It’s Hillary Clinton vs. the GOP’s “Frankenstein monster”

I once thought that the American presidential election was going to be a battle between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, between the country’s two legacy families, the Clintons and the Bushes.

I am still right, at least so far, that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. In fact, I believe so now more than ever after her spectacular victory yesterday in South Carolina, capturing over 73 percent of the vote and over 80 percent of the African American vote. She simply trounced Bernie Sanders, and I believe this pattern will repeat itself in the primary contests in the slew of Southern states, also with large and important African American constituencies, on Super Tuesday in two  days. And, then, the race is more or less over.

But, obviously, I was wrong about Bush. His legacy did not carry him for long, or really not at all, as his candidacy whimpered out after only four primary contests, in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. He was a bad campaigner, almost pitiful, and although he tried to stand up for what the Republican Party used to stand for, he had no chance in the toxic climate created by Donald Trump, the GOP’s “Frankenstein monster,” as foreign policy expert and Brookings Institution scholar, Robert Kagan, writes in a scathingly critical article of his old party in today’s Washington Post.

Trump has picked up, Kagan writes, where Republican pundits and intellectuals had already had taken the party and where they had left it off, “tapping the well-primed gusher of popular anger, xenophobia and, yes, bigotry that the party had already unleashed.” So let’s be clear, Trump is the party’s creation, “its Frankenstein monster, brought to life by the party, fed by the party and now made strong enough to destroy its maker.”

For Kagan, a former Republican, the only choice in November is to vote for Hillary Clinton, as the “frantic efforts” within the Republican Party to stop Trump have failed, according to a report in today’s New York Times. There was talk of the “Republican establishment” stopping Trump, but who is that and where is it? No, it now seems too late to stop Trump, as all the polls on the doorstep of Super Tuesday point to many more victories for the New York businessman.

What a sad turn of events!

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It’s not only high time — it’s long overdue

It’s not only high time — it’s long overdue that the Confederate battle flag comes down outside the State House in South Carolina.

In 1993, when the battle flag came down from the top of the State House in Montgomery, Alabama, put there by the old segregationist governor, George Wallace, it seemed as if Alabama had, finally, joined the Union.

Let’s hope the members of the State Legislature also look to the future and vote to take it down. But, let’s hope even more than that, as Sally Jenkins writes in her column in today’s Washington Post, that a new debate commences in the United States, where America stops romanticizing and stops teaching fiction, and, instead, starts teaching American history and starts telling the truth that “the Confederacy was treason in defense of a still deeper crime against humanity — slavery.”

In 1865, at Appomattox, when Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant, the Northern commander’s words are worth remembering:

“I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and so valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.”

One of the worst reasons, ever…

Republican “suicide march” now full steam ahead

The Republican roller coaster-like primary election campaign, with three different winners in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, continues, and now it’s Newt Gingrich’s turn to sit at the top.

I blogged after New Hampshire that something special and unexpected had to happen in order to prevent Mitt Romney from becoming the party’s presidential candidate — that’s exactly what took place in South Carolina this week.

Newt Gingrich’s totally improbable upswing in the polls in South Carolina – from 21 to 35 per cent in just five days, while Romney went backwards, from 32 to 26 per cent — was crowned with a victory, and not any victory, but a convincing victory, by 12 per cent, 40 to Romney’s 28 per cent, and with Rick Santorum and Ron Paul at 17 and 13 per cent far behind.

It’s now a two-man race. Gingrich’s clear victory underlines Romney’s weakness among the party conservatives, who dominate the electorate in South Carolina. The Anti-Mitt Romney wing won, at least temporarily, and the final decision as to who will be the Republican presidential candidate has been postponed further, at least until the Florida election on January 31.

In exit polls today, 45 per cent answered that the most important factor for them was if they thought the candidate could beat Obama in November. Among these, 48 per cent chose Gingrich and 39 per cent Romney.  Obviously, Republican voters think Gingrich has a better chance of doing this than Romney.

78 per cent of the voters were very worried about the economy and  61 per cent saw it as the most important issue in the election. Abortion and immigration came far behind. Gingrich’s three marriages seem to have played a small role, as Gingrich won in all groups, among men as well as among women, among the most conservative as well as among the Tea Party sympathizers.

Looking ahead to the presidential election in November, what took place in South Carolina this week is most worrisome, indeed alarming, for the Republican party, and not only because Gingrich won but also because of the way in which he won.

Charles Krauthammer, who like many other leading conservative columnists has warned of Gingrich, recently wrote about “the Republican suicide march,” when the struggling Democratic class warfare narrative was given life and legitimacy by the Republican candidates by attacking Romney and his past success as a venture capitalist.

“In a stroke, the Republicans have succeeded in turning a Democratic talking point — a last-ditch attempt to salvage (Obama’s) re-election by distracting from their record — into a central focus of the nation’s political discourse … This is the GOP maneuvering itself right onto Obama’s terrain … The president is a very smart man. But if he wins in November, it will be luck. He could not have chosen more self-destructive adversaries. “

Leading liberal commentators, like veteran William Greider in “The Nation”, could not believe his ears after listening to the Republican candidates talk about “vulture capitalism” and “crony capitalism” – it sounded as directly taken from the pages of “The Nation,” wrote an astounded Greider.

For what has now, in fact, happened is that the Republican primary election campaign has ensured that the growing economic inequality in America has come into central political focus. It is no longer only a message from Democrats and “Occupy Wall Street.” The struggle between the rich and the rest – between the 1 percent and the 99 percent – will be a major, perhaps decisive, election issue in November. It can only benefit President Obama and the Democratic Party. Hence the “suicide march…”