Political Summation Of The Weekend

Saturday morning James and I watched the funeral for Justice Scalia.  It was one of those grand American events where we all connect at some level to observe a slice of history.  There is certainly a great deal to disagree with when it comes to the rulings and views Scalia provided the nation over the past decades. But there was also something worth noting and honoring when it came to recognizing his public service.    The  funeral provided that national moment of reflection.

But then when the coverage was over we spent a fair amount of Saturday sitting outside reading.  On Friday my copy of Mary McGrory, The First Queen of Journalism, a fantastic biography by John Norris, arrived in the mail.  Yesterday the weather was warm and sunny, the coffee was hot, and there was no better place to be than outside while the pages turned.   Over a late lunch we then watched the Nevada caucus results being reported.  To top the day off we spent the evening at a house warming for a newly married couple.  For hours we talked and laughed and would you believe the topic of politics was front and center?

Since many in attendance were state workers it is fair to say there was a most pointed tone to the conversations.   One man who worked for a business in the area leaned in while pointing at me and asked “why don’t you run for governor”?   I believe my views hit a strong cord when talking about the need to unify our political divisions and seek compromises in the construct of state policy.  Over and over when I talk with people the desire to once again be the type of state we once were prior to Scott Walker is something that just resonates.  It never fails to make points.

I was heartened that Hillary Clinton had a solid win in Nevada.  I had predicted prior to New Hampshire that the Granite State would be Bernie Sanders high mark and that is coming true.

I was simply stunned by the scope and breadth of the win Donald Trump had in South Carolina.  I still strongly feel there is a path to stop him but there needs to be a recognition that some powerful players are needing to step up and take on Trump directly and with force.

The piss-ant way House Speaker Ryan responds to questions about Trump, as was evidenced this morning on Capital City Sunday , shows why there needs to be tough-minded people who know it is time to take Trump out of the nomination fight.  To do that they need to confront and not back down from the bluster and bombast.

I was sorry–though not at all surprised–to see Jeb Bush leave the national stage.  His days as a politician are over.  Without doubt he was the smartest GOP candidate with a skill set that would have made him an effective president had he won.  I had long thought him to be the one to lead his party into the general election.   What remains in the GOP field are mere snarky shadows with the exception of John Kasich, who is known for his substance.

As I look at the news columns I came across a brief snippet from Politico that sums up where we are this morning.  It hits everything perfectly.

GOP’s Palmetto primary and the Dems’ casino caucuses clarify this crazy race: Trump triumphs, Clinton is revived, Bernie loses mo, Marco’s new nickname is 3-5-2 (his finishes so far), Cruz loses evangelicals, Jeb scrams, Kasich sticks around as asterisk in apparent three-man race, and Carson keeps campaigning because why not.

Dana Milbank Nails It Regarding Jeb Bush

This sums up exactly how I view the candidacy of Job Bush.  I do differ, however, with Milbank in saying it may be too late to stop Donald Trump.  I absolutely disagree.

Bush’s message of competence and experience, like Clinton’s, goes against the prevailing anger. But Bush has gained something as important: He seems comfortable in his own skin. He no longer hides from his name — he’s asked his brother to campaign for him — and he acknowledges that “I’m part of the establishment.”

And his emerging status as the anti-Trump seems to give him purpose — even when on Fox News, the outlet that in many ways created Trump as a political force. Bush spoke Wednesday morning of Trump “preying on people’s fears” and “basically saying that life’s bad” and “tearing people down.” Said Bush: “We’re never going to win the presidency with that kind of approach. And I will continue to take him on.” 

It may be too late to stop Trump. But it’s reassuring that Bush is gaining traction by trying. He said Wednesday on CBS that Trump “would be a disaster for the Republican Party and would mean, I think, landslide defeats.”

And on CNN, he reminded listeners that two-thirds of Republicans still don’t support Trump. “Trump’s the master at capturing people’s angst,” Bush said. “. . . He just says, ‘I’ll fix it, I’ll solve it, it’ll be fine, it’ll be huge’ or whatever, but there’s nothing tangible that would suggest he has the skills to do it.”

PREDICTION–Who Will The Des Moines Register Endorse For Iowa Caucus?

Waiting for the drumroll……

The Des Moines Register has been endorsing candidates ahead of Iowa’s presidential caucuses since 1988.  Tonight that tradition continues when it announces its latest pick.

Serious minds at editorial boards can not select Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.  Which leads one to speculate of the Republican lane candidates who will have the backing of the paper?

My guess is the pick will be John Kasich or Jeb Bush and in that order of probabilities.     The paper can talk about the mature seasoned nature of their leadership capabilities at a time when governing experience, even if some of the electorate is not aware of it, does matter a great deal.

The Democratic endorsement will be harder to predict for me given the energy that Bernie Sanders has generated and how that is always a good thing for democracy.   But then the editorial board also has to deal with pragmatic governing and who can best achieve that if elected to the White House.  If the board allows common sense to dictate their endorsement they will place the name of Hillary Clinton on their front page come Sunday morning.

In a few hours we will know.

Barbara Bush Speaks For Jeb Bush In New Ad For Closing Days in Iowa

This ad will speak to a certain demographic in Iowa and more importantly in New Hampshire.   But one can almost see the nasty attack from Donald Trump about Jeb Busy and his needing to be supported by his Mom, Barbara.  Such is the low road for Trump and the way he conducts his campaign.

But the ad is simply warm and polite.   That is something we all need more of in 2016.

All Eyes Need To Be On New Hampshire

While Iowa makes the presidential race interesting with its early caucuses the first real campaign test takes place in New Hampshire.

There is every reason to applaud retail politics of the kind that takes places in both these states.  As the old saying goes one does not make up their mind about which candidate to support until there have been at least three handshakes from the one seeking election.

Iowa does not mirror the nation demographically and many have argued their first in the nation voting allows them an overstated say given their population size and make-up.  More precisely the harsh conservative nature of the GOP voter there sends a wrong message about where that party is headed–or needs to head–as they seek a nominee.

The establishment lane of the nominating process is clouded at this time as Donald Trump and Ted Cruz both slog it out for dominance.  It will be hard for another candidate in Iowa to break through and make a showing.  Someone, of course, will be in third place and then use that position to attempt a launch off from a truly important primary state—New Hampshire.

Marco Rubio has used media buys in Iowa to try and be that third place finisher.  But following that it is hard to see where he wins a primary state.  Now that he has went darker in his language and messaging to somehow compete with Trump and Cruz has made him not that fresh and likable face, but just another political contender.  Chances are strong that he fades.

Jeb Bush has plenty of money and infrastructure to allow him a bit more time to play out the waiting game as Trump and Cruz is perhaps seen by the actual primary voters as disasters come November.  For the record my money remains on Bush to get the nomination.

When it comes to John Kasich–someone who I have also long felt was a sensible type as a GOP nominee–New Hampshire is the place he is betting the farm.  He feels this is a must win state and has made an all out effort to do so.  A new American Research Group poll in New Hampshire finds Donald Trump continues to lead the GOP field with 27%, followed by John Kasich who surged to 20%, Marco Rubio at 10%, Ted Cruz at 9%, Chris Christie at 9% and Jeb Bush at 8%.

Iowa will produce noise and bombast for the base of the Republican Party.  But the reasoned moderates of the GOP in New Hampshire can produce a candidate who leaves their state in the real hunt for the nomination. 

The only good feeling that Iowa Republicans can expect from this election cycle is the bumpy ride on a country road to the caucus site.

Is This Jeb Bush’s Moment?

I have long held that Jeb Bush would be the Republican presidential nominee.  Over the past several weeks I also admit that I have felt my views were on very shaky ground–especially after the last debate.

But I also wrote about three weeks ago that something unforeseen was likely to happen that could very well shape the race and define the need as to why a resume matters.  Why past governmental service is essential when running for the White House.  Now with the terrorism in Paris front and center for everyone to think about comes the chance–once again–for Bush to prove that he can be the nominee.

There is no doubt that given what we all have witnessed this summer and into the fall that the Republicans need a grown-up to come center stage and lead the party into the fall of 2016.  And Bush is vying to be in the right place at the right time.

There was the two part track that Bush took about future ideas to combat Daesh that places him in the broad middle of the country where he needs to be to have any credibility on the matter.

First he placed a call for ground troops in Syria–something that I have long stated was needed.  A mix of troops from a range of nations–from the Middle East and including American troops–will be required.  The other part that resonated with me regarding  Bush’s views and tone is that he just did not go down the harsh and provocative path Donald Trump took when stating he would  “bomb the s—” out of the jihadists.   That type of bombastic and crude language for such a serious topic underscores why a mature, educated establishment leader within the GOP needs to emerge.

Though Bush made a massive immoral and diplomatically wrong statement when he called for religious tests for refugees he at least is not calling for an end to refugee migration with Syria.   That may be a small step–but when it comes to the bile-laden crowd of candidates and their three-thumbed primary voters one has to look at small victories and know it could be worse.

I will be waiting for the next positive thing that Bush does to right his campaign and prove he can still be the nominee.

GOP Debate: America Needs A Credible Nominee

I like to razz the Republican Party about the deep split within their ranks that is now shaking their nominating process to the core.   Watching the other party implode as a spectator sport goes all the way back to the demise of the Federalists.  This is just something that politicos find enjoyable about American politics.

But at the end of the day, I along with the vast majority of others in this nation, fully understand the need for a credible leader to emerge from the field in both major political parties.  Come November 2016 we need to have strong nominees with governing experience, institutional background, and the capability to lead the nation.

That is not only a political need for the Republicans or Democrats.  That view must be seen as an American necessity.

As I watched the Republican debate on Wednesday night while the topic of economics played out in a long series of questions it also struck me that between now and the general election something on the world stage would likely occur which will unnerve us.  Something that we will not expect, yet something that will again demonstrate why the gravitas of the person in the White House matters.  Something that will underscore why we all need to be serious about the process that produces our nominees while at the same time making sure we are stone sober and care about the quality of both candidates–one of which will be the next president.

I am not positive that another ‘Clinton scandal’ will not erupt or that some other factor will not create hardships for Democrats next year.  I want a Democratic victory but nothing is for certainty in politics.  Therefore I want–as we all should–the best and most highly capable person that the GOP can nominate to be there should they prevail at the polling place.

I have watched each of the  Republican debates and can see wheat from the chaff.  But days later I have no way to really explain how the ones with no political experience who provide to the media the most outlandish statements then lead in the polls.

There were three clear leaders from the establishment wing of the party at Wednesday’s debate.   I am not sure two of them in any way really boosted their chances, given the current political climate, while I am most certain one of them created a larger hole for himself.

Both Ohio Governor John Kasich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were able to wade into policy and ideas and at the same time throw some political elbows and present their fighting sides to the party.  They each are tough politicians who have fought and won their share of battles and, like their stands on the issues or not, they know how to get the trains moving on time.  They have done so in their respective states.  Governing is not a foreign idea to them.

Jeb Bush looked haggard and lacked the spine or spirit to punch and tussle in the arena.   I admit to being stunned by his performance as I have long predicted he would be the nominee.  I am not at all sure that statement can again be made on this blog.   Bush did not seem to be totally engaged in the debate or seeking ways to best frame his arguments.  He allowed Marco Rubio to best him on the matter of a Florida newspaper challenging the senator’s voting record during the campaign.  It was baffling how little fight Bush had in him.

Pound for pound no one came close in giving the most punchy and in-your-face answers as Rubio.  He is not ready to be president but he is every inch the man for his party’s vice-presidential spot and proved how he could be the dynamic star out on the husting’s next fall.

The most inadequate candidates, given the scope of what is required to be president, stood center stage.  Donald Trump and Ben Carson lead in the polls and that sends great spasms of delight from those in the GOP who scorn anything that smacks of experience or insight into governing.  But they simply have no grasp of the enormity of the office they seek or the nuances of policy that is needed to be understood so to best lead the country.

I hear there is anger in the land and especially from fringe elements in the Republican Party and Trump and Carson are the vehicles at this moment who are carrying the feeling nationwide in the campaigns.   But at some point this nation, through the nominating process, needs to place serious-minded people front and center and demand that responsible candidates step up and lead.  

We need to have intelligent and credible set of leaders from both parties to make sure our government works.  We may laugh and twitter over Trump this or Carson that and marvel over how off-the-wall it all is day-after-day.

But as we all know it will be that unexpected headline that will make us wish we had taken this process more seriously when we had the chance.  This nation needs the Republican Party to get their act together!

And that sentient comes from this liberal blogger.

Jeb Bush Still The Talk Of Those Who Think Beyond This Week

Over and over I have stated my belief that at the end of the Republican nominating process it will be Jeb Bush who will prevail as the nominee.  It looks rugged and all uphill at this time–as it has for months.  But I believe that the middle of politics still holds sway in these matters.

Which leads me to a news story where the Hillary Clinton campaign also has Jeb Bush in the headlights to the exclusion of everyone else in the GOP.

Jeb Bush’s campaign may have fallen on hard times recently with the third Republican primary debate looming, but Hillary Clinton’s team is still paying close attention to the former Florida governor.

At least that’s one lesson that comes across in a roughly 1,750-word memo — which also reports on Clinton’s progress with superdelegates — sent by campaign manager Robby Mook to top Clinton backers on Tuesday.  

Meanwhile Bush, whose campaign recently cut costs and started restructuring itself, is the only Republican presidential candidate mentioned in the celebratory missive, which also nods to the libertarian billionaire Koch brothers and Clinton’s main Democratic primary opponent, Bernie Sanders.