Close to two years ago on this blog, in December of ’13, I wargamed the Republican nomination and decided it would come down to Kasich, Walker and Paul. I got one third of it right.
What it Takes, by Richard Ben Cohen, is by far the best book written about Presidential campaigns. The title is instructive. It takes a lot, and not everybody has what it takes. Rand Paul doesn’t believe in his own campaign. He is not convinced, in his heart, that this is his moment and he is the man. He’s fading fast, and the more he lashes out at Trump the faster he’ll sink.
Walker suffers from a Personality Deficit Disorder. I was told two years ago by Wisconsin State Rep. Chris Kapenga that he would be seeking professional help, but there’s no sign of it. He just gave a big foreign policy speech, at the Citadel, I believe, which was truly awful. Reading haltingly off a teleprompter, he tried to be Churchillian, and looked like a doofus. I just saw him on Meet the Press, and he’s the same dull washed out cipher he’s always been.
Steve Kaminski and Bill Schreck were two of my Alaska buddies from Wisconsin. They resemble the Wisconsin politicians I’ve seen lately: Kapenga, Walker and Ryan. They’re all diffident. They are a little bland, soft spoken. They think it’s unseemly to draw attention to yourself. Seeking the spotlight is disdained. They’re great guys, but they’re not leaders. It’s a Wisconsin thing.
Walker’s other problem is that he’s not that bright. He agreed with Trump on anchor babies without really understanding the issue. When someone on his staff explained the Fourteenth Amendment, and how the courts have interpreted it, he foolishly back tracked, unaware that a good legal argument can be made that Congress can statutorily interpret the Amendment in a way that eliminates anchor babies. He looked bad not only because he flip flopped, but because he wasn’t sophisticated enough to see the correct political answer.
So I’m replacing Walker and Paul with Cruz and Rubio. When Rubio announced he’d give up his Senate seat I knew he was a man to contend with. That showed me some political courage, and good sense. Anyone who wants to be a U.S. Senator for life shouldn’t be in the Senate. And Don Juan, as I affectionately call him, has “it”, whatever “it” is. People, women especially, like this guy. He’s manly, but not macho. He’s sincere, but not sugary. He’s a Latino Reagan, and that’s the highest praise I have.
Rubio didn’t make my first list because he’s a junior Senator just in his 40’s, and new to the national stage. Everybody likes the guy, but he needs seasoning, and our experience with Obama makes us gun shy with a one term Senator running the country. He’s the obvious choice for VP, and when we win Florida he will have done his job for this cycle.
I have trouble warming up to Cruz, but he’s shown me something in the last few weeks, in the way he’s dealt with Trump. He and Kasich have done it perfectly, and it’s extremely important that they did. As I get to know the Tribe of Trump in the commenter section of AT and elsewhere, he is the one Republican they might accept if the Donald bails. Like everyone else, Texas Ted figures Trump will crash and burn, and he’s setting himself up as Trump’s fallback candidate. Tricky business, but if he pulls it off he will have demonstrated the kind of political skill that wins the White House. Inviting Trump to his anti-Iran Treaty rally was very smart, as was Trump’s acceptance.
Another knock on Cruz is his lack of executive experience. But Trump’s rise may mean the qualifications game is different this cycle.
But I really don’t like Cruz. I think it’s because I can’t detect one shred of humility in this guy. He’s the guy in the tux on the wedding cake, just like Dewey. A buttoned down, robotic, tightly wrapped figurine of a man, as spontaneous and joyful as a mannequin.
Sometimes you wonder if writing a blog is a waste of time, and then, this morning, on the editorial page of the Queen, I find validation. Mo Dowd, one of the Queen’s chief lieutenants, and the liberal arbiter of the politically chic, referred to Jeb! as Jeb! My heart fluttered.
I have arrived.