By Mark Green
Frum and Karina discuss if Trump is the 2016 version of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters -- white, ominous and yuge. Then three Qs: Is Cruz any more electable? What happens if GOP breaks apart? Is the label "fascist" still unPC?
Romney vs. Trump. Given the opposition from Romney-McCain, the Pope, neo-cons, party official and, party intellectuals, can Trump be stopped?
David Frum is amazed by "Romney's breathtaking remarks which will serve as a Hillary ad this Fall attacking Trump as a crook, liar and threat. Even Goldwater dragged a faint endorsement out of Ike."
Katrina is pleasantly surprised by Romney, adding that she'd rather her party run against the far-far right Cruz than even a Trump "who could etch-a-sketch himself himself in a general election to appeal to angry working class voters in the Midwest Rust Belt."
Who's to blame for the rise of this American Putin wannabe? Frum cites Monty Python's comment mid-battle to King Arthur, "This is no time to bicker over who killed whom!" He then walks our panel through "establishment" Republican options:
1. Nominate Trump and also lose down-ballot when many Republicans stay home.
2. Create a fig-leaf of a more mainstream conservative third-party -- e. g., John Anderson in 1980 -- so that Clinton like Reagan has an apparent landslide winning 50%-42%-8%. 3. Seriously re-imagine the party as a popular one based on enterprise, markets, open-trade, low taxes (i.e., the "reformicons" he represents).
Host: Frum stands nearly alone as a conservative who's taken on his party's shibboleths. Is there a phrase to describe leading GOP commentators -- Kristol, Krauthammer, Noonan, Erickson, Limbaugh, Hannity, Goodwin -- who always treated Obama as an anti-American idiot and refused to ever confront their own party's extremism? "Con"(servative) artists? Enabling co-conspirators? At the least, it's poetic justice... can't wait to read their spin and headlines post-November: "Can America Survive Eight More Years of Hillary After Eight of Barack?" "Steady growth and low unemployment will ruin us!"
Will the shriveling GOP's -- at 28% of America, with a minus 30 favorable -- just keep finding excuses for nativism and racism or reconstitute into a competitive party? Depends if Frum conquers Hannity.
"Whoever thought a year ago we'd be debating the meaning of 'socialism,' 'fascism' and the Klan now?" marvels the Host. "While conservatives have long thrown around the epithet 'communist' to disparage the other side, can liberals now legitimately refer to Trump or Cruz as 'fascists'? What does that term even mean?"
Katrina is still wary discussing such a loaded word, defining it as someone who is inchoately nationalist, racist, blustery, hostile to dissent, tolerant of violence. Yes that in many obvious ways fits Trump who both quotes Mussolini shamelessly and, as was said of Il Duce, "struts sitting down."
He's not optimistic that his party will learn more lessons than they did after Romney's defeat in2012 "when they concluded that their message was fine except for the part about immigration since their business leaders think there's nothing wrong with a party that cheap labor won't solve."
David thinks conversations about fascist "are not helpful because the word is so emotive about a particular moment post WWI when some leaders tried to convert the anger in trenches into government." He especially objects to applying it to Cruz who say what you will about his views, "is an elected senator, for years before solicitor general of Texas, and if he were sent a court order he didn't like, is there any doubt he'd comply with it?"
There's agreement that Pat Buchanan, like Trump, also demagogically stirred economic and immigration anger together into one hot vat but, adds Frum, "Trump, unlike Buchanan, is not in the grip of a social-sexual cultural message. He does not buy into the religious cultural orthodoxy [of many on the Right]."
Hillary in Libya? Bernie One-Note? Frum thinks she's untrustworthy, Katrina thinks not enough of a progressive activist...ok, but what do they think about a pulitzer-prize-level two part series in the New York Times doing a tick-tock of her misjudgments in Libya? Frum believes the articles are a profound "blemish" on her record and her abilities but it's unclear how this becomes an issue in he remaining primaries or in a general election against a more hawkish Republican. Katrina cites the articles as showing how she's a "regime change Democrat" who Sanders could have, but didn't, expose.
Host: Actually, Obama-Clinton at that time said they joined with NATO in air strikes to stop the promised slaughter by Gadaffi of Benghazi's 800,000 pro-rebel residents. The articles quote her as promising her Russian counterpart that the US didn't want to be dragged into "regime change" but he warned that that could nonetheless happen, and it did. As for Sanders, he was great at giving a great sermon against the 1% rigging our economy and politics...but his strength became a weakness when he could almost never pivot to come up with second stanza. Katrina laments that he failed to give an early foreign policy speech against Clinton's hawkish record.
Choice in Court
Frum doesn't bite when asked about the Supreme Court argument this week over a Texas law that required abortion clinics to have hospital-level standards, either to advance women's health (GOP sponsors) or decimate the clinics (Dems). Katrina says that the obvious intent of "pro-life" Texas Republicans was a law that reduced choice. "Justice" Frum insists that the issue shouldn't be a clash of rights but a challenge to cut in half the abortion rate, as Europe has done with mother allowances so that pregnant women can keep their babies.
Is there a better display of how "rigged" the Supreme Court is than four Republican justices pretending that a law doesn't impose an "undue burden" on abortion when its pushed only by the Texas GOP and has the result of shutting down ¾ of all clinics when there was no health hazard present? Like Voter ID laws, it's a remedy in search of a problem.