Miami Beach, Florida

December 10, 1969

Dear Sirs:

I would like to register my disgust and horror at the number I’m watching at present on the David Frost Show, Wednesday, December 10th – the combo is called “Country Joe and the Fish” and the song “What Am I Fighting For?” at the dinner hour no less, when children are watching, it is blasphemous, disrespectful and anti-everything decent. I’m not for war but this is too much.

Mr. G. B.
Cleveland, Ohio

Mr. Frost,

I’m really disgusted with you for permitting that disgraceful song to be sung by those unkempt men or are they really women. I’m only 21 but these men embarrass me with their horrible appearance and shocking lyrics.

Yours truly
Mrs. F.C.
Bellerose, New York

But, as I wrote in today’s story:


McDonald said he always thought of it as a “work song.”

“It does not say anything negative about veterans, about Vietnam veterans or soldiers or people in the military,” McDonald said. “There were people popping caps in Vietnam and singing it. A guy I met once, he said a friend died in his arms after being shot, and the last words he said were, `Whoopee, we’re all going to die.’”

In the decades since, McDonald has identified more closely with those who fought the war than those who fought against it.

“When I first started working with veterans and writing music, the right-wing vets would always say, `If you haven’t been there you don’t know s—,” and I thought, wow, what a bad attitude,” McDonald said. “You know, I have that attitude now. Civilians, God bless them, they haven’t a clue. I don’t even try to reach them anymore.”

“I’ve never spoken to Tom Hayden in my life. I’ve never been embraced by the anti-war movement, except those who are working with veterans and veterans themselves,” he said.

“I built two Vietnam memorials — one in Berkeley for Berkeleyans who died in Vietnam, and one in San Francisco for San Franciscans who died in Vietnam,” McDonald said.

In 1986, McDonald put out an album, Vietnam Experience

“It’s all songs about the Vietnam War – specifically, not generally or elusively about the subject matter. It’s about the Vietnam experience, during and after the war and always from the point of view of the soldier,” McDonald said.

Here is a list of McDonald’s Vietnam songs

  2. WHO AM I
  15. CARRY ON
  21. MARIA

Here’s Tricky Dick.

And Agent Orange Song:

“I’m really happy to do this,” McDonald said of participating in the summit. “I have been rehearsing in my mind what I’m going to say because in 45-plus years, I have not had any serious attention about this subject matter and my music, and certainly not from Rolling Stone. Years ago, when I did the Vietnam Experience album, I just got a sentence (in Rolling Stone) – “I don’t know why he is even making this.”

“I’m amazed and shocked by my participation in this event because I never get any discussion from my peers about my music and my songs,” McDonald said. “The industry has ignored me for decades. Now, it’s 45 years and this event has stirred the pot up. I did really try to forget about the Vietnam War. I don’t know what being there with John Kerry and Kissinger and all those generals and admirals will be like. I have no idea what those suits think of me.”

P.S. Here is  McDonald’s song about his old girlfriend, Janis Joplin.













Cruz and Kasich team up; Cruz stands in the bathroom door

Good morning Austin:

Ted Cruz and John Kasich are teaming up to stop Donald Trump.

From Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe last night:

Having Donald Trump at the top of the ticket in November would be a sure disaster for Republicans.  Not only would Trump get blown out by Clinton or Sanders, but having him as our nominee would set the party back a generation. To ensure that we nominate a Republican who can unify the Republican Party and win in November, our campaign will focus its time and resources in Indiana and in turn clear the path for Gov. Kasich to compete in Oregon and New Mexico, and we would hope that allies of both campaigns would follow our lead.  In other states holding their elections for the remainder of the primary season, our campaign will continue to compete vigorously to win.

Kasich is down with that.

And Trump?

From Trump:

It is sad that two grown politicians have to collude against one person who has only been a politician for ten months in order to try and stop that person from getting the Republican nomination.
Senator Cruz has done very poorly and after his New York performance, which was a total disaster, he is in free fall and as everyone has seen, he does not react well under pressure. Also, approximately 80% of the Republican Party is against him. Governor Kasich, who has only won 1 state out of 41, in other words, he is 1 for 41 and he is not even doing as well as other candidates who could have stubbornly stayed in the race like him but chose not to do so. Marco Rubio, as an example, has more delegates than Kasich and yet suspended his campaign one month ago. Others, likewise, have done much better than Kasich, who would get slaughtered by Hillary Clinton once the negative ads against him begin. 85% of Republican voters are against Kasich.
Collusion is often illegal in many other industries and yet these two Washington insiders have had to revert to collusion in order to stay alive. They are mathematically dead and this act only shows, as puppets of donors and special interests, how truly weak they and their campaigns are. I have brought millions of voters into the Republican primary system and have received many millions of votes more than Cruz or Kasich. Additionally, I am far ahead of both candidates with delegates and would be receiving in excess of 60% of the vote except for the fact that there were so many candidates running against me.
Because of me, everyone now sees that the Republican primary system is totally rigged. When two candidates who have no path to victory get together to stop a candidate who is expanding the party by millions of voters, (all of whom will drop out if I am not in the race) it is yet another example of everything that is wrong in Washington and our political system. This horrible act of desperation, from two campaigns who have totally failed, makes me even more determined, for the good of the Republican Party and our country, to prevail!


Meanwhile, Ted Cruz better be careful or he might lose the transgender vote.

That would be a joke if it weren’t for the fact that Caitlyn Jenner – the most famous transgender person in the United States, in the world, in fact maybe the only transgender person most Americans could name – apparently likes Ted Cruz for president, even though his hopes of stopping Donald Trump and becoming president seem to hinge on his ability to persuade Republican voters that the whole transgender thing is nothing more than a scam to use political correctness to enable grown men to molest little girls in public bathrooms.

From Inquisitr:

Caitlyn Jenner was quick to defend Ted Cruz on the finale of I Am Cait last Sunday, but today it is Donald Trump who is supporting the reality TV star.

As the presidential race heats up, Jenner has found herself smack dab in the middle of it all. Caitlyn is not shy about voicing her political views, especially during the current season of her E! reality show. The very Republican Jenner has clashed with her new group of very liberal transgender girlfriends, causing a lot of tension and friction that makes for great television.

In the season finale of I Am Cait, Caitlyn Jenner defended Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz as all of her new friends tried to get her to understand that Cruz does not support the transgender community. Jenner for her part called Cruz “misunderstood,” which started a whole other debate about how she is supportive of a man who is actually not supportive of her.

Although all of Caitlyn’s friends make it clear that Jenner is supporting a party that does not support her, she would not budge on her views. The reality star admitted that she is voting for Cruz because overall she feels “he can take care of the big issues.” There was no backing down for Jenner, who not only stood her ground but is apparently standing behind Ted Cruz.

OK. But it’s kind of like a black person in 1963 backing Alabama Gov. George Wallace as he stood in the schoolhouse door to stop school integration because Wallace “can take care of the big issues.”

Only, of course, Ted Cruz is standing in the bathroom door.
Here is what Trump said that got Cruz going, from New York Magazine:

Donald Trump says transgender people should be able to “use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate.” On NBC’s Today show Thursday morning, the GOP front-runner said he opposes North Carolina’s “very strong” bathroom bill, which allows businesses to prohibit transgender people from doing just that.

“North Carolina did something that was very strong and they’re paying a big price. And there’s a lot of problems.” Trump said. “Leave it the way it is. North Carolina, what they’re going through, with all of the business and all of the strife — and that’s on both sides — you leave it the way it is. There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate. There has been so little trouble. And the problem with what happened in North Carolina is the strife and the economic punishment they’re taking.”

Trump went on to say that he opposes the idea of creating a new, third bathroom specifically for transgender people because “that would be discriminatory, in a certain way,” and because “it would be unbelievably expensive for businesses and for the country.”

A lot of folks not partial to Trump found themselves astonished to say that he had stumbled upon some common sense.
Or, as Rick Perry pithily put it in another context:
Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 8.41.18 AM

But Cruz pounced with this ad:



Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 10.52.03 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 10.52.14 PM


Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 10.52.24 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 10.52.36 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 10.53.40 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 10.55.47 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 10.53.51 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 10.54.10 PM


Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 10.54.21 PM


Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 10.54.31 PM

Enter, and exit, Curt Schilling;

From the New York Times.

Curt Schilling, a former All-Star pitcher and one of the highest-profile baseball analysts on ESPN, was fired from the network Wednesday, a day after he drew intense criticism for promoting offensive commentary on social media.

Schilling, who had worked for the network since 2010 and most recently offered analysis on “Monday Night Baseball,” was dismissed after sharing a Facebook post this week that appeared to respond to the North Carolina law that bars transgender people from using bathrooms and locker rooms that do not correspond with their birth genders.

The post showed an overweight man wearing a wig and women’s clothing with parts of the T-shirt cut out to expose his breasts. It says: “LET HIM IN! to the restroom with your daughter or else you’re a narrow-minded, judgmental, unloving racist bigot who needs to die.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 11.53.03 PM

To that, Schilling added: “A man is a man no matter what they call themselves. I don’t care what they are, who they sleep with, men’s room was designed for the penis, women’s not so much. Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic.”

ESPN is an inclusive company,” ESPN said in a statement. “Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.”

Which led to another ad from the Cruz campaign, which can’t get enough of this issue, defending Schilling.




Here is Cruz with Glenn Beck.


From Frank Bruni at the New York Times:

I’m guessing that Cruz hasn’t met or read much about transgender people. “Grown adult men” is precisely how many transgender men appear — with beards, muscles, pants — and exactly how they’d look to little girls in the women’s rooms that the North Carolina law would command them to use.

And such legislation tells someone who may well wear a dress to march into the men’s room if her birth certificate said male. That’s a greater invitation to potty pandemonium than letting people make their own calls when nature calls and turn in the direction consistent with the way they conduct the rest of their lives.

How would these potty prohibitions be enforced, anyway? What species of sentry or manner of inquisition would assess the external and internal anatomy of the bathroom-bound? Shall we divert government spending to this? We skimp on money to repair America’s infrastructure, but let’s find funds to patrol America’s lavatories.

Cruz, Schilling and many others are obsessed with — or cynically exploiting — the hallucinated scenario of male sexual predators suddenly feeling emboldened to stalk little girls in public bathrooms, presumably because they could, if caught, claim that they identify as women and belong there.

Here’s a news flash: They’d still be breaking laws. You know, the ones against lewdness and harassing and molesting kids. The ones that govern a male sexual predator whose targets are boys and who already has access to the same urinals that they do.

Besides which, child molesters aren’t famously expert at impulse control: I doubt that they’re raptly watching CNN and patiently awaiting some legislative green light to hunt for female victims by the toilets in public parks. They’re hunting already, and as everything from “Spotlight” to the Denny Hastert case has shown us, the grounds aren’t always the ones you expect, nor are the hunters.

From Gersh Kuntzman at the New York Daily News.

Say one thing for Ted Cruz: he’s stripped the transgender bathroom issue down to its naked glory: it’s not about facts, but fear. Not fear of being attacked in a bathroom — hello, Ted, that can happen now at any time — but fear that “repulsive perverts” like, presumably, GOP-loving Caitlyn Jenner will become increasingly accepted in a society where gender becomes a fluid, rather than Biblical, concept. People like Cruz made the same argument against gays who wanted to be Boy Scout troup leaders or adoptive parents. In an earlier generation, such people opposed the right of blacks to marry whites.

Cruz calls such concepts “the Left’s agenda, which is to force Americans to leave God out of public life while paying lip service to false tolerance.”

But it’s not false tolerance — it’s real tolerance. Italians, Irish, Jews, blacks and gays have all been run through the gauntlet of American intolerance, eventually making it through because, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

Now it’s just transgender people’s turn at the lunch counter of American bigotry.

From Andrew Rosenthal the New York Times

No one is arguing that male “heterosexual perverts” (as Glenn Beck puts it) should be allowed to go into women’s restrooms and attack people – whether they are little girls, or older girls, or women of any age.

Mr. Cruz is actually talking about laws, passed in enlightened areas of the country like North Carolina, that ban the use of public women’s restrooms by transgender women.

These women suffer bitter abuse, bigotry and discrimination in many parts of their lives. Some transgender women are gay. Some are not. None are “adult men.” And being transgender is not a perversion.

It’s hard to know what is truly going on here, beyond the unceasing effort by smug politicians like Mr. Cruz to claim some special understanding of religion and liberty. And to claim that evangelical Christianity, as practiced by a particular group of right-wing white men, is somehow under threat.

Calling the 2016 election a “religious liberty election” on “The Glenn Beck Program,” Mr. Cruz said: “It has only been in recent years that the modern Democratic party, aided and abetted by the mainstream media and Hollywood, has decided that religious liberty is inconsistent with their extreme political protections, political bias. And that’s just wrong.”

It’s wrong all right — entirely untrue. The real pressure on Americans to adhere to a particular religious frame of reference comes from the Christian right, not the Hollywood left. Right-wingers like Mr. Cruz use religion as a cudgel in all kinds of areas – starting with denying women the right to make medical choices and limiting the civil rights of lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual Americans.

Not all Republicans adhere to Mr. Cruz’s particular brand of intolerance in this area. Donald Trump said people should be able to “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate,” and Governor John Kasich of Ohio has said that he would not sign the kind of “bathroom bill” so in vogue on the extreme right.

There is nothing in any anti-discrimination bill that would encourage the hordes of “heterosexual perverts” that so concern Mr. Beck and Mr. Cruz to storm women’s restrooms and assault innocent people. And there is nothing in the recent spate of “bathroom bills” that is going to prevent that from happening.

But that’s not really what the bills’ supporters want. Their real goal is to scare people, to divide Americans, and to make us believe that some of us are better and more righteous than others.

OK. You got me. The New York Times. The New York Daily News. The New York Times again.

Their criticism of Cruz is a consequence of their hopelessly New York values – live and let live, life is short, don’t sweat the small stuff, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, seriously, are you kidding, whattsamatta with you?

And here is Curt Schilling  on his blog

See here’s the thing. I do NOT care what color you are, what race, what sex, who you sleep with, what you wear. I don’t care and I never have. I have opinions, but they’re just that, opinions. And opinions are like buttholes, everyone has one and they usually stink.

You know how I know you ‘offended’ people are full of crap? Because I’m not even close to any of the things you so desperately want me to be, so you can whine.

I’m loud, I talk too much, I think I know more than I do, those and a billion other issues I know I have. Like everyone one of you I have flaws, but I’m ok with my flaws, they’re what make me, me. I thank the Lord for the life I’ve been given. A life interspersed and occupied by men and women who are gay, by people of all races and religions, by men and women who dress as the other, by men and women who’ve changed to women and men. Not one decision I’ve ever made about a person has anything to do with those things I just mentioned, nor will it ever.

And From Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Facebook last night:

I’m totally disgusted with the threats from sports teams, entertainers, and some major corporations who want to punish cities and states who want to keep men out of ladies rooms. The world has gone mad and we must stand and fight. We shouldn’t even be having this discussion.

As you may recall I took a very active role in helping to defeat Mayor Parker’s ordinance that would have allowed men, under the guise of equal protection, into ladies rooms and ladies locker rooms. The citizens of Houston, including a majority of Democrats, overwhelmingly defeated the ordinance 2 to 1. We have had no backlash. The Final Four was played and the Super Bowl is coming. Businesses move here every month.

As I said in my TV ads I don’t want a man going into a bathroom or locker room with my mom, my wife, my daughter, or my grand daughter and I don’t know anyone who does. It’s a matter of common sense, common decency and safety.

I will not spend a single dollar with any business that says a man can enter a bathroom with the women in my family or your family.

Last week Target announced they would allow men in women’s bathrooms. I won’t shop there again. Apparently I’m not alone. In only a few days hundreds of thousands have signed boycott petitions.

Meanwhile, there was another Cruz ad out last week that brought a lighter, and better touch.

Well done, but I would have made one small addition.

Have the Huma Abedin character’s cell phone ping. She looks at it and furrows her brow.

“What’s the matter?” the Hillary Clinton character asks.

“It’s Anthony,” H.A. says of her husband, Anthony Weiner. “He’s tweeting again.”

“Well,” says HRC, shaking her head. “Bill was no picnic.”


Likable enough. Cruz kids steal hearts, will delegates follow?

Good day Austin:

Anderson Cooper’s first question to Caroline Cruz yesterday was a softball, and she hit it out of the park.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 6.56.39 AM

“How old are you, Caroline?” Cooper asked on a CNN Town Hall with Caroline, her sister Catherine, and parents, Ted and Heidi Cruz.

“I’m seven,” Caroline said. “But my birthday’s tomorrow.”


Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 6.57.39 AM

That would be today. Happy Birthday Caroline.

And with that, and what followed, Caroline, and Catherine, and Heidi, and even Ted, began melting America’s cold, cold heart, revealing, among other things, that the first invite to a Cruz White House would go to Taylor Swift, Caroline’s and Catherine’s favorite.

Heidi Cruz, the daughter of missionaries, who grew up without a TV set, prefers Christian music

Caroline said she favors anything Tay-Tay, especially “Bad Blood,” “Blank Space,” and “Wildest Dreams”

The highlight is Caroline explaining why she stopped singing Taylor Swift with sister Caroline using their karaoke machine.

“We do not sing together,” she said. “It does not match. I stopped singing because she oversings me.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 10.14.05 AM

Here’s another clip, showing what a soft touch Cruz is for his daughters.

And here is the full CNN Town Hall, which began with Cruz alone, then added Heidi, and then Caroline and Catherine.


Donald Trump has done Ted Cruz the great favor of making him appear politically reasonably and temperamentally moderate.

Perhaps the greatest rap remaining against Cruz is his notorious unlikeability, enshrined in the SNL impersonation of Cruz as smarmy, oleaginous creep without redeeming personal qualities.

But, like Trump, the one-dimensional SNL Cruz may ultimately redound to his benefit as people discover a more wholly human – and even likable – Cruz than they were led to believe existed.


While Heidi revealed that Caroline’s favorite state is New York, it is probably too little too late to help Cruz in the Empire State primary on Tuesday, where polls now place him third, way behind Trump and a little behind John Kasich.

From Public Policy Polling:

New York Hates Ted Cruz; Trump, Clinton Lead Big

PPP’s new New York poll finds Donald Trump heading for a dominant victory in his home state, where he gets 51% to 25% for John Kasich and 20% for Ted Cruz.

There had been some thought Cruz might have momentum after his big win in Wisconsin last week, but New Yorkers hate him. Even among Republicans just 35% see him favorably to 50% with an unfavorable opinion. Kasich has a narrowly positive favorability at 41/38, but the only candidate GOP voters in the state really like is Trump at 65/29.


But, of course, if Cruz were his party’s nominee, he would likely be running against Hillary Clinton, with her own sky-high negatives earned over a much, much longer career in public life and based on a far greater degree of public knowledge, and so, perhaps, less tractable.


Last night may have been the Cruz campaign’s most successful foray into establishing that Cruz is “likeable enough.”


Ted is an incredible listener. Ted Cruz is an incredible listener. I want all voters to hear that and one reason is he really cares. He really cares about what your saying. He really cares about what’s on your heart. He cares about the context, not just a fact or a figure. He really cares about the context..

Ted has many qualities and thoughtfulness comes at the top of the list.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 8.32.04 AM

Heidi Cruz was asked point blank by August Iorio, an attorney in the audience, about her husband’s likeability.

Iorio, noting that Cruz had said that he might not be the guy you want to have a beer with, but he would be the guy who would give you a ride home, and that polls indicate that about 60 percent of voters have an unfavorable view of him, asked Heidi, “As his wife, who knows him better than  anybody else, can you give us a little insight about why your husband may be likeable that the general public doesn’t know.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 9.11.18 AM

Heidi Cruz:

Think about the context of this. People are not talking about knowing Ted, knowing what it’s like to hang out and be with him. They’re talking about the projections of the news media and those in Washington who have not been working for the American people.


Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 8.44.55 AM

One of the greatest thing about marrying Ted Cruz was the opportunity to hang out with all of his friends. They are incredible people. Ted is one of the most  likeable people I’ve ever met. He’s a great game player. He’ll stay up all night. He’s a movie buff. He’s a lot of fun. He’s quick to laugh and doesn’t take himself too seriously.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 8.46.54 AM

Here is the headline deck on tabloid coverage of the cuddly Town Hall from Wills Robinson at  the Daily Mail:

The town hall love-in: Ted Cruz and Heidi put on united front in mushy CNN appearance in wake of five mistresses rumor – but it’s their daughters who steal the show as they let slip family secrets

  • Ted and Heidi answered questions from Anderson Cooper and voters 
  • They talked about their vision for the White House and their relationship
  • Heidi tried to paint Ted as likable by describing him as a movie buff and a great listener  
  • Revealed that after their honeymoon, he bought 100 cans of soup
  • His two daughters Caroline and Catherine, came on for the second half 
  • The youngsters almost stole the show as they talked about Build-A-Bear, American Girl Dolls and karaoke 
  • Girls said they wanted Taylor Swift to be their first guest in White House
  • Cruz was slammed online for talking about watching porn with Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor 

About the soup, apparently Cruz did not expect Heidi to cook much.

We came back from our honeymoon and Ted went off to the store by himself. I was completely shocked to see him come back to out apartment with literally a hundred cans of chunky Campbells soup.

She said he was wrong about her cooking and she returned the fallout shelter full of canned soup, and my guess is that it was Cruz’s fear of thermonuclear war and not concern about his wife’s kitchen skills that led him to stockpile 100 cans of soup in the first place.

Campbell's Soup Cans Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987) 1962. Synthetic polymer paint on thirty-two canvases, Each canvas 20 x 16" (50.8 x 40.6 cm) Museum of Modern Art
Campbell’s Soup Cans
Andy Warhol
(American, 1928–1987)
1962. Synthetic polymer paint on thirty-two canvases, Each canvas 20 x 16″ (50.8 x 40.6 cm)
Museum of Modern Art

Before the wife and kids took the stage, Anderson asked Cruz about the charge by Paul Manafort, who the Trump campaign has brought on to craft its convention strategy, that the Cruz campaign had resorted to Gestapo tactics to its delegate hunt.

Here is what Manafort said on Meet the Press Sunday.

CHUCK TODD: What is fair game to win a delegate? Is threatening a fair game? Is threats a fair game?

PAUL MANAFORT: It’s not my style, and it’s not Donald Trump’s style.

CHUCK TODD: What is —

PAUL MANAFORT: But it is Ted Cruz’s style. And that’s going to wear thin very fast.

CHUCK TODD: Do you think he’s threatening delegates?

PAUL MANAFORT: Well, he’s threatening, you go to these county conventions, and you see the tactics, Gestapo tactics, the scorched-earth tactics–

CHUCK TODD: Gestapo tactics? That’s a strong word.

PAUL MANAFORT: Well, you look at, we’re going to be filing several protests because reality is, you know, they are not playing by the rules. But frankly, that’s the side game. Because the only game I’m focusing on right now is getting delegates. And the games that have happened, even this past weekend, you know, are not important to the long-term game of how do we get to 1,237.

CHUCK TODD: But is he, I guess what is fair game and getting a delegate? Is paying for their convention costs, is it– golf club memberships? What’s fair and unfair in this? What’s ethical, what’s unethical?

PAUL MANAFORT: Well, there’s the law, and then there’s ethics, and then there’s getting votes. I’m not going to get into what tactics are used. I happen to think the best way we’re going to get delegates is to have Donald Trump be exposed to delegates, let the delegates hear what he says. He’s done very well so far in putting himself in position by virtue of communicating.

You know, the key I think for delegates coming up, especially the unbound delegates, is the electability question. And right now, we’re in a fight, and this fight is, you know, causes for negative for all the candidates. But there’s no question in my mind, there’s not one state you can look at that Romney won or lost in 2012 that Cruz can win. Not one. But Trump changes the whole map. As we get into those arguments, which is the endgame of the endgame, that persuasion starts to have an impact.

Here’s what Cruz had to say on CNN last night about that.

I have to say Anderson, it is bizarre. Donald and his team, it’s almost like they’re subjects in a clinical course in psychology. There are all sorts of behaviors they display but one of them is projection, that the conduct they do, regularly ,they accuse everyone else of doing.

So literally in the last few weeks, Donald’s team – Roger Stone – his chief political adviser, was threatening to out the hotel rooms of delegates who dare to cross Trump, so they could be intimidated. They are acting like union boss thugs.

Cruz said Trump supporters in Colorado had encouraged death threats against the Republican GOP chairman in Colorado after Trump was shut out by Cruz in delegate selection there.

Anderson noted that Roger Stone no longer works with the Trump campaign.

“That’s what he says,” said Cruz. But, he said of Stone, “he planned the campaign” and “I believe he’s the outside henchman. They use him for their dirty work.”

Cruz leveled similar criticism in an interview Tuesday with Glenn Beck in which he said, “Donald needs to understand he is not Michael Corleone.”

“I’m very glad to wake up this morning, that I didn’t find a horse’s head in my bed, so that was very comforting,” Cruz old Cooper.

“It’s not funny when Roger Stone, who organized and put together Trump’s political campaign is telling delegates in Cleveland  `We’re going to make public your hotel rooms so people can come threaten and intimidate you if you dare vote against Donald Trump.'” Cruz said.

“You know what that is behaving like? That is behaving like Democrats in 1968 in Chicago and we’re not Democrats and we’re not interested in acting like union thugs and Donald needs to learn that.”


Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 4.17.17 AM

The “union thugs” line is a reprise from his comments to Beck, and as I noted in yesterday’s First Reading, I don’t get why that is the reference or imagery of choice for the point he is trying to make.

I understand that Cruz is but a lad and that he was born two years after the 1968 convention. But he probably read about it at Princeton or Harvard, and union thugs had nothing to do with the violence there, mostly between police and anti-war demonstrators, unless he is talking about members of the city’s Fraternal Order of Police, but somehow, I don’t think that’s what he is referring to.

There was also this exchange between Cooper and Cruz on the vice presidency on a Cruz ticket.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: Marco Rubio just yesterday said he hopes, quote, they’ll nominate a conservative and the only one that fits that criteria is you. Is there a chance we could see a Cruz/Rubio unity ticket? The two of you could cut a deal in which he gives you his delegates?

SEN. TED CRUZ: I think very, very highly of Marco. I appreciated those kind comments he made. He’s an amazing communicator. One of the best communicators in the Republican party. And he ran a campaign that inspired millions across this country. It inspired me.

When he ran for senate in 2010, his underdog race in Florida inspired me. It was one of the inspirations that led me to run two years later in Texas. I think in world of Marco.

COOPER: Is that really true? You had tough words during the campaign. Is that part of how it works?

CRUZ: It’s a campaign. He was trying to beat me. I was trying to beat him. That’s what happens in a campaign. I consider Marco a friend.

COOPER: Could you see a Cruz/Rubio ticket?

CRUZ: Anyone would naturally look at Marco as one who would be a terrific person to consider for VP. We’re in the process of considering a number of different options.

COOPER: You aren’t ruling it out?

CRUZ: He would be someone you’d be a fool not to look at seriously. He’s very, very talented.

Also this, from the Weekly Standard Tuesday.

This morning on the Michael Graham show, a new theory was offered by RNC National Committeeman of Georgia Randy Evans, who sits on the influential rules committee.

“I would venture to bet that what eventually will happen is we’re gonna see two of the candidates cut a deal,” Evans said. “And they’re gonna say, you get your delegates to us, you’ll be the VP, we’re gonna run as a ticket. And literally, what you could do in the oddest sort of way, is have the first ballot be two ticket ballots: Trump-Kasich versus Cruz-Rubio. Now that would be wild, because I’ve run the scenarios on that, and there is no way to predict how such a vote would turn out.”

 A lot of pundits have focused on Kasich, and whether or not his prolonged run is really just a ploy to force him into the VP slot. Kasich has repeatedly denied this. Last night, in a special interview with his family and Anderson Cooper, Kasich trotted out his oft-repeated line “I would be the worst vice president ever” and reiterated that he’s sticking in to win the nomination through the ballot process.

What’s interesting is Evans’s mention of Rubio, who has largely been absent from the limelight after dropping out. The commonly accepted logic is that Rubio pushing for the Presidential nomination during a vote-a-rama at the convention would be bad news for the GOP, but as a Cruz VP choice?

Among the compelling, fascinating and vitally important subplots of the coming convention is the fact that the competing candidates at this point would each have to vet and select a running-mate ahead of time, lest they end up being their party’s nominee and are forced to pick a partner without benefit of the due consideration that led to such stellar picks as Tom Eagleton, Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin.

From Todd Gillman at the Dallas Morning News.

WASHINGTON — Four years ago this week, with four months left before he would formally accept the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney named a longtime confidant to spearhead the effort to find a suitable vice president.

Ted Cruz’s campaign has quietly started the search. But for Cruz, Donald Trump and John Kasich, the task is not as easy as it was for past contenders.

Republicans are likely headed into the first national convention in decades where a party’s presidential nominee will not already be settled. Usually, a candidate, like Romney, has long clinched victory and chosen whom he wants to join him on the ticket. Not this time.

Three months before delegates arrive in Cleveland, only Trump is close enough to win without a floor fight. Even he faces long odds and won’t know for sure until the final primaries on June 7.

The uncertainty leaves the contenders with a tough, two-pronged task: Win the convention fight and simultaneously prepare for the fall, by identifying and investigating a running mate.

Trump has tossed out possible choices. Cruz has quietly shifted some campaign resources to the task. But they’re losing precious time. And scholars, campaign veterans and operatives who’ve overseen vetting for previous nominees warn that haste in such matters can yield catastrophe.

“It’s one of the complicating factors of having a protracted nomination,” said the Texas senator’s chief strategist, Jason Johnson. “We quickly approach the point where if we’re not thinking about those things, we’re neglecting our obligation to be prepared to be the nominee and beat Hillary [Clinton].”

He emphasized that Cruz is anything but “negligent,” though he declined to describe the process or identify a point person. “Ultimately the goal is to beat Hillary, and in order to beat Hillary you have to have a running mate,” Johnson said. “Those things are being considered.”

As for Cruz-Rubio, seems to me maybe just a little too Cuban.

As Will Ferrell, as George W. Bush, put it here: Cruz and Rubio. Rubio and Cruz. Sounds like a Miami law firm. `If you’ve been injured on the job, call Rubio and Cruz.’

And it’s not like Rubio even demonstrated the kind of support in Florida that would prove decisive in that must-win state.

Carly Fiorina, who has become an energetic Cruz surrogate, has advertised her availability as a running-mate, which I think was the whole point of her presidential candidacy to begin with.

But, unless Cruz thinks it will simply make him appear more likeable by comparison, Fiorina doesn’t seem a wise choice,

A female running-mate would make great sense in a general election against Hillary Clinton, but South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley would make more sense on every level – experience, background, presentation – than Fiorina.

Anderson also asked Cruz about a fundraising appeal that went out this week, promising to activate the donor’s Cruz Crew Deputy Delegate card in exchange for some fresh cash.


Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 4.36.00 AM

Cruz said it was perfectly obvious that the card was just a fundraising gimmick and not to be taken any more seriously than a Crackerjack prize.

But apparently Kid Cruz’s pop culture doesn’t extend to Ed Norton, as in, ” I, Edward Norton, Ranger Third Class in the Captain Video Space Academy do solemnly pledge to obey my mommy and daddy, be kind to dumb animals and old ladies in and out of space, not to tease my little brothers and sisters and to brush my teeth twice a day and drink milk after every meal.”

But Ed, Brookyn sewer worker and personification  of New York values, is probably voting for Trump or Bernie Sanders anyway.

Finally, here is a radio ad the Cruz campaign is running.

ANNOUNCER: Here’s Mayor de Blasio attacking Ted Cruz.<

de BLASIO: I think Ted Cruz is out of touch with New York State and New York City.


ANNOUNCER: He’s got a lot of nerve, de Blasio’s socialist policies are tearing this city apart.

Murder is up nearly 10%. He treats cops like criminals and criminals like freedom fighters. De Blasio made New York a sanctuary city, rolling out the red carpet for illegals, and de Blasio ended stop and frisk even where terrorist suspects are known to congregate.

Now, he’s meddling in the Republican primary campaigning against Cruz because when Cruz is President, de Blasio is done.

No more criminal coddling soft on terror policies, no more sanctuary cities and Cruz will instruct the Justice Department to hold corrupt politicians accountable. Maybe that’s why de Blasio fears Ted Cruz. Send de Blasio a message, vote Cruz for President.

CRUZ: I’m Ted Cruz and I approve this message.

ANNOUNCER: Paid for by Cruz for President.

Now, he’s meddling in the Republican primary campaigning against Cruz because when Cruz is President, de Blasio is done.

Done? Huh? What does that even mean?
Not very likeable.
I think Cruz might have done a lot better to go with an ad of Caroline and Catherine oversinging each other on I Love New York.


Who’s getting into whose head? Cruz puts Trump on the couch

Good day Austin:

I’ve thought for a while that if the Donald Trump presidential campaign were an HBO series it could be modeled on the Sopranos, with the famously imperious star secretly revealing his insecurities to his female shrink, though maybe instead of Lorraine Bracco as Dr. Melfi it would be Kim Kardashian as Dr. Selfi.

Apparently, Ted Cruz has had much the same thought, and, yesterday, on Glenn Beck’s show, he put Trump – that’s Mr. Trump to you – on the couch and psychoanalyzed him as an emotional infant, a narcissist, a misogynist, a bully and altogether the psychological and political – and maybe even actual – equivalent of a mobster.

Here are some excerpts:

Look this is very simple. Donald is a very sore loser. He doesn’t handle losing well and he throws a fit.  He is crying and screaming and yelling. And he insults people and he curses at people and he attacks people and he behaves, as Anderson Cooper pointed out, like a five-year-old.

And the simple reality is that in the last three weeks there have been eleven elections in four states across the country, and we have beaten Donald in all eleven elections. Donald is  panicking. He is scared. You know he loves to call people a loser. Donald wakes up at night in cold sweats that people will call him Losing Donald. 

There’s your 2016 unity ticket – Losing Donald and Lyin’ Ted.


He can’t handle it. He’s scared. His response is just to whine and cry and complain.

Or Whining Donald and Lyin’ Ted.


He’s willing to say things that he knows are false and he’s willing to say things regardless of he consequences.

Or Lyin’ Donald and Lyin’ Ted. That’s the ticket that could work seamlessly with a Senate majority leader who Cruz has characterized as Lyin’ Mitch McConnell. Has anyone referred to the House Speaker as Lyin’ Paul Ryan? I don’t know, but it sounds great.

Back to Cruz on Beck.

I can’t imagine Donald listening to anybody. I’ve yet to see him listen to anybody in any context ever. Donald is about Donald and, unfortunately, what he’s wiling to say and what he’s willing to do does real damage to the country.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 5.42.47 AM

Beck wondered, as I have, whether Trump got into the race without seriously thinking that he would be a contender, and that helps explain the lack of campaign infrastructure or serious forethought about the nitty gritty logistics of securing the actual delegates who will be filling the delegate slots – including Trump delegate slots – in Cleveland.


I think there’s a real chance this was a lark – `Let’s get publicity, let’s have some fun,’ and he’s as surprised as anybody.”

The last few weeks, in North Dakota, Colorado and elsewhere, the Cruz crew has been picking the Trump campaign’s pockets, cleaning their clock, out-smarting and out-organizing them, taking advantage of party rules as written.

It has left me worrying that Trump could arrive in Cleveland looking like Time Square’s Naked Cowboy.

Moving further onto Soprano’s terrain. here’s Cruz on Trump and mob violence.

You know Glenn, I’m very troubled by this. Donald Trump now has a consistent pattern of inciting violence, of Donald and his henchman pushing for violence.

You know, go back to his rallies  when a protester shows  up and Donald tells his supporters, `Punch the protester in the face.’

Look I have protesters. When protesters  show up at my events, I’ll  actually engage them. If they are disruptive, they are removed. But no politician has a right to threaten violence against American citizens, even lefty numbskulls are American citizens, and you don’t threaten violence against them.

You look at Roger Stone, one of Trump’s key henchmen. Roger Stone is threatening in Cleveland to put out the hotel rooms of any  delegates that dare cross Donald Trump. That is the tactic of union thugs. That is violence. It is oppressive. The idea that Donald is threatening delegates we’re seeing this pattern over and over again.

And the example you just gave may be the most troubling. We just had an election in Colorado. We actually had eight elections – seven in each congressional district and then a statewide election – 65,000 people voted and yet, Donald Trump’s campaign put out publicly, to his supporters, the phone number of the chairman. He’s received over 3,000 calls and death threats.

Donald needs to stop threatening the voters. He needs to stop threatening the delegates. He is not a mobster.

Donald needs to understand he’s not Michael Corleone. I understand Donald has had some very shady business deals with people who are currently in prison… but the presidency should not be La Cosa Nostra

That’s a little bit sneaky, suggesting, merely as an aside, that Trump may not just be an emotional mobster, but the real deal, or, at any rate, mobbed up.

And why describe this as the “tactic of union thugs.”

What do unions have to do with this? Why that imagery?

Beck’s The Blaze liked it.

This is how they headlined Cruz’s appearance yesterday.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 9.18.51 AM

It seems to me it’s all part of the Cruz attack on New York (and New Jersey) values – union contracts, raising the minimum wage, union rules, no-bid contracts, no-show jobs, Vito Spadafore, Jimmy Hoffa buried at Giants Stadium, Chris Christie, bridge closings, corrupt New York politicians, Elliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, lewd tweets, sexist retweets, Trump Tower, Atlantic City, Fat Tony Salerno, Tony Soprano. La Cosa Nostra. Roger Stone. Roger Stone. Roger Stone.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 9.35.15 AM

If Donald Trump is Tony Soprano, Roger Stone is Sil, Christopher and Hesh all rolled into one.

Here is the Roger Stone interview with Stefan Molyneux – “founder and host of Freedomain Radio, the largest and most popular philosophical show in the world” – from which the threat against delegates in Cleveland emanated.

Stone says the remarks have been taken out of context and were not intended to incite violence, no matter how menacing the look on his face.


From the Stone Zone this morning.

When I called for Trump supporters to button-hole so-called Trojan Horse Trump   delegates http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/03/20/donald-trump-must-beware-of-the-trojan-horse-delagates/ in their convention hotels and engage in a dialog with them last week, all hell broke loose.

CNN and Megyn Kelly both took my comments out of context to imply I was calling for violence in Cleveland. As a veteran of the 1968 Nixon campaign I remember vividly how violence destroyed the campaign of Hubert Humphrey. The Soros backed professional agitators expected to descend on Cleveland will be trying to incite violence must be ignored by Trump supporters at all costs . Violence would be counter productive to Trump’s general election drive.

If either CNN or Ms. Kelly had played my entire interview rather than selectively editing it, or any one of the interviews I did they day, they would know I specifically renounced violence while urging an intense “dialog “to press those delegates who were elected as Trump delegates but were inserted as quislings by the party bosses not to betray Trump on a second ballot

 These “Trump” delegates give the anti-Trump forces a majority on questions of rules , credentials and platform all of which must be ratified or rejected by the full convention before the First ballot for President . This is where the big steal will take place.

 The big steal happens even if Donald Trump hits the magic 1237 ! In the meantime the Cruz forces seek to chisel delegates from Trump in states Trump won in primaries, which we see happening in Louisiana, Arkansas, Colorado and elsewhere. 


The fix is in. The same insiders who have nearly destroyed the Republican Party are at it again, plotting in a back room deal to block Donald Trump’s nomination as the GOP candidate for president. Donald Trump has played by the rules and he’s winning big, fair and square. This lobbyist-led plot was concocted by the donor class and others who have bought and paid for the allegiance of the dishonest brokers of the Republican Party.

The Bushs, Mitt Romney, Paul Singer, the Ricketts and Zuckerberg are driving the train for the Lobbyist/Insider Class committed to stopping Trump, led by my old partner Charlie Black , as shrewd and skilled a political operative as exists today .

Donald has wisely turned his delegate operation and drive for the nomination to another ex-partner of mine at Black, Manafort and Stone, Paul J. Manafort, Jr. He is a convention strategist in the league of Republican legends F. Clifton White, Bill Timmons and David R. Jones.

We at Stop the Steal ,  http://stopthesteal.org/ , the grassroots uprising and March on Cleveland , will ask every Trump delegate to the Republican convention to sign a pledge that “they will  remain committed to vote for the winner of the primary or caucus as chosen by the voters . (Donald J. Trump )”  through the entire balloting process . In other words respect the will of the voters.

This will be a voluntary pledge.  The Voters will know whom they can trust – and who will play along with the insiders’ attempt to steal the nomination from Donald Trump.The media will know too. Then these “Trojan Horses” explain why our votes don’t matter.

Beck asked Cruz whether he thought delegates would be intimidated by Trump and Stone.


I think the people who run for delegate are patriots. They are people who love this country. They are people who are scared for their kids and grandkids and the important thing to understand is that Donald is not strong.

Donald is weak. Bullies by their nature are weak. Donald loves attacking women because I guess it makes him feel strong to attack women.

When he began attacking my wife. I think it made hims feel strong. The good thing is Heidi is not bothered. She’s been in the business world a long time and this bellowing bully, Heidi just laughs him off and he doesn’t know what to do.

He was born into great wealth and privilege.  His father was a real estate baron.

At every stage, Donald, he told a joke, every one in the room laughed, whether it was funny, you had to laugh.

And then there’s New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who endorsed Trump after bowing out of the race, to assume a role that I likened to Ed McMahon to Trump’s Johnny Carson – timely guffaws and how cold was its?


Look at the humiliation he inflicts on people like Chris Christie. Chris Christie is a good man. I like Chris Christie. Christie right now is trapped in his own private hell. When Chris was standing behind Donald holding his jacket the look in his eyes, you could see the screaming.

You know what actually gets me is the servility of Chris forced to call Donald ‘Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump, Mr. Trump.’ You notice everyone once they get sucked into that orbit they have to call him ‘Mr. Trump.’

Chris Christie is the governor of New York (sic). Chris Christie called him Donald until the day Donald commanded, `You may no longer call me Donald. Nobody calls me Donald.’

Cruz, on where things go from here:

The odds are now very high that we go to a contested convention. It is almost impossible for Donald to get to 1237 delegates. You know, the fact that he has now lost 11 elections in a row in the last three weeks, these three weeks have determined that Donald can’t get to 1237.

When we get to a contested convention, here’s what’s going to happen: I’m going to have a ton of delegates. Donald is going to have a ton of delegates. And it’s going to be a battle then to see who can earn a majority.

I believe we will have an enormous advantage. One of the ways to understand is the simple question: Where do the Rubio and Kasich delegates go? I think they naturally come to us. They’re not going to go to Donald, particularly when he’s threatening violence and abusing the system. And the amazing thing, you know, there’s a lot of focus on our ground game, and I’m proud of the job our team has done organizing, but it’s important to understand, our staffers couldn’t do this if there was not a grassroots tsunami.


Donald’s whole pitch is he’s a great businessman and yet his campaign right now, it appears he can’t run a lemonade stand.

You ever watch his T.V. show, ‘The Apprentice?  I watched it a few times, it was kind of fun. He would bring in apprentices they would get a job and if they did it badly he was withering.

I’ll tell you this, if Donald was an apprentice on his show looking at their inability to even show up and win elections, Donald would say to himself, ‘you’re fired.’

As for Roger Stone – a long-time Trump confidante who parted company with the presidential campaign (Trump says he fired him; Stone says he left) last summer – he looms very large in Cruz’s view of Trump and every nefarious maneuver by his rival.

Cruz blamed Stone for planting a negative story – which landed with a thud –  in the National Enquirer, and for Matt Drudge’s heavy-handed, pro-Trump, anti-Cruz leanings.

From World Tribune:

GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz said in a radio interview on April 11 that the Drudge Report has “become the attack site for the Donald Trump campaign.”

In an interview on The Mike Slater Show on KFMB 760 AM in California, host Mike Slater asked Cruz: “What do you think of Drudge Report lately? Not even about Trump, but their anti-Christian headlines?”

Cruz responded:

“Look, Drudge Report over the years has done a good job highlighting the excesses of the left and the excesses of liberalism, and about the past month the Drudge Report has basically become the attack site for the Donald Trump campaign.

“And so every day they have the latest Trump attack. They’re directed at me. It — by all appearances, Roger Stone now decides what’s on Drudge, and most days they have a six-month-old article that is some attack on me, and it’s — whatever the Trump campaign is pushing that day will be the banner headline on Drudge.

“By the way, they no longer cover news. Remember they used to have things like election results? They don’t put those on Drudge anymore. When we win a state, suddenly the state doesn’t matter. You know Colorado — there was no red siren on Drudge when we won all 34 delegates in Colorado. That wasn’t news, because — I mean listen, that’s fine. If people want to get on the Trump train, they can. I actually think we need real and meaningful solutions to the problems in this country, and as president my focus is going to be on three things: jobs, freedom and security.”


With his ability to get into other people’s heads, I don’t think it’s lost on Cruz that seeing Roger Stone’s hand in every attack on him is not going to hurt Stone’s feelings.


Meanwhile, Trump had a very good night on CNN last night because of a Town Hall that featured his family, mostly because, for most of the show he entirely surrendered the spotlight to them as they described a remarkably mentally healthy father and husband.

But the Town Hall opened up with an Anderson Cooper one-on-one with Trump, in which, in explaining the outcome in Colorado, Trump did toss off a typical insult of Cruz.

I think the Republican Party in Colorado wanted Cruz, or maybe they wanted somebody other than Trump. I don’t think anybody really wants Cruz.  Why would they want him. There’s no reason to want him.

Cruz and family are on tonight.

On Wisconsin: Ted Cruz could be our next president (really, maybe)

Good morning Austin:

First, let’s get the blood circulating with the University of Wisconsin fight song.

Hook ’em Badgers.

Or whatever.

The point is that, as a result of yesterday’s Wisconsin primary, it is now markedly more likely that Ted Cruz will be our next president.

He won a smashing victory over Donald Trump, and left John Kasich in the dust.

New York Times
New York Times

Look at this map.

Ted Cruz won Madison!

New York Times
New York Times

Here he was last night, describing what he called the “turning point” in the campaign.

“Three weeks ago, the media said Wisconsin was a perfect state for Donald Trump,” said Cruz.

And somehow – somehow – Cruz crushed Trump without benefit of any gender gap.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 5.12.38 AMIt wasn’t so much Trump’s decline, as Cruz’s rise, albeit as the anti-Trump.

From FiveThirtyEight.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 6.10.17 AM

“Tonight was a bad night for Hillary Clinton,” Cruz said. “It was a bad night for her in the Democratic primary and it was a really bad night for her in the Republican primary.”

He’s right. Sort of. Hillary Clinton would be a heavy favorite in a general election against Cruz, who could end up as Barry Goldwater without the half-a-century-ahead-of-his-time cool glasses.

“Ted Cruz is a guaranteed loss – he just is – in the general election,” Joe Scarborough said on Morning Joe, a redoubt of anti-Cruz sentiment.

Show me, Scarborough said, a state that Cruz can win that that loser Mitt Romney didn’t win.

Even some Cruz boosters were of a lose-with-Cruz bent.

“It’s one thing to lose an election. It’s another thing to lose your soul,” said Charlie Sykes, the remarkably temperate Wisconsin conservative talk radio host and never-Trumpist, on MSNBC last night.

A Trump nomination, he said, “would taint Republicans and the conservative movement for a generation.”

But, I’m not so sure Cruz is necessarily a lost general election cause.

Cruz can be very persuasive. He can be very skillful at presenting himself as less threatening than people think he is.

And while Clinton might win in a landslide, she also is a very flawed and vulnerable candidate.

After all, while Cruz was whomping Trump, Clinton was being whipped by a stooped and ancient Jewish socialist who thinks they still use subway tokens in his native New York.

As for the Republican nomination, Scarborough said, “Ted Cruz will never be the choice of the Republican Party. He is loathed. He is not a likeable guy.”

But, here’s the rub.

Cruz, through skillful maneuvering and big dollop of good luck, has the great virtue of having emerged mostly the reasonable, even safe, alternative to Donald Trump.

For the first time, I think, at least for the moment, he appears to be most likely candidate to be nominated in Cleveland.

It is simply a process of elimination.

With his Wisconsin loss, it is now unlikely that Trump can clinch the nomination before the convention, and, in a contested convention, Cruz has all kinds of strategic advantages (see Monday’s First Reading). And, unless Kasich storms to the fore in the upcoming Northeast and mid-Atlantic primaries, there is not really any plausible alternative.

“I’d rather be Cruz than Trump at an open convention,” Chuck Todd said on Morning Joe.

Forget about The Art of the Deal, I think Trump could find his pocket picked by Fast Teddy Cruz in Cleveland.


Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 5.17.04 AM

Here, is some of last night and this morning’s Wisconsin Twitter stream.











How Trump’s Potemkin delegates could wreak havoc in Cleveland

Good morning Austin:

Meet Harry Herford Jr. of Delhi, Louisiana.

Herford was a leader of the Ron Paul forces in Louisiana four years ago, and here he is falling, or being felled, at the Louisiana Republican State Convention on June 2, 2012.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 7.08.39 PM

Herford’s dramatic demise is of more than parochial or historic interest, because it offers a preview of what we might be in for at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July, both in terms of the rules that were the source of conflict in Shreveport, and the potential for casualties.

From a story I wrote for the New Orleans Times Picayune  four years ago:

Paul won barely 6 percent of the vote in the state’s March 24 primary in which nearly 190,000 voters participated, but won four of the six congressional districts in the state’s April caucuses, which drew fewer than 10,000 people.

The primary netted Rick Santorum, who got nearly half the vote, 10 delegates to the national convention, and Romney, who got 27 percent, five delegates, with another five uncommitted.

But when Paul delegates swept through the caucuses, that guaranteed him 12 of the state’s 46 national convention delegates and, as important, gave his forces 111 of the 180 delegates to the state convention. There, the actual national convention delegates, including those whose presidential preference was determined by the primary result, would be chosen.

That meant, if majority ruled, Paul had the numbers to pick up not just the five uncommitted delegates from the primary, but also to determine who would fill the 10 Santorum and five Romney delegate slots, giving Paul effective control of 32 of the 46 delegates to Tampa, even if those Santorum and Romney delegates might still be obligated to vote for those candidates on the first ballot.

State party officials were not inclined to let that happen, issuing supplemental rules on the eve of the convention to keep the Paul forces from wresting more than the 17 delegates which, in their view, was their due, and requiring that the Romney and Santorum delegates be certified by their respective campaigns.

They also hired, through the management of the Shreveport Convention Center, nine off-duty Shreveport City police officers, backed by several on-duty plainclothes Louisiana State Troopers — all this amid what the party’s sergeant-at-arms, Louis Gurvich, said was a “rumor that the Ron Paul campaign had retained a militia, which we thought was a horribly bad idea.” In the end the “militia,” a handful of what were described as menacing-looking men in security garb, were turned away by convention organizers.

“We would not let them use these Bolshevik tactics to strong-arm and muscle their way into control of our convention,” said Jeff Giles, who chaired the Credential Committee.

The result was a riotous scene in Shreveport in which police removed two officials of the Paul insurgency, arresting one. In short order, one convention became two as the Paul delegates turned their chairs around and conducted their convention facing one way, while the state party and its loyalists conducted their parallel convention facing the other.

Let’s pause here for a bit of doggerel I remember from summer camp:

One dark day in the middle of the night,
two dead men got up to fight.
Back to back they faced each other,
Drew their swords and shot each other.
If you don’t believe the story’s true
Ask the blind man, he saw it too

Raise the stakes, multiply by infinity, and you will get an idea of what might ensue at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

Resuming my story from 2012.

And so there are now two competing Louisiana delegations to the Republican National Convention, one with the imprimatur of the state party and another chosen by Paul supporters.

It will now be up to the national Republican Party’s Contest Committee to determine which is the legitimate delegation, a decision that can be appealed to the full Republican National Committee and finally to the convention’s Credential Committee, which will meet the week before the August convention in Tampa, and where this dispute now seems likely headed.

“We followed the rules to the letter and then some, we’ll win in the Committee on Contests,” said Charlie Davis, the leader of Paul’s Louisiana effort, who would chair the delegation if they prevail.

But that hardly seems likely, said Timmy Teepell, the former top aide to Gov. Bobby Jindal, who backs the legitimacy of the state party slate. Teepell is now a national GOP consultant.

Teepell notes that the Louisiana GOP is the state affiliate of the national party, and neither the national party leadership nor the Romney campaign, which will control the convention, have the slightest interest in emboldening the Paul forces.

Indeed, part of the reason the Paul campaign may have been so intent on wresting a majority of the Louisiana delegation is that Paul needs to have control of five state delegations to have his name placed in nomination at the convention.

Villere said Louisiana would have made four states and “we messed up the national plan with their not getting Louisiana.”

Villere said he believes the “organized chaos” in Shreveport was choreographed and rehearsed in advance.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 6.51.56 PM

“These antics were pre-planned, practiced and intent on making a circus out of the convention,” Louisiana Republican National Committeewoman Ruth Ulrich wrote in a missive to the other members of the RNC in the aftermath of the battle of Shreveport.

Party officials believe everything was staged, down to the fall to the ground of Henry Herford of Delhi, the Paul delegates’ first choice as their convention chair, as police attempted to remove him from the hall. He was charged with “entering and remaining after being forbidden.”

Ridiculous, said Herford, a member of Louisiana Republican State Central Committee.

“Why would a man who weighs 260 pounds try to be a stunt man?” asked Herford, who fell on his artificial hip.

“I am right on up here hurting,” said Herford, who said he has already incurred $5,000 in hospital bills and “they’re going to have to pay for it.”

The national Paul campaign seized on the “attack” on Herford, but put a positive gloss on the final result, claiming incorrectly that Romney’s state chairman, Scott Sewell, had blessed their slate.

“Why is the Paul campaign reporting that I said I would do everything I could to ratify your slate in Tampa when I said no such thing?” Sewell asked Davis in an email Monday. “I reached out to your delegates to encourage them to stay with the nominee and to let them know we needed and wanted their help in the fall campaign against our common enemy.”

In his reply, Davis assured Sewell, “we have an incredibly professional delegation headed to Tampa as of now. I was able to keep off any RP folks that could have been an embarrassment on the floor,” while adding some establishment names.

Davis said that the Paul delegates went to Shreveport with pure hearts and copies of Roberts Rules of Order, “not ever once thinking that there might be political violence.”

“What we’re asking for is an apology from the Executive Committee, that things got out of hand and it wasn’t the Ron Paul delegates’ fault,” Davis said.

In a six-page letter, replete with biblical injunctions, Ellen Davis, Charlie’s wife, wrote the party leadership, “I appeal to you as a sister in Christ, to admit your wrongdoings so that we can begin healing and reconciliation.”

“If there’s any apologizing, it should be them apologizing for destroying the convention,” said Villere.

With Paul’s son Rand, a senator from Kentucky, endorsing Romney at week’s end, Teepell said it could be that the national Paul campaign now will be less inclined to kick up a fuss in Tampa, a la the Louisiana challenge.

But Villere fears it might be too late.

I think Ron Paul has lost control of his own delegates,” Villere said.

Notice at the moment that Harry Herford fell on his artificial hip, the party regulars were trying to keep the Ron Paul forces from gaining a plurality of the delegates in five states, that would enable them to mess up Romney’s convention, not because Ron Paul threatened to steal the nomination from Romney but because the very nomination of some nettlesome other candidate in Tampa would have ruined the vapid coronation that, at least in recent decades, the national conventions of both parties has devolved into.

Even after the battle of Shreveport effectively denied Paul control of a state delegation, the Romney forces, in writing the rules of the 2012 convention – as each convention’s delegates write new rules for each convention to operate under – significantly raised the bar for having a candidate’s name placed in nomination to make sure there was no chance Ron Paul would meet the threshold, by requiring, under Rule 40(b), that the candidate have the support of a majority of delegates – instead of simply a plurality – in eight states instead of five.

Here is rule 40(b):

40(b) Each candidate for nomination for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States shall demonstrate the support of a majority of the delegates from each of eight (8) or more states, severally, prior to the presentation of the name of that candidate for nomination. Notwithstanding any other provisions of these rules or any rule of the House of Representatives, to demonstrate the support required of this paragraph a certificate evidencing the affirmative written support of the required number of permanently seated delegates from each of the eight (8) or more states shall have been submitted to the secretary of the convention not later than one (1) hour prior to the placing of the names of candidates for nomination pursuant to this rule and the established order of business.

Louisiana Republicans subsequently changed their rules as well for the 2016 cycle by having all the delegates obligated through the primary, instead of through a hybrid primary-caucus system, which had enabled the more strategic and intensely motivated Paul forces to game the system, and also by requiring that the actual delegates chosen to represent each candidate be bona fide supporters of that candidate.

New York Tmes
New York Times

At the subsequent March 11 Republican State Convention, at which, as far as I know, nobody fell or was felled, the delegates were distributed as follows, per the Louisiana Republican Party:

The 2016 Louisiana Republican State Convention met on Saturday in Baton Rouge and elected 43 delegates to represent the state in Cleveland, Ohio at the Republican National Convention.

Louisiana receives 46 votes at the national convention. Under party rules, Louisiana’s delegates were awarded to presidential candidates proportionally, based upon the votes they received in the March 5 Presidential Preference Primary. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz earned 18 delegates each. Five delegates were allocated to Marco Rubio and five are uncommitted.  Three of the uncommitted delegates are automatic delegates as they are Louisiana’s Republican National Committee members.

Following the state convention, the Louisiana delegation met and elected officers and committee members. LAGOP Chairman Roger Villere, Jr. was elected Chairman of the Delegation. Public Service Commissioner and Donald Trump State Chairman, Eric Skrmetta was chosen as Vice-Chairman. Jason Doré will serve as Treasurer and Collin Buisson will serve as the Delegation Secretary.

A subsequent story by Reid J. Epstein in the Wall Street Journal, provoked considerable consternation from Trump – and crowing in the Cruz camp:

Donald Trump beat Sen. Ted Cruz earlier this month in Louisiana’s Republican presidential primary by 3.6 percentage points, but the Texan may wind up with as many as 10 more delegates from the state than the businessman.

Mr. Cruz’s supporters also seized five of Louisiana’s six slots on the three powerful committees that will write the rules and platform at the Republican National Convention and mediate disputes over delegates’ eligibility this summer in Cleveland.

The little-noticed inside maneuvering that led to this outcome in Louisiana is another dramatic illustration of the inside game that could have an outsize influence on the bitter race for the GOP nomination.


The Trump campaign’s first problem is in the overall delegate count from Louisiana. Messrs. Trump and Cruz each won 18 delegates apiece based on the Louisiana results in the primary on March 5. But the five delegates awarded to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are now free agents because he ended his campaign, and Louisiana Republicans expect them to swing behind Mr. Cruz.

Meanwhile, the state’s five unbound delegates—who are free to back the candidates of their choice—also are more likely to back Mr. Cruz than Mr. Trump, according to GOP officials in the state.

Trump cried foul.

The system is not a good system, when you take Louisiana. I went to Louisiana. I campaigned there. I won the state. Now the numbers came out and I had less delegates than Cruz. Now that’s not the American way You know I won Louisiana. Big victory, but because of arcane rules and a lot of nonsense frankly, I end up getting a few less delegates than Cruz. That’s not the way the system is supposed to work.

Time has not healed Trump’s Louisiana wound.

Here he was on Face the Nation Sunday.

DICKERSON: Let me talk about another meeting you had in Washington with the Republican National Committee.


DICKERSON: Did they treat you fairly? Are they treating you fairly?

TRUMP: Well, I would rather let you know in about six months from now. I don’t know. I mean…

DICKERSON: Well, you said they haven’t been treating you. Where are you on that question?

TRUMP: I think Reince is a very nice person. I get along with him, but I’m going to have to tell you, I think what is unfair is, I won the state of Louisiana.

I went, I made speeches, I had that last evening in a hangar where you had thousands of people. It was incredible, and a big airplane hangar, a Boeing hangar. And I said, this is unbelievable. And I wasn’t expected to win Louisiana, and I won Louisiana, right? I won lot of states.

I won, I think, 22 states. And I won Louisiana, and I got less delegates than the guy who lost.

DICKERSON: But isn’t that proof that the people who took the delegates are beating you at the game?

TRUMP: No. No. No. That’s not…


DICKERSON: Wouldn’t Donald Trump do that?

TRUMP: No. That’s not America.

DICKERSON: You wouldn’t play every angle to win?

TRUMP: When I win the state, I’m not supposed to get less delegates than somebody that got beat.

DICKERSON: But as a businessman, you play every angle you can within the law.

TRUMP: No, but that’s not America. Sure. Sure.

DICKERSON: And he’s playing every — Cruz is playing every angle within the law.

TRUMP: But it’s not America.

You go in, and you win, and you get less delegates. OK? Now, I just won Missouri. That just came out. And there was a whole thing going on there, too.

But let me just tell you something. When I go in and win the state of Louisiana and I get less delegates, that’s not the way the system is supposed to work.

DICKERSON: Are you saying it’s unfair or it’s illegal?

TRUMP: Well, I think it could be illegal, if you want to know the truth. And that’s my question.


DICKERSON: Because the pros say, he just beat you. They just say Cruz beat you at that.

TRUMP: No, no. Give me a break.

Let me just — I go in. He campaigned, I campaigned. I got the votes, and then I get less delegates?

DICKERSON: There was reporting, at this meeting at the RNC, that you seemed a little upset with your own team’s delegate operation, that they’re not in this fight as much as they should be. Is that right?

TRUMP: That’s false reporting, other than I mentioned that Louisiana, which really bothers me, because the people of Louisiana were amazing to me.

I was not expected to win Louisiana. And I did look at my people. I said, well, wait a minute, folks. You know, we should have maybe done better, except I also said, I won the state, and I think there’s a real legal consequence to winning a state and not getting as many delegates. That’s nonsense. And you know what? Everyone agrees with me. Everyone agrees with me.

DICKERSON: Well, a lot of people in the game who know this game, who play it…

TRUMP: I don’t care about the game. I care about the people. And when you go in and win a state, and then you don’t get the delegates?

DICKERSON: One of the things you’re saying…

TRUMP: Now, I got some. I go some. I got many, but I didn’t get the number that I should be entitled to.

DICKERSON: Your argument about the presidency is, you will come into a new system, learn about it fast, and win like nobody has ever won before. With this delegate fight, it’s a new system, you got to get up to speed on it. Do you feel like you’re going to win like never before, because Ted Cruz just took these delegates in Louisiana?


TRUMP: John, you’re talking about one state. Excuse me. Excuse me.

DICKERSON: Yes. It’s one state, but…

TRUMP: Ted Cruz was going to win Alabama and Arkansas and Mississippi, and he was going to win Kentucky, and he was going to win all of these states. I won them all. So, let’s not get carried away what we don’t know what we’re doing. I have won 22 states. He’s won six or five or seven.


TRUMP: I have won 22 states. So, let’s not get carried away with we don’t know what we’re doing.

The one state that I told you about was Louisiana. But I have won a tremendous — now, on top that, I have almost 300 more delegates than him. So, I think I know something about what I’m doing. And more importantly in a true sense, from a democracy sense, I have millions of votes more than anybody else. Millions. Millions.

That should mean something, too. I know in the system, it doesn’t mean anything. But I have millions more votes than Ted Cruz.

OK, I understand Trump’s anguish. He holds a rally in a big airplane hangar, a Boeing hangar,  wins the primary – albeit by a much smaller margin than anticipated – and doesn’t get more delegates than Cruz.

But, on closer inspection, Louisiana is not a worst-case scenario for Trump. Not hardly.

The primary result was sufficiently close that the proportional formula – Doré said it was the same formula used by Iowa in apportioning delegates from its caucuses – resulted in an even split of the delegates, with no bonus for coming in first. (See a more detailed mathematical explanation here from The Hayride.)

As for the five Rubio delegates, well, as I wrote in Sunday’s paper, four of the five say they are remaining well and truly uncommitted until the convention. (I don’t know the fifth Rubio delegate’s intention.)

Leslie Tassin, one of five Rubio delegates from Louisiana, will be among those unbound and uncommitted. Under the Louisiana party’s rules, Rubio’s suspension of his campaign releases his five delegates.

Reports to the contrary, Tassin said he and three of the other Rubio delegate haven’t been wooed to the Cruz camp and will remain uncommitted until the convention.

“I haven’t gotten one call from a Cruz person to ask me to vote for him,” said Tassin, a retired state employee from Baton Rouge.

Nor has he heard from the Trump campaign, except for a public threat from Trump to sue the state party, in part because of his false impression about Tassin’s and his compatriots’ disposition.


“Before that I was leaning more toward Trump,” said Tassin, who said he would like to know before the convention each candidates’ choice for vice president.

And of the five remaining uncommitted delegates, three are automatic delegates – the party chair and the state committeeman and committeewoman –  and only one has announced a preference, and that is Ross Little, the Republican committeeman, who co-chaired Cruz’s campaign in Louisiana.

But in Louisiana, at least Trump knows that Trump delegates will actually show up at the convention hoping to nominate him and not arrive with the intention of subverting his candidacy.

From Sunday’s story:

When the presidential roll is called at the Republican National Convention in July, the chairman of the Texas delegation — undoubtedly Gov. Greg Abbott — will announce that Texas casts 104 votes for Cruz, 48 for Trump and three for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. But the actual, flesh-and-blood delegates will almost certainly all be Cruz loyalists who will all be able to vote with Cruz on critical procedural votes that might determine the outcome before the presidential roll is ever called, and, should the convention in Cleveland go to a third ballot or beyond, be free, all 155 of them, to cast their lot with Cruz.

Texas isn’t the only state where Trump is likely be represented by dual allegiance delegates, who are required to vote for Trump but are otherwise determined to undermine his candidacy.

Even in such states as South Carolina and Florida, where Trump won every delegate, and Georgia and Virginia, where Trump finished first and Cruz third, the delegations to the national convention are likely to be replete with a combination of Cruz loyalists and party regulars who won their tickets to Cleveland through delegate selection processes that are entirely separate and distinct from the party’s preference primaries and caucuses that determined to which candidate those delegates are pledged to vote, depending on each state party’s rules, through the first, second or third ballots.

It got worse for Trump over the weekend.

From and , in the Tennessean

Donald Trump’s campaign for president is accusing the Tennessee Republican Party of “doing the bidding” of the national GOP establishment in a calculated attempt to “steal” pro-Trump delegates and stop them from being a part of  Tennessee’s GOP delegation.

It’s part of a national effort by GOP party leaders, the Trump campaign has alleged, to stop the Republican frontrunner from becoming the nominee.

A Tennessee party official disputes that allegation, instead accusing Trump’s camp of distorting the truth while noting Trump will still receive all delegates won from the state.

Darren Morris, state director of Trump’s campaign in Tennessee, told The Tennessean the Trump campaign and Tennessee Republican Party chairman Ryan Hayes had agreed Wednesday on the names of seven of the 14 at-large delegates that, under party rules, are to be appointed by the state party. Delegates will ultimately decide the party’s nominee at the Republican National Convention this summer.

But Morris said that an updated delegate list he reviewed late this week is now wiped clean of several of those names and instead features individuals who he described as “anti-Trump.”

“They’re picking anti-Trump people,” Morris said. “They’re picking establishment picks who don’t support Donald Trump, and it’s just the same effort that they’re conducting all over the country to steal a vote here, steal a delegate there, to affect the outcome of the convention in July and take the nomination away from Donald Trump.

And from Shane Goldmacher at Politico on the North Dakota convention over the weekend.

FARGO, N.D. — Ted Cruz’s preferred candidates won the vast majority of convention delegates available in North Dakota over the weekend, taking 18 of 25 slots in the state in another show of organizational strength over Donald Trump.

It’s still not clear how loyal all of Cruz’s slate will be if the Republican nomination heads to a contested convention in Cleveland, as several included on it told POLITICO they were only leaning toward Cruz, or simply opposed to Trump.

But the result was bad news for Trump, who may need unbound delegates like those in North Dakota to lift him above the 1,237 delegate threshold to secure the GOP nomination this summer on the initial ballot. Only one of the 25 delegates selected Sunday has publicly signaled he might back Trump.

“This is a catastrophic outcome for the Trump campaign in North Dakota,” said Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Cruz. “Just when you thought the Donald’s horrible, very bad, no good week couldn’t get any worse, it just did.”

The North Dakota delegation has been heavily sought after because they are free agents from the first ballot in Cleveland, able to support Cruz, Trump or John Kasich. State rules do not, however, require to name the candidate they support before being elected — leaving their votes in question up until the convention in July.

In other words, Trump should stop fretting about Louisiana and start fretting about almost everywhere else, where Cruz is Ron Pauling him. And yet, even as Cruz is playing the Ron Paul game against Trump, he is playing the Romney card against Kasich, calling for maintaining the higher 40(b)  threshold of majorities in eight states.

The unifying principle here is what works.

Meanwhile, Trump was all in over the weekend for squeezing Kasich out – as soon as possible.

From CNN:

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump called for rival John Kasich to pull out of the race because he mathematically cannot capture enough delegates to win the nomination before the national convention.

“Kasich shouldn’t be allowed to run. Honestly, Kasich should not be allowed to run,” Trump told reporters Sunday while visiting a diner in Milwaukee, adding, “He hurts Trump much more than he hurts (Ted) Cruz.”
And from the Trump campaign’s Barry Bennett in Sunday’s story:

Bennett said the stealth delegates are of less concern, “now that Cruz came out for no change in 40(b)” a reference to a rule from the last convention designed to thwart former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, by requiring that, in order to have his or her name put in nomination, a candidate has to have the support of a majority — and not just a plurality — of the delegates from eight states. Previously, the requirement was a plurality of delegates from five states.

“They wrote this rule to keep outsiders out,” Bennett said, and now that same rule can be used by Trump and Cruz to keep the insiders out.

Each convention has a new rules committee that writes rules for that convention, and Bennett said, “We’re for keeping 40(b) as it is. Then it’s impossible for Kasich, (Mitt) Romney, (Paul) Ryan — take your pick of your favorite establishment guy — it’s impossible for them to even be a candidate. The only way is to suspend the rules, which would require a two-thirds vote, and with Trump and Cruz controlling 90 percent of the delegates, it’s not going to happen.”

But Bennett said it’s a risky strategy for Cruz because, as of now, he only has the majority of delegates in five states — Kansas, Maine, Idaho, Utah and Texas — leaving him three short.

“He can do it, but it’s a two-bank shot,” Bennett said.

But, maybe he can add North Dakota to that column, leaving him two short.

And, the way things are going, it is possible that Cruz may be able to muster a majority of delegates  even from a state like South Carolina. where he didn’t win a single delegate, to put his name in nomination. Before it’s over, Trump could be scrambling to make sure he has enough through-and-through Trump delegates to get his eight states.

And this is what could be so diabolically dispiriting for Trump about these Potemkin delegates, with potentially volatile results.

From Sunday’s story:

Former Midland Mayor Ernie Angelo, an avid Cruz supporter who is still deciding whether to seek a delegate slot in Cleveland or go fishing in Colorado, said he fears that Trump is fomenting a potentially far uglier scene in Cleveland if he is denied the nomination in July.

But he understands the concern about the Trojan horse delegates.

“I, along with three or four other people, in 1976 wrote the rules for our delegate selection process, very clearly tailored to make it that the appropriate candidate that owned that delegate would have 100 percent control,” Angelo said.

He fought for years to keep that rule, but ultimately lost.

“They have, quote unquote, democratized the process to where a candidate who wins the primary has no control over who goes on his behalf,” Angelo said. “I fought that for years because I didn’t think that was right. Now, for the first time, it is going to matter. It’s a bad rule. But the rule’s the rule.

“To see my candidate take advantage of it is kind of ironic,” he said.

But think about how disorienting and disconcerting it is going to be to Trump and those voted for him If Trump arrives at in Cleveland with, say, 1,137 instead of the requisite 1,237 delegates, but it turns out that 200 or 300 or 400 or 500 of those delegates are rooting against him and actively working to undermine him – and that the delegation from South Carolina – home to Trump’s signal triumph – joins in nominating Cruz.

This could quickly turn into the convention from Holy Harry Herford Hell.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 7.12.31 AM

And this, at the very moment that, what Trump, coming off his worst-ever week, really needs is a big hug.

From Maureen Dowd in Sunday’s New York Times:

WASHINGTON — YOU could hear how hard it was for Donald Trump to say the words.

“Yeah, it was a mistake,” he said, sounding a bit chastened. “If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t have sent it.”

I was telling him he lost my sister’s vote when he retweeted a seriously unflattering photo of the pretty Heidi Cruz next to a glam shot of his wife, Melania.

He repeated his contention that he didn’t view the Heidi shot “necessarily as negative.” But I stopped him, saying it was clearly meant to be nasty.

Trump also got into his schoolyard excuse of “he did it first” and “that wasn’t nice,” insisting that Ted Cruz wrote the words on the digital ad put up by an anti-Trump group aimed at Utah Mormons; it showed Melania in a 2000 British GQ shot posing provocatively and suggested that it was not First Ladylike. Cruz denies any involvement.

Truth be told, Trump said he “didn’t love the photo” of Melania. “I think she’s taken better pictures,” he said, also protesting: “It wasn’t a nude photo, either. It wasn’t nude!”

It’s ridiculous how many mistakes Trump has made in rapid order to alienate women when he was already on thin ice with them — and this in a year when the Republicans will likely have to run against a woman.

He did a huge favor for Hillary, who had been reeling from losing young women to a 74-year-old guy and from a dearth of feminist excitement. And for Cruz, who started promoting himself as Gloria Steinem, despite his more regressive positions on abortion and other women’s issues.

Wouldn’t it have been better, I asked, if Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski had simply called the reporter Michelle Fields and apologized for yanking her arm?

“You’re right, but from what I understand it wouldn’t have mattered,” Trump said.

In an MSNBC interview with Chris Matthews, the formerly pro-choice Trump somehow managed to end up to the right of the National Right to Life Committee when he said that for women, but not men, “there has to be some form of punishment” if a President Trump makes abortion illegal.

Trump quickly recanted and even told CBS’s John Dickerson that “the laws are set. And I think we have to leave it that way.”

But then came the most honest and revealing quote of all

Has he missed the moment to moderate, to unite, to be less belligerent, to brush up on his knowledge about important issues?

“I guess because of the fact that I immediately went to No. 1 and I said, why don’t I just keep the same thing going?” he mused. “I’ve come this far in life. I’ve had great success. I’ve done it my way.”

Hold that thought, and add to that this Open Letter to Trump Voters from His Top Strategist-Turned-Defector issued last week from Stephanie Cegielski.

Even Trump’s most trusted advisors didn’t expect him to fare this well.

Almost a year ago, recruited for my public relations and public policy expertise, I sat in Trump Tower being told that the goal was to get The Donald to poll in double digits and come in second in delegate count. That was it.

The Trump camp would have been satisfied to see him polling at 12% and taking second place to a candidate who might hold 50%. His candidacy was a protest candidacy.

It pains me to say, but he is the presidential equivalent of Sanjaya on American Idol. President Trump would be President Sanjaya in terms of legitimacy and authority.

And I am now taking full responsibility for helping create this monster — and reaching out directly to those voters who, like me, wanted Trump to be the real deal.

My support for Trump began probably like yours did. Similar to so many other Americans, I was tired of the rhetoric in Washington. Negativity and stubbornness were at an all-time high, and the presidential prospects didn’t look promising.

In 2015, I fell in love with the idea of the protest candidate who was not bought by corporations. A man who sat in a Manhattan high-rise he had built, making waves as a straight talker with a business background, full of successes and failures, who wanted America to return to greatness.

I was sold.

Last summer, I signed on as the Communications Director of the Make America Great Again Super PAC.


It wasn’t long before every day I awoke to a buzzing phone and a shaking head because Trump had said something politically incorrect the night before. I have been around politics long enough to know that the other side will pounce on any and every opportunity to smear a candidate.

But something surprising and absolutely unexpected happened. Every other candidate misestimated the anger and outrage of the “silent majority” of Americans who are not a part of the liberal elite. So with each statement came a jump in the polls. Just when I thought we were finished, The Donald gained more popularity.

I don’t think even Trump thought he would get this far. And I don’t even know that he wanted to, which is perhaps the scariest prospect of all.

He certainly was never prepared or equipped to go all the way to the White House, but his ego has now taken over the driver’s seat, and nothing else matters. The Donald does not fail. The Donald does not have any weakness. The Donald is his own biggest enemy.

OK. This all makes sense to me now.


Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.37.53 PM

When Trump came down that escalator last June 16 and announced his candidacy with all his outrageous talk about Mexican rapists, he was not looking to win, but merely to stake out some politically incorrect out-of-bounds territory that would excite a fraction of the Republican base, and establish him as a provocative candidate with an intense but limited appeal.

And, if you’re only running as a protest candidate, why should you have to know what the nuclear triad is, or assemble a foreign policy team, or really develop a full-fledged campaign operation? And, when every outrageous impulse yields fantastic results, how is Trump supposed to know when to stop obeying his every  instinct?

It is not his fault that he caught fire, that he soared in the polls, that, as he told Maureen Dowd, he immediately went to No. 1, and that as esteemed a political intellect as Ted Cruz extolled his virtues as a candidate.

NBC’s a month after Trump’s announcement:

Presidential candidate Ted Cruz said Wednesday that he’s “a big fan of Donald Trump” ahead of a meeting with the real-estate tycoon and fellow 2016 contender.

“I’ve sat down and visited with Donald multiple times before he was a candidate,” Cruz told NBC News. “I’m happy to sit down and visit with him now after he’s a candidate for president. Indeed, I’ve gotten together with quite a few of the 2106 presidential candidates who are friends of mine, I intend to continue to do so.”

Cruz will meet with Trump later Wednesday in New York City.

Trump has been heavily criticized for his statements painting Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “criminals.” But the Texas senator said that he is “grateful” that Trump has highlighted the issue of illegal immigration.

“I think Donald Trump is bringing a bold, brash voice to this Presidential race,” Cruz said. “One of the reasons you’re seeing so many 2016 candidates go out of their way to smack Donald Trump is they don’t like a politician that speaks directly about the challenges of illegal immigration.”

And Cruz said he’s been vocal “for a lot of years” on the same policy positions that Trump has pushed regarding undocumented immigrants.

“I for one, am grateful that Donald Trump is highlighting these issues. They are critical issues. They’re issues I’ve been fighting for a lot of years to enforce the law, to stop illegal immigration, to stop the Obama Administration’s practice of releasing criminal illegal aliens into the population.” 

Much has been made of the fact that Trump’s recent statements or misstatements on abortion and punishing women is a bad parody of a Republican pro-life position. But wasn’t his immigration policy – building a big, beautiful wall, making Mexico pay for it, banning Muslim immigration – a similarly crude parody of Republican immigration policy?

From the Hill:

Ted Cruz lashed out at Donald Trump on Wednesday for saying that women who get abortions illegally should be punished.

“Once again Donald Trump has demonstrated that he hasn’t seriously thought through the issues, and he’ll say anything just to get attention,” Cruz said in a statement.

“On the important issue of the sanctity of life, what’s far too often neglected is that being pro-life is not simply about the unborn child; it’s also about the mother — and creating a culture that respects her and embraces life.

Of course we shouldn’t be talking about punishing women; we should affirm their dignity and the incredible gift they have to bring life into the world,” he added.

But when, in February, Cruz announced his Pro-Lifers for Cruz coalition, among the co-chairs was Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue.

From Right-Wing Watch:

Stunningly, in its short biography of Newman, the Cruz campaign mentions that he is the author of a book called “Their Blood Cries Out”:

Troy Newman is the president of Operation Rescue, one of the leading pro-life Christian activist organizations in the nation and a founding board member for the Center for Medial Progress. He has been involved in the pro-life community for over 20 years, starting in 1991 as the Operation Rescue West president. He is also a published author, having written Their Blood Cries Out and his most recent book Abortion Free.

We have reviewed both “Abortion Free” and “Their Blood Cries Out” here at Right Wing Watch. In “Their Blood Cries Out,” written in 2000 and revised in 2003, Newman lays out the case for churches to oppose abortion rights, saying that by failing to follow what he says is the biblical response to abortion — executing abortion providers and treating women who have abortions as “murderers” — the country is mired in “bloodguilt” and is awaiting the judgment of God. In the meantime, Newman writes, the U.S. has experienced “warnings” from God about legal abortion, including the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

More recently, Newman has alleged that the drought in California is a result of that state’s liberal abortion laws:

Newman has recently gained prominence in the anti-choice movement thanks to his role in starting the Center for Medical Progress, the group behind a series of videos attacking Planned Parenthood. (The group’s leader, David Daleiden, is currently facing a felony indictment related to his attempt to infiltrate the health care provider.) Newman has said that the goal of the project was to “destroy” Planned Parenthood, part of his long campaign of harassment and intimidation against the group and other abortion providers.

Although he renounces extrajudicial violence against abortion providers, Newman has argued that the murderer of an abortion provider in Florida should have been able to argue that the act was justifiable homicide meant to “save the lives of the pre-born babies that were scheduled to be killed by abortion that day.” When another abortion provider died of leukemia, Newman put out a press release rejoicing in his death. Newman’s second-in-command at Operation Rescue is Cheryl Sullenger, who spent time in federal prison in the 1980s for conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic.