Wednesday, September 30, 2015
by Reed Galen
Days Until Iowa Caucus: 121
Quote by A Smart Person: “Whenever purity is paramount, terror is close at hand.” Lawrence Wright – The Looming Tower (Author's note: If you haven't read this book, buy it today.)
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
American Singularity - Week 28: October
October will be the busiest month of the campaign so far. We still have 15 Republican candidates running (for now) and Vice President Joe Biden will finally let us know whether he’s going to join the scrum and scramble the field further. Capitol Hill is in an uproar and will work at breakneck speed to get things done before Speaker John Boehner leaves office on Halloween.
Farewell, John Boehner, and We Thank You
Last week, having seen the Holy Father speak before a Joint Session of Congress, Speaker of the House John Boehner announced he was retiring at the end of October. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California is his most likely successor.
The members of the Freedom Caucus were dancing in the aisles (if they’re allowed to do that) at the news of Boehner’s departure and their perceived “victory” over a 25 year member of the House who’s biggest sin was being in touch with reality.
And while Boehner is departing stage right, he will keep the government operating and pass a number of other bills likely to further enrage the most conservative members of the House Conference. Boehner’s retirement will cause a series of continual seismic political tremors until the day he leaves office.
We’re starting the fourth year of the GOP Hunger Games – where the factions will fight with one another while the Democrats, convinced they were going to lose next year, start laughing at Republicans unwillingness and inability to just get along with one another. A thousand stories have been written over the years about the schism between the Establishment and Tea Party and/or Social Conservative wings of the GOP. But with both the turmoil on Capitol Hill and the rise of the outsiders in the presidential contest, the fight is reaching a new level of acrimony.
Expect Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz to make the most of Boehner’s actions as he passes a spending measure despite objections from the “Freedom Caucus” over funding for Planned Parenthood. They will point and yell at the establishment candidates and say, “You like what the DC Republicans are doing? Then vote for them, because they’re more of the same!”
Of course, the Freedom Friers and Tea Partiers channel anger but are tilting at windmills. They might have pushed Boehner out the door, they weren’t able to find a suitable replacement. They don’t have a governing ethos because they don’t like the government itself. There is plenty to dislike about government generally, and ours specifically, but truly, what do they envision as the alternative?
Jeb and John and Chris will try and reason with a bunch of angry activists in early states which won’t work. While they will all survive the month of our discontent, it is likely that they will take on some water with the more conservative voters who actually go to Caucuses. The damage is additive – whether it is determinative electorally we’ll have to wait and see.
Dollars and Sense
Today represents the last day of the third finance reporting quarter for federal candidates. They will have to report their results, money raised and spent, outstanding bills, etc…on October 15th. This will be the next benchmark to gauge the health and strength of the various campaigns on both sides.
Given the recent implosion of Scott Walker’s campaign, reporters and campaigns alike will scour the reports to understand how the organizations are spending their money. Who is stockpiling cash for the stretch run (likely to start late next month) and who’s coffers are empty – signaling to all that donors have forsaken them for other options.
UPDATE: Hillary raised $28 million for the quarter (also has the biggest campaign staff by far). Bernie Sanders raised $25 million. Ben Carson raised $20 million - a HUGE number for him.
A Time for Winnowing
With the money reports, the calls will start coming for the smaller and fledgling campaigns to hang up their spikes. We could see as many as three Republican candidates decide to quit the race and maybe a Democrat as well.
As I have said before, the hardest part is note Election Day in Iowa or New Hampshire. The hardest part is GETTING to Election Day in the first place. The various issues, troubles and hurdles with which campaigns must contend is a gauntlet that does not get easier as time goes on. The calendar compresses, like a team on the Goal Line. The campaigns stuck in neutral or in reverse only have a few more opportunities to make their case.
For Hillary Clinton, her campaign will endure another month of being completely off-message. Besides the drip, drip, drip of her email debacle, she has to march up the Capitol steps and face the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), a former federal prosecutor knows this is his moment in the spotlight. Expect the questions to break down on party lines, but still, three straight hours in front of live TV cameras is not easy for anyone, let alone someone running for leader of the free world.
The Democratic candidates will finally face off in their first debate on October 13th. Hillary’s double-whammy of absorbing the incoming attacks from her opponents one week and the slings and arrows of Republican Members of Congress the next will be a study in what running for president is all about: baring a candidate’s innermost self to the entire world. Bernie Sanders will do what he does, he’ll have his answers ready. Martin O’Malley will attack Hillary and the process for not having more debates. Lincoln Chaffee, I don’t know what he does so I can’t foresee what he’ll do.
The Republicans don’t gather again until the end of the month in Boulder, Colorado. CNBC just announced that the threshold for being in the main event is 3% with the rest relegated to the (still in existence) kid’s table debate. The fact that there are two events is huge for the Lindsey Grahams and Rick Santorums of the world. Without it, it would be incredibly difficult for them to reach anyone, regardless of how long their shots are.