Here comes Super Tuesday –> The single biggest primary day is nearly upon us, and the Republican Party establishment still is fighting against what increasingly looks like the inevitable: that Donald Trump will be their nominee. Alexander Burns, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin write at The New York Times that “the party has been gripped by a nearly incapacitating leadership vacuum and a paralytic sense of indecision and despair, as he has won smashing victories in South Carolina and Nevada.” The GOP is concerned that this year’s election “could set off an internal rift unseen in either party for a half-century, since white Southerners abandoned the Democratic Party en masse during the civil rights movement.” Some are banking on a brokered convention, but with the party is such disarray, who would be the brokers?
They did it to themselves –> Esquire’s Charlie Pierce responds to the Times piece: “The party’s three-decade courtship of the wild and the vile in our politics sooner or later was bound to leave the party open to a renegade campaign that was better at energizing that element than the cumbersome party machinery was.”
AND ICYMI: The Brookings Institution’s Robert Kagan made similar points last week in a column for The Washington Post. “Let’s be clear: Trump is no fluke. Nor is he hijacking the Republican Party or the conservative movement, if there is such a thing. He is, rather, the party’s creation, its Frankenstein’s monster, brought to life by the party, fed by the party and now made strong enough to destroy its maker.”
Taking on the Frankentrump –> Liberals, for their part, now have a pretty good idea who they’ll be facing in November, and are discussing which of the two Democratic candidates can better take him on. Some are making the case that the best opponent to Trump is not Hillary Clinton, but Sanders, who, like Trump, is an insurgent populist candidate. Glenn Greenwald writes at The Intercept: “While it’s undoubtedly true that racism and ethno-nationalism are significant factors in Trump’s appeal, also quite significant is a pervasive, long-standing contempt for the political establishment, combined with enduring rage at Wall Street and corporate America, which — along with the bipartisan agenda of globalization and free trade — have spawned intense economic suffering and deprivation among a huge number of Americans.”
South Carolina –> Hillary Clinton won South Carolina’s Democratic primary by a hefty margin this weekend, “a rout that does not bode well” for the Sanders campaign, D.D. Guttenplan writes at The Nation. Noting that the Sanders campaign is still struggling in many states to attract voters of color, Guttenplan offers some advice: “Don’t confuse campuses with communities, pandering with politics — or Reddit with reality. The Clintons are past masters at targeted pandering, but they are also very, very good at retail politics… Millennials love Bernie Sanders, but they aren’t going to win him the nomination.”
The white supremacy question –> As we noted last week, former KKK leader and Louisiana politician David Duke has endorsed Trump; asked about the endorsement on CNN, Trump denied knowing anything about it or about Duke (though, at other points in his career, he has denounced Duke). Trump also employed some bizarre wording in his denials, Jonathan Chait notes at New York magazine: “Four times in the interview, he repeats the phrase ‘I know nothing.’ That is the exact wording used by 19th-century nativists. The ‘Know-Nothing Party’ is sometimes misremembered in the popular imagination today as signifying ignorance. In fact, the phrase was used by nativists who belonged to secret societies pledged to support only native-born Protestants for public office.”
AND: Some Republicans who have come under fire for their own questionable racial politics endorsed Trump this weekend: Governor Paul LePage of Maine, former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and Alabama US Senator Jeff Sessions. Sessions once “called a white civil rights lawyer a ‘disgrace to his race’ for litigating voting rights cases,” Sarah Wildman reported for The New Republic back in 2002.
AND: New Jersey governor and erstwhile White House contender Chris Christie also endorsed Trump, although Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, who served as Christie’s presidential campaign finance co-chair, issued a statement denouncing his decision as “an astonishing display of political opportunism.”
Backing down –> Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death made Dow Chemical less certain it could win a class action price-fixing suit soon to come before the Court, so the company decided to settle for $835 million. “Scalia’s death is likely to make it harder for companies to get the five votes they need to overturn awards or get new restrictions on class actions. He had been a key voice for companies in challenging group suits at the Supreme Court,” Jef Feeley and Greg Stohr write for Bloomberg Business.
Opportunist falls flat –> The Washington Post’s Matea Gold takes a closer look at Mike Murphy, one man who has profited mightily from the rush of big money into politics, and who helmed the super PAC backing Jeb Bush’s campaign disaster: “Since 1998, when Murphy helped Bush remake his image and win the Florida governor’s office after an earlier failed bid, the strategist’s firms have received nearly $36 million from Bush’s campaigns, allied political committees and educational foundation, according to campaign finance and tax records compiled by The Washington Post. While the vast majority of the money went to purchase advertising, Murphy got a significant cut as the media consultant.”
“Death and politics” –> In a fascinating long read at Rolling Stone, Andy Kroll examines why a Missouri politician took his own life — and the role Ted Cruz’s famously aggressive campaign manager may have played in the story.
Oscars –> The film Spotlight won best picture at the Academy Awards last night. We wrote back when the film came out that it was “a celebration of investigative journalism and a reminder that it could be a dying art.” This Reveal podcast from the Center for Investigative Reporting picks up the story where the film left off.
@IlDuce2016 –> Gawker made a bot that tweeted Mussolini quotes and attributed them to Donald Trump. The editors figured it was only a matter of time until the candidate retweeted one of them.
AND: On Last Week Tonight, John Oliver gave his take on the Trump phenomenon.
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