Campaign Crawlers

Campaign Crawlers

Trump’s Big Fat Tuesday

By 2.10.16

“I am just not going to vote this year,” a registered Democrat said to me in New York City as he rested on a couch at an Upper East Side cigar lounge. The man, who recently retired from IBM after decades of service as a high-ranking executive, explained that he simply couldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, whom he regards as corrupt and off-putting.

For well over a month, I have talked to New Yorkers about the presidential race. I have yet to meet an enthusiastic supporter of Hillary Clinton. Ambivalence at best marks the response of Dems to my questions. At the Harvard Club on 44th Street, I chatted with a recent African-American graduate from that university. She sighed when I asked her about the race. “Yes, I will vote for Hillary,” she said, before making it clear that she considered such a vote an act about as pleasant as an onerous household chore. She chuckled when I probed her ambivalence, acknowledging that her support for Hillary was wan.

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After Iowa

By 2.2.16

Senator Ted Cruz’s upset victory against Donald Trump has robbed “The Donald” of his stock answer to any criticism from rivals — that he is winning and his critics are losers.

Now that he has lost, Mr. Trump may finally have to try to come up with some substantive arguments about the complex issues facing this country, rather than simply boast about the great things he will do when he becomes president.

Trump may turn out to be like the Wizard of Oz, after the curtain was pulled back to reveal the real man who was been busy projecting an awesome image.

Everything, however, depends on Trump’s followers, and on how much they have what William James called “the will to believe.” Iowa’s system of caucuses forced those followers to confront other people with different views before they could vote. In other states, they can simply walk into the voting booth and vote their unchallenged beliefs.

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The Man Who Wasn’t There

By 1.29.16

Things fall apart when moderators become debaters and debaters become moderators. That’s the lesson from last night’s Iowa debate debacle in which Donald Trump proved present in his absence.

“I’m a maniac,” Ted Cruz joked at Trump’s expense, “and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat, and ugly. And Ben [Carson], you’re a terrible surgeon. And now that we’ve got the Donald Trump portion out of the way…” “Don’t worry,” Marco Rubio reassured the moderators. “I’m not leaving the stage no matter what you ask me.”

Like most good debates, the debate over the debate strikes as more nuanced shades of gray than black-and-white heroes and villains. Donald Trump errs in seeking to play rebuttalist and referee. Fox errs in playing favorites while feigning fair and balanced.

In Trump’s defense, Megyn Kelly’s initial query in the previous Fox News debate came across as a taunt followed by a perfunctory question mark. While several Fox personalities give the billionaire more than a fair shake, the seated Fox moderators seemed not content this summer to leave the zingers to the pols standing on the stage.

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The Skinny on the GOP Debate

By 1.15.16

The best feature of Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate was the small number of contestants taking part in it.

There. I said it.

We’re no longer subjected to cattle-call debates with 10 candidates squabbling over seconds of airtime. Now it’s only seven, and there are opportunities for more substantial discussions. And as such, the performances are getting sharper, and better.

So here are a few observations from the Fox Business debate…


Here’s how they came out…

1. Ted Cruz: Cruz opened the debate knocking the issue of the loan he took out to fund his 2012 Senate campaign out of the park, and he went toe-to-toe, and won decisively, with Donald Trump on the birther question. For the first hour, when the majority of the audience was paying most attention, he commanded the stage. Later, he got a bit more competition as we’ll discuss below.

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It’s Time to Winnow the Field

By 12.16.15

So it’s the week before Christmas, and CNN threw a Republican presidential debate at the Venetian in Las Vegas. And in a particularly giving holiday spirit, they included no less than nine GOP hopefuls on the main stage, relegating just four to the “kids’ table” affair in the pre-prime hours.

And with those nine candidates fighting for airtime, CNN’s event turned into the TV news version of the Bataan death march.

We’re midway through December and there are still 13 Republicans running for president. This fact was more than a little unexpected and it’s just not a good thing.

Until there can be a debate with no more than five or six major candidates with a chance to win, these affairs will be just like the one just completed — inconclusive and desperate food fights.

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Oldham a Triumph for the Left

By 12.7.15

There is virtually no crumb of comfort to be salvaged for the non-Left side of politics from the results of Britain’s Oldham by-election last Thursday.

Labour has increased its share of the vote from 54.8% to 62.1%. This can only be seen as an endorsement of extremist hard-left leader Jeremy Corbyn after 12 weeks in office. In overall terms Labour’s majority at Oldham was reduced from 15,000 to 11,000 but this was due to the smaller turn-out.

Corbyn has been in an embattled position in Parliament, with 66 members of his own party voting against him to support the bombing of Syria, and even some of his front bench openly ridiculing his pacifist position.

The day before the election, it was thought that some moderate, such as front-bencher Hilary Benn, whose eloquent speech in favor of bombing ISIS in both Syria and Iraq drew rare applause from both sides of the house, might replace the eccentric and extremist Corbyn, but the Oldham result must tend to hose that possibility down. It has strengthened Corbyn’s hand and given him a weapon with which to silence his moderate critics on the Labour benches.

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What Makes John Kasich So Sanctimonious?

By 12.2.15

The governors were supposed to be the Republican candidates to beat this presidential cycle. It hasn’t turned out that way. Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, and Rick Perry have all departed the field. Michael Huckabee is running a faint shadow of his 2008 race. Chris Christie is desperately putting all of his effort into New Hampshire.

And John Kasich seems most interested in winning the contest for Most Sanctimonious. He isn’t even likely to win the Ohio primary, let alone capture the GOP presidential nomination.

There was a time when Kasich looked like a serious contender. Two-term governor of a large swing state. Former congressman and budget committee chairman. In the investment world in between. An “everyman” persona. What could possibly go wrong?

The governor has gone out of his way to offend everyone, especially those who believe in shrinking government. He’s this year’s Jon Huntsman, without the charm. Kasich garnered the most negative reaction from focus groups after the last debate. He has taken an “interesting” approach to campaigning.

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Donald Misunderstood Again

By 11.27.15

Once again we don’t understand the Donald. How mysterious this guy is. How is it that what he clearly says and does is never what he later says he meant? If the Donald ever gets to 1600, this will clearly keep Vladimir Putin off balance. Not to mention everybody in the lower 48. And we would have to expand the cabinet to include a Secretary of Incredible Clarifications.

First it was a tasteless remark about Fox reporter Megyn Kelly being under the influence of her menstrual cycle while questioning Trump during the first Republican debate. Then it was a crack about Carly Fiorina’s looks that Trump later said was about her persona. Sure Donald, everyone starts comments about someone’s persona by saying, “Look at that face.”

Now, after saying “You oughta see this guy,” and making jerking motions with his arms, Trump mocked disabled New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski at a South Carolina campaign event.

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The Attempted Character Assassination of Ben Carson

By 11.13.15

Sometimes atmospheric conditions are such that the weather forecast can say, “100% chance of rain.” The current political atmosphere is such that even before it happened there was a 100% chance the media would attempt to assassinate Dr. Ben Carson’s character, honesty, and integrity. The liberal media will do everything it can, including lies, fabrications, distortions, and flagrant exaggerations to anyone they consider threats to their power and control.

Ben Carson is clearly such a person. Unfortunately for liberals he may be the hardest target they’ve ever faced. He is unquestionably brilliant, and is obviously a person of impeccable character. His life story is amazing and inspiring. America could certainly use a little inspiration about now.

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The Donald By a Hair

By 11.11.15

Democrats tell the American people what they want to hear. At their best, Republicans tell the American people what they need to hear. Tuesday’s GOP presidential debate showcased this divide, with Donald Trump leading the pack as a principled voice for sound positions on minimum wage, illegal immigration, and a sensible foreign policy, free of the naïve neocon nonsense in which Fiorina, Rubio ., and Bush trafficked.

Trump’s performance was enhanced by his restraint. In other debates, he allowed himself some immature antics. Not in this one. For the most part, he remained quiet as others spoke. There was one welcome exception: he shut down Kasich’s holier-than-thou jackassery on illegal immigration by noting that the Ohio governor’s oh-so-compassionate pro-amnesty policy shows no compassion to legal immigrants.