Thursday, December 17, 2015

Glenn Beck isn't Sure Trump Would be Better Than Hillary Clinton

I have noticed something this week that I wrote about yesterday.

Howie Carr is clearly getting a little cool on Trump. Not anything he has said explicitly but the subtext suggests he's a little cooler than he was before. He is using Trump's mocking of Ted Cruz's lack of popularity in the Senate as a wedge issue to divide conservatives from Trump.

Rush Limbaugh also criticized Trump on Cruz but still makes it clear he is not off the reservation or anything like that. Still, Rush seemed a little more enthusiastic about Cruz than Trump post debate yesterday.

He said nothing bad about Trump and did say some good things but he was really emphasizing Cruz. Mark Levin was very critical of Trump's Cruz criticism as well. He seems to have basically forgiven Trump for now, and said he made a lot of sense on foreign policy at the debate. But he too just seems a lot more enthusiastic about Cruz than Trump.

Now here is Glenn Beck:

"He then suggested that Trump might not be a better choice than Hillary Clinton."

"I know there’s a lot of people in the GOP who are like, ‘Look, he’s better than Hillary Clinton.’ Maybe, I don’t know," Beck said.

"Beck said that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) would be his top choice for president, and predicted that the nomination would come down to either Trump or Cruz."

"Trump fired back at Beck on Wednesday night, saying that Beck, who left Fox News in 2011, got fired "like a dog."

So what is going on? I have a suspicious that some of these Right wing talk show hosts are getting a little antsy. Throughout the campaign the mainstream Beltway press has been of course very antsy about Trump and just at a loss of what to do. Trump breaks their rules and shows their irrelevance. It really bothers them that they don't have the ability to take him down.

Now the Right wing hosts have mostly been positive about Trump until now but now maybe they feel as if he is kind of maybe breaking their rules now. Maybe they want to feel like while Trump can skate in the face of a furor by the mainstream press, surely, they, the Right wing talk show hosts truly are the gatekeepers who if they say Trump has gone too far, he's gone too far.  Maybe seeing him at 40% in the polls last week has got them thinking twice. 

While they may laugh at the Beltway press, they feel that they themselves should have the ability to take down Trump. It will be very interesting to see if this is the case. My guess-no. Trump is not the creature of Right wing talk radio either. 

Rush-who remains pretty positive on Trump-actually provides the reason why it's no in what he said yesterday. 

"I've said this a number of times, and this is something that's gonna needs to be repeated. The majority of Trump's support base does not come from the Republican base. A lot of it does, but not the majority. I mean, his support base is all over the place, demographically. He's got blue-collar people in there. He's got disaffected Democrats. He's got some Hispanics. He's got a lot of women that support him. It actually is what the Republican establishment claims they want the party to be."

Rush may be exaggerating how many Latinos like Trump-though there are some; there are, interestingly, a number of black Trump supporters too, again not a huge amount but some-but his general point is right and was confirmed by Frank Luntz's research into Trump supporters. It is not primarily movement and religious conservatives, a la, Ted Cruz. 

"First, Trump’s support is not particularly ideological. In recent YouGov polls, 20 percent of his supporters describe themselves as “liberal” or “moderate,” with 65 percent saying they are “conservative” and only 13 percent labeling themselves as “very conservative.” Less than a third of his supporters say they are involved with the Tea Party movement. Their views put them on the right side of the American electorate, but they cover the Republican mainstream."

"In terms of demographics, Trump’s supporters are a bit older, less educated and earn less than the average Republican. Slightly over half are women. About half are between 45 and 64 years of age, with another 34 percent over 65 years old and less than 2 percent younger than 30. One half of his voters have a high school education or less, compared to 19 percent with a college or post-graduate degree. Slightly over a third of his supporters earn less than $50,000 per year, while 11 percent earn over $100,000 per year. Definitely not country club Republicans, but not terribly unusual either."

But if this profile is correct, how many of them are going to leave Trump because of the criticism of Howie Carr or Glenn Beck?

In many ways, as I argued yesterday, there is an analogy between Right wing hosts and Trump and the relationship of candidate Barrack Obama in 2008 vs. much of the old black civil rights activists.

Jesse Jackson, Cornell West, Travis Smiley. In principle you'd assume they'd love the rise of Obama but at some point what frustrated a number of them was that Obama was not their creature-they did not create him and he didn't need them.

I think something like this may be starting to happen with Trump and Right wing talk radio. At the end of the day, Trump is not a conservative-he's a Right wing populist. But these are conservative talk show hosts-and conservative pundits:

"Reihan Salam, executive editor of National Review, told The New Yorker:

"Trump is not someone I consider an ideal candidate — he does not represent my line of thinking. But he is proving that certain beliefs the professional political class had about who Republican primary voters are — what they respond to, what they care about — were just incorrect."

"For those on the traditional right, one of the most infuriating aspects of Trump’s ascendance is the sense that a man described by Jeb Bush, according to Politico, as “a buffoon” and a “clown,” has wrested control of their party, an institution they have spent five decades turning into the home of principled ideologues."

As has been noted, Trump is no ideologue-he's more an opportunist. But this actually is why I would-faced with such a choice-choose him over a real conservative Republican. It's the true believers rather than opportunistic egoists like Trump who are impossible to deal with.

For more on this idea, see this piece by Ruth Marcus.

"Trump's deficiencies are evident, increasingly so. He is a demagogue and a bully. He lacks both preparation for the office and ideological convictions. He has thought deeply about ... nothing, except how to promote Donald J. Trump."

Yes, but she ultimately comes to the conclusion that a President Ted Cruz would be even scarier.

"Look I don't expect either to be President but I would say that I'll take the vain opportunist over the Right wing True Believer any day of the week and twice on Sunday. What has made the GOP such an outler in recent years is ideological purity not opportunism. Because Trump is so driven by personal ego and vanity, he'd be easier to negotiate with. Remember, at the end of the day, he wants a deal. This is something even Putin seems to get. But then, are Putin and Trump so different?"

Women know this from their experience-it's always the egotistical man who is easiest to deal with-to get what she wants from.

 Ok back to the conservatives. Trump is making them nervous too. He doesn't talk the lingo:

"Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, looks at Donald Trump and does not see a conservative. Together with Ramesh Ponnuru, a senior editor, Lowry wrote in the October 19 essay “Trump Wrongs the Right” that Trump:

"basically never says “freedom” or “liberty.” He gives no indication of caring about the Constitution. He talks only sparingly about the federal debt. He has, in short, ignored central and longstanding conservative tenets that seemed to have become only more important in the tea-party era — and he has not only gotten away with it, but thrived."

This is a point I tried to make to Tom Brown in an earlier comment. Trump may say lots of crazy things. But he doesn't say every crazy thing. There is Trump crazy and then there is crazy stuff Trump himself knows is crazy and wouldn't say. I'm very glad that he doesn't talk like Rich Lowry and his support would be narrower if he did. 

Ok, bottomline. It seems to me that this is a fissure worth considering going forward in analyzing the GOP primary. It's pretty clear that the Establishment has no ability to kill Trump's support. But what about the movement conservatives and Right wing talk radio, et. al?

It seems to me that a lot of these conservative pundits are trying to nudge the base towards Cruz-and so, away from Trump. What will be fascinating to see is if this works. 

The reason for this is obvious-Cruz is a real conservative, and Trump isn't. But again, assuming that the profile of Trump's supporters is right-they aren't mostly movement conservatives-the ability of even Right wing radio to reassert the 'laws of political gravity' will be limited. 

P.S. Of course, in the bird's eye view, if this is going to end up a food fight between Trump and Cruz then the big winner no matter who wins is the Democratic party. 


  1. Looks like Coulter is sticking with Trump though:

    And we'll see about Breitbart and Ingraham.

    1. Coulter is focused like a laser on keeping demographic shifts from burying the GOP for good. She doesn't want Texas to go blue. So she sees throwing brown people out of the country, and closing the country off permanently to any more brown people to preserve white hegemony as far and away the #1 goal.

      The is no surprise with her given her past association with (and defense of) the blatantly white supremacist CCC. She's willing to throw all other conservative principles under the bus. Iraq war? Fuck it. Abortions? She says she'll help Trump perform them in the white house. Lol.

      I think it's clear that Trump will remain the 1st choice of racists and bigots (for obvious reasons), and they aren't necessarily all movement conservatives.

  2. Yes, she will no matter what. She's single issue on anti immigration

    1. I'll be more than delighted to a nasty personal fight develop between Coulter and some of these other right wingers. One that leaves deep scars that never heal. It's always the "splitters" that get the most grief from insane extremist groups.

  3. Beck has been pretty anti-Trump from day 1. However, to say he's no better than Hillary is a change worth noting.