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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Where oh where have the issues gone in this year’s election?

Where oh where have the issues gone? Oh where oh where can they be?

Forgive my brief slide into nursery rhymes, but I can’t help but notice that this election, like so many before it, has rapidly devolved into a media feeding frenzy focused solely on the character and “fitness” of the Republican nominee at the expense of any meaningful discussion concerning what might happen in the next four years.

Trump silent majorityGone are the days when you could pick up a newspaper (or log-on to a news site) and see coverage of the candidates’ various plans to reform the tax code, deal with immigration or pour water on a hot spot around the world. No, now we’re all talking about Donald Trump – his past statements (as long as they have nothing to do with issues) or what he said last night at a rally.

Mixed in with the unrelenting smear job on Trump are news stories about all the good things Hillary Clinton is doing and how large her polling lead is at the moment. And it’s certainly having an effect on the race, especially with women voters.

Yesterday political analyst Nate Silver posted a story titled “Election Update: Women Are Defeating Donald Trump,” in which he wrote, “[I]f Trump loses the election, it will be because women voted against him. I took a look at how men and women split their votes four years ago, according to polls conducted in November 2012. On average, Mitt Romney led President Obama by 7 percentage points among men, about the same as Trump’s 5-point lead among men now. But Romney held his own among women, losing them by 8 points, whereas they’re going against Trump by 15 points.”

The concentrated assault on Trump’s women-related statements is intentional on the part of the Democrats and their willing collaborators in the media. Four years ago it was the “War on women” with Mitt Romney and now it’s “Trump’s a misogynist who glorifies in sexual assault and treating women as sex objects.”

But if it was just the media’s dealing with the Trump audio tape alone it would be somewhat understandable – his words were headline grabbing and if for nothing else, they forced people to look. The media’s negative onslaught goes way beyond just “sex talk”, however.

Take for example Politico’s headlines yesterday, which read:

--‘I Think He’s a Very Dangerous Man for the Next Three or Four Weeks’ -- At one of the most explosive moments of the campaign—and with a month to go—Politico Magazine reconvened the top Trumpologists to dissect The Donald’s final days as a candidate and what comes next.
-- How Long Can Evangelical Women Stay Behind Donald Trump? -- Trump’s salacious comments about women are proving too much for a growing number of conservative Christians.
-- Why Ryan and McConnell split over Trump -- One immediately came under fire, the other seemed to be in hiding.
-- Inside the scramble to save the GOP from Trump -- A portrait of a party in meltdown.

Granted, these are just the headlining stories at the top of the page (from about mid-day). There were an additional 25 stories just below the top section on the home page and 15 of those were about Trump or mentioned him in the headline. The only potentially negative story about Clinton was titled, “Chelsea flagged 'serious concerns' about Clinton Foundation conflicts.”

There was only one story on the latest Clinton document dump involving Clinton crony John Podesta, but even it dug at Trump: Podesta: Trump ally had ‘advance warning’ of hacked emails.

Politico has become such an anti-Trump hack job that it basically isn’t readable anymore. But we know there’s an agenda there, so it isn’t surprising. But the take-down Trump effort isn’t just limited to left-leaning publications like Politico.

These were the headlines at supposedly “conservative” RedState yesterday in their daily email:

--If The Choice Is Between Paul Ryan and Donald Trump, I'll Take Ryan
--Trump Campaign CEO Called Paul Ryan “The Enemy” - And I Know How That Feels
--VIDEO: Trump Surrogate Unsure He’d Condemn Trump If He’d Bragged About Rape
--Dear GOP: A Vote For Trump IS A FULL Endorsement Of Him
--GOP Debate Moderator, John Harwood, Boasted To Democrats About His Handling Of Trump
--FEAR: Trump Voter To Pence At Rally: “I’m Ready For A REVOLUTION” If Hillary Wins
--On International Day Of The Girl Don’t Dismiss The Genocide Of Sex-Selection Abortion
--LEAKED: DOJ Actively Worked To Get Clinton Campaign In Front Of Email Scandal
--Morning Joe Guest Defends Trump Comments In The Most Ridiculous Way Possible

The email was signed: “Sincerely yours, Caleb Howe, Managing Editor, RedState”

Nine stories. Seven about Trump. One article about Hillary and one about a conservative issue, the pro-life cause. All of the Trump stories were negative. RedState writers have claimed many times they would cover the presidential race as disinterested observers and as fairly as possible. Not sure I believe that one anymore.

RedState has become anti-Trump shills as vicious and spiteful as any publication on the left.

I can only conclude that the forces from both the left and right that are battling Trump with such intensity are doing so because they feel seriously threatened by him. For the left, it’s because Trump would destroy the current power infrastructure and throw many of them out onto their proverbial keisters.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Hillary is the ultimate guardian of the status quo. That’s what they want, four more years of dismantling what’s left of traditional American culture.

And yes, Trump is impulsive. But one thing that is wholly predictable is the near certainty that Trump will expunge his enemies from their positions of power and put in place people who were loyal to him – or at least didn’t oppose him.

Therefore, when Trump suggests that Paul Ryan might not be Speaker if he wins the presidency, he means it. I don’t think Ryan is going to be Speaker even if Trump loses because the conservative Republicans in the House that recognize the true threat in a Hillary Clinton presidency aren’t going to stand behind a guy who didn’t do all he could to prevent that result. And rightfully so.

Meanwhile, the right-leaning anti-Trump contingent fears Trump for many of the same reasons as their leftist teammates – that he’ll basically end their livelihoods – but it’s also because they’ve become in effect the de facto defenders of the establishment.

I never thought I’d say the words, but Erick Erickson at The Resurgent and the folks at RedState have become tools of the GOP elites and the leftist press at the same time.

No wonder no one’s talking about policy anymore. If Trump’s enemies talked about what he might actually do in terms of policy, he would win. It’s a result that can’t happen for them.

So the media war on the Republican nominee will continue.

Trump isn’t fooled. Lisa Hagen of The Hill reports, “At a rally in Panama City, Fla., the GOP presidential nominee didn’t acknowledge his public feud with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and instead largely trained his fire on the ‘media establishment.’

“’The media is an extension of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, it’s just one more way that the system is rigged,’ Trump said Tuesday night.”

In this, Trump is 100% correct.

Will Trump’s war on the establishment cause the GOP to lose Congress?

With all the media’s attention focused almost solely on Donald Trump we’re not hearing nearly as much about the battle for control of Congress. Trump’s decision to go after the GOP establishment is ruffling the feathers of nervous congressman and senators who are agonizing over their own electoral wellbeing.

Susan Ferrechio of the Washington Examiner reports, “Donald Trump's decision to openly fight Republican leaders just a month before the election is leaving pollsters in the dark about how the unprecedented move will affect House and Senate races…

“[P]olitical experts who closely follow the polls say it is not at all clear how those running under Trump will be affected. ‘It's too early to know,’ Jennifer Duffy, senior editor at the non-partisan Cook Political Report, which rates political races.”

Of course it’s too early to know. A million things could happen between now and Election Day. The polls are bound to narrow as the election approaches and that will certainly help down ballot candidates as well.

But if the divide in the GOP is causing some people to be nervous about their own political futures, it’s due entirely to party leaders like Paul Ryan who have held back enthusiastic support for Trump over “tone” and other meaningless rubbish while at the same time demanding that the nominee fundraise and take a bullet for a congressional delegation that hasn’t wholeheartedly gotten behind him.

It’s like asking a batter to “take one for the team” at home plate but not giving him credit after he scores the winning run.

There have been far too many deserters from the party flag citing Trump as the reason why they are breaking with the ticket this year. And leadership has failed to condemn those few people even when their numbers were too insignificant to be noticed by anyone other than the biased media.

Who cares if mushy-moderate Sen. Mark Kirk doesn’t support Trump? Or Senator Ben Sasse? Who are they? 99% of the country doesn’t even know those guys much less care about what they think where Trump is concerned.

The old saying goes “leadership begins at the top” and if McConnell and Ryan gave signals that it was okay to stay away from Trump back then, what do they expect him to do now?

Ironically enough, this “war with the establishment” is one area where policy does come into play. Trump’s insistence on sealing the southern border, deporting much of the population of illegal aliens and instituting “extreme vetting” measures on Muslim refugees flies in the face of the open borders/amnesty favoring big business establishment wing of the GOP.

It’s safe to say both McConnell and Ryan are cut from that mold. No wonder they feel they can let Trump wander in no man’s land and still live for another day.

My feeling is Republican House members will be fine in this election, but Senators won’t. If the GOP loses control of the Senate, it won’t be Trump’s fault, however. The blame will be placed solely at the feet of those most responsible – Republican leaders.

Lack of party discipline shows up in so many ways with the GOP. If they lose, it’s because they can’t control their members – and even worse, they didn’t even try to.

Politicians who are so concerned with losing a percentage point or two for supporting their presidential candidate don’t deserve to be reelected. Why don’t they get out there and stop talking about the Trump audio tape and start talking about the issues?

#NeverTrump’s fallacy is they cannot justify their position on the issues

As noted above, another anti-Trump faction that isn’t much interested in talking about the issues is #NeverTrump, the nebulous group of Republicans who despise Donald Trump’s personality so much that they’ve vowed to never vote for him – ever, ever, ever.

Lately they’ve made a lot of hay out of the fact Paul Ryan and other establishment Republicans have pulled back from Trump. They celebrate every Trump defection as if it’s a stake in the heart of the nominee himself. Yesterday Erick Erickson told of another apostate which helps explain the woman voter-phenomenon above.

Erickson wrotes in The Resurgent, “You may not know who Beth Moore is, but millions upon millions of evangelical women in America do. They go to bible studies based on her books. They watch her YouTube clips. They follow her on Twitter. They attend conferences where they know she is speaking. She is highly, highly influential with a key segment of the population that might have once leaned in for Trump — evangelical women. But Beth Moore has had enough.

“Those of you who do not know the demographic can be dismissive of it all you want, but Beth Moore’s rejection of Trump gives license to millions of women to reject him too. She has reminded people that Biblical authority and standards must trump politics. She has reminded people that endorsing those who revel in sin ends badly.”

Erickson’s right, I don’t have a clue who Beth Moore is. And tomorrow he’ll be presenting the “enlightened” anti-Trump views of “Sally Smith” or “George Thomas” too and use them as further justification for sitting out the election. #NeverTrump’s never-ending celebration of nothingness is astonishing and the fact they often use a Christian rationalization for their views is pathetic. And sad.

Plenty of evangelicals support Trump because they recognize his policies and personnel will be vastly better for the country than Hillary Clinton’s. An example I’ve used many times is on the issue of abortion. The pro-life cause will all-but be stamped out in a legal sense when Hillary Clinton’s “I want to appoint Supreme Court Justices who understand how the world really works” judges get a hold of current state laws restricting abortion.

If Erickson, Beth Moore and other evangelicals don’t at least acknowledge this truth, they are violating their own faith. Donald Trump is one man; an administration is made up of thousands of individuals making decisions that impact millions of lives every day.

To oppose Trump on their own interpretation of “Biblical values” shows incredible shortsightedness. I don’t think that’s what God wants. At least I hope not.

Do these people think Hillary Clinton represents Christian values? I must admit, I’m stumped.

Huma Abedin asks if Hillary can avoid taking questions from the press

Finally today, it hasn’t been hard to figure out that one of Hillary Clinton’s main strategies in running for president this year has been to avoid questions from the news media at all costs.

After all, she went 275 days without holding a press conference. No matter, the media loves her anyway.

It turns out that such a press avoidance strategy was posed in an email from none other than top Clinton crony Huma Abedin.

Joe Concha of The Hill reports, “Senior Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin argued to top staffers that Clinton should consider not taking questions from the press for fear of overshadowing her presidential campaign's message, according to emails released by WikiLeaks.

“’Can we survive not answering questions from press at message events[?]’ Abedin, who serves as Clinton's campaign vice chairwoman, asked in a May 2015 email, according to Politico. ‘Her [David Dinkins Forum] speech and immigration message broke through because we didn’t take questions.’”

I wonder what Erick Erickson, Beth Moore and the other “I can’t vote for Donald Trump” conservatives would say about this.

For all of his many and varied faults, Trump has never been known to shy away from press questions. Perhaps he should, because all the journalists want to talk about is what they’re instructed to focus on from the Clinton campaign.

Huma Abedin wants Hillary to concentrate on her “message.” It would be nice if Donald Trump concentrated on his as well. The American people deserve a substantive discussion on the issues. Unfortunately, I’m not hopeful that we’ll get one as long as the press smells blood from another Trump sex scandal.

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RedState and the Mensheviks (Republican Establishment)

It's incredible that the "Republican" or "conservative" NeverTrumpers have fallen for one of the simplest tricks in the Alinskyite playbook: Flooding the media with decades-old allegations of "youthful indiscretions" of the target candidate in order to avoid substantive issues. If this ploy is successful, Mensheviks like Paul Ryan or John McCain THINK they'll be o.k. under a Bolshevik administration of Hillary Clinton, at least until they themselves are purged. As for Erick Erickson et al., I guess what they mean by "Red State" is a Communist State. My biggest fear has been that Hillary would win by the illegal alien vote, but now the Alinskyite "divide and conquer" strategy may also work, thanks to some really incredibly naïve "conservatives."

Prioritize Coalition Building

If Erickson, Beth Moore and other evangelicals don’t at least acknowledge this truth [about the Democrat’s effect on abortion policy], they are violating their own faith.

This kind of statement by Rendall says a whole lot about the problems facing conservatives. It certainly demonstrates Rendall’s ignorance about Christian doctrine.

But more importantly, it exposes most Christian leaders’ ignorance of political coalition building and their ignorance of the operation of the United States government.

Hopefully, Rendall and Conservative HQ compose and execute a plan to eliminate all this ignorance, before it is too late. Without such a plan, it is evident that establishing a conservative coalition is not a priority for them. Maybe, prolonging the contest in political conflict is more profitable (has greater utility) for factional leaders than actually succeeding in forming a conservative governing coalition.