Republicans Have Totally Lost Their Mojo

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A few hours ago I wondered why none of the other Republican candidates has seriously attacked Donald Trump. I got a bunch of responses, most of which related to policy. They can’t attack him for his xenophobia because most of them support the same policies he does (against Muslim immigration, for a border wall, etc.). They can’t attack him for his crazy tax plan because they all have crazy tax plans. They can’t attack him for wanting to steal Iraq’s oil because Republican voters probably think that sounds like a great idea.

But that’s not what I’m talking about. After all, Trump doesn’t generally attack his rivals at a policy level. He branded Jeb Bush for all eternity by calling him low energy. He got under Ted Cruz’s skin by suggesting he wasn’t a natural-born citizen. He went after Ben Carson by see-sawing between (in Conor Friedersdorf’s words) “implying that Carson is an unstable thug who can’t be trusted in office because of violent things that he wrote about in his memoir, and declaring that his memoir is obvious bullshit that only dupes would believe.”

In other words, forget about policy. Make it personal. Go after Trump for being a crappy businessman. Go after him for his serial affairs and divorces. Go after him for refusing to open his company’s books or his tax returns. Go after him for his miserly record of charitable giving. Go after him for trying to kick an old lady out of her house. More generally, I’m sure the other candidates all set their oppo dogs loose long ago. That’s what you do in campaigns. So what did they find?

Oh wait:

Multiple Republican campaign sources and operatives have confided that none of the remaining candidates for president have completed a major anti-Trump opposition research effort….Presented with that void, outside conservative groups have frantically moved to cobble something together….The same was true with a professional opposition researcher who spoke on the condition of anonymity. This past fall, she decided to start digging into Trump as a side gig to her own job, convinced that the campaign staff either wasn’t up to the task or were too unfamiliar with bankruptcy and SEC filings (as opposed to more traditional political documents).

“They didn’t know how to get a grip on it,” the researcher said. “It’s just being able to connect the dots and to know where to work.”

….It is treated as a truism among Republicans that a vast reservoir of damaging opposition research remains untouched. It’s a suspicion that Democrats aren’t challenging. Indeed, one Democratic opposition research said that they’ve spent the past eight months compiling material on Trump as he’s risen up the ranks. That’s actually not a lot of time. Democrats had started focusing on Mitt Romney in 2009 — a full two years before he ran again for the presidency. But those eight months have produced some good.

That researcher estimated that of all the material they’ve compiled — court and property records, newspaper clips and videos — approximately 80 percent of it has yet to surface in this election cycle.

Holy shit. This is malpractice on a grand scale. With all the money sloshing around the primary, nobody could manage to find a few million bucks to put together a professional ratfucking operation? Republicans really are losing their mojo.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

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Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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