The year of the Cuban

Because I was young and stupid, when I entered Cal in ’62 I majored in Political Science.  It made sense to me.  I was interested in politics.  In my youth, I was unaware that the term “political science” is not only an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms.  It’s also a tell.  By and large, these people really didn’t know what they were talking about.  What they taught me was mostly horse shit.  Political academics wanted to have the respectability of scientists, even though politics is all art.

And that’s why I’ve always loved politics.  I don’t have a scientific temperament.  Based on the stark contrast between my verbal and math IQ scores, it’s innate.  When I give people like Numbers Nate Silver a hard time, it’s because they try so hard to inject science, or at least math, into an artistic enterprise.  Of course, six months from now I’ll be going to 538.com every day.  Just not yet.

Political science types think our nomination process is a disgrace.  It’s so disorderly, and unscientific.  And long, and expensive, and exhausting.  People even contend that it keeps qualified people from running, though the field this year conclusively rebuts that argument.  Despite all these shortcomings, look at what we’ve learned so far in 2015, largely as a direct consequence of this half-assed system.

Jeb Bush is a really lousy candidate,and Marco Rubio is a gifted political natural.  It’s taken a while for everyone to figure these things out.  We’ve also learned everything we need to know about Perry, Walker, Jindal, Kasich and Paul.

Trump, Carson and Fiorina have given voice to over half of the GOP electorate that is so pissed off at Washington that it doesn’t care about qualifications.  If these three weren’t running we’d have a third party going right now.  And a third party is the only way Hillary could win.  So to the Donald, the Doctor and the lady I say thank you.  Hang in there until the Convention if you want to.  You’re keeping a lot of people in the Republican Party right now.

We’ve also learned that Ted Cruz is the real deal.  He’s not just smart.  He can play the game, which is a lot different than being smart.  If Mario stumbles we have a backup.  And give Christie a little credit.   If they both go down he’s the third string quarterback who at least knows how to handle a snap.

Now it’s November, and our jury rigged system is ready to give us the second act.  Barring divine intervention the two Cubans have four or five months to fight it out.  One of them is the next President.  Is it worth a few months of our time to make a final decision?   Whoever we pick could be President during the eight years this country either gets its act together or starts coming apart.  So let’s take our time.

Since it’s always the economy, stupid, it’s worth keeping an eye on the economic numbers.  If economic growth should suddenly occur it would give Hillary something to talk about.  Third quarter GDP was up 1.5%.  Very weak, and very little prospect of immediate improvement.  If these numbers don’t improve in the next two quarters it’s game over.

I’m at a big wedding here in Cabo and everyone is very nice.  The bride and groom are graduates of Piedmont High, and everyone is either from Piedmont (a wealthy white enclave of Oakland), San Francisco. or Marin.  As you might imagine, I haven’t talked about politics.  Nobody has, thankfully.  When people get too aggressively liberal on me I find it hard to shut up, especially if I’ve had a few.

These people are here to celebrate a wedding, not think about the problems of the world.  But it’s strange to think that all these very nice, educated, upscale people are, when it comes to politics, dumber than stumps.  They don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground, and this is significant.  Most of them are liberals not out of conviction, but convention.  Everybody’s a liberal.  Conservatives are weird somehow, different, unsophisticated.  I really don’t think any of these people really give any thought to politics, at least serious thought.  So when we win next year, solve the country’s problems, and start (in Marco’s delightful phrase) a New American Century these people will be happy.  They are Americans, after all.  They will benefit just like everyone else in the country.  And because they’re really not stupid, they’ll accept it.

I can find potential Republicans anywhere.

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