Posts Tagged ‘Rubio’

Bye bye Bush; thank you, Nikki Haley

February 21, 2016

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.

Presidential politics: Republicans heading toward the abyss

February 10, 2016

UnknownWhat was supposed to happen was that Marco Rubio, surging with momentum out of Iowa, would do very well in New Hampshire, conceivably even winning; Bush, Christie and Kasich fall away so Rubio consolidates the backing of the sensible wing; while Trump and Cruz divide the wing-nut vote; Rubio gets the nomination; and defeats Hillary with all her baggage; making my November 12 prediction prescient.

Well, as Aristotle said, there’s many a slip between cup and lip. And on Saturday night I watched Marco Rubio blow the presidency in ten minutes. I sat there dumbfounded at maybe the worst debate performance I’d ever witnessed. I was frankly bitterly disappointed because I had a high opinion of Rubio, and really hoped after Iowa things would play out nicely as I described above.

imagesSo what we have now is Donald and the Seven Dwarves, more or less. We’ve already had the ridiculous spectacle of the gaggle of lower-polling candidates attacking and even running negative ads against each other, all struggling for the right to be the non-Trump, while Trump himself gets a free pass on the vilest candidacy in memory. It’s now altogether possible that Trump walks off with the nomination without winning more than about 35% of the vote in any primary.

Despite her predictable loss in New Hampshire, at the end of the day it still seems likely that Hillary will wind up as Democratic nominee. And so we could have a race between Hillary and Trump – incredibly, the two figures on the political scene with the highest negative poll ratings. Oy oy oy.

Unknown-1How could this happen? Well, democracy is messy. And there are no inevitabilities in history; contingency reigns supreme. It didn’t have to be this way. What people do matters and changes events. As Marco Rubio unfortunately demonstrated Saturday night.