An unlikely post mortem…
Posted March 23, 2016on:
Good morning Widdershins. This is going to be a different kind of post. I figure you can read about Brussels without me regurgitating articles. You already know the results of the mountain primaries with Hillary winning Arizona and Bernie taking Utah and Idaho.
What I’m offering up today is a condensed version of an article from The Weekly Standard. No, I am not possessed. The article is Debriefing Mike Murphy: Why the Right Failed to Rise. In essence, it is an exit interview with Mike Murphy who captained the $118 Million Titanic, the “Right to Rise” Super Pac.
The reason I offer this up, shortened from its 7,600 words, is that it’s funny and remarkably honest. It is similar to things liberals say about the clown bus that is the Republican primary. All the words, except the headings are from the article.
How the article came to be:
I (the author Matt Labash) have come to Right to Rise, Jeb Bush’s $118 million super-PAC, to watch Mike Murphy and his crew pack it in. That donor loot helped buy Jeb all of four delegates before he dropped from the race, returning to a quiet life of low-energy contemplation. Murphy bellows a greeting and introduces me around to his crew, saying, “He’s here to write my political obituary!”
How did Murphy get to L.A. and Hollywood:
Murphy, an inveterate film buff, moved to Los Angeles a decade ago to dabble in screenwriting, partly to escape politics — which he calls “the lowest rung of show business.”
The office décor:
There are pictures of Jeb, of course, beaming beatifically while surrounded by smiling multicultural children. The Department of Ungentlemanly Warfare has posted photos they’ve dug up of other candidates in compromising positions, such as Chris Christie inhaling ice cream while looking like he’s storing four bags of doughnuts under his shirt.
The primaries countdown clock is now permanently set to zero. And next to it hangs a large Donald Trump piñata that is fitted with real Marco Rubio ankle-boots, the metrosexual atrocities Rubio was caught wearing that look like something Deney Terrio would sport on an old episode of Dance Fever. In a box nearby are the severed heads of previous Trump piñatas.
On the future:
Surveying his decommissioned troops, the 53-year-old general sighs with mock-wistfulness: “These people all used to have great careers in politics. . . . Now we’re going to Kinko’s to print off some résumés. We understand there’s a job fair at Quiznos.”
On other Murphy clients:
Murphy played a major role in assisting three losing presidential candidates (McCain, Lamar! Alexander, and Jeb!). If you again notice a theme, it’s that his presidential candidates sometimes seem more excited about their first names than the electorate does.
On advice he would give Jeb! now:
Though Murphy’s tongue is usually on a hair-trigger, he stops and ponders this question for a beat. He then says he would’ve told Jeb, “What the f — were we thinking?”
On retiring from politics:
Murphy’s been threatening to quit politics for good since at least the early aughts, hoping to find more reputable employment, “like opening a dog track — nicer class of people.”
Murphy’s nickname for this political season:
The Year of the Howling Moron
The one precondition to doing the interview:
Murphy laid down only one precondition: “That you put in this piece that The Weekly Standard has become a Rubio-Love Spank Mag — and Kristol can’t cut it!”
No sense in giving the country over to total amateurs, as we now seem poised to do, Murphy implies. After all, when you need someone to fix your plumbing, you call a plumber — not a reality-show star whose only real accomplishment is “teaching Gary Busey to work the snow-cone machine [on Celebrity Apprentice].” If we need someone to fix the country, perhaps we should subject these applicants to at least the same expertise standards we apply to the Roto-Rooter man.
On the Rubio love-fest:
It especially enrages Murphy that the Beltway crowd has been so protective of Rubio, “having a breakdown as their precious helicopter-mom dreams are evaporating.” Yes, Right to Rise smacked the silly out of Rubio repeatedly. “Loyalty is not a small thing. I’m an old Irish pol. No loyalty is owed, if no loyalty was given.”
As for Cruz, Murphy does not TrusTed and has no plans to fall in line with the man shaping up to be the Establishment’s hold-your-nose-and-kiss-your-sister Trump alternative: “I think he’s cynical, totally cynical. . . . I don’t think he could win a general election, so he’ll be wiped out. It’s a choice between Trump, who is terrible for the country, and Cruz, who is terrible for the party. Cruz is probably pissed that a bigger con man showed up.”
To offer people hope, Kasich has an impossibly tall order this year: “He’s trying to start an opera club at a tractor pull.”
On the modern electorate:
We pretend as though character doesn’t count, then wonder why we get so many characters. We buy cut-rate Chinese goods at Walmart, or better still, on Amazon Prime, so we don’t have to put down the Doritos bag and budge from our easy-chair rage-stations as our passions get serially inflamed by Sean Hannity telling us how great we are and how hard we have it. Our consumption of everything seems to be increasing — of carbs, meth, anger-stoking shoutfests — even as our producers seem to be disappearing. Maybe we have unimpressive politicians because they’re our representatives, and we’ve become grossly unimpressive ourselves.
“There is the Wall Street stuff — rich guys who win either way. When things go south, they get bailed out. When things go right, they get billions. There’s legit anger at that. And there should be. Income inequality stuff is real.”
A telling admission against interest:
The weird thing, Murphy says, is even the rich guys know it. One of them, a Right to Rise donor, gave Murphy a hop from New York back to L.A. on his brand new Gulfstream. Murphy calls it a “G-a-lot,” as in, “it was bigger than a G-V.” Upon deplaning, “the hedge-fund zillionaire pulls me aside, and says, ‘I paid $55 million for this, and the government gave me most of it in tax breaks. I don’t know if people ask for things from Jeb. But here’s what I want: Tell him to get rid of that shit.’ Because even the guys in the rich world feel crappy about it.”
Murphy suspects that if Trump wins the Republican nomination, the country is “idiot-proof” enough that Hillary (who he adds “I’m not a fan of”) would beat Trump. The head-to-head numbers have consistently suggested Hillary’s win, which is why he’s long called Trump a “zombie frontrunner.”
On an open convention:
“You’d just pack a quart of liquor, a revolver, and go to the convention.”
On the professional “antiestablishment” types who are making a fortune:
The antiestablishment establishment: The professional stokers of anger and discontent, those who settle, as a way of life, on unsettledness. “Like, Antiestablishment Inc.,” Murphy says. “You can find them at 123 Establishment Lane, Des Moines, Iowa. Often, they’re involved with the postage meter or credit card machine somewhere for small-dollar donations.”
Take, for instance, he says, the Tea Party — “a racket, though it’s supposed to be a nonracket,” full of faux four-star generals who say, “ ’You’ve got to pay me because . . . I represent the Nebraska sub-Army 14 of the Tea Party,’ and there’d be like four or five guys arguing over who’s in charge of it.” But there’s a racket of people sending letters asking for money. “The poor old lady sends her $25 to defeat Nancy Pelosi, and $22 of it goes to ‘fundraising costs.”
Could have been written by any of us. This is an open thread.
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