Saturday, January 30, 2016

How To Tell Which Candidate Each Party Doesn't Want To Run Against


Now that The New York Times has stolen my thunder by endorsing Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican John Kasich as presidential candidates, I thought I would try to answer that age-old question which has gnawed at me for quite some time. How do you tell which candidate each party doesn't want to run against?

For the GOP, the answer is obvious. They want no part of Hillary Clinton. How do I know that? Because they're going out of their way to heap all kinds of praise on Bernie Sanders. All you keep hearing from conservatives is how genuine Bernie is. He has integrity, he's a likable guy with a populist message, he'd be a tough opponent in a general. And so on and so forth.

Of course they don't really believe that. Deep down they loathe what he stands for (a self-described socialist who would end private insurance and redistribute wealth from their cronies to the huddled masses) and they would love nothing more than to run against him in a general. Read Michael Tomasky's piece in The Daily Beast regarding Bernie's prospects in a general and you know why Republicans are praying he beats Hillary.

Another reason you know they don't want to run against Clinton is the mountain of cash they are storing up in anticipation of facing her this November. They've been relentless in their attacks on her over the last three years. Seriously, how many Benghazi hearings do you think we would've had if Hillary had announced when she left the State Department that she wasn't running for president? If you answered more than one, you obviously believe in the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot. The amount of attention Republicans have paid to the deaths of four Americans is perverse given how many lives were lost during the Bush years under similar situations.

They're also obsessed with her private email server and are convinced - nay, praying - that the FBI indicts her. The prospect of her being led away in handcuffs makes them practically giddy. Of course the fact that she isn't under any criminal investigation or that all of the emails that were classified as top secret were marked that way after they were sent, doesn't seem to matter much to the bubble people. As Buffalo Springfield once sang, paranoia runs deep.

But while the minions who hang on every word printed in Breitbart and the Daily Caller believe she is the second coming of Richard Nixon, the more pragmatic among them know deep down she will survive this and that by November it will be a non issue to the majority of voters. Hence, the rush to puff up the Senator from Vermont. If he wins Iowa AND New Hampshire, you never know.

Except they know full well that even if Sanders wins Iowa and New Hampshire, Clinton has huge leads and a considerable following in a majority of the states that follow. Bernie may be popular among many progressives, but he ain't no Barack Obama. Take away the largely white libs that flock to Sanders' rallies and Hillary is ahead in virtually every other demographic.

Now onto the Dems. I must confess, it's a lot harder trying to figure out which GOP candidate they would prefer not to run against. If you believe the Times, John Kasich would give them fits in a general. He's not nuts like the majority of Republican candidates. He's a popular governor from a swing state who actually has experience dealing with the Clintons. He was in Washington when Bill was in the Oval office. And he could take some of the center away from Hillary, something conservatives have a hard time understanding is essential to winning a presidential election. But the simple truth is Kasich has a snow ball's chance in hell of winning the nomination.

So that leaves Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio as the frontrunners. For my money, it's Trump. Why? Because all the talk has been about how Rubio is peeking at the right time and wouldn't that be great for the establishment candidates. If Rubio has a strong showing in Iowa and New Hampshire, he could win Florida and maybe a good chunk of the South. He could beat the Donald and save the Republican Party from an embarrassing defeat in November.

Except Rubio has way too much baggage so far as his party's base is concerned. His finger prints are all over the Senate immigration bill he co-authored and the wingnuts have never forgiven him for that. He's more than just damaged goods, he's yet another freshman senator who thinks he can rescue Washington from itself. After spending the last seven years blasting Obama for not having the experience and wherewithal to be president, Republicans are going to have one helluva time trying to convince the electorate that Rubio is different. Clinton will wipe the floor with him in the debates.

Cruz? Don't make me laugh. If old Ted were to win the nomination, it would be a landslide for the Dems. Think 1984, only in reverse. Cruz might be the only Republican candidate who's despised as much by his own party as the opposition. He'd be the ultimate wet dream for Hillary.

No, the guy that keeps Democrats up nights is none other than Donald J. Trump. I've been saying this for several months now, but Trump could win a general election. Yes, it's true a lot of his followers are racist, xenophobes, but not all of them are. Many are just frustrated people who feel they've been screwed by the system. They're fed up with Washington politics and the cronyism that has paralyzed it. Trump appeals to a yearning that these people have to return to a time when America was great and the world trembled at our feet. Yes, the majority of them are white, but in swing states like Ohio, Virginia, Iowa and Colorado, that's not exactly a bad thing. So he looses Florida, Michigan and New Mexico. So what? He could pick up the rest and win a very close election.

So there you have it. The two candidates that neither party wants to run against and why. Both seem destined for a collision course this November. One of them will prevail. Only time will tell which party was correct in its assessment and which one overreacted.

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