Thursday, June 4, 2015
by Reed Galen
Days Until Iowa Caucus: 243
Officially Declared Candidates:
· Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) – (announcing today)
· Sen. Lincoln Chafee (D-RI)
· Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
· Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD)
· Gov. George Pataki (R-NY)
· Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR)
· Dr. Ben Carson (R-MD)
· Carly Fiorina (R-VA)
· Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
· Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
· Sec. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
· Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
· Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
· Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA)
Welcome to the American Singularity.
Why the Singularity?
· The presidential nominating process is one in which everything, large and small, is sucked into its gravitational maw, allowing nothing to escape its grasp as events pass through the campaign cycle’s event horizon.
· There is no more singular political experience on the planet than electing the President of the United States.
· The United States is still the most free, most prosperous and brightest beacon of hope to billions around the world.
Every action and reaction feeds into this black hole of press coverage, donor reactions, voter sentiment and activist opinions. Nothing goes unnoticed and nothing is forgotten. Legions of reporters, bloggers, opposition researchers, trackers, social media monitoring services, vacuum up every last syllable.
Every week we’ll take a look at the campaign as it unfolds, and how events reflect the campaigns, the issues of the day and the country at large. Have a tip, piece of advice or something to add? Email me – firstname.lastname@example.org
This Week: Off the Rails - Randy and the Huckster
In the last two weeks two Republican candidates - Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a top-tier contender and Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) committed self-inflicted wounds that will make their climbs to the GOP nomination much more difficult. For Paul, his habit of making statements bordering on the outrageous tipped the scales during the fight over the Patriot Act's re-authorization. For Huckabee, it's even more puzzling. While he is a beacon of the Christian right, why he decided to come rushing to the aid of an accused (and then admitted) child molester may likely go down as the defining moment of his campaign - that is - when voters, consciously or unconsciously decided he would not be the next president. Here's the tale of the tape.
Like the greats Barry Obama (Barack Obama), Jerry Rivers (Geraldo Rivera) and Tony Villar (Antonio Villaraigosa) before him, Randy Paul realized that his wasn’t made for the masses. So he went back to his birth name – Rand, bestowed upon him by pater-Ron in honor of Ayn Rand – the founder of Objectivism. But changing one’s name doesn’t change their personality. While Rand may stalk the Senate floor in opposition to the NSA, Randy appears most often – Paul’s own version of Mr. Hyde – thin-skinned, tight-lipped and short with those who don’t ask the questions he wants to answer or ask them in the manner he’d prefer.
Monomania and Hyperbole
I agreed with Rand Paul’s principled opposition to the NSA bulk-data collection program. I agreed with him on his stance on killing American citizens overseas by drone strike without benefit of a trial. But the performance Paul delivered last week crossed the line from principled to martyrism as he carried the 4th Amendment and our individual liberty on his back.
In response to the outcry about those comments, Paul said, “Sometimes in the heat of battle, hyperbole can get the better of anyone and that may be the problem there.” He’s exactly right. It is the problem and he was its cause.
As Americans decide who will best lead the country, Rand Paul has failed the question – are they Presidential? If, when you have time to write your remarks, plan your presentation and know the issue at hand, you can’t control your outbursts, what will he do with the daily crises of the presidency?
Like Father Like Son
In Jeremy Peters’ article this morning, the author explored Rand Paul gaining the trust of his father’s most ardent supporters from 2008 and 2012. Until the NSA fight, they weren’t sure about him. But for Paul, as the article notes, gaining their trust may consequently alienate the Kentucky senator from too much of the Republican primary electorate to be any more of a factor than his dad.
Not to be outdone, last week Mike Huckabee decided to make the first major news of his nascent second presidential run by rushing to the defense of a now-admitted child molester. Since his joining the race, on the only two major policy issues on which Huckabee has spoken – Social Security and Trade Promotion Authority – he’s taken positions with line up pretty closely with organized labor and the AARP.
In a recent interview, Huckabee invoked the line, “The Supreme Court is not a Supreme Being." He’s speaking contextually about same-sex marriage, but Huckabee is malleable enough to mold it to whatever social outrage he’s decrying at the moment. And it’s a catchy line; sure to fire up the social conservative base with which he must reconnect if he has any hopes of winning the Iowa Caucuses again, eight years after doing it the first time.
But his rhetoric displays a shocking lack of knowledge, understanding or both of a) what the Founders (specifically Madison and Jefferson) believed about the separation of church and state b) that we don’t live in 1846 and c) we don't appeal laws to the Almighty. A Mike Huckabee nomination is unlikely – but should he somehow manage to make the drive to November, I can only predict that the results would be downright Mondalean in nature.
Dugging a Hole
Huckabee’s defense of Josh Duggar, the oldest of the 19 children “The Learning Channel” (I use that term very loosely) made famous with their 19 Kids and Counting awfulness, was couched in terms of Christian forgiveness and indignation that some appeared to take great joy that the Duggar clan had received their comeuppance.
Forgiveness is an important virtue. But so is justice. Mr. Duggar committed terrible acts, including with his own siblings and likely won’t be brought to account for his alleged crimes, despite decade-old police reports. Huckabee apparently thinks so little of his supporters that the knee-jerk reaction of coming to the rescue of an Arkansas-based evangelical family would warm their cockles.
He forgot, though, that it’s child molestation. Regardless of the perpetrator’s home state or perceived washed-in-the-blood status, it’s an unconscionable, and for many an unforgivable crime. As the father of two daughters, I cannot imagine, even on the best of my best days finding that kind of grace.
Both Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee have electoral math problems. Paul has to merge the disparate worlds of libertarianism and social conservatism. As in many ways, they are diametrically opposed to one another, how he plans on appealing to both in a way that makes them stand next to each other in an Iowa school gymnasium on a snowy night in February seems further from possible. While I too wish more Americans were concerned about government overreach on American citizens, many Republican voters are on the other side of the debate from Rand.
For Huckabee, there may actually be some crossover between his social conservative base and the economic populism he’s espousing. And it may add up for him in a place like Iowa. However, as the calendar moves along, and the states get bigger, the voters will be made up increasingly of “Establishment” Republicans – ones that more likely believe in free trade and are less religiously inclined. Even if they go to church, they’ll likely be scared off by acts like clinging to the Duggars. He faced the same problems in 2008. 2016 is more crowded and he has more competition for the most conservative voters Iowa has to offer.
It’s been a big couple of weeks for the Presidential Swimming Pool! Five more candidates jumped in – we’ll take you through the contenders (very few) and the pretenders (plenty) in our edition next week.