Friday, November 27, 2015

The Primary Field, Part III: Paul-Trump

Rand Paul
Senator from Kentucky, hair care by lawnmower enthusiast
            Pro: Is related to, but not quite, his father.
            Con: Is related to, but not quite, his father.

            Initially, my concern with Rand Paul was that, seven years ago, he was an eye doctor in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  I have nothing against eye doctors or Bowling Green, Kentucky, but if I Rip Van Winkled my way through the next seven years and woke up to find that my eye doctor was the President of the United States, I would be weirded out.  However, by this year’s standards, Paul’s one term in the Senate makes him practically an elder statesman.
            (Seriously, I don’t mean any insult to my eye doctor.  I’ve been seeing him for years and my vision is oihd 0ijsoif dh id9sfi lodijg8d9gi) 
            I thought Rand Paul would be doing better in the polls than he is.  This is the man who not only made the phrase “libertarian political dynasty” something other than a hilarious (if obscure) oxymoron, he managed to win election as a Duke fan in Kentucky.  You don’t accomplish that without some serious political talent.
            The best description of Sen. Paul that I’ve heard was in a podcast from The Federalist: he is, both literally and figuratively, what you get when you cross Ron Paul with a normal person.  (By the way, Mrs. Paul, if you’re reading this: love the fish sticks.)  This might be at the root of his inability to get much traction in the polls: he’s not crazy enough for his father’s supporters, but more mainstream Republicans are still nervous.   If I were Senator Paul, I’d concentrate on developing a line of gold-based investment products and spending the rest of the race hawking those.  It’ll help him reconnect with his father’s supporters, win him the support of talk radio, and enhance his base in Kentucky by adding Fort Knox.

Marco Rubio
Senator from Florida, inexperienced yet charismatic Historic First­ TM
               Con: You could use the description above for Barack Obama.
            Pro: You could use the description above for John F. Kennedy.

            To be honest, if I had to make a choice right now, it would be Rubio.  I like his speaking ability, positions on the issues, and background, but I’m concerned about his relative lack of experience, and he’s a little more moderate than I’d like on immigration.
            By the way, am I the last moderate left on immigration?  I think we should do more to secure the border, but some people seem to think immigration is the only issue that could possibly matter (to the point of forgiving chasing little old ladies out oftheir homes and donating to Hillary Clinton if a candidate takes a sufficiently hard line on immigration).  One side of the debate seems to think we should throw open the borders until the entire population of Honduras lives in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and anyone who disagrees is an irredeemable anti-Hispanic bigot; the other side seems to think that America is doomed unless we immediately build a wall with a moat (and preferably a force field zapping any trespassers to the planet Geexgack) along the southern border. 
            On second thought, maybe moving the entire population of Honduras to Lebanon isn’t such a bad idea.  Is Honduran food any good?  Lebanon could use some decent restaurants.

            Fun Fact: The Hispanic population is growing so fast that by the year 2037, I will be Hispanic.

Rick Santorum
Former senator from Pennsylvania, future patron saint of sweater vests
            Pro: Has crossed religious lines by somehow becoming the world’s first evangelical traditionalist Catholic.
            Con: Is from Pittsburgh, and therefore probably a Steelers fan.

            According to a Rick Santorum superfan of my acquaintance, Santorum will send me to the Horn of Africa if he’s elected, which would resolve the job situation I mentioned with Lindsey Graham.  So there’s that.
            Rick Santorum is the opposite of Adolf Hitler.  I don’t mean that in a good way.  What I mean is that, while Hitler took insane ideas and convinced his followers they were reasonable, Santorum takes reasonable ideas and convinces people they're insane.  Take last cycle's depressing birth-control debate.  Sen. Santorum doesn't believe employers should be force to buy birth control for their employees, which I agree with (in fact, I think the idea of getting health insurance through your employer is silly, but that's another rant), but went on to say, "One of the things I will talk about that no President has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country".  Now, you could probably have a fascinating discussion of all the social changes that have occurred since the introduction of "the pill", and whether on balance, it was a good thing for women, or for society in general.  When you're a politician, though, people will interpret that as wanting to ban birth control- and that genie ain't going back in that lamp.
            Santorum should stick to the long game he's been playing brilliantly: having so many kids that they become a major voting bloc.

            Depressing Fact: Of all the candidates in this year’s primary, only one has won an election in a blue or purple state in a Presidential election year.
            Even More Depressing Fact: That candidate is Rick Santorum.

Sweet Meteor of Death
Internet meme
            Pro: Would end all the world’s problems.
            Con: Would end human life as we know it.

            The Sweet Meteor of Death first attracted interest during the 2012 primaries, when it became apparent that the only alternatives to Mitt Freaking Romney were Newt Freaking Gingrich and Rick Freaking Santorum.  SMOD is back, now complete with a Twitter account and debates over his candidacy in National Review.  
            The verdict?  Tempting.  I'm still holding out hope that Marco Rubio will win over the base, or that Ted Cruz will win over anyone outside the base, or that Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina will make up for their lack of political experience, or that Chris Christie will rise above four percent- but I can imagine this race reaching the point where an asteroid impact would look attractive.  (For one thing, SMOD is the only candidate who has demonstrated a willingness to get tough on Putin.)  Which brings us to...

Donald Trump
Pro wrestling personality, divorce aficionado
              Pro: Would be wildly entertaining if elected.

            Con: Would actually hold power if elected.

            Donald Trump was once described (aptly, in my opinion) as a hobo's idea of what a rich person would be like.  Now, he's running for President as a liberal's idea of what a conservative would be like- and enough people are angry enough at the political process to launch him to the top of the polls (albeit with only 25-30% of the vote) despite his previous donations to Democrats, support of socialized medicine, and being pro-choice and pro-gun control until it became inconvenient. 
            The recent flap with Mr. Trump and the disabled New York Times reporter is the Trump campaign in miniature.  Trump mocked an establishment institution that richly deserves mockery, but in a way that calls far more attention to what a horse's rear end he is than the real reasons the establishment needs to be held accountable.  With the Middle East once again exploding, a sluggish economy papered over by writing people out of the job market, and Hillary Clinton waltzing to the Democratic nomination as if the party's need to write a storybook ending to the 2008 campaign was the most pressing issue, there's plenty of room for an anti-establishment candidate, but I don't think Trump is it.
            I hope the base eventually realizes they would be better served with a candidate who wasn't a New York liberal the day before yesterday.  More importantly, I hope the establishment realizes that just because a sick man goes to a snake-oil salesman doesn't mean he isn't sick.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Primary Field, Part II: Gilmore-Pataki

Jim Gilmore
Former governor of Virginia, cypher
            Pro: I can’t think of any cons.
            Con: I can’t think of any pros.

          Jim Gilmore was actually a thing once- he managed to win one election as governor of Virginia, back in 1997.  (Virginia elects its governors in odd-numbered years, and only lets them run for one term.  Virginia is weird.)  His own state promptly forgot about him, as he lost a Senate race by a 2-1 margin in 2008. 
            Now, he’s running for President for some reason.  My best guess is that visiting all fifty states is on his bucket list and Iowa is the last one he needs.  Since running for President is the only reason to visit Iowa (at least New Hampshire has skiing, leaves, and Mount Washington), he took the plunge and launched a Presidential campaign based on YOLO. 
You do you, Jimmy G.  You do you. 

Lindsey Graham
Senator from South Carolina, John McCain fanboy
            Con: Would have us at war with Mozambique in a week after his inauguration.
            Pro: Let’s be honest, Mozambique needs to be taken down a peg.

            I’m excited about Lindsey Graham for purely selfish reasons.  I’m in my state’s National Guard (My opinions are strictly my own, and not those of the National Guard, a point that I'm going to repeat several times), but I'm looking for a full-time job right now, which is why I can waste so much time with this thing. Senator Graham is a noted war hawk- he once advocated going to war with Congress, while he was an actual member of Congress.  Since war would give me a full-time job (hey, I told you it was selfish), Graham’s got my vote…
            …or at least he would, if he weren’t going to drop out of the race a week before the South Carolina primary and throw his support to secure the post of Secretary of Defense in the Carson or Rubio Administration.  (That's strictly my speculation, of course.  The National Guard doesn't think Sen. Graham has any interest in a Cabinet role.)  Still, Graham has had the best 2015 of any Republican Presidential candidate.  Sure, he’s at one percent in the polls, but thanks to a recent Supreme Court decision, he and John McCain can finally get married.

            Fun Fact: When Graham was first elected to the Senate in 2002, his opponent ran an ad promising to “go to Washington and take aim”…right before the Washington sniper shootings.  Oops.

(The National Guard didn't think that fact was fun at all.)

Mike Huckabee
Former governor of Arkansas, professional good-ole-boy
            Pro: Is a Baptist minister, so probably has a difference stance on adultery from the last Arkansan President.
            Con: If elected, there would be a deluge of annoying “I heart Huckabee” jokes.

            Mike Huckabee’s biggest move so far came after Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to marry gay couples, was briefly jailed for contempt of court.  Huckabee appeared as Davis’s warmup act, introducing her as she walked out to “Eye of the Tiger”.  I don’t see the problem here.  Whatever you think of gay marriage, you have to admit- if you’re a true red-blooded American, and you have a chance to walk out to “Eye of the Tiger” for any reason, you walk out to “Eye of the Tiger”.
            The National Guard has always thought "Eye of the Tiger" is kind of overrated, to be honest.
            Apparently, entitlement programs are going bankrupt.  I don’t pay much attention to this, since with my financial situation, I’m on the Pope Benedict retirement plan (work until age 85, get replaced by a guy from South America).  Don’t worry, though, Mike Huckabee has a plan- a simple solution, really: all we need to do is find the cure for cancer, and we’re set.
            Huckabee may be taking a hard line on gay rights, but apparently he’s embracing gambling.

John Kasich
Governor of Ohio, overgrown rage bunny
            Pro: Has the record and experience to present himself as a more conservative version of Jeb!
            Con: Inexplicably, has chosen to present himself as a more liberal version of Jeb!

            The reference is to former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who entered the 2012 GOP primaries as a moderate Mormon technocratic governor with business experience, only to find out that the field already had one of those.  So, in a move that can only be explained by some Chinese mind-control trick when he was our Ambassador in Beijing, Huntsman decided the way to win over the Republican base was to become the media's favorite Republican. 
             Kasich, following in his footsteps without the excuse of spending several years in a Communist country, made quite a splash in the most recent Republican debate by yelling at the other candidates to take more moderate stances, such as supporting the Wall Street bailout.  Defending the Wall Street bailout is about as popular with Republican primary voters as defending ISIS (no, not that ISIS, the other one), so Kasich's campaign is having about as much success right now as another Ohio institution.
             (The National Guard, for its part, just can't even with this post.)

George Pataki
Former governor of New York, onetime syndicated host of “Wake Up, Poughkeepsie!”
            Pro: A candidate whose time has come.
            Con: A candidate whose time has also gone.

            George Pataki won an upset election as the Republican governor of a large blue state, then gradually became more liberal than many Democrats.  In other words, he’s a more boring version of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

            The National Guard, of course, thinks a three-term governor of New York is much more interesting than a movie star with a funny accent.  At any rate, Pataki is one of five candidates in this race (the others being Jeb!, Gilmore, Huckabee, and Santorum) who haven't won an election since I graduated from high school.  Gilmore, ever the overachiever, hasn't won an election since I was in elementary school.  For some candidates, the 2016 race seems to be what Branson, Missouri, was for the Simpsons: a way to remind people you're still alive.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Primary Field, Part I: Bush-Fiorina

Since nobody asked for it, my thoughts on the Republican Presidential field:

Jeb! Bush

Former governor of Florida, little brother, punctuation enthusiast
            Pro: He was actually a decent governor of Florida.

            Con: Um, well, you know…

            Pick your metaphor: New Coke, the Arch Deluxe, the Star Wars prequels, Facebook back when it changed its format every other week.  Jeb! Bush is the hot new version of a well-known franchise that consultants and marketers are sure the public will love right up until the public actually encounters it.
            It’s just a shame that, after Jeb! finishes fourth in Iowa and drops out, George W. will spend the rest of 2016 giving him purple nurples.  Poor old H.W. deserves better than that in his twilight years. 
            I was going to say that the Jeb! campaign isn’t accomplishing anything, but that isn’t right.  He has singlehandedly disproven every conspiracy theory.  Think about it: we’re supposed to believe the Illuminati/Freemasons/Jesuits/Zionists/Rotarians rigged (for example) the World Trade Center with explosives when they can’t even rig a poll to show Jeb! in double digits?

Ben Carson
Neurosurgeon, avant-garde Egyptologist
            Con: Has no prior experience in elected office.
            Pro: Has no prior experience in elected office.

            The big controversy with Ben Carson is that he apparently thinks Joseph (from the Bible (no, not that Joseph from the Bible, the other one)) built the pyramids to store grain, and this proves he’s a crazed religious zealot or something.  To be honest, I’ve lost most of my sensitivity to weird beliefs of political candidates after the last election, which featured a guy who believes some dude in upstate New York 200 years ago found golden tablets that contained new books of the Bible and a guy who believes the federal government must spend hundreds of billions of dollars more than it takes in or we’re in for another Great Depression.  I find both beliefs odd, but I ended up voting for the golden tablets guy because my theoretical kids won’t have to pay for his odd belief.         
            Besides, Ben Carson is just so likable.  He could give a speech tomorrow about the need to throw Philadelphia Eagles fans into concentration camps, and it would sound comforting, reasonable, and sensible.
            (Seriously, Mormons…upstate New York?!)

Chris Christie
Governor of New Jersey, Kool-Aid Man impersonator
            Con: Is a loudmouth bully from New Jersey.
            Pro: Washington could use some bullying right about now.

            I don’t care about Bridgegate.  Seriously, have you ever been on the George Washington Bridge?  It’s always backed up.  It would be like if Tom Wolf got angry at Lancaster County and caused a traffic jam on Route 30 east.  Who would even notice?
            No, what I care about with Chris Christie is the fact that he, on live television, hugged- literally, embraced!- a man who is dedicated to the destruction of all we hold dear.  A man who is blatantly undermining Western civilization’s most beloved institutions with the help of his brainwashed followers and a compliant media.  If we want to save everything that is best about our country, we must oppose this man at every opportunity.  I refer, of course, to Jerry Jones:

I think he also met once or twice with Obama after Hurricane Sandy.

Ted Cruz
Senator from Texas, possible Canadian spy
            Pro: Would excite the conservative base.
            Con: Would not excite anyone else.

If we were electing a president of Conservative Land, this would be the guy to go with.  He's made a career out of being more purely conservative than the Republican leadership (not that being more purely conservative than them is especially difficult).  The problem is that he's trying to convince voters that he's the purest conservative, when a majority of the voters in the general election aren't yet convinced that conservatism is a good thing.  They elected Barack Obama twice, after all.  

Besides which, Ohio is probably going to be a crucial state again.  If the career of Johnny Manziel is any indication, Texans with a healthy sense of self-regard aren't too popular there.

Fun Fact: I worked in Pat Toomey's office during the Cruz-led Obamacare defunding brouhaha in the fall of 2013.  We got a number of phone calls on the subject.  Some were from people who weren't quite sure of Sen. Cruz's name, so they urged Sen. Toomey to "stand with Tom Cruise!"

I assure everyone that Pat Toomey is not a Scientologist.

Carly Fiorina
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO, producer of senatorial-themed short horror films
            Con: Was rejected by the voters of California when she ran for the Senate.
            Pro: Have you seen the types of politicians the voters of California pick?  Would you really want someone they didn’t reject?

            Carly Fiorina has passed the first test of any tech CEO, which is that I don’t have enough bad memories of Hewlett-Packard products not working to wish an infestation of fire ants in her underwear drawer.   (If Michael Dell ever runs for President, he doesn’t have a chance with me.)  In fact, there’s one thing Carly could do that would guarantee my vote for her.
            Watch that video clip, and imagine it being used in this election.  Two words: TRUMP BLIMP- and in the general election: HILLARY BLIMP.
            It’s what I need.
            It’s what you need.

            It’s what America needs.