Sunday, January 31, 2016
Hillary Clinton, is the former Secretary of State and Senator from New York and First Lady, is the unquestioned front-runner. On paper, she has it all. Experience. Financing. Congressional endorsements. Name recognition. She also carries with her a stench of varying proportions from the Benghazi affair and most recently, some rather serious questions being asked by serious people (not to mention Federal Agencies) about her inexplicable handling of her emails.
She's been around a long time and everyone seems to know who she is. Some people love her, some loath her but regardless of all the strengths and/or concerns I listed above, she is the presumed Democratic Nominee for President this year. If the FBI comes back with an indictment and the Justice Department elects to press charges, it will quite possibly end her campaign which means three things.
1) She'll have no one to blame but herself for not being pro-active and using a safer, less controversial method to handle her State Department emails.
2) Bernie Sanders supporters will do a happy dance.
3) Vice President Joe Biden's phone will ring and the begging on the other end of the line will commence.
If I were a betting man, I'd say this email thing doesn't produce an indictment and in spite of the stupidity of the whole thing, will slide well to the rear of campaign issues. The GOP will continue to beat it to death, but the Clinton comeback, "The Federal Bureau of Investigation has decided there was nothing illegal about what happened..." will serve her well.
I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton. I will support whoever is running against the GOP nominee this November because I'm generally pleased with the last eight years of the Obama Administration and Clinton seems best suited and most inclined to maintain the path we're on. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank put it nicely this week when he contrasted her with the "other" candidate, Bernie Sanders:
The 2016 campaign cycle has been an unconventional one to say the least. Virtually no one expected to see Donald Trump heading into the Iowa caucus as the front-runner. (Other than Trump himself, perhaps.) The billionaire from New York City has thumbed his nose, given the finger crapped on, etc. conventional campaigning to the astonishment, disbelief and dismay of his fellow GOP Presidential wannabees. With no political experience and no Super PACS bankrolling his campaign, Trump has been strutting since he announced his candidacy on June 16.
A steady dose of insults, implications and accusations, some fair some probably not, have added a flair to the process. His supporters love it and call it a fresh approach from a candidate who is beholden to no one and who has a track record of "getting things done." Two attributes which play well across the heartland to the average Joe and Jane voters who are fed up with politicians of all stripes. Sick of the promises that never amount to anything and the limitless pandering from most politicians, Trump is for better or worse, something different.
For decades, Americans have been told that "government is the problem" as President Reagan said thirty five years ago during his first inaugural address on January 20th, 1981.
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."
Trump has called our leaders dumb and stupid,which resonates with a large swath of Americans. People who work hard and see their wages being outpaced by their bills and the cost of living in today's United States. Congress typically has lower job approval ratings than anyone, which pisses people off. Each party complains about the other in their own self righteous way, while getting very little done while taking home comfortable salaries which most Americans can only dream about earning.
Instead of more of the "same old same old" promises and pledges, Trump has sung his own song, with out question. Brash, plain talk is refreshing regardless of its intellectual honesty. Some of what Trump has promised is crazy talk, woefully short on details and impossible to imagine as ever becoming the way of our world. His supporters don't seem to care. All they know is that life is pretty hard for them, the other candidates look and sound much like the last batch of nincompoops from the previous campaigns. For better or worse (and could he really do worse, they wonder?) Trump is the thing clearly NOT like the others and for now at least will reap the benefits of his uniquness.
Ted Cruz, Senator from Texas, has been on a chartered course for POTUS since he came to the Senate just three years ago. (It would have been unheard of for a freshman Senator from anywhere to consider a run for President until recently.) Cruz is an ultra-conservative who will never win any popularity contests amongst his peers. The take on Cruz seems to be yes, he's very smart and yes, he's a self-serving, ego maniacal, jerk. In terms of Iowa's Republican / conservative vote, Cruz appears to be Trump's only serious competiton.
Cruz bills himself as a "true conservative" who says we should not evaluate those "pretending" to be conservatives by their words but by their actions. Fair enough. In terms of formal education, Cruz is quite accomplished with degrees from Princeton and Harvard, not exactly two bastions of conservative thought. (Sure, he could've gone to Liberty University or Hillsdale College for a REAL conservative experience, but he didn't for reasons we can only wonder about.)
Make no mistake, Cruz may be in fact, smarter than the rest of the field this cycle. Unfortunately for him, this isn't a IQ contest, this is an election, which requires a different skill set. What played well in Texas, doesn't neccessarily play well in the rest of the Country. Without Donald Trump in the last debate, Cruz was center stage and took more hits than he gave. One could've anticipated the other Republicans on stage last Thursday night (Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, John Kasich, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and Ben Carson) would go after Cruz, and as the debate played out, Cruz looked weaker and weaker. His responses on his immigration stance (stilted and double-talk) and his healthcare (borderline incoherent) did not play well.
Cruz has plenty of money and has staked out the "true conservative" positon all to himself and his RW talk radio pals. He'll be around for a longtime and if Trump implodes, Cruz will be in the top tier of candidates. (Assuming nothing comes of this Canadian anchor baby thing...)
What happens in Iowa Monday night?
Looking a three different sources, Real Clear Politics, Nate Silver's 538.com website and the Des Moines Register's polling data, I come up with these predictions for the Republican Caucus Monday night:
1st - Donald Trump
2nd - Ted Cruz
3rd - Marco Rubio
4th - Ben Carson
5th - Rand Paul/Jeb Bush