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.

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