A trip down Memory Lane (and a turn into Nightmare Alley)

Hey, remember when Donald Trump held a rally at the Flynn Center? And the Vermont Republican Party took pains to distance itself?

Just to refresh your memory, here’s the statement released before the Trump event by VTGOP Executive Directory Jeff Bartley:

We learned late today through media reports that Donald Trump will be making a brief campaign stop in Vermont The Vermont Republican Party did not invite Mr. Trump and has no role in his event. Like all presidential candidates, he is welcome to share his thoughts with Vermonters. We hope all candidates will articulate, in a responsible and respectful Vermont way, their ideas for helping to make our state and or nation more affordable and prosperous for working class families. And we look forward to the outcome of the primary campaign between our very diverse group of candidates.

I thought it’d be timely to revisit those words, now that The Donald shattered his “glass ceiling” in Nevada with 46 percent of the caucus vote. With each passing day, he looks more and more like the irresistible force, while the other candidates are decidedly movable objects.

Meanwhile, the obvious choice of Vermont Republicans, John Kasich, “won” 3.6 percent of the Nevada vote. Even before the results came in, he was the subject of a juicy headline Monday morning at Politico:

GOP to Kasich: Get out

A string of elected officials, GOP insiders and prominent donors officially threw their support behind Rubio on Monday, calling him their last chance to take down Donald Trump. Their statements had another common theme. Some explicitly called for Kasich to quit, while others sent the same message by saying the Ohio governor’s ongoing presence is holding Rubio back.

The story is especially poignant in these circles, since it came only two days after Vermont Republicans couldn’t stop grinning while they shared a stage with Kasich.

So let’s say Trump gets the nomination. I’m sure that will tamp down his rampant ego and bring out his inner humility. I’m sure he will adopt Bartley’s advice to campaign “in a responsible and respectful Vermont way.”

Bwahahaahahaha. Whew, I barely got through that with a straight face.

Last November, I wrote a three-part series on the potential obstacles in the way of a Phil Scott governorship. Part two discussed the potential handicap of a presidential candidate from the political fringe. Well, we’re now on the verge of that coming true in the worst way possible for the VTGOP, and there’s not a damn thing they can do about it.

Trump is a terrible candidate for Vermont Republicans. His bluster and false bravado won’t play well among independent Vermonters, and True Believer conservatives will be turned off by his frequent strayings into apostasy.

Trump atop the ticket will depress voter turnout on both sides of the potential Republican electorate. But especially for the right wing; they don’t like Trump or Scott. They might hold their noses and vote, or they might just skip the whole thing.

It may not hurt Scott enough to deny him the corner office, but it won’t help him a bit. Nor will it help the VTGOP expand its meager presence in the Legislature.

Postscript. Politico’s morning-after coverage of the Nevada caucus had a couple of juicy schadenfreude moments for those of us watching the angry chickens come home to roost in the GOP. First, veteran Republican pollster Glen Bolger, who opposes Trump, characterized the Trump electorate as “kind of Archie Bunker types.”

Thanks a lot, Glen. I will merely point out that the “Archie Bunker types” were a decisive component in the Reagan Revolution, and ever since the GOP has had no qualms about encouraging the anger that has fueled its success.

But the best quote came from Tony Perkins of the American Family Association, who has made a very good living for a very long time stoking the fires of fear and resentment:

“You can’t be fearful and thoughtful at the same time.”

Oh, good Lord. Pot, I’d like you to meet kettle.


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