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Romney Condemns Trump

A grownup finally steps in. Bear in mind, this is an argument aimed at Republicans.

Full text and video.

Transcript, from the Los Angeles Times (slightly modified by me):

I am not here to announce my candidacy for office. I am not going to endorse a candidate today. Instead, I would like to offer my perspective on the nominating process of my party.

In 1964, days before the presidential election which, incidentally, we lost, Ronald Reagan went on national television and challenged America saying that it was a “Time for Choosing.” He saw two paths for America, one that embraced conservative principles dedicated to lifting people out of poverty and helping create opportunity for all, and the other, an oppressive government that would lead America down a darker, less free path.

I’m no Ronald Reagan and this is a different moment but I believe with all my heart and soul that we face another time for choosing, one that will have profound consequences for the Republican Party and more importantly, for the country.

I say this in part because of my conviction that America is poised to lead the world for another century. Our technology engines, our innovation dynamic, and the ambition and skill of our people will propel our economy and raise our standard of living. America will remain as it is today, the envy of the world.

Warren Buffett was 100% right when he said last week that “the babies being born in America today are the luckiest crop in history.” That doesn’t mean we don’t have real problems and serious challenges. At home, poverty persists and wages are stagnant. The horrific massacres of Paris and San Bernardino, the nuclear ambitions of the Iranian mullahs, the aggressions of Putin, the growing assertiveness of China and the nuclear tests of North Korea confirm that we live in troubled and dangerous times.

But if we make the right choices, America’s future will be even better than our past and better than our present.

On the other hand, if we make improvident choices, the bright horizon I foresee will never materialize. Let me put it plainly, if we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished. Let me explain why.

First, the economy: If Donald Trump’s plans were ever implemented, the country would sink into a prolonged recession.

A few examples: His proposed 35% tariff-like penalties would instigate a trade war that would raise prices for consumers, kill export jobs, and lead entrepreneurs and businesses to flee America. His tax plan, in combination with his refusal to reform entitlements and to honestly address spending would balloon the deficit and the national debt. So even as Donald Trump has offered very few specific economic plans, what little he has said is enough to know that he would be very bad for American workers and for American families.

But wait, you say, isn’t he a huge business success that knows what he’s talking about? No, he isn’t.

His bankruptcies have crushed small businesses and the men and women who worked for them.

He inherited his business, he didn’t create it.

And what ever happened to Trump Airlines?

How about Trump University?

And then there’s Trump Magazine and Trump Vodka and Trump Steaks, and Trump Mortgage? A business genius he is not.

Now, not every policy Donald Trump has floated is bad. He wants to repeal and replace Obamacare. He wants to bring jobs home from China and Japan. But his prescriptions to do these things are flimsy at best. At the last debate, all he could remember about his healthcare plan was to remove insurance boundaries between states. Successfully bringing jobs home requires serious policy and reforms that make America the place businesses want to plant and grow.

You can’t punish business into doing the things you want. Frankly, the only serious policy proposals that deal with the broad range of national challenges we confront, come today from Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich. One of these men should be our nominee.

I know that some people want the race to be over. They look at history and say a trend like Mr. Trump’s isn’t going to be stopped. Perhaps.

But the rules of political history have pretty much all been shredded during this campaign. If the other candidates can find common ground, I believe we can nominate a person who can win the general election and who will represent the values and policies of conservatism. Given the current delegate selection process, this means that I would vote for Marco Rubio in Florida, for John Kasich in Ohio, and for Ted Cruz or whichever one of the other two contenders has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state.

Let me turn to national security and the safety of our homes and loved ones. Trump’s bombast is already alarming our allies and fueling the enmity of our enemies. Insulting all Muslims will keep many of them from fully engaging with us in the urgent fight against ISIS. And for what purpose? Muslim terrorists would only have to lie about their religion to enter the country.

What he said on 60 Minutes about Syria and ISIS has to go down as the most ridiculous and dangerous idea of the campaign season: Let ISIS take out Assad, he said, and then we can pick up the remnants. Think about that: Let the most dangerous terror organization the world has ever known take over a country? This is recklessness in the extreme.

Donald Trump tells us that he is very, very smart. I’m afraid that when it comes to foreign policy he is very, very not smart.

I am far from the first to conclude that Donald Trump lacks the temperament of be president. After all, this is an individual who mocked a disabled reporter, who attributed a reporter’s questions to her menstrual cycle, who mocked a brilliant rival who happened to be a woman due to her appearance, who bragged about his marital affairs, and who laces his public speeches with vulgarity.

Donald Trump says he admires Vladimir Putin, while has called George W. Bush a liar. That is a twisted example of evil trumping good.

There is dark irony in his boasts of his sexual exploits during the Vietnam War while John McCain, whom he has mocked, was imprisoned and tortured.

Dishonesty is Trump’s hallmark:

He claimed that he had spoken clearly and boldly against going into Iraq. Wrong, he spoke in favor of invading Iraq.

He said he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11. Wrong, he saw no such thing. He imagined it.

His is not the temperament of a stable, thoughtful leader. His imagination must not be married to real power.

The President of the United States has long been the leader of the free world. The president — and yes, the nominees of the country’s great parties — help define America to billions of people. All of them bear the responsibility of being an example for our children and grandchildren.

Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities. The bullying. The greed. The showing off. The misogyny. The absurd third grade theatrics. We have long referred to him as “The Donald.” He is the only person in America to whom we have added an article before his name. It wasn’t because he had attributes we admired.

Now imagine your children and your grandchildren acting the way he does. Will you welcome that? Haven’t we seen before what happens when people in prominent positions fail the basic responsibility of honorable conduct? We have, and it always injures our families and our country.

Watch how he responds to my speech today. Will he talk about our policy differences or will he attack me with every imaginable low road insult? This may tell you what you need to know about his temperament, his stability, and his suitability to be president.

Trump relishes any poll that reflects what he thinks of himself. But polls are also saying that he will lose to Hillary Clinton.

On Hillary Clinton’s watch at the State Department, America’s interests were diminished in every corner of the world. She compromised our national secrets, dissembled to the families of the slain, and jettisoned her most profound beliefs to gain presidential power.

For the last three decades, the Clintons have lived at the intersection of money and politics, trading their political influence to enrich their personal finances. They embody the term “crony capitalism.” It disgusts the American people and causes them to lose faith in our political process.

A person so untrustworthy and dishonest as Hillary Clinton must not become president. But a Trump nomination enables her victory. The audio and video of the infamous Tapper-Trump exchange on the Ku Klux Klan will play a hundred thousand times on cable and who knows how many million times on social media.

There are a number of people who claim that Mr. Trump is a con man, a fake. There is indeed evidence of that. Mr. Trump has changed his positions not just over the years, but over the course of the campaign, and on the Ku Klux Klan, daily for three days in a row.

We will only really know if he is the real deal or a phony if he releases his tax returns and the tape of his interview with the New York Times. I predict that there are more bombshells in his tax returns. I predict that he doesn’t give much if anything to the disabled and to our veterans. I predict that he told the New York Times that his immigration talk is just that: talk. And I predict that despite his promise to do so, first made over a year ago, he will never ever release his tax returns. Never. Not the returns under audit, not even the returns that are no longer being audited. He has too much to hide. Nor will he authorize the Times to release the tapes.

If I’m right, you will have all the proof you need to know that Donald Trump is a phony.

Attacking me as he surely will won’t prove him any less of a phony. It’s entirely in his hands to prove me wrong. All he has to do is to release his back taxes like he promised he would, and let us hear what he said behind closed doors to the New York Times.

Ronald Reagan used to quote a Scottish philosopher who predicted that democracies and civilizations couldn’t last more than about 200 years. John Adams wrote this: “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” I believe that America has proven these dire predictions wrong for two reasons.

First, we have been blessed with great presidents, with giants among us. Men of character, integrity and selflessness have led our nation from its very beginning. None were perfect: each surely made mistakes. But in every case, they acted out of the desire to do what was right for America and for freedom.

The second reason is because we are blessed with a great people, people who at every critical moment of choosing have put the interests of the country above their own.

These two things are related: our presidents time and again have called on us to rise to the occasion. John F. Kennedy asked us to consider what we could do for our country. Lincoln drew upon the better angels of our nature to save the union.

I understand the anger Americans feel today. In the past, our presidents have channeled that anger, and forged it into resolve, into endurance and high purpose, and into the will to defeat the enemies of freedom. Our anger was transformed into energy directed for good.

Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes. He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants, he calls for the use of torture and for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit First Amendment freedom of the press.

This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.

Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.

His domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president. And his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill.

America has greatness ahead. This is a time for choosing. God bless us to choose a nominee who will make that vision a reality.

And here’s Mr. Trump’s responses to a pre-release of the transcript:

…Right. Because what Mitt Romney wants is to see Republicans lose an important election.

…I’m gonna guess, “Because at the time, he was running for President, and you weren’t.”

Here’s one thing you might not have noticed right away: @realDonaldTrump fires up his Twitter account pretty early in the morning.

Image by seatonsnet Romney Condemns Trump


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Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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415 thoughts on “Romney Condemns Trump

  1. :rolleyes: I remember when Romney was an entitled, out-of-touch goof, a total establishment tool, a product of such privilege that nothing he said meant anything. But now he’s saying things Team Blue likes, so now he’s a grown-up.

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    • I don’t recall ever saying such things about him. It’s true that I didn’t prefer him as opposed to President Obama, but not for those reasons.

      Indeed, IIRC, I was reasonably pleased when he got the GOP nomination because I thought that unlike, say, Rick Santorum or Michelle Bachmann or Newt Gingrich or Herman Cain, Mitt Romney was the grownup in the room.

      But feel free to research my past posts and comments and prove my memory wrong.

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      • For the record-

        Team Blue has not issued credentials to Burt Likko to be a member in good standing.

        He has not completed the prerequisites-

        Sent out “Happy Holidays” cards during the War on Christmas;
        Said “Check Your Privilege” to a white person;
        Forced a bakery to make a cake celebrating his upcoming marriage to his dog.

        Criticizing Team Trump is simply not good enough.

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        • “Team Blue has not issued credentials to Burt Likko to be a member in good standing.”

          More things which Burt has not presented proof of doing:

          Thrown red paint on somebody wearing fur (but not a biker wearing leather).

          Participating in a public gay orgy on a pride parade float.

          Spitting on veterans (note – cutting their benefits and destroying the VA does not count – that’s ‘Loving America’).

          Not taking his own side in an argument.

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      • welp.

        I’m not overreacting. I and my fellow non-believers have been demonized as part of a desparate attempt to save a sinking campaign. Romney and his aides refuse to deny that they’ve done this. Sure, there are many times as many theists as seculars in America. But by some estimations we are about 15% of the total population — proportionally about as many as there are African-Americans compared to other racial groups. If Romney had demonized that minority instead of the one he did, how would you have reacted?

        The video is more interesting from a personality point of view. It is clear that Romney does not enjoy being challenged and has had quite enough of this reporter. He doesn’t lose his cool, but he does heat up a little bit, and the level of his frustration and anger is manifest in his seeking a second round of confrontation with the reporter…the video is worth watching, at least for political junkies, to see what Romney’s like when he’s mad.

        A look inside Romney’s Michigan victory: He promised auto workers that their jobs would be coming back because as President, he’d spend twenty billion dollars for them and soften fuel-efficiency standards. My guess is that the auto workers in Tennessee and Alabama, where those jobs wound up going, will be told a different story by Romney when he campaigns there the week after next. As will environmental advocates in California, tax-relief proponents in Connecticut, and balanced budget hawks in Delaware.

        Right away, we see that W. Mitt Romney the then-Governor-elect is passively sitting back after getting elected, reviewing resumes and applications during his transition. He doesn’t have any ideas about who he’s going to appoint to Cabinet-level positions? That doesn’t sound right. …for a higher-level position, for an incoming executive, there ought to be no trouble finding most if not all of those position from within the ranks of one’s own supporters, partisans, and acquaintances…Wherever last night’s “binders” statement is placed on the continuum between the rock-solid verifiable objective truth on one end and a brazen intentional deception on the other, it does reveal what Romney wants us to believe about him.

        So, y’know. I guess you can claim that you weren’t utterly trashing Romney, but it’s not like you were standing around saying “boy, that Romney, top-class fella, totally worth listening to on many a subject”.

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        • Hey! That’s the way you do it! Things I’ve actually said! Do me a favor and send some pointers over to , who’s been reduced to backhandedly calling me names after apparently running out of ammunition elsewhere in the thread.

          Now, with your having found actual things that I have actually written thrown against me, , I have three potential counter-moves. I shall avail myself of all of them, and you may take this use of all three maneuvers as a token of my respect for you as an antagonistic interlocutor.

          First, I can point out that the evidence does not support your argument. Which was to accuse me of hypocrisy by imputing to me prior accusations that

          Romney was an entitled, out-of-touch goof, a total establishment tool, a product of such privilege that nothing he said meant anything.

          In 2012, Mitt Romney was disrespectful to non-believing Americans. My accusation was of “bigotry.” It isn’t entitled, out-of-touch, goofy, tool-of-the-establishment, or hyper-privileged to the point of meaninglessness (n.b., this last appears to be redundant with “entitled”). To be sure, I think Trump is a bigot, too.

          Similarly, in 2012, Mitt Romney did make nonsensical promises to pander for votes.* Nowhere in that post did I accuse him of entitlement, out-of-touchness, goofiness, tool-of-the-establishment-hood, or hyper-privilege to the point of meaninglessness. I accused him of pandering for votes in a way that he could not possibly have delivered upon. I dislike it when any politician does that, and so should you. (I will not link to this post as you have quoted it in full.)

          Second, I can point out that you’ve taken my remarks out of context. In 2012, Mitt Romney did get not-classy with that reporter. And I did think it showed us an ugly side of his personality. But note that in that same post I also said:

          To be fair, I strongly doubt that this distasteful trait is unique to Romney amongst the population of major candidates for the Presidency. I’d bet that all of them, even the seemingly genteel Barack Obama or the seemingly affable Fred Thompson, can be like that. And one thing we don’t know is how much pushing this reporter had done with Romney in prior press stops — the handler afterwards indicates that this was not the first time this reporter had confronted Romney.

          So, I certainly wasn’t praising the man, but really, was this particularly harsh criticism? Hardly. I’m capable of much, much, more vitriol than that.

          Similarly, In 2012, Mitt Romney did dissemble, to his discredit, when challenged about a lack of women in his administration and his efforts to respond to that. Note, though, the conclusion that I drew about Romney as a result of that:

          I deduce that he’s really got no particularly strong feelings about the subject. His concern about women in his cabinet was one of trying to avoid an accusation that he was sexist. In word but not deed, he’s against affirmative action. In deed but not word, he’s only against affirmative action when it’s called that — if you call it something else or you just do it without a name, he’s in favor of it, as long as it’s not called what it is. [¶] The truth seems to be, he just doesn’t care that much about affirmative action one way or the other.

          Not praise, to be sure, but this wasn’t a particularly scathing condemnation.

          And third, I can accuse you of missing the point. As I’ve copped to elsewhere in this thread, in 2012 I found Romney to be a flawed candidate, who did not earn my vote. Indeed, I found him flawed and morally plastic as early as 2007. I preferred Obama to Romney (FTR I didn’t vote for Obama, either.)

          None of my past critiques of Romney suggest in any way that I see any reason not to take at face value the apparent good faith motivating Romney’s speech today: he obviously wants to see Republicans have electoral success, and he obviously wants to see the country governed well. He and I might disagree about how that ought to be done in some areas more sharply than others.

          I believe that even after your fisking of my epistolary history, I am acquitted of labeling or dismissing Romney as

          …an entitled, out-of-touch goof, a total establishment tool, a product of such privilege that nothing he said meant anything.

          If that evidence was out there, you’d have found it by now.

          But the point is, you also won’t find anywhere me having accused Romney of tempramental unsuitability for the Presidency. Mitt Romney likely would not have been the President I would have preferred. But I wouldn’t have been embarrassed to say to my friends from abroad that he was my President.

          * Here I see a place where one might call out Romney’s anti-Trump broadside as hypocritical. This does not, however, mean that I am similarly a hypocrite. I never promised auto workers in Michigan their jobs back on the strength of billions of Federal dollars. Indeed, I was critical of Romney for making such a promise, as you point out.

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            • Yes, I do. It would be good for Republicans to do so, if only to disabuse the rest of the country of the notion that they are somehow in thrall to evangelicals.*

              hey do have S.E. Cupp, but she seems to apologize for her atheism (really, being an atheist herself and realizing that this does not equate to “no moral compass,” she ought to be willing to consider voting for another atheist). Maybe I’m over-sensitive about that. I haven’t read her book criticizing media outlets for a purported attack on Christianity, which seems an unlikely sort of thing for an atheist to write, but like I say, I haven’t read it and therefore don’t really know what her argument or intellectual motives for the book are.

              But she’s also a conservative commentator, not a Republican candidate for office. Baby steps, I guess.

              * Maybe Donald Trump is actually doing that, in his own way.

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              • Yes, I do. It would be good for Republicans to do so, if only to disabuse the rest of the country of the notion that they are somehow in thrall to evangelicals.*

                Because it would be so much better if we were in thrall to the teachers’ unions, the trial lawyers, Hollywood, black grievance entrepreneurs, and the higher education apparat.

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                • “… black grievance entrepreneurs….”

                  Meaning people who are tired of unaccountable government murders.

                  Time and time again the right proves that Trump is of them. He’s not a fluke, and every nasty thing that he says is merely core beliefs acknowldged.

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                  • I know a guy who goes off onto anti-SJW rants at the drop of a hat.

                    Well, I lie. He doesn’t wait for someone to drop a hat. He scours the internet looking for dropped hats. He scrutinizes everything, looking for things that COULD be a dropped hat.

                    It’s the most sublime act of projection I’ve ever personally witnessed.

                    He’d use the term “black grievance entrepreneur”, right after posting about some obscure even that “offended him” that probably took him five hours to find…..

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            • Baby steps. Let’s first work at being comfortable with being in the same room as someone who is openly secular. If you think I’m pointing fingers at the Arizona State House (today, that is – tomorrow it will be someone else, sadly), you’re not wrong.

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              • What? I can get you video of the guy at Liberty University, reading from the book of Two Corinthians!

                But, I kid. He’s Presbyterian, just ask him the way Maggie Haberman did, and he’ll tell you:

                I believe in God. I am Christian. I think The Bible is certainly, it is THE book..First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica Queens is where I went to church. I’m a Protestant, I’m a Presbyterian. And you know I’ve had a good relationship with the church over the years. I think religion is a wonderful thing. I think my religion is a wonderful religion.

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      • I was reasonably pleased when he got the GOP nomination because I thought that unlike, say, Rick Santorum or Michelle Bachmann or Newt Gingrich or Herman Cain, Mitt Romney was the grownup in the room.

        And you fancy you’re in a position to make determinations like that?

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          • You have four people. I’ll leave aside Dr. Gingrich, whose had all kinds of issues professional and domestic (though I doubt all of them were his fault). The other three are between the ages of 53 and 67. Two of them have done many things with their life other than engage in electoral politics and would likely be better off per important measures if they were somewhere else. The third you could infer he might, but his pre-political career, while off to a good start, was truncated. All three of them have been married for in excess of two decades, none has ever been divorced, and they have 15 children between them (not including the batch of foster children cared for by one of them). None of the three had much of a leg up growing up (two really had none at all). Two of them are about as straight up as members of Congress get about what they think and why.

            Now, you can refer to these three individuals as if they were inhabitants of a day care center, not because you’re ‘qualified’ to do that, but because nothing prevents you from typing out the most inane utterances.

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        • “And you fancy you’re in a position to make determinations like that?”

          Yes, we are. And it’s quite clear that the GOP is not. Their current ‘deep bench’ proved that their alleged elites are – well, bottom-feeders.

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      • I think that what Team Blue has to do with it is with the whole “look at what this respected elder statesman of the Republican Party is saying about Trump” thing where, were Romney the nominee, he would not be considered a respected elder statesman by most of the folks in Team Blue.

        The rhetorical tactic is similar to saying “don’t just listen to me, listen to this other guy who agrees with me! You like this other guy, don’t you???”

        “What happened to the jokes about magic underwear and the dog on top of the car?”

        “Why are you abusing this elder statesman so?”

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        • I dare say the majority of the Democratic Party is not rooting for Romney to win out in this matter.

          Also he did say “Elder Statesman of the Republican Party”. Isn’t that just acknowledging that since Romney did win the 2012 nomination that presumably the GOP at least must think well of him?

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          • The term I’ve seen pop up in the last couple of weeks is “GOPe”. I presume that the ‘e’ stands for “establishment”.

            I have no doubt that the GOPe thinks well of Romney. They probably wish that he hadn’t run last time so that he could be running this time.

            I think that Trump’s base, such as it is, consists of a lot of people who don’t give a dang about what Romney thinks.

            Romney could well be giving an argument to “real” Republicans who say #nevertrump and helping bolster them for the upcoming unpleasantness at the convention (and potential 3rd party run?!?) but Romney’s not going to change the mind of a single Trump voter.

            He’s only trying to strengthen the spines of those who might be tempted to say “well, I guess I’ll support the eventual nominee… like I said I would when I promised I would when I thought that I was trapping Trump into supporting the eventual nominee…”

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          • NPR would seem to agree. This AM they called Romney “Repub leader” or some such, as if the R nominee, who didn’t win, conveyed some status.

            Maybe it does, maybe it does with “team blue”, maybe it does with Repubs. I have no idea. I don’t personally give him any such status.

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      • To use an analogy — I can recognize a good pass when I see one, even if it’s thrown by a Certain Team That Shouldn’t Be Named (the big rivals of my own team, of course).

        I can even praise a GREAT pass thrown by a member of that horrible, no good team. I’ll even comment on it, as much as I want them to lose.

        Of course in this case, what you had was a somewhat competent pass (when you’d given up on the team even understanding the rules) which, of course, sadly lacked a competent receiver to catch it.

        It’s not something you’d comment on generally, but given the overall nature of the team in question — it’s a miracle play compared to their normal inability to even remember how many players should be on the field.

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  2. …I’m gonna guess, “Because at the time, he was running for President, and you weren’t.”

    Actually, are we sure Romney actually asked for Trump’s endorsement? On its face, the simplest explanation is that Trump just made that up.

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  3. But wait, you say, isn’t he a huge business success that knows what he’s talking about? No, he isn’t.

    His bankruptcies have crushed small businesses and the men and women who worked for them.

    He inherited his business, he didn’t create it.

    And what ever happened to Trump Airlines?

    How about Trump University?


    (at about 2 minutes 20 sec)

    Donald Trump has shown an extraordinary ability to understand how our economy works, to create jobs for the American people

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  4. I mean, this is the most eye-rolling ‘oh, so *now* your upset, and *now* you’re going to do something about it?’ since Stalin whined about Operation Barbarossa.

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    • The Club for Growth is pulling out all of the stops.

      I’m interested in seeing if this is the attack that will finally kill Trump… but, honestly, it’s doing a bit more to portray Trump as the only anti-establishment guy in the race.

      Well, him and Bernie.

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      • I’m not sure the CfoG’s overall gameplan. Either their power is negligible or there’s a deep strategy to avoid endorsing Cruz – whose totes onboard for the CforG agenda – for the time being, or they’re letting personal feelings get in the way. Letting personal feelings dictate tactics was fine until Super Tuesday actually happened and Kabio/Rusich didn’t. Deep strategy may be that a CforG endorsement would be an establishment kiss of death and wind up helping Trump. Is CforG’s only actual objection to Trump that he may damage the downticket races and lose the Senate or even the House? Also state legislative and governor races? Because Trump is on board with the tax and regulation agenda of the CforG, except for free trade.

        In any case, Romney is literally the worse vehicle for driving an attack on Trump. Even John Oliver is better positioned than Mitt.

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      • For Trump supporters, does anyone really think that Romney coming out against trump is going to sway them? So who was Romney’s speech targeted at? It must have been the undecideds. But it’s Romney. Those current undecideds probably didn’t vote for Romney in the last election, why should they pay attention to him now?

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        • Well of course Romney was aiming at the undecideds in the primary election and also the R establishment. There was probably also a little bit of positioning for the general election. Trumpets aren’t likely to have their minds changed much at this point, although his support might erode over a long general election campaign. While Trumpy is winning it’s not like there aren’t many Repubs very leery to hostile to him.

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                • My prediction was that after super Tuesday the GOP would rally around keeping both Cruz and Rubio (I had Carson in there too, cuz grift) in the race to get it to the convention without Trump having 1237 or a big lead. Romney might be working that angle.

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                  • Are we speculating at this point? Rubio drops out after losing Florida. Kasich wins Ohio, but little else. Trump crushes Cruz in New York, New Jersey, and the West Coast states, arriving at the convention that close to a majority. Offers the VP slot to Kasich, along with a private promise to not run in 2020, and the Kasich delegates put him over the top.

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                    • Yes, speculating. My speculation was that the GOP’s strategy will be to continue to back Rubio no matter what his chances of winning to get the race to the convention (which, rather unironically, is Rubio’s stated strategy as well) on the premise that more candidates in the running increases the likelihood that Trump doesn’t get to 1237.

                      Adding: Course, Roger Aisles has said Fox won’t be fluffing Rubio anymore, so that puts a ding in my theory only two days after unwrapping it.

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                    • And to your point about delegate count, I think it’s even better for Trump than what you outline. This is cribbed from another person’s work which I took it as legit, but if Trump keeps gobbling up proportionals at the pace he’s on, he’ll win the nom outright by winning the winner take all states.

                      So right now, he looks likely to get to 1237 either way.

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                    • The biggest problem with the idea of a brokered convention stopping Trump is that he’s going to roll into the convention with enough or almost enough delegates. All that he has to do is to pick up a few more. The opposition has to put together a coalition of multiple factions, some of whom hate and distrust each other.

                      The next biggest problem, of course, is Trump burning the place down with a third-party revenge run.

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                • I think your first instinct was right. I just can’t see undecideds for whom Trump was an option being persuaded by Romney. Romney certainly could help push non-Trump undecideds to a particular candidate – but that was not his purpose or deed Thursday. Just because undecideds are breaking for Rubio doesn’t mean a high percentage of them ever had Trump as an option.

                  There is talk that Romney was speaking to donors – essentially saying to every GOP-aligned donor that the “real” party is saying there is no point at which the donor base should be thinking about rallying to Trump should he start to look truly inevitable. Voters, too, I suppose. So I would say it’s more aimed at the already persuaded – imploring them to stay strong no matter what – than at undecideds or current persuadables.

                  And fair enough, that. In that sense I think it might have been delivered a bit early. But Romney can always do it again, or others can repeat the exercise.

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            • Agreed Jay, but there’s also an element of “Show the flag-rally the troops” to it. Note he didn’t endorse any of the other candidates. This may very well have been intended as much to make the GOP elite hold the line and was aimed as much at GOP officials considering breaking ranks and pulling a Christie as it was at undecided primary voters. Because if the establishment shatters and begins frantically currying favor with Trump the other candidates will be finished.

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        • One aspect of the Trump voter appears to be a very strong confidence that he would win the general election. Is that confidence shakeable by the prospect that some of the most effective Clinton ads will be clips from recognizable Republican leaders?

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          • “Is that confidence shakeable by the prospect that some of the most effective Clinton ads will be clips from recognizable Republican leaders?”

            I doubt it. The people voting for Trump in the primaries are IMHO the ones who most likely believe that the GOP lost in ’08 and ’12 by not running a ‘Real Conservative’.

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        • I don’t know the answers to your second question, but here are two possibilities:

          1. Romney is angling to make a 3d party run a la John Anderson.

          2. Romney really is concerned for the country and wants to do anything to prevent Trump from winning, and if that means criticizing him might help that outcome, he will.

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          • The sad part of this is that a large, large number of people have become so cynical and jaded that they dismiss #2 as risible — no one could possibly have such a motive. Certainly not a guy like Mitt Romney.

            I think quite the opposite: politicians get into politics for precisely this reason. They get corrupted along the way, but bear in mind that the corruption comes in the form of their being told that something which they already thought was in the public benefit will simultaneously and only coincidentally be to their own personal advantage as well. Spend too long listening to that song and after a while distinguishing between the two becomes a more difficult task.

            But even for a politician who has been well and fully seduced by this, there is still a core belief that “What I do, I do for the good of the country as a whole.”

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    • I caught the very beginning of Trump’s speech in the car. I think there’s some confirmation bias going on among the Twitter reviewers. It’s like a stand up act; the non-sequiturs actually have a good deal of sequitur, especially if you’re receptive to the message.

      for example, the beginning of the speech, went something like (right after ejecting some hecklers/protesters):

      (paraphrase from memory) I was going to go to Detroit for the debate right after Florida, but I said yesterday let’s go up to Maine. Now, that means I had to go like this, instead of this, way out of the way, but it was totally worth it. This is a beautiful place with the little towns and the roads through the hills. I saw the same thing when I was in New Hampshire last month, very beautiful place, little towns, roads through the hills. But you know what the number one problem is? Heroin. I asked how could that be, it’s such a beautiful place with the little towns and the roads through the hills. The answer is the heroin is coming across the southern border, so we need to stop stuff coming across the southern border.

      Now, it’s not my cup of tea, so to speak, but I can see how it *works*. Heck, it was able to stick with me enough for the last hour for me to write it down just now.

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      • It really seems like journalists just cannot wrap their head around Trump voters. These aren’t gaffes or non-sequitors, this *is* his style. This is *why* his voters like him. It’s why he did a press conference instead of a prepared speech after Super Tuesday. Here’s him poking fun at his own hair in a long set-up for an anti-global warming pitch:

        So he’s got a problem with the carbon footprint. You can’t use hairspray because hairspray is going to affect the ozone.

        Let’s see. I’m in my room in New York City and I want to put a little spray so that I could… [Trump massages his hair and acts out putting in gel] … Right? But I hear where they don’t want me to use the hairspray. They want me to use the pump because the other one, which I really like better than going “bing, bing, bing”, and then it comes out in big globs, right? And then you’re stuck in your hair and you say, “Oh my God, I have to take a shower again. My hair’s all screwed up.” Right?

        I want to use hairspray. They say, “Don’t use hairspray. It’s bad for the ozone.”

        So I’m sitting in this concealed apartment, this concealed unit. You know, I really do live in a very nice apartment. Right? But it’s sealed. It’s beautiful. I don’t think anything gets out and I’m not supposed to be using hairspray.

        But think of it. So Obama is always talking about the global warming, that global warming in our biggest and most dangerous problem. Okay?

        No, no, think of it. I mean, even if you’re a believer in global warming, ISIS is a big problem. Russia is a problem. China is a problem. We’ve got a lot of problems.
        By the way, the maniac in North Korea is a problem. He actually has nuclear weapons. Right? That’s a problem.

        We’ve got a lot of problems. We’ve got a lot of problems. That’s right. We don’t win anymore. He said, “We want to win.” We don’t win anymore. We’re going to win a lot. If I get a elected, we’re going to win a lot. We’re going to win so much. We’re going to win a lot. We’re going to win a lot. We’re going to win so much you’re all going to get sick and tired of winning. You’d say, “Oh no, not again.” I’m only kidding. You never get tired of winning. Right?

        He makes you laugh, and then he makes you think.

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        • And when it comes to debates (especially Fox debates) he goes in and clowns the entire collected conservative AND GOP establishments (both) and trades out their solemn lingua franca for his absurdist comedy routine. He’s not trying to score points or prevent them being scored on him; he’s looking to establish contempt for the entire process and all the expectations of those who take it seriously. That’s a big part of the basis of his support; his actions mirror and express the contempt that some part of the GOP base plus a lot of previously disengaged voters feel for the process and those who control it.

          I suppose the sharper members of the establishment get this, but they can’t just, like, cancel the debates…

          …Can they?

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        • “It really seems like journalists just cannot wrap their head around Trump voters. These aren’t gaffes or non-sequitors, this *is* his style. This is *why* his voters like him. It’s why he did a press conference instead of a prepared speech after Super Tuesday. Here’s him poking fun at his own hair in a long set-up for an anti-global warming pitch:”

          The problem that the press and the GOP establishment both have is that many, if not most, of the criticisms of Trump are criticisms of the GOP itself. It’s hard to find obnoxious and ojectionable things about Trump which are not core GOP beliefs.

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  5. I will note, on further pondering, that for a vulture capitalist like Romney who made his bucks buying out companies, plundering their pensions, loading them up with leverage, using that leverage to pay himself huge dividends and then sending the companies off to sink or swim on their own the allegations against Trumps repeated bankruptcies smack of… something.

    I’m not going to call it hypocrisy because in some cases those companies were helped by this and it’s true the companies they gobbled up were by and large circling the drain anyhow but… somehow I don’t think he’s going to have a lot of pull on that issue.

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  6. Romney’s much better play would be to go weapons safe at this point, wait for the potential brokered convention, and then be the honest broker to either be the kingmaker or take the crown himself.

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      • Do we have any reason to think he won’t run third party if he gets snubbed? (By my lights, a snub coupled with a third party run kicks the Existential Threat scenario the GOP is worried about up to defcon 5. If he keeps winning he’ll have all the leverage, and as we know he makes really good deals, just tremendous deals, people love the deals he makes :)

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        • I’d say that from a Romney/Elite POV the threat they’re confronting is Trump taking over the GOP and wrecking it rather than a third Party Trump run. They’re trying to keep him from shattering the GOP down to its’ rotten core; the Presidency in 2016 is definitely a second order concern at this point. A Trump third party run could or could not lose them the Presidency but it likely wouldn’t endanger the Senate and House or the GOP’s current status quos the way a GOP Trump nomination would.

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          • I hear ya. We’re talking about two different things here, tho, seems to me. The first is the Existential Trump Threat, and the other is pragmatics (Trumps effect on down ticket races).

            In my view, and assuming Trump is the clear leader at the convention (let’s leave out whether he gets to 1237 for now) choosing not-Trump effectively dismantles the GOP and for more reasons than simply rejecting Trump. My other point would be that downticket races won’t be affected either way, since anti-Trump/pro-GOP folks would be even more incentivized to vote GOP downticket with Trump at the top, while pro-Trump supporters would be inclined to vote against GOP downticket if he’s been snubbed.

            ETA: which is to say that if Trump wins the nom or is the clear leader, the GOP is pretty much reduced to picking up the shattered pieces of their party at the national level on either scenario.

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            • Okay yes, well first off if he gets to 1237 he has the nomination; they can’t take it from him. He could quite possibly take them to court and they would lose. Not even the GOP establishment would be dumb enough to try and block that.

              Now assuming he gets less than 1237 but more than any other candidate. The rules say the delegates are bound to vote for the first round only. Then you light up the cigars and start wheeling and dealing. On a rule and laws level at this point the GOP could take the nomination from Trump and give it to someone else, really just about anyone else, so long as they can corral the necessary delegates. Now in terms of should they do so? Obviously if Trump is the delegate leader and he doesn’t win the nod because of this kind of maneuver you can guarantee he’ll run a third party bid. The GOP will lose the Presidency but since there won’t be any Trump party down ticket candidates the contagion would be contained. Potentially the Trump voters might exit the party en masse (funny I just started salivating) but would the party shatter? No I don’t think it would.

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              • North :
                “Okay yes, well first off if he gets to 1237 he has the nomination; they can’t take it from him. He could quite possibly take them to court and they would lose. Not even the GOP establishment would be dumb enough to try and block that.”

                I would bet that they could, and that no court would touch this – it’d be purely an internal ‘private’ organizational matter.

                The problem is that by that point it would be well known to even rather ignorant people that Trump Won. The screw-over would be far too obvious.

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        • I’ve been thinking from the beginning that this whole thing was just a way for him to threaten to run on a 3rd party ticket and spoil the election. Then they’d have to kiss his ring and grovel and give him some sort of a fancy title in the Republican Party and he could go home knowing that he’d no only Won at Business but also totally Won at Politics.

          Now that the nomination is within his reach, I’m not so sure if that’s how it will go. They’d have to give him *a lot* to make him go away, and beyond ceremonial titles and a lot of butt kissing, I don’t think they have anything he wants. Those things probably would have placated him when he didn’t have a chance and all he had was the ability to be a spoiler, but not now that he could potentially clinch the nomination without any party support.

          The best news for him is that for as much as the big R players are condemning him as a dangerous, incompetent weirdo, they’ll all fall in line behind him if he ends up being the nominee.

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  7. Does anyone understand what Romney’s goal is here. Is he trying to convince Trump’s voters? Because those voters abhor him and everything he represents. Is he trying to broaden the support for Rubio or Cruz? Because he certainly didn’t argue for one of them to take the non-Trump lead.

    I feel like there was a missed opportunity here to tackle Trump’s 2012 endorsement head on and say “I was like you, I also got fooled by this guy, but he’s not who he says he is”. At least that would be an attack from the side of Trump voter, instead of an attack *on* the Trump voter. It would also be a reminder that Trump was firmly pro-establishment just last election. As is, Romney seems well-intentioned but I haven’t a clue what he’s actually trying to achieve here.

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    • Does anyone understand what Romney’s goal is here. Is he trying to convince Trump’s voters?

      My guess is that that Jeb! has been tapped by TPTB to make the next big national whine about Trump appeal to reasonable voters. But that one will actually work!

      So, no, I don’t have any idea. It all looks like panicky, chaotic desperation to me, but along the exact lines that haven’t worked yet, and have actually emboldened and embiggened Trump support.

      Maybe this time it’ll work. Otherwise Jeb!’s got this.

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    • In his first best world, I think he’d hope this rallies people away from Trump and towards a candidate he finds preferable. My guess is that he’s a Rubio man at heart, but saying as much would narrow the appeal of his message.

      In a world where that doesn’t happen, I think he’d hope to rally Republicans who don’t like Trump to either oppose him outright or, at the very least, to hold back from supporting him.

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    • He’s laying a horsehead on the beds of the establishment officials too. He and they really don’t want to start scrambling into a race to curry favor with Trump. If they do start doing that Rubio is completely toast.

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      • Ah, this makes the most sense: poison Trump for the non-fringe right and delay the Sessions/Christie-type endorsement race for as long as possible. Still odd not to come clean about the Trump endorsement then. Also, what’s with the “a time for choosing” reference, surely Romney is aware of what happened to Goldwater…

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        • Well he’s trying to do both goals of course and he’s Romney so he’s going to try and be portentous. In his mind he’s writing a historic speech.

          On the Trump endorsement that’s politics 101, unless it’s being ground up your nose into your sinuses by the national media then pretend it never happened.

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      • North “He’s laying a horsehead on the beds of the establishment officials too. ”

        Or trying to hint that he might think about that very seriously……

        At this point, we’re seeing endorsements for Trump roll in.

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  8. The only thing the GOP Establishment is really upset about is that Donald Trump is simply just saying all the stuff they’ve been _implying_ for the last 40 years out loud. You don’t actually talk about Mexicans being rapists, you just talk about being self-deportation and the costs of immigration. You don’t actually talk actually say black people are criminals, you just talk about law ‘n’ order and black culture and the like.

    And so on and so forth. Sorry, you don’t get to built Frankenstein’s Monster, then complain when it attacks you instead of your enemies.

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  9. He is the only person in America to whom we have added an article before his name

    Only Mitt could be this stuffy and awkward in the service of poor grammar. (Mitt, try “He is the only person in America whose name we precede with an article.”)

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  10. Apparently, it’s bubbling up that there are people in the mainstream media who, when given the option of agreeing with Mitt and making fun of Mitt, cannot choose but to make fun of Mitt.

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  11. I had to listen to Mitt Romney’s speech because I was stuck at a USCIS office and they were playing CNN in the waiting room. The amount of intellectual dishonesty behind the speech was staggering. Trump is a direct result of Republican political strategies that date back to Nixon, Goldwater, or even McCarthy. Trying to blame Trump on the Democratic Party in general or Obama in particular requires a lot of arrogance. This was much too little much too late.

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    • I really…doubt…the validity of that sample. If nothing else, they don’t seem to be too familiar with Trump (the man they’re supporting) so I’m more inclined to think they’re less familiar with Bernie.

      And that particular issue is basically “Generic X” where in this case “X” probably means “Outsider”. In reality, support for “Generic X” gets beaten into the ground when it meets “Real X” who, sadly, is no longer a figment of the imagination but an actual human being who doesn’t magically agree with you on everything.

      Don’t get me wrong — I can grok that if you’re supporting Trump because he’s an outsider or seems authentic or real (ie, not a politician), I can totally see name dropping Bernie as door number 2 in this situation.

      But (1) I don’t think you’re gonna be represenative of all that many Trump voters and (2) you wouldn’t vote that way in November. (That backed up by virtually every study on American voting habits, partisan nature, the way ‘independents’ really work, and the lovely Generic X and how it pans out in the end…)

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      • I have no idea what is going on.

        If we have established anything, we’ve established that something is broken.

        I do not know if these people are representative of anything. They probably aren’t. If they aren’t, we have nothing to worry about.

        But I remember when we were snorting about how Trump supporters are the types to show up to rallies but not be the type to show up to vote/caucus.

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      • “they don’t seem to be too familiar with Trump (the man they’re supporting) so I’m more inclined to think they’re less familiar with Bernie.”

        Sanders says “it’s not your fault that everything sucks, it’s the fault of unimaginably rich people who’ve co-opted the system for their own benefit and are stealing all the good stuff while lying to you and saying that you deserve to suffer because you’re poor!”

        Trump says “it’s not your fault that everything sucks, it’s the fault of career government people who’ve co-opted the system for their own benefit and are stealing all the good stuff while lying to you and saying that you deserve to suffer because you’re racist!”

        It’s not really a hugely different message.

        If you say “but Trump is an awful person!” then fine, we can have a personality contest, but I don’t think you want Hillary Clinton to be in that kind of a fight.

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        • I pretty much agree with this. And there seems to be some sort of mutual esteem Trump and Sanders supporters have for one another, some sort of sense that each of their candidates are trying to get at the same thing, albeit in different ways and from different perspectives. Trump has said some things showing a palpable degree of respect for Sanders.

          So, yeah.

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          • Well both groups are populists first and Trump supporters are economically not particularly sympathetic to libertarianism or standard fare Republican Corporatism… so it makes perfect sense they’d be receptive to the anti-corporate populism Bernie campaigns on.

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          • Heck, it’s not just populists. One of the Koch Bros agrees with Bernie on that topic:

            “The senator is upset with a political and economic system that is often rigged to help the privileged few at the expense of everyone else, particularly the least advantaged. He believes that we have a two-tiered society that increasingly dooms millions of our fellow citizens to lives of poverty and hopelessness. He thinks many corporations seek and benefit from corporate welfare while ordinary citizens are denied opportunities and a level playing field. I agree with him,”

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            • Here is where we get the impasse. Libertarians or people with libertarian like sympathies believe that we can level things off with the power of the free market and small, minimal government. They haven’t really made their argument well and many people are very dubious at the Libertarian message. Most find Sander’s leftist populism or Trump’s rightist populism much more convincing because they believe that letting everything up to market anarchy will make them worse off and that market anarchy would favor the rich and powerful more so than now. Most people like the welfare and regulatory state even if they do vote Republican.

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              • Lee,

                Your view at least attributes to Charles Koch something less than pure cynicism wrt his motivation in making that comment. People disagree about policy, yeah? Koch thinks de-regulating will raise the standard of living for the middle class. I think he’s wrong, but at least he agrees that the problem of middle class stagnancy/decline is real. That’s more than a lot of …. folks he’s lumped in with.

                Which is why I quoted it.

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  12. I heard a clip from Mitt’s speech on NPR where he attacked Trump for being a flip-flopper, then demanded Trump release his tax returns. It was a laugh out loud moment for me. Could Mitt really be that obtuse? Apparently so.

    Daniel Larison has a good post up at TAC arguing that a guy widely reviled as being a phony and a fraud probably wasn’t the best guy to make the case that Trump is a phony and a fraud, especially when it took minutes for the clip of Romney gushing over Trump’s endorsement in 2012 was almost immediately available on the Internets. Trump’s response–that Mitt would have gone down on his knees for Trump’s endorsement–was classic Trump. Crass but effective.

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    • who should have been the messenger, then? What Republican commands a sufficient degree of respect among rank-and-file Republicans nationally, and does not have a history of flip-flopping or cozying up to The Donald in the past?

      Seems to me it can’t be someone who ran this year and dropped out. So that’s about half the party right there. Who’s left?

      John McCain?

      Rudy Giuliani?

      Rick Santorum?

      George Bush (either)?

      Barbara Bush?

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            • That’s what it felt like, actually. At least the parts I saw. It was sorta like the logic of being a criminal: the cops can make all sorts of mistakes in the investigation but the criminal can’t make one when committing the crime. That was type of pressure imposed on him tonight.

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              • >>That was type of pressure imposed on him tonight.

                That’s a nice description. It started to feel like one of those Agatha Christie dinner mysteries where the murderer is getting sweaty and fidgety with each question.

                My only pushback is that there’s a point where these things turn into a pile-on and Trump starts to look sympathetic to his voters. The moderators showing a clip from a Kasich commercial mocking Trump maybe crossed that line (although I think it was just a message from Ailes to Kasich saying don’t do anything stupid like trying to be Trump’s VP). Much of Limbaugh’s show today was about how – after the Romney speech – going after Trump in the debate is going to look like bullying, and I think there’s something to it. Lastly, Rubio landed a lot of punches but he also alienates voters when he gets into the mud and the Big Donald/Little Macro exchange was the kind of thing you see after the bars empty out, not on a debate stage. My read : overall advantage Cruz.

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                • trizz,

                  I certainly have no sense of who did best from the voters pov, but I agree Cruz looked very good (in the bits I saw, anyway). One thing I’ve noticed about his campaign is that he’s at his best when he’s a foil, when he’s playing off other folks and defining himself in relief to them and their views – which is part and parcel of all his nasty smear tactics. So when Rubio and the moderators would get deep into hatin on Trump (as if that were the sole point of the exercise – and it was!) he would pivot back to the highlighting the contrast between himself and Trump in a very effective way. So, yeah, I agree. Good night for Cruz.

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                    • Yeah, he’s {deleted} an interesting guy. I’ve been pretty convinced from the beginning that Cruz has no chance in heck of getting the nom, but he’s very cleverly positioned himself at this point to at least gain ground on Trump. So I’m gonna have to come to terms with what looks like a very real possibility.

                      Which is depressing on a bunch of levels.

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                  • Cruz has an amazing instinct for inserting subtle references to why he’s the best into his attacks. Unlike Rubio, who’s just groping around for any Trump weakness he can find, Cruz only attacks those areas where he himself is strongest. If there’s one highlight of Trump domination it’s seeing how sharp these other guys can be when they’re desperate.

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          • Color me skeptical. You can’t really win or lose a debate like this. It ain’t scored.

            All that happens is that a candidates support either goes up or down or stays the same. None of the other things that were supposed to have killed Trump’s support have done that. Why should this be any different?

            From what I’m seeing, it’s the Republican Party as a whole that is taking the hit and that hurts the other candidates much more than Trump. Trump needs the party for ballot access and for a stage, and the more successful he gets, the less he needs them for the latter.

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      • Who’s left?

        The candidates. The ones who are left. If they’re not up to it, you just look desperate and weak as a party rolling out people you know are the ones who drove your voters into a state of frustration so profound as to run to the arms of this maniac.

        You make the case with the candidates you have, you fail, you take your loss, and then you reform your party. There is a reason historians couldn’t come up with a precedent for a party don coming out to just simply spike one particular candidate in a field. It’s unseemly and pathetic.

        At the beginning of the process, after all, the party was not signaling his unacceptability – to the contrary, they made him sign an oath of loyalty to them . Trump was formally welcomed as a participant in this process. He was untrusted enough that he was made to swear loyalty, but now that he’s succeeding, every stop is being pulled to spike him. It’s frankly dishonorable.

        It can’t be helped now that Trump is revealing something ugly about much of the GOP voter base. It doesn’t help to compound matters by acting in an unfair way to derail him when he played along with the unusual measures taken to test his commitment to the party early on.

        The candidates in the field are who you have to deliver the message. That’s how campaigns are supposed to work: you have to beat candidates with candidates. If you don’t have the horses, then you take your lump and you move on. If the Democrats can’t stop this guy from becoming president, then we all have bigger problems than just that the GOP didn’t do all they could – including trampling fairness in their nominating process – to stop him themselves. At some point you have to accept the verdict of the people interested enough to show up and vote/caucus. Maybe in the end they’ll steer the party back to sanity (including via a contested convention, which is an entirely legitimate part of the process, should it occur!).

        All that being said, Mitt Romney is free to make this speech as a private citizen. Seen in that way, he’s free to say what he wants. But, yeah, seen as a party act, who you have is the other candidates in the race. They have to make this case themselves, because they are diminished and Trump is elevated by the message that’s sent when Romney is wheeled out to do it for them: that they can’t.

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        • And yet the candidates all lamely stated that they’d support Trump if he won the nomination, despite what a danger to the country they all think he is. Even Romney didn’t rule out the possibility of supporting the man he described as a fraud. How ball-less can they be?

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          • Because, like Michael Drew said, it’s unfair to have kept Donald to a standard all this time ‘you’re not going to whine and cry and bolt third party if things don’t go your way, right?’, and not keep to that standard yourself.

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          • Apparently Ted Cruz managed to say that while implying he was quite ready to rip out Donald Trump’s spine.

            Cruz is creepy.

            I heard tell that Carson walked off with the debate podium at the end. Was that actually televized??

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          • They couldn’t back out. The pledge, meant to defang Donald, has become a noose about their own necks. The knife turneth upon the wielder and all that. If I weren’t an agnostic I’d think this was God(ess?)’s wrath upon the GOP.

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      • “who should have been the messenger, then? What Republican commands a sufficient degree of respect among rank-and-file Republicans nationally, and does not have a history of flip-flopping or cozying up to The Donald in the past?”

        And worse, a long history of supporting a lot of The Donald’s ideas? (albeit in dogwhistle form)

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  13. Looks like game on. Fox is going after Trump.

    Rubio looks solid, Cruz looks like a doofus, and Trump looks like a fool.

    From one perspective at least.

    Trump’s winning, of course.

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  14. Heh. The Rubio yoga digs were good. Not that it’ll do him any good.

    This whole debate is about taking down Trump rather than offering better policies. Which makes me think the GOP (and Fox, etal) have decided (prolly without consulting Cruz) they want Rubio in it till the end with the goal of a brokered convention resulting in not-Trump. This is crazy.

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  15. Successfully being the general manager of a chain restaurant franchise is actually quite good experience to be an adjunct professor of business at any college.

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  16. Everyone’s getting the vapors over Trump’s promise in the debate that he would kill the families of terrorists, yet President Obama actually did such a thing, and Obama is considered one the greatest Presidents in US history.

    To be fair, I guess we have to judge Presidents by the standards of the times they live in.

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        • Well, I’m open to an argument that a death is a death. But it should at least acknowledge the vast amount of war theory arguing – both on ethical and consequentialist grounds – that certain deaths are more heinous than others and drawing a clear distinction between collateral death and assassination. What I’m seeing here is an intentional blurring of those lines to draw a petty equivalence between Trump and Obama.

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      • My hope here is that is skewering the tendency of many folks these days to limit their evaluation of others to simple binaries, the seeming inability to engage in balancing and gradated thinking. So for some folks Obama is “The Worst President in American History. Ever.” (really? I mean, James Buchanan literally left the nation in a state of Civil War so that’s a pretty high bar for Presidential failures) and for other folks Obama ranks “Right Up There With George Washington And Abraham Lincoln.”

        Those among us who are capable of complex thought ought to readily see that there’s some successes and achievements in Obama’s plus column, and some failures and missed opportunities in his minus column. IMO, my general impression is that these are roughly in balance. So I grade him “satisfactory” or “meets expectations” or “acceptable” or whatever else you want to put in the middle tiers of evaluation.

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          • I don’t think Presidents are great or not great. I think Presidents are important or not important.

            So by that criteria, Reagan is rather important, as are LBJ and FDR, while Clinton and Obama are not. Bush Jr is somewhat important.

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          • I’d have probably voted for him, had I been old enough. Particularly given his unimpressive competition in both ’80 and ’84. Very much liked the strong military challenge-Soviets-from-strength-to-deter-war plank of his platform, given the times. In retrospect the deficit inflation and cheap money and deregulation facets of his economic policies were not great, but it’s likely I’d have thought them a necessary corrective after the prevailing conditions of the ’70s. Wouldn’t have been easy (not impossible) to foresee the long-term effects but would likely have thought a future Congress could put the brakes on them.

            In retrospect, yeah, he went farther than the sweet spot economically, but using the military challenge to the Soviets to force an economic withdrawal and substantial reform was a very good thing and something that would likely not have happened under Carter or Mondale, and I’m not sure about whether Bush or Dole would have been that bold, either. So I’d rank him in the high second tier or the low first tier.

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      • In 2013, Nate Silver (of Baseball Prospectus fame, and some other vanity projects) did what he does, and agglomerated some scholarly lists of rankings.

        Obama finished 17th out of 43(*). Just between John Adams and Bill Clinton.

        This was before the Iran deal – which is already having an effect. If it holds up for the long term, and isn’t defeated by the reactionary fundamentalists (or, indeed, even by the government of Iran), I can see moving him to the 25th-33th percentile, somewhere between maybe 11th (Polk!) and 13th (Jackson!).

        (*) Grover Cleveland is, controversially, only included once.

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      • It means that we actually had not that bad a history. The entire point of democracy is to produce more average than really great or really bad politicians and officials. Most Presidents, Prime Ministers, judges, governors and legislators might not be inspiring or off-putting but that is a good thing because when you get really inspiring leadership it usually means that that things are bad. Average politicians are a sign of prosperity.

        Obama passed more liberal legislation than any other President besides FDR and LBJ even if it had to be compromised by political constraints. When you consider that Obama had to deal with a more hostile Congress than FDR and LBJ did for most of his Presidency than his accomplishments are greater. Unlike LBJ, Obama did not make the foreign policy mess created by his predecessors worst than they already were. He kept us out of the Syria Civil War or the Ukraine when many other Presidents would rush us in. Obama negotiated with Iran rather than going directly into using force against them over their nuclear weapons. All things considered, Obama did very well for some very trying situations while many other People would have done a lot worse.

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        • He kept us out of the Syria Civil War or the Ukraine when many other Presidents would rush us in

          I won’t argue that President Obama has been better than a hypothetical President Rubio (or more likely President Clinton), but this is really not something that one can use to point out his Foreign Policy bona fides. He wasn’t precisely “rushing” into Syrian war, but he was absolutely rounding up the consensus for putting boots on the ground in Syria.

          It is a rare thing, worth studying, that American public opinion was uniquely opposed to this intervention; In fairness to Obama, it was partially stoked by raw Republican contrariness (contrary even to their own plans), but it was also the first sign (for those that wanted to see it) that the Interventionist consensus was no longer being accepted without scrutiny.

          Blame Republicans, if you want, for a completely incoherent obstructionist approach to Syria, but a feather in his cap Syria is not.

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            • He wasn’t going to go into syria. After he draw the line, and it was crossed, he waited-and got a lot of flack for it. The russians “brokered” a deal, and now they are supporting directly syria. Yah, that was the plan all along?

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              • He got a lot of flack for not using the military, but held off anyway and achieved his objective without that? Doesn’t sound very presidential. Give me a guy who starts a war before waiting to find out whether there’s any justification for it or not.

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                • I don’t see how you can take “he did nothing and was exposed for making, essentially empty threats” and the fact that the russians brought him a deal and he agreed to it and come out with “he avoided invasion of syria” like it was some diplomatic super achievement.

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                    • yes, because we WANT a president to make threats then no back them up when he’s pushed to the line, then pray for a third party to save the day. That’s solid foreign policy! I’m not saying he should have invaded. Hell, I think his whole line in the sand comment was stupid, but damnit, be prepared to back that shit up if you’re going to say it.

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                      • So there are two explanations are on the table:

                        (a) Obama made a credible (if overblown) threat, and Russia (one of our main geopolitical adversaries) put pressure on their ally Syria to disarm.
                        (b) Obama made a transparently empty threat, and Russia (one of our main geopolitical adversaries), seeing that the US was in an embarrassing position, chose to put pressure on their ally to help us.

                        Scenario A seems to me to be clearly more parsimonious. I will grant that we don’t know *conclusively* which occurred, and so any interpretation will depend on our intuitions about Obama and Putin.

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                  • They “brought him a deal” that achieved what he wanted. Hmmm that sounds like he got what we wanted.

                    Look all the stuff with Syria has been fugly for many years. There are no easy answers or good solutions. But when people complain about something going right even if the dialogue and diplomacy was bumpy, that seems more plain ol personal dislike. Its predetermined complaints out of ideological rigidity.

                    Syria got rid of the chem weapons. Good deal, high fives all around.

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                      • “our boy”…umm no that is silly. Assad/Syria has been a russian client for decades. We may have shipped them peeps to torture for us but that doesn’t mean they were our client.

                        Okay…the line in the sand comment was to much, but you are so fixed on how terrible it all was you are missing that they got rid of the chem weapons. Stop focusing on the talk radio screaming points. I’m sure you will say you aren’t doing that but i’m not seeing it. The chem weapons were removed. Something worked between our pressure and whatever diplomacy went on, something worked right. Pick a cluster fish to freak about, try libya, but freaking about a success….oy.

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                        • We didn’t ship folks to russia to torture. So syria was def more of “our boy” that putin was. We can argue degrees, but he WAS working with us.

                          I’m not denying the weapons were removed, and yes, that’s a good thing. I just see it as Russia driving the bus. Don’t forget that russia gets to claim “they won” on the diplomatic side and to make obama look like the fool he was in “drawing that line”. And I’ve mentioned many times the cluster f that obama got us and the world into over libya.

                          “Stop focusing on the talk radio screaming points. I’m sure you will say you aren’t doing that but i’m not seeing it. ” Actually, it looks like you’re doing anything you can to put the “win” in the obama camp and not in the putin camp. Putin did all the heavy lifting, so unless you’re able to show me some classified state dept cables proving we were driving that buss all along…

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                          • Syria has been a russian client state for decades. That is just that simple. Doing some light torture for us didn’t’ change that.

                            Right, we got the result we wanted. I’m not going to go over all the details of it. Was is clean and smooth, no, who said it was. In the end we got the result we wanted. Did putin do some of it. yeah and who cares, we got the result we wanted. Is it giant success, meh, but it was a good result. That is enough. If our interests and putins coincided that is fine and dandy. That is diplomacy; you work with some people who are unpleasant when our interests are the same to get a good result. If were going to get a good result in Syria the russian were obviously going to have a big part of it since , like i said, the syrians are their client state and have been for decades. We were never going to get anything done there without them.

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                      • Damon: “See my comment above, and don’t forget, he was “our boy” for a long time, just like Hussein. We sent him captives to torture in the great war on terrorism.”

                        “And bushes! There are bushes everywhere! Where is the freakkin’ forest!”

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    • Well, Trump is apparently tacking to the rational wrt claims about going after terrorists’ families and Double-Enhanced Interrogation and such. From WaPo:

      “The United States is bound by laws and treaties and I will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matters. I will not order a military officer to disobey the law.”

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        • I hear ya. But we’ve seen this move before (in fact, I think Bernie’s doing it right now) where candidates come out on the radical fringes in the hopes of cementing that support then move towards the center without risk. It might be that he thinks he’s already got the primary in the bag and the move to the center is tactical: to appease the GOP as well as position himself as “electable” in the general.

          Course, maybe he only just now realized he was talking out his ass and has finally begun to think about these issues.

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  17. This GOPe still does not understand why their people like Trump.

    In fact, they don’t seem to understand their own base at all. Hell, Trump has revealed that us over on the *left* didn’t actually understand their base that well.

    The GOP base that supports Trump doesn’t care about taxes.

    The GOP base that supports Trump doesn’t care about religion.

    The GOP base that supports Trump doesn’t care about the ACA. (We actually already knew this.)

    The GOP base that supports Trump cares about MAKING SOMEONE PAY. They care about getting revenge! For whatever slights they have invented against themselves. (The slights Fox News has, in fact, been telling them about for two decades.)

    That sounds rather harsh…and good, it’s supposed to be. Not to go all Godwin here, but that sort of anger-payback thinking is, literally, what lead to Hitler.

    Criticizing his bullying and greed will not reduce his supporters. His bullying is what people like! Attacking him for his pettiness will not work, because his *supporters* are petty, almost by definition. (They want revenge for things that mostly *didn’t even happen*, and certainly didn’t affect them if they did.)

    And there plenty of incredibly stupid policy ideas he has that he could be attacked for, but he’s cleverly just cribbed *Republican* policies and the GOP can’t go after them for those, no matter how dumb they are.

    I do not know how to reduce his supporters. Some sort of judo move might work, painting *him* as someone they have been taught anger at.

    The GOPe actually tried this with ‘was pro-choice’, but have failed to notice that if *Trump* supporters are pro-life, it’s because they want those sluts to *pay*, and don’t really care about some guy who didn’t care that much once. As long as he’ll make them pay *now*, it’s all good.

    And the GOP and right media has, very very specifically, avoided promoting anger at business people. (It can be argued that’s the *point* of their entire song and dance.) And thus attacking Trump for that is nonsense. Everyone can see he’s a successful businessman, he’s got 10 billion dollars. (Or whatever number he made up.) And you can’t attack business people for being successful.(1)

    Of course, as his supporters seem to think the point of politics is to hurt other people, they obviously have one really big fear: He will target them. So if someone can somehow convince them of *that*…

    …but I don’t see how to do that.

    1) Hey, Romney…how many businesses has Bain Capital run into bankruptcy? Somehow doesn’t count with you, huh?

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    • For whatever slights they have invented against themselves. (The slights Fox News has, in fact, been telling them about for two decades.)

      They aren’t imagined I here high SES liberals sneer at middle and working class Americans every day, yet whenever I talk about it people claim it doesn’t happen.

      That sounds rather harsh…and good, it’s supposed to be. Not to go all Godwin here, but that sort of anger-payback thinking is, literally, what lead to Hitler.

      You’d never say that blacks should just put up with racism, but here you are saying working class white should just have to put up with Hipsters/Yuppies /Hollywood sneering at them and if they dare fight back the are Nazis. You and your ilk make voting for Trump more and more attractive, someone needs cut condescending jerks down to size. I’m sick of high SES liberals using anti-racism to mask their hatred of working class whites.

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      • They aren’t imagined I here high SES liberals sneer at middle and working class Americans every day, yet whenever I talk about it people claim it doesn’t happen

        Sounds like you need a safe space! Maybe some trigger warnings.

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