By Greg Wilson/Anderson Observer
I have been following and/or covering politics for more than 40 years and cannot recall any presidential candidates with thinner skin than Donald Trump and Ben Carson. Grown men answer questions with honest integrity. They do not attack those asking questions. We need more adults who want to be president. Don't these guys realize difficult, probing questions are part of being the chief executive?
On the other side of the aisle, Hillary is the most closed off, paranoid candidate perhaps ever. She makes Nixon seem downright open. She thinks she can build a wall that no one has the right to scale, and since she's had a secret service agent assigned to her for a quarter century, she thinks bodyguards and roping off media areas are just normal ways of life. While I don't think Carson or Trump will survive the process and get the nomination, I think Hillary likely will, and unless the GOP finds a less extreme, fragmented strategy, she's more than likely to get elected.
I had greater hopes for the political process in this country until the polarization of the past couple of decades, where posturing and yelling up front have replaced working out what is best for the country behind closed doors. The GOP invokes the name of Reagan, but he would be unelectable today. His charisma would be overshadowed by stories of his days as president of a union, his divorce and whether or not he colored his hair. Reagan understood the idea of having a short list of priorities and spent much of his two terms working out deals out of the spotlight of the press, behind closed doors, with Speaker Tip O’Neil. Today’s GOP would brand him as too willing to compromise, too friendly with the Democrats.
The last GOP presidential candidate who seemed to understand this was Bob Dole and the party neutered his strengths with a horrible campaign.
On the on side of the aisle, the Democrats have volleyed the angry extremist elements of the GOP back over the net with little more policy talk than “we’re not like the crazy Republicans.” This has given them the White House 16 of the last 24 years, while Congress has flipped and flopped on who held the majority.
Sure, there are a few issues - abortion, gun control, health care, taxation - which separate their rhetoric. But even on these issues, few seem able or willing to offer specific details or plans on how they would make progress toward solving these problems. There was a day not so long ago when every candidate would release hundreds of pages of position papers explaining where they stood on the issues of the day.
Today, these documents are replaced with yard signs, bumper stickers, and, if you we are fortunate, a two-sided panel card with bullet-pointed lists of why the candidate is a great American.
Has 2016 brought the worst group of presidential hopefuls ever? As a class, yes. There may not be a Henry Wallace, Strom Thurmond or Aaron Burr among the group, but as a lot this roster brings more “I don’t really like any of them, but…” than any in history.
A few raise questions of why they are burning money on a presidential run. Does anyone not related to Martin O’Malley think he has any chance at the Democratic nomination? Even if Hillary is indicted and is forced to drop out, the O’Malley would still not be seen as a legitimate option.
Bernie Sanders has captured the imagination of even more voters than Barack Obama and has raised more money from more small donations than anyone in history. Despite this, his insistence on harping on the term socialist and his approach will keep him from getting the nomination. Even when presenting a compelling message, Sanders drifts into lecturing and though he is pushing Hillary to the left, Bernie leans too far that way without apology to get the nomination.
Meanwhile the Clinton machine has Hillary on a fast track to be the Democrats presidential offering for 2016. The hint of making Julian Castro, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, her running mate, has brought even more energy to her campaign.
It seems increasingly unlikely she will be indicted on the email controversy, which leaves the question of who will be her opponent
Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, George Pataki Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, even Carly Fiorina quite simply will never be president. Why anyone is still donating money to any of these campaigns is a real mystery.
This leaves Donald Trump, Ben Carson, John Kasich, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. As I have already said, Trump and Carson will likely fade after some early successes. Carson leads in Iowa? Pat Robertson won Iowa. Trump wins the New Hampshire primary? Harold Stassen also won in New Hampshire.
There are 54 more primaries and caucuses to follow. If Rubio can survive the questions of personal finances, pairing him and Kasich offers the GOP their best shot at defeated Hillary Clinton because it could give them victories in the key states of Florida and Ohio. Cruz might step in for Rubio in the same strategy, should Rubio stumble.
Bush’s best chance at a nomination is the fact the GOP is experiencing something new in this cycle, millionaire/billionaire supporters who can keep candidates running no matter their showing in primaries, caucuses and polls. It is because of this Jeb Bush can stay in the race until the convention, even if he continues to post poor showings.
Bush hopes probably land on the chance of a brokered convention, which the nation has not seen since 1952. If no clear candidate emerges after the campaign season, the choice goes to the convention, where Bush might garner enough support based largely on his ability to have survived the run with enough mainstream GOP support and money left over to run in the general elections.
Finally, will the candidates please stop whining about debate formats and questions?
If you are not fast enough on your feet to deal with even the worst the media throws at you, thou are not fit to be President of the United States.
Grow up, candidates, and remember you are asking voters to make you leader of the free world. If you cannot handle questions of newsreaders on television, why would we trust you to handle being president?