Blog No. 78. The CNN Debate and the GOP Outsiders

A CNN poll taken after last week’s debate on CNN showed the three top spots held by candidates who have never held elective office: Donald Trump (24% ), Carly Fiorina (15%), and Ben Carson (14%). An NBC poll had similar results with Trump (29%) leading Carson (14%) and Fiorina (11%). Although that development may have come as a surprise to some, it was consistent with a Washington Post/ABC poll taken earlier this month that found 58 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of conservative Republicans want the next president to be an Outsider, “someone from outside the existing political establishment.” For our own part, we are hopeful that the romantic attraction with Outsiders will pass and that cooler heads will prevail. As a general proposition, we believe that a true conservative should regard significant experience in elective office as a qualification—and not a disqualification—for presidential candidates. More specifically, Ms Fiorina might make an effective candidate for Vice President but, in our view, does not belong at the head of the ticket. We are doubtful that Dr. Carson should have any place on the ticket and certain that Donald Trump does not. […]

Blog No. 73. Jeb’s Announcement and Hillary’s Speech

On Monday, Jeb Bush made the long-awaited announcement that he is a candidate for President. As a matter of style, we thought it deserved an “A.” Bush spoke from a Miami college gymnasium before a crowd described by The Washington Post as a “diverse tableau at a boisterous rally.” He appeared relaxed, energetic and optimistic, the sort of joyful campaigner that he had promised to be but that had not been clearly in evidence in recent months. Toward the end of his speech, Bush turned for several moments to fluent Spanish, demonstrating that he has both the determination and the capacity to seek the increasingly important Hispanic vote. […]

Blog No. 72. The August Debate and the Ten

As most readers of may have noticed, the media have already begun to speculate on who will participate in the first debate among Republican Presidential candidates in August. (We use the term “debate” loosely because in their current form such events bear little resemblance to traditional debates and are more in the nature of forums, or verbal free-for-alls.) The speculation is prompted by the fact that the sponsor of the debate, Fox News, has decided that only the ten contenders ranking highest in opinion polls will be invited to the party.

The Fox rule is not irrational by any means. It seems reasonable to have some limitation if the proceedings are to be at all coherent and within the patience of the audience. CNN has announced that it will hold a second-tier debate on the same evening for those who are excluded from the Fox event but are polling at least 1%. It is not clear, however, which if any of the candidates will be attracted to what some have dubbed the “kids’ table.” In any case, it is clear that Fox’s main event will involve several candidates for whom has little enthusiasm and omit others from whom we would like to hear. So we thought it might be of interest to identify our own list of preferred candidates with a brief comment as to why each was included. As to those who are not on our list, we shall, for the moment, observe Ronald Reagan’s “11th Commandment” not to speak ill of other Republicans. (We do not promise to be so obedient over the next 17 months leading up to the election.)RINOcracy10 […]

Special Bulletin. Bush’s Bobbles

As anyone with even a casual interest in politics must be aware, Jeb Bush had a difficult time last week dealing with self-inflicted wounds on the delicate subject of the Iraq invasion. It is delicate, of course, because the war is widely regarded as a disaster and one for which his brother George bears major responsibility. The first wound was inflicted on Monday when Bush apparently misheard a question and indicated that, even knowing what we now know, he would have approved the invasion. That mistake could have been quickly repaired and soon forgotten, but on Tuesday and Wednesday Bush dug the hole a bit deeper by saying that he had misheard the earlier question but was now declining to answer a “hypothetical” question. Only on Thursday did Bush get it right: “Knowing what we know now, I would not have engaged. I would not have gone into Iraq.”Jeb Bush bobblehead final […]

Blog No. 68 Lessons from Baltimore: In the Eyes of the Beholders?

The death of Freddie Gray and the ensuing riots became the perplexing kind of event for which the response to many, perhaps most, observations might be “Yes (or perhaps), but….” For example:

Did Gray’s death appear to indicate negligence or worse on the part of the police? Yes, but the exact cause of his fatal injury is still unclear and the explanation of the accused officers remains to be heard. Legal analysts disagree as to whether the case was “over-charged” by the prosecutor. […]

Special Bulletin. More Announcements: Clinton and Rubio

On Sunday and Monday, Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio announced their candidacies for president. In the nature of such things, neither announcement came as a surprise. (The Economist had quipped shortly before the Clinton announcement that “For most Americans this will be as surprising as the news that Cinco de Mayo will once again be on May 5th.”) Similarly, both announcements offered little in the way of substance. Indeed, Clinton’s may have broken all previous records for airiness, consisting almost entirely of brief videos of a predictably diverse and uniformly attractive collection of citizens.  […]

Blog No 46. Quick Takes: Airstrikes in Syria; Obama at the UN; Resignation of Eric Holder; Midterm Elections; and 2016–Bush, Christie, Paul and Cruz.

Airstrikes in Syria

We felt, as we suspect most Americans did, a surge of satisfaction at President Obama’s decision to take strong military action against an organization as manifestly evil and dangerous as ISIS. As The Wall Street Journal put it, “The initial bombing raids on Islamic State targets in Syria Monday night mark a welcome offensive that takes the war to the terrorists who beheaded two Americans and threaten U.S. interests in the Middle East and security at home.” The New York Times, on the other hand, saw it as a “bad decision,”criticizing the President for proceeding “without allowing the public debate that needs to take place before this nation enters another costly and potentially lengthy conflict in the Middle East.

Blog No. 31 Update: Exploring the Desert with Jeb Bush and the Republican Field

In Blog No. 31, we expressed confidentially (to RINOs and our friends) a pre-endorsement of Jeb Bush. We would not like to claim post hoc credit for subsequent developments, but we are heartened by them. […]

Blog No. 31 GOP in the Desert: Looking for a Lawrence of Arabia

The annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) took place in Maryland last week, producing little heat and less light. Although some speakers acknowledged the need for the Republican Party to broaden its base, or to focus more on winning elections and less on ideology, concrete examples of either were in short supply. Given the sponsorship of the event, it is perhaps not surprising that stale pieties from the conservative canon were the carte du jour.

A more interesting picture of the Republican Party emerged from a February 25 article in The National Interest by Henry Olsen, “The Four Faces of the Republican Party.”  Based on a detailed analysis of primary elections in the past several years, Mr. Olsen refuted the notion that the fate of the Republican Party will lie in a contest between the Tea Party and the “establishment.” Rather, according to Olsen, there are four major factions within the Republican Party. The largest faction, and the one most likely to yield the Party’s nominee, is “slightly conservative.” Mr. Olsen’s essay was sufficiently cogent that it has already been summarized in full columns by two major pundits: Dan Balz in The Washington Post and Ross Douthat in The New York Times. Because it provides a useful counterpoint to CPAC, it deserves some further mention here. […]

Blog No. 9 Why Iowa?

A talk show last Sunday included a fairly lengthy interview with…Donald Trump, speaking from the Iowa State Fair. Trump had just given a speech in which he had asserted that passing immigration reform would be a “death wish” for the Republican Party and indicated that he might run for President in 2016. ABC’s Jonathan Karl prefaced the interview with the mildly snarky observation that the possibility of a Trump candidacy caused some to raise their eyebrows and others just to roll their eyes. Warming to the subject, Karl asked Trump what he would say to persons who would term his candidacy a joke. For his part,Trump made it clear that he was not at the State Fair just to sample its celebrated deep-fried butter: he, at least, takes his possible candidacy quite seriously, describing his qualification as being “smart” and assuring Karl that if he became a candidate, he would be prepared to spend any portion of his (self) estimated fortune of $ ten billion might that be needed in the effort.


Illustration by DonkeyHotey/