Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What Now?

Rubio announcing the suspension of his campaign last night (NBC)
Well, my guy is out. Marco Rubio suspended his campaign yesterday in what can only be called a humiliating loss to Donald Trump in his home state of Florida. This is truly a shame. Under normal circumstance Rubio would have been a shoe-in. He had all the ingredients. He’s smart; He’s young; He has a young family; he is telegenic; he has ethnic appeal to Hispanics; his policies are conservative but still mainstream enough to not repel moderates; his values - guided by his faith reflect those of most Americans;  he has foreign policy experience gained as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and is certainly the most pro Israel candidate running - which for me at least was a major plus!

He was in other words THE alternative to Hillary Clinton - the ultimate insider who has taken a major left turn in response to the unexpected success of her socialist opponent in the Democratic primaries. At this point she sounds more liberal than Obama!

Alas, the Trump machine just steam rolled right over Rubio. I’m not sure he ever had a chance in today’s political climate. He did however have some pretty bad missteps – that contributed to his demise.

The first was his bad performance in an early debate where he kept repeating the same talking points in response to moderator questions. Talking points which had little if anything to do with the questions asked. He kept repeating them - over and over. Governor Christie got the best of him that night in a big way. He kept pointing it out making Rubio look really bad. Although he did have a brief recovery from that, it didn’t last very long.

The second thing, which in my view was the final blow to his campaign, is when he got in the gutter with Trump. In the course of that - he made an off-color joke about him, which was repeated in the media over and over again. With that - his candidacy was essentially over. Even though he later admitted it was mistake to do that, it was too late by then. The damage was done. It was pretty much downhill all the way after that.

I remain shocked by all of this. It doesn’t matter what is thrown at him - Donald Trump’s support keeps growing - getting stronger by the day. He has been shown to be a fraud, and a bully. He is vulgar. He smears his opponents – using the slightest innuendo from a tweet as though it were  a hard proven fact. He insults Hispanics and women, He insults Muslims. He gets support from both David Duke and Louis Farrakhan, 2 polar opposite anti-Semites; he has alienated world leaders, makes outrageous promises he knows he can’t keep. And has said he would be ‘even-handed’ in his approach to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. That word is seen my most experts in the Middle East as code for being pro Palestinian. Worst of all, he incites violence in his followers, and in his detractors.

And yet the more he does those things, the more support he gets. What kind of a country are we living in?!

I said in a recent post that his real persona is probably not what we are seeing now. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the persona he projects is what seems to motivate his supporters. That’s the scary part. He’s tapped into an anger that few people realized was there. At least not to such an extent. I don’t think even Trump realized it when he kicked off his campaign. But he sure realizes it now. And he’s capitalizing on it to major success.

The anger is there on both sides of the political aisle, That’s why Berine Sanders, a socialist, is making a strong showing against Clinton. People are angry. In any other year, a Bernie Sanders candidacy would have been a joke. I don’t hear anybody laughing.

Trump lost Ohio. That may slow down his momentum. Which means there is a glimmer of hope that he will not get enough delegates in the primaries to assure his nomination at the Republican National Convention. If I understand how these things work, if candidate is not nominated on the first ballot, delegates are free to vote for whomever they choose.

If that happens. I don’t see Trump getting the nomination. Everyone in the Republican party hates him. I think even supporters like Christie hate him. They just saw the handwriting on the wall early and wanted to hop on the winning bandwagon.

In the unlikely event that this does happen, there is one candidate that they could choose that would have a decent chance at beating Mrs. Clinton. I’m just not sure he would accept the nomination if it were offered. But if there is a contested convention, I hope he takes it - if offered. His name is Paul Ryan, current Speaker of the House of Representatives.

By all accounts, Paul Ryan is an honorable man that is well liked on both sides of the political aisle. Like Rubio, his conservative values are faith based which I believe reflect the values of most Americans. And like Rubio he’s young and he’s smart; His expertice on on the economy is acknowledged even by his opponents. This is a man I would vote for in a heartbeat. And I think most Americans would too. He has no negatives. Mrs. Clinton has many.

Back to reality. Although polls show Clinton beating Trump in the general election, I am not so sure about that. Nothing is guaranteed in the next election. Polls don’t always tell you the story. Ask Michigan. Strange as this may sound, I would not be surprised if some of Sanders voters would turn to Trump instead of Clinton. Just as a protest vote against the status quo which Clinton certainly represents. Ideology be damned!

The two candidates most likely to run for President have the highest negatives of any other candidate that ever ran for President. True, both Clinton and Trump have a lot of support. But they also  generate an almost visceral hate among many those who did not vote for them. There are a lot of people like me that are going to vote for the lesser of two evils.

For me, I will have to hold my nose and vote for Clinton. As bad as her attitude is… and as much as she will continue the bad policies of her predecessor – both economic and foreign… and as much as her Supreme Court nominations will be disastrous for those of us who hold traditional values dear, this country cannot afford a man like Trump to lead our country. He is an embarrassment. He’s not going to make America great again. He will drive our reputation into the ground. If he hasn’t done that already.