About That Deep Field…

I’m no fan of Mitt Romney, but Mittens was right when he looked at the GOP field  and was not impressed.  The field is certainly wide.  But deep?  Not so much.

First of all, aside from entertainment value, you can safely ignore Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, and Ben Carson.  None of these guys is going to be the 2016 Republican nominee.  Okay, maybe if Hillary finds a magic lamp in some Upper East Side antique store…  But let’s assume Alladin isn’t Ready for Hillary.

Ted Cruz probably falls in that group too.  Just because you breathe fire, doesn’t mean you’re going to catch fire.  “Clueless” and “obnoxious” aren’t high on the list of what voters look for in a candidate.

As for his fellow Texan, Rick Perry, he’ll do better than 2012, being off the pain meds and all.  So he’ll be able to remember a list of three.  Hell, maybe he’ll do four or five.  But he still comes across as dumber and goofier than George W. Bush.  He’ll have a less bizarre and humiliating, but still unsuccessful, go this time around.

As for Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, the eyes have it.  Watch a clip of Scott Walker with the sound off and just look into his eyes.  Not a helluva lot going on there, he’s the poster boy for “dumb look.”  Rubio?  Watch the water grab in the SOTU response and look at the absolute terror in his eyes.  If he panics over a sip of water, how is he going to fare in a room with Putin?  Vlad, by the way, wouldn’t give a damn if he needed a sip of water — or vodka — during a speech.  Anyone going to snicker at Mr. KGB?  I think not.  I don’t entirely write either off the way I do the others — Walker could unite the Establishment and the Tea Party and Rubio has some foreign/defense policy chops (especially compared to Walker) in an election where the Mideast Morass will feature prominently.  But really, neither one has what it takes.

Chris Christie?  Mittens knows more about him than we do from his Veep vet in 2012, and Mittens didn’t like what he learned.  Skeletons aside, Christie won’t wear well, we’ll be sick to death of him long before the NH primary.  Mitt has been gone just a few days, and Christie is already spouting nonsense about vaccines.  When his mouth isn’t full of food, it’s full of bluster and BS.

We come to Jebbie.  Mitt looked at him and saw a much less successful version of himself as a businessman.  But as a politician, Jeb is far less awkward and off-putting than Mitt.  He doesn’t make you cringe.  He’ll be the grown-up on the debate stage.  He’ll have all the money he needs.

So there you have it, America.  A “wide and deep” field — of one.

What Mitt Really Thinks About Jebbie and Christie

“But those familiar with Romney’s thinking as he’s been contemplating a run and over the years say that he has held a jaundiced view of the former Florida governor dating all the way back to his handling of the Terri Schiavo case, and has come to see Bush as a non-entity in the 2016 nomination contest. Romney is said to see Bush as a small-time businessman whose financial transactions would nonetheless be fodder for the Democrats and as terminally weighed down with voters across the board based on his family name. Romney also doesn’t think much of Bush’s political skills (a view mocked by Bush’s camp, who say Romney is nowhere near Bush’s league as a campaigner).  Romney also considers Bush the national Republican figure who was the least helpful to him during his last run for the White House, a position that has darkened Ann Romney’s view of Bush as well.

“Romney and Christie became friends in the last cycle, but Romney nevertheless has dismissed his pal as a non-factor. Thanks to the 2012 veep vetting process, Romney became intimately familiar with some of the less publicized controversies from the New Jersey governor’s past, and believes that several of those flaps would mushroom so broadly that Christie soon would be eliminated from consideration by voters and donors.”

From “How Mitt Romney Made His Decision Not To Run,” Mark Halperin, Bloomberg Politics

Fishman Seeks Big Fish (Whale?) Chris Christie

Esquire reports* that some of Chris Christie’s people will be indicted as soon as next month for Bridgegate — his Port Authority appointees, David Samson, Bill Baroni, and David Wildstein as well as his former chief counsel, Charlie McKenna.

Key quotes:

“Don’t underestimate what Wildstein has on Christie.  And Wildstein and Baroni have both turned on Samson.  If Samson doesn’t give Fishman Christie, Samson is toast.

“They’ve got him cold.  He got sloppy, arrogant, and greedy.  Samson will want a deal.  This way, he’d get one or two years.  He’d have a future on the other side.  He won’t want to die in jail. [Samson is 74.]

“But Fishman is really focused on Christie.  Ultimately, he believes he’ll get to the governor.”

* “Exclusive:  Prosecutor Is Closing In on Gov. Christie,” Scott Raab and Lisa Brennan

Jebbie is smiling.

Third Time’s the Charm?

A new Purple Strategies poll in New Hampshire shows Mitt leading for the 2016 GOP nomination, with 25%.  He’s followed by Rand Paul at 18%, Chris Christie at 17% (that won’t last), and Jeb Bush at 13%.

I really can’t imagine that Mittens would try again.  He didn’t even want to run again in 2012.  But those results show how weak and uninspiring the Republican field is right now.

Mitt Did Us a Favor

From “Paul Ryan’s disappearing act,” Jonathan Martin, Politico:

“Last year’s It Boy of the graying Republican Party has been bigfooted by the GOP’s new twin heartthrobs, Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

“Ryan is actually hurt by having been on the ticket last year.  Many Republican activists had heard of the smart young Wisconsin conservative but not actually seen him up close.  And when they did, well, it didn’t send their pulses racing.

“‘He fell flat out here,” said Sam Clovis, a conservative talk radio show host in northwest Iowa.  ‘He just didn’t measure up to the hype.'”

Just as McCain showed us that Sarah Palin is empty-headed, Mitt showed us that Paul Ryan is empty-hearted.  Ryan had his moment, and he won’t be president.

As for Rubio, he’s very slick, but not very bright.  All he really has going for him is that he is Cuban-American, but the GOP will figure out that Cuba-Americans don’t identify with other Hispanics and, more importantly, vice versa.

Rand Paul may be less weird than his father, but he’s still way too weird to be president.

Jeb Bush has that fatal last name, Scott Walker is arrogant and dumb, John Kasich is arrogant and obnoxious, Bobby Jindal is simply goofy…  I’d go with Christie.  Sure he’s over-the-top Jersey to GOP Southerners, but what are they going to do, vote for Hillary?   Hed keep red states, swing purple states, and put blue states in play.

Jeb Repents

If a bunch of dead trees (specifically those used to print his book) fall on Jeb Bush, they definitely make a sound.

Poor Jebbie, planning a run in 2016 because, you know, two Bush presidents just weren’t enough, sent his book off to be published before the 2012 election, and executed a conspicuous flip-flop to put himself where the GOP was on a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.  Having long supported such a path, he suddenly opposed it, trying to position himself for the presidential primaries.

But then Obama won, the GOP was annihilated among Hispanic voters, and there was a mad rush to do comprehensive immigration reform, including — sadly for Jeb — that pesky path to citizenship.

When Jeb’s book finally came out last week, he found himself in sort of a Rip Van Winkle situation, and under major assault from folks like John McCain and Lindsey “Butters” Graham.

Jeb went on the talk shows this morning and raced away from his own book and flip-flop, doing a flip-flop-flip that landed him right back where he started, on that path to citizenship that he hopes will be a path to the WH.  After all, it’s not as if any genuine beliefs or principles were involved here, the man just wants to be president.  Path, shmath.

Step aside Mitt, we have a new champion.  The Golden Flip Flops go to Jeb.

 

The Great GOP Unraveling

No sooner was John McCain faced with Jeb Bush’s challenge on immigration from his right, as Jeb did an about-face on his past support for a path to citizenship, when he had to pivot and face Rand Paul’s challenge on drone policy from his left, as Paul filibustered John Brennan’s CIA nomination because he feared Obama was about to launch drone strikes on Americans sitting in cafes in San Francisco.

Today, McCain called Paul a “wacko bird,” along with his pals Ted Cruz and Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan.

Now you can say that John McCain is 76 and on his way out, but remember that his little sidekick Lindsey “Butters” Graham is 57, and their new amiga, Kelly Ayotte, who replaced Joe Lieberman, is only 44.

This isn’t a John McCain problem, this is a GOP problem.

The libertarian wing of the Republican Party has now latched on to the Tea Party element, strengthening both.  Paul and Cruz are both Tea Party guys and libertarians.

The GOP has taken up the Tea Party cry to cut government spending, while trying to protect defense spending.  But the Tea Party/libertarian types don’t want to spare defense any more than they want to spare social programs.  They want to cut the whole damn thing, which makes it impossible for them to co-exist with the neo-cons.

Interestingly, neither McCain nor Paul reflects where the country is.  Since we’re war weary, we’re not with McCain that we should have stayed longer in Iraq and should stay in Afghanistan forever.  But since we’re war weary, we like the drones, which keep the terrorists at bay, while allowing our guys to go safely home at night to their families after they’ve taken out a bad guy.  And while Rand Paul isn’t as extreme on foreign policy as his dad Ron, his lack of concern about Iran’s going nuclear isn’t where the country is either.  So in Goldilocks terms, neither McCain nor Paul is just right for the country, one is too hard and the other is too soft.  If the country is sick of the neo-cons, they don’t want them replaced by neo-isolationists.

Adding to the mix — and the mess — you’ve got the primaries of 2014 and 2016.  Immigration and drones are two very different issues, but having gotten blindsided by Jebbie, Marco Rubio felt he had to support Paul on the filibuster to placate the Tea Party people he will need for a 2016 run.  Similarly, Mitch McConnell felt compelled to praise Paul because he fears a Tea Party primary in 2014.

Then there’s  the money.  The Koch Brothers are libertarians first and Republicans second.  Their financial support will redound to those who spout the libertarian line.  By contrast, Sheldon Adelson, who basically bought Newtie a campaign in 2012, has said that he doesn’t care about gay marriage or abortion, he just cares about Israel.  So his money will go to those who toe the neo-con line.

The GOP is trying to accommodate some very strange bedfellows — and it looks as if no one will get a good night’s sleep anytime soon.

If Only Jeb Had Done a Quicky E-Book

In the time lag between Jeb Bush’s finishing his new book and the thing getting published, many in his party became, if not enthusiastic about, at least resigned to, a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.  One of the most prominent flippers was Jeb’s fellow Floridian and mentee Marco Rubio, who has been working along side John McCain and Lindsey “Butters” Graham to get the Senate to approve a comprehensive immigration bill including such a path, knowing full well they will face tremendous resistance in the Tea-Party-heavy GOP House.

Now Jeb has upset the apple cart (or taco stand) by flipping away from the path to citizenship he has long supported, leaving Rubio, who just recently flipped the other way, thinking he was matching Jeb, mortified.  Jeb is giving comfort — and ammunition — to those in Congress who oppose the path, not to mention the monkey wrench he has thrown into some 2016 ambitions.

Jeb’s book just came out today, and already he is walking himself back toward the “path” he abandoned, saying he could support a path “where there isn’t an incentive for people to come illegally.”  When he wrote the book, Jeb thought he was flipping in a way that would clear away one obstacle (he still has his last name) to his running in 2016.  He thought he would make primary voters happy, but he’s made many powerful players in his party extremely unhappy with his disastrous timing.

The GOP has been trying to effect this change quietly, without calling a lot of attention to it, in a casual, oh-by-the-way manner as Sean Hannity has done.  Now Jeb has upset things not just by the substance of his position, but by putting an unwelcome spotlight on the issue itself.

Jeb’s book calls for a path to “permanent residency,” rather than a path to citizenship for those who came here illegally.  It’s interesting how some in the GOP, while constantly protesting that Obama is turning us into Europe, think it’s a wonderful idea to emulate Europe in this respect, where they have guest workers who have no way to become citizens, in effect a two-tiered society.

Since Europe doesn’t have our Constitution, guest workers’ children don’t become citizens if they are born in the country where their parents are working.  Here, either permanent residents’ children who are born here would be citizens or we’d need a Constitutional amendment preventing that.  Jeb says his lack of a path to citizenship would discourage illegal immigration, but it won’t work if their children would still be citizens at birth.  The prospect of your children being Americans would provide tremendous incentive to get yourself here, even if you know you’ll never become a citizen.

Keep walking Jeb — backwards — as fast as you can.