Thursday, October 29, 2015


In my previous post, I approvingly quoted a tiny bit of this Weekly Standard debate wrap-up by Jonathan Last -- but I disagree with part of Last's main premise. He thinks we have a "final six" in the Republican race -- six remaining serious contenders -- and Jeb Bush is not one of them. I'm with him on that. I'm with him on including Ben Carson, Donald Trump, and Marco Rubio in the final six. I understand including Ted Cruz. (Until now, Cruz hasn't seemed able to translate his burn-it-all-down talk into voter support, but sooner or later he might.)

However, Last is dead wrong to include Carly Fiorina and (especially) Chris Christie.

I told you last month that Fiorina would fade in the polls after a good debate performance, and she did. I told you why she'd fade: Republicans like their women tough but smiley and down-home (even fake down-home) -- like Sarah Palin and Joni Ernst. And what I wrote then seemed true again last night: "Fiorina's words are brined in contempt -- nearly every sentence she utters seems as if it could be completed by an unspoken 'you idiots.'" It's true that men in politics are allowed to be tough and nasty in ways that women are expected not to be, but even men can't be as huffy and contemptuous as Fiorina is, unless they're laser-targeting the contempt at enemies of their voters. Fiorina seems contemptuous of everyone. It doesn't work. In presidential elections, we elect happy warriors -- even people who don't fake it well (Nixon) at least try to seem cheerful and upbeat. She doesn't try.

But Chris Christie, surprisingly, has also become an unhappy warrior. It's odd, because in his heyday, while he always seemed to be angry at someone, he seemed to be having a terrific time being angry. He invited his supporters to share in the joy he felt expressing his wrath, and they did. (They hated the union teachers who challenged him, too.) Now Donald Trump is the angry guy who's having a great time. (Or at least he was up until the last few weeks -- notice that he's mellowed and he's slipping in the polls? Think it's a coincidence that he's not going gangbusters now that he's dialed down his gleeful rage?)

Christie's ideas are overwhelmingly from the conservative end of the spectrum, but he seems to have decided to run a Tom Friedman, Simpson-Bowles, No Labels sort of campaign. He seems to have swallowed the notion -- a favorite of centrist pundits everywhere -- that voters will thrill to the words of a prophet of doom who tells them that they have to shut up and eat their benefit cuts, for the good of the nation. A thousand op-eds have told Christie that voters want to hear this, and he seems certain that it will prove to be true.

Thus, we had this last night:
QUICK: Governor Christie, I'd like to (inaudible) a question next. Actually, I have a question for you (inaudible).

In your tell it like it is campaign, you've said a lot of tough things. You've said that we need to raise the retirement age for Social Security. You think that we need to cut benefits for people who make over $80,000 and eliminate them entirely for seniors who are making over $200,000.

Governor Huckabee, who is here on the stage, has said that you and others who think this way are trying to rob seniors of the benefits that they've earned. It raises the question: When it is acceptable to break a social compact?

CHRISTIE: Well, I wish you would have asked that question years ago when they broke it. I mean, let me be honest with the people who are watching at home. The government has lied to you and they have stolen from you. They told you that your Social Security money is in a trust fund. All that's in that trust fund is a pile of IOUs for money they spent on something else a long time ago.

And they've stolen from you because now they know they cannot pay these benefits and Social Security is going to be insolvent in seven to eight years. We're sitting up here talking about all these other things; 71 percent of federal spending today is on entitlements, and debt service. And, that's with zero percent interest rates.

Now, I'm the only person that's put out a detailed plan on how to deal with entitlements. And we'll save a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. And, here's the difference between me and Hillary Clinton. What Hillary Clinton's going to say, and has said before is, she wants to raise Social Security taxes.

Now, let me ask you a question everybody, and, this is for the guy, you know, who owns a landscaping business out there. If somebody's already stolen money from you, are you going to give them more? Or, are you going to deal with the problem by saying, I'm going to give people who've done well in this country less benefit on the backend. We need to get realistic about this. We're not -- the American people -- forget about anything else, they've already been lied to and stolen from. And...
Wow, there's an inspiring bumper sticker: VOTE CHRISTIE: We Need to Get Realistic.

And, later:
CHRISTIE: ...The only way we're going to be moral, the only way we're going to keep our promise to seniors is start by following the first rule we should all follow, which is to look at them, treat them like adults, and tell them the truth.

It isn't there anymore, Mike. They stole it. It got stolen from them. It's not theirs anymore. The government stole it, and spent it a long time ago...

HUCKABEE: ...Chris...

CHRISTIE: So, let's stop fooling around about this, let's tell people the truth. For once, let's do that, and stop trying to give them some kind of fantasy that's never going to come true.
There's no hope, America! Vote for me!

No, folks, this is not going to work for Chris Christie. Americans may sometimes want to elect a Republican Dad, but they don't want to elect one who says he'll send them to bed without their supper.


Joey Blau said...

Fuck him!! Treason! He is denying the validity of federal debt!!

We need to follow the plan. Redeem the trust fund bonds as needed. The Treasury will pay them off and checks will be mailed. Follow the plan and do not raise FICA taxes. We need to draw down the trust fund. When there is only a 100 bn left we can see about changing rates or benefits.. Should be 25 years or more..

If the entire federal budget is in deficit,we can use fiscal policy to raise taxes to fund the DOD or we can ad to public debt.. Either way, the SS bonds are redeemed.

oc democrat said...

"Republicans like their women tough but smiley and down-home (even fake down-home) -- like Sarah Palin and Joni Ernst."

Joni will be playing the role of Carly in the general election.
Joni is Sara P( the e and a would be toooo big for Sara's brain) with a few more working brain cells, Much prettier than Carly( and Carly's cover is better than the book), and she castrates HOGS( Democrats wanting social programs) for breakfast, lunch, AND Dinner!

For Republicans it Don't get NO better! Carson/Joni and all of a sudden the Republicans are the one's trying to break ceilings.

Regarding Carson, and what Charley Pierce said about ol Herman Cain: "Do you think Republicans are going to give up on 50 years of Bigotry for this guy?"

Feud Turgidson said...

Steve M., it's a sign (I GUESS ...) of the blog's 'growth' that you're increasingly attracting comments not on your point. In any event, Imma go rebel & try to engage THAT.

I like your focusing on Christie's assumed 'strength' (as opposed to his continuing vulnerability to the drip drip drip of the widening BridgeGate scandal investigation; that COULD end up being seen or cast as what does him in, and I FEEL like making a not-too-wild-arsed guess that that's what'll happen, but that involves predicting the direction of a human event whereas seeing the future isn't possible in this or any universe where the arrow of time travels towards entropy). And I also like your view on Fiorina (for something like what's articulated in the last paragraph of OC Dem's comment; i.e. thinking THIS GOP might nominate her or Carson is fantasy).

But as to Jeb!'s prospects, IMO it's more complicated (or nuanced, or for more reason) than you or Last suggest. My own take on Jeb! is (I think) closer to your take Christie: that his most critical roadblock is the 'message' he carries - by his attitude, by his mood, by his inability to project confidence or optimism either in how he presents or his, ahem, policies (to wit: that pathetic collection of standard done-to-death GOP reactionary stances that are all that's left after he's backed off the 2 big things he's best positioned for, being immigration reform & a return to Gipper-era establishmentarianism).

That in turn brings me to my biggest retort to Last & you, which is that the problem you both have here is that there ISN'T any Big 6 here for the GOP. There's only 4, one of whom, Romney, who doesn't look at all likely to jump in. Otherwise, there's Trump (due to the elements of whimsey that DO still apply in this Universe), there's Cruz (who, hateful as he is on so many levels, is even more feral than Nixon with pretty much the same capacity, while being quite a bit more calculating, shrewd & focused than any other declared candidate), and there's the remarkably slippery, glib, opportunistic & unprincipled Rubio (to me, the most likely nominee, not least because everyone, like him or not, like it or not, can envision him being a Formidable Opponent, because he's the most compelling fabulist & truest heir to, not just Nixon but the Gipper).

My final reason for reducing the discussion to 3 is that the longer this GOP contest goes on, the more it turns towards the impending battle head to head with HRC, and only those 3 qualify as being someone the GOP base can picture being up to giving her a truly difficult time.