Monday, April 6, 2015

Thinking about the Republican Nomination

There's an interesting article in the Times about the progress of the Jeb Bush presidential campaign. Bush's people are raising plenty of money, but not having the success unifying the whole party leadership that W had in 1999. "The juggernaut that wasn't," the Times calls the campaign.

On the other hand, the path remains open, because "Republicans show no sign of unifying behind another candidate."

The Republican nomination contest seems more open and fluid to me than any major contest since the Democratic race in 1988. I have no idea what is going to happen. When I look at Bush, I think he can't win because his support of Common Core offends the activists, his lack of enthusiasm for Israel offends another big Republican block, and conservatives feel betrayed by his family. But who can beat him? Scott Walker should be a formidable candidate, but so far his campaign has been one long stumble -- he looks like a rookie, without any of the gravitas that Republicans want in a president. I think Chris Christie is finished by scandals and New Jersey shenanigans -- the average primary voter in South Carolina or New Hampshire is already predisposed to think of anyone from New Jersey as corrupt, and Christie won't be able to escape from that cloud. Ted Cruz is an obnoxious jerk who so far polls in the low single digits. Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal are jokes. Marco Rubio seems like an empty suit to me, and with Bush in the race he can't even win Florida. Rand Paul is just too weird for his party, and too keen on avoiding wars, but if he works too hard to not seem weird he defeats the rationale for his candidacy. Herman Cain is too weird in other ways. Carly Fiorina comes across as a boardroom operator, and if she has any rapport with working class voters I've never seen a sign of it. (On the other hand she would make an intriguing vice presidential choice.)

So even though there are already a bunch of candidates you have some Republicans, like George Will, desperately trying to get somebody else into the race; Will would like another midwestern governor like John Kasich of Ohio or Mike Pence of Indiana. The general feeling in politics these days is that you have to be organizing now to have any real chance, but maybe that won't apply in a campaign with no favorite. I think Kasich might be very formidable, but as with Scott Walker or Rick Perry you never know how people will do as presidential campaigners until they get out and do it.

Could be interesting.

On the other side we got a glimpse of what Hillary would be like as president from the Iran negotiations. The leader of the US negotiating team was Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, one of Hillary's friends. Sherman was a political operative who was running Emily's List when Hillary spotted her talent and brought her into the White House to work on the negotiations with North Korea, and she seems to have been a big success in foreign policy. Hillary's rolodex is probably the richest assemblage of talented, ambitious women in the world, and we can expect that she will bring a lot of them into the government.

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