The GOP Is Disappearing In New York

Politico: “Two potential candidates for New York governor against incumbent Andrew Cuomo have dropped out in the past week. No candidate against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has gotten beyond the whisper phase. There’s still no challenger to the state attorney general or comptroller. In President Donald Trump’s home state, the New York Republican Party is on the verge of disaster. It has so far come up dry in its efforts to put together a top-tier 2018 statewide ticket — a budding failure with implications that could ripple beyond state borders.”

Where the Real Power Lies In the GOP

Jon Favreau: “I wasn’t as surprised about how the Republican Party has behaved toward Trump because, though I badly missed the ultimate prediction of who was going to win in the general election, I believed Trump was going to win the primary.”

“Having watched it from my perch at the White House during the Obama administration, I thought the Republican Party had rotted. The party has a base that is constantly in a frenzy because of the right-wing media. That’s the real center of gravity in that party. It’s not the Republicans in Congress; it’s not even really Donald Trump. So to me, that partisanship is wholly due to the fact that the Republican Party has been rotten to its core for some time now.”

For members: Rupert Murdoch Controls What Trump Thinks

Escalating Attacks on Mueller Divide Republicans

New York Times: “A growing campaign by President Trump’s most ardent supporters to discredit the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and the law enforcement agencies assisting his investigation is opening new fissures in the Republican Party, with some lawmakers questioning the damage being done to federal law enforcement and to a political party that has long championed law and order.”

Mississippi Could Be Next Battleground In GOP Civil War

“Mississippi’s 2018 U.S. Senate race is poised as the next possible front in the fight between rival wings of the Republican Party, a campaign that could test how the GOP’s populist and establishment forces engage in the aftermath of this month’s bitter Alabama contest,” the Washington Post reports.

“If state Sen. Chris McDaniel, the hard right’s top recruit for the seat, decides to challenge U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, he will be up against the incumbent’s well-funded allies and President Trump, who has pledged Wicker his support. Those dynamics could trigger a broad intraparty clash such as the one that played out in Alabama, where the GOP lost a Senate seat for the first time in a quarter-century.”

Quote of the Day

“When you look at some of the audiences cheering for Republicans sometimes, you look out there and you say, ‘Those are the spasms of a dying party.’ By and large, we’re appealing to older white men, and there are just a limited number of them.”

— Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), quoted by the Washington Post.

Republicans Finally Get a Partner In Trump

Politico: “In the last three months of 2017, Trump has quietly racked up a series of policy victories that Republicans have eyed for years, securing the passage not only of the tax overhaul, but also reversing the contours of Obama-era foreign policy and confirming a spate of judges to the federal bench.”

“Over the past week, even Republicans themselves have appeared surprised at their own successes… Republican leaders, whose relationship with Trump has been strained since he took office by both temperamental and ideological differences, heaped praise on him at a White House ceremony on Wednesday marking the passage of the tax legislation.”

Conservatives Fall In Line

David Frum: “In the spring of 2016, National Review published its ‘Against Trump’ issue. Twenty-one prominent conservatives signed individual statements of opposition to Trump’s candidacy. Of those 21, only six continue to speak publicly against his actions. Almost as many have become passionate defenders of the Trump presidency.”

Conservatism Can’t Survive Donald Trump

David Frum: “Conservatism is what conservatives think, say, and do. As conservatives change—as much through the harsh fact of death and birth as by the fluctuations of opinion—so does what it mean to be a conservative.”

“The Trump presidency is a huge political fact. He may not be the leader of American conservatism, but he is its most spectacular and vulnerable asset. The project of defending him against his coming political travails—or at least of assailing those who doubt and oppose him—is already changing what it means to be a conservative. The word “conservative” will of course continue in use. But its meaning is being rewritten day by day by the actions of those who claim the word. It is their commitment to Trump that etches Trumpism into them. And while Trump may indeed pass, that self-etching will not soon be effaced.”

The Only Hope for Republicans Is Massive Defeat

Michael Gerson: “President Trump and his admirers are not just putting forth an agenda; they are littering the civic arena with deception and cruelty. They are discrediting even the good causes they claim to care about. They are condemning the country to durable social division. In Trump’s GOP, loyalty requires corruption. So loyalty itself must be reconceived.”

“What would weaken the grip of Trump on the GOP? Obviously not moral considerations. The president has crossed line after line of decency and ethics with only scattered Republican bleats of protest. Most of the party remains in complicit silence. The few elected officials who have broken with Trump have become targets of the conservative media complex — savaged as an example to the others.”

“This is the sad logic of Republican politics today: The only way that elected Republicans will abandon Trump is if they see it as in their self-interest. And the only way they will believe it is in their self-interest is to watch a considerable number of their fellow Republicans lose.”

The Price of Republican Extremism

Ezra Klein: “Starting around the 2010 Tea Party surge, Republican voters have repeatedly chosen the most extreme candidates during primaries, and have paid a real electoral price, particularly in the Senate.”

“If Republicans held all these seats today, and if they hadn’t run and lost with Roy Moore on Tuesday, they would hold a 57-43 margin in the Senate, and Democrats would have no shot at taking back the chamber next year. Extremism has cost the GOP a lot of power, and blunted the natural advantage the Senate’s small-state bias gives the Republican coalition.”

The GOP Nightmare Is Just Beginning

McKay Coppins: “Roy Moore’s stunning defeat Tuesday night was met with quiet sighs of relief throughout the GOP establishment, where the culture-warring ex-judge and accused child abuser was widely regarded as radioactive. Yet even as Moore’s political obituaries were being written, party strategists were bracing for the army of Moore-like insurgents they expect to flood next year’s Republican primaries.”

“Indeed, Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon has already pledged to field challengers for every incumbent Republican senator up for reelection next year (with the exception of Ted Cruz). And even if Bannon fails to deliver on his threat, many in the GOP worry that experienced, fully-vetted candidates are going to struggle to beat back a wave of rough-edged Trump imitators who lean into the white identity politics that the president ran on in 2016.”