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March 14, 2016
Morning Jolt
... with Jim Geraghty

Carson, While Touting Trump: ‘We Need to Work Towards Something Very Different’

This morning, Ben Carson appeared on the Today Show and made the case for the man he endorsed, Donald Trump, as only he can . . .

“He thinks deeply, and does have some openness to spiritual things, which is not the impression you would get from the persona on stage . . .”

On Trump’s “punch them in the face” comments:

That’s not the way I would handle that, but recognize that the people of America are at a different place than I am at. They’re so frustrated, angry, they’re tired of people trying to manipulate them. And I think you’re seeing a magnetic phenomenon going on here. He actually represents where people are. Now does that mean we need to stay at that place? No, it means we need to work towards something very different. We the American people have to realize that we are not each other’s enemies. There are others out there, like radical Islamic terrorists, who want to destroy us, those are your enemies. We have to stop and focus on the real enemy here.

(If you think “we need to work towards something very different” from where the people are, why would you think Donald Trump would be the right guy to do that? Does Carson genuinely think a Trump presidency would lead to a less angry America? A less divided one?)

Carson concluded:

I think certainly if the protesters continue with their Alinsky-ite tactics, there is a real possibility of escalation. Because those who are the victims of them have two choices: they can submit to them, and meekly do whatever those protesters want them to do, or they can fight back. If they decide to fight back, there could be an escalation.

Trump, back on November 13, discussing Carson:

He wrote a book and in the book, he said terrible things about himself. He said that he’s pathological and he’s got basically pathological disease . . . I don’t want a person that’s got pathological disease.'

I said that if you’re a child molester, a sick puppy, a child molester, there’s no cure for that -- there’s only one cure and we don’t want to talk about that cure, that’s the ultimate cure. No there’s two, there’s death and the other thing. But if you’re a child molester, there’s no cure, they can’t stop you. Pathological, there’s no cure.”

Going on about Carson’s life story: “How stupid are the people of Iowa? How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?”

Trump, yesterday:

DICKERSON: But that’s what I want to ask, about the playing of the game, because when you were with Ben Carson, who endorsed you this week, you said he was pathological. And then both of you said, well, oh, that was just politics. So, you’re saying it’s just the game. But if the most serious things you say about a person are just politics, it’s just the game, then why isn’t everything you’re saying just a game and just politics and totally open to revision?

TRUMP: Well, that is politics. I say bad things about people and they say bad things about me. And actually Ben wrote it in his book. I just read sections of his book. I read what Ben wrote. I’m not going to make up anything.

Great call, Dr. Carson. Great call.

‘He Has Shaped the Company into Trump’s Personal Pravda . . .’

Not surprising to anyone who’s been following this controversy, but still . . .

Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields and editor-at-large Ben Shapiro are resigning from the company over the site’s handling of Donald Trump’s campaign manager’s alleged assault on Fields, BuzzFeed News has learned.

Fields and Shapiro informed Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon of their decision Sunday night.

“Today I informed the management at Breitbart News of my immediate resignation,” Fields said in a statement sent to BuzzFeed News. “I do not believe Breitbart News has adequately stood by me during the events of the past week and because of that I believe it is now best for us to part ways.”

In his own statement, Shapiro said the episode was emblematic of how he believes the site’s management had sold out the legacy of its founder and namesake, the late Andrew Breitbart.

“Andrew’s life mission has been betrayed,” Shapiro wrote. “Indeed, Breitbart News, under the chairmanship of Steve Bannon, has put a stake through the heart of Andrew’s legacy. In my opinion, Steve Bannon is a bully, and has sold out Andrew’s mission in order to back another bully, Donald Trump; he has shaped the company into Trump’s personal Pravda, to the extent that he abandoned and undercut his own reporter, Breitbart News’ Michelle Fields, in order to protect Trump’s bully campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who allegedly assaulted Michelle.”

It’s the kind of place where the in-house counsel tells everyone not to say anything about the alleged assault on Fields, even public expressions of support for their colleague . . . oh, and reaches out to the Trump campaign for a speechwriting job, too.

Notice Grassley’s Not Flinching on Supreme Court Nominee Hearings

Look who’s holding the line against an Obama Supreme Court nominee: Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

Also on Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa dug in on blocking all action on an eventual nominee this year, saying Democrats are only criticizing the strategy to score political points. He and other Republicans stood firm in opposition to an election-year confirmation, arguing that American voters should have a say in November.

On Capitol Hill, Grassley said at a committee meeting Thursday that Democrats’ efforts to pressure him to change his mind will be futile. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has delivered daily speeches on the Senate floor against Grassley, sometimes attacking him personally.

“I think we need to be crystal clear, it won’t work,” Grassley said.

The 82-year-old Grassley is up for reelection this year -- running for a seventh term -- and his likely Democratic opponent is going to make the most out of the Supreme Court nominee issue:

And [Patty Judge] made clear that Grassley’s staunch refusal to entertain a nominee to the Supreme Court vacancy opened by the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month was the driving force behind her entry into the race.

Judge said on Friday that Grassley was “obstructing justice.”

“I really believe that in recent years and particularly right now he’s kind of forgotten he’s from Iowa,” Judge said. “He waited 36 years to become the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and now he’s refusing to do his job. That is not the Chuck Grassley that I knew 10 or 15 years ago and it’s not the thing Iowans want to see from their senator.”

In a statement, a spokesman for the Senate GOP campaign committee scoffed at Judge’s candidacy, noting that she lost her bid for reelection as lieutenant governor in 2010.

The Democrats are likely to nominate 72-year-old Patty Judge because they want to energize the youth vote against 82-year-old Grassley. I’d say, “Never change, Iowa,” but that seems pretty moot, considering the circumstances.

Grassley’s probably going to come through 2016 okay…

The latest Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll -- which was conducted Feb. 21-24, as the court controversy was unfolding -- shows Grassley’s approval rating holding steady at 57 percent, while just 28 percent say they disapprove of the job he’s doing.

. . . but his willingness to take the criticism for this stance is worth noting for two reasons. First, there was a time when Grassley was more likely to be more conciliatory to President Obama, to be seen as “bipartisan” and so on. He was perceived as a “moderate,” voted to confirm Eric Holder, and was, for a while, trying to work out a compromise version of the Affordable Care Act. Years of Obama being Obama, trolling and mocking and ignoring Congress, have demonstrated to Grassley there’s no point in trying to appear “bipartisan” or conciliatory.

Second, if there were signs Grassley was willing to hold hearings or support an Obama nominee, the conservative grassroots would raise hell and support a primary challenger. So if there’s willingness to denounce and punish deviations from the conservative position, why isn’t there corresponding willingness to praise and support a lawmaker who takes the conservative position, particularly when it’s tough?

ADDENDA: Jonathan Chait cheered Trump’s rise a month ago, believing it would expose the dark side of the Republican party. Now he’s realizing just what he’s been cheering for:

My previous view of Trump was as a kind of vaccine. The Republican Party relies on the covert mobilization of racial resentment and nationalism. Trump, as I saw it, was bringing into the open that which had been intentionally submerged. It seemed like a containable dose of disease, too small to take over its host, but large enough to set off a counter-reaction of healthy blood cells. But the outbreak of violence this weekend suggests the disease may be spreading far wider than I believed, and infecting healthy elements of the body politic.

I remain convinced that Trump cannot win the presidency. But what I failed to account for was the possibility that his authoritarian style could degrade American politics even in defeat. There is a whiff in the air of the notion that the election will be settled in the streets -- a poisonous idea that is unsafe in even the smallest doses.


Mental Illness in Congress
A Visit with 43, Part I
Trump, America’s Word, and the Bomb
The U.N. Reaches a New Anti-Israel Low
Shameful Spectacles, in Chicago and Elsewhere
The Math Says Trump Won't Be Stopped if He Sweeps Florida and Ohio
THE LOST MANDATE OF HEAVEN: The American Betrayal of Ngo Dinh Diem, President of Vietnam
By Geoffrey Shaw
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