By Mark Green
Lowry & Lamarche discuss if this time Trump's been finally & fatally stabbed like the victim of Murder on the Orient Express. Which civil war will GOP choose: w/ Trump, w/ Cruz, w/ 'new face'? Nader says new-face while Lowry thinks that'd destroy party (that a bad thing?).
Trump Descending Staircase. Multiple controversies and mistakes - Heidi, Corey, abortion - may have finally hit critical mass or, in Gara Lamarche's phrase, " a tipping point." It appears that it's now first-ballot-or-bust for the front-runner since it's hard to see how he can gain delegates in latter ballots. Rich sees his bad week as more "a topping out, now consistently at 35-40% of the primary vote. At this point in 2012, Romney was moving toward 50-to-70% of the vote, which won't happen with Trump because resistance to him has stiffened not softened. And his poll numbers among women are toxic."
Any way he could win a general election? Not really, they agree but, notes Lowry, "he started out with bad numbers in the primaries and reversed them, though that'd be far harder in a General Election. And he'll hit Hillary Clinton far harder than anything she has ever..." - Host interrupts: "hasn't she been hit hard for decades?" Rich: "Trump is not Dan Burton or Jason Chafetz. It'd be brutal. But it's now far more likely he'd lose in a landslide than that he'd win."
Gara notes the GOP dilemma that the alternative now is the Republican the party most loathes, Ted Cruz. Is he really any stronger than Trump this Fall? Yes thinks Lowry - he's more a disciplined conservative and elected official, "but still the nomination at this point seems like a poisoned chalice...since if it's Cruz, Trump will likely behave as a sore loser" and beat him up with his 17 million social media followers.
As for Karl Rove's speculation that the Convention could legally go for a 'new face' to beat Clinton, Ralph Nader in a recent column agrees...but each man is using logic not emotion when the base of the party seems pretty unhinged. Rich disagrees: "It's hard enough for the Convention to skip #1 in delegates and choose the #2 or #3 person as the nominee but to instead select someone who's gotten zero votes would...lead to something like the fist fights on the floor of the South Korean parliament."
Clinton-Sanders Schism? All agree, in Rich's words, that "Republicans know splits and Democrats are not suffering splits. They're having a fairly normal nomination contest which is likely to last until the Convention. That's nothing like on the GOP side, where families are split, magazines are split, the party is split."
Should the delegate leader Clinton prevail, Gara is asked, would 95% of the party unite behind her with a small number either going for Green Party candidate Jill Stein or sitting it out? "Yes, there'll be eventual unity." Consensus: Trump and Cruz won't likely hold their arms up in unison, as Carter-Kennedy did not...while Hillary-Bernie likely would, as Ford-Reagan did.
The New York Host: if Cruz and Sanders narrowly win their respective Wisconsin primaries in two weeks - as polls currently indicate -- New York becomes fairly decisive. As of now, Trump and Clinton lead.
The cliché that two weeks or days is a lifetime in politics is true - e.g., in the NY Democratic presidential primary in 1980, Carter led Kennedy by 20 with two weeks to go yet lost by 20 (because of a perceived anti-Israel UN vote). Still, bet on Trump heavily in New York because, whatever his sins, he certainly has a "New Yawk" personality and Cowboy Cruz in cowboys boots mocking "New York values" is as bad a political fit in the Empire State as there probably ever has been. Then all eyes turn to California and Pennsylvania a week later to see if he can get back on track toward a first round win with 1237 delegates.
As for the Democrats, usually the most liberal candidate statewide wins a primary, which would be Sanders. But though the less liberal, Hillary would likely over-perform in that role in upstate and the suburbs since she represented those areas...and would over-perform also among minorities in NYC. So it's very very unlikely she'd lose the state.
So we may witness an eerie replay of 1992 when frontrunner Bill unexpectedly lost Connecticut and came wounded into New York having to win there to main lock up the nomination. 42 did. 45 will also.
Social Issues, Again. The combination of the North Carolina law on transgenders in bathrooms - plus Chris Matthews's abortion Q to Trump, the FDA's easing of access to the non-surgical RU-486 abortifacient, Indiana's new law tightening access and forthcoming Supreme Court decision on Texas abortion - show that the culture wars are still politically salient. How do they cut? Will abortion fade as issue IF a Democrat wins and replaces the 5-4 Roe v. Wade majority with a 7-2 one?
Lamarche sees a difference between the abortion and sexual orientation issues. "More of those in the latter camp are realizing that they're simply on the wrong side of history here" while the former sincerely believe that abortion is the taking of a life. (In one sense that's understandable since it's largely impossible to show any harm when it comes to same sex marriage or transgenders in the bathrooms of their sexual identity.) And he laughs at the blatant hypocrisy of NC conservatives who talk incessantly about local control yet now insist that state law should overrule local ordinances, like the liberal one in Charlotte
Lowry agrees that "many pro-choice people just hoped that he abortion question would just go away after 1973 but quite to the contrary, here it still is." Q: while Trump got blasted for unthoughtfully saying that women should be punished if abortion were banned and they had one, wasn't he simply being logical since the crime of "murdering babies" - which 1 in 3 women will do in their lifetime - should then lead to criminal punishment? Rich concludes that, "while it is a profound moral wrong, the emotionally distressed woman shouldn't suffer further punishment but providers should."
This is of course a difficult issue but why would conservatives make a gallant allowance for women, who may or may not be emotionally upset, but not some robber pushed to the brink by, say, alcoholism, abuse or poverty? They appear to be logically trapped by their invocation of murder and then immediate political acquittal.
When it comes to transgenders and bathrooms, Rich has what he regards as a way out for states like NC - just build some separate bathrooms for use by those in this category. Smart or "an indicia of inferiority" under separate-but-equal? To be continued.