More than a few Republican graybeards are panicking about how the rise of Donald Trump is pulling at the seams of the GOP’s big tent. However, the Republican establishment itself has played a big role in creating this particular Frankenstein’s monster.
It’s been a rough month for Scott Walker. From February through July, the Wisconsin governor topped virtually every poll of likely GOP voters in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses. But after a lackluster performance in the opening Republican presidential debate on August 6, Walker dropped nearly 10 points in an average of Iowa polls, sliding to third place behind Donald Trump and Ben Carson, with Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio close behind.
The late great comedian Milton Berle, when introduced to an enthusiastically applauding audience, would hold up his left hand in a modest gesture as if to say thank you but that’s enough, and with his right hand held at waist level encouraged the audience to even wilder applause. President Obama has just accomplished a similar feat. With one hand he has delivered his Clean Power Plan, designed to reduce the use of our own resources of fossil fuels.
The Scrapbook can’t pretend to have had a misspent youth. But we did occasionally wallow in the spectacle of pro wrestling. And it’s pretty obviously the case, as a handful of astute observers have pointed out, that Donald Trump is a close student of, and has been deeply influenced by, the dramatic conventions of pro wrestling.
The idea of writing a book about a presidential campaign that never happened had not occurred to Don Cogman. He had spent two years trying to get Mitch Daniels, then governor of Indiana, to run for president in 2012. His effort—and it was no small effort—had failed. Daniels had moved on, right out of politics. He’d become president of Purdue University.
Needless to say, The Scrapbook is strictly neutral on the results of last week’s Republican presidential debate on Fox News. So neutral, in fact, that we won’t even mention any of the highlights—or lowlights, if you prefer—and certainly won’t weigh in on who swept the floor with whom, who embarrassed him/herself, or who should have been invited to this particular gathering but was not.
In Africa today, President Obama said that he think he's a "pretty good president." So good, indeed, that if he ran for a third term, he "could win." But he cannot, he acknowledged, because it's against the law.
‘Without this deal,” said President Obama on Tuesday, “there is no scenario where the world joins us in sanctioning Iran until it completely dismantles its nuclear program.” That was nothing new. Throughout the negotiations with Iran, “the world” has been one of the president’s favorite defenses against criticism. “Nothing we know about the Iranian government suggests that it would simply capitulate under that kind of pressure,” he continued. “And the world would not support an effort to permanently sanction Iran into submission.”
One might think that after the last Iraq war Democrats would be wary of allowing intelligence to dictate policy. Yet that is effectively what Barack Obama has done with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed in Vienna on July 14. The agreement with Iran is strategically premised on the notion that greater commerce will transform the virulently anti-American, antisemitic, terrorism-fond, increasingly imperial Islamic Republic into something more pleasant. Tactically, the agreement depends on Western intelligence against the Iranian nuclear target.
In his first Inaugural Address, President Obama offered an open hand to the Iranian regime. On July 14, announcing the nuclear deal that is the culmination of that overture, he shook a closed fist at the American people. The president came out swinging—not at the regime in Tehran but at his predecessors in the Oval Office and in Congress who for decades imposed an increasingly tough sanctions regime on Iran.
President Obama had a moment of impressive moral clarity at his Iran press conference Wednesday. It was when he was asked about Bill Cosby.
“I’ll say this: If you give a woman—or a man, for that matter—without his or her knowledge, a drug, and then have sex with that person without consent, that’s rape.” And, Obama continued, “I think this country, any civilized country, should have no tolerance for rape.”
Our attention was drawn last week to the presidential campaign of Lindsey Graham. The Scrapbook likes and admires Graham, the veteran Republican senator from South Carolina, but concedes that he is probably not the likely nominee. Graham’s specialty is foreign relations, which never plays a prominent role in primary politics, and he doesn’t have much of a campaign staff or fundraising apparatus.
Fresh off its widely-mocked exclusive on the traffic citations given Marco and Jeannette Rubio – fewer than one per year, combined – the New York Times has an in-depth look at Scott Walker and the wealthy conservatives who backed him throughout his rise to national prominence. It’s a classic of the genre.