by N. A. Halkides 1/29/16
As the first actual primaries and caucuses are almost upon us, I’d like to present a quick analysis of where things stand, but first I’d like to review two of the drop-outs as I think their failures are instructive.
Scott Walker – A year ago I viewed him as an Establishment-Man more dangerous than Marco Rubio because so many had mistaken him for a Conservative, but on September 21 he dropped out. Why? Three basic factors seemed to have been his undoing:
- Unlike Rubio, he had never actually tried to fool anyone into believing he was a Conservative; he simply got that reputation because of his fight with Wisconsin’s public-sector unions – a fight which in fact he hadn’t intended to pick when he made what he thought was a proposal for modest health insurance reform. He didn’t have Rubio’s talent for deception, and perhaps we should do him the courtesy of presuming he had no inclination for it either, but either way he found it difficult to maintain the illusion of Conservatism, especially when –
- – he flip-flopped on immigration, suddenly exuding a concern for the displacement of American workers he had never shown before when he had said that the basic problem with immigration was that it was too hard to get into America legally. I thought it showed a certain amount of clear calculation on his part – his immigration stance had indeed been the strongest knock against him as far as many voters were concerned – but a lot of Republicans weren’t buying his change of heart.
- His Conservative reputation prevented him from getting the support of the GOP Establishment, who hedged their bets on Jeb! with a side wager on Rubio instead.
- The ineptitude of his campaign staff. From finance to strategy, his team didn’t seem to know what they were doing. We want the best man to win, not necessarily the best-organized, but time and time again we’ve been reminded that in politics, organization counts for a great deal. And although Walker had financial support, it apparently wasn’t enough to keep up with the costs of a national campaign staff that numbered around 90 people. We may well wonder what kind of advice Walker was getting when we consider this report from The Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel: “Dan Blum, a deputy campaign manager for Walker during his 2012 recall election victory, tweeted that “it was a mistake for candidates to focus on what GOP voters want or appear to want in 2016.” That’s brilliant advice, Dan – tell your candidate to ignore the wishes of the voters!
Thus Walker, who had basically stumbled into the race by accident, stumbled his way out of it as well. As to his relevance to the remaining candidates, I would suggest that Ben Carson is the most likely to be forced out due to financial and organizational problems – something difficult to avoid with a man new to politics.
Rick Perry – this was supposed to be a better-prepared Rick Perry than the not-ready-for-prime-time model we saw in 2012, when dissatisfaction with the available alternatives made Perry’s entry into the race easy. As a matter of fact, he was very much the Donald Trump of 2012 in that he took advantage of an opportunity given by the obvious problems with Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum. But when he couldn’t name the three cabinet-level departments he wanted to eliminate, people realized he hadn’t given too much thought to what he would do as President, and his star faded rapidly.
This time he simply fizzled without having dazzled, even for a moment. His basic problem, I believe, was arrogance, specifically the arrogance of the political class, for despite being able to give a good speech on purely economic issues, he could not hide his disrespect for the Party’s base when it came to the issue of immigration. Perry tried to reduce all the problems of mass immigration down to merely securing the border. Here is an exchange from his appearance on Hannity in which a clip of Donald Trump was played, showing that Trump had a better understanding of the situation:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us (sic). They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards, and they tell us what we’re getting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: What part of that specifically, Governor, do you disagree with?
PERRY: Well, when he paints with such a broad brush. I think that’s, you know, the challenge that — to make this rhetoric be disrespectful. And we know what the real challenge is. I mean, I hope who Donald Trump’s really mad at is Washington, D.C., for their failure to secure that border because, I mean, we…
HANNITY: By the way, Governor…
PERRY: … Washington has failed.
HANNITY: Governor, what we’re showing now is when I was down at the border, floor to ceiling drugs confiscated. This was one of my many trips down to the border, as you know — I mean, every drug imaginable flooding into American cities, getting into the veins and the blood system of American children, right there. It is the biggest warehouse you ever saw full of drugs. I was in it.
PERRY: I understand. Our people have been facing this for years, and Washington has failed to do its duty. One of the reasons I’m running for the presidency of the United States is so that there will be a president who understands and goes to the Oval Office every day with the intent to secure that border and to make America more secure.
HANNITY: Governor, I want to put up a chart showing 23.4 percent of federal prisoners are non-citizens. My question to you is, what should — you know, we now have a situation where this guy, you know, a seven-time felon! Five times, he was sent back, you know, and we did not protect the family of this woman, Kate Steinle. And she is just one of — you know, if you look at the 36,007 people that we let loose, of all those people, 426 were convicted of assault, 193 for homicide convictions after we let them out of prison!
Why would — why is there no law on the books protecting Americans from those people that we know are criminals? Why would we ever let them back out into our streets?
PERRY: Because there is no will in Washington, D.C., to do their constitutional duty, that’s why. I mean, we have been screaming at the top of our lungs in this state for a long time about Washington not doing their constitutional duty to secure that border.
“Washington has failed.” “Secure the border”. These are comfortable little talking points that Perry repeated over and over, and indeed the border does need to be secured. But to imagine that merely doing that, while continuing to allow the same or higher levels of immigration than we have today, is going to solve the crime and economic problems associated with mass immigration is just plain <i>loco</i>, as they might say down in Texas. What good would it do to change the status of violent aliens from illegal to legal? Once again, Trump had voiced the anger of the common man at seeing his country overrun with criminal illegal aliens (perhaps we should call them <i>double</i> criminal illegals since every illegal is by definition a criminal) and Perry had taken the side of the I’m-a-better-person-than-you-are open borders elite.
No doubt Perry does not understand to this day what he did wrong. Apart from having a mediocre intellect, Perry’s great failing seems to be, to repeat, the arrogance common to today’s governing class. The remaining candidates hindered by these shortcomings would appear to be Jeb!, Christie, Kasich, and Rubio – not by coincidence Establishment-men all. Rubio is doing the best of these four and is also the most deceptive, and that isn’t coincidence either – the Establishment and its preferred amnesty/open-borders policies are not very popular at the moment.
And that brings us up to date: the debates are over and the voting is about to begin. Here are the latest numbers from the Real Clear Politics averages:
Trump 31, Cruz 21, Rubio 10, Carson 9, Bush 5, Christie 1, Paul 4, Kasich 2, Fiorina 2, Huckabee 1, Santorum 1
The good news is that last six of these are definitely out of the race. None of them except possibly Fiorina would have had any chance in the general election, and none of them would have made a good President (for more on why I say this, see last year’s A Review of the Likely 2016 Republican Candidates). ¡Jeb! is hanging on by a thread, but has enough money that he could stay in the race for a while if he wants to. Rubio is in a virtual tie with Carson for third place; it’s hard to imagine both of them surviving financially after the first few primaries. My guess is that Rubio’s Establishment support and greater guile (Carson appears quite genuine) will ultimately prevail, but we’ll see.
So it’s probably going to come down to Trump, Cruz, and the #3 man, either Rubio or Carson. Despite repeated predictions from most quarters, Trump has not self-destructed and appears likely to place first or second in the early primaries. He also obviously has the money to keep on running as long as he wants to. Cruz has shown more political astuteness and deeper financial resources than I expected. He wisely avoided picking a fight with Trump early on, realizing that today’s Trump voter could be tomorrow’s Cruz voter. Rubio and Carson still have a shot since it appears that Trump and Cruz will prevent each other from obtaining a majority in the early primaries. And should they both stay in the race to the end, a brokered convention now appears possible, although we should never forget that the RNC has done everything possible in terms of rigging the Party’s rules to favor the Establishment.
A brokered GOP convention, Hillary Clinton running as the Democratic nominee while under Federal indictment, Joe Biden taking over for her at the behest of Party elders, a close general election obviously stolen by the Democrats, a Donald Trump or Ted Cruz Presidency – any of these things are possible. The only thing we can be sure of is that 2016 will be an interesting year.
Nik is a freelance writer, former professor, and has written for FrontPage Magazine.
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