Patterico's Pontifications


Groundhog Day

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:56 pm

What’s the Deal with the Dems?

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:56 pm

[guest post by JVW]

In the aftermath of last night’s close call in the Democrat’s Iowa caucus, commentators seem to be divided on what the results portend for the party. A quick round-up is as follows:

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline says that the result is bad for Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT) as he needed a clear-cut win in order to cut into the formidable polling lead of First Lady/Senator/Secretary Hillary! Rodham National Security Clinton: “Going into tonight, I thought that Bernie Sanders needed to win the Iowa caucus to sustain his long shot campaign against Hillary Clinton (absent FBI/DOJ action against Hillary). After all, Iowa is tailor-made for a Sanders-style insurgent. If Sanders couldn’t win there, where (other than in his home territory) could he win?”

Mark Steyn headlines his piece “Second Degree Bern” and agrees with Mirengoff that while Sanders inflicted some damage, he needed an outright win: “. . . given the demographic difficulties he faces in South Carolina and beyond, Sanders needed to inflict actual defeat on Hillary. He needed headlines saying: ‘BERNIE WINS!’ And he didn’t get that. She certainly felt the Bern, but it wasn’t a third-degree Bern.”

Over at National Review Online, Jim Geraghty finds the result to be a complete disaster for the Once-and-Future-Inevitable Next President of the United States: “Don’t let any Hillary fan tell you this wasn’t a collapse. She was ahead by 12 in mid-January. She came out last night for a not-quite-victory, not-quite concession speech decked out in blood red and glaring angrily and hard in her tone.”

Agreeing with Geraghty is Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist: “Her ‘victory’ speech was the most depressing of the night. The body language on the stage said it all. Clinton’s daughter Chelsea gave her a comforting — almost pitying — hug. Clinton’s husband Bill looked sad and had trouble keeping his mouth from sagging. The crowd was dejected. Clinton herself was tense, yelling at voters in seeming anger. She’s just a terrifically bad candidate who will also lose in New Hampshire.”

Don’t be fooled, writes Jonathan Tobin at Commentary, Clinton’s path to the nomination is still open: “Sanders will likely win in New Hampshire, but his inability to edge out the former First Lady in the first-in-the-nation caucus robbed him of any chance of creating a narrative in which Clinton’s hold on the nomination had cracked. Though the Vermont senator will likely hang around in the race for as long as he can, he has little hope of winning many states after next week.”

Neil Stevens over at Red State insists that last night’s results settled the Dem nominee once and for all: “Hillary Clinton: She survived. That’s all she needed. [. . .] Bernie Sanders: This was one of his most favorable states. He failed. He’s done, he just doesn’t know it yet.”

Moving away from conservative media and over to our libertarian friends at Reason, Ed Krayewski, who yesterday pointed out that 43 percent of Democrats in Iowa are self-described socialists, finds Sanders’ performance a bit underwhelming: “Between the large pool of friendly voters and the fervor of Sanders supporters, if the democratic socialist can’t win in what’s effectively a two-person race in Iowa, it’s unlikely he’ll do better anywhere else.”

At CNN, the lamentably stupid Sally Kohn insists that both Clinton and Sanders came out looking okey-dokey: “The unkempt progressive once thought to only be competitive in the Northeast is now in a neck-and-neck race with the Democratic establishment candidate in the heartland of America. That isn’t just a victory for Sanders. That’s a victory for anyone who believes in democracy.”

Kohn’s less daffy colleague, Maeve Reston, opines that the results spell a bad night for Hillary!: “Clinton found herself once again struggling to prove what is supposed to be the selling point of her campaign: dominance and electability. Instead, even if she eeks out a win late tonight by a fraction of a percentage point, the Iowa caucuses looked like a defeat for the former Secretary of State. Once again, she has been knocked back on her heels by a challenger who her campaign did not take seriously until late in the race.”

Doug Schoen over at Fox is of the opinion that Clinton’s lead with black voters is too much for Sanders to overcome: “South Carolina and the Super Tuesday states are very different demographically and politically. Furthermore, some of Clinton’s best numbers come from her support with minorities. Just days ago, 28 black ministers endorsed her and she leads Sanders 63 percent to 20 percent [among blacks] and is up 54 percent to 33 percent with Latino voters.”

Checking in with the far left, John Nichols of The Nation believes that irrespective of who gets the delegates, it’s Sanders’ ideas that have won: “No matter what the final count, the real victory for Sanders came before the caucuses convened. He had already so transformed the contest that Clinton was forced to run a different race than she had intended.”

At Mother Jones, David Corn is looking past the Clinton-Sanders contest to see progressivism on the rise in the party, and believing that as long as Sanders can stay at roughly 40 percent in the polls the Democrats will continue to drift to the left: “Forget about Iowa for a moment—especially now that this unrepresentative event is done—and look at the average of the national polls in the Democratic race. Clinton leads Sanders, 52 to 37 percent. Sanders’ take is darn close to that 40 percent mark long associated with the progressive wing. Sanders surpassed that level in Iowa, and he’s likely to do so in New Hampshire, where three recent polls have put his lead over Clinton between 20 percent and 31 percent. Yet in the long run, can he continue to stay above 40 percent—particularly when the contest shifts to states with more diverse electorates (meaning more black and Latino voters) and states where voters are less familiar with this self-proclaimed socialist?”

So there you have it. Last night’s result on the Democrats’ side shows that Hillary! has the nomination nailed down yet is in deep trouble, that Bernie is finished as a candidate yet will continue to play spoiler, and that minorities who are supposed to be the progressive bulwark of the party will stop the socialist candidate in his tracks and hand the nomination over to the woman who turned her support of big banks and the military industrial complex into $250,000 appearances at corporate retreats full of millionaires who are apparently wrecking the economy for the rest of us and $150,000 speaking fees at college campuses which are populated by young progressives who overwhelmingly love the aging white male candidate. Your Democrat Party in a nutshell, folks.


A Tale of Two Candidates

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:18 am

Ted Cruz has won a historic victory in Iowa. Now he, Donald Trump, and Marco Rubio head to New Hampshire, a goofy sort of state where “Live Free or Die” has largely given way to the gritty Northeast ethic of “Gimme Stuff for Free or Die.” Cruz will no doubt get a bump from his Iowa win, but few people expect him to win or even do particularly well in the rather bizarre state of New Hampshire. Trump seems like a lock there, with a crowded field of non-entities jockeying for second place — although now that Trump is a Verified Loser, polls could change.

So I’m not going to get wound up over New Hampshire. Big Media will do its best to construct a narrative where Cruz has LOST ALL HIS MOMENTUM and CAN’T POSSIBLY WIN GOING FORWARD and it will all be rank B.S. When the SEC primary is over, the lay of the land will be much clearer.

In the meantime, however, I’d like to contrast two revealing pieces: one about Ted Cruz and one about Donald Trump.

First, there is this extensive profile of Ted Cruz in the Texas Monthly, titled The Field Guide to Ted Cruz. As someone who grew up in Texas I can tell you that the Texas Monthly is not a publication that is generally favorable to Republicans. But this piece by Erica Greider is worth quoting at length, because it is consistent with what I have learned about Ted Cruz from watching him for several months, reading his book (which he wrote himself), and closely following his positions and statements on various issues.

1) Ted Cruz is not a fire-breathing extremist.

. . . .

There’s no question that Cruz is a conservative. On constitutional issues, I’d say he’s the gold standard. But he’s not as extreme or ideological as people often assume. Maggie Wright, a Texan who has traveled to Iowa to volunteer, gave journalist (and Texas Monthly contributor) Robert Draper an admirably concise summary: “He’s for states’ rights, for all the Constitution, he will not allow us to bash the gays but won’t let anybody do jihad on the Christians.” Similarly, though Cruz is one of the few Republicans in Congress who passes muster with the right wing’s self-appointed purity czars, and he is contemptuous of conservatives who assert principled convictions they do nothing to advance, he is ecumenical about disagreement. “In any two-party system you welcome people with a variety of views,” he told me in 2013, after I asked if the Republican coalition could include leaders who support gay marriage, or even abortion rights.

. . . .

2) Cruz is also not a wild-eyed maniac.

. . . .

While reporting on Cruz in 2013, I was struck by his composure and calm. He remained serene and even-tempered at all times, even under potentially annoying circumstances—waylaid by a lone supporter with a homemade Ted Cruz poster who had been waiting outside the Heritage Foundation in the hopes of meeting him, even as several tense staffers were trying to hustle him back to the Senate in time for an imminently approaching vote; stoically talking to the journalist from Texas Monthly for hours, once on a day when he was also juggling half a dozen events in Central Texas, and once on a day when he was so sick he could barely get through a sentence without a coughing fit. He was impeccably polite and well-mannered with me, and in all the interactions I observed.

Even now, ten months into a grueling campaign, under intense media scrutiny and while being attacked from all directions, Cruz has remained focused and unruffled. He’s hardly unhinged, quite the opposite. If anything, his preternatural self-possession is the most unsettling thing about him.

Other “tips” about Cruz are that he has “nerves of steel,” and that he is smart, very strategic, really into the Constitution, and in it to win. If Greider has a criticism, it is that Cruz is very careful with his words to the point of being lawyerly — which is, I think, a fair point, but not one that bothers me.

Bear with me for just one more quote, from the point about Cruz’s love of the Constitution — because this is central to why I love this man:

Love him or hate him, Cruz knows the Constitution. By high school he had memorized the thing, thanks to an after-school program run by the Free Enterprise Institute, which had the teenage Cruz studying the Federalist Papers and traveling the state with a troupe of like-minded adolescents billed as the “Constitutional Corroborators.” His undergraduate thesis, at Princeton, was about the historical and theoretical underpinnings of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. After attending law school, at Harvard, he landed clerkships in a federal district court, then at the Supreme Court. And so on.

In light of his lifelong obsession with the subject, I am reasonably confident that Cruz’s diabolical plans, and thirst for world domination, are ultimately constrained by his own fealty to the supreme law of the land. What’s more, Cruz has specific expertise in the constitutional limits of the office he’s currently aiming for. His arguments against the president’s executive overreach have been backed by unique professional credentials, which actually exceed Obama’s. Both men are graduates of Harvard Law, and have been professors of constitutional law. Cruz is also the person who has successfully argued, at the Supreme Court, that an executive order issued by George W. Bush amounted to an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers. If Cruz becomes president, he may start to feel differently about executive power, but at least he’s given the subject plenty of thought, and has reflected on the story of Joseph, who was doing well in Egypt, until there came a pharaoh who knew not Joseph.

How about that. A president who actually knows and respects the Constitution. Can you imagine? Today, I can.

Now, let’s move on to the second piece, which was pointed out to me by frequent commenter Sammy Finkelman. It is a New York Times compilation (purporting to be comprehensive) of Twitter insults by Donald Trump. As you might imagine, it’s amusing. But what I found noteworthy was to look at things Trump has said about his opponents, who would logically form the pool of people from which one might pick a running mate. The NYT has the full set of insults but I’ll just pick out a couple per candidate to give you a flavor:

Now, I’m not saying he’s wrong about all of these observations. Some of them are amusingly on the mark. But . . .

. . . but, aside from the obvious boorishness of all this, coming as it does from a candidate for the Oval Office . . . one wonders how Trump would pick a running mate from such a crowd of stupid, unimpressive, weak failures.

Ah, but there is one guy who hasn’t received the same kind of biting criticism. According to the Times, the worst thing Trump has said about Chris Christie is this: “How is Chris Christie running the state of NJ, which is deeply troubled, when he is spending all of his time in NH? New Jerseyans not happy!”

Maybe he likes those New York/New Jersey values.

Speaking of New York . . . even some of the New York values crowd doesn’t much care for Trump. I’ll leave you with today’s New York Daily News cover, courtesy of Beldar:

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 5.06.54 AM

Just as a reminder that the boor is also a loser.

UPDATE: New York Daily News, not Daily Mail. Thanks to Sammy F. for the correction.

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