Sunday, July 12, 2015

The JV Get Their Minutes

Those of us who grew up in the era of summer reruns have had the most difficult time with both the new media and political environments. There just is no downtime anymore, what with 24-hour news cycles and the panicked reaction of the main television networks to phones, Netflix, YouTube and on-demand programming.

So it makes perfect sense that we will have a summer jammed to the gills with Donald Trump, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley. Not that these candidates don't have things to say, because they do. It's just that come the fall, they'll be off the headlines and back to being annoyances and debate fodder for the wealthier, more established name-brand candidates. It's not fair and it certainly isn't democratic, nor does it help the country when money determines your political life, but that's the way it is, and has always been.

The stark reality is that candidates need to run actual campaigns with strategies and staff, and that takes professionals who know what they're doing, donor lifelines, media access, and political experience under the heat and glare of the media spotlight. Right now, we're getting the free media show that only the second tier candidates can provide. Hillary Clinton is sharpening her economic message, ahead of Monday's speech, Jeb's reconnecting with the bluebloodlines inherent in the Bush family, dining with Mitt at the Walker Point compound, and Scott Walker is wowing them with his approachable personality, but not with his smarts. 

I know it's rather gauche to put Chris Christie in with the varsity because most major publications and even dyed-in-the-wool Morris County, New Jersey Republicans are writing him off (no link; just a conversation I had with said woolen GOPer), but I'm not going to get on that train just yet. It's true that he's got the trifecta when it comes to negatives--a scandal, no record and a lousy personality--but the man does fight and with a frontrunner named Bush, this year is going to be a bit unpredictable on the right side of the spectrum.

Which brings me back to Donald and Bernie. Trump is blowing hot air and getting media traction for it, but it's attention for all the wrong reasons. He's got nothing to run on and no policy except outrage. As a matter of fact, he even makes Christie's YouTube rants look like Bill Buckley on Firing Line (I'm trying to win the Most Obscure Reference award today. DraftKings has a daily game, you know). He'll be off the radar by the time the first GOP debate comes around and I would be surprised if he's even in it. Of course, if he is, then his campaign will really end there because people will see him for what he is.

Bernie Sanders is the anti-Trump; he has an actual message for the country and the far left is drinking it up because Hillary won't dare say the same things on the campaign trail. Sanders is playing to large crowds, but again, he needs to raise money and run ads. He also needs to appeal to a larger portion of the Democratic electorate. Hillary will eventually need to fold in some of Sanders' ideas if she hopes to keep the faithful in her corner, but I just don't see him being a force past Iowa or New Hampshire. If anything, Clinton will be expected to win those races handily, so if Sanders is close then that will be the narrative. But a loss is a loss and money doesn't follow losses.

Still, we should enjoy the summer fun because once the campaign turns serious, there's no turning back.

For more, go to or Twitter @rigrundfest 

No comments:

Post a Comment