Bye bye Bush; thank you, Nikki Haley

imagesSo, last we spoke, I said I’d watched Rubio blow the presidency in that pre-New Hampshire debate. Well, that was a bit hasty; he seems to have recovered from that disaster (showing his mettle), to finish second in South Carolina.

Nikki Haley helped a lot. She’s the state’s Indian-American governor, and strongly backed Rubio. Such endorsements ordinarily mean little. But Haley had already established herself as an Olympian personage – increasingly rare on today’s political stage – with her powerful response to the Charleston shootings, and leading her state to finally retire the Confederate flag.

Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley

Then, in her speech answering the State-of-the-Union, she really showed her chops by calling out her own party’s unfortunate nativist fetish.

Haley’s pulling Rubio up in South Carolina may turn out to be decisive in ultimately unhorsing Trump. With Bush out and Kasich in single digits, it’s now down to one plausible candidate and two disastrous ones. Kasich is a good guy (I liked him for president 20 years ago as a young congressman), but he really should quit to help Rubio save the party from Trump.

UnknownHere’s the rock-scissors-paper schema: Rubio beats Hillary, Hillary beats Trump, Trump beats Sanders. Assuming a Sanders nomination, Trump supporters might have imagined him winning the presidency (yelling “socialist, socialist, socialist”). Had Hillary lost Nevada, she’d have been in real trouble; but her winning there now makes a Sanders nomination pretty improbable. And between Hillary and Trump, the electorate, for all its disaffection, would surely choose the “safe pair of hands.”

On that rational calculation, Republicans should now turn away from Trump. But of course rational calculation doesn’t enter the picture. And two-thirds of Republicans have rejected Trump from the outset. The problem has been to unite them behind a single candidate, to stop Trump’s carrying the day with a string of 33% wins.

Unknown-1I hope Rubio can do it. He’s shown an unfortunate impulse to flatter the same voters Trump and Cruz are getting. Instead Rubio should let them batter each other competing for the Duck Dynasty vote, while differentiating himself from them, stressing what is really his strength: his positive, genuinely progressive and inclusive vision, contrasted against their negativity and divisiveness.*

He should also talk a little slower. And pick Nikki Haley for V.P.

* I get campaign e-mails from Rubio, and after writing the above, was glad to see one with exactly that message.

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10 Responses to “Bye bye Bush; thank you, Nikki Haley”

  1. Roger Green Says:

    Normally I’d think this would make her a favorite as VP for Mario, except that they’re 1) from the same region and 2) they are collectively too ethnic.

  2. Lee Says:

    Extrapolating somewhat, it looks like Trump is first choice for at least 15% of Americans. I am a firm believer that it is not possible to fool that many people and, thus, that it must be the case that he is addressing some issues that are not being addressed by the other candidates, issues that are top priority for these voters. If the moderates (Rubio, Kasich, Clinton) can address these issues and (continue to) be more sane on other issues, they should be able to suck away voters from Trump (and Cruz and Carson). What nerve is Trump striking and how can the moderates use it to strengthen their positions?

  3. rationaloptimist Says:

    It’s not issues per se, as much as atmospherics. They’re voting with their middle finger

  4. Lee Says:

    Okay, but why the middle finger? Whatever injury they have suffered that makes them want Trump, can it be addressed rationally?

  5. rationaloptimist Says:

    Lee, in your insufferable niceness, always want to see legitimacy in the viewpoints of others. But some things are just wrong.

  6. Lee Says:

    It’s the 15% support level. When there are that many people involved, there has to be something real and right somewhere in it. If we can tap that right without all the wrong baggage that it comes with currently, we have a chance to get a good president.

  7. Lee Says:

    In a blog response to the March 3 New York Times Op-Ed by Charles M. Blow entitled Demagogue for President, “Sarah” writes the following. What do you think?

    “The problem isn’t Trump, it’s the people who support him. He’s merely the head of a dandelion; without his people, he’s nothing, and if he doesn’t win, those roots will live on–unless we change that.

    “As much as I respect most of what Obama has done, he made one huge error: in the midst of the recession, he focused on health care rather than jobs for all. Well-fed people rarely revolt, and much of the rage and frustration powering Trump’s people is how hard jobs still are to find and how much worse off the lower and middle classes are than in the 1980s.

    “We need to neutralize the rage, hate, and fear that is driving this moment in history. Jobs are a key first step; the second step is shifting our culture to one of safety, confidence, hope, self-esteem, and mutual respect. When people feel strong, know they can manage their lives, know they have options, they are resilient and more tolerant. When they feel weak, feel like losers, they despair or revolt, looking for a Trump-daddy to save them.

    “So instead of focusing on Trump, we need to effectively deal with the hating, furious, desperate people who are often our own neighbors. The solution will have to be multi-faceted and creative, and it’ll take years–but it can happen if we stop wringing our hands over Trump and get those hands dirty. Volunteer. Donate. Protest in the streets. Don’t move to Canada: stay here and fight for America’s soul. Don’t just talk, act. Solve the root problem, starting today.”

  8. rationaloptimist Says:

    Easier said than done. Our economic problems won’t be fixed by people protesting in the streets!

  9. Lee Says:

    Sure, it the stimulus had been larger or if the bailout had focused on the deadbeat homeowners rather than the deadbeat banks, we could have recovered from the financial debacle more quickly. Despite the slowness, we are now a hair under 5% unemployment nationwide and wages are starting to increase. Healthcare coverage is up by tens of millions of covered individuals (despite the icky Liebermancare mandate structure), inflation is nowhere to be seen, etc.

    In short, the averages are doing well. Is it that the Trump supporters are not benefiting as much as the average? If so, how can we enable them to participate more fully in the economy? I am hopeful that a real solution to this problem from a candidate with less baggage will strip Trump of his voting base.

  10. rationaloptimist Says:

    It’s not that those backing Trump are really hurting. They think the political class is useless & out-of-touch and doesn’t represent them; and that Trump does.
    But all the positive economic facts you cite omit the fact that the gap between well educated and less educated Americans is growing, because unskilled work isn’t worth what it used to be; and there is no easy solution for that.

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