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No Republican political family has been as tormented by Donald Trump as the Bush dynasty.
Now Trump has one more opportunity to twist the knife, as George P. Bush — the last remaining Bush in public office — prepares to launch a primary challenge Wednesday against Texas GOP Attorney General Ken Paxton.
In what’s expected to be a brutal contest pitting the Bush family scion against a scandal-plagued incumbent, Trump’s endorsement will go a long way toward determining the winner. The former president remains popular with the Texas Republican base — so popular that Bush, Jeb Bush’s son and currently the state’s land commissioner, has studiously avoided his family’s entanglements with Trump.

“It’s going to be the Holy War of Texas. We haven’t seen a battle like this since the siege at the Alamo,” said Jeff Roe, a Republican strategist and top adviser to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign in 2016.
“George P. is both the heir and protector of a historic Texas political dynasty, but this is a race against a two-term incumbent attorney general,” Roe said. “A line in the sand will be drawn, and people will have to choose sides. Everyone always thought George P. would carry the family banner into the next generation, but I’m not sure anyone anticipated it happening like this.”
Trump’s antipathy for two generations of Bushes has tarnished a once-mighty brand that once was synonymous with the Republican Party in Texas and across the country. Trump humiliated Jeb Bush in the 2016 presidential primaries and briefly amplified a vicious tweet that said the former Florida governor “has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife,” a reference to Columba Bush, Jeb’s wife and George P.’s mother, who was born in Mexico and is an American citizen.

Jeb, former President George W. Bush and their parents, former President George H. W Bush and Barbara Bush, havebeen critical of Trump in turn.
Even so, George P. Bush endorsed Trump in his reelection last year.
On Monday, Bush tweeted a picture of himself talking on the phone with the former president, saying that it’s “great to speak with President Trump to discuss the future of Texas and how we are keeping up the fight to put America first. I appreciate the words of encouragement and support.”
Asked about his son’s tweet, Jeb Bush said via email: “I love my son.”
According to Roe and interviews with a dozen other top state GOP strategists, George P. Bush needs to maintain the charm offensive with Trump to keep him from endorsing Paxton, who has skillfully used his post as state attorney general to promote and tie himself to Trump as president. It was Paxton who led the unsuccessful effort to have the Supreme Court overturn the 2020 election and, since then, he has attacked President Joe Biden’s policies in court.
But Paxton is under state criminal indictment for securities fraud and is the subject of a separate FBI corruption investigation making him particularly vulnerable to challenge.
“I like them both very much. I’ll be making my endorsement and recommendation to the great people of Texas in the not-so-distant future,” Trump said Tuesday in a written statement. “I told Texas that Sleepy Joe would be against guns, oil, and God, and I was right!” (Biden is for gun control, is trying to wean the nation off fossil fuels but is a regular churchgoer).
Trump endorsed both Paxton and Bush in their respective 2018 primaries. But Bush wasn’t facing a candidate with such strong MAGA credentials as Paxton, whom most insiders think has the best shot at landing the former president’s support.
Trump’s statement that he likes each candidate “very much” was a small coup for a Bush — and a positive return on a political investment that Bush made five years ago. In 2016, George P. Bush surprised some in the political world by announcing that he would support the presidential campaign of the man who trashed his dad as “low energy Jeb.”
Bush also oversaw Texas fundraising for Trump in 2016 and endorsed him again in 2020 — less than a year after his own dad mused about someone needing to primary the president.
Throughout Trump’s various scandals and controversies, George P. Bush never spoke out against him. He even went so far as to publicly back the ouster of Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney — daughter of George W. Bush’s vice president — from House GOP leadership for her vote to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot.
“Don’t get me wrong: George P. has played this exactly right, and he’s definitely more conservative than his dad, and Trump knows that,” said one Trump confidante who discussed the race with him recently. “But I can tell you the president enjoys the prospect of knowing how much it kills Jeb that his son has to bend the knee and kiss the ring. Who’s your daddy? Trump loves that.”
Another Trump adviser who has spoken to him about George P. Bush said Trump has a pet name for him, “My Bush,” and has publicly referred to him as “the only Bush who got it right.”
It’s a harsh dismissal for a political dynasty that has, in total, produced two presidents, a vice president, two governors, a senator and a congressman. George P. Bush, the grandson of the 41st president and nephew of the 43rd president, has long been seen as a future presidential prospect himself.
“If you live in Texas and you have political aspirations, that’s part of the game plan. I don’t see how he can avoid it and be successful in Texas … He doesn’t want the Trump base to look at him skeptically,” said Al Cardenas, an anti-Trump Republican and close friend to Jeb Bush who once served as the Republican Party of Florida chair.
Cardenas, echoing other survivors of Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign, said he hasn’t talked personally with Jeb Bush about his son’s campaigns “on purpose. He’s my friend, and I don’t want to talk about it with him. From my perspective, I’ve known George P. since he was born. I love him. It’s one of those exceptions to the rule you have in life. People you love and care for, you make an exception for.”
Eric Mahroum, deputy director for Trump’s 2016 campaign in Texas, said George P. Bush’s Trump support was a matter of principle. When the decision is explained to Republicans, he says, it works to Bush’s benefit because it shows “he’s his own man … he put his feelings aside. He put Texans first, his country and the party first.”
Mahroum acknowledges that the Bush brand — though still strong in the state — took a hit with a segment of the GOP because of the family’s well-publicized criticisms of Trump.
“We still have to educate the broader base. I go around and tell people what he did, and a lot of them are like ‘Wow. Ok. I’m glad to hear that,’” Mahroum said, throwing shade at Paxton. In 2016, Paxton backed Cruz in the presidential primaries and “was nowhere to really be found until the midterms, and all of a sudden he’s a Trump supporter,” he says.
Paxton’s office and his campaign did not return requests for comment. A spokesperson for George P. Bush declined comment.
Paxton is widely seen as one of the most vulnerable Republican statewide officeholders in Texas.
In 2018, when both Bush and Paxton were up for their first reelections to their respective offices, Bush won by more than 10 percentage points and Paxton won by less than 4, nagged by the criminal indictment in state court that has dragged on for nearly six years due to legal complications over the court venue. Paxton dismissed the charges as politicalA bigger scandal erupted last year when he fired top aides who accused him of bribery and trading favors with a campaign donor involving home remodeling work and a job for his mistress

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. They have filed a whistleblower suit and the FBI is investigating.
A top Texas Republican said that with others eyeing the race, it was smart for Bush to jump in first against a hobbled Paxton.
“It’s like he’s the first hunter out there thinking that not only is the lion wounded, but he has an infection, and he’s gonna die. So he wants to be the first hunter out there to get the trophy of the lion, and he’ll be ahead of the three other hunters who come later,” the Republican said. “But if the lion beats the infection, it’s gonna turn on him, and he’ll be the only hunter out there, and the lion is going to turn on him and eat him up.”
With access to a wide fundraising network, Bush could have a financial edge in the massive state over Paxton, who is expected to have trouble with major donors as the investigations into him drag on.
If the attorney general wasn’t hamstrung by the multiple investigations, Republicans say, Bush would probably have stayed put in the state land commissioner’s office. Paxton is well-liked by the MAGA grassroots, many of whom are not as enthusiastic about electing a Bush.
“The problem for the commissioner at this point in time is that, in spite of having his own political identity separate from the Bush family brand, he hasn’t yet had a strong foothold with the grassroots and Republican primary voters,” said Republican consultant Jessica Colon. “This is a primary fight. And he’s just running against a conservative who has not shied away from conservative base ideology.”
Matt Angle, who leads the Texas-based Democratic Lone Star Project, called Bush’s effort a “pander campaign” with Trump that proved “his blood is thinner than his ambition.” He said Bush will have other troubles for briefly getting in a needlessly “stupid fight” with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and a group called Daughters of the Republic of Texas over renovations to the Alamo. And he’s now embroiled in a controversy in Houston’s Harris County — the largest in the state — over flood mitigation money needed after Hurricane Harvey struck in 2017.
“He lacks the likability of his uncle and the competence of his father and grandfather,” Angle said, adding that it was “pretty remarkable that the Bush name was the gold standard for Texas GOP acceptance five years ago, and now it’s like lead boots.”
Veteran Texas pollster Bob Stein, a political science professor who once had George P. Bush as a student at Rice University, said that “he’s a man in the middle, and there’s no middle … George P. is in an awful position.”
But Derek Ryan, one of Texas’s top GOP data experts, said it’s too early to write anyone off, though it’s safe to predict that Paxton will try to make the race about Bush’s ambition and family name while Bush will make the race about corruption and electability — a major factor for Trump in deciding an endorsement.
“It’s going to be the third race down the ballot, but it’s going to be the nastiest,” Ryan said. “Everybody’s going to look at this race, and it’s going to boil down to Trump vs. Bush.”
And that makes it crucial for Bush to communicate with primary voters that “he hasn’t taken shots at Trump, hasn’t picked fights with him,” said Republican consultant Brendan Steinhauser.
“If he can have parity with Paxton and they can both be seen as loyal enough or supportive enough, it makes it an interesting race,” Steinhauser said, comparing Bush’s balancing act in the Trump era to that of Texas Sen. John Cornyn and Gov. Greg Abbott. He said all three have solid support from “business Republicans, moderate Republicans and conservative voters who are not totally MAGA. They don’t go to war with them or offend the MAGA crowd.”
Kevin Roberts, CEO of the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation nonprofit, said Trump will be a defining issue in the race as will a candidate’s willingness to fight Biden and the left like the former president. And while Roberts carefully refrained from talking about Bush or Paxton, the Texas primary electorate he described favors an attorney general who cut his political teeth suing President Obama and now Biden and supporting Trump in between.
“The difference between traditional conservatism and Trump conservatism in Texas is that Trump conservatives want to fight,” Roberts said. “They want to charge hills. They don’t want to be told one thing and then have their leaders not deliver on that.”
The chair of the Travis County GOP in Austin, Matt Mackowiak, credited Bush for standing by Trump.
“I’m sure that made for difficult conversations at Thanksgiving and Kennebunkport,” Mackowiak said, referencing the Bush family estate in Maine. Mackowiak added that Trump could have his own challenges in backing the commissioner.
“It’s hard for Trump to endorse any Bush for any office anywhere in a primary like this,” he said. “I don’t know if the base would accept it.”


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Politics

How Republicans Became the ‘Barstool’ Party

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A half-decade ago, the originally Boston-based site and its rabid fan community wouldn’t have scanned as “political” at all. But now, its proudly Neanderthal, reactionary ethos aligns perfectly with the side of our political binary that Trump reconfigured: the one whose common denominator is a tooth-and-nail, middle-finger unwillingness to accept liberal social norms.

If you looked at Portnoy circa 2010 — a budding bro-entrepreneur, popping champagne with models in cheesy photo shoots — you’d have to squint pretty hard to see a potential Republican standard-bearer. If you look now, it’s hard not to. It’s commonplace by now to observe that the Trump presidency “changed everything” for Republicans, from conventional wisdom on policy to how their internal politics are conducted. But first and foremost, it changed the face the party presented to the world. Where onetime nominees like Mitt Romney and John McCain tried and failed to subordinate cultural grievance to a more professionalized, inclusive style of politics, Trump succeeded by placing it right on the front of the tin. And when he casually dismantled that old fusion of free-market economic fervor and country-club traditionalism, Barstool was ready.

The rise of the “Barstool Republican,” to coin a phenotype, doesn’t necessarily explain Trump. It is, however, a useful way to understand what’s happened to American politics without constantly invoking the former president’s name. Portnoy’s devotees aren’t MAGA fanatics or Q fans who live to torment liberals, and they’re certainly not part of the GOP’s evangelical base. (One could imagine the last thing they’d want is a Supreme Court that strikes down Roe.) But the Barstool Republican now largely defines the Republican coalition because of his willingness to dispense with his party’s conventional policy wisdom on anything — the social safety net, drug laws, abortion access — as long as it means one thing: he doesn’t have to vote for some snooty Democrat, and, by proxy, the caste of lousy deans that props up the left’s politically-correct cultural regime.

The backlash to liberal domination of pop culture and the past decade’s transformation of speech norms created the Barstool Republican long before Portnoy’s name was bandied about in jest as a political candidate. And if you’ve been paying attention, their cultural revolution dates back to a time when such antics were more likely to get you kicked out of Mar-a-Lago than installed as its lifelong “El Presidente.”

***

Lost in the annals of a time when culture wars weren’t quite as central to our national politics is a nomenclature that now seems almost quaint: the so-called “South Park Republican.”

As far back as 2001, the gadfly conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan was using the term to describe members of his political tribe who shared the anti-P.C., socially libertarian views of “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Stone and Parker, true to form, loudly protested their hatred of both major parties. Still, the label stuck, inspiring sparring New York Times columns and even a book-length exploration of the concept by conservative writer Brian C. Anderson.

In the political climate of the mid-2000s, the concept’s appeal was obvious: As Gen X-ers and younger Baby Boomers entered the ranks of the political elite, it made sense that they would dispense with the blue-blooded stuffiness and social conservatism of the Reagan-Bush imperium in favor of a vaguely countercultural, post-Sixties tolerance. W traded his father’s country-club affect for a pair of cowboy boots, but he wasn’t fooling anyone: The cultural energy in the Republican Party, to the extent that it had any, was in its feather-ruffling libertarian wing, whose influence would soon reach its zenith with the self-proclaimed Ron Paul Revolution. But like so many would-be revolutions, this one was denied — or at least delayed and mutated.

Paul’s 2012 bid to become the Republican Party’s presidential standard-bearer fizzled out in spectacular fashion, failing to convert internet hype into any meaningful primary support. Romney won the nomination and invited the youthful Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan along for the ride (whose rad workout gear and politically inscrutable love of Rage Against the Machine, alas, failed to inspire a Romney-Ryan youth movement).

Crashing on the rocks of both Barack Obama’s megawatt cultural celebrity and the looming coronation of Jeb Bush as the post-“autopsy” face of the GOP, the Rude Republican cohort was at loose ends — until an unlikely salvation came in the form of a 6’3” reality show host and frequent Howard Stern guest descending his golden escalator into the first paragraph of 21st-century American history.

Trump was at first an uneasy fit for both the more culturally-sophisticated, libertarian-leaning members of the Republican coalition as well as their staid religious counterparts. But at the same time he was hotwiring Republican culture and pushing it to the limits of street-legality, anti-P.C. critics saw another revolution happening within liberal politics — and, by the transitive property, pop culture writ large. In their eyes, Hillary Clinton’s campaign represented the triumph of a pro-establishment cultural nanny state that rejected Obama’s attempted de-escalation of the culture wars in favor of a rigid new etiquette of social justice: A rainbow flag hoisted, in effect, over the Bushes’ Kennebunkport compound.

One of Trump’s early adopters articulated the mindset perfectly in August 2015, back when Jeb! was still his closest primary threat: “I am voting for Donald Trump. I don’t care if he’s a joke. I don’t care if he’s racist. I don’t care if he’s sexist. I don’t care about any of it. I hope he stays in the race and I hope he wins. Why? Because I love the fact that he is making other politicians squirm. I love the fact he says shit nobody else will say, regardless of how ridiculous it is.”

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No points for guessing the author: Dave Portnoy, birthing the Barstool Republican with a single 200-word blog post. Trump transformed the political landscape by tapping into a powerful desire for freedom from criticism or censure — a desire that Portnoy shared, and which has only grown more intense and widespread as the panopticon of social media becomes the primary stage for not just national politics, but civic life at every level.

In a column this February for The Week, the Catholic social conservative writer Matthew Walther referred to “Barstool conservatives” as primarily sharing a “disdain for the language of liberal improvement, the hectoring, schoolmarmish attitude of Democratic politicians and their allies in the media, and, above all, the elevation of risk-aversion to the level of a first-order principle by our professional classes.” In other words: culture-war issues.

Oddly enough, despite the inherent thirst for conflict that it brings, the ascent of Barstool-ism within the Republican Party can be chalked up to ideological diversity within the GOP. What could unite free-market libertarians, revanchist Catholics, Southern evangelicals, and working-class Reagan Democrats but their shared hatred of… actual Democrats?

With that as the party’s guiding principle, and no clear policy agenda to speak of — the 2020 RNC literally did not have a new policy platform — those willing to trash the Democratic cultural regime most loudly and consistently are firmly in command, with more staid Republicans forced to at least provide cover, if not actively follow their cues.

They’re forced to defend freshman North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn in the face of his attention-seeking tweets and allegations of sexual harassment from his (very recent) college days, while he ranks in the top 10 members of Congress in missed votes. They’re forced to defend Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz as he faces his own allegations of sexual impropriety — not to mention his frat-boy antics, like showing up to Congress in a gas mask in the earliest days of the coronavirus pandemic. They’re forced to defend Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert as she fends off complaints from constituents about her “embarrassing” freshman term in Congress, after winning a primary and general election largely on the strength of her, well, bar ownership.

So just as anti-P.C., vaguely amoral Barstool-ism can be a strength, it can also be a weakness. In a media environment built to reinforce and intensify one’s ideological beliefs, being on the attack all the time can leave you in an exhausting state of constant defense. Yes, it can galvanize — nearly 75 million people voted to re-elect Donald Trump, the Stoolie-in-chief — but it can also exasperate and infuriate in turn — a record 81 million Americans voted for Trump’s purposely less-pugilistic opponent, Joe Biden. It also runs the risk of all novelty: that people might just bore of it. Yesterday’s provocation becomes today’s status quo, and in turn tomorrow’s epic cringe.

When Republican voters made Trump their presidential nominee in 2016, they chose gloves-off culture war over either Jeb Bush’s earnest compromise or the imitations of a careerist provocateur like Sen. Ted Cruz. Trump tapped into a very real dissatisfaction in the American electorate with the liberal status quo around speech and culture, and reaped both the attendant rewards and backlash. Someone like Dave Portnoy is, if not a viable presidential candidate, at least a credible successor to the role of the office’s last Republican occupant: Trump, Gaetz, Boebert, Cawthorn and their ilk all share Portnoy’s single-minded obsession with scoring headlines and affirming their constituents’ cultural identities at any cost.

In a media-obsessed world, it’s a powerful, intoxicating skill. And now that it’s proven a viable pathway to electoral success, Republicans are — perhaps wisely — clinging to it for dear life. As a creation of Judd Apatow, the 21st century’s great dorm-room comedy auteur, once said: “Pandora doesn’t go back in the box, he only comes out.”

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Ted Cruz EXPLODES on Senate Floor with BRUTAL Speech Aimed DIRECTLY at Creepy Joe

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Martin Walsh from Trending Politics reports, Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz went after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris this week for their failure to do much of anything to address the border crisis their policies created.

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YES! Republicans TORPEDO Pelosi After She Was CAUGHT Trying To SLAM 2 Bills Through The House

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Mike LaChance from American Lookout reports, Republicans managed to take the wind out of Nancy Pelosi’s sails this week. She was using a procedural trick to fast-track two bills through the House but Republicans didn’t play along.

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