A few musings on the current state of the race:
It isn't clear to me if Hillary will be the nominee. I think it's hers to lose. She's an exceptionally vulnerable candidate, and I'm sure Democrat operatives would prefer someone without her liabilities take her place.
Hillary shares her husband's ambition and morality, but without his skill set. She's a classic battle-ax. She lacks his ability to schmooze a crowd. And unlike him, with the sexy bad boy image, she can't turn vice into a political virtue.
She's a plodder while he's a quick study. He's an impersonator who can instantly shift from law prof. to funky saxophonist to Southern preacher boy.
But it's my impression that many women Democrats are committed to Hillary. And that's the largest voting block in the Democrat party.
They think it's her turn. They think it's their turn. Indeed, they think it was her turn before Obama cut in line. This is her last chance.
They think the time is past due for a woman president. They won't settle for another male candidate:
Assuming that's the case, I think Elizabeth Warren would be the only acceptable substitute. But there are problems with that:
i) Hillary won't go quietly into the night. For decades, she's been casting covetous eyes on the White House. She lives for power. And at her age, it's now or never. The party bosses can't buy her off with a golden parachute this time around. So she's the kind of person who will dynamite the house if she can't have it.
ii) The fact that Warren can win in the hothouse enclosure of Massachusetts hardly makes her a candidate with nation-wide appeal.
Then there's the Republican field. Trump has been riding the big wave. That's exhilarating, but as surfers know, it's perilous. Timing is everything. The trick is to ride it for long as you can, but exit at the last moment just before tons of water come crashing down on the surfer. The fact that Trump lost so much ground in the last debate shows how soft his support is.
I assume Rubio benefits the most from Walker's exit.
Jeb has the money to hang on.
Many conservatives like Cruz. That's understandable. A few reservations:
i) He's more cynical and calculating than his cultivated image.
ii) He's aloof. Too cerebral to have popular appeal. And from what I can tell, he lacks the people skills to get things done. Doesn't play well with others. It's not enough to have great ideas if you can't build a coalition that turns them into law and policy.
Carson is the anti-Trump. Decent, honorable, modest. But at this point he's another protest candidate. Carson would benefit from Christie's temperament, while Christie would benefit from Carson's values.
Christie is smart, articulate and aggressive. But he's a social liberal. That combined with his support for the surveillance state, and I can't vote for him–even in the general election.
Santorum has everything going for him except voters. He's smart, articulate, experienced, informed, telegenic, conservative. His fatal handicap is that he's too good for the electorate. I don't mean he thinks he's too good–I mean he really is.
Jindal would be excellent in many respects, but in this election cycle he's a sailboat without a breeze. Dead in the water, he paddles furiously, but moves in a tight circle. However, he has many opportunities to run again. Same thing with Walker.
It's hard to predict how far Fiorina can go.
I like Rand on domestic surveillance and domestic drones. I'd like to see other candidates incorporate that into their policy initiatives. But he's predictably hopeless on Iran.
In addition, he suffers from the fact that he's sitting on his father's shoulders. He wouldn't have gotten that far on his own. He lacks the raw ability–and it shows.
Huckabee is my favorite candidate on social issues. And he's good on judicial imperialism. But I don't see him winning the general election, even if he got nominated.
Moreover, he's not as saintly as the image he projects. He has a greedy streak. Consider his McMansion beach house. He has an egocentric streak. Drawn to jobs that make him the center of attention. And he's a social climber who used the pastorate as rung in the ladder. At least it sure looks that way.
I think Kasich is even worse than Jeb. In the pecking order, I put Trump at the bottom, Christie is one notch above. I can't vote for either. Kasich might be one notch above Christie. Hard to say. And I don't know that I could bring myself to vote for him in the general. Jeb is the worst candidate I could still vote for, if it came to that.
Jim Webb might be objectively better than Trump. But I won't vote Democrat under any circumstances. Even if they happen to run a candidate who's better than his Republican counterpart, when you elect a president, you empower the party he represents. It's a package deal.