Sizing up the GOP Field (Part 2)

February 24th, 2015

 

Three Freshmen – There is an old saying that the Senate is made up of work horses and show horses. As Barack Obama clearly demonstrated, it is possible to show up, get a lot of publicity and run for president. Marco Rubio is a dynamic speaker and clearly a rising star but many disagree with his immigration stand. Rand Paul often takes positions outside mainstream Republican thinking. His father’s experience at running for president is a two-edged sword. Ted Cruz has an incendiary style that turns many off and is generally viewed as unelectable. I don’t see Paul and Cruz lasting very long but Rubio has a chance.

 

The Old Gang – Several past candidates are giving it another try. Mike Huckabee is a favorite of the religious right and known from his TV program but has little appeal beyond that. Rick Santorum will go after the same audience as Huckabee but not really get anywhere. Rick Perry will be unable to overcome the horrible campaign he ran last time. I don’t think any of them will get very far.

 

The Outsiders – Carly Fiorina, former HP head, and neurosurgeon Ben Carson are giving it a try. Their lack of campaign expense will keep them from getting anywhere.

 

The Rest of the Pack – A number of other candidates are thinking of running. Bobby Jindal has a national reputation but problems in Louisiana will hurt him. Usually the most qualified candidate doesn’t stand a chance. Lindsey Graham is a knowledgeable and experienced workhorse. He has worked with Democrats in an attempt to actually govern. It’s a shame, but that is how the system works.

 

Right now I would say it boils down to Bush, a Midwest governor, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio. There will be lots of twists and turns to come.

 

Sizing up the GOP Field

February 23rd, 2015

 

My last post talked about Hillary Clinton. Today I will turn to the Republican Party. Nobody of note has declared their candidacy but over twenty men and women are expressing some interest. Some just want attention but it will likely be a large field. It should winnow down to two or three serious challengers early on. Most are hoping to find a way to that select group. Since there are so many running, I will categorize them.

 

      Presidential Relatives – This is a group of one, Jeb Bush. He comes with many advantages. He will raise bushels of money, get plenty of free media and have experienced staff. He also has the moderate wing of the party pretty much to himself. Many consider his name to be a disadvantage but I disagree. His father has been out of office over 20 years and his brother has maintained a low profile. His biggest problem is that, since he is the frontrunner, everyone is gunning for him. Any misstatements will be widely publicized. He may be rusty since he last ran in an election in 2002. All in all, he is in a good shape and certainly stands the best chance of making it through the early primaries and caucuses.

 

Chris Christie – Here is another category of one (I will resist the temptation to put in a fat joke). He has been in the spotlight for a long time and could challenge Bush for the mainstream but the big money guys are going for Bush. Those that might be attracted to his positions will be turned off by his style and vice versa. He does have name recognition and the ability to make news but I doubt he will make the cut.

 

Midwestern Governors – Right now Scott Walker (Wisconsin) is leading the pack. His battles with government unions certainly endear him with conservatives. He is a good speaker and has certainly been tested. The media is gunning for him with “gatcha” questions which could trip him up. Both John Kasich (Ohio) and Mike Pence (Indiana) have served in Congress and know the right people. Either one could make some noise. Rick Snyder (Michigan) is a long shot.

 

One of these seven governors stands and excellent chance of being the GOP nominee. There are others within striking distance plus a bunch of also-rans. I’ll cover them next time.

 

Thw Many Woes of Hillary Clinton

February 20th, 2015

 

Most candidates for president have to overcome problems with name recognition and funding. Hillary Clinton certainly doesn’t have those issues. However, she faces many other challenges. Many consider her a shoo-in for the Democratic nomination. She certainly would be an odds-on favorite. However, given her much vulnerability, I think there is a chance she will decide not to run. If she does get the nomination she will be a weak candidate. Here are some of her problems (in no particular order):

 

  1. Not a natural – While few can campaign like her husband, she just doesn’t have the ability to connect with people.

  2. Rationale – She has not been able to define the reasons she wants to be president. Basically it boils down to personal ambition and that doesn’t sell.

  3. Enthusiasm – There is little excitement about her candidacy. If a creditable challenger is found, her support could crumble.

  4. Time – She has been in the public eye for a quarter century. That is an incredibly long time given our short news cycles.

  5. Age – If she became president, she would be the second oldest elected president (Reagan was a few months older). There have also been some health concerns.

  6. Bill Clinton – He has a hard time staying on message and his past indiscretions are always a distraction.

  7. Barack Obama – It will be hard to distance herself from him when she served in his cabinet. Plus, I believe he wants to set the tone for the Democratic Party for the next generation. A second president Clinton would destroy those plans so I believe he would quietly work against her.

 

She certainly has advantages other than funding and name recognition. Rather than relying on the people that let her down in 2008, she is bringing many Obama people on board. Nonetheless, there are a lot of potholes on the road to the White House.

 

Remember Abraham Lincoln

February 12th, 2015

 

I am definitely old enough to tell those “when I was a boy” stories. If I did, I imagine eyes would roll much as mine did when I heard them. One tradition that I wished they brought back was honoring Lincoln’s birthday. Years ago Congress created President’s day so government workers could get a three day weekend.

 

Now Lincoln is pretty much forgotten. It is a real shame because his story is one of the most amazing in American history. He became President during the greatest crisis since the Revolutionary War. He had little formal education. His political experience was limited to the state legislature and one term in Congress in the 1840’s. He didn’t have the charisma found in many other presidents. About all he had going for him was courage and determination.

 

He assembled a Cabinet of political rivals who thought Lincoln would be a figurehead. He quickly asserted control and was guided by the idea of preserving the union. He let nothing, even the death of a son, deter him from that message. When the war was over, he preached reconciliation. As we all know, an assassin’s bullet ended those plans. It didn’t silence the power of his words and his ideals. He gave the greatest speech in our history.

 

Years ago I met a man from South America. He told of his mother using Lincoln as a role model when he grew up. Let’s hope that people remember him even though they took his holiday away.

 

Life is Fleeting

February 11th, 2015

 

I just finished watching the movie Our Town. Made 75 years ago, it tells the story of life and death in a small New Hampshire town early in the 20th century. It shows an ordinary day, followed by a wedding and a death. It makes the point that life is fleeting and we should treasure the small moments.

 

The movie is powerful but has had an especially profound effect on me for two reasons. I had never seen it before but will never forget the play. I was in junior high (that’s what they called middle school then) living in a small Nebraska town. The high school was putting on the play and a dress rehearsal was scheduled for Friday afternoon). The date was November 22, 1963. Anyone over 60 knows why I remember the day. On the way to the play a high school boy shouted the news that just came over the radio “They shot the president! They got the governor too!” I sat through the play wondering what had happened. Later the science teacher told me “Mr. Kennedy is dead, Mr. Johnson is our president”.

 

If things had worked out differently I would be on a Caribbean cruise right now. Just before Christmas we learned that my girlfriend had lung cancer. She is halfway through chemo and radiation. We don’t know what the future holds but I plan to treasure every moment we are together.

 

Make sure you take time to treasure your small moments.