Checking in on the Encyclopedists

For those new to this site, I have taken to calling Bill Kristol the Hari Seldon of Republican politics. For much of the 90’s and 00’s, Kristol basically ran the Republican Party. In the Bush years, he was largely responsible for crafting the Forever War strategy that came to define the Bush administration. That disaster seems to have landed him in exile, or maybe he is just re-charging his batteries, it is hard to know, but he is very much back in the game now.

Kristol is leading the charge to stop Trump from gaining the 1237 delegates he needs to secure the nomination. The first part of the plan was an organized media blitz through the usual conservative media organs. The last two weeks has been a steady stream of hysterical rants about Trump and his racists extreme alt-right extremist supporters. The idea is to not only to paint Trump as a racist, but to keep him from making his points. It’s the classic game of playing defense by going on offense.

The second part of the plan was to pour all available resources into the Wisconsin primary. They had two weeks to buy off every pol, talk show host and newspaper writer. Wisconsin is one of those weird breadbasket states where being nice counts for more than being right so Trump was always going to be vulnerable there. Cruz would be the nice version of Trump and thus win the primary. The hope was that a big win would deflate Trump’s support elsewhere, thus preventing him from reaching the 1237 delegate number.

The Encyclopedists are smart so you should never underestimate them. Kristol did not become the Hari Seldon of American politics by being a fool. He’s also ruthless. A man with no loyalties outside his narrow group, who believes he is chosen by fate to orchestrate the Great Plan, is not a guy prone to letting emotion get in the way. That’s why he is willing to back Cruz for now, even though he hates Ted Cruz more than he hates Trump.

That’s the genius of this scheme. Cruz will never be the nominee. He is just about eliminated from gaining the 1237 he would need to win the nomination. That means he has to figure out how to win a second ballot convention. Kristol has been working on that since last fall and is way ahead of Team Cruz. All the talk about horse trading at a brokered convention is nonsense. The party controls the bulk of the delegates, well more than is needed to pick the nominee. The rest is just theater.

The results thus far looks pretty good for the Foundation. Kristol is surely pleased with the outcome, but he now faces the big hurdle. In April, the primary schedule is NY, CT, DE, MD, PA and RI. These are states where Trump has a massive edge over Cruz. The holy roller stuff really turns people off in these states. A month of Trump winning will inevitably beat down the Cruz support as he begins to look like a fringe candidate and a tool for the NeverTrump idiots.

I’m no Hari Seldon, but I’m having a tough time seeing how this Wisconsin win carries through a month of losing to give Cruz a chance at being competitive in May. The math says Cruz will be eliminated by April 26th, baring a miracle. His rationale for remaining in the race at that point, is to be a dick and keep Trump from winning. Maybe that’s enough for him, but I wonder if his voters will agree. History says support drops off once a candidate is no longer viable.

That means the Foundation has to think they can ignore April by shifting the conversation from Trump winning primaries to some other topic, like his inability to beat Clinton in the general. The flaw in this plan is that the Democrats suddenly have a Sanders problem. Kristol would be fine with a Clinton presidency. The Conservative Industrial Complex could raise money of it and they largely agree with Hillary anyway. Sanders winning complicates the math a bit.

Regardless, it strikes me that everything is now pointing to California. The game between now and June 7th will be to create a narrative around stopping Trump from the nomination, thus making California an important primary. To do that means two months of Trump bashing that will make the last two months look like a Trump rally. The only way the Seldon Plan can work is to marginalize Trump to the point where he can’t win the nomination so we should expect a tsunami of sewage coming from so-called conservative media.

This is where being smart beats being right. Trump is running a tightwad campaign, spending very little on TV and social media. In California, the voters expect and demand a massive air war of ads. Kristol will launch a $50 million ad campaign against Trump in California, starting in May. Trump is too cheap and stubborn to run a TV campaign to match it so the Kristol people have to be optimistic. Reagan won California in 1976, keeping Ford from getting the necessary delegates to lock up the nomination. Ford lost to Carter in the fall.

That’s the plan, forty years later.

23 Comments
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Severian
4 years ago

This may backfire spectacularly. Of all the lessons Trump has taught us, one of the main ones should be that Americans hate The Media more than all the other boogeymen combined. Every time he takes a shot at Megyn (god, that stupid Millennial spelling!) Kelly, he gains a few points in the polls. Thanks to recent Media freakouts, we’re already seeing the end of “racism” and the “-phobias” as viable tactics. Trump probably gets double-digit support solely from the fact that the Media hates him. They may end up pushing him past the finish line.

Severian
Reply to  thezman
4 years ago

I think the party’s toast regardless. Obviously you can’t read too much into 19th century parallels, but the GOP looks more Whiggish by the minute. In 1852 they had no reason to exist other than “we’re against the pro-slavery party, but we promise not to mention slavery either.” A brokered convention candidate ends up like Winfield Scott, losing to a ridiculous nonentity like Franklin Pierce (himself the 16th (or whatever) choice of the Dem convention, because nobody wanted to talk about slavery in the Democratic Party, either). Paul Ryan loses to Hillary Clinton, and then the new party — an… Read more »

james wilson
james wilson
Reply to  Severian
4 years ago

Good points. The Cuckservative Party has proven itself so important to the degrading game of progressive democracy that were it banned outright and we conducted politics in a transparently corrupt one party state then, at least, the soul would have space left for itself, and Progressives would have no beard. The problem is not that the Republican Party is not doing the right thing, but that universal suffrage does not permit discussion of what that is. There is every reason to think this will get worse, and that the process is accelerating. North Carolina just lost 400 PayPal jobs because… Read more »

Severian
Reply to  james wilson
4 years ago

I’ll know a politician is serious — and the civil war is about to start — when I hear him talk about voting reform. Like that true American hero, President Dwayne Herbert Mountain Dew Camacho, I have a 3 point plan that would eliminate most of our problems. The following 3 groups are hereby disenfranchised: those on public assistance; employees of any government at any level; serving military members. You get your vote back when you go off the dole or go private sector.

Notsothoreau
Notsothoreau
Reply to  thezman
4 years ago

If Trump had won the states that Cruz recently won, we’d be hearing about Trump’s “white supremacist supporters”. When Cruz wins them, he’s just popular with regular folks. And the other thing I find odd is that Cruz is running as the evangelical candidate. Yet the “conservative” bloggers supporting him are neutral on religion at best.

Dick Riktor
Dick Riktor
4 years ago

So why doesn’t the “billionaire” just spend $300 million on ads and lock this thing up? That’s supposed to be chump change to him, right?

Crispin
Crispin
Reply to  thezman
4 years ago

Outspent for sure. I live in Crapstone, WI. To the extent that I watched any TV or listened to radio: all Cruz. & Bernie & Hitlery. Maybe one Trump ad. also, the local talk radio dudes are all railing against Trump. To be fair, they have been doing that since last summer, so not likely bought off by Soros, as some suggest. To the otherwise uninterested & tuned out citizenry, Trump got himself defined in WI. He will need to spend some media $$$ sometime. If folks would have read his 1990 Playboy interview, they would find he is quite… Read more »

Buckaroo Banzai
Buckaroo Banzai
Reply to  Crispin
4 years ago

I honestly wonder how much advertising would have helped Trump in Wisconsin. Upper Midwesterners find his personality type very off-putting, and it isn’t clear to me that could be fixed with any amount of ad spend. When Scott Walker endorsed Cruz, that seemed a very bad sign for Trump’s chances. Maybe Trump decided to play the long game, and let Wisconsin be the place where he forced his opponents to spend a huge amount of money to gain relatively few delegates.

Drake
Drake
4 years ago

“History says support drops off once a candidate is no longer viable.”

Not sure history applies this time around. John Kasich is still around and pulling in votes despite have no chance at winning anything,

Member
Reply to  Drake
4 years ago

If what I read a couple of weeks ago is correct, then I can explain Kasich. Apparently, if Kasich drops out then under Ohio rules all of his delegates would go to the runner-up – Trump. If that’s true, then the GOPe will keep funding Kasich’s run right up until the convention if that’s what it takes to keep Trump from reaching 1,237 delegates. It would certainly explain why he’s still running because his only purpose from the get-go was to split the anti-¡Jeb! Ohio vote so that El Gobernador would win in a squeaker. I just hope that Kasich… Read more »

Buckaroo Banzai
Buckaroo Banzai
Reply to  RDittmar
4 years ago

But isn’t that why candidates generally “suspend” their campaigns, instead of dropping out– to retain control of their hard-won delegates at the convention and use them as a bargaining chip? By that logic, the GOPe would simply save the money and tell Kasich to suspend his campaign. It seems to me Kasich actually thinks he can position himself as a convention compromise candidate if he can stay in the race and win a few more states. Which he won’t of course, but you can’t blame him for trying.

Kathleen
Kathleen
4 years ago

Kristol, with those weird lips of his, always reminds me of the Joker. Maybe there’s a reason for that.

Tim
Tim
Member
4 years ago

Don’t quite get all the disrespect for Cruz here. He’s no establishment guy, smart as hell, wants limited government, and is a bit devious, which equips him well for Washington. I’d say a lot less devious than Trump who has shafted every shareholder who ever invested with him. Tim

Buckaroo Banzai
Buckaroo Banzai
Reply to  Tim
4 years ago

Cruz simply doesn’t stand up to any level of scrutiny. First, he’s not even eligible to be POTUS, having been born in Canada to a Cuban father and a mother who may or may not have declared herself to be a Canadian citizen at the time of Cruz’ birth. If it’s the former, he’s arguably not even a U.S. Citizen! And by sealing his birth records, he hasn’t helped himself in this regard. And it gets worse from there. He’s a religious weirdo, just do a little digging on his oddball brand of Protestantism. He was a mid level Bush… Read more »

joe_mama
joe_mama
Reply to  Tim
4 years ago

What are you basing that on that he is no establishment guy?

Neil
Neil
4 years ago

Z is lumping the anti-Trump factions together, as if it’s all an orchestration of liberal neo-cons like Kristol and other left wing retreads from the 1960s. In fact, of course there is a wide swath of anti-Trump voters that dislike Trump for traditional, paleocon reasons, including his support for abortion on demand, special rights for the gaystapo, his general alignment with cultural degradation and NYC filth, etc. Trump’s long history of bankrolling the Democratic Party also unsettles people too, not just the Bill Kristols of the world.

Buckaroo Banzai
Buckaroo Banzai
Reply to  Neil
4 years ago

I can live with Trump’s rather checkered past on the abortion issue because let’s face it, the President simply has no real bearing on the issue. It’s a legitimate concern for SCOTUS nominees or local politicians; at the Presidential level it’s irrelevant. As far as bankrolling Democrats, frankly, I’d expect him to do that as someone doing business in real estate development in NYC. He eventually became a Republican, so why hold it against him? Everyone forgets that Reagan was a registered Democrat up until the 1960s. And saying that Trump is aligned with “general degradation and filth” is pretty… Read more »

Member
4 years ago

Is Trump the Mule?

el_baboso
Member
4 years ago

Of course Asimov portrays the fall of Trantor and the disintegration of the Galactic Empire as a bad thing…

Notsothoreau
Notsothoreau
4 years ago

Cruz hired the Bush finance team, including Neil Bush. Phil Gramm is his economic advisor. Lindsay Graham basically endorsed Cruz. He is as establishment as they come. His wife Heidi works for Goldman Sachs and also worked in the Bush administration.

Read up a bit about Cruz on TPP/TPA. You might also want to check his actual voting record as a Senator. He has a record he could run on, if he’d actually done anything. And as always, follow the money and see who owns him.

James LePore
Reply to  Notsothoreau
4 years ago

Yes, cui bono. They’re all beholden, except Trump, which is one reason why he’s so attractive to the Dirt People.