The two presidential candidates getting the most attention right now are likely to implode before Christmas, given the current rate of revelations of their true characters and past conduct….
First is Hillary Clinton. A country that would seriously consider the presidential candidacy of Clinton – whom a rising mountain of irrefutable evidence shows to be a serial prevaricator and likely lawbreaker without any record of achievement other than having survived an epic public humiliation at the hands of her husband – is in serious trouble.
Equally troubling is the Republican Party’s current love affair with Donald Trump, a serial bankrupt whose flamboyance, bombast, and personal life resembles former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Right now Americans get to enjoy the public disarticulation of Clinton and “The Donald’s” public dressing-down of the political class – both are richly deserved.
But at the debate, it was the less flamboyant players who were the most interesting…
These Candidates Should Drop Out
In the context of these two elephants currently overshadowing the rest of those who have undertaken the game of Russian Roulette known as running for President of the United States, last night’s Republican presidential debate told us little that we didn’t know about any of the candidates.
What the debate did tell us is that a number of the candidates should drop out, while others should abandon their misogynistic and otherwise retrograde views on a number of issues important to the American electorate, unless the party wants to help the Democrats retain the White House.
From the second-tier candidates (in terms of current poll numbers and exclusion from the first debate), names like Pataki, Santorum, Jindal, Graham, and Gilmore should drop out and stop wasting everyone’s money and time. The only member of this group with a political future is Jindal, but he is not ready for prime time despite his considerable accomplishments as Governor of Louisiana and formidable intellect.
In contrast, Carly Fiorina deserves a seat at the big table not only for her performance last night, but also for her strong and consistent showing since she declared her candidacy. While she is unlikely to be on the ticket next November, she has positioned herself for an important cabinet post and is as impressive as any of the big name candidates.
Of the candidates in the main event last night, Donald Trump clearly did himself the most damage with his nasty and misogynistic response to Megyn Kelly’s question regarding his history of demeaning remarks to women.
Of course, one could interpret Kelly’s question as an effort to unseat Trump early in the process since his “women problem” is sufficiently large to disqualify him from serious consideration as the Republican nominee. His defense of his four corporate bankruptcies and his false claim that he is worth $10 billion were also fairly pathetic.
Bombast is unimpressive after the first or second time, and last night we saw that as a presidential candidate, the Donald is all flash and no cash. It is always refreshing, I suppose, to hear someone call the current administration stupid and incompetent, but stating the obvious without posing serious alternatives doesn’t a serious candidate make.
But These Candidates Are Electable
As for the rest of the field, Jeb Bush held serve while providing a solid defense of his impressive record as Florida’s governor.
Marco Rubio and Scott Walker also consolidated their positions in the top tier. Ted Cruz confirmed his reputation for high intellect and strong debating skills and is clearly the purest conservative in the group.
Chris Christie and John Kasich also did well, with Christie’s back-and-forth with Rand Paul over Fourth Amendment restrictions on surveillance being one of the highlights of the night. Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee were unusually articulate as well.
In the end, however, the debate did little to upset the hierarchy of the race in this viewer’s eyes because it didn’t alter the electability of the candidates.
Of the candidates on stage (and again, Carly Fiorina deserved to be there as well), only a handful are truly electable in a national race – Bush, Walker, Rubio, and Kasich. The rest hold conservative views on social issues or other issues that are simply too out of the mainstream to attract the type of broad support necessary to win a national election (for example, Rand Paul’s foreign policy views).
Trump will implode, but he’s pushing the Republican field to be more aggressive on issues important to the American people, like immigration, which in the end could be a positive thing.
And Then There’s Hillary
But rather than debating each other, the Republicans should be turning their collective sights now on a wounded Hillary Clinton and work to drive her from the race.
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Eight years of a Democratic president, especially one as divisive as Barack Obama, have sucked the air out of the room for Democrats.
Joe Biden, as sympathetic and well-meaning as he is, is unlikely to be able to defeat someone like Jeb Bush in a national election.
Nobody believes a word that Hillary Clinton says about virtually anything anymore, and she is now facing multiple Congressional and FBI investigations of her emails and related matters.
Apologists are now trying to compare her to Richard Nixon, arguing that this country doesn’t need someone trustworthy, but rather someone who is competent and tough.
But these Hillary supporters ignore the fact that Nixon ended up resigning in disgrace and that Clinton doesn’t have a notable achievement to her name – but instead was responsible for a failed foreign policy that has left the world in shambles.
Last night’s debaters were largely silent about Clinton. Perhaps they were following Napoleon’s old dictum that when your enemy is destroying herself, the best thing one can do is stand by and watch.
This country is in desperate need of a president of character and intellect who is willing to work with his opponents rather than demonize them, unlike the current man in the White House. Last night, we saw several candidates who fit that bill.