Conspiracy Theories Move Left to Right

Donald Trump’s delicious troll of the media last week, when he advertised a major speech on Birtherism and then proceeded to have military veterans praising him was so tasty, I actually laughed out loud, particularly when he gave this line, “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it.”

Beautiful!

It’s had some nice side effects as well, since the media was hoping to damage Trump with the taint of the Birther conspiracy and instead by Trump pointing out that the original birther might be Hillary herself, the media; in it’s attempt to clear the old gal of those scurrilous charges, finds the truth more complicated.

So now we’ve spent a couple of days on the media attempting to clear Clinton of the birther charges, while at the same time unwittingly associating birthers and Clinton in the public mind.  One has to wonder if Trump just haplessly stumbled on this strategy or he planned it all along.

As for me, I’ve known since 2008 that it was an idea that originated with Democrats, Particularly the “PUMA’s” (Party Unity My Ass) who were fighting a last ditch effort for Hillary in the 2008 campaign.  The very first time I heard the Birther conspiracy, it was from a Hillary supporting acquaintance.  She dropped the idea as soon as Obama was nominated but it apparently had quite a roll in anti Obama Democratic circles for a while.  The Daily Beast did a pretty good origin story of birtherism and how it originated in the Democratic Party in order to provide the basis of a lawsuit against the DNC to prevent the nomination of someone who, if he were actually born overseas, wouldn’t be eligible for the Presidency. And since Clinton lackey Sidney Blumenthal tried to stir up interest in the news media on investigating Obama’s birthplace during the 2008 race, it’s hard not to see the hand of Clinton pushing the story.

But despite PUMA expectations, the party really did unify after Obama’s nomination.  All was forgiven and Birtherism was forgotten, at least it was forgotten by all but a small fringe until 2011 when Donald Trump suddenly made it an issue.  Trump breathed life into a fringe idea and firmly shifted it to the right.  Trump’s birther claims and “investigation” was one of the more difficult issues I had to overcome in order to endorse him, since as I’ve previously mentioned, I don’t like conspiracy theories and hate wasting time on them.  As much as any one single person is to blame, Trump is to blame for making birtherism a right wing conspiracy, instead of leaving it on the left wing where it belonged.

But that’s the way of conspiracy theories isn’t?  At least to my observation, they seem to start on the left, but eventually drift over to the right.  Birtherism is a good example, but there are others.

The 9/11 Conspiracy theory was a pretty well established leftist conspiracy theory by 9/12.  By 2006, over half of Democrats thought that George Bush was either responsible for the 9/11 attacks or knew of them ahead of time and let them go forward.  Now CNN commenter Van Jones lost his job with the Obama administration for his 9/11 views (among other things).  Democratic Congressman and general nutcase Alan Grayson believes that “Bush let it happen.”  But now, with no Bush in the White House to torment, interest in 9/11 Conspiracies has faded too, although there are people on the right dipping their toes into it, something that was uncommon during the Bush Presidency.

Vaccines are a popular conspiracy.  Bill Maher, official voice of “science” on the left didn’t believe in them, and Robert Kennedy Jr. has been the Congressional voice of the vaccines cause autism movement, an issue that both candidates Obama and Clinton had to dance gingerly around in 2008, but Trump was the one who was dancing around it in 2015.

Why the left will invent these wacky ideas, play with them, and then toss them aside for the right to pick up later I can’t quite grasp.  If anyone has any ideas on why conspiracy theories start on the left and move right I would like to hear.

Unless of course, the answer is another conspiracy theory.

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The Alt Right and the Jews

Created by Donald's Apotheosis

Created by Donald’s Apotheosis

Hillary Clinton’s denunciation of the Alt Right brought up many questions among her supporters, such as “What is the alt right?”  In fact, it’s not a numerically significant part of the US population nor is it a faction of the Republican Party, like the Tea Party, or Neo-Cons are (or maybe were).  So it’s curious that Clinton would try to frame her real purpose this way, since the real purpose of the speech was to denounce Trump and his supporters as racist.  In fact, the Democratic candidate calling the Republican candidate and his supporters racists is probably the most normal thing that’s happened in this campaign so far.  I’m sure a lot of pundits breathed a sigh of relief that at least this was a normal and predictable thing in political campaigns.

But the idea of using the term alt right into a major speech and make it the major focus seems odd since virtually no one outside of political junkies would even know what that term means. My guess is just like her opponent; Hillary has a bit of the conspiracy theorist in her.  Remember the vast right wing conspiracy?  So trying to pin a small but very internet active group as the real brains behind the Trump campaign may appeal to her sense of sinister unseen forces plotting against the Clinton machine.

I could write multiple posts on the Alt Right but for the uninitiated, Breitbart published a pretty good summary a few months ago here and due to recent interest, there have been several others that have popped up, including this one. The gist, and why it defies easy summary, is because it’s not one group but multiple groups with differing interests, goals, and agendas.  Basically it’s all kinds of right leaning groups that are outside mainstream conservatism and because of that, with no party to call home or realistic political agenda, they’re not really politically active, although they are certainly internet active.  So Hillary, in her tinfoil hat wearing way, is totally wrong that they are pulling the strings on puppet Trump.  And she’s wrong that they nothing but relabeled KKK or Nazi’s.

But not totally wrong.

There are racists and anti-Semites within the Alt Right and that could also generate multiple posts, but for now I want to concentrate on the anti-Semitic elements.  A few days ago a Jewish alt right blog was started (yes, there are Jews in the Alt Right) that in its commenting FAQ had very specific instructions in dealing with anti Semitic comments.  Frankly, I’d never seen or heard of such a thing before, but hey, it is the internet, so it’s probably a good idea that if you are Jewish writing for an audience in which a certain percentage are likely to not like Jews, maybe some guidelines are in order.  In the Instructions for Comment Registration, it defined antisemitism as:

“… defined by this blog as anyone obsessed with the idea Jews are an unassimilated minority which has significantly different ethnic, religious, or cultural objectives and political motives from those of other elite whites.”

Somehow I don’t think I would meet the definition of “elite white.”

“The position of this blog is that Jews are a highly assimilated white ethnic group that does not significantly differ in its positions or motivations from other elite whites, and that the nature of the points where there are differences are largely cosmetic.”

I think that’s probably a pretty good working definition of anti-Semitism as any I’ve come across.  And I would agree that in the United States, Jews are a highly assimilated white ethnic group; too assimilated for some Jewish leaders when you consider the non Orthodox Jewish intermarriage rate is an astounding 71%.

And for that and many other reasons, I find anti-Semitism one of the most difficult bigotries to understand.

When I first started commenting and posting about politics on internet forums, I noticed the preponderance of anti-Semitism came from the left. Jews have come a long way from Holocaust victims to Palestinian oppressors, but that is basically how the left views Jews; through the lens of Israel.  The left, and particularly the American left, loves an underdog and in the post World War II era, that described the Jews to a tee. But the very success of Israel moved Jews from the underdog/victim category to oppressor category (for the left, there is no in-between).  Suddenly, the Palestinians became the victims, and their decades long terrorist war against the Israel supporting nations in general and Israel in particular suddenly became the war of a freedom fighter.  Leftist Jews in the US usually continued to be leftist with the exception of the Israel question.  For non Jews, more and more part and parcel of leftist ideology was the goal of eliminating Israel as a Jewish state, either through integration of the Palestinian territories into Israel proper and letting democracy finish the job, or…some other way.

But leftist anti-Semitism was really the only type of anti-Semitism that I’ve had any knowledge of.  I knew historically, there was an anti-Semitic Right; Jews were kept out of WASP country clubs and so forth, but I was blind to a contemporary one.  A lot of that has to do with my own upbringing.  Raised in the evangelical South, Jews were God’s chosen people. With very few actual Jews in the South but lots of Bibles, the idea of what a Jew is came from the Bible and evangelical interpretations of it.  So if you’re an evangelical Christian, you have a duty to love God’s chosen people.

Polling bears that out.  A poll of how various religious groups rate each other reveals that Jews are rated more positively by white evangelical Christians than any other group (excluding Jews themselves of course).  You won’t be surprised to learn that the feeling isn’t mutual.  The same poll shows that Jews rate white evangelical Christians the lowest of all polled religious groups, slightly below Muslims who are trying to kill them on a daily basis.  For the evangelical Christian, that’s OK since Christian love doesn’t require reciprocation.  But the sweet irony of that does mean that evangelical Christians, who became a potent political force in the Republican Party during the 1980’s under Ronald Reagan, helped finish the job that William F. Buckley started in the early 1960’s, by not only clearing the Republican Party of any trace of anti-Semitism, but go a few steps further and install a pro Israel right or wrong plank as key to Republican foreign policy.

But the alt Right is a different animal from the typical church going Republican. There are alt Right factions that are pretty openly hostile to Jews.  Their anti-Semitism is more an old fashioned version in which Jews are part of some conspiracy to destroy Christianity/Western Civilization/White People/Fill-In-The-Blank.  Those anti Semitic factions view immigration as part of some Jewish plot to destroy the country.

It’s so absurd that it’s hard to understand how anyone could take seriously the idea that Jews, as Jews, have some big goal to open the borders to “get” the non Jews. Many Jews support open borders because they’re liberal, not because they’re Jews. It doesn’t even pass the logic test. Why would Jews want to fill up a country they live in with anti-Semitic middle easterners? Think how difficult Jewish life has gotten in places like France.  Who would plan to import millions of people who want to kill you into their country?  Now Jews are fleeing France because of the view the terrorist threat there has made the entire country unsafe for them.

Great plan Jews.

Numerically, I don’t think Anti-Semitism is any great threat (at least in the United States) to Jews, although it’s interesting to note that according the FBI, the largest group of religious bias crimes are against…you guessed it, the Jews; with 56.8% of religious bias crimes against Jews. Jews punching above their weight again!  But Anti-Semitism is real thing, and where it exists on the Right, it is along the ridges and contours of the Alt Right.

 

 

Back in the Presidential Prediction Business

After a week in which the media has gone apoplectic over Trump saying Obama was a founder of ISIS, I was finally able to get some clues as to what is actually going on in Trump’s head.  First it should be noted that the entire kerfuffle is all Media generated.  When Hillary Clinton said that Trump was “the recruiting sergeant for ISIS” a few months ago, there were no equivalent media spasms that Clinton has gone too far. Instead Trump had to explain how he wasn’t recruiting for ISIS.  But of course there is no point in once again pointing out the biased coverage against any generic Republican nominee.  They have all been racist, sexist, homophobes who are literally Hitler.  But what makes Trump different is that the media has always pretended to be “objective.”  Now, they’ve taken off the gloves and admitted it’s impossible to be objective.

The New York Times columnist Jim Rutenberg made that point clear in last Sunday’s column:

“If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?

Because if you believe all of those things, you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century, if not longer, and approach it in a way you’ve never approached anything in your career. If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, non opinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable.

But the question that everyone is grappling with is: Do normal standards apply? And if they don’t, what should take their place?”

Clearly it’s laughable that the media thinks it’s been objective the whole time, and only now, in 2016, is that wavering.  But this is a signal I think to the rest of the MSM, that it’s time to pull out all the stops and sabotage Trump by any means necessary.  After all, if you could go back in time and take out Hitler before he became chancellor, wouldn’t you?  That seems to be the media’s position on Trump; stop him at all costs.  What are journalistic ethics compared to stopping “literally Hitler?”

But I say that just to point out the media environment that Trump is facing.  Getting back to my main point, I think I’ve figured Trump out (or at least a part of how he thinks).  A few weeks ago I wrote a post about predictions and said this regarding this year’s Presidential race:

“So when it comes to predicting this year’s race…I’m out.  I think Trump could win if his campaign confiscates his twitter account, keeps him on a steady diet of prepared speeches, and Muslims continue to be Muslim.  However all of the default conditions that make me think the Democrats have a natural advantage in Presidential years are still in play. “

But now I’ve got a clue to how Trump thinks, so I think I feel comfortable in actually making a prediction.  A few days ago on the Hugh Hewitt Show there was this interesting exchange between Hewitt and Trump regarding the “Founder of ISIS” situation:

HH: Well, that, you know, I have a saying, Donald Trump, the mnemonic device I use is Every Liberal Really Seems So, So Sad. E is for Egypt, L is for Libya, S is for Syria, R is for Russia reset. They screwed everything up. You don’t get any argument from me. But by using the term founder, they’re hitting with you on this again. Mistake?

DT: No, it’s no mistake. Everyone’s liking it. I think they’re liking it. I give him the most valuable player award. And I give it to him, and I give it to, I gave the co-founder to Hillary. I don’t know if you heard that.

HH: I did. I did. I played it.

DT: I gave her the co-founder.

HH: I know what you’re arguing…

DT: You’re not, and let me ask you, do you not like that?

HH: I don’t. I think I would say they created, they lost the peace. They created the Libyan vacuum, they created the vacuum into which ISIS came, but they didn’t create ISIS. That’s what I would say.

DT: Well, I disagree.

HH: All right, that’s okay.

DT: I mean, with his bad policies, that’s why ISIS came about.

HH: That’s…

DT: If he would have done things properly, you wouldn’t have had ISIS.

HH: That’s true.

DT: Therefore, he was the founder of ISIS.

HH: And that’s, I’d just use different language to communicate it, but let me close with this, because I know I’m keeping you long, and Hope’s going to kill me.

DT: But they wouldn’t talk about your language, and they do talk about my language, right?

HH: Well, good point. Good point. 

 

And that is when I had my epiphany. These are not gaffes or slips of the tongue.  Trump is deliberately using language that can be construed in the worse possible way in order to generate publicity.  With decades of experience at being a celebrity, he has taken to heart the publicist adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity.  And in terms of generating publicity, he’s been an outstanding success if you count it by minutes of airtime or lines of copy in print.  Certainly there would have been zero media coverage discussing poor decisions by the Obama administration leading to the creation of ISIS without Trump.  Getting those issues out there and forcing a hostile media to talk about issues they don’t want to discuss is also a success.

However in politics, that isn’t reflected in the polls.  Kanye West is great at generating publicity for him, but at the cost of it being almost uniformly bad publicity.  This may be a great strategy for getting on Page 6, but it’s a terrible one if your goal is to win a general election.  So my reason for not making a prediction on the election earlier was because I thought that Trump could easily fix his problems; stop attacking other Republicans, stick to prepared speeches and stump speeches, ease off twitter, and his polling would go back up because after all, people really don’t like Hillary Clinton and would love for an excuse not to vote for her.  But Trump thinks that generating unfavorable publicity is the ticket to success, and as long as he both thinks and acts like it is, Hillary Clinton is the next President.

God help us all, as her vengeance will be mighty!

 

 

More Red States?

Gallup had a party affiliation analysis  that purports to show there are now more red Republican States than blue Democratic ones.  Good news Republicans!  From their study:

“Gallup’s analysis of political party affiliation at the state level in 2015 finds that 20 states are solidly Republican or leaning Republican, compared with 14 solidly Democratic or leaning Democratic states. The remaining 16 are competitive. This is the first time in Gallup’s eight years of tracking partisanship by state that there have been more Republican than Democratic states. It also marks a dramatic shift from 2008, when Democratic strength nationally was its greatest in recent decades.”

On paper, this does seem like good news for Republicans.  Certainly the divisive Obama years have eliminated almost the last of the Blue Dog Democrats and gave the Republicans their largest majorities in the House and Senate since before the Great Depression. At the State level, Republicans have made a 900 seat gain in State legislatures since 2010.  In strictly office holder terms, the Obama years have been good for the Republican Party.  So smooth sailing to November 2016 right?

I noticed two anomalies on the map that struck my eye.

First Florida.  Since it’s my home State, I have a familiarity with the state that may not show up in polling.  First the obvious: Florida went for Obama twice in a row; in 2008 and 2012.  Is there something that’s going to break that pattern?  A lot of things could, except that the State used to be a red State, now, according to Gallup, it’s “competitive.” But there are trends that are moving Florida from red to blue, and that’s demographics. As NPR helpfully points out, Puerto Ricans have been pouring into Florida.  Although it’s part of a long term trend, it’s exacerbated by the financial crisis in Puerto Rico.  Although Puerto Rico can’t vote in a Presidential election, Puerto Ricans can, the minute they leave Puerto Rico.  And again as NPR hopefully shows, Puerto Ricans predominately vote for Democrats.

And secondly, just looking at that State map from Gallup, when did Texas go from solidly Republican to leaning Republican?  I wonder what could be causing that?  Demographics maybe?

Texas has 38 electoral votes.  Once that State moves from leaning Republican to “competitive” it makes a Republican Presidential win extremely “problematic” as a leftist might say, no matter how many State Houses Republicans win.

Republican wins on non Presidential years are not reflective of Presidential years.  Quoting myself:

There is a big difference between the number of people who show up to vote in the mid-terms and those who show up in Presidential years. Based on the numbers I’ve seen this morning, turn out for this year was even lower than in 2010, which was another big Republican year. So you have a 76 million voter turnout for this year, but in 2012 you had 129 million voters.  That’s about a 50 million voter difference between the midterms and the Presidential voting years.

So all things being equal, we should see Democratic Presidential wins from here on out. Of course, I caveat that by saying that sometimes all things are not equal. Wars, terrorism, or a financial crisis could flip the script; as could an off the wall Presidential candidate that has cross party appeal.  But Republicans shouldn’t take much comfort that some there are more red States on a Gallup map now.  That sort of information, like Hillary Clinton’s support, is miles wide but merely inches deep.

 

What Biden’s Decision Not to Run Tells Me

Last week’s Democratic Debate on CNN clarified something for me.  Prior to the debate, I was wondering if any of the other (“other” meaning besides Hillary) candidates were really serious about the race, or if they had other motives for running, such as raising their political profiles, increasing speaking fees, or selling books. The “tell” would be if they actually took on Hillary.  The path to the Democratic nomination leads directly through Hillary.  If a candidate took her on directly, then that was a clue that he was serious about running for President.Biden

So what happened?  They’re not serious.  Even Jim Webb, whose face looks stuck on serious, wasn’t really serious.  And Bernie Sanders, who had been nipping at her heels throughout the race?  Again; not serious.  “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!”  That comment basically let Hillary off the hook for her scandals and corruption.  So if Bernie was never serious about running for President, why was he running?  One possibility was that he was aiming for an inspired impersonation on Saturday Night Live.  If so, mission accomplished!

But besides Larry David’s dead on Bernie Sanders performance, there could be another reason.  Knowing Hillary was the de facto front runner, he could have wanted to be the person to push the agenda to the left, in case Hillary was tempted to slip back into the familiar Clinton territory of triangulating centrist-land.  Again, mission accomplished.  By the time we get to the Democratic convention, Bernie’s 18 Trillion dollar price tag will just be the down payment.

So that brings us today’s announcement that Vice President Joe Biden will not run for President.  There is no doubt the public discussion of will he or won’t he revolved around the very real grief he and his family are suffering through due to the loss of his son.  If grief is the only standard, it’s unlikely that Biden would ever be ready to run again.  He will age out of his window of opportunity long before he may feel he has the strength to do more than nurse his pain.  But I don’t think that is the only consideration.

Like all of the other so called “candidates,” Biden’s path to the nomination would lie right through Hillary.  However Biden is a part of the administration that is actually investigating Hillary’s server, her emails, and whether any laws were broken or security jeopardized   Although the FBI and its investigation on whether charges are warranted is independent in theory, in this administration, nothing under the executive branch seems to be exempt from politics.  So regardless of what the investigation reveals the actual decision to prosecute would rest with Obama.

Would he?

There are some reasons to think he might.  The Obama-Clinton Feud is well known, but the consequences to the party could be severe.  So I think the dangling of the carrot the past couple of weeks was Biden waiting for Obama to make up his mind on if he would go after Hillary or not.

So my guess is not.

 

Jeb Bush is Certifiable

Jeb Bush was in Iowa last week sticking his toe in the water to see if he really could win the general by losing the primary.  I have to give him credit; he’s willing to stick to unpopular positions, even if they are politically toxic.  He reiterated his support for Common Core, which is unpopular with some conservative activists, and opposed renewal fuel standards, which although they are not popular with Republicans in general, are popular in Iowa. So he’s not afraid to run against the grain. But I just can’t, in this or any other parallel universe, imagine Jeb Bush winning the Republican nomination.     Jeb Bush

David Frum wrote a piece in The Atlantic last month describing Bush as a Republican version of Obama in that they have created artificial identities to hide behind.  In Bush’s case, he is from a northeastern WASP family via Texas and now regards himself as an adopted Hispanic, speaking Spanish in the home, converting to Roman Catholicism, and moving to the Capital of Latin America, Miami.   He may be the Republican Obama, but that’s not really his problem.

I don’t think Jeb will be the nominee because:

Last name Bush. Dynasties don’t wear as well with Republicans as they do with Democrats. If Carolyn Kennedy threw her pill box shaped hat in the race, she would have a decent shot because…last name Kennedy. And this is even though she’s an incompetent who blew her chance to be appointed senator by being unable to talk in interviews. Hillary is the Democratic “front runner” now only because of dynasty.

His family is messed up.  His wife isn’t comfortable in English (probably because of the practice of speaking Spanish at home), She also has a shopping problem. All of his kids have been arrested at least once and his daughter was a drug addict.  Not exactly a picture perfect first family.

But the real clincher is that the only national issue Jeb is associated with is amnesty, which is unpopular with the base.  Now of course whoever does end up with the nomination will probably be pro amnesty too since any anti-amnesty candidate won’t be able to get the funds to run. Republican donors are as pro amnesty as Chuck Schumer. But the other candidates will be associated with other issues. Jeb won’t. And on that issue he looks vacillating and contradictory. As I have written about previously, he came out with a book in 2013 about amnesty in which he proposed not offering a path to citizenship. Since he had always supported amnesty with citizenship before, on day 1 of his book tour he was asked why he changed his mind, and he stammered and it turned out he hadn’t changed his mind at all. So the first day of his book tour he disavowed the central premise of the book he was trying to sell. That will come up over and over in 2016.

Of course, what Jeb was hoping for was that by the time 2016 rolled around, amnesty would have been a done deal, and he could have pointed to the book to say, “See? I was opposed to citizenship!” That would place him to the right of the actual policy. I think the odds look poor for that now.

As a governor he wasn’t bad and was pretty tight with the State dollar, however he didn’t have any input in Federal areas like immigration. Frum’s article does make a good case for the similarities between Jeb and Obama, but I think the real take away is that when it comes to immigration, Jeb is certifiable. He seems to have no other passions other than illegal immigrants. And it’s not even a logical obsession.  It’s actually more about preferring Latin Culture and people to the more Anglo variety that Jeb hails from.  How else to explain the illogic of wanting to grant people who illegally cross the border amnesty (who are mostly Hispanic), but deport people who actually entered the country legally, but overstayed their visas (and who are primarily not Hispanic)?   Never has an American politician been so blatant about replacing me and my family with someone else that he likes better. Bush is obviously carrying around some mental issues about his fellow Americans.

The Democrats are far more circumspect than this.

I hate to be one of those, “I’ll never vote for…” types who swear they’ll never vote if McCain/Romney/fill in the blank wins the nomination, but I think Jeb would actually be worse than any conceivable Democrat.  Except maybe Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, and even then, I’m not sure Gutiérrez is as obsessed with illegals as Jeb is.

 

 

Scott Walker Peaking Too Early?

Scott Walker’s “surprise” win of the Kansas Straw Poll may be a shock to the establishment, but its zero surprise to me. Walker’s win has generated a flurry of articles on Walker as well as an appearance on This Week. But as far back as a year ago, I predicted Walker would probably be the best all around choice for the 2016 Republican primary process. He’s a governor of a purple/blue State who rose to national prominence battling the budget, pension reform, and unions.  He is attractive to both establishment types for a solid record of actually winning, and grass roots types for the ability to take on and wrestle to the ground left leaning special interests; something that’s not seen much these days.Scott Walker

Walker’s national prominence came about with his fight with Wisconsin public sector unions.  I wrote about the skirmish back in 2011 and thought at the time that Walker’s victory could have spelled the beginning of the end for public sector unions.  Alas, so far that victory has remained just Walker’s.   But the enmity he earned from both local and national Democrats and the left in general lead to a recall election, which Walker won handily.

By Republican standards, Walker is a stand out success story.  He battled the left and rather than backing down under a barrage of negative press, which Republicans traditionally do, Walker stuck to his guns and won a pretty substantial victory. Compare that to Jeb Bush, who’s sat out the various political battles since the 1990’s and now expects to ride in on a golden, donor financed chariot to be crowned the nominee based on the divine right of Bushes.

The Republicans do have a deep bench, at least compared to the Democrats.  In fact the Democrat’s bench consists of one person, Hillary Clinton.  If she gets sick, the Dems are in trouble for 2016. But the Republican’s bench consists of establishment types that are anathema to the base of the party, like Jeb Bush, and social conservative types that are anathema to the establishment like Mike Huckabee. The converged area on the Venn diagram of candidates that both the base and establishment can live with is almost as limited as the Democrats presidential bench.

Walker’s major problem with the base is his immigration position.  Walker has tried to be cagey and hold every position on the issue at once.  He has both supported a path to citizenship and made vague comments about fixing the system.”  However the fixing doesn’t seem to include border security or a wall.  In other words, he’s a pro amnesty open borders type, which should please the establishment wing.  Although I would love to make amnesty a disqualifier, the fact is there are no, I mean zero commonly mentioned Republican potential 2016 candidates that oppose amnesty.

In any case if Walker does enter the race, he’ll have to quit being cagy about immigration and speak directly to the issue.

But immigration isn’t even his biggest problem yet.  When I made my prediction on Walker last year, it was based on the idea that the talking heads and establishment media wouldn’t pay any attention to Walker until at least the Iowa Caucuses. But the results of the Kansas straw poll show that plenty of other Republicans were thinking along the same lines as I was.  The media has rediscovered Walker this week and they will remember in short order that they despise him. Walker is like Sarah Palin and Allen West combined, with a little Tom DeLay sprinkled on top. It’s too bad he couldn’t have flown under the radar a while longer, but if there is one Republican who knows how to fight back, it’s Scott Walker.