"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Reading The 2016 Tea Leaves”: GOP Candidates Shaping Up To Be No Match For Hillary Clinton

Pull up a chair and step into my political therapy and prediction parlor.

Jeb Bush, let’s start with you. It’s over. Seldom has the nation’s political class expected so much promise – and seen and heard so little – from a presidential contender.

On Aug. 31, in this space, I declared the former Florida governor “unelectable.” Few pundits and pollsters grasped that at the time. Except for Maureen Dowd, who just published a sharp-edged elegy for Jeb in The New York Times. She’s the leading observer of the Bushes in the wild in Washington, Florida, Texas and Maine.

All I knew was that Jeb had nothing smart, witty or winning to say. My friends and I were gobsmacked that there was a Bush we liked less than the warmongering George W. Bush, who left the country trashed just like his Yale fraternity house. Jeb’s dreary, dutiful campaign came across like peeling an onion and ending up in tears.

His frail father, the 41st president, recently restated the Bush philosophy in a note to Jeb: “Go win.” Letting down “Poppy” (George H.W. Bush’s nickname) will be the the unkindest cut for Jeb.

But entitlement and mediocrity don’t sell well a second time around the block. Clueless Jeb thought his last name was an asset and found no fault with “my brother.” That’s how he was raised in the competitive family jock compound, from mother’s milk on: Bushes win, whatever it takes. (Case in point: Florida in 2000.) Sorry, but he deserves to lose before the first ballot is cast for boring us silly.

Jeb feels doubly betrayed, first because the party could not save his place, his rightful first place in the race. Second, young Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida rebuked him in the last debate for making a snide remark about Rubio missing Senate votes. (Jeb managed to insult France, too.) That was utterly devastating moment for Bush, shaking up his blue-blooded order of things. Refusing to defer, Rubio met his mentor as an equal on the field of battle and drew blood. Anything but nimble, if Jeb can’t nail an opponent for missing votes (a cardinal sin), then let him be gone. In Donald Trump’s words: “You’re fired.”

Now it’s your turn, Sen. Rubio, the new media darling, because that’s how fickle we are. I’ve actually watched him in the Senate, when he shows up, and can tell you he is seen as a show horse, not a workhorse. That’s a quaint distinction, but it’s as if it were invented for Rubio, who has done virtually nothing of weight. There were high hopes in 2013 that he might build a bipartisan immigration bill, but he did not have the legislative chops to make that happen. Simply put, Rubio does not command enough respect among his 99 colleagues to do something big in a divided body. Lately, his open scorn for the job is hurting his Senate Q score even more.

Now comes Sen. Ted Cruz, another young, southern Republican in the running. He is probably the least-liked senator, known for his tea parties of one on the Senate floor and his insults and barbs across the aisle. He even “dissed” his own majority leader, Mitch McConnell, which is just not done in public. Cruz doesn’t care. He was a champion debater at Princeton and clearly loves politics as a blood sport. He’s also shrewd enough to cast his lot with Trump, who looks like the jovial Muffin Man next to Cruz.

Brighter and meaner than Rubio, still Cruz shares something important in common with him. They’re both children of Cuban immigrants. Fidel Castro’s influence still reaches down to the children of the exiled generation, who have dominated the political scene in Miami. They hold important seats in Congress, too, always a vehemently conservative coalition. And I mean, even more reactionary than your average elephant. Most prominent Cuban-Americans in national politics are still acting out in anger (or reacting) over the Castro revolution. That event happened more than 50 years ago, before Rubio and Cruz were born. Let’s move on, shall we?

It’s ironic that just as President Obama unlocks the door to diplomatic relations with Cuba, there are two candidates to succeed him that have been shaped by furious anti-Castro feeling as an article of political faith. It would be sad if this hostility reached the level of the White House.

To wrap up, Vice President Joe Biden was wise not to go to the deep end of the pool and run for president for a third time. He will be 73 this month. While many swooned for him, fellow scribes, I wrote weeks ago the likable Biden was not really electable, either. I won’t go into all that again.

Let me count the most important reason Biden was right – getting in history’s way. They call the zeitgeist wind Hillary Clinton, and my muse is reading it right so far. Let’s say this from the parlor: She is going to blow them all away.


By: Jamie Stiehm, Washington Whispers, U. S. News and World Report, November 2, 2015

November 3, 2015 - Posted by | Election 2016, GOP Presidential Candidates, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Jamie – evidently you haven’t seen the latest polls on who would beat the Republican choice! In all cases, Bernie Sanders beats them by more points than Hillary! so, sorry to “burst your bubble”!


    Comment by lrfalstad | November 4, 2015 | Reply

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