Saturday, February 27, 2016

Ruminations on One Crazy Ride to the White House

One of the cornerstone principles of Empathic Rationalism is that thou shalt not lie to yourself. Ever. And one of the cornerstone principles of Empathic Rationalist blogging is that thou shalt not lie to your readers either.

So let me give you some honest observations about the comedy otherwise known as the 2016 Presidential Election campaigns.

1. The Democratic race is over barring some sort of shocking development. The whole “Feel the Bern” phenomenon was only relevant for those two states whose residents were able to get to know the candidates well over a period of a year. For every other state, the Clinton brand name sealed the deal.

2. The previous point makes you wonder: should we really be placing so much importance on what goes on in Iowa and New Hampshire? Obviously, the people in Nevada and South Carolina couldn’t care less about what transpired in the first two states that held elections. Bernie’s “momentum” was eviscerated almost immediately after he left New England. Could it be that in the 21st century, we need to rethink the early part of the campaign season?

3. Unlike on the Democratic side, the Fat Lady has yet to sing when it comes to Trump’s nomination. But she’s sure warming up. Trump’s landing Chris Christie was huge, no pun intended. Christie lends heft to Trump’s credentials. (OK, OK – I’ll stop.)

4. Seriously, Christie’s entry into the race was like that line from the Terminator movies “Come with me if you want to live.” In Christie’s case, this line was transformed into “Come with Trump and me if you want to win.” And he makes a powerful point. Rubio seems to be too young, too unaccomplished, and too robotic to defeat a veteran campaigner like Hillary Clinton. But with Trump, you always have a puncher’s chance. If I may mix a metaphor: Clinton will be faced with the choice of taking all sorts of abuse from Trump or, in the alternative, rolling around in the mud with him. And as the old saying goes, however, “You don’t mud wrestle with a pig, because you’ll get dirty and the pig will like it.” She might win – in fact, she’s the legitimate favorite – but both she and her husband figure to be battered badly in the process. And if she loses her cool, then Trump would have a chance to do the unspeakable: become President.

5. The best weapon Trump has in his arsenal isn’t the public’s anger. It’s their sense of humor. As an entertainer, he is as compelling to watch as a car wreck. And thanks to his sense of timing and lack of shame, he’s turned America into a nation of rubberneckers. A lot of folks are surely voting for him now because they think it would be entertaining to see what he would say about Bill and Hillary. And I suspect that a lot of folks would vote for him in November because they think it would be entertaining to see what he would say and do in the Oval Office. Who needs movies any more when you have Trump?

6. Why have the Republican voters so completely abandoned John Kasich? He’s clearly running the sanest campaign of any of the candidates. He’s beating Hillary in one-on-one matchups by double digits. He’s a popular governor of a large, swing state, and he also has an accomplished record as a former U.S. Congressman. What the hell do you want, Republican voters? You’ve got your man. Why then do you keep rejecting him for a carnival barker?

7. In less than a month, both races could be over. What then? Are we going to see the inter-party bomb throwing begin right away? Tell me you’re not a little bit curious to see what Trump comes up with when he starts his campaign of mockery and ridicule. And tell me you’re not a little bit curious to see exactly how negative Hillary is willing to go to respond to Trump.

8. On the VP side, would Hillary possibly consider Elizabeth Warren? And if so, would she possibly accept? That would clearly be Hillary’s best move, in my opinion, but I’m not sure that Senator Warren wants the job.

9. As for Trump’s running mate, he’s already said that he’s looking for a career politician who can help move things through the US Congress. But which prominent GOP legislators would want to run with him? He needs Paul Ryan to stay where he is, so it won’t be Ryan. Clearly, it won’t be Rubio or Cruz either, not that either one has the kind of popularity on the Hill that Trump needs to accomplish his goal. I honestly don’t know who does. Maybe there is no current legislator who’d fit the bill, so Trump would look at Kasich or someone like New Mexico Governor Martinez, a Hispanic woman. I still say those two are the most likely choices.

10. That’s all that I have to say for now. I’ll be in Las Vegas for Super Tuesday, which seems like the most appropriate place to be. Maybe I’ll seek out a bookie to put a bet on the 2020 election under the category of “Likelihood that a stand-up comic will win the White House.” Surely, those odds have been steadily climbing for the past several months. I think it’s going to happen. Now I couldn’t tell you the comedian or the party, but this much I can tell you: the days of electing lawyers and policy wonks to the Presidency are coming to an end. We seem to want Presidents who can mock and ridicule with the best of him. How sad for Don Rickles that he was born 50 years too early – he could have been a natural politician.

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