Monday, December 21, 2015

If Cruz Beats Herr Trumpf In Iowa, It's Back To Reality TV And Shoddy Real Estate Deals For The Donald


Cruz has replaced Herr Trumpf as the Iowa front runner now. He's ahead of Trumpf among likely GOP caucus goers 40 to 31%, with Rubio way down at 12% for third place and no one else even close. Dr. Ben (6%) has got to be wondering when he drops out and poor Jeb is tied at 2% with Huckabee and Rand Paul.

So.... guess what happened on yesterday's gasbag shows. Actually, Jake Tapper had a worthwhile discussion on CNN's State of the Union with Rand Paul. Paul passed on an opportunity to attack Hillary but went right after Herr Trumpf, comparing "inaccurate" polling with American Idol polling and reiterating that Trumpf would "get wiped out in a general election" and questioning if he believes in any conservative values. He also reminded viewers that "during the debate absolutely Donald Trump no clue to what the nuclear triad is... so now that's he's discovered what it is, he's eager to use it... This is what is very worrisome about not only Trump but Christie and others on the stage who are really eager to have war, really eager to show how 'strong' they are and that gets away from the tradition we have of trying to limit power... and it also gets to temperament. That's why it very much worries me to have someone like Donald Trump or a Chris Christie to be in charge of our nuclear arsenal."

And then Paul went into Cruz's opportunism and flip-flopping. When Tapper asked flat out if he sees Cruz as "a craven politician... a craven opportunist," Paul hesitated a moment before reeling off some examples (immigration, TPP, domestic spying) showing that Cruz isn't someone whose word means anything. "I think on a number of issues, he wants to have it both ways, depending on which audience he's talking to." Certainly Rubio would embrace those sentiments whole heartedly. Yesterday on Face the Nation, Rubio's theme was "Ted Cruz- flip flopper," which may be true but is certainly a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Poking the new Iowa front-runner over immigration, a more important issue for Iowa wing nuts than for wing nuts in other parts of the country, Rubio said "I think Ted wanted to not talk about legalization during the primary and leave himself the option of being for it in a general election. I don’t think that’s fair to the electorate." He also went after Cruz on TPP in a way that is likely to go over the heads of most GOP primary voters. "There are multiple issues on which he’s tried to do these sorts of things. For example, when the free trade agreement was up he wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, he wrote it with Paul Ryan. And just three days later he flipped on it. I don’t know why. He got some pressure on the fast-track authority." Something that won't go over the heads of Iowa voters, though, are Rubio's accusations that Cruz flip-flopped when he voted against $3 billion in cuts to a crop insurance program, something he orginally voted for. Rubio: "He’s done it on votes on farm issues. In fact changed his vote on the floor of the Senate. If you’re going to attack someone on a policy issue, you need to be clear about where you stand on the issue and where you stood in the past. When you spend your whole time telling people that you’re a clear talker and you say what you mean and everyone else is a sellout but you’re the only purist, I think it’s fair to say, 'Well hold on a second, here’s where you’ve been on the past on some issues and here’s where you are now.'"

Why anyone would care what she thinks is beyond me but yesterday Fox News Sunday must have been hard up for a credible guest so they invited Fiorina on instead. The spectacularly failed former business executive-- currently polling 1% nationally among likely Republican primary voters-- asserted that "Trump can’t beat Hillary Clinton" and that if GOP voters nominate him they'll be giving Hillary "a big Christmas gift wrapped up under the tree." But despair not, Fiorina has a way out for Republicans: "I," she insisted, "am the lump of coal in Mrs. Clinton stocking, and she desperately hopes that she does not run against me."

Actually, Fiorina, a compulsive liar, who voters have grown to detest since first meeting her earlier this year, would be a dream candidate for any Democrat. Unless Cruz actually makes her his running mate, she has no political role going forward. The most recent poll of Iowa Republicans show her with just 2%. She trails Trumpf, Cruz, Rubio, Christie, Kasich, Jeb, Dr. Ben and Rand Paul among New Hampshire Republicans with just 4% for 9th place, and in South Carolina she's tied with Christie, Lindsey Graham, Huckabee and "no preference" with 1%.

Another candidate no one really wants to hear from-- except as comic relief-- is Lindsey Graham, who finally bowed out of the campaign this morning. In fact, some might say that Graham, whose national polling numbers have almost never-- and absolutely never since June-- strayed above zero percent, would have been insane to continue running for president, if that's what he was doing. He is the one who started babbling about The Princess Bride and seemed to be calling Ted Cruz Princess Buttercup. Let's hope he doesn't see himself as Wesley. And who's Prince Humperdinck, Herr Trumpf?

Lindsey, who is now at 1% among his home state Republicans, has raised $3,038,701 for his campaign and another $4,762,211 for his SuperPACs (primarily Security is Strength SuperPAC). So he has outraised Rick Santorum, Pataki, Herr Trumpf, and Kasich and is about tied with religionist nut Mike Huckabee. His biggest source of funds have been the Russian Mafia's Len Blavatnik  ($500,000), Bob McNair, owner of the Houston Texans ($500,000), Ronald Perelman, owner of holding company MacAndrews & Forbes ($500,000), Jonathon Jacobson, CEO of Boston hedge fund Highfields Capital Management ($250,000) and Scott Ford, CEO of Little Rock commodity traders Westrock Capital Partners ($250,000).

Graham, like Rubio and Hillary, is an unapologetic neocon. (Now Hillary is even blaming the whopper she told about Trumpf/ISIS recruitment at the delate Saturday on an alcohol-fueled Graham fantasy.) On most other fronts, he tends to be relatively mainstream, especially compared to the other Republicans vying for attention. But campaigning in New Hampshire yesterday, Graham said that 6 of his GOP primary opponents range from "mildly disturbed to completely insane." OK, and obviously Graham thinks of Herr Trumpf, Cruz, Dr. Ben, Fiorina and Huckabee as "completely insane." So who's #6, the "mildly disturbed" one? Christie? Santorum? Both are pretty nuts. And if he feels 6 of his opponents are mentally unstable, would he agree none of them should be allowed to purchase firearms?

Of course, as Republican Party strategist David Frum was tweeting yesterday, his party has far more to worry about than just crackpot presidential candidates like Trumpf, Cruz and Fiorina. One day Pelosi will be gone, a competent DCCC will be in place and the GOP will start losing dozens and dozens of congressional seats.

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