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Belmont Club

The Battle of the Brands

January 9th, 2014 - 2:54 pm

One of the ways to better evaluate Chris Christie’s current problems with a bridge scandal is by reading Jonathan Rauch’s underrated 2010 essay, The Tea Party Paradox. He helps answer the question: should Republicans care about Christie? Rauch notes polls unambiguously show that the US is getting more conservative, yet Democratic pundits point out this has not translated into more GOP votes.

Rauch argues that there is no contradiction. “Over the past decade or so, the country has grown more conservative but less Republican.”

Why? Pew’s eight-category breakdown of the public by both party and ideology suggests the answer. Independents’ market share has increased at the expense of the Republicans’. And, since about 2006, the leading growth category has been conservative independents. … According to Pew’s surveys, a solid majority of Republican-leaning independents, 55 percent, disapprove of the Republican Party’s leaders. …

For now, the saving grace for Republicans is this: if debranded Republicans are sour on Republican leaders, they are positively repelled by Democratic leaders.

The bad news, as Rauch points out, is this means the Republicans have evolved into a party based on ideology, whereas the Democrats are held together by payoffs. “In 2010, the Democratic Party is a coalition of liberals, conservatives, and moderates … The GOP, however, has become for all practical purposes a conservative party.” This makes for strange numbers. The Democrats can grow coalitions faster than the conservative numbers increase. The “Republicans’ problem is that core conservative constituencies … are shrinking as a share of the electorate. Core center-left constituencies — minorities, left-leaning women, professionals and socially liberal Millenial Generation voters — are growing.”

One of the reasons Christie has been so effective until now — whatever you may think of him — was that he knew how to pull the levers and deal across the fence. This level pulling ability has now proved to be his undoing. Christie’s greatest sin — to both Democrats and conservatives — is that he’s a Republican governor who dared to act in the Chicago Way.

And that’s as should be. If you act like an adherent of one party then maybe you should join it. The other way to pose the question to Republicans is whether “if you can’t beat them, join ‘em’”

So the question can be put this way. Does  the future of Republicanism look like Chris Christie or Ted Cruz? A lot depends Rauch concludes, on how badly president Obama screws up. “Over the  next couple of years, Obama and congressional Democrats could help Republicans escape their dilemma by pulling to the left … far enough … to let the GOP build a winning coalition of libertarian independents, Republican partisans and disaffected moderates.”

Thus, if Obama is moderately competent, a guy like Christie will be needed to gather up enough to fill the Republican tent. But if Obama keeps his present ruinous course, a Cruz or Cruz-type leader may have a chance because the electorate will be driven to outrage.

But other possibilities besides the ones Rauch suggested seem possible. The most obvious other trajectory is if the Democratic coalition begins to fall apart once it can no longer maintain the payoffs.  A genuine economic crisis would dissolve the glue that holds the Democratic party together.

The other line of course is that the conservatives become the senior partners in a GOP coalition simply by remaining the only ones left standing. A sufficiently dysfunctional Obama administration could create a situation not unlike that found in Third World politics where the resistance becomes sainted not for its powers of governance but simply because it is the only force that retained its integrity in a political system corrupted by the Chicago Way. Say “no” long enough to the Landburger Gessler and eventually Rossini writes a symphony named after you.

Which brings us back to Governor Christie. Tammy Bruce theorizes that the Christie emails were a scandal being reserved by Democrats for later use, yet which were released now to grab the headlines away from the Robert Gates accusations. But if Rauch is to be believed some conservatives will gladly be rid of Christie and may even be grateful for the Democrats for expending their firepower on him, the better not to have him on the 2016 Republican ballot.  This may work if Obama keeps running pell-mell into the minefield of disaster.

In the end it may not be Christie with his bridge but Obama selling the voters a bridge that will decide the outcome.


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Top Rated Comments   
Every player in politics has their own version of what they consider to be "victory". The thing is, what those victory conditions are; are not necessarily the same thing for all the players. And each player tends to assume that what they consider to be victory is what the other players consider to be victory, and act accordingly.

In real life, that does not hardly ever obtain. Every player has a separate concept of victory, and is playing for that and not what the other players think they are. Case in point, the regime is playing for a permanent Statist dictatorship. And they are well along in their game with most of their opponents assuming that they are playing by the rules and the Constitution for limited stakes. This ignores the fact that they have abandoned both the law and Constitution and have already committed such acts that if the law and Constitution ever come back into force; the only choices are going to be a profusion of oubliettes, a bunch of bullet-pocked walls, or lamp post ornaments strongly coming into fashion.

The Patriot movement wants a return to the law and Constitution, and a government that is both within its bounds and is actually on the side of Americans. But they are only just now starting to realize that conventional electoral politics have been rendered moot; by the actions of the regime, and by the fact that the supposed opposition party is anything but. And that as it is said: "Der Krieg ist eine bloße Fortsetzung der Politik mit anderen Mitteln.".

That leaves the Institutional Republicans and their allies. The Institutional Republicans have no intention of ever defeating the Democrats on any point. Aside from sharing the Democrats’ Statist beliefs; if they won, they would have to do something [or more likely NOT do anything] and be held responsible for it. They are in it for the illusion of power and the perks, believing that their honorable colleagues across the aisle will never really treat them the way that the regime's base calls for. After all, they are all part of the Nomenklatura together. Of course, so were the Mensheviki and later the Old Bolsheviks in the 1920's and 1930's. It did not work out well for them.

Their best case scenario does not include winning, but it also does not include losing so badly that even the Institutional Nomenklatura loses seats or they are reduced to less than 1/3 of Congress. If they reach that point, they might as well not bother to even show up, and they will be ignored and treated like …. well, like they and the Democrats treat us.

They figure they can hold enough seats and power if we Conservatives just stay home, but not enough if we form a 3rd [or really a SECOND] party. Their victory conditions are to suppress the Patriot movement and cling to privilege.

So they are not tone deaf, their concept of what constitutes victory just is far different from what we conceive.

Subotai Bahadur
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14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Living in Wisc., I have been impressed with Walker. A spine of steel! He has been playing his cards very close to the vest of late. He is facing a tough re-election this year. No doubt the campaign will be framed by MSM as an historic opportunity for Wisc. to elect its first woman governor. Walker did refuse to set up a state healthcare exchange and expand Medicare. Good for him.

And Jindal has much to recommend him. One of the smartest guys in politics and I believe he is a true believer in the American Idea.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
>>>Rauch argues that there is no contradiction. “Over the past decade or so, the country has grown more conservative but less Republican.”

Why? Pew’s eight-category breakdown of the public by both party and ideology suggests the answer. Independents’ market share has increased at the expense of the Republicans’. And, since about 2006, the leading growth category has been conservative independents. … According to Pew’s surveys, a solid majority of Republican-leaning independents, 55 percent, disapprove of the Republican Party’s leaders. …

For now, the saving grace for Republicans is this: if debranded Republicans are sour on Republican leaders, they are positively repelled by Democratic leaders.<<<

Agreed with your analysis of those dynamics, but there are two points from where you take it that may be being missed.

1) There is a limit to how far the Institutional Republicans can openly separate from the conservative Base before the level of distaste at their repeated betrayals convinces the Base that there is not a sufficient difference between the two parties to warrant enduring the Institutional leadership. One of the great questions to be answered, making the highly questionable assumption that conventional politics still holds, is how close we are to that point or whether we have passed it already. And trust lost is not something that can be regained in the time span we have remaining before any of several crises hit the house of cards.

2) Then there is the very cogent, but not talked about in polite circles, question of whether we are still in fact still operating with conventional electoral politics that has rules and follows the law and Constitution. If only one of the major political actors has made the decision to go for all the power forever; then the system is broken, irreparably, short of major physical, economic, and cultural travail. If only one actor has gone rogue, and all others pretend that nothing is wrong, then the only end is tyranny.

If more than one actor has given up on conventional electoral politics within the law and Constitution, and others are either collaborating with them or acting in opposition; then everybody's dance card is going to be full until a new Mandate of Heaven is established.

As far as Christie is concerned, he is not by any means a Conservative. Thus, Conservatives do not give an obese rodent's gluts about his travails. Technically, he is a Republican, so the State controlled media will go at him full force. The Institutionals will not stand up for anyone attacked by the media, out of fear or out of ideological agreement. Now if Conservatives had attacked Christie, the Institutionals would have gone thermonuclear in his defense.

If Obama continues to leave the pooch walking bowlegged, and in fact is going for all the power; then Christie, and the Institutionals, are historical footnotes of no real account. There will be some form of Enabling Act, and they will meekly submit. If Obama somehow achieves "moderate competence" .... well given what we have seen so far; I don't bet on odds that long.

Subotai Bahadur
(show less)
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (56)
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Here' how I see the numbers. There were roughly 60 million who voted for Obama. There were roughly 60 million that voted for Romney. Most importantly, there were 99 million voting eligible Americans who stayed home.

The democrats have figured out how to turn out their coalition almost to the man. They are superb on the ground. But unless they actually grow their numbers, they aren't getting any larger, as their coalition members are busily aborting themselves out of the gene pool. They are getting old. This is why they want 11 - 22 - 30 million illegals brought into the fold.

OTOH, of those 99 million, we have what I believe to be mostly conservative people who have adopted the old George C Wallace view that "There's not a dime's worth of difference” between the two political parties. They stay home. They refuse to play.

Who on our side turned them out to vote? Nixon did in 1972 and Reagan did twice. Bush 41 came close the first time around, but his rejection of Reaganism cut into the numbers significantly. And they all went away by 1992, though a number initially supported Perot until he proved he was certifiably insane. We got a similar bump with Palin in 2008.

Convince an appreciable percentage of those stay-at-home voting eligible Americans to turn out and vote a few times in a row and it won't matter what the democrats do.

I believe the best candidates this time around will be Rick Perry and Scott Walker. Cheers -

14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Peggy Noonan notes

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304347904579311053885912542?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

"Gov. Chris Christie acquitted himself well in his "Bridgegate" news conference, and emerged undead. He said he had "no knowledge or involvement" in the apparent scheme by his political operatives to take revenge on a New Jersey mayor who refused to back him in the 2013 election. He had "no involvement," in the four-day-long traffic jams they arranged on the George Washington Bridge. Learning of it left him feeling "blindsided," "embarrassed," "humiliated" and "stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here." He claimed personal responsibility, announced the firing of a top staffer, apologized to the state, and said he'd go to Fort Lee to apologize to the town and its mayor. Instead of leaving the podium at the end of his statement he stayed for a barrage of questions. The appearance went almost two hours. You can make mistakes, lose your focus and poise, when you let the press exhaust itself asking questions of you; it took guts and brains to pull it off.

He made some mistakes. There was a lot of "I" and "me" even for a modern politician. He tends toward solipsism and is too interested in his feelings. At times he seemed to see himself as the victim, when the victims of course were the state's commuters, including children on school buses.

It was reminiscent of President Obama's sighing, a few months ago, that he'd been "burned" by the rollout of ObamaCare. Actually America got burned. If only he, so much more powerful and consequential than a New Jersey governor, ever faced a barrage of questions."

What goes around comes around. It will be Obama's turn at the podium again soon. So for the trolls, the Song of the Day by Connie Francis

Who's Sorry Now

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vql_1pO9FZw
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is interesting that the moby trolls and DU/Kos Kiddie baiters are back. This can not be a coincidence. You can actually see them establishing the narratives. Whether using the mask of "true conservatives' or in your face lefty condescension the point for them both is the same. This community is seen as a threat and is under attack. The game as Holmes said is afoot.

Those who are serious and loyal must remember, even when we disagree about issues like the future of the Republican Party or any specific policy, that the real apparatchiks are out there and seeking to weaken us. Don't abandon either the fight or your principles. Do consider the the intentions of the voices egging disagreement on.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
The career bureaucrats from either wing of the Ruling Class get pissy when you start threatening their false dichotomy. Can't be having people get the wrong idea, so the insults and strawman beatdowns must commence.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Now I have to wonder if this story wasn't the real reason why Obama acted so blatantly abusive towards the public during the government shutdown ... closing the national parks, barricade the war memorials and scenic overlooks and generally rubbing the public raw to this sort of of petty tyranny against the general public. Maybe it was all battlespace preparation against a Christie candidacy in 2016. Look how conservatives are turning on Christie for acting just like Obama did. Imagine if the Democrats had been able to keep this story down until a week or two before the general election.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ironically, the problem with Christie is that he has never given the slightest indication that he gives a s**t about the motto on the NJ flag. Wonder if he is even aware of it?
http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=nj+flag+images&qpvt=nj+flag+images&FORM=IGRE&id=EEC03E34F4EF5323E8E2716FB61C77F2535F0F52&selectedIndex=5#view=detail&id=EEC03E34F4EF5323E8E2716FB61C77F2535F0F52&selectedIndex=0

Imagine if the (formerly?) popular Republican governor of NJ were branded with his state's motto. The fact that he has never seized on this brand - a brand that is staring him in the face every day - speaks volumes. Christie is Mitt Romney with a Jersey attitude.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Neither the Republicans nor the Republic need failed governors like Christie.

If Christie or any other governor runs for the nomination, he must run on his record. So, let’s check:

NJ is an income-tax state. Did Christie abolish the income tax? No: failure.
Did Christie cut the NJ government budget by 50% or more? No: failure.
Did Christie abolish three or more NJ departments? No: failure.
Did Christie abolish 50% of the regulations afflicting the people? No: failure.

Why vote for another stay-the-course, conserve-my-predecessor’s-innovations Republican?
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
That is an idiotic standard for success or failure of a Governor, or a President for that matter. To do any of those things you'd have to have an unassailable majority in the Legislature. To do some of them you'd have to amend the state constitution. If you ran for governor - or President - on a platform of doing all those things, you'd carry about three districts, all in The South or intermountain West.

If some of you self-annointed "true conservatives" aren't trolls being paid by some Soros-funded outfit, Soros is missing a great opportunity.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think most everyone is missing the main point here. Regardless of who instigated this action, the outrage should be directed at the fact that some bureaucrat (regardless of party affiliation) has the power to initiate this type of action on the general public. I for one, want to know who, along the chain, approved or condoned closing those lanes of traffic. It wasn’t just one person, it had to be a string of people from the Governors office all the way through NJ DOT or at least Fort Lee traffic management personnel. Clearly, this is the same level of corruption we are seeing in the IRS punishment of conservatives and other groups they view as a threat to their political leaders. Reminds me of union tactics.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
they were just following orders...
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Don't make more of it than there is. If some suit tells the guy wearing the safety vest and helmet working for DOT, or in this case probably the Port Authority, to put out traffic cones, he'll just do it. Since it is a union state it will probably take a crew of six plus a non-working foreman half a day to do it, but they'll do it.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rauch is absolutely wrong. The Democrat Party is a socialist/communist party with a a large number of dependent criminals. The Republican Party is a center/left party. No one in the Republican leadership wants to abolish or amend the New Deal, the Great Society, the welfare state, affirmative action or environmental activism. They wouldn't even vote against the incandescent light bulb ban in their own committee. While there are many conservatives and libertarians in the US, there is no conservative party
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
While there are many conservatives and libertarians in the US, there is no conservative party

Not according to Democrats and their cheerleaders.

Of course, to them, everything to their right is far right, to the point of being "extremists".
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Christie's problems may serve as a paradigm for crushing Obama.

He is a former prosecutor, so he ought to know something about the law, and he may even know something about English Law, which historically (e.g. original intent) informed American law.

From Wikipedia Malfeasance in office

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malfeasance_in_office

"Under English law, misconduct (or misfeasance) in public office is an offence at common law.[1]

The offence carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. It is confined to those who are public office holders, and is committed when the office holder acts (or neglects to act) in a way that constitutes a breach of the duties of that office.[2]

The Crown Prosecution Service guidelines on this offence[1] say that the elements of the offence are when:
1.A public officer acting as such.
2.Wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself.
3.To such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in the office holder.[3]
4.Without reasonable excuse or justification.

The similarly named malfeasance (or misfeasance) in public office is a tort. In the House of Lords judgement on the BCCI Malfeasance Case it was held that this had 3 essential elements:[4]
1.The defendant must be a public officer
2.The defendant must have been exercising his power as a public officer
3.The defendant is either exercising targeted malice or exceeding his powers

"Misconduct in public office" is often but inaccurately rendered as "misconduct in A public office", which would mean something different."


The complaint is Christie was acting like a bully in high public office, in other words was acting in accordance with "The Chicago Way". By comparison, Obama is by far the most prominent practitioner of "The Chicago Way".

Would anyone else like to see BHO get "a maximum sentence of life imprisonment"?

See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commentaries_on_the_Laws_of_England


The Commentaries were long regarded as the leading work on the development of English law and played a role in the development of the American legal system. They were in fact the first methodical treatise on the common law suitable for a lay readership since at least the Middle Ages. The common law of England has relied on precedent more than statute and codifications and has been far less amenable than the civil law, developed from the Roman law, to the needs of a treatise. The Commentaries were influential largely because they were in fact readable, and because they met a need. The work is as much an apologia for the legal system of the time as it is an explanation; even when the law was obscure, Blackstone sought to make it seem rational, just, and inevitable that things should be how they were.

The Commentaries are often quoted as the definitive pre-Revolutionary source of common law by United States courts.[citation needed] Opinions of the Supreme Court of the United States quote from Blackstone's work whenever they wish to engage in historical discussion that goes back that far, or farther (for example, when discussing the intent of the Framers of the Constitution). The book was famously used as the key in Benedict Arnold's book cipher, which he used to communicate secretly with his conspirator John André during their plot to betray the Continental Army during the American Revolution.


14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
As an aside, isn't it appropriate that a constitutional law scholar could so easily lump Barack Obama with Benedict Arnold as traitors to American Democracy?

14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...some conservatives will gladly be rid of Christie and may even be grateful for the Democrats for expending their firepower on him, the better not to have him on the 2016 Republican ballot."

This is where I am, right now. In my opinion, Ted Cruz is the "future of the conservative movement. However, whether that future is as Republicans, the Tea Party, or some third Party, to be named later, is an open question.

Cruz won't be on the 2016 ballot because he is smart enough to know that he only has one shot at the Presidency, and that he needs more experience in national politics. Cruz will spend the four years between '16 and '20 building his credentials, and a support base of conservatives, while Hildebeest, or her Democrat surrogate continues Obama's policies, destroying the US, and outraging ever more of the electorate. In 2020, Cruz will win in an historic landslide, and his party will take BOTH houses of Congress.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Agree that Christie is collapsing under his own weight. However, every time I see Ted Cruz on TV he seems OILY to me. Puts me in mind of a sardine.

Scott Walker doesn't seem fishy at all to me.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
2016 is a long way off. Rudy Giuliani should keep his powder dry. He could be just what we need, a take charge leader of proven ability with a kick ass attitude.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Can't have him; he's not a "true conservative."
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
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