There was another GOP debate last night, as you might have heard. When it all was over, I gave my unvarnished opinion on how the candidate’s fared on Twitter:
@BretBaier Cruz, Trump, Paul. Biggest loser: Rubio. Whiniest: Jeb! Guy from Ohio: Kasich
— Ray R (@rrothfeldt) December 16, 2015
— Ray R (@rrothfeldt) December 16, 2015
When I awoke this morning, I was greeted with articles like this one in the Washington Post and this one in Politico. There are plenty of others out there, but if you’ve got a few minutes (that is, a few minutes you are not spending reading this post), perusing those two will do two things for you. First, you’ll immediately feel a need to purge lunch. Second, you’ll wonder (as I have) if they were watching the same debate as the rest of the country.
It is an important question, since most Americans still get their information from the same type of people who wrote those pieces. Obviously, the MSM was watching an old Dean Martin roast or something. Because otherwise, how could they possibly come to the conclusion that Marco Rubio was winner last night?
Of course, they weren’t watching a Dean Martin roast. And before you chime in, please let me state for the record that the pundits and writers who populate the airwaves and fill the white spaces in the newspapers are, for the most part, really intelligent people. But their problem is, as it has been for this entire cycle to date, that those really intelligent people haven’t been smart enough to leave the Beltway Bubble behind and get out with the people who are actually voting in these primaries. Because of that, we keep getting flawed coverage. They’ve been at a loss as to why Donald Trump polls higher than any candidate. They’ve been at a loss as to why Jeb! (or maybe just Jeb) is sinking more spectacularly than the Titanic. They’re at a loss as to why Ted Cruz is surging.
Everything Rubio did last night was geared towards winning over the Beltway crowd, which shows how bad of a pol he really is. Rubio punched all the buttons that pundits, spinmeisters and consultants love. He was polished. He was confident. He stood tall. He gave lengthy, wonky answers in a relatable way to policy questions. Heck, for once he even managed to leave the water bottle alone (mostly). So I can see how they thought he had a knock-out performance. His “optics” were durn near perfect, as if scripted by Hollywood. Rubio is, now that Jeb! is thoroughly discredited as a viable candidate, the establishment’s best hope. And last night, they projected their hopes on the canvas that is Marco Rubio.
But this year, the people doing the voting are paying attention to what these guys are actually saying. The candidates who are succeeding understand that the electorate is 180 degrees from DC. In fact, the quickest way for politicians to alienate themselves from the voters this year is to even have a whiff of “Eau de Establishment” on them. Optics (so long as nobody spontaneously combusts) are taking a back-burner to positions, and wishy-washiness is the second fastest way to obscurity. The fastest way? Taking positions that are at odds with what the electorate wants. This isn’t a new”phenomenon.” It’s been percolating through the GOP for a few years now. Ask Eric Cantor. Ask John Boehner.
So, when Rubio gave a vigorous defense of unnecessarily toppling foreign governments, you could hear the hiss as the tires on his campaign bus started leaking air. When he attacked Ted Cruz as being soft on defense because Cruz doesn’t think governments spying on their citizens is cool, you could hear the engine start to sputter. And when Rubio came out full-bore for illegal alien amnesty, the bus came to a screeching halt. Really, Rubio’s night was lost the moment Rand Paul hit him in the mouth (figuratively speaking) by labeling him “as the weakest of all on immigration” and Rubio had no retort. None.
Anyway, I feel somewhat vindicated: in post-debate polls on Brietbart and Drudge (which are decidedly unscientific), my three winners match up almost exactly – the difference being that Trump is 1, Cruz 2 and Rand Paul 3. but you know what? The NSRC – a Republican establishment organization – released their post debate poll, which was conducted using scientific methods. Guess what?
Cruz : 27%
Paul : 13%
But hey, there is some good news for the MSM. In the NSRC poll, Rubio finished with 8% of respondents saying he won, which is better than Drudge (7%) or Breitbart (6%).
courtesy NJ.com and Advanced Media
It’s very early in the morning, Monday, May 4, 2015. As I’m writing this, the sun is just beginning to peek out from night’s solemnity. But with it’s rising, the political silly season – better known as our quadrennial national election cycle – begins anew.
This one, for both seasoned political observer and novice alike, portends a change in the American political landscape. For a generation now, the Republican party has essentially conducted their primary schedule as a drawn-out coronation. The Democratic Party, in contrast, has conducted not only a search for a candidate but for a national identity. Excluding incumbents, the last time Republicans engaged in the type of soul-searching Democrats routinely embrace was 1980. The last time Democrats engaged in a slow ascendancy to the Presidency was before the Wilson administration. On the surface, the 2016 election looks as if the roles are reversed, with perhaps two dozen Republican candidates jumping into the fray and the megalith known as Hillary Clinton dominating the Democrat primary season. But I suspect the surface is just the glimmering reflection of political reporters unable to look past the Beltway. Hillary may be a formidable candidate – but the undercurrents in her party belie a certain uncertainty in her or the direction she wants to lead both her party and the nation.
As I’m writing this, there are six declared candidates, 4 Republican (Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, former Sen. Rick Santorum) and 2 Democrats (former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders). By the time you’re reading this, two more Republicans (Dr. Ben Carson, former CEO Carly Fiorina) are likely to have announced their candidacies. Here’s the potential roster of candidates, broken down by party:
Republican (21): Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), Sen. Rand Paul (KY), Sen. Lindsay Graham (SC), former Sen. Rick Santorum (PA), Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA), Gov. Scott Walker (WI), Gov. Chris Christie (NJ), Gov. John Kasich (OH), Gov. Mike Pence (IN), Gov. Rick Snyder (MI), former Gov. Jeb Bush (FL), former Gov. George Pataki (NY), former Gov. Mike Huckabee (AK), former Gov. Rick Perry (TX), former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (MD), Congressman Peter King (NY), former Ambassador John Bolton, Dr. Ben Carson, CEO Carly Fiorina, CEO Donald Trump.
Democrat (6): Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT), former Gov. Martin O’Malley (MD), former Gov. Jim Webb (VA), former Gov. Lincoln Chaffee (RI).
I’ll be delving further into the dynamics of the race as the months roll along. I hope you’ve brought your airsick bags.
This is going to be a bumpy ride over the next 18 months.