Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Where the race stands

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. 


  1. "But it's my impression that many women Democrats are committed to Hillary. And that's the largest voting block in the Democrat party."

    Yes, they're committed to her nomination but wouldn't they likely support any Dem, even over Fiorina? But even this block has joined the ranks of "cesspool identity politics", in which case they'd vote for Fiorina, high probability is that Fiorina won't get her party's nomination. Thoughts?

    1. Well, it's a guessing game, but I suspect some women Democrats (maybe a significant percentage) would be so miffed if a woman doesn't get the nomination that they'd sit out the election. We'll see.

  2. Since Clinton is such a weak candidate, she could easily not get the nomination. But her competition is even weaker. My sense is that there's a small probability that she'll get the nomination. By giving her up, Democrats wouldn't just be giving up Clinton herself. They'd also be giving up the Clinton name, with the opportunity of getting her husband back in the White House, and the gender card. Since playing the race card was so effective for the Democrats in 2008 and 2012, I expect them to be reluctant to give up a perceived equivalent of it in the gender card. Biden and Sanders don't offer anything comparable or better. As Steve said, I think the nomination is Clinton's to lose, and she hasn't done enough to lose it yet. She's close, though.

    All of the fifteen Republicans currently running are significantly better than the Democratic alternatives. Supporting Trump over any of the Democrats would be an easy decision, and I would work to get him elected, even though he's the worst of the Republican candidates.

    I think Trump would have a tendency to want to govern as a conservative, even though he has such a liberal past and doesn't know much about conservatism. Since conservatism would be so responsible for getting him to the White House, since he's making a lot of liberal enemies in the process of running as a Republican, and since a liberal movement that's so weak that it can't defeat a candidate like Trump probably wouldn't have much to offer Trump to get him to turn on the conservatives who got him to the White House, I suspect he'd largely try to govern as a conservative. But there would be more reason to doubt him than there would be to doubt any of the other Republican candidates.

    And even if Trump would intend to govern as a conservative, he's so ignorant of conservatism that he'd probably sometimes be incompetent at implementing it. Since he has such a high view of himself, I suspect he'd have an unusual tendency to pick cabinet officials, pick judges, etc. on the basis of something other than conservatism (e.g., who he likes at a personal level, what his intuitions tell him). I think we could get a lot of good things from a Trump presidency, but not as much as we'd get from another candidate. Trump is too much of a risk, both in terms of electability and in terms of how he'd govern.

    I hope Rubio gets the nomination, and I think he will. The state of the electorate limits our options, so we shouldn't just look for the most conservative candidate. We should look for an optimal balance of conservatism and electability. Given the corrupt status of the electorate, we have to find a way to win millions of non-conservative voters, including low-information voters. Rubio would be good at that, especially since the Democrats can't do much with the race and class warfare cards with Rubio. Two of the Democrats' most effective weapons would be a lot less powerful against Rubio than against other candidates. And his knowledge of the issues, personal background, temperament, and communication skills would be appealing to a lot of non-conservatives.

  3. Ted Cruz did an excellent job of handling three interviewers:
    Stephen Colbert
    Katie Couric
    Chris Matthews

    All three are on Youtube - the Katie Couric one is the best - almost an hour where he gets time to answer all the issues and explain.

    1. The Couric interview really is good. I watched this version HERE. Thanks for the recommendation.

    2. Yes, he excels in that situation. But that doesn't mean he has the social skills necessary to be an effective president. A president must be able to work with Congress, drum up popular support for his initiatives, &c. Cruz seems to alienate colleagues rather than making allies.

  4. The sad reality is that the Dems already have the electoral map sown up and have multiple combinations to give them enough electoral college votes to win. They could run almost anyone and win.

    On the other hand the Republicans MUST win Florida or they're toast, again. I don’t see states flipping, so watch the Sunshine State. As it goes, so goes the election.

  5. Fiorina has never been a social conservative. She has always been proud of supporting civil unions. Which is not only a non-conservative position, but in 2015 looks about as out-dated as that 1970's ugly couch that you can't figure out why your aunt still keeps in the living room. She has always strongly supported federal funding for ESCR. Those are the two biggies, though I would like to know more about her "support" for the notorious three exceptions in abortion law. Her move to the right now is pretty transparently opportunistic, as is her negative rhetoric about Hillary Clinton, whom she praised fulsomely in 2008. In general, Fiorina is much like John McCain, a RINO of the RINOs, whom she previously worked for.

  6. Huckabee has a great demeanor and personality, along with conservative stances on social issues; but he seems to also want to spend lots of money on other big government programs. He and Santorum and Jindal are good on the social issues, but the gay agenda people are going to pounce on them immediately if they get close to be the nominees or are the nominees.

    Cruz seems to alienate because of the government shutdown when he led the fight to defund ObamaCare; and the media focused on that on soundbites. I didn't really get to see him thoroughly until those 3 interviews above, especially the Katie Couric interview.

    Santorum also alienated the left and middle last time. When he got close to being the nominee last time, the gay agenda and late night comedians, etc. went on full force attack against him.

    Annoyed Pinoy - glad you watched that; I hope many others will watch it.

  7. I don't know a whole lot about Fiorina's stances before, but she is sharp and great going against Hillary and Trump.