So Donald Trump has finally a running-mate. A white man with white hair who is a rabid ultra-right-winger. Who would have thought!
Funnily, even before announcing Mike Pence as his VP, Trump already managed to make quite a fool out of Pence - Josh Marshall writes on TPM:
Newt Gingrich didn't do quite as badly. But it was close. According to the Times Gingrich confirmed by email that he still hadn't heard from Trump about his final decision, only minutes before Trump tweeted it to almost 10 million followers around the world. The pattern was the same, a deepening cycle of greater submission and more abject humiliations.
And now we have Mike Pence.
Trump apparently chose Pence or got very close to choosing him and then decided against him or got extremely cold feet. Pence, it seems, finally had to give Trump an ultimatum that he had to commit, publicly, before Friday's noon filing deadline. But now the Trump forces have managed to spread the word, through some largely irrelevant mix of intention and indiscipline, that Trump spent a day trying to get out of his commitment to Pence, doubting Pence was really someone he even wanted. So Pence gets the veep slot but at the cost of being publicly branded as someone Trump didn't want. Junk that was forced on Trump, someone to whom he owes nothing, except possibly contempt. As the Times put it in tonight's article, after his audience with Trump earlier today, "Mr. Pence did not respond to questions about Mr. Trump’s reported vacillation over choosing him."
Eventually he won't be able to ignore that question. And what will his answer possibly be? Trump has already managed to take Pence the governor of a major state and recast him as a ridiculous figure, the guy who managed to bag the vice presidential pick only to have the guy at the top of the ticket broadcast to the world that he'd rather not have him. This will hang over Pence regardless of how the ticket fares. He's also now publicly renouncing various past statements about Trump and his policies. Almost every vice presidential candidate has to do some version of this. But Trump's positions are far more extreme and the criticisms of them are too. So Trump's Muslim ban goes from being "offensive and unconstitutional" to ... well, awesome.
(Many thanks to our reader KalenaSmith for linking to this article by Josh Marshall!)
But in the end, Donald will always be about Donald, regardless the VP-choice. Donald Trump is a self-absorbed clown who does not care anything else apart from him. He is a very dangerous clown, as has often been pointed out. That some conservatives are now trying to help him coming to power is no less more dangerous than some deluded German conservatives bringing Adolf Hitler to power in 1933.
Donald Trump wants to rule as a dictator. He does not know anything else. He managed to crush the GOP-opposition, because he sensed that brute force could dominate an oversized primary-competition. He would attempt to do the same with opponents in the Senate, for example, and would most likely be successful. The immense power of the American Presidency would make it fairly easy for Donald Trump to get his way in the end.
Donald Trump is therefore also not overly concerned about the fact that the GOP might lose the Senate:
But Trump presents a much more complex weather system for his ticket-mates to navigate than either of these cases. His views are not wedded to a coherent ideological movement within his party (as Goldwater’s were), nor is his unpopularity a simple judgment on his record (as Carter’s was). Instead, Trump is a sui generis figure who must be accepted or rejected on his own terms, not artfully hedged around in the way politicians are accustomed to doing. And while Trump was undoubtedly the most popular Republican primary contestant in a field of 17, it’s still not clear how many of his opponents’ supporters will vote for their party’s pick on Election Day. For an at-risk Republican senator this fall, to back away from Trump is, by extension, to snub his millions of die-hard loyalists, the one group of party voters that is sure to show up on Nov. 8. But to go all-in for Trump is to take leave of your Republican bona fides and embrace life as a Trump Mini-Me — a gamble that not a single Republican senator up for re-election this fall appears to have the stomach for.
None of this seems to overly concern Trump. When I asked him recently whether the party’s maintaining its majority in the Senate meant anything to him, he replied: “Well, I’d like them to do that. But I don’t mind being a free agent, either.” Trump has shown similarly little interest in helping his party’s committees build the sort of war chests typically required in a campaign year. After winning the presidential nomination on a shoestring budget and with fewer paid staff members than the average candidate for governor, he has been visibly reluctant to help build much in the way of national campaign infrastructure, sending a clear message to his fellow Republicans: This fall, you’re on your own. As Ryan Williams, a strategist with the 2012 Romney presidential campaign, told me: “Traditionally, the nominee has a robust campaign that absorbs the R.N.C. effort and works in tandem with the down-ballot campaigns. We did that with Romney in 2012. This time around, there’s a complete void at the presidential level. Trump’s trying to play a game of baseball and hasn’t put out an infield.”
In addition to Kirk, there are five Republican incumbents running in states that Obama won in 2012 whose fortunes are now lashed to those of the Trump campaign: Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, Marco Rubio in Florida, Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania and Rob Portman in Ohio. In May, Ayotte offered her “support” for Trump, but a spokeswoman quickly clarified to reporters that Ayotte “hasn’t and isn’t planning to endorse anyone this cycle.” Johnson supplied messaging advice to the Trump campaign during the Wisconsin primary in April and declared the day after Trump vanquished Ted Cruz on May 3 that “I am going to certainly endorse the Republican nominee.” Two weeks later, however, Johnson ratcheted down his endorsement to Ayotte-esque “support,” warily adding that he would “be concentrating on the areas of agreement with Mr. Trump.”
Rubio, meanwhile, has remained in a state of Trump-induced torment ever since his drubbing in the presidential primaries. Before announcing that he would run again for the Senate, Rubio said that he would be “honored” to help his party’s nominee, but later hedged, saying he did not expect to speak at the Republican convention on Trump’s behalf — and finally declaring he would not attend the convention at all. “I think that the Senate needs to fulfill its role as a check and balance on the president, no matter who it is,” he said last month. This was clearly intended to suggest that, if re-elected, he would not blindly do the bidding of a President Trump — a notion that has prompted belittlement from Rubio’s Democratic opponents. “What’s so funny about that premise is that Rubio’s the only Senate candidate we’re running against who has proven he’s ineffective at standing up to Donald Trump,” Sadie Weiner, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s communications director, told me.
So let's hope that Mike Pence is not becoming the next Franz von Papen, who once wanted to "tame" Hitler:
One more cartoon:
Have a nice weekend, everybody!