Monday's HOT MIC

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Stephen, all excellent points. (FWIW I left the GOP after it was cool, resigning from my position on my county GOP executive committee last month.) There was an interesting piece by David French over at The Corner asking whether Trump is shrinking the GOP. He comments on this from the NYT:

A new working paper by the Emory University political scientists B. Pablo Montagnes, Zachary Peskowitz and Joshua McCrain argues that people who identify as Republican may stop doing so if they disapprove of Trump, creating a false stability in his partisan approval numbers even as the absolute number of people approving him shrinks. Gallup data supports this idea, showing a four-percentage-point decline in G.O.P. identification since the 2016 election that is mirrored in other polling, though to a lesser extent.

In other words, while Trump's approval numbers remain steady(ish) amongst self-identified Republicans, it's possible that a percentage of those who disapprove of him may no longer identify themselves as Republicans, which could skew the poll numbers relative to November 8.

French explains:

Those who most dislike Trump are more likely to dislike the party that embraced him. Some will stay and fight to reclaim the party from Trumpism. Others, perhaps the more casual members, will distance themselves from the party entirely. In the last six months, I’ve spoken to any number of longtime Republicans who not only ask, “What is the GOP?” they’re also asking, “What is the conservative movement?” I’d also note that the ferocity of the ongoing internal arguments makes it more likely that dissenters simply don’t feel like they belong.  As with any disruptive political moment, some will be attracted by change, others repelled. Unquestionably, Trump brought new voters into the GOP fold. Over time, will they stay? Will the new voters be enough to replace those who leave? Time will tell, but Nyhan’s analysis raises an important point — solidarity among a remnant won’t necessarily save a party from the consequences of a shrinking base.

Look for tax reform to be a major watershed event. If Ivanka has her way, it'll be porked up with family leave subsidies and funding to help female entrepreneurs. And Steve Bannon is rumored to be whispering into Trump's ear about a 44 percent marginal tax rate for the rich (how else is he going to pay for all that infrastructure?). If we end up with Obama's tax policy dressed up in Republican lipstick, look for the GOP rolls to shrink even more as people realize how far the party has strayed from its roots and principles.

This just in: despite GOP ineptitude, Real Americans still really, really, really hate Democrats:

Democrats deserve credit in uniting their party to block GOP attempts at rolling back Obamacare. They managed to outline a vague list of economic priorities in hopes of convincing voters they’re not just obsessed with President Trump. But even after six months of shambolic Republican governance, Democrats are still viewed as an unacceptable alternative to many persuadable voters in middle America.

Those were the sobering findings of a Democratic survey commissioned by the party-backed House Majority PAC, which Politico and McClatchyfirst reported. The poll surveyed working-class white voters in pivotal districts that Democrats are targeting in the midterms. Despite the Trump turmoil in Washington, Republicans held a 10-point lead on the generic ballot (43-33 percent) among these blue-collar voters. Democrats hold a whopping 61 percent disapproval rating among these voters, with only 32 percent approving. Even Trump’s job-approval rating is a respectable 52 percent with the demographic in these swing districts.

Democrats maintain that with robust economic messaging, they can move those numbers in their favor. But the results show how difficult that task will be. By a stunning 35-point margin, blue-collar white voters believe that Republicans will be better at improving the economy and creating jobs than Democrats. Under Trump, the economy has been growing—even in the disadvantaged parts of the country. Between promising job creation and Trump’s own paeans to blue-collar work, it’s hard to see the GOP numbers changing significantly.

Who says there's no good news?

Roger, I'm not arguing that ideology necessarily wins elections. What I am saying is that it gets people to the polls and keeps them motivated. It's what got me involved in the Republican Party in the first place. The idea that my involvement could help move the needle on the ideological issues I care most about led me to donate my time, talents, and treasure to the party and various candidates. If rolling back the administrative state is your big issue (or number two or three), you're probably very happy with Trump and may even work to keep him in power. On the other hand, if reducing regulations doesn't even make your top ten list, there's not much to keep you in the fold at this point. We all have a hierarchy of political needs that causes us to act with regards to candidates and elections. For some, it's that elusive "inspiration" and vision thing. Others have more specific policy-oriented needs. If a party signals that it no longer cares about what the ideological voters care about, their eyes will begin to wander.

Well, it took a while, but PolitiFact scored JK Rowling's tweets about Trump a "Pants on Fire":

She's now deleted the tweet.

I'm not entirely against ideology, Paula.  I'll play the game if I have to.  Maybe I'd put it the way EM Forster did about democracy, to which he gave two cheers in his famous book of essays.  Two Cheers for Ideology. Sure, it's great, but it only takes you so far.  Conditions change.  Also, what appears to be one way on the surface is very often the opposite beneath.  One of my favorite quotes form William Morris (not the agent, the English designer) goes like this:  "Men fight and lose the battle, and thing they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes out not to be what they meant, other men have to fight for what they meant under another name."

Nice, no?  On another matter, I was happy to see Scaramouche go.  Anyone on the right who would trust The New Yorker (?!) is either a nitwit or an illiterate.

Ummm...

Jesus had this to say when he walked the earth:

He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.

Which brings to mind this gem from the wayback machine:

 

Somewhere, heads are exploding.

Texas ‘campus carry’ law expanding to community colleges.

Here in Colorado, colleges have long been forbidden from banning CCW holders from carrying on campus, and we haven't had any problems -- not a one.

Continuing the discussion amongst Steve, Roger, Rick, and myself ... Rick, I think you've made some very important points. Winning elections has always been about building coalitions — uniting disparate factions under the banner of one party or another. Reagan was the master of this. Everyone believed he would go to his grave fighting for the issues they cared about. If protecting the unborn was your issue, Reagan was your guy. If you wanted to defeat the Soviets, so did Reagan. Probably more than you did. If you cared about the economy, again, Reagan was the man to fix it. Part of his appeal was his ability to speak the language of all the disparate factions fluently. He didn't wake up one morning and pop a Rosetta Stone "conservative" CD into his computer. He spent years studying the movement and its principals and honed his speeches over a period of many years to the point that he was a convincing advocate for any and every conservative cause. That allowed him to secure a solid base, which led to his ability to govern effectively. But there was also another side to Reagan. He was popular amongst non-ideological Republicans and also many Democrats because he was inspirational and communicated a vision that made sense to Americans sitting at home watching on TV. Trump excels at the visionary/inspirational part but is deficient in the coalition building and governing skills that the job requires. To Roger's point downplaying the importance of ideology, while that's certainly true for a lot of people, the opposite is also true for many who have supported the GOP over the years. Ideologues are the highly motivated voters who GOTV and do the hard grassroots work of campaigns. Lose those voters and you're left with little more than raw populism. That'll get you one (two at best) elections. After that, what remains is what the Democrats are dealing with now. Once the star fades away, the party splits into factions.

Steve, I saw that story about the now-fired Anthony Scaramucci's cameo in Hollywood, and lemme say I don't believe it, at least the way they framed it. He didn't pay to be in the movie -- the various guilds have strict rules about this sort of thing -- he paid to have his corporate logo in the movie. Pure product placement.

A fascinating discussion today among three very smart, very thoughtful people -- Steve, Paula, and Roger -- about the fate and future of Republicanism and where Trump may be taking it.

It seems to me that we're dancing around the real issue. Is there one Republican Party bound by immutable principles, united by a common vision of governance, and animated by a shared historical understanding of the party's past?

Well, now that you put it that way...

Actually, all of that could be true and has been in the past. What's needed is a dominant personality -- a Taft, an Ike, a Goldwater, a Reagan -- who, by sheer force of will, pulls the various factions of Republicanism together and has them marching in the same direction.

The previous eight years were a mirage. What united the party was opposition to a Democratic president. Obviously, that's not enough. And the Ryan-McConnell idea of "leadership" has been an exercise in trying not to offend anyone who isn't a conservative. The rickety coalition of moderates and career conservatives they've constructed is, quite simply, unable to govern and has failed in offering a coherent vision of what the people of the United States need.

The people are crying out for leadership. They want the vision thing. They want to be inspired.

And not just the activists. In fact, those individual politicians who inspire activists scare the hell out of many of the rest of us.

For the record, the Democrats are in worse shape than Republicans. But again, opposition to a Republican president is masking the true dire straits of their party. Democratic leaders are old, tired social democrats whose ideas have been rejected time and time again. The danger is that Trump will make Republicanism so odorous and toxic that whatever radical candidate the Democrats nominate in 2020 will win -- Trumpism in reverse.

Would that really be the end of the republic? As Roger mentioned, Trump's singular achievement in office has been the rollback of dozens of regulations -- so far. He's not going to eliminate the regulatory state, nor should he. The point is, much of President Obama's legacy was not built on legislation, but on executive orders and regulations. Both have been curtailed, rolled back, or eliminated under Trump, proving that America is a lot more resilient than her cynics give her credit for.