Saturday, November 14, 2015

Race for the White House 2016 Volume 46

I would not possibly be able to cover half of the things I could cover this week, so this will just touch on a few topics in a week where substantive issues were debates, political attacks intensified, horror came once again to the Western world, and instances of "silly season" politics abounded.

The contrast is stark between some of the smallness seen in the Presidential race, particularly on behalf of the perhaps fading frontrunner Donald Trump, and the tumult the world remains under, as seen by yesterday's multiple terrorist attacks in Paris. While America stands in solidarity with the French people in their time of grief, these attacks, which killed well over 100, and which ISIS has claimed responsibility, are very much a realistic part of the world we live in. No matter what the current President says, ISIS is not "contained" and they are not the JV Squad. The world a very dangerous place, and while there has not been a mass terrorist attack on American soil since 2001, it is far from unlikely that what happened in France could not happen here. This should be the preminent issue of the Presidential race, but Democrat candidates seem to do everything they can to minimize this threat and what might need to be done to combat it, and unfortuantely some Republican candidates go along with it, as willful isolationism grows in both major parties.

I am still optimistic that the eventual Republican nominee will be able to point to changes needed both domestically and in our national security around the world to victory over Hillary Clinton, who simply offers a continuation of the Obama Era. I have to admit to being somewhat more pessimistic this week, because the Republican Party seems quite possible of nominating a candidate (putting aside the current Ben Carson phonemenon) that will be seen as way too extreme and divisive in order to win a general election, despite all the political, personal, and legal definicincies of the Democrat candidate. Donald Trump is not going to beat Hillary Clinton. That is clear to me, and I still think they may have started off this campaign in cahoots together. He seems to be on a doward trajectory though. What I fear more now is the possibility that Texas Senator Ted Cruz gets the nomination. While I would vote for him, I am pretty sure he cannot win, and the GOP is looking at 1964 again.

Let me begin by saying that I certainly continue to support the Presidential candidacy of Jeb Bush. I felt he had a much improved debate this past week, on the Fox Business Channel, in Wisconsin. He is certainly the most qualified person running to be President and I will not rule out the possibility that people give him a second or third or fourth look when the actual voting starts. I also recognize that my preference for him aside, he may just never do it for some people, and that winning the GOP nomination in 2016 for him will be impossible, for reasons unfair as it relates to his last name, and perhaps fair in regards to lack of political pizazz. As I have always said, the GOP does have other strong options. Ohio Governor John Kasich seems to have an even harder time road ahead of him than Bush though, as the most moderate of the "main stage" GOP candidates really seemed to tick off many people on the right during the debate. I am not quite sure I understand why, but Kasich is certainly a quirky politician who comes across as odd to some. As a matter of practical politics, I guess I am somewhat happy that he is unlikely to take away more support from Jeb Bush.

So, that leaves the possibility that Florida Senator Marco Rubio eventually becomes the nominee. As noted, he is not my first choice, but I would be perfectly willing to believe that he is a talented enough politician with a potent enough message to beat Clinton, win the White House, and potentially be a great President. If he is the nominee, I will be proud to support him and will have high hopes. However, the forces of anger and revenge that seem to be at play, at least thus far, in the GOP nominating process, which have kept Jeb Bush and others down, perhaps for good, might be so strong that Rubio will not be able to overcome them down the road state by state. Cruz would be less disastorous than Trump, but any candidate now defining the oppposition to mass deportations of millions of people as "amnesty" or who is now calling for a freeze on some forms of legal immigration, is going to have a very difficult time winning 270 Electoral votes, even if he is the son of a Cuban refugee.

As mentioned, I think Governor Bush was very strong in the debate, although it might not be nearly enough for people to really give him a fair shake, at least now. Rubio was also very good in the debate, as he consistently is. He also managed to not really have anyone (save for Rand Paul, mostly on foreign policy) challenge him on the stage that night.Cruz is also seen as a strong debater and the more exposure he gets, many feel that a lot of Trump and Carson voters will move to him as they get more "serious" about the process.

It was mostly a good debate, with good questions, but I am troubled that the fight over illegal immigration on the GOP stage has now seemingly gone beyond a path to legal status to people already in the country illegally, but to the idea that we should have a force to conduce mass deportations of millions of people, on a far larger scheme than controversial measures taken decades ago by Presidents Truman and Eisenhower in very different times. These are ideas being pushed by Trump, and in Milwaukee, only Kasich and Bush managed to speak out against it in terms of practicality, costs, and humaness. Cruz jumped into the debate very forcefully though and seemed to back up Trump's position against Kasich and Bush. As the week progressed, Cruz and Rubio, who likely both believe they will the last two standing in the field, have fought about immigration and Rubio's former part in the "Gange of Eight" Senate coalition who tried and failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Cruz says that Rubio is in favor of "amnesty", while Rubio has fired back by saying that Cruz has also supported a path to legalization in the past and that their positions (along with Bush) are really very similar.

As a matter of practical politics for Bush, it might be wise to just let Rubio and Cruz fight this out. I do also recognize that if Jeb Bush were to ever leave the race, the right-wing talk radio hosts who pound him daily on immigration and other matters, will turn their guns very quickly on Rubio. Thus, Rubio supporters should want Jeb Bush to remain in the game at this point, despite the unsubstantiated New York Times story which states that Jeb Bush's SuperPAC  preparing an ad blitz attacking Rubio. That led the Rubio campaign to release a "pre-butal" video in which they claimed that Jeb Bush was making "phony attacks" , while showing old video of Bush praising his former "mentee", Rubio. I find it sort of a mixed message and perhaps not the smartest strategy of the Rubio campaign. At this point, they should be more concerned about the things that Trump and Cruz are saying about their candidate.

This could all go on and on, but the bottom line is that Cruz senses vulnerability in Rubio on immigration and has moved even further to the right in order to capitalizer on sentiment that is increasingon the conservative time. The Rubio campaign seems to think they can blunt it by pointing towards hypocrisy on the side of Cruz. All this talk, is not good for Republicans though. As Jeb Bush said during the debate, they are probably doing high-fives in the Clinton campaign. I hope all the very confident Rubio supporters who I run across online are right about what a great politician he is, if the candidate I want does not ever surge ahead.

Moving on to the battle between Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who still top most GOP polls, a book could perhaps be written on the way that Trump is seemingly melting down as Carson moves ahead, especially in Iowa. Trump must really not like losing to a black guy and his rhetoric against Carson (minus the debate stage interestingly enough) has been about as harsh and personal as any in American Presidential politics history. He has called Carson "pathological" and compared him to a child molester. In a 95 minute rant at an Iowa speech, Trump had a pretty epic "melt-down" in which he called the people of Iowa stupid for believing Carson's stories about his life and redemption as a teenager, after finding religion. Quite an interesting campaign strategy. Trump even stepped away from the podium and for a significant amount of time started doing things with his belt buckle to illustrate his theory that Carson could not have been thrwarted from stabbing someone as a 14 year old because their belt buckle saved them. He even seemed to invite audience members to try to stab him on the belt buckle.

This is all lunacy and while it seems funny, it's pretty sad considering all the real problems in America and around the world. Trump has seemed Teflon in regards to the attacks he has made against Republican candidates and everyone else, but going after Carson, a fellow "outsider" in such a way  may really backfire.

For his part, Carson, who has gotten quite prickly in regards to the press and what he thinks is unfair scrutiny not seen by other Presidential candidates in the past (not exactly true), had a pretty good response to Trump. "Pray for him."

Tonight, the three remaining Democrats will "debate" in Iowa on CBS. It's a Saturday night and the ratings will be low, and apparently CBS met with them beforehand to go over the questions. Wow, imagine that happening on the Republican side. They will talk about the issues, and the recent attack in France, and Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley might even feel compelled to fire back harder at Hillary Clinton on her ethics, but whatever happens, it will probably be a fairly boring and dry event. After all, they do not have a candidate who is likely to call voters "stupid" or to invite them to try to stab anyone.


At 5:52 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Jindal is the 4th Governor to drop out of the 2016 campaign for the White House
1.) Perry (R-TX): my home state

2.) Walker (R-WI)

3.) Chafee (D-RI)

4.) Jindal (R-LA)


Post a Comment

<< Home