I have finally given up on not writing about the 2016 election, but at least we are within a year of the first real votes being cast. Some observations:
- What deep Republican bench? The Conventional Wisdom, especially among wise Republican pundits, is that the GOP’s bench of candidates for 2016 is deep. Seriously? I know we are missing two of the biggest clowns from 2012 with Bachmann and the Pizza Man not running, but who of this group looks like a President to you? I realize that when a party has only had one successful candidate in the past six elections, and it was George W. Bush, the bar is not set very high. Many of the leading names are politicians of some repute, but being a Governor does not necessarily make you presidential material. Just say President Christie, President Walker or President Perry a few times and see how it sounds. Then there are the candidates from the Senate – Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. When the likely favorite of the “Establishment” is someone who has not run for election in 13 years, and has the last name Bush to boot, I don’t understand the sentiment by some that we are awash in talent.
- But there is no Democratic bench, only the JV: It’s hard to envision a scenario in which Hilary Clinton is not the Democrats’ nominee. No one else can raise the money, has the charisma of a Barack Obama, or is willing to spend the next 4/8 years being screwed by Clinton, Inc. It is also difficult to think of a less exciting candidate than this Clinton. I read recently that she was thinking of waiting a few more months to announce her inevitable decision so she could spend more time developing her “message.” Uhh … she first ran eight years ago – she doesn’t have a message? Sign me up.
- Is there no end to the idiocy of the Republican message? I was surprised that more national figures did not jump on the measles vaccination issue. It was a refreshing – if albeit brief – interlude when science and fact prevailed. Then comes Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina. That is United States Senator Tillis, not state senator. He doesn’t think restaurants should be required to post notices in rest rooms reminding employees to wash their hands after using the facility. Maybe it is just me, but I think when you hear the words “fecal-oral infection,” you want to be opposed. There was a time when the Senate was routinely described as the “world’s greatest deliberative body,” but only a satirist would use that expression today.
- Their 15 minutes is loooong gone: It would be no loss to the polity if these three never made another public utterance: Sarah Palin – how did her recent incoherent speech differ from any previous one? She is that rare individual whose thoughts are not limited by the 140 characters of Twitter. Donald Trump – is there any sentient being, let alone reporter, who actually thinks he will run for President? Cornel West – wake me up the next time he says anything meaningful or insightful. He appears to be the Mainstream Media’s idea of a thoughtful black figure. Watch Larry Wilmore to see dozens of African-Americans with something to offer.
- Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is off to a solid start: The Bay State’s latest Republican Governor has been impressive in his first month in office. He’s had two major challenges with a substantial deficit left by his predecessor, as well as a ton of snow. It’s easy to get off on the wrong foot – see Patrick, Deval – but Baker has been low-key, and is paying attention to all sorts of constituencies that are often ignored after an election.
- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has already established his retreat on reform: It’s a unique environment when the leading spokesperson on rooting out corruption in a major state is the United States Attorney. Cuomo, who disbanded a commission investigating corruption after it came too close to his own donors, was embarrassed when one of the objects of that commission, the former Speaker of the Assembly, was charged with bribery and graft by the U.S. Attorney. Cuomo, seeking to deflect attention from his own conduct, has announced that he will not sign a budget unless it contains what he describes as significant ethical reform. He has yet to be specific about what that will be, and has omitted one of his favorite fund-raising devices from the ultimatum. When he ended the corruption panel last year he cited the enactment of legislation that was his original goal – much to the surprise of anyone who was paying attention. With this year’s undefined, amorphous reform package, he has already engineered this year’s retreat.