The Ninth Circle: The Hellish View from Inside the Beltway, #2


In our last epistle from the Bottomless Pit, we mocked the presidential ambitions of three Republican hopefuls: Jeb!, Ben Carson, and Donald Trump. And if you don’t like it, what’re you gonna do about it—tell us to go to hell?

Nothing really changed in last night’s Fox Business debate in Milwaukee: Jeb! was better than in previous outings, even if he reserved his most eloquent passion for the Republican-repelling cause of “comprehensive immigration reform.”

As for Carson, he was, well, Carsonian. If you like your candidate to be a mix of Jimmy Carter’s studied piety and Chauncey Gardiner’s enigmatic circularity, well, Carson is your man. As they say about the storied doctor, “gifted hands, enhanced imagination.”

And as for Trump, he was strangely subdued. Maybe he figures that getting a second guest-hosting gig on “Saturday Night Live” was an adequate reward for his campaign exertions and so now he can coast. Or, maybe, his bluster-buss act—“My tax plan will be a tremendous plan!”—is simply wearing thin.

As for the others, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio—as well as Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie in the earlier “undercard” debate—did the best on points. Like them or not, those four skilled spielers demonstrated that it helps to have had some political training before seeking the presidency.

Meanwhile, John Kasich reminds us of the Houseguest Who Won’t Leave. He is simply not likable, although he is still on track to be an MSNBC contributor. And oh yes, Carly Fiorina: What, exactly, are her qualifications? Losing a Senate race by ten points? She had a great line a while back when she said, “Unlike Hillary Clinton, I know that flying is an activity, not an accomplishment.” Touché, Carly, but getting fired from your company is also not an accomplishment.

Who am I leaving out? Oh yeah, Rand Paul—that was on purpose. He thinks that reducing the deficit is more important than defending the nation; that’s a surefire ticket to this particular Tarpit.

Of course, as Joel Pollak of Breitbart California observed, the biggest victor was not on the stage, it was the stage itself:

“The clear winner of Tuesday night’s GOP debate was the Fox Business Network, which conducted two lively sessions that were freewheeling, substantive–and, for the most part, fair. The entire GOP field benefited from the chance to showcase their policies.”

Yes, Fox Business, previously in the shadow not only of CNBC, but also of Fox News, was the big winner. In truth, FBN has always been a gem, being the home, for example, of the great American nationalist Lou Dobbs, who had Donald Trump’s best ideas 20 years ago. And now it takes its rightful place in the sunlit uplands of first-rate journalism.

Still, it’s interesting to reflect on the turn of events that brought FBN to its Beer City rendezvous with destiny.

It was, in fact, Ted Cruz who set off the chain-reaction that opened up the daylight for FBN. The Texan’s sharp words at the October 28 CNBC debate crystallized thinking in the GOP—We’re not gonna take it!

That is, when the CNBC moderators yielded to the snaky temptation of snark—and Lordy, do we know how tempting that can be!— Cruz called them on it:

“The questions asked in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media. Everyone home tonight knows that the moderators have no intention of voting in a Republican primary.”

Cruz continued:

“You look at the questions: Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, can you insult those two people over here. Marco Rubio, will you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues people care about?”

Cruz was brilliantly articulate as he recapitulated, with contempt, the immoderate moderators’ attempted zingers; before he had even finished, it was hard to hear his words because the audience was so exploding in applause. Cruz, later joined by Chris Christie and others, had successfully turned the tables on the loathed MSM—every Republican’s dream come true.

And the rest is history. The FBN reporters, joined by a pair of Wall Street Journal-ers, couldn’t possibly have been more odious than the CNBC crew, but Cruz’s fusillade in Colorado underscored the importance of being on best behavior. And they were.

Now we know: Cruz Control, plus Fox-style Fair & Balanced, is the cure for CNBC-itis! And MSM-nesia.

So, you might be asking, How does the 2016 general election look to you guys, as you gaze up from the Land of Torment?

Here’s the consensus view from those of us who have Crossed the River Styx: Republicans are likely looking at an epic election year.

And why do we, languishing here in this Pandemonium, feel this way? What makes us, the sulfurous, so sure of our psephology?

Let’s start with what’s probably the single most reliable indicator of partisan feelings: control of state legislatures. You see, most voters have no idea who their state senator or state representative is, so when they go to vote, not knowing who’s who, they simply pull the lever, or push the button, for “R,” or “D,” according to their instinctive preference.

In other words, if you want to get sense of the voters’ heads—or at least their guts—look to their local legislature.

So what do we see? As the Washington Post—even the devil can quote election statistics—observed, Republicans now control both legislative chambers in 30 states. That’s 30 states with 309 electoral votes, 39 more than needed to win the White House. And if one adds Nebraska, with its oddball non-partisan legislature—but which is solid red, politically—that takes us up to 314 e.v.’s for the Elephant Party.

Another eight states, with 83 e.v.’s, have split control: one Republican chamber, one Democratic. So to make things simple, let’s just assign one-half the e.v. total to each party. Now the GOP is over 350 e.v.’s. In other words, a landslide.

Okay, so that’s the picture today. But what will things be like a year from now? How will the voters regard the two parties then?

Here’s a devilish hunch: The Iran deal will not play well; more precisely, a deal that was rejected by large, but insufficient, majorities in Congress will continue not to play well. Indeed, down here in Hades, we get a plutonian belly laugh as we watch John Kerry’s dear negotiating partners in Tehran relentlessly referring to the US as the “Great Satan.” The Iranians wanna see something satanic? Just wait till they join us here in this Stygian Realm.

But in the meantime, it’s perfectly obvious—at least to anyone who hasn’t been given a Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing—that the Iranians have no sincere intention of complying with the nuclear deal. And that’ll be clear enough to the voters. In other words, shades of the shade of Woodrow Wilson, he of the arrogantly misbegotten Treaty of Versailles. After that fiasco, the 1920 election, we might recall, was a monster blow-out for the Republicans.

Meanwhile, on the home front today, the Democrats are acting as though they want to lose. Ask yourself: Which swing state is Hillary Clinton going to win with her message of gun control, Republicans as the “enemy,” #BlackLivesMatter, etc.?

And how ‘bout this new headline from the Washington Post, which hits liberals where they live: “Surge in robberies on Capitol Hill alters residents’ routines, lifestyles.” The District will probably always be Donkey Party territory, but in fact, crime is surging everywhere, as welfare is being un-reformed, the police are being de-Giuliani-ized, and the MSM is hard-pandering to the hashtagging mau-mauers.

Yes, the “law and order” issue, which helped propel the Republicans to the White House way back in 1968, is ba-a-a-ck.

And we haven’t even gotten to the issue of the loony left’s latest cause, co-ed bathrooms in schools. Question: What do you call a boy who calls himself a girl? Answer: A boy.

So that’s why the auguries foretell a Republican triumph next year; all GOPers have to do is stick to their guns (pun intended) and repeat, 10,000 times, “Peace Through Strength,” “Law and Order,” and, yes, “Sanity.” In an insane era, those are winning messages. Easily. All the GOP has to do is not nominate the likes of Carson or Trump.

But beware, Republicans: Because Loki, the God of Mischief, is on our team, Team Inferno. He’s hellfire-tanned, rested, and ready to mess with the Grand Old Party, luring the unwary into nominating the unelectable—and thereby stampeding the Elephants off a cliff. It’s happened before. And it’s fun for us, the Damned, to watch.


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