Things are not turning out how many thought they would. I include myself in those persons. Although, I am not in the group from this area who predicted that our next president would be a fellow Miamian. But last January, I foresaw a totally different lineup of leaders in the Republican primaries come the beginning of 2016.
For starters, at this time last year political pundits had practically crowned Jeb Bush the Republican nominee – no matter that he had yet to jump in the race. He had the backing of a majority of Republican political donors – contributions he started amassing even before declaring his candidacy. He also had the right connections to the party establishment, something two previous presidents in the family made easy for him.
It turns out, and this is my personal opinion, that Jeb thought this first part of the journey, the primary, would be his to lose. The feeling I get is that the younger Bush felt entitled. In his mind he kept reminding himself, “Hey! I AM a Bush.”
He has disappointed. He has not appeared prepared. From the outside looking in he does not seem to want to work very hard either – except when it comes to collecting political contributions.
Jeb has been a flop. The only chance he has going forward is if he is nominated at the political convention in a unity vote in hopes of uniting a very divided Republican group.
Then there’s Marco Rubio, the other Miamian in the race. Ambitious, talented, charismatic, this guy’s got the goods. In fact, he’d scare me against any Democrat in the race because of these qualities, and his youth. Aesthetically speaking, he paints a prettier picture than either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.
But lately he seems to be running against himself. I refer to his many problems, shortcuts along the way and obvious misjudgments. His own Republican followers are starting to believe the fact that he’s too young and inexperienced. Not ready for the big leap. Another description I’ve heard of Rubio was uttered by a Bush ally who described him as a “weather vane.” In other words, he changes directions (and stances) as easily as the wind. The irascible republican pundit George Will, in his Washington Post column, writes of Marco: “What boxer Sonny Liston’s manager said of him (Sonny had his good points, the trouble was his bad points) is true of Marco Rubio.” And it’s showing in the polls.
Marco’s brother-in-law, the drug dealer; his dubious financial decisions; his controversial votes in the Senate; his lack of work ethic in that same august body; an ability to change his stance from day to day in order to help himself; and a host of other criticisms from both the right and the left have put the once promising (to those who like him) candidate behind Donald Trump and Ted Cruz by a wide margin. And now in January, when he was supposed to start his march to the front, his poll numbers are headed down instead of up.
Iowa, the first primary is just weeks away. If that election were held today, it’s currently a toss-up between Trump and Cruz. And Cruz is running into the “Is he American enough” problem, having been born in Canada. Also, there’s the little problem that recently broke of the secret $500,000 he received during his campaign for U.S. Senate. About a week later, in the New Hampshire primary, the news is about the same. Cruz and Trump, or Trump and Cruz depending on the poll. The same can be said of South Carolina.
So it’s an unusual year. Can you imagine Donald Trump as the Republican nominee? Or even Ted Cruz.
Seriously, the more I look at the politics coming out of the Republican side the more I am sure that that party has problems. Imagine having to choose between an egomaniac clown with fascist tendencies, or a Grampa Munster* lookalike (take a look at the picture to the right) in Ted Cruz, beloved by tea partiers and hated by the Republicans themselves.
One last thing while we deal with this odd (political) year. Some are starting to refer to the Hillary Clinton race as déjà vu. On the Democratic side, Hillary has a real race at hand. And who would have predicted she’d be in a dead heat with a 74-year-old self-proclaimed socialist.
The presumptive nominee in 2008, who then became the presumptive nominee for 2016, may get beaten by Bernie Sanders, whose poll numbers have been on an upward trend and whose crowds as he stumps around the country are much larger than Clinton’s. No one’s sure who will win Iowa. New Hampshire looks like a Bernie victory.
Imagine… Hillary was supposed to come out victorious in Iowa against Obama back in 2008. And look what happened.
Will history repeat itself?
* Grampa Munster is a character in the 1960s television show, The Munster, an American television sitcom depicting the home life of a family of benign monsters. Grampa was played by Al Lewis.