Monday, August 17, 2015

5 Questions about the 2016 Elections

This past weekend posed a huge variety of different political topics, all of which will probably be discussed a bit more at-length if they gain legs, but because I have a few thoughts on each of them, we're going to go with a briefer look at my opinions of the race for the White House.  Let's get started!

1. Is Joe Biden or Al Gore going to enter the race, and is this a good thing?

First off, I'm feeling less-and-less likely that Al Gore will enter, but more and more bullish on Biden.  Biden clearly can feel the heat from a number of different people, even if the pragmatism (particularly surrounding how he'll be able to compete financially with both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, not to mention assemble a team when a lot of the best talent has already headed over to HRC) of the situation has some concerns.  Biden is getting in the race for two reasons.  First, there is a real sense of dread surrounding Hillary Clinton's campaign, and the way that it seems to be living in too much of a bubble on the email controversy, and more tellingly, Hillary Clinton's trustworthiness.  The Vice President may have all of the same weaknesses in almost every other column to Clinton (Washington insider, age, Obama administration), but Joe Biden is damn likable and almost too honest-these are areas of concern where he can overcome her.

2. President Bernie Sanders?

The second reason is that there are no real options after Hillary Clinton.  The reality is that Bernie Sanders may be a fine senator who can shift Clinton, Biden, or whomever is the eventual nominee to the left, but as a socialist and a Vermont liberal he's not an acceptable choice for the nomination.  Anyone who says that he has a shot at winning is delusional.  Short of Donald Trump being the GOP nominee (which is still a long-shot), the Republicans will have a nominee like Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush who will be viewed far more seriously than Sanders, who simply won't be acceptable to moderate Democrats in critical key states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida.  Howard Dean was in a similar situation in 2004 but he would have been a disaster against Bush.  The reality is that if Clinton were to falter completely, Sanders isn't going to be able to transform his party's banner into 270 electoral votes, and none of the other candidates has shown enough skill to be a decent alternative.  End of story, and anyone who thinks otherwise is naive or knows nothing of politics.

As a result of Sanders taking all of the oxygen out of the room, the only real candidates that have a strong shot are candidates who come in with universal name recognition.  For the Democrats there are only three names that aren't constitutionally ineligible or Hillary Clinton: Al Gore, John Kerry, and Joe Biden.  All three men have either served as VP or been a near-miss at the White House already (or both).  Biden seems the most interested in the three (though make no mistake-Gore or Kerry if they thought they figured they could win the general would be in that race in a heartbeat-you never stop wanting to be president if you make it that far), and as a result is the one those looking at Hillary Clinton with dread are wooing into the race.

3. Should Biden Only Run for One-Term

This is lunacy, in my opinion.  If Biden goes in stating he doesn't know if he'll be healthy enough to be president for two terms the public isn't going to give him one.  The reality is that the "one-term" pledge (which has been entertained by multiple post-Civil War candidates only to be rejected by almost all of them saving Chester A. Arthur), is a bad one, and considering the GOP wanted to make Obama a lame-duck the second he won the 2012 election, what's to say a one-term Biden presidency would be the same.  Biden can think this internally, and if his health isn't up for 2020 he could skip out while he was president, but saying it during the campaign is political suicide.

4. Is Trump for Real?

Donald Trump has managed to maintain his bounce after the debates, and while other candidates have ebbed and flowed a bit (Bush and Walker are down, Fiorina and Rubio are up), Trump remains on-top.  At this point the question isn't necessarily an absolute no toward whether Trump could get the nomination or become a major voice in the Republican primaries, but more so it's about what could that possibly look like.  I still don't think it's a strong possibility, but to dismiss it out of hand is starting to seem insulated from reality.  Lest we forget George HW Bush came in third in the Iowa primaries in 1988 to not only Bob Dole, who was seen as a credible candidate, but also televangelist Pat Robertson, probably the closest a candidate has come to mirroring Trump.  Robertson couldn't run a national campaign, though, and lost out on his momentum out-of-Iowa after Bush crushed both he and Dole in New Hampshire.  Had Robertson had a better ground-game in New Hampshire, Michael Dukakis may well have become president since Robertson's nomination would have been unthinkable in the general, even in 1988.  Trump's ground-game and GOTV has to at least be examined at this point for us to gage if he's a credible candidate (Trump's candidacy may well be what is driving Biden/Gore as well to be considering their races, considering that him making it to the general likely would make the primary, and not November 2016, the challenge).

5. Is John Kasich is Making a Mistake on Iraq?

If there was a major winner out of the debates that pretty much everyone agreed upon, it was Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who clearly sees a potential derailment of the Bush campaign as his window into being the "establishment" candidate for president.  He does have experience and more recent executive wins than Bush, but he still can appear rusty, as is evidenced by the Iraq War comments he recently made.  Jeb Bush has to wear the badge of an unpopular war thanks to his brother, a war he can't really denounce without it seeming like a huge slap-in-the-face to his family's legacy, but Kasich should learn from John Kerry and Hillary Clinton that you can't undo history, and as he was a congressman in 2002, he voted for the Iraq War as well and is just as culpable in that regard as Bush.  Will this derail his campaign completely?  Of course not.  But it's also important to note that many of the longer-term Republicans have to deal with the Bush legacy whether or not they want to, and it'll be more likely that a Democrat, not a Republican, is able to gain points on Jeb Bush in that regard.

And there you have it-a quick glide through the presidential stories of the weekend.  Any that I missed?  Any that you want to weigh in on?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

No comments: