Catching up, Part III

Last week, we saw the brief rise and spectacular fall of the self-aggrandizing Texan believing their own delusions of grandeur. Specifically, I’m talking about Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), a Tea Party favorite who launched a last-minute challenge to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the two term incumbent. Gohmert, when all was said and done, received two other votes: Congressmen Randy Weber (R-Texas) and Jim Bridenstine (R-Oklahoma). A grand total of 25 Republicans defected from team Boehner, allowing the speaker to still be easily re-elected.

The total shellacking of the right-wing by establishment Republicans lead Ross Ramsey at the Texas Tribune to openly wonder if it was a harbinger of things to come for the quixotic race to topple State House Speaker Joe Straus (R-Bexar County). State Representative Scott Turner (R-Rockwall County), a Tea Party favorite, is challenging Straus for the gavel but will likely only garner two dozen votes or fewer.

Meanwhile, a great deal of attention has been placed upon the prospective 2016 Presidential candidates. Former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) have already taken official steps toward running, making a mainstream victory in the Iowa Caucuses highly unlikely. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and the party’s 2012 nominee, has begun assembling a new campaign team. The Washington Post reports he is “almost certain” to run for president once more. This coming the same day that Romney’s running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), announced he would not run himself.

On the Democratic side, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) continues making cacophonous rabble, but has done little to put together a real campaign. Grassroots activists continue pining for Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), no matter how many times she says, in no uncertain terms, that she will not run. That contest still looks like Hillary Clinton’s to win, lose or draw…almost certainly to win.

Jeb Bush 2016

The New York Times reports that former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) has taken the first decisive step toward running for president in the upcoming 2016 election. Bush created something called a “leadership PAC” that actively explores the possibility of running for president. It is tantamount in all but name to an Exploratory Committee, and few — if any — serious observers contend that there is a realistic chance he would not follow through and run at this time.

Bush, the brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush, is largely seen as the continuation of a quintessential Republican establishment dynasty. While the family may have been, in some circles, considered on the rightward periphery of the party in 2000, times have markedly changed since that time. Specifically, since the advent of the Tea Party, Bush has been lambasted by the base of his own party as insufficiently conservative on immigration-related issues. Earlier this year, he even suggested unauthorized border crossings were an “act of love,” drawing the ire of the right-wing. Bilingual and the husband of a Mexican-immigration (additionally the father of Land Commissioner-elect George P. Bush), Bush is seen as a uniquely formidable Republican opponent for Democratic presidential contenders, namely former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Prompted by Bush, a few other names have clamored to reiterate their longstanding almost-campaigns. The serious politicians who belong in that category include Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Governor Rick Perry (R-TX), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Governor Scott Walker (R-WI), among other less glamorous options.

Last month, I prognosticated that Cruz has the best chance of the pack to be nominated, and I reiterate that comment again tonight. Make no mistake, the ultra-conservatives (Tea Party) are in firmer control of the party now than they were four years ago. They have only been enraged over the years as their preferred candidates have been cast aside in favor of comparable-pragmatists, such as John McCain and Mitt Romney, who then fell in the general election. Bush — or Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ), for that matter — will be shunned because he will be seen as a continuation of the “play it safe” strategy.

Of course, the success of a presidential candidate has little to do with ideology, because the American public does not care enough to understand said ideology. They care about the charisma and soundbites of the messenger. That is why Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in a way that Gerald Ford likely would not have, even though Reagan was significantly more conservative.

Much in the same respect, Cruz is a phenomenal messenger in a way that none of the other candidates are. Not since Joseph McCarthy have the Republicans had a national figure so comfortable with making things up and completely disregarding the truth without so much as a modicum of shame. The only difference is that the media is so impotent and feckless nowadays that there is no Edward R. Murrow to call him out. Cruz is confident, assured and smart, so the base in his party goes along for the ride, even though I think it is fairly obvious he would sell them out in an instant to further his own interest. When the time comes, I believe, the general public will similarly fall for him.

If the Tea Party is looking for a knight in shining armor, they will be sorely disappointed just about any way. Cruz may be appealing, quoting Cicero and all. But in the end, his most rapid supporters will just be muttering “Et Tu, Theodore?” At least Bush puts his cards on the table.

Romney 2016?

About two months ago, I wrote a featured five-part series about the 2016 Presidential election, specifically all of the politicians (Democrat and Republican) who have been discussed as prospective presidential candidates. (If you don’t want to navigate through five different articles, I have abridged the entire thing onto one post here). I pointedly only considered candidates who had openly discussed the prospect of running for President, and not those who have unequivocally ruled it out of the picture or remained silent. Among those individuals was Mitt Romney. I wrote, back in July, that “There is still an active draft movement for Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts and the Republican Presidential nominee in 2012,” but no more. I kept my comments rather concise because, hitherto that article, Romney had been quite adamant with his intention to not run for President again. Romney, of course, was the Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, and then ran for President twice, in 2008 and 2012.

Last week, POLITICO reported that Romney’s tone had changed, ever so slightly, on his future Presidential prospects. The previous rhetoric regarding the future had changed from “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no” to “circumstances can change.” That’s a big change, and it’s the milquetoast, political way of telling the world you have somewhat changed your mind on the matter.

A few days later, POLITICO also reported on a Gallup poll out of Iowa that shows Romney decisively leading the pack for the 2016 Republican Iowa Caucuses. Romney received 35% of the vote in the survey, whereas the next-highest recipient was Undecided with 10% (number three was Mike Huckabee with 9%). When Romney was omitted from the survey, Undecided hops up to 17%, and Huckabee leads the humans with a pitiful 13%. Needless to say, Romney sure looks a panacea for Republican primary voters.

And, irrespective of one’s political orientation, you would be hard-pressed to not admit some of his comments in the 2012 election were rather prophetic. Specifically on the topic of foreign policy, what was once ridiculed as absurd conjecture on the instability of Iraq and the nefariousness of Russia, Romney has largely been vindicated.

That all being said, I’m not so sure that –even if he were interested– Romney would be an ideal candidate for the Republicans in 2016. While many polls have, indeed, shown that the American people have some buyer’s remorse vis-a-vis Romney and Obama in 2012, the same polls still show that Romney would not outdo Hillary Clinton in a 2016 match-up.

Let me be clear, speaking purely objectively, Romney would be a terrible choice for the Republicans in 2016. He lost last time not because he was outgunned by a superior candidate, but because he was such a lousy one himself. He lost an election against a vulnerable incumbent in a bad economy. The reason why was quite simple: he offended the American people by espousing extreme political positions and repeatedly putting his foot in his mouth. There is no reason to think he will not do the same thing once more.

Let’s talk about 2016! (Republican primary, Part 4)

Editorial note: This article is the fifth installment in a series about prospective 2016 Presidential candidates by Noah M. Horwitz. On Saturday, he wrote at length about Democratic candidates. On Sunday, he wrote at length about Republican candidates in a subset he called “Establishment Conservatives.” On Monday, he wrote about Republican candidates in a subset he called “Establishment Tea Party.” On Tuesday, he wrote about Republican candidates in a subset he called “Fringe Tea Party.” This evening, he will write about Republican candidates within the “Outcast” subset.

I opined three days ago that there are four basic categories of prospective Republican candidates for President. The “Establishment Conservatives,” “Establishment Tea Party,” “Fringe Tea Party” and “Outcast.” The main distinction between the outcast and the other categories is the presence of some semblance of political experience. The main distinction between the “fringe” and the “establishment” is how well-renowned the individual is on the national stage. Finally, Tea Party is a bit of an arbitrary descriptor, as there is no monolithic organization to which a member might belong, but I have done my best to weed out the so-called RINOs, to borrow the group’s lexicon. For example, in the 2012 Republican primaries, Herman Cain and Donald Trump would be “outcasts.” Michele ovewas “Fringe Tea Party,” Rick Santorum was “Establishment Tea Party” and Mitt Romney was “Establishment Conservative.” Hopefully, that clears it up.

OUTCAST

1. Ben Carson
Let me start off with a precursor: Beyond the shadow of a doubt, Carson is an exceptionable brilliant man. Rising out of poverty, he attended Yale undergrad and then medical school at the University of Michigan. He went to work at John Hopkins, where he became a phenomenally gifted surgeon, and eventually the director of Pediatric Surgery. In 1987, he became the first person to successfully separate conjoined twins who were together at the head.

However, these impressive medical credentials do not give Carson the political credentials necessary to run for President. They just don’t. Longtime readers of my writings will be familiar with my notion that non-political expertise simply does not substitute political histories, when one runs for higher office. Carson would be supremely qualified to run for Congress, for example, but the Presidency is for politicians and generals…full stop.

On the topic of politics, however, it goes without saying that I strongly disagree with Carson’s viewpoints. He is an outspoken social conservative, and for an intellectual he has some surprisingly backwards views (such as a rejection of evolution). For Carson’s part, The Weekly Standard reports that he is warming up to the idea.

2. Ted Nugent
“I might run for President in 2016,” Nugent recently said, in comments picked up by Salon Magazine, among others. The Motor City Madman may have once been famous for B-hits like “Cat scratch fever,” but has more recently become something of a folk hero to the Tea Party. He has nearly made death-threats toward the President and is replete with offensive statements that rile up a base somewhere. Tea Party Troubadour? Sure. Future President? Nope.

3. Donald Trump
My position on a prospective Trump candidacy is probably summed up better by Seth Meyers’ epic roast of him at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner. “Donald Trump has been saying that he is running for President as a Republican,” Meyers said at the time, “which is surprising because I had just assumed he was running as a joke.”

In a lengthy interview with Time Magazine, Trump let on that he still had some desire to run for President. At the risk of stating the obvious, Trump would make a terrible candidate for President. Like Carson, he has no legitimate experience. Unlike Carson, he is not that bright or nonsensical. Evidently the joke is still on him.

CLOSING ANALYSIS

There are a number of other possible candidates who have never confirmed their interest in running. Many of these people would probably be among the strongest candidates if they were to run.

Scott Walker, the Governor of Wisconsin,has been mentioned as an ideal dark-horse by many on the right. He has all the right conservative bona fides, such as vivid opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage and Medicaid expansion. He notoriously went after the unions in one of his first acts. But he has also tried recently to moderate his tone ever so slightly, especially in a State such as Wisconsin with Democratic fundamentals.

Susana Martinez and Brian Sandoval, respectively, are two more great candidates, if they were to choose to run. The Governor of New Mexico and the Governor of Nevada, respectively, both deal with State Legislatures strongly controlled by the Democratic Party, and work with them on bipartisan, pragmatic agendas and pieces of legislation. This would likely sink them in a Republican primary, however.

Among the other serious names thrown out there are Mitch Daniels (former Governor of Indiana), John Kasich (Governor of Ohio), Rob Portman (Senator from Ohio) and Rick Snyder (Governor of Michigan). Among the non-serious are Sarah Palin (former Governor of Alaska), Condoleezza Rice (former Secretary of State) and Allen West (former Congressman from Florida). Oh yeah, and there is still an active draft movement for Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts and the Republican Presidential nominee in 2012.

Notwithstanding some of the good prospecting candidates I first mentioned in the previous three paragraphs, I have some serious doubts as to how successful the Republicans may be against Hillary Clinton, if she is the Democratic nominee.

It is useless to speculate how the candidates with no Name ID would do once their recognition had been built up; that being said, just within the subset of candidates who already have sterling identifications, Clinton blows each and every one of them out of the water. I just do not see a way that any of them bounce back in a significant way, with the noticeable exception of Cruz.

Ted Cruz, as I noted back in my third part of this series, has the unique capacity to shift back to the center –even with the primary– without being clobbered by the Republican base. Those laughing him off as a silly and non-serious candidate truly need to readjust their sights. I recall a very similar thing being said about another Texan about 15 years ago…and that Texan wasn’t half as smart.

All in all, the 2016 Election will be quite the exciting spectacle. I, for one, am looking forward to covering it with great zeal and alacrity.

 

Let’s talk about 2016! (Republican primary, Part 2)

Editorial note: This article is the third installment in a series about prospective 2016 Presidential candidates by Noah M. Horwitz. On Saturday, he wrote at length about Democratic candidates. On Sunday, he wrote at length about Republican candidates in a subset he called “Establishment Conservatives.” This evening, he will write about Republican candidates within the “Tea Party Conservatives” subset.

I opined last evening that there are four basic categories of prospective Republican candidates for President. The “Establishment Conservatives,” “Establishment Tea Party,” “Fringe Tea Party” and “Outcast.” The main distinction between the outcast and the other categories is the presence of some semblance of political experience. The main distinction between the “fringe” and the “establishment” is how well-renowned the individual is on the national stage. Finally, Tea Party is a bit of an arbitrary descriptor, as there is no monolithic organization to which a member might belong, but I have done my best to weed out the so-called RINOs, to borrow the group’s lexicon. For example, in the 2012 Republican primaries, Herman Cain and Donald Trump would be “outcasts.” Michele Bachmann was “Fringe Tea Party,” Rick Santorum was “Establishment Tea Party” and Mitt Romney was “Establishment Conservative.” Hopefully, that clears it up.

ESTABLISHMENT TEA PARTY

1. Ted Cruz, Senator from Texas
Cruz came out of nowhere to defeat Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst in the 2012 Republican primary for the Senate, marking the beginning of the end for the Lieutenant Governor and the beginning of the beginning for the closest thing the Tea Party has has for a leader since its inception. A former Solicitor General of Texas with a sterling track record at the US Supreme Court, as well as a graduate (magna cum laude) of Harvard Law School, Cruz is undoubtedly brilliant. That being said, I’ve never really noticed his assumed intellectuality being used in politics. Cruz goes for the gut through soppy speeches replete with straw-man arguments and sometimes outright fabrications. But it works for him, and he is reasonably the frontrunner for this contest.

Pick a conservative issue, Cruz has put his money on it. He lacks the strange libertarian excesses of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) while still maintaining nearly cult-like following from many in those same circles. Much ink will be spilled in the next couple years asking if Cruz is the Republican version of President Barack Obama, once also a first-term Senator with higher ambitions. Both have mothers whose families have been in this country for quite long, but both have fathers who were foreigners.

I equate Cruz with Obama because of one key reason, far removed from the parallels I just highlighted. Cruz is the “Tea Party Messiah” in a way that Obama definitely was –and to a limited extent, still is– among younger crowds. I wrote at length on this subject last year up in Boston, and already see the initial effects for Cruz on the other side. If Cruz is serious about running for President, which I believe he is, he will need to move back to the center, progressively taking more and more stands on issues that will be sure to tick off his obstreperous base. But, if the “Obama effect” holds true, he will be infallible. That could be a dangerous mix for the Democrats, which is why I am confident that Cruz stands a good chance of clinching the general election against Hillary Clinton. I still think Clinton is favored, but not by that much.

2. Rand Paul, Senator from Kentucky
Paul, the son of longtime Texas Congressman Ron Paul, is every bit the politician that he father was not. He backs away from conspiracy theories, but has most of the courage to take a stand on civil liberties and foreign policy issues. He is unequivocally opposed to NSA Wiretapping, the USA PATRIOT Act, and most everything going on at Guantanamo Bay. He believes in isolationism, though he may fight tooth and nail against it being characterized by that word.

On other issues, Paul is surprisingly reasonable. He was supportive of the Supreme Court’s recent decision Windsor v. United States (striking down the Defense of Marriage Act), though he remains virulently opposed to same-sex marriage on a state-by-state level. Earlier this year, he co-sponsored a bipartisan piece of legislation that would generously liberalize requirements for felons to vote. He has even come out in favor of some limited relaxing of drug laws, much like his father.

Of course, Paul more than makes up on conservative bona fides with the rest of his positions. He believes that abortion in all cases –even the life of the mother– should be illegal and a constitutional amendment to that effect should be implemented. He opposes all gun control, government intrusion in healthcare and is radically opposed to many entitlement programs. His libertarian foreign policy arguments surely will draw the ire of the neoconservative establishment.

3. Marco Rubio, Senator from Florida
Rubio is an interesting figure. His positions on many political issues are notoriously hard to get hammed down, given how fluid they are depending on the day of the week. Specifically, on immigration reform, Rubio has been on both sides of the fence more than once. Originally a vociferous supporter of comprehensive reform, even a co-sponsor of the Senate bill, Rubio infamously changed his mind once he began taking flack on the matter.

More recently, however, he reportedly was back to talk over decisive action on the immigration front. In doing so, he has effectively become hostile against both sides on the issue. Not only the Tea Party, but pro-immigration reform groups now view his word as useless.

On other issues, such as climate change, Rubio has unequivocally stated his grave doubts on the topic, making him a late-night punchline for a number of evenings. While there are plenty of specs that would make Rubio an ideal candidate on paper, he has just had a few too many stumbles in the limelight. I mention the silly little water bottle incident not because I think it marks poorly upon his performance that night, but because it showed that the rest of his speech was utterly unremarkable. If a nominal screw-up like that occurs, it is only harped upon incessantly when there is nothing else good to cover–the 24 hour media has to cover something!

4. Paul Ryan, Congressman from Wisconsin
Ryan, obviously, was Mitt Romney’s running mate in the 2012 Presidential election. For whatever reason, failed Vice-Presidential candidates never fare very well when they run for the top-spot the next go-round. Dan Quayle, Joe Lieberman and John Edwards immediately come to mind. Sarah Palin never even got around to running.

Now, you may be curious why I placed Ryan in the Tea Party crowd, as opposed to the establishment. After all, he is a self-described policy wonk and is Chairman of the House Budget Committee. I think Paul Krugman at The New York Times recently did a fairly swell job of dispelling that notion. Ever since the days of his Vice-Presidential campaign, he has used plenty of fuzzy math.

Ryan has what I would call “typical” views on most political issues, particularly within foreign policy, but he is far more malleable by the base than many of his colleagues. For someone who has been in Congress since the Clinton administration, I am hesitant to apply the Tea Party label, but think he has really jumped on the ship quite effectively. In that regard, he is eerily reminiscent of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican gubernatorial nominee.

Watch out for Ryan; that is, if he decides to run. He could easily run his campaign as a sort of successor to Mitt Romney. And say what you will about Romney, but the man has been vindicated on a number of issues since his failed campaign, particularly in the foreign policy sphere. I still do not think that Russia is the United States’ number one foe, but it is certainly more on our radar now than it was two years ago.

5. Rick Santorum, former Senator from Pennsylvania
Santorum will have been out of politics for nearly a decade by this point, so I truly cannot tell why he would ever wish to take another longshot stab at the Presidency. Perhaps he is a glutton for punishment. Santorum has been making a plethora of trips to Iowa, and has publicly expressed interest in another run for the White House

I think Santorum is what I would call the “Eric Dick of the GOP primaries,” if he were to run again. The phrase, harkening back to last year’s failed Mayoral candidate, means someone who stands no chance of winning but could significantly affect the outcome nonetheless. Dick received over 10% of the vote in 2013, and I would expect him to garner a comparable percentage –much from the same people, low-information voters familiar with his commercials or amused by his surname– if he were tor run again in 2015. Not nearly enough to win, but certainly enough to have a huge impact if there were 8 candidates.

Similarly, Santorum has just enough support from evangelicals that he could win the Iowa Caucuses, even though he would be one of the last people that voters in 30+ States would ever support. This could throw a wrench into the plans of many candidates.

Hopefully, I get to the remainder of the candidates tomorrow. But for now, I’ve covered the frontrunners, as well as a couple others fortuitously mentioned in the same article despite having not a shred of a chance. As of now, the five frontunners are Bush, Perry, Cruz, Paul and Rubio. Two Floridians and two Texans.

 

Texpatriate endorses in Democratic Agriculture Commissioner runoff

In last month’s primary, Democrats were faced with two legitimate candidates representing two legitimate options for the party. There was Hugh Fitzsimons, a longtime rancher and farmer, who had fabulous inside knowledge of everything that is agriculture, and would have valiantly lead the office as a competent and pragmatic technocrat. The problem, of course, is that Fitzsimons was terrible at sheer, ugly politics. Accordingly, enter Kinky Friedman. Despite his best intentions, Friedman is not anyone’s maven on agricultural issues. However, as a famous musician and one-time candidate for Governor, he boasts name recognition and identification superior to Republican counterparts running for this post. Those focusing on politics more than policy, in this board’s opinion, were wise to vote for Friedman in the primary.

Friedman advanced into a runoff election, but Fitzsimons did not. Instead, an insurance salesman from Cleburne named Jim Hogan finished in first place, advancing into a runoff with Friedman while winning nearly a majority of counties across the State. Small counties, like Loving County, and large counties, like Harris County, voted alike for Hogan, a political dark horse with no website, no platform and no competence. In fact, when political reporters contacted Hogan following his upset performance, he openly mocked the political process and promised to do absolutely no campaigning between now and the runoff and, if nominated, before the general election.

Click here to read who we select!

More attack ads in District D

I received this lovely message in my inbox at 11:53 this morning, from an organization labeled “Say No To Dwight Boykins“, complete with the email address of “SayNoToDwightBoykins@politician.com” The email contained another poorly created advertisement and went as follows:

get_attachment_1.aspx

“Say No To Dwight Boykins

Fellow Democrats:

District D will be destroyed if Dwight Boykins is elected. Dwight Boykins and his City Hall Insider friends are only in it for themselves. Ask anyone who has talked with Republican Dwight and they will tell you that he is implying that once elected he will GIVE THEM CONTRACTS.  That sounds like a page out of the Book of Rick Perry and Tom Delay! J.R. “Bob” Jones donated THOUSANDS of Dollars to his fellow Republican. You remember Bob Jones don’t you?

Bob Jones’ disrespectful email to Council member Adams when she refused to support Double Taxing our community.

Now Republican Dwight is taking money from the same man who disrespected our Council member and Boykins was SILENT when this woman was attacked.TYPICAL REPUBLICAN!
 

District D can’t afford to elect a REPUBLICAN Insider. Dwight Boykins is BAD FOR OUR COMMUNITY BAD FOR OUR NEIGHBORHOODS Say No To Dwight Boykins!”

Notice the link about “Bob Jones’ disrespectful email” goes to a note by Jolanda Jones. It is about something the megadonor sent to Councilmember Wanda Adams in the aftermath of the Prop 1 kerfuffle. The astute will remember the previous attack ad against Dwight Boykins, which I wrote about at that time. Unlike this ad, the previous one was created on Facebook by an individual named “Dennis Glenn” and shared by another candidate, Larry McKinzie. This ad has not been connected with any individual, nonetheless any candidate, although they are remarkably similar in format and message.

Previously, Glenn had gone after Boykins for donating to the GOP and voting in a single Republican primary. These attacks were much less substance-based, although the previous advertisement contained mostly half-truths as far as substance goes.

I immediately noticed the difference in the token Republicans juxtaposed alongside Boykins in the advertisement, and how they differed from two weeks ago.  Originally, the photo included serious posed photos of Ronald Reagan, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, George W. Bush and Mitch McConnell, alongside a silly photo of Boykins that could easily have been photoshopped. This photo, however, includes a more serious photo of Boykins that I have seen before, along with sillier photos of the Republicans. This time it is Ronald Reagan, John Boehner, Rick Perry, Eric Cantor, Mitt Romney and Clarence Thomas. The presence of an African-American Republican in this ad immediately caught my eye.

The photo on the bottom, of course, in that infamous image from Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. An interesting jab against Republicans since the State of Alabama was run by the other party at that time. Yes, yes, I know they were Conservative Democrats and shortly thereafter they fled en masse to the GOP, but it would not have been my first suggestion for an image of why Republican politicians are bad.

No idea who is behind these, I will be conducting an investigation shortly if anyone has filed a d/b/a for “Say No to Dwight Boykins.” My hunch is that it is someone from the junior varsity squad (i.e., the fringe candidates).