Graham and his ilk have lost all faith in their own party

He's their best candidate, and would win the election. But top Republicans see no way he can get the nomination.

He’s their best candidate, and would win the election. But top Republicans see no way he can get the nomination.

I think I’m starting to get it now.

Up to now, I couldn’t figure out why Lindsey Graham and other mainstreamers such as Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney were backing Ted Cruz, when we know:

I couldn’t figure it out until I read this observation in a couple of places over the last day or two:

Graham admits that Ohio Governor John Kasich “would be the best nominee, but he doesn’t have a chance.” So he tries to talk up Cruz as the one candidate who might be able to slow Trump’s march to the nomination…

Let’s unpack that statement that Kasich “would be the best nominee, but he doesn’t have a chance.”

He doesn’t mean Kasich doesn’t have a chance in the fall. He’s the one Republican still running who does consistently win a matchup with Hillary. In fact, if Republicans actually want to do what parties are supposed to exist to do — win elections — no one would waste a second talking about doing anything but nominating Kasich.

But while Graham knows he can count on the American people (sorry, Barton) to choose Kasich, he’s convinced that his own party will never do so.

Are you following me? Here we have a situation in which one of the smartest Republicans holding elective office has made the calculation that the best candidate, and the one who would lead the party to victory, has no chance of being nominated by his party.

That’s what “he doesn’t have a chance” means. Not that Kasich wouldn’t win the election in a walk, but that the Republican Party is so royally fouled up that it won’t nominate him, under any circumstances. No matter how urgently or fervently Graham and other rational people might advocate for him.

It’s so hopeless that they won’t even TRY. They’re resigned to failure because of their lack of confidence in their fellow Republicans. Defeat in November is a given. In fact, they’re counting on it, to save the country. They just believe the defeat will be less ignominious if Cruz is their nominee rather than Trump. They think there will be some pieces left to pick up this way.

They think that with Cruz, there’ll be something still to preserve from this Götterdämmerung.

I believe that is the saddest commentary on the Republican Party I’ve ever read in my life.

16 thoughts on “Graham and his ilk have lost all faith in their own party

  1. Doug Ross

    The reason Kasich beats Hillary in mythical match ups is because nobody knows who he is…and NOBODY is a better option than Hillary.

    If Kasich somehow got the nomination, Democrats would start the process of tearing him down. For now, he isn’t worth wasting their time. He’d be a disaster in a one on one matchup. Democrats would mock him mercilessly for being the 4th best option who couldn’t win any states but his own. I agree with Paul Ryan that there is a better chance of someone besides Kasich coming out of a brokered convention.

  2. Bryan Caskey

    A rare Saturday post! Substantive, too.

    /doffs cap

    Yeah, the Republican party is off the rails. Trump is being powered mostly by the resentment of the political class that’s been building up for a long time. I’ve sort of decided that I’m just not going to care that much about the 2016 election. It’s kind of liberating. I’ve accepted that Trump is going to be the nominee much like I’ve come to accept that Hilary won’t face a single charge related to her security violations.

    The Republican party really needs to learn some lessons from this Trump candidacy. I doubt they will, though. Institutions don’t learn. Only people learn.

    1. clark surratt

      How does the Republican Party learn a lesson from Trump? Close the p;rimaries, nominate by secret ballot among super delegates?

  3. bud

    I actually think Kasich has a chance. More than anything else Repugs value winning. They value it even more than the welfare of the nation. Ultimately it comes down to ensuring the plutocracy keeps on chugging along transferring ever greater amounts of largesse to the gilded class. Kasich would serve nicely in that regard. It’s also possible that the plutocrats would be ok with Hillary. That would be risky though since Bernie’s folks would hold her feet to the fire.

    Since it’s such a great deal of uncertainty involved in an open convention it seems premature to rule anything out. The dens took 43 ballots back in 1920.

  4. Howard

    I gave up on what Graham has to say or thinks years ago. He’s nothing more than the mainstream media’s favorite talking head and he loves to be in the limelight and will say whatever keeps him there. I would love to see anyone run against him.

    1. Doug Ross

      I seriously believe Lindsey is experiencing some limited form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Has he ever lost an election before? The way he was trounced across the country and even in his own state had to have some effect on his psyche. Reality can put a big dent into delusions of grandeur, especially when you measure your self-worth based on how many Sunday morning political shows you appear on.

      1. Howard

        For some unknown reason in SC politicians stay in office until they get carried out feet first. People were unanimously reelecting Strom Thurmond and Fritz Hollings 20 years after they became irrelevant and in Strom’s case it included two terms where he didn’t know where he was or who he was. Unfortunately we’re still only into the first decade of Graham’s irrelevancy.

        1. JesseS

          To Graham’s credit he has become more reflexive with age. Strom was the crazy, novelty racist who we kept re-electing just to see if he could carve out a new entry in Guinness each term and Fritz only seemed to notice large campaign donors in his twilight years.

  5. Mark Stewart

    It isn’t about Cruz himself, either. They are afraid to repudiate the evangelical tea party reactionaries. It’s easier, psychologically to jettison the apolitical Trumpists from their orb. But having done so, they can’t imagine the GOP as anything but was it has become.

    They can’t see that a center right party of reasonableness would square with the majority of American voters – because fanning the crazies is what got them all elected. So they keep pushing crazy – Cruz crazy this time.

    1. Doug Ross

      “They can’t see that a center right party of reasonableness would square with the majority of American voters ”

      The demographics say otherwise. Which is why people like Lindsey Graham don’t care about principles and talk about courting Hispanics into the Republican Party. If courting Hispanics means giving up on the notion of enforcing immigration laws, he’s going to lose more people than he brings in.

      1. Mark Stewart

        The demographics the Republican Party has been attached to since 2009 do not represent a sustainable majority. As we have seen.

        It is somewhat less noticeable in SC, but it’s clear nonetheless. Outside the state, it’s practically a sunami of “conservative” apathy out there; especially in the areas that have the populations to swing elections.

        Most people don’t care for pandering. Most people don’t get apoplectic about single issue chicken little stuff.

        1. Doug Ross

          That “tsunami of conservative apathy” currently holds both houses of Congress and most governor positions.

          But if you have to change your positions on an issue as basic as illegal immigration in order to win, what’s the point of having a party? Is it just about winning or is it about presenting a set of principles?

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      A small quibble with what Mark said: He referred to the “evangelical tea party reactionaries.” That’s mashing together a couple of different factions. The evangelicals are quite different from the tea party people, who tend to be nihilistic government-haters.

      There’s probably some overlap, but they are distinct constituencies…

      1. Mark Stewart

        There’s a lot of overlap; but, yes, they are very distinct factions. However, I think the ones who most run the GOP off the rails are the evangelical tea partiers – the one’s who mash all kinds of intolerance and bile together.

        Did you hear the NPR interview this AM with the Senator from Columbus, GA who had sponsored the bill the Governor next door just vetoed? He was going on and on about how “we have to stop our Government from being used as a bludgeon against Christianity”. It’s that sort of alternate universe kind of blather that leads me to think of the personality disordered.

  6. Bart

    Just read about the attack in Pakistan that was directed at Christians and 65 were killed and 300 wounded. This plays into Trump’s hands and supports his message about radical Islam. People like to feel safe and the more attacks that take place like this one reminds us of the recent attack in San Berdino and other recent attacks across the globe. The message becomes implanted in the minds of voters and whether the more cerebral among us agree or not, people across this country and the globe are feeling less and less safe and secure in their own home land and/or homes. When safety and survival are foremost in the minds of voters, they will listen to the one with the message that gives them hope whether the messenger is Trump or Clinton. Unfortunately, I have heard nothing from Clinton that would give me any assurance of safety or protection. I don’t feel threatened because that is not who I am but I know many who do feel threatened and they are the ones who will vote for Trump even if it goes against their better judgment.

    If another attack takes place in America before the election, you can bet it will drive voters to Trump who would never consider voting for him under normal circumstances. Trump is saying all the right things for those who do not feel secure and considering the number of mass killings in the last few days even though they are not in America, they do send a message to the rest of the world.

    The other fact that the bombing specifically targeted Christians is another factor to consider. In spite of the growing number in America who do not claim to be Christians, this is still by a majority a Christian nation and as such, attacks like this one will drive more and more to the candidate who promises to do something about it. I know the attack didn’t happen here but if the idea it is likely it could is planted in the minds of the voters, it will have an impact.

    It is the message that is important and if the messenger makes promises to act, the faults and flaws of the messenger will be overlooked. That unfortunately is the way people react in times of stress and the increasing mass killings here and abroad does increase stress among the citizens of the United States and other countries, especially Europe.

    I still believe Kasich is the best choice out of all the candidates but his message will never get out to the voters because he makes good, reasonable, and inclusive proposals that unfortunately continues to fall on deaf ears.

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