Louisiana is used to the role of red-headed stepchild in presidential elections, and this year promises to be no different.
We have a mere eight electoral college votes, and no pundit believes, as the vernacular has it, that they are up for grabs. We might rate a couple of courtesy visits, but this is too reliably red a state to occupy much of the candidates’ attention. So, it seems right now, Donald Trump will beat Hillary Clinton without breaking a sweat down here.
Clinton, meanwhile, will win the presidency, if the polls are to be believed. That, however, is a mighty big if these days, and, besides, the Justice Department has just granted immunity to Bryan Pagliano, the former Clinton aide who set up the private email account she allegedly used for classified communications when she was President Barack Obama’s secretary of state.
Republican talk of a pending indictment is just another sign that this election season is more than usually goofy, for Obama, having endorsed Clinton, is not about to turn his attorney general loose on her. But this is yet another black mark for Clinton, who already was rated pretty low for veracity and trustworthiness. A decent GOP candidate could beat her hands-down in the states that really count.
She remains ahead in the polls, presumably because, whatever her shortcomings, Trump, by any rational measure, is totally unfit to be president. Rational measures matter less and less, however, as the party establishment’s resistance to his candidacy crumbles. Among the latest to come out in support of Trump’s crackpot and thuggish campaign is our own onetime congressional big shot Bob Livingston.
Trump, according to Livingston, has “an unusual appeal, the likes of which we haven’t seen much since Ronald Reagan.” When such a sleazy huckster as Trump merits the ultimate GOP accolade, reason has deserted her throne for sure.
There remain plenty of influential conservatives keen to avoid the calamity of a Trump presidency, and Louisiana could be a bellwether state in that effort. If Trump could be stopped here, he could be stopped nationwide.
The results of the GOP primary lend some encouragement for the stop-Trump crusade, for, although he finished first, it was by a narrow margin. Trump won 41 percent, which gave him 18 delegates, the same as Ted Cruz.
A bunch of GOP panjandrums, led by Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, has been drawing up plans to defeat Trump. The first objective is to drum up support for Cruz in hopes of snatching the nomination away, but the numbers are not encouraging.
Failing that, the plan is to field a third-party candidate, with possibilities including former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, according to The New York Times. Because any conservative option presumably would siphon votes away from Trump, the third-party plan is one no doubt Clinton would endorse.
Meanwhile, the anti-Trump demonstrators who have taken to blocking streets where he is due to appear merely bring him more of the free ink that has boosted his campaign throughout. Trump may be the buffoon the pundits always have taken him for, but they all predicted he would flame out by now, and he clearly is a shrewder operator than they suspected.
His proposals for trade barriers and a wall along the Mexican border are a crude and unworkable response to the paranoia that has gripped the electorate, but that makes him all the more popular. Voters who believe in a vast conspiracy to take their country away from them have no trouble seeing him as their savior.
Clinton knows what a seductive delusion the vast conspiracy can be, having declared herself the victim of one when she was first lady. These days, outside New Orleans, she is pretty much anathema in Louisiana, and the GOP hierarchy shows no inclination to seek an alternative to Trump. Party Chairman Roger Villere rejoiced in the primary result and congratulated him for bringing new voters into the fold.
Can he and those other seemingly sane politicos who say Trump would make an acceptable president really mean it? That’s hard to believe, but it may not matter in the end. Dismiss the pollsters by all means, but you ignore the Irish bookie Paddy Power at your peril and he favors Clinton at 2-5.
James Gill’s email address is email@example.com.