A Bright Red Nose for the Clown State

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The other day I tweeted this about the ongoing primary battle on the Republican side:

“The reason Trump is doing well so far is that the clown state is engaged in a diligent search for a bright red nose.”

But this requires further development, along with other related observations need to be made about where we are in this primary process.

In any robust democracy, we expect to see a frank exchange of views.
In any robust democracy, we do expect to see a frank exchange of views.

The primary system in American politics is a lurid and gaudy spectacle. Foreigners who dwell in our midst might be hunting around for an appropriate word to use in order to describe their sensations in watching it, and if they have not already found one, might I suggest the word gobsmacked?

First you gather all those who are closest to you ideologically, and you fight them all to the death. The last driver in this demolition derby then goes out with his battered Chevy to face the dented survivor of the other party’s related efforts.

In the course of the Republican primary campaign, those who backed the eventual also-rans had made sure to rummage through their lexicons of political insult in order to tar the eventual winner in the hope that he would not be the eventual winner but such that, if he is, they will have an awful lot to walk back when they come back round to back him against whatever commie the Democrats have selected.

The logic of this is hard to refute. You put 17 Republicans into the pool that the nominee will eventually have to swim in, and urge them all — since most of them will only be in the pool for a short time — to pee in it now.

Another thing we do during this exhilarating and festive season is called “spin,” or “managing expectations.” The bowler lets the ball go, and it is thereafter going to do what it is going to do, but he dances around at the end of the alley in front of reporters, hoping that his antics will retroactively affect the physics of the thing.

Whatever is communicated by such antics needs to be played to the advantage of whatever candidate is involved. The spokesman, or the candidate, interprets everything to his own advantage, even if that advantage is hanging by the slenderest of hairs. Rubio took second in South Carolina by a margin of . . . what? Because one of the “get out the vote” buses for the Cruz campaign ran out of gas?

This is how Expectations are played. Cruz won Iowa, but this doesn’t count because he was Expected to. Rubio came in fifth in New Hampshire and this was a stunning setback because he wasn’t Expected to. Not only do staffers try to manage expectations, but so do the minions on Facebook. Thus it is that fans of Rubio — who thus far has finished third, fifth, and photo-finish second — have been calling on Cruz — who finished first, third, and photo-finish second — to drop out.

Now the results of the South Carolina primary are quite interesting, but nothing there to cause panic yet. I say this despite the distracting prospect of the bright red nose. This is an elimination tournament, and although it is a very unusual one, it is nevertheless working just fine. Let me ‘splain.

The primary started out with 17, count them, 17 candidates. That means, divided evenly — with that fairness method that Sanders would use — each candidate’s share of support would be around 5.9% of the electorate. So it makes sense that in order to get anyone to their rousing crescendo of momentum, a lot of people have to drop out first. That’s the way this thing works.

That process is proceeding nicely. That’s what processes do. They proceed.

First the no-hopes drop out, then the also-rans, then the close-but-no-cigars, and then you have a race. At the conclusion of that last series, you have a nominee. We kind of have a race now, and we will definitely have a race after Super Tuesday — and it will almost certainly be between Trump, Cruz, and Rubio.

Those candidates who quixotically refuse to face reality, insisting that they will remain until the last dog is hung, will find that their supporters won’t exactly have the same tenacity. In order to stay in effectively, you have to have people show up for rallies, and you have to have donors who are willing to sign checks. If those two things don’t happen, at some point in the near future it doesn’t matter if the candidate drops out formally. Carson and Kasich are already embarrassing themselves; if they remain longer it will only get really embarrassing. Who wants to be the next Gilmore? Wounded pride can line you up for the real humiliation.

The second thing to remember in all this is that Trump supporters are not to be reasoned with right now. Although I do fault them, I do not blame them in the first instance. This spectacle is not primarily their responsibility. They are having a collective hissy fit over the fecklessness of our political ruling class, drumming their heels on the floor, and it is not in the nature of such inarticulate protests to make too much sense. Sense can be made of it, but not from it.

So one thing about it does make sense. A significant portion of the electorate has decided that integrity and honesty should be determined on the basis of how outrageous a candidate is willing to be. Trump just talks, and he says whatever it was that comes into his head, contradictions with last week be damned. His supporters are not looking for integrity in his measured convictions over time. They are looking for integrity as measured by a willingness to be unscripted, unrehearsed, unmanaged, un-PC, and ungovernable. This is a really bad idea, but given the behavior of all the regular politicians in their experience — scripted, rehearsed, managed, PC, and preeminently governable — it is an understandable really bad idea.

But remember that we are in an elimination tournament. We went from 17 to 6 in three elections. Now what is the upper limit for Trump support? Whatever it is, the chances are pretty good that it is a lot lower than the upper limit for the other remaining candidates, whoever they might be. When candidates drop out, what percentage of their support will go to Trump? Precious little of it would be my guess. Trump would fare a lot more poorly, in other words, against one other candidate, than he has done thus far against 16. And we have plenty of time to get to that place.

At the same time, this electoral season has been weird enough to caution anyone against saying a Trump presidency is impossible. He could get the nomination, and Hillary could get indicted at the worst possible time for her, and Trump could stagger across the finish line with a plurality, and the Electoral College might be gummed up, and the House of Representatives might not save us. In short, it is possible that God might judge these United States with a Trump presidency.

And there we would be, as Gutfeld put it, with “Obama in orange face.” It would be a judgment from God, but I have to confess that — having reviewed the Scriptures on the topic — it would be the funniest judgment I have ever heard of.

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Will G
Will G
6 years ago

No Republican will be elected in the future unless immigration is handled. #Trump2016! You should leave Utah more often.

Tim Bushong
Tim Bushong
6 years ago
Reply to  Will G

Utah? What’s Utah? A beach in Normandy? What?

Bike bubba
6 years ago
Reply to  Will G

Your host is from Idaho, Will. Close, but no cigar.

And if you believe that Trump will start deporting the people who are staffing his casinos…..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzTZ76vhnKk

The boy is Hilliary in a better suit, and with worse hair and equal veracity.

Will G
Will G
6 years ago
Reply to  Bike bubba

Sorry, Idaho! Trump is our best bet to make immigration the most important issue. At this point if he doesn’t get the wall it will be a failure.

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
6 years ago
Reply to  Will G

Trump is an equally good bet with Hillary to make immigration an important issue. Either will if they think it will personally benefit them, and neither will if they do not think so.

ArwenB
ArwenB
6 years ago
Reply to  Bike bubba

Definitely no cigar, and (despite the shared border) nowhere near close.

Our host is closer to Canada than he is Utah.

Bike bubba
6 years ago
Reply to  ArwenB

Correction: our host is closer to Canada than he is Utah, eh.

(thanks for the geography lesson, eh)

DJT4POTUS
DJT4POTUS
6 years ago

DJT4POTUS

Justin
Justin
6 years ago

I’m a South Carolinian that did not vote for trump, but instead voted for Cruz. I think the biggest problem for SC is that 70% of us voted against trump, only, that the existence of the bottom three candidates split the vote enough for a Trump win. I was otherwise very disappointed with SC, I was hoping that he didn’t get more than 20% of the vote

D. D. Douglas
D. D. Douglas
6 years ago

You need to capitalize the “to” in “Expected to”. I.e.: Expected To”. A. A. Milne was Pretty Clear about this.
It is a matter of conscience as to whether to capitalize the “not” in “not Expected [T]o”.

” ‘splain” was used in a way that Ricky Ricardo would have owned. Good job.

"A" dad
"A" dad
6 years ago
Reply to  D. D. Douglas

And no attribution to Ricky?
Oh no! Not again!????

Will G
Will G
6 years ago

I work in purchasing for a very large wholesale greenhouse. We employ hundreds of Mexicans and central Americans. I can see at least 50 of them as I am typing. During our peak seasons we bring in temporary help through an agency that supplies us with mostly black Americans. There are more problems with them so the employer does not prefer them at all. I don’t blame him but I feel more for the blacks as they are being cheated out of their jobs and becoming more removed from work life. They are Americans and politicians should be looking out… Read more »

JH
JH
6 years ago
Reply to  Will G

Wow, really? Trump DOESN’T seem like the used car salesman to you? I can just hear him “motivating” his sales force: “I hate it! We don’t win anymore…”

He’s right in some ways, and so, so wrong in many others.

Will G
Will G
6 years ago
Reply to  JH

He’s right about immigration and brave to have taken the issue on with verve and passion. Immigration is what matters right now. What’s wrong with winning?

Christopher Casey
Christopher Casey
6 years ago
Reply to  Will G

“Immigration is what matters right now.”

And if immigration were the only thing that will matter for the next four years that would be a good point.

Will G
Will G
6 years ago

It matters most by a large margin because immigrants vote 8/2 for Democrats. If they get amnesty through that is at least 12 million new Democrats.

Christopher Casey
Christopher Casey
6 years ago
Reply to  Will G

Which only matters if you think republicans will save the U.S.

Will G
Will G
6 years ago

Oh please. Yes, you can know that it is all in His hands ultimately. In the mean time we are stuck in this mortal coil and need to change the oil in our car, get plaque removed from our teeth and prevent invading hordes from destroying the nation.

Andrew Kelly
Andrew Kelly
6 years ago
Reply to  Will G

Mexicans are not “invading hoardes” who are destroying our nation. They have built practically everything we have enjoyed over the last several decades and they are highly involved in our food production – so much so that to deport the illegals would cause the price of food to skyrocket. Sure, they should not get handouts (and neither should citizens), but to advocate for the deportation of human beings made in the image of God, back to a land that they risked life and limb to flee because of the danger and poor living conditions, is despicable. Republicans sound more like… Read more »

JohnM
JohnM
6 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Kelly

Correct. There are reasonable concerns when it comes to illegal immigration and those concerns ought to be addressed. However, Trump’s candidacy, and not a few white nationalists (yes, some of you are) on this blog, are only pushing me away from the sympathy I have with those reasonable concerns. It’s getting harder for me to say it nice. I’m tired of the idiocy of nativists falling into spasms over “invading hordes” of immigrants destroying the nation.

Will G
Will G
6 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Kelly

They are destroying the nation if you would like to maintain the largest middle class the world has ever known. Without borders you have nothing. Btw, Donald J Trump won the Latino vote in the Nevada primary. Apparently they don’t wish to see their nation disappear either. God Bless Donald Trump.

Andrew Kelly
Andrew Kelly
6 years ago
Reply to  Will G

Post hoc ergo propter hoc. Just because the nation is falling away from the Lord on multiple levels (and it is), it does not follow that it is happening because Mexicans showed up beforehand. Our Lord, who commands us to love the sojourner in our midst, is not pleased by our attempts to kick the sojourner out of our midst.

Will G
Will G
6 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Kelly

There are sojourners and then there are floods of migrants due to not defending the borders. Open borders is a decision made in Washington. The collapse of America will not make the world a more compassionate place.

ashv
ashv
6 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Kelly

Why is it despicable for people to have their own countries?

JH
JH
6 years ago
Reply to  Will G

Who said anything is wrong with winning? And who said immigration is what matters right now? I’d take integrity right now (and every day, for that matter) over some blowhard who happened to land on the right side of a key issue. Besides, given his record, maybe he’ll change his mind on it in a couple years when he realizes he isn’t the boss of Mexico and can’t fire the whole dang place like he does on TV.

Alan K Hunt
6 years ago

It’s so encouraging to read sound reason now and then, and so doubly refreshing when it comes with humor and good cheer. Thanks, Doug, for another great round.

John Killmaster
John Killmaster
6 years ago

Haven’t you heard of Rudolph Pastor Wilson? Sometimes you need a bright red nose to lead the way!

Jim-N-NC
Jim-N-NC
6 years ago

A condition more likely to be observed on the town drunk. So there’s that……

J. Frank Norris
J. Frank Norris
6 years ago

Back from Tijuana. The good thing about so many evangelical leaders attacking Trump is that more and more people are realizing that their “Christian leaders” are frauds who simply parrot most of the prevailing orthodoxies, and are just left wing liberals with a little Jesus talk mixed in. This kind of cowardice and treason is one of the main reasons white people are going to turn away from contemporary Christianity by the millions, (in fact, they’ve been doing so for a long time) and that’s a good thing. What they replace it with remains to be seen. Hopefully, it will… Read more »

Ben
Ben
6 years ago

Any candidate would be a judgment from God, Doug. Regardless of who gets elected, the national debt will increase, the money supply will be inflated, the military/security/prison-rape complex will expand, the welfare state will expand, abortions will continue and probably increase, racial hostilities will fester and increase, the Progressive Ruling Intellectual Classes (PRICs) will nag and hate upon conservative white men, and our freedoms to do business, speak, practice religion, etc., will all be diminished. At least with Trump, people might actually start paying attention to what’s going on and then realize how bad they’re getting screwed. Although it is… Read more »

ArwenB
ArwenB
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

That would be the benefit… that the news media would start doing their jobs again…

At least until Trump bought the media companies and fired anyone who badmouthed him ^_^,

ashv
ashv
6 years ago

We’ve had several decades of fake-democracy and now something with a flavour even slightly more like real democracy comes along and all the Reasonable People are appalled. Have you considered that perhaps you don’t actually like popular government, and think it should be left to people trained for and competent in it? Think about it for a while. “Consent of the governed” doesn’t just include people with intelligence or wisdom.

Various parties (most recently Matt Walsh) are in hysterics about Trump “destroying the GOP” or “destroying America”. I doubt he will do either, but I hope something does soon.

J. Frank Norris
J. Frank Norris
6 years ago
Reply to  ashv

Various parties (most recently Matt Walsh) are in hysterics about Trump “destroying the GOP” or “destroying America”.

Their hysteria is hysterical!

Glenn Beck is losing it. First he said Jesus and Moroni killed Scalia so Ted Cruz would be elected. Then Ted lost SC. So, now Beck’s calling for Christians and Mormons across America to join him and his family in farting for a Ted Cruz victory.

ME
ME
6 years ago

“Foreigners who dwell in our midst might be hunting around for an appropriate word to use in order to describe their sensations in watching it, and if they have not already found one, might I suggest the word gobsmacked?” Must one be a foreigner to have sensations of being gobsmacked? Also, I’m not convinced that “utterly astonished” really covers the sheer horror, the peek into the human psyche, that once seen can never be unseen. It is not as if this were my first rodeo either, but speaking of clowns, can we just have the guy in the clown suit… Read more »

J. Frank Norris
J. Frank Norris
6 years ago

This article should have been entitled: A Bright Rainbow Wig and Frilly Pink Underthings for the Clown Clergy.

jillybean
jillybean
6 years ago

Hi Frank, do you actually have a clergyman and does he embody your worst fears about effeminate clergy? Is he part of the call-me-father, dress-like-mother brigade?

ashv
ashv
6 years ago

Another thing: the playbook changed last year. The political alignments we’re going to see for the next few years is going to be nationalism vs globalism instead of culture wars.

JohnM
JohnM
6 years ago
Reply to  ashv

Something like that, I’ll agree with you there. May be that class conflict is going to become more explicit as well.

jillybean
jillybean
6 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

I agree with you. It seems inevitable as we have a permanent underclass and vastly curtailed upward social mobility.

JohnM
JohnM
6 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

And the split may even be three or four fold – between an 1. upper/upper-middle class, 2. a middle class, 3. a mostly unskilled labor class – lower income, and 4. an underclass (virtually no income). From what I gather Trump’s support is mostly coming from 3.

Capndweeb
Capndweeb
6 years ago

“You put 17 Republicans into the pool that the nominee will eventually have to swim in, and urge them all — since most of them will only be in the pool for a short time — to pee in it now.”
Would this be the same pool referred to in “The Piracy That is Socialism?”

Andy
Andy
6 years ago

Best case scenario: Carson and Kasich drop out tonight. Rubio, Cruz, and Trump go to convention, none having a majority of the delegates. 1st ballot, then hit the reset button – open convention baby. Delegates meet at Denny’s for three days. Trump’s out. Who then? Cruz? Rubio? Paul D. Ryan? Doug Wilson? Who likely comes out of that scenario – that veritable piss-pool – as the candidate?

ashv
ashv
6 years ago
Reply to  Andy

That’s pretty much what I’m hoping for as well.

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 years ago

“Thus it is that fans of Rubio — who thus far has finished third, fifth, and photo-finish second — have been calling on Cruz — who finished first, third, and photo-finish second — to drop out.” There’s a bit of misleading spin there. Rubio got 2nd place in South Carolina by more than 1,000 votes. He was beat out for 4th place in New Hampshire by the same margin, and was only 2,000 votes further away from 3rd. And in Iowa he was 2,000 votes behind 2nd, with Cruz only another 5,000 votes ahead of that. As you correctly point… Read more »

bethyada
6 years ago

Question to Trump supporters.

Assuming that some of the issues that Trump has been discussing are of importance: such as unchecked migration into the US, and tax reform.

Why do you think that Trump will be faithful to his promises if elected?

ashv
ashv
6 years ago
Reply to  bethyada

Kind of an odd question. Why do people think Cruz will be a “principled conservative” if elected? Nothing in the system rewards honesty.

I did see the point made that Trump differs from other billionaires in that a high proportion of his wealth is tied up in US real estate, which gives him more incentive to pursue policies directly benefiting Americans.

jillybean
jillybean
6 years ago
Reply to  ashv

I have been looking for someone to explain this to me. What happens to Trump’s investments if he becomes president? Will he be allowed to appoint who handles his money?