Thursday, July 21, 2016

Winners and Losers From Night 3 of the Convention

Chris Cillizza has them-as he always does.

To me the winners and losers are obvious unless you try really hard not to see it. As Chris Matthews did tonight.

Maybe I should wait to give them until after looking at Cillizza's list but it really should be obvious.

The big winner is Ted Cruz. The big loser is party unity, and so, Donald Trump

Cillizza has a more nuanced answer-and so gets it wrong. Or not totally right:

"Ted Cruz (if Trump loses): The Texas senator's speech will be the most divisive and controversial of the entire convention. If you like Donald Trump, you HATED Cruz's unwillingness to endorse the nominee. If you don't like Trump, Cruz took a principled stand against a candidate who he simply does not think represents the Republican party or the conservative movement."

"The crowd in the room started out very much on Cruz's side; he received an extended ovation when he walked on stage. But, by the end of his speech, when it became clear Cruz would not endorse Trump, the crowd turned on him — led by the New York delegation, which chanted, "Endorse Trump!"

"Given that, how could Cruz possibly be a winner? Because Cruz's speech wasn't about the people in the convention hall. It was about the Republican Party more broadly — and the doubts many within it still have about Trump's candidacy. This speech cements Cruz as the leading anti-Trump politician in the Republican Party, the one major party leader who refused to bow to political pressure and get behind the real estate mogul. If Trump loses in November, that could well be a very good place to be."

Before the convention night started, there had been a prescient piece in Politico which argued that Cruz plans to run in 2020 wether Trump wins or not.

You wouldn't believe this with anyone else. But Cruz has the track record to make this very plausible.

Cruz is always about Cruz. Nothing would make that change. Usually you'd worry about burning bridges. But Cruz has burnt them all. He never built them in the first place.

And if anything, he earned some new respect tonight. Stuart Stevens:

Trump is a corruption of anything valuable. Cruz rejected the corruption. He'll always be glad he did."

Stevens is a Romney man. This may be the first positive thing he's ever said about Ted Cruz. It's surely the first thing I have.

Back to Cillizza's list. So Cruz is the first winner on the list-which is right, but he makes the mistake of making it contingent on a Trump win. I think it's good for Cruz either way. He burns no bridges as he has none left to burn.

Next he has Mike Pence.

 "For many convention delegates, this was the first time they had ever even heard Pence speak for more than a minute or two. His speech wasn't spectacular. It was workmanlike and self-deprecating. But it accomplished what it needed to: Establishing Pence as a steady conservative firmly behind his running mate. This isn't a speech people will be talking about tomorrow and certainly not one that will fundamentally alter the trajectory of the race. But for a convention where lots and lots of news — not the good kind — has been made in these prime-time speeches, that lack of notoriety is a good thing."

"But, he was totally upstaged. No one is going to remember what his speech was. The only thing anyone remembers tonight is the Snub."

So he's not much of a winner. Cruz basically rained on his night completely.

UPDATE: I just heard this on the local news. GOPers are worried that Cruz overshadowed Pence. Of course he did. No one will remember Pence's speech.

Then Cillizza has Laura Ingraham. Interesting choice. No real problem with that.

"The conservative radio talk show host was fiery and angry — and the crowd ate it up. She called out the media. She called out the "boys" — Cruz, Marco Rubio — who had their feelings hurt in the primary and weren't ready to get behind Trump. I'm not sure Ingraham's speech did anything to appeal to anyone but the hard-core Republican base. But those are her listeners! Her speech might have been bad for a Republican Party hoping to win the White House this fall, but it definitely won Ingraham more listeners."

Of course, it shows you, yet again, how demeaning it is to be a minority in the GOP. She is painting Little Marco with the same brush, though he did kiss Trump's ring just because he's also Hispanic.

Wouldn't you feel better being Cruz right now?

So for the losers, Cillizza has Cruz if Trump wins of course. I already explained why I'm not sure this is the case for Cruz-it would be for a normal politician.

Certainly he's right that Scott Walker is a loser:

"Watching the Wisconsin governor speak, I was reminded of how wrong I was about Walker's potential as a presidential candidate. Walker looked so good on paper — conservative, Midwestern swing state governor, etc. — but when the bright lights went on, he simply couldn't make it go. That was again the case Wednesday night; Walker's attempts at a call and response — "America deserves better" — fell flat. His speech, which he memorized, felt rote and unemotional. A big part of politics is performance; Walker proved again he is not a performer at the highest levels."

True. Beyond content, he looks small next to Cruz who upstages him. The Vichy Republicans-Walker, Christie, Little Marco-will have Trump's taint on them for years to come.

Ted Cruz and John Kasich at least avoid that.

Cillizza rightly also calls Republican unity the big loser.

"Any hopes that the story of this convention would be Republicans' ability to put aside their differences and the nasty rhetoric of the GOP primary season was extinguished in the final five minutes of Cruz's speech. His unwillingness to endorse Trump — and the reaction from Trump supporters on the convention floor to that — laid bare the ongoing tensions between the party's presidential nominee and certain sectors of the GOP. There is no papering over what happened on the floor on Wednesday night. It was division, pure and simple — a sign that the wounds caused by the primary have not healed and may not heal."


But in that vein, he misses another big winner tonight: Hillary Clinton.

Think Ted Cruz's speech might make it onto a few Hillary ads?

Cruz gives Hillary a slogan. Cruz bared the blade with this memorable line:

"To those listening, please, don’t stay home in November. If you love our country, and love your children as much as I know you do, stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution," Cruz said.

For Hillary Clinton, a candidate who has struggled with crafting a concise message, the heavens opened instantly and rained bumper stickers.

An hour or so later, Clinton tweeted “Vote your conscience” with a link to a voter registration page.

Read more:

By no means does this bother Cruz either. He hopes Hillary does win.

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