Ryan Zinke should rescind his endorsement of Donald Trump


In last night’s debate with Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump refused to say whether he would accept the results of the election. “I will look at it at the time,” he said. “I will keep you in suspense.” Let us take a moment to consider the ego that assumes the whole country would wait, in suspense, for him to ratify the president we voted for. Now that we’re done with that, let’s move on to disgust. It is disgusting for a major-party candidate to tell America, with no evidence, that its election is rigged. Trump is yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, but on a larger and potentially more destructive scale. Republicans who have not done so already should withdraw their endorsements of him.

Rep. Ryan Zinke (R–MT) is in a position to do that at very little cost. A recent Lee Newspapers poll finds him 13 points ahead of his opponent, Denise Juneau. It seems unlikely that many of his supporters find him objectionable but are voting for him because he endorsed Trump. Rescinding his endorsement would be an act of conscience in keeping with his stated commitment to defending American democracy and values. You can read all about it in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!

Clinton seeks endorsements from Kissinger, Rice, Vader, Shkreli, gingivitis

Ain't I a dickens?

Ain’t I a dickens?

According to an anonymous source close to her campaign, Hillary Clinton has sought endorsements from prominent Republicans Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, Condoleezza Rice and James Baker. All four have yet to endorse Trump, and at least half of them are famous for leading the United States into disastrous and unpopular foreign wars. That’s what Politico reports—the first part, anyway, although it also warns readers that none of what it just said may be true:

A person close to Clinton said her team has sent out feelers to the GOP elders, although it wasn’t clear if those efforts were preliminary or more formal requests for endorsement, or if they were undertaken through intermediaries. Clinton campaign aides did not respond when asked if they had solicited endorsements or tried to persuade the elders to speak out against Trump.

If Clinton is indeed seeking the Kissinger endorsement, it’s troubling. Although the architect of Richard Nixon’s Vietnam War policy is somehow in the pantheon of foreign policy experts and not the Hague, his name is still synonymous with evil among the Baby Boomers who form the core of her constituency. Meanwhile, Rice and, to a lesser extent, Schultz and Baker can only remind voters of her support for the invasion of Iraq. Seeking their endorsements suggests that Clinton is both tone deaf and tacking even further to the right.

I would object to her doing that on economic issues, but at least it might be politically sensible. Why hitch your wagon to Republicans on the issue of foreign wars? The last 15 years of unsuccessful military intervention in the Middle East is a stain on the Republican brand, and it makes no sense for Hillary to try to co-opt it. Ordinary voters are tired of war. Left-leaning voters, meanwhile, will be chagrined to learn that they have two choices: a center-right party and a far-right party. There appears to be no candidate for president who opposes further adventure in the Middle East. Now shut up and vote for the one who isn’t also openly racist.

Republicans condemn Trump, urge voters to make him president

Paul Ryan learns his father was a muppet.

Paul Ryan learns his father was a muppet.

We all know the expression “damning with faint praise;” our parents explained it after we won Most Improved in little league. Why is there no expression for the opposite behavior? Someone ought to coin a phrase for condemning as you endorse—you know, like Republicans keep doing with Donald Trump. Here’s Paul Ryan addressing the Republican nominee’s complaint that the judge in his fraud lawsuit is Mexican:

I disavow these comments — I regret those comments that he made. Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment. I think that should be absolutely disavowed. It’s absolutely unacceptable. But do I believe that Hillary Clinton is the answer? No, I do not.

This is the strictest use of “disavow” ever. The speaker does say that what Trump did is “absolutely unacceptable,” before accepting, in the next sentence, that he is the only alternative to Clinton. Maybe he meant to say “I disregard these comments.” It’s not important. The important thing is that once again, cynicism affords us the opportunity to say “I told you so.”

You knew all the little pink men in suits would find reasons to endorse Trump, didn’t you? Their beginning to see his contradiction of their deeply held beliefs in a new light, now that he’s the only Republican in the race. Although they remain committed to conservative principals when it’s time to cut taxes and welfare, their allegiance is to the team. It’s too bad the new captain is a racist megalomaniac, but we still want to win the game, right guys? That’s how Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee and chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, for Pete’s sake, has to see it:

I am a Republican, but what I care more about is our nation, and where we’re going as a nation. And so again, I hope this isn’t the pattern that is going to occur between now and November. But what I see is, okay, you have got a binary choice.

That’s rich. Corker hopes Trump doesn’t say any more racist stuff, but even if he does, he still won’t be Hillary Clinton. I guess it’s good he’s being honest. But I worry such thinking could lure the Republican Party into damaging its brand more than it has to during this election cycle.

Senator Coker raises a useful question: Is there some theoretical maximum amount of bullshit the Republican Party will tolerate from its nominee? If Trump, for example, broke into the Smithsonian and added “no fat chicks” to the Declaration of Independence, would Ryan pull his endorsement? If the answer is no, no such maximum exists, I don’t know what to tell you. But if there is a limit to what Republicans will tolerate from Trump, they should set it with an eye toward expected value.

Let’s say Nate Silver is right, and Trump has a one-in-three chance of winning the election. It’s twice as likely he will lose. Whenever Trump says some crazy/evil thing, the party has to push more of its reputation into the pot or fold and withdraw its endorsement. As the election continues, it will cost the Republican brand more and more. It will also hurt the personal brands of individual party members. Probably, there will come a point of inflection, when the likelihood of his winning looks slim enough that these Republicans fold en masse.

Either that or no member of the GOP will ever admit that Trump can’t win, because that’s like voting for Hillary Clinton. In 2012, Karl Rove couldn’t even do it after the results were in. Maybe they’ll all go down with the ship. But there’s still time for them to think about it. Republicans should consider what Trump might say between now and when he loses this election, and what else they could lose by agreeing with him.

Friday links! Our shared inheritance edition

A reeve directs serfs on a feudal demesne, circa 1310.

A reeve directs serfs on a feudal demesne, circa 1310.

Much of my week has centered on a lawsuit. It’s not a trial; it’s a binding arbitration, and I am neither the plaintiff nor the defendant. But I appeared as a witness, with all the logistical wrangling that entails. In the process, I developed a sense of just how tenaciously we come to contest anything we contest formally. Once we hold an advantage—be it a parcel of money, a position in a market, or an inherited privilege—we become loath to share it with anyone, even in situations where sharing would seem completely reasonable if lawyers weren’t present. Today is Friday, and we cling to our inheritances fiercely when someone tries to take them from us. Won’t you put property ahead of propriety with me?

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The tomatoes in the word salad of Palin’s Trump endorsement speech

Sarah Palin endorses Donald Trump in Ames, Iowa.

Sarah Palin endorses Donald Trump in Ames, Iowa.

Do not read it aloud or you will summon her, but the full text of Sarah Palin’s endorsement speech for Donald Trump is here. Props to Smick for the link. Palin’s style has always worked better in speech than it does in print. More than one journalist has complained that the hardest part of transcribing her is knowing where to put the periods. She hews to a verbless, pastiche style reminiscent of Allen Ginsberg, if Ginsberg worked primarily in cliché. What is most striking about Palin’s speech from last night is the way it swings from phrase to ready phrase—in it to win it, drill baby drill, failed agenda, lead from behind, we the people and, now, make America great again—much as Tarzan swings from vine to vine. She’s just hollering in the spaces between. Still, certain themes emerge. Video after the jump.

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