Archive for the ‘jeb bush’ category

And Now There Are 5

February 22, 2016

On Saturday, South Carolina spoke GOP. When the vote count was complete, Donald Trump had won and Rubio/Cruz had finished 2/3. While the spin masters labored trying to make each finish a win, one candidates stepped back. John Ellis (Jeb) Bush suspended his candidacy and for a moment sounded like a President.

Jeb never really had a chance. Bush’s candidacy was about a fictional great Governor, a relative of two former Presidents and someone who could talk like a president or world diplomat. Jeb was about an idealized person just waiting to be recognized and nominated. Hmmm.

Bush’s campaign spent over $100 million and never got an enthusiastic following. In hind sight, Bush and his advisors never saw opponents coming who would run crude, “tell it like it is (even if it is only half true)”, “ I’m not connected to Washington” type, no holds barred campaign. Bush had no message other than “I’m Jeb” and simply got blown away.  Jeb had no Karl Rove to do his thinking.

Jeb’s campaign suspension does not just reflect that Bush was the sixth best candidate but in a game of resources, more to the point, Bush ran out of money and reasons to convince backers they should reach deeper into their pockets to bank roll him further. Without money there is no campaign. Hmmm.

The GOP is still staring at almost certain defeat unless they radically change their platform and drop the wedge issues they have used during the primary season. It will not be enough to say “Washington is broken” (which of course it is) and expect to win in November. The GOP nominee will need to explain how he will fix Washington, what it will cost, and how will he pay for it.

The GOP candidate will also be unlikely to escape grillings on immigration (Hispanic vote), family planning (women’s vote), gender equality (gay and women’s vote), and the traditional third rails, Social Security and Medicare (the senior vote). Of those remaining, Trump, Rubio, Cruz, Kasich, and Carson, which one could handle these issues best?

There is a remote possibility that the GOP convention will arrive with no clear winner. All bets are open whether is such a case, a second look at Jeb Bush might not seem the least of poor options. And then, of course, there is a rerun of Mitt Romney. Hmmm.

The Quadrennial Republican Lemming March?

February 19, 2016

The 2016 GOP Presidential primary appears strangely similar to mythical death march of the lemmings. In 2012, the GOP staged a lengthy circular shooting contest until Mitt Romney emerged, seriously wounded, yet still with a general election ahead of him. Each of the GOP candidates had picked one more extreme position than the other to prove that they were the unquestionable conservative.

Romney, despite his flawed strategy (bearing hard to the right for primary voters before attempting to slip to the middle for the general election), was at his core a serious and competent candidate. In the 2016, it is hard to pick the Mitt Romney from the field likely to be left standing.

One would probably pick Jeb Bush and John Kasich as Romneyesque. Both were/are governors and speak in measured ways. Both are broadly experienced and in comparison to the rest of the GOP field, are moderate Republicans (despite their protestation other wise). And, both are at best long shot candidates, currently garnering less than 20% of the vote combined. Hmmm.
One must wonder whether this apparent GOP dysfunction comes from the candidates who choose to run, or from the nature of the voters who make up the deciding faction of the GOP primaries. In short, are the candidates crazies or are the GOP voters the crazies who attract crazy candidates?

The handle “crazy” is probably not apt. The GOP candidates are quite sane and calculating politicians. They are dead set on gaining the nomination and going on to become President. The unknown is whether each of the candidates really subscribes to the “crazy” (extreme) policies they propose, or are their statements simply bait to appease and attract certain voters who claim to be Republican, Tea Party, or Libertarian? Each candidate’s goal is the GOP nomination, and it appears each is each willing to say whatever it takes to obtain it?

For example, the candidates have each echoed the following ideas:

  • No new taxes and a reduction in marginal rates (gift to the already wealthy)
  • Balance the budget and begin reducing the national debt (no plan, lots of assumptions)
  • Repeal of the Affordable Care Act (with no plan to replace and no commitment to basic healthcare for everyone)
  • Larger military through an increased Defense budget (no new taxes so where does funding come from)
  • Foreign policy where when America speaks, others listen and do what the US says (This anachronistic notion may have never existed but in any case is totally detached from reality in today’s world)
  • Stronger economy with more job creation (with no supporting comprehensive plan or funding proposal)
  • Defense of traditional religious values (providing those values are christian, ignoring the Constitution is acceptable)
  • Sealing the Mexican boarder (while ignoring the 11 million undocumented aliens already in the US)
  • Denying the resettlement of refugees if the State Governor decides to not accept them (even though the issues of immigrants and refugees are a clearly defined Federal responsibility)

If one of the leading candidates (Trump, Cruz, or Rubio) proposes to take drastic steps versus one of these issues, the others in quick succession promise to do the same or even much more. The lemmings are nearing the cliff edge.

Many congressional GOP members are speaking out on these same issues and demanding that Americans’ voices be heard. The Antonin Scalia replacement controversy is a telling example where GOP congressional members say the appointment of a new Supreme Court Justice should wait until the “American people” have spoken at the next election. What American people are they talking about? Did Americans not speak in 2012 and elect a President for a four year term?

The GOP primary behavior (not to mention many in Congress) is very worrisome. They are preaching a brand of politics much like a quack medicine man. Their proposals promise a better life but fail the tests of logic and history. Whether its “take back America” or “make America great again”, these salesmen have a bag with nothing inside. Watch out, don’t get to close to the cliff’s edge when these lemmings (or better yet, charlatans) go over the edge.

New Hampshire’s Messages

February 11, 2016

The New Hampshire primary is in the books. Here are the messages the candidates left.

  • Bernie Sanders – Bernie’s huuuugh message was about a set of government services, now routine in most other modern countries and what many Americans feel appropriate when they see the American dream as a thing of the past. Universal healthcare, public education through college, and affordable housing. In Bernie’s democratic socialism world, income inequality will be reduced and abuses of Wall Street firms lassoed. Sander’s message, I believe in fairness so voters can trust me in all other Presidential dealings.
  • Hillary Clinton – Hillary has an experience and gender based message. Hillary reminds voters she would be the first woman President and as a former Senator and Secretary of State, she knows government as well as foreign leaders. Hillary says trust me, vote for me.
  • Donald Trump – Donald continues to tell whom ever will listen that he is the smartest person in the room. He has fixed every obstacle he has encountered already and can fix anything in the future. And although his speeches have at times been crude, once he is President he is smart enough to speak properly. Trump offers himself as voters’ security blanket against all the world’s ills while he makes American great again.
  • John Kasich – John offers a far more nuanced world view. He offers his private and public sector experience coupled with his “big hearted” scrappy demeanor as the right combination for the next President. Kasich tell voters that his experience as a Governor makes him uniquely qualified to “straighten out Washington”.
  • Ted Cruz – Looking down his nose at the camera, Cruz speaks knowingly, without evidence, that he is the one candidate who can “take American back” for the people. Ted conducted a “below the radar screen” campaign in New Hampshire and captured 12% of the vote. Cruz is one of the “I’m against anything President Obama is for” people and oh, by the way, I’m also a god’s friend candidates.
  • Jeb Bush – Jeb wants voters to know he is the “adult” in the room, not to mention the most civilized. His 11% of the vote was an indicator Jeb says of his viability. Hmmm.
  • Marco Rubio – Marco stumbled in New Hampshire he would admit. An unfortunate five minutes of the debate Rubio says. Hmmm. Marco says his time on the Senate foreign relations committee makes him the most experienced GOP candidate. Rubio’s good looks, youthful appearance, and confident manner are voters take aways even though Marco received only 11% of the vote.
  • Ben Carson – Snooze (at 2%).

The Democrat primary results underscores the difference between the heart and the mind. Bernie is way ahead in attracting voters’s hearts based upon what they hope would be the case. Hillary’s “you should recognize I am the most qualified” approach is feeling flat compared to the excitement of Sanders’ message.

The GOP primary outcomes are totally inconclusive. There is no obvious winner even when the list is hypothetically narrowed. If Rubio, Bush, or Kasich withdrew, it is unlikely their supporters would naturally gravitate easily to Trump or Cruz, and vice versa. The GOP race remains a mystery.

Iowa, Oh, Iowa

February 2, 2016

The Iowa caucuses have come and gone. The results provided the last nail in Martin O’Malley and Mike Huckabee’s campaigns and both suspended their efforts. For the rest, the race continues.  Who were the winners and the losers?

Ted Cruze appears the nominal Republican winner, and was quick to tell everyone that. Donald Trump actually came close to the closing poll numbers but a strong close by Cruze left Trump in second. Marco Rubio got his desired “strong third place” finish and spoke as if the nomination was practically in reach.

The top three finishers captured about 3/4ths of the votes and adding the 9% for Carson, everyone else was a loser, at least as Iowa stands.

On the Democrat side, for all intense purposes, the caucuses produced a tie. Clinton may have won by a few votes and may have snagged the delegate lead but the win was far from convincing. Bernie Sanders appealed broadly to the under thirty crowd, even though he was the oldest candidate in both parties.

Pundits will spin these results for days (until New Hampshire next Tuesday). For the GOP, evangelicals who voted for Cruz and Carson, will come to realize this segment does not reflect a national cross section.  More importantly, no GOP candidate received more than 28% of the vote, hardly a mandate for any of the positions each candidate has outlined.

The strength of Sanders, however, should send a strong message to both parties. Younger voters see the critical issues facing America differently than the “established” Washington politicians. Universal healthcare, college education without huge debt, and tighter Wall Street controls are issues of “fairness”. In the riches country on earth, instead of fairness, younger voters hear the watch words “American Dream is yours if you can afford it”.

(Regrettably, how to pay for healthcare and college education, or what might be the consequences of tighter Wall Street controls has largely been left unsaid.)

Sanders compact with younger voters is more than just about fairness. Sanders speaks “genuine” also. You may not like what he is saying but you are clear his message is un-nuanced.

In the greater picture, Iowa is a small State not representative of the country as a whole. Cruz’ victory is most likely meaningless on the larger US scale. For New Hampshire, Cruz is a cypher. The curious questions will involve Trump, Rubio, Bush, Kasich, and Christie.  Will any of these candidates begin the trek back toward the center?

For Clinton, it will be all about adjusting expectations and trying to lose by less than current poll numbers suggest. Hillary must not forget that her candidacy is about breadth, depth, and experience. She should do well with women and immigrants along with rank and file Democrats (once she defeats Sanders). It is not time for Clinton to change colors again like a chameleon.

Icarus The Trump

January 19, 2016

It will be a sad day in many a media executive offices when Donald Trump finally flies to close to the sun. Yesterday, he came close while performing a public service. Trump spoke at a mandatory convocation at Liberty University (a Evangelical Christian university founded by Jerry Falwell).

The public service was probably unintended. Trump gave a fairly standard version of his stump speech to a cheering group of students. The casual observer quickly got to see just how close to christian values these bright young students seemed to be. Not so close.

Trump’s poll numbers still show no signs of exhaustion while his competitors all appear to have peaked. Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, and even Ted Cruz appear to be losing ground to the Donald. Media’s last hope is a rebirth of Jeb Bush’s campaign but Jeb is stuck in single digit poll numbers. Hmmm.

If one listens to Trump’s rhetoric, one can imagine a candidate running (or flying) as fast as possible, so fast that his words can not catch up to him. Polls still show that Trump could win the GOP nomination and most likely get thrashed in the general election. Why? Trump has gained his following by marginalizing so many general election voters that his opponent will have an almost insurmountable lead.

But the main issue for Trump is can he keep from self distrusting long enough to gain the GOP nod?

There are no indications that Trump has another gear. He seems to be in fourth gear and his foot is on the pedal. Sooner or later, while racing at full speed, Trump will need to introduce something new. Trump will need to say something more outrageous (headline grabbing) so that he can keep his current supporters and gain just enough more to claim the nomination. This is where the danger zone lies for the Donald.

Like Icarus, Donald is the son of a successful father and in his own way has been a successful business man himself. Sporting wings of feathers and wax, Donald has soared in the GOP primary just like Icarus. Also, just like Icarus, Trump may lose sight of his objective and soar to close to the sun. The rest will be the same as the fate of Herman Cain.

IMO, a President Trump will not be as wise or effective as Trump now promises. His Presidency will also most likely not turn out to be a bad as many predict. It would certainly be entertaining.

So if Icarus the Trump can keep his mind on winning the primary and not flying as high as his feathers and wax will take him, America may get to learn whether Icarus the Trump can lead.

Merry Christmas Donald

December 21, 2015

The big question ending 2015 and going into 2016 might be, “is Donald Trump clever enough to snatch the GOP nomination and become the outsider nominee”? Is Trump clever, observant, ruthless, or possibly asymmetric enough to win a primary contest for which he has no qualifications. Hmmm.

Trump has combined crowd appealing rhetoric where he has attacked one minority after another and in doing so connected with a fear or prejudice within the GOP electorate (and maybe wider than that). His comments have been dubbed “politically incorrect” by his opponents. This epitaph, his opponents are beginning to realize only delight Trump supporters even more.

It is particularly obvious in Jeb Bush’s personal attacks on the Donald. Bush’s comments are having no impact on Trump’s ratings and instead reinforcing the public’s perception that Jeb is a light weight in this contest. Hmmm.

Now Trump is welcoming his town meeting attendees with a warm “merry Christmas” and then wondering out loud why we don’t hear “Merry Christmas”. Most public spaces have moved to “happy holidays” which is more accommodating to other non-christian faiths. Trump has once again struck at a potential third rail without hurting himself. Hmmm.

Trump’s strategy remains high risk and it is still possible that he may step over the line and begin to turn his supporters against him. But if experience to date is any measure, it is going to take a pretty huge gaff to upset his apple cart.

At the beginning of the primary process, the GOP big wigs boasted about what a high quality field of candidates they had this time around. What Trump’s campaign tactics are showing is that the GOP field is cluttered with unready, unprepared, and/or unwanted candidates. As each candidate approaches Trump’s number one position, the glare of the public spotlight shows that candidate as less than Presidential timber.

The most amazing aspect of Trump’s surge is that the general GOP platform has not come into play yet. So, foreign policy, healthcare, path to citizenship (comprehensive immigration reform), tax breaks for the wealthy, and the laundry list of anti-women policies have not influenced primary voters. All this lies ahead in the general election.  It shouldn’t surprise anyone should Trump water down or outrightly disavow any of these far right proposals in the general election.

So, it is a warm “Merry Christmas” to Donald Trump and thanks for an entertaining fall season. Democrats, particularly Hillary Clinton, should, in the privacy of their homes, break out the bubbly and welcome the holidays and the new year with a very optimistic outlook for next November.  Come January, however, Hillary had better keep her eyes open because Donald may not be going away.

Vetting A Presidential Nominee

November 24, 2015

Watching the Republican Presidential nominating process unfold has been a lesson in fund raising, possessing the “right stuff”, and standing up to public vetting.  The GOP hopefuls list which began at nearly two dozen is slowly dwindling but the serious list (those with a chance) still remains close to 10.

Who will prevail and how long will it take?

Most everyone has been amazed at the success to date of non-politicians Donald Trump and Ben Carson. For a few weeks these two “outsiders” garnered over 50% of the polls. Trump still is hanging in at around 30% while Carson has fallen back to the high teens.

Carson’s recent drop in the polls highlights the amazing aspect of his prior success. Carson has no idea about foreign policy or current events. The Paris attack, ISIS and Syrian refugee issue, when vetted in the public forum, has shown he is not ready for prime time.  He would be a dangerous choice for Vice President since he appears to lack even the remotest background in diplomacy and world events.

Donald Trump is a quite different story. He has offered some of the most outlandish proposals on immigration, 9/11, taxes, and refugees and still is standing tall in the polls.  Trump seems to have offered a segment of voters someone who “says it as it is”, at least in their minds.

Anti-immigration, xenophobia, and gigantic tax cut promises have boosted Trump’s support even though his specific claims or proposals are patently unfounded. But 30% of the maybe 30% card carrying GOP base in a national election is not enough to win. Hmmm.

While Trump and Carson occupy the top positions, gradually Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasick are rising. This trio still are not a numeric challenge to Trump but are making life pretty rough on Jeb Bush and Carli Fiorina. The rest, Chris Christy, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, and Lindsay Graham have absolutely no chance and must be staying in hoping to get a VP nod.

The Primary race has been marked by pledges and promises which cannot reasonably be believed. No candidate is immune to the urge to say things which in hours are shown unfounded or unattainable. With the exception of Donald Trump, each candidate who has put forward some policy position crafted to appeal to the right, has lost a point or two in the polling standings. If things continue on the same path, by February or March, it should be clear that none of the current candidates has enough support to win in the general election even if they can secure the GOP nomination.

There is one unannounced candidate, however, who does poll well and would make a formidable candidate. That person is Mitt Romney.

Recent national polls show Mitt as by far and away the choice of Republican voters and a solid candidate against Hillary Clinton. If Mitt can stay patient, he could get the nomination without having to announce he is “severely conservative” again.

As time passes, the GOP should recognize in an election where less than a third of voters are true GOP believers (same percent holds for Democrats),  that unless the GOP offers a sane, responsible alternative, the mass of independent voters will side with Democrats and again keep the GOP out of the White House.

For my money, Mitt is by far the best choice if there must be a GOP President.