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Let’s be honest with ourselves, Hillary won. She had a total command of the issues. The email scandal was addressed firmly and immediately – and quite effectively I might add. Her admission of a mistake and her taking full responsibility shut down the entire conversation. There was literally nowhere left to go after that, and the entire topic was dropped. Donald left it alone, basically defeated in his attempt to make it a debate issue. One of many missed opportunities for him, handled by a well-prepared Secretary Clinton.

Meanwhile, Clinton was mostly effective at digging into Trump on a range of issues. It wasn’t enough that she speculated about his not paying taxes. She was able to tie not paying taxes to his not having contributed to such things as wounded soldiers, schools and other government funded items that almost everyone can agree on. It was very effective.

When it came to his birther movement leadership, she told a personal story about how it upset the president, at once humanizing him while portraying Trump as a heartless, lying antagonist. Personally I think should could have made more of a point that the movement is inherently racist (see my previous post on the topic). She basically mentioned it was racist and moved on. Meanwhile, Trump’s answer was typical self-promotion – that he did a good job simply because he accomplished his arbitrary goal of getting a birth certificate (even though that wasn’t his goal), never mind whether it was racist or not. I’m not even sure he understood her criticism, as his response didn’t address the racist charge.

I have to admit, while I don’t agree with Donald Trump’s portraying the country as a place of doom and gloom, he was effective during the first few minutes of the debate in his attempt to do so. This was his opportunity to define his reason for running, and he was effective, by and large. It was also Hillary’s missed opportunity to rebut his assessment. The economy is better than it was 7 years ago, less people are out of work, the stock market is doing well, the military is stronger than ever, and on and on. Trump’s vision of America went largely unanswered, and I hope Clinton does a better job in the next debates of answering his rhetoric.

This last point would really be my only critique of her performance, which was, overall extremely refined and well-prepared. She was poised, articulate and knowledgeable. Who can argue with that assessment? She had answers for Trump’s criticisms and didn’t seem phased by his on-stage bullying and his repeated interruptions. She had an answer for everything, well thought-out and defensible.

Meanwhile, his zingers fell flat. His joke about getting onto Pennsylvania Avenue (one way or another) was a dud, and not delivered well. He sounded like an old coot trying to talk about cyber warfare and there were numerous other instances where he seemed to ramble as a result of not understanding the issues at hand.

Overall, it’s fair to say Secretary Clinton’s preparedness paid off. And frankly it’s difficult to imagine that the next debates will be any different. In fact, my prediction is that she’ll do better. She’ll be confident walking in, while Trump, knowing he’s faced criticism for his performance in the first round will be more aggressive and, you’ll see, will be likely to make mistakes as he undoubtedly will step up attacks on Clinton to try and earn points with his base. In the end, I expect him to sink himself, perhaps by attacking Clinton over the Lewinsky scandal, ill advised as it would seem – something he (somehow) managed to avoid in the first round.

 

Listen, the idea that somehow Donald Trump would become a palatable candidate over Hillary Clinton simply because she’s not as healthy as a 40 year old is laughable. First of all, isn’t that the purpose of having  a running mate?

Frankly, Hillary Clinton could have 2 broken legs, gout, tuberculosis, lockjaw, be wheelchair-bound, oxygen dependent and aggressive brain cancer and I’d still cast my vote in her direction to keep Donald Trump from winning the election. Is that clear enough? She could be half digested by fungus, gutted and have her head placed on a stick in front of the castle and I’d still vote for her over Trump.

I wonder if I’m making my point clear enough?

Who cares if she coughs? It’s completely irrelevant. We have processes, stand-ins and everything else we need to keep the government running smoothly should something terrible happen. None of it is a reason to consider voting for the conman in chief wanna-be Trump. Somehow this has become an election issue. I say confront it head on: Oh, she’s not feeling good? I could give a rat’s ass. My ballot was cast months ago.

 

Let’s review the candidates as they stand today starting with Donald Trump. While he’s the so-called Republican front-runner, there’s very little chance he’ll win the nomination let alone the presidency. So let me be very clear about my prediction: Donald Trump will NEVER be the President of the United States. Period.

Why would I go out on a limb so early? First and foremost, you can’t be President and also a loose cannon – and Donald Trump is an unapologetically loose cannon. It makes for great political theatre as evidenced by his TV ratings, but you can’t win an election with 40% of the vote. Suppose for a moment that Trump was somehow (inexplicably) able to cinch the nomination. Now it’s just Trump and Clinton – all the other voices silenced in the primaries. How long do you think it will take Trump to say something stupid like he’s done so many times before – calling Rosie O’Donnell a pig, Carli Fiorina ugly, and Megan Kelly a bimbo. You can’t expect to get away with that stuff forever, no matter how brazenly unapologetic you are. And what works in primary season when only politicos care about the election is different from October of an election year when the rank and file voters start to get interested in the contest.

Next there’s his controversial immigration policy – if you can reasonably call it that. Threatening Gestapo-like tactics to round up and deport millions of illegals is a losing issue with the majority of the voters, let alone Latinos. You might find a few confused Mexican-Americans willing to vote for Trump, but most people are smart enough not to vote against their own interests when the consequences of an election would hit so close to home. In other words, what person would vote for a politician who advocates kicking their friends and relatives out of the country?

Trump is also weak on policy. He’s just a salesman with big, shiny ideas. But his ideas only appeal to the extreme right, and those folks don’t care about substance. It’s fine with them that Trump wants to build an expensive, impractical wall between the US and Mexico. They’d rather deport Mexican immigrants than worry about the cost or practicality of such an endeavor. But the voters at the center aren’t going to be so easily bamboozled and there’s still a year before the election where Trump is going to be forced to debate his ideas with more substantive policy positions. Telling us he’s going to have wonderful, talented people and amazing results will only take him so far and it’s only a matter of time before voters figure out he’s selling snake oil.

Moving on

Ted Cruz will never be president either. Nearly all his colleagues hates him and he’s far too extreme anyway. His tactics are slash-and-burn with a heavy dose of take-no-prisoners, and it will cost him. He’s far more knowledgeable than Trump when it comes to policy and will be a much better debater, but you can’t win from the fringe, and Cruz isn’t a pragmatist. Cruz has a shot at the nomination because he’s not stupid and he appeals to the republican base, so it’s possible he’ll the eventual nominee, but that’s as far as he’ll go.

And now for the rest: Jeb Bush never had a chance. He’s a Bush. I know it seems simplistic in the general analysis of things to say that Bush can’t win because of his family name, but there’s a lot of truth to it. Also, he’s been so underwhelming in his overall performance that it’s difficult to see him climbing out of the hole he’s in.

Kasich, Paul, and Fiorina just don’t have the star power or support to present a formidable challenge for the nomination. They might as well have been on the JV debate stage with never-were candidates like Santorum and Huckabee. Meanwhile, Carsen, it turns out, is something of a whack-o and he’s not going anywhere either.

So who does that leave? Just Marco Rubio, the only other person with a credible shot at the nomination. The problem with Rubio is that he’s no more capable of defeating Hillary Clinton than Ted Cruz. He might be smart, relatively clean, and even able to lure some Hispanics. But when compared with Clinton, he’s going to come up short. She’s got decades more experience than the young Florida Senator and he’ll be out of his league competing against her in a general election. He might not lose some debates, but he’s never going to win any.

Assuming that Marco Rubio grabs the nomination, and putting aside Hillary as a nearly unassailable challenge, Clinton still has two weapons for which the Republicans have no answer. Not one, but two former, beloved presidents. Bill Clinton is still wildly popular with many Americans, and Barack Obama gets passing marks from the majority of voters as well. Both will campaign relentlessly for Hillary and their star power will mean something when it’s time to vote.

Meanwhile who among the Republicans compares to these two men? There are none who do. Former Republican candidates are weak, fringe, or controversial. George Bush and Dick Cheney are toxic. John McCain and Mitt Romney are both blah. Palin is a joke and hardly worth mentioning, except as an example of the ineptitude of the available Republican surrogates. Simply put, the Republicans are a rudderless ship.

So it’s difficult to see how the Republicans win the Whitehouse. This will be the third presidential election in a row where they have failed to field decent candidates. When it comes time to vote, it’s hard to see how anyone but Hillary will prevail.

Virtually nothing important happened in politics yesterday, with 2 notable exceptions. First, Paul Ryan formally entered the race for Speaker of the House. (But then, that doesn’t appear to be much of a race.) Secondly, Hillary testified.

Ryan’s news was expected. He’s already been running for the seat since McCarthy bailed whilst trying his best to look disinterested. Then suddenly he’s ready! On a side note, his gaffe about family time was slightly amusing as well, truth be told. I’m sure he was thinking that the optics of wanting to be a good family man was probably a good thing – until the hypocrisy of his stated position on family leave was juxtaposed. Epic fail.

Onward to the Circus

As for Hillary, while many in the press have proclaimed there was no clear winner, I beg to differ. For Mrs Clinton, big, big win. Maybe the biggest win before the general election. With one fell swoop, the email and Benghazi controversies have come to an end. The Republicans got nothing. NOTHING. And they spent nearly half a day trying. In fact, they are probably worse off than before the testimony. Not only was there no smoking gun, but they came off as combative, partisan and the entire scene was at times chaotic.

They didn’t even get a good soundbite for their troubles.

If they couldn’t put anything useful together from their so-called ‘investigation’, then that’s the end of the road. What more is left? A ninth investigation?

When they finally release their findings, whatever negative feedback they offer will be seen as partisan. Who expects a positive report from this committee? And so nothing will come from it. I predict 1-2 days of punditry and then silence. With the election more than a year away, it’s difficult to see this as a prominent election issue.

October 22, 2015 in Politics

C-Day, as in Hillary Clinton’s Day to Testify

Everyone is anticipating the fireworks at today’s hearing. The stakes couldn’t be higher. If the Republicans can provoke a mistake from Hillary, it could follow her all the way to the election. Meanwhile, due to recent events, the Republicans are now at risk of making Hillary look like a sympathetic figure if they attack her like surely planned. This would have long-term consequences as well. If Hillary gaffes, the mistake will only embolden the Republicans which have been gravely wounded over the last few weeks, but if the Republicans come across as partisan, it will serve to insulate her from any similar lines of attack in the future.

Ryan’s In. Biden’s Out.

So who’s smarter? The prize goes to Joe Biden, who would be fending off the muscular political machine of Hillary Clinton only to face a blitzkrieg of unrelenting attacks during the general election. He realized the fight isn’t worth the effort, and probably isn’t winnable anyway. At least not for him. The nomination is pretty much already ordained in the eyes of most to go to Hillary, and the mood on the street is that she’s got a good chance at winning.

Meanwhile Ryan is in a for rough ride. Like Hillary, he’s currently the favorite in his own right to hold the speaker’s gavel. But the wave he’s riding will break into a swampy bog once he takes the seat. How exactly is this young neophyte supposed to avert shutdown threat after shutdown threat driven by the extremists? These people are more than willing to walk him down the plank should he veer off course. Eventually he’ll prove to be a paper captain, squashed under a ton of right leaning tomes. On the other hand, if he can make it past the upcoming budget and debt limit fights without serious bruises, then all bets are off.