Thursday, October 29, 2015

More Bold Predictions: This Debate Changed Everything

October 28 is a very special day in my life. It was 43 years ago that I became a man and realized the meaning of that old, old adage, "That's the first time I stood up in front of people, bored them, and they gave me money afterwards." Mazel tov indeed.

So it was with a nostalgic eye that I sat down and watched Episode 3 of the Far Right Follies, otherwise known as the GOP presidential debate. It was a rough affair for the moderators and included some captivating moments, such as when Ted Cruz took all of his time to call out the CNBC network and accuse the Democrats of being Communists or when Marco Rubio rhetorically punched Jeb! Bush (a guy with glasses on) or when Chris Christie almost knocked over his podium trying to tell us that Congress has stolen our Social Security.

The result?

Well, that thudding sound you heard later Wednesday night was the sound of four campaigns hitting Loser's Gulch: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Jeb! That's right folks; it looks like none of these four will ever be elected president. Now, I will hedge a bit and say that Jeb could bounce back, but I find that rather unlikely. It's also possible that many of Trump's supporters could find their way to Christie, but the net effect of that would be the good Guv'nor polling at 3% instead of 1%. Then again, Christie always wanted to be in the 1%, didn't he?

Trump, Carson and Fiorina are done because they didn't so enough to rouse their campaigns beyond the protest votes that are the cornerstones of their combined millions. Carson is in the best position to stick around, but his past comments about guns and the Holocaust and Muslims will make him radioactive to the larger Republican, and general, population.

As for Jeb!, my view is that his performance on Wednesday now makes it easier for the Republican establishment, which was never crazy about his candidacy, to finally break free of their Bush III concerns. Put more succinctly, the GOP doesn't need him anymore. They have Marco. And Ted. And even Johnny the K. from oHIo.

Jeb's answers and his demeanor were underwhelming at best, and he hasn't really seemed presidential since he entered the race. He might be the smart one, but there's something to be said for the son who wanted so badly to both please and punish his father that he sold his soul to the reborn and allied himself with Karl Rove. Jeb's timing is just as bad as Chris Christie. Their electoral opportunities have passed them by and they might be the only ones who didn't get the text.

The realignment of the GOP field will take a little time to adjust, but by the holidays the lineup should look radically different, if not in numbers, then at least in the polls. I expect the GOP primary electorate to shift themselves to candidates who have some experience in governance even as they call for the actual end of governance itself. Marco Rubio is now the favorite, followed by Ted Cruz.; Trump and Carson will fade. Bush will crash.

As for the national election, this realignment will make Hillary Clinton the favorite until further notice. She will be able to unite the Democratic Party around her by the end of March and can then spend time honing her general election message and raising obscene amounts of cash in the hopes that she gets elected, replaces a conservative justice and gets the Citizens United case reversed. Then she can raise modestly obscene amounts of cash for her next run.

Ain't democracy great? Amen.

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