Rush: The GOP was in freefall before Trump

Via the Daily Rushbo. He knows the truth, of course. But with the polls what they are, the moment on talk radio tor shifting blame away from Trump has arrived early.

You’ve seen this table before, but as a reminder of where the GOP stood last year at the federal and state level, here’s how Obama stacks up to every president dating back to Ike:


The GOP has picked up more Senate seats, House seats, and state legislative seats during Obama’s tenure than any opposition party has over the past 60 years. They’ve regained control of both chambers of Congress since 2010 and are just shy of the record for the number of state legislative chambers regained. (Follow the link and look at the map of total Republican domination in state government.) Take five minutes to read Sean Trende’s and David Byler’s piece from last year, just a month before Trump got into the race, titled “The GOP Is The Strongest It’s Been In Decades.” This year they’re facing a corrupt dynast widely viewed by the public as a pathological liar, whose favorable rating is deep underwater, and who was accused of near-criminal negligence in her handling of classified information by the director of the FBI on national television a few weeks ago. This is all happening after eight years of a Democratic administration, when the public traditionally looks to change parties in the White House. Virtually any generic Republican as nominee, from Scott Walker to John Kasich to Marco Rubio, would be — at very worst — neck and neck with Clinton right now and, in all probability, blowing her out. In reality, as I write this McClatchy is out with a new national poll: Clinton 48, Trump 33.

Rush knows all of this. But he also knows that if Trump goes sideways, grassroots conservatives will want to know why he seemed so sure that Trump was a strong, possibly revolutionary candidate when all of the RINOs and “globalists” kept claiming he’d be a bust as nominee. Answer: Well, in hindsight, the GOP was “in freefall” to begin with. You can’t lay a landslide on Trump. Lay it on a party that no one likes, even though … lots and lots and lots of people have voted for it over the past six years. What he’s really doing here to establish the “freefall” point is conflating the GOP’s public image, which really is terrible, with its electoral fortunes, which have been amazing. A party that no one likes can’t reasonably be expected to win, Rush is suggesting, even though the GOP’s been disproving that over and over again. The reality is that it can win because people vote for individual candidates, not parties. Hillary Clinton is so singularly terrible a candidate that a nondescript Republican would likely be romping now as the election quickly became a referendum on her. Instead, because Trump is larger than life and seems to find new ways to offend people every day, she’s achieved what seemed impossible: One of the most famous people in America, who’s aiming to become the second person in her nuclear family to run the country, has made the election a referendum on the other guy. At this precise moment, “freefall” isn’t too dramatic a word to describe what’s happening. Any spin that can spare the Great Man and his media defenders from their responsibility in this is worth trying, I guess.

After you listen to Rush, listen to Hannity in the second clip. He’s begun to shift blame too as Trump’s numbers tank. His preferred scapegoat isn’t supposed electoral weakness by the party but treachery among the leadership: “If in 96 days Trump loses this election, I am pointing the finger directly at people like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham and John McCain and John Kasich and Ted Cruz — if he won’t endorse – and Jeb Bush and everybody else that made promises they’re not keeping.” Ryan, McConnell, and McCain have all endorsed Trump; Kasich and Cruz haven’t ruled it out to this day despite Trump and his team frequently taking nasty shots at them. The hard truth is that, with a few rare exceptions like Ben Sasse, the party gave Trump every opportunity after he clinched on May 4th to unite the GOP and prove that he’d be a disciplined challenger in the general election. (Ironically, Hannity himself nodded at that fact on last night’s show, urging Trump politely to, at long last, get on message and stay there.) But you know how this song goes by now. If a Republican fails, especially a Republican beloved by populists, his downfall must be the fault of establishment incompetence or backstabbing. If only Mitch McConnell had been a little more enthusiastic about Trump and spared him the scolding statements about fighting with Gold Star families, 20 million votes might have shifted on Election Day.

The likes of Hannity and other conservative talkers, though, will blame the GOP establishment for not sufficiently embracing Trump and giving him a chance to succeed. They will say, as Hannity did, that this lack of support for Trump is merely the latest in a long line of GOP capitulations, and proof the GOP establishment just doesn’t get it. Some of them might argue a corollary: that Trump himself wasn’t conservative enough on certain issues, and wasn’t a true Republican (which he wasn’t at all until a few years ago.)

It would be a crowning irony to this campaign if Trump boosters in the media had a eureka moment after the election that he wasn’t conservative enough despite having spent 15 months calling #NeverTrumpers traitors for making the same point. Even that spin would be self-serving: Trump’s nationalist program is, I would argue, potentially a bigger vote-getter than a dogmatic conservative program like Ted Cruz’s would have been since it holds more economic appeal to working-class voters. Trump really could have won (and could still win, I guess). He’s blowing it because he can’t get out of his own way. It’s comforting to fall back on your most trusted canards when the walls are falling in, though, especially if you yourself happen to bear no small amount of responsibility for making Trump’s primary victory possible. The establishment stabbed us in the back, Paul Ryan’s a meanie and a globalist — anything beats admitting that Trump is a bad guy who’s grossly unqualified for the job yet who somehow managed to convince you to become the most ardent, relentless apologist for him in all of American media. Stick with Mark Levin, who knows the truth:

Exit question: Hannity has a point about conservative leaders not listening to the base on immigration, but how far does that circle of blame extend? He seemed pretty excited about comprehensive immigration reform after 2012’s landslide when Reince and the gang were preaching it as a necessary step to Republican dominance.

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David Strom 12:31 PM on December 01, 2022