You Knew This Was Coming, Right?

TRUMP OR CLINTON???!!!

TRUMP OR CLINTON???!!!

Super Tuesday is the Super Bowl of the presidential primary season.  There are happy winners and gloomy losers.   Tonight, forget the spin and you can even forget the results.   No matter who else won what or where they won it, the only real winners are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.    Everybody else are merely varying degrees of LOSERS.

The Bern lost.  The Cruz lost.  The Rubio lost yuuuuge!    The Kasich and the Carson don’t even matter because one guy is running to become someone’s vice-president and the other is selling books and building a brand.

Trump and Clinton are running the table everywhere except for Vermont (Sanders home state), Texas (Cruz’s home state) and Oklahoma where Cruz and Sanders both won. That’s something, I guess.  Winning your own state doesn’t count.  Losing it does.

Otherwise, how long can Marco Rubio play the “I’m the Alternative” to Frankentrump when he hasn’t won anything anywhere. Rubio is a dead man walking and when he loses Florida to Trump that’s the end for his thirsty, sweaty, no good, terrible, pretty bad campaign. Kasich and Carson?  They’re so irrelevant they barely qualify as speed bumps for the Trump Express.

Sanders will go on and so will Ted “I’m the NEW mainstream alternative!” Cruz, but to what end? Sanders has proven he can win young people, progressives and nobody else. Cruz is still the same extremist asshole he’s always been.   Both of them will soon go back to passing each other in the hallways of the Rayburn building and sneering at each other.

Looking forward to a brokered convention in Cleveland? Put down that pipe.  It’s not gonna happen. The GOP establishment waited too long and planned too poorly to knock off Trump. The Field of 15 has been whittled down to the Final Five and there’s no endgame in the mix, no secret plan, no one waiting in the wings to take on Trump. There’s no one riding to the rescue of the Republicans.

"You take the Blacks and the Latinos and I'll take the racists and the nuts and we'll divvy up the rest. Deal?"

“You take the Blacks and the Latinos and I’ll take the racists and the nuts and we’ll divvy up the rest. Deal?”

Frankentrump is your reality, Republicans. How ya like him now?    The Hildebeast is back, Democrats (if she doesn’t get indicted).  How’s that make you feel?  Better or worse?

Strange days have found us and it’s only going to get weirder as we go on.

Snap Judgments from the 2nd GOP Debate (a.k.a. “Fear the Walking and Talking Dead”).

Now with 100% more Carly!

Now with 100% more Carly!

WINNERS WINNERS CHICKEN DINNER!

Marco Rubio:  (energetic and laid down some pretty good smackdowns on The Donald. Now what will he do with the spotlight?)
Carly Fiorina: (even better smackdowns of The Donald, but she’s running for a Cabinet position or another Senate bid)
Rand Paul: (probably too late to help much, but he joined in on The Donald Dogpile with enthusiasm.  Lindsay Graham and Piyush Jindal give you two thumbs up!)

I’M A LOSER, BABY SO WHY DON’T YOU KILL ME?

Ben Carson: (Hey! Doc! You’re right next to the front runner and you’re in second place in Iowa.   Kick his ass!  You think if she were in your place Carly wouldn’t? )
Jeb Bush: (Because he stayed awake better than the first debate, but he couldn’t have been much worse).

MEH.

John Kasich: (if you want to move up in the podium positioning Johnny-Boy, you gotta say something worth remembering besides you wouldn’t defund Planned Parenthood)
Donald Trump: (Ever see a team get a big lead on an over-matched opponent and keep running up the score?  That was Trump.  Punching on Paul’s poll numbers and looks is dumb).

WHY TRY HARDER?  OR TRY AT ALL?

Chris Christie: (STOP LYING ABOUT MY RECORD!    Aw shit.  That was me lying about my record!)
Scott Walker:  (Like cheese?  Like beer?  Visit Wisconsin.  We’ve got lots of both.  Why am I here again?  Oh yeah. To stop Kasich from taking my spot here)

DEAD RAT STUCK IN A PIPE.

Ted Cruz:  (So you were happy when George Bush selected John Roberts for the Supreme Court but now you’re mad he did?  First rule of politics, Ted: Never apologize and never explain Look how well that’s been working for The Donald, the shark to your pilot fish).
Mike Huckabee: (Is there a church somewhere with a need to hire a Bible-thumping, fire n’ brimstone preacher because this guy knows nothing about the U.S. Constitution).

WON SIMPLY BY NOT BEING THERE

Ronald Reagan:  Because he’s dead and didn’t have to watch these losers stumbling around on stage claiming to be St. Ronnie’s secret love child.

Say, why are we on our second Repubs debate before the Dems even have their first?  Isn’t it about time Hillary and Bernie and Marty all got together to spread the boredom around?  Since they both come from states without pro football teams, Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb have nothing better to do this weekend.  Uncle Joe might even show up.  He’s always fun!

“My reason for not watching the GOP debate? Well, I’m dead, so there’s that…”

 

Chris Christie and the Irresistible Appeal of “Shiny Toys.”

“Mean? I’m not mean. I’m HUNGRY!”

If you play fantasy football, you have to be cautious of what I call “The Shiny Toy Theory.” Show a baby a shiny toy and they become hypnotized by the sight of it.  In fantasy football, there are players that get hot for a week or two and put up impressive numbers.  Everyone wants to pick them up because they are pretty and shiny.

Most of these players aren’t built to last. They are teasers, not pleasers. Showers, not growers.

Enter Chris Christie.   This week’s Designated Savior of the Republican Party and one of the media’s favorite shiny toy.

The Republican bench of potential candidates for 2016 is long, eager and many are rabid red-meat right-wingers whom refuse to compromise, negotiate or acknowledge political realities.   This plays well with the base of the party.   It scares the hell out of the general electorate in a presidential election.

Christie is one of those guys who went from obscurity to popularity and never stopped at humility.   He should enjoy his time riding high in the news cycle.   It won’t last because it never does.   Another shinier and prettier toy will come along and the media and the public will trot along behind it like puppies.

In politics destiny is occasionally confused with inevitably.   New Jersey has been the nexus of this phenomenon of late when two separate, but important events occurred.   Cory Booker went from the ambitious and nationally popular mayor of Newark to the first African-American to win a Senate seat in a state election since another ambitious African-American named Barack Obama did the same in 2006.  We all know where his ambitions took him and have no doubt Booker will eventually try to follow Obama’s career arc.

“Cory, just because I made you ride in the back of my helicopter is no reason to get mad.”

But that’s further in the future.  Here and now the other notable event was the Garden State’s incumbent governor, Chris Christie, easily won reelection in a race he was supposed to win in a Democratic state that admires his rough-around-the-edges Republicanism.  What made the victory notable to the self-styled seers and wise men sifting the tea leaves for the 2016 presidential race is how the governor cobbled together enough votes from traditionally Democratic supporters for a fawning national media to dub Christie the man  to rescue a party that seems to have forgotten how to win national elections.

It’s too early to tell, but he appears to have the makings of such a politician. It isn’t just that his four-year record of incumbency netted him a reelection margin of 60.4 percent compared to just 38.1 percent for his Democratic opponent, although that suggests that he is capable of generating considerable political force. More significant is his performance among particular voter categories. Women gave him a 15 percentage-point advantage over his female rival. People who identified themselves as moderates gave him a 21-point advantage. Independent voters turned to him by a 31-point margin. Even 30 percent of self-described liberals backed him. Meanwhile, he took half of the Hispanic vote and more than 20 percent of the African-American vote.

If  Christie could be elected by the slobbering mainstream media, he’d be the next POTUS.  Unfortunately for him, he’s gonna have to go stand in some Iowa cornfield in about two years and try to explain to some skeptical farmer chewing tobacco and spitting it out why he should support him over a true believer like Ted Cruz or Rand Paul.

Without a doubt it was a big win for the big man, but Chrstie’s triumph looks even more impressive in comparison to Tea Party poster boy and right-wing radical Ken Cuccinelli’s humbling defeat in Virginia to Terry McAuliffe, a Bill Clinton insider.

Christie’s appeal lies in when compared to the right-wing extremism of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and the “oh no, not another one” stink all over Jeb Bush, he benefits by being the least terrible choice.  For the GOP insiders, while they may grumble over Christie literally embracing President Obama, they can’t deny his popularity and the possibility his gruff, take-no-stuff persona may play well nationally.

What won’t play well is Christie’s imperious and often rude attacks on teachers, labor unions, journalists and other Republicans who cross him.  The GOP base won’t care about dissing those first three groups, but if Christie hopes to win the nomination he can’t treat the rest of the Republican field like bleeping idiots even if they are bleeping idiots.

I’m trying to imagine Christie in a debate with Paul, Cruz, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan and whomever shows up all slicing and dicing into him and getting redder and madder as he struggles to hold his volcanic anger in check.   I don’t think he can for an entire campaign without at least one major eruption of Mt. Chris Christie.

Americans like tough guys, but they don’t like mean guys and Christie can be very mean.   That’s a liability and he’ll have to learn how to temper his noted temper.

Christie is not a secret liberal fantasy.   He’s a solidly mainstream Republican who has some moderate positions because he’s a governor in a pretty blue/Democratic state.   That will serve Christie well in a general election, but can he even get out of the Republican primaries when everyone from Cruz to Paul to Marco Rubio and the rest are going to be aiming for that target on his double-wide butt?

It’s not a lock Christie even gets the nomination despite the fact many of the traditional Republicans will hold their nose and support him despite not being ideologically “pure.”

Christie would be a moderate but only more moderate in comparison than Cruz, Paul or Rubio (but not that much more).    Christie’s lap-band surgery isn’t about slimming down but to take off the table the lingering question of whether Americans wants an obese president, but  until the pounds melt away, Christie will still offer plenty of room for his admirers and critics to ride his butt all the way to 2016.

Nice podium, Barack. Mind if I keep it?

Hillary On Top

"Look guys, you're boring the hell out of me."

“Look guys, you’re boring the hell out of me.”

Here are two good rules of thumb.   When a president starts to work the list of who he wants serving in the Cabinet, it’s important to get the Secretary of State selection right.   Choose a great or at least a pretty good Secretary of State, and it doesn’t matter if the Secretary of Transportation or the Interior Department is a stiff.   Nobody remembers who ran the Labor Department for Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush and nobody cares either.

The other rule of thumb is the earlier a career politician denies any interest in running for the presidency the sooner you know they’re lying through their teeth.

Hillary Clinton was a pretty good Secretary of State and yes, she’s running for president in 2016.  This falls under the category of a stone-cold lock.    Her prospects were boosted by the four years of image rehabilitation she underwent as the globe trotting face of President Obama’s foreign policy.

She wants to be president.  She’s got the best resume in American politics (First Lady, U.S. Senator, Secretary of State) and whomever challenges  her is starting as second best.

After losing the Democratic nomination to the upstart, first-term Senator from Illinois, the Clinton brand had taken a terrible hit.   Hillary had run a lousy campaign and Bill, the so-called “first Black president” was stunned to be called out as a bigot for some of his remarks critical of Obama.    The internecine warfare between two of the brightest lights the Democrats had to offer held a distinct possibility of fracturing the party into two camps, the Obama camp that needed to call a ceasefire in hostilities in order to focus on beating John McCain and the Clinton camp that was angered by Obama’s hardball tactics and the none-too-subtle implication they were the only thing standing between Bill’s third term.

Nobody felt sorry for Hillary and Bill. They came into the 2008 campaign with every advantages. Money, name recognition, endorsements, party organization and the whole nine yards. And they got out-hustled, out-messaged, out-campaigned and just plain outwitted by somebody who learned The Clinton playbook and beat them at their own game.

Then Obama did something as smart as it was unexpected.  He asked his bitter rival to accept his invitation and serve in the hardest and most important position in his Administration.  Say what you will about the job of vice-president.   The most important trait for Joe Biden to show is loyalty.   Hillary Clinton had to demonstrate efficiency.

“This way to 2016, honey.”

Looking at the 60 Minutes exit interview Obama and Clinton held and the genuine affection and mutual respect they seem to have built over his first term, all the bad blood may not have been entirely forgotten, but it does seem to have been largely forgiven.

Last week Clinton sat for over five hours of grilling by House and Senate Republicans purportedly looking for answers of what the outgoing Secretary of State knew about the security lapses and the mistakes that led to four dead American embassy personnel in Benghazi including Ambassador Chris Stevens.   But it wasn’t just an inquiry for elected officials as it was also a chance for a few likely GOP presidential candidates to take shots at the early odds-on leader in the Democratic clubhouse.

Marco Rubio couldn’t lay a glove on Clinton.   Senators Rand “needs a better wig” Paul and Ron Johnson alternatingly baffled and annoyed her with their line of questioning.  Johnson, a Tea Party twit  from Wisconsin was so in over his head, he was tweaked by The Washington Post for “having the worst week.”

It was the Angry White Men on Capitol Hill vs. The Cooler Than Ice Clinton and she schooled them so badly all Angriest White Man of Them All, John McCain ran to Fox to whine over how the media was fawning over her performance.  Hey, Johnny, you do know there’s pills you can take when you have “performance issues.”   You need some Republican Viagra?

This is how you know how well-positioned Hillary is for 2016.  The GOP is already sharpening their blades trying to cut her down.

They’re going to need bigger and sharper knives.   You can’t buy the kind of positive p.r. Hillary Clinton is enjoying as she goes into a relatively brief political hibernation and she rests, recharges and begins to assemble the team and strategy she will need to follow the historic presidency of the nation’s first Black Chief Executive with the first woman to serve in that role.

The rehabilitation is over.  The reputation has been restored.    Clinton steps away from the spotlight knowing when she returns there isn’t another likely candidate with a resume of accomplishments or popularity to match her own.  Now she can take some time to write a book, make some money on the lecture circuit,  buy a whole new closet full of pantsuits and once she’s tanned, rested and ready, start laying the groundwork for achieving the dream she never quite gave up on.

Rivals turned allies?

Rivals turned allies?