History repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. So goes the old saying. With the buffoons of the 2016 NeverTrump movement seemingly bound and determined to make a go of it again in 2020, is there a pithy phrase to capture what happens when a monumental political embarrassment comes back for more?
Maryland’s Republican Gov. Larry Hogan was just sworn into office for a second term in the solidly liberal state. That fact alone should give a hint as to what kind of Republican Hogan is; if it doesn’t, his feckless efforts to make himself a “player” on the national scene will sweep all doubt away.
Kristol Blue Persuasion
Hogan, who refused to vote for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016, is so tone-deaf to the nation’s current political climate that he proudly admits he wants to return the Republican Party to GOPe, its thoroughly discredited days as standard bearer of the worst establishment politics. Naturally, this quality of character has captured the eye of always-get-it-wrong GOPe maven Bill Kristol.
The ever-entertaining Kristol has come out as a Hogan supporter, already encouraging him to challenge Trump in the 2020 primaries. He tweeted on Jan. 19:
“Might the waters be getting a little warmer for a potential Republican primary challenge to Trump?” https://t.co/0N7oy1XZbe
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) January 19, 2019
Amazingly, Hogan believes his path to becoming a viable national figure in Republican politics is stirring the ghosts of George H.W. Bush and John McCain. Yep, he’s going kit and caboodle for the whole rotten cartel.
Hogan amazingly had the worst canned, preordained establishment “presidential frontrunner” in U.S. political history, Jeb Bush, serve as a featured speaker at his inauguration on Jan. 16. And then he made things worse by opening his mouth.
“It isn’t always easy to put the public good ahead of personal and partisan interests,” a saccharine Hogan cooed, The Baltimore Sun reported. “If it were, then leaders like George H.W. Bush, John McCain, and my dad would not have stood out from their contemporaries as much as they did.”
The GOPe loves this kind of milquetoast verbiage…
Hogan’s father, Lawrence Hogan Sr., was a former congressman best known for being the first Republican House Judiciary Committee member to call on President Richard Nixon to resign during the Watergate crisis in the 1970s.
Vapid by Design
Just as with GOPe lightweight John Kasich’s presidential run in 2016, Hogan likes to embrace touchy-feely talking points of no substance at a time when Americans have lost all stomach for the do-nothing politics of the past. In an interview with Bret Stephens, who serves as The New York Times resident fake conservative a la Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post, Hogan spouted the banal soft-serve language that establishment Republicans especially relish. “There are an awful lot of people who are looking for a voice that represents the people who feel disaffected,” Hogan told Stephens, presumably without reaching out for a hug. “I do want to be more of a voice of reason and moderation in the Republican Party.”
The GOPe loves this kind of milquetoast verbiage precisely because it offers no specific promises to the American people that might later have to be kept. Alas, it has no chance of being successful in the bitterly partisan political climate of today. Then again, winning the White House is surely not the goal here.
Of course, Kristol knows a Larry Hogan tower of jelly is not going to spark a grassroots fire in 2020. This is about siphoning away from Trump whatever votes they can, even if that will only aid a progressive Democratic opponent. In 2016, NeverTrumpers knew that Kristol-tapped independent Evan McMullin was not a serious presidential candidate. He existed only to cost Trump the state of Utah. In other words, he was there to help Hillary win.
“You shouldn’t have to obsess over or argue constantly about angry and divisive politics,” an Oprah-channeling Hogan trilled in his inauguration speech. “You should be able to have confidence in the character and competence of the people you elect to office, regardless of their party affiliation.”
By pledging to flavorlessly carry the establishment torch passed down from the Bush and McCain eras, Hogan has already assured that he will not inspire any confidence whatsoever in anyone plugged into the new era of American politics.