Now What Happens?

As we approach the first primaries, a couple of questions need to be asked.

Is any candidate improving?

Are we really getting a better bead on the abilities, and blank spaces, in these men and women?

To question number one, we do have some positive answers. We are forced to admit that Donald J. Trump is no dummy.

In fact, he is masterful at wheeling and dealing, at dropping bombs on his competition, at pushing them out of the frame so that we can hardly remember them. Ben Who? Carly What’s-her-name? He hasn’t yet been able to put away Jeb – who will no doubt assist him when the time comes. Chris Christie still stands in the middle of the road, but with enough room on both sides for Donald to ignore him. Marco Rubio, as we’ve noted before, charming and slippery though he is, is about to trip over his platform heels.

Lindsey Graham folded.

Ted Cruz is the only real threat to the Donald, and we suspect by the time Donald is finished, Ted Cruz will have faded into a footnote for the 2016 election. Deservedly. A man who cares not a whit for his fellow man can hardly be expected to come over all sweetness and light suddenly and win. What may happen to Cruz is that in defeat he will retool…not only his ideologies but his personality as well. He may reach out and try to make friends, unnatural though this would be for him. He may be able in 2020 to cry that once more the Republicans had nominated a loser and that he would have been, still is, the better choice. That, alas, won’t be true.

Could Cruz become our era’s Harold Stassen?

Probably not. We expect him to go underground, staying in the senate for another three quick years, and then take a gigantic job with Goldman Sachs, where his wife already has one although she’s currently on leave. He’ll become one of the one percent and join forces with the Koch brothers and imagine himself a kingmaker. We won’t like him any better in his new life than we do now. Nor will his colleagues.

John Kasich has not yet entered Donald’s field of vision. We doubt Donald will trouble himself over this. Which leaves Kasich an opening many will urge him to fill. He could and he might. By keeping his head up, or down as you prefer, Governor Kasich is impressing people, only a few at a time we grant, but nonetheless beginning to find his footing. He may well be the answer to the establishment’s ABT or ABC shivers.

As for our second question: can we read these gentlemen as prospective presidents better the longer we listen to them, we really don’t have a lot to go on. Donald jumps from one crusade to another. He’s tough to get a real fix on. As a former Democrat, he cannot please the establishment base, or even the Tea Party base. But it begins to seem as though both parts of the Republican party want more to win than to win the way they want to. They want the presidency; they want control of the Senate, and they’re salivating over possibilities for the Supreme Court. Hand in hand with the national mood of disenchantment and anger, Trump may be the only hope the Republicans have. He knows this. The “establishment” refuses to admit this, still.

And without a certified voting record, Trump has something his fellow candidates do not have. Freedom.

Every other man running sooner or later is going to be snagged by something in his past, some vote, some speech on or off the record.
Voters are going to have to weigh and measure these snags. Is a contribution to Planned Parenthood the work of the Devil, or something that can be overlooked? Does a low NRA ranking mean that voters arms are imperiled? Does a vote for or against going into Iraq make their man a NeoCon hawk or a wimp? What really matters? A candidate’s stance on social issues or a candidate’s ability to win in the general election?

And what about all the dollars and cents of tax reform? Does the voter win or lose with plans as widely varied as those presented? This matters a great deal more than whether a voter is ever likely to have a beer with the president. One’s attitude towards Social Security and healthcare seems to rest squarely on the age of the voter in question.

The first question we asked, Now what happens? is patently unanswerable. Polls are undependable, no matter what anyone says, or how they are parsed.
This weekend we face the threat of a winter storm, dropping anywhere from three feet of snow to a dusting. From Friday through Monday, we don’t know whether we can drive, get to a store, get out of town.

We suspect this “weekend” is going to last for months.


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