Poison Pills

 

dr marioIt’s quite a pell-mell race for the Republican nomination. There seems to be a whole spate of articles and political punditry asking what Republicans want in their nominee. In my judgement, this is a flawed question. My inclination towards negativity — i.e. correct and unassailable thought — lends itself to asking of the proper question: What factors should disqualify a candidate from being a nominee?

I call these “poison pills,” things that either primary voters or the general electorate won’t (or can’t) swallow. Being an arch-naysayer, I think I’ve come up with a pretty good list. After I made it, I began to cross-off the names of candidates who had one or another of these fatal flaws. I was left with few candidates and little hope. Below, is my decidedly unscientific disqualification list. Leave your own “poison pills” in the comments, or dispute some of mine.

  • Supports Common Core;
  • Fought public sector unions;
  • Helped Obama get elected;
  • From Texas;
  • A former CEO;
  • Never had an official legislative or executive position;
  • Primarily defined in religious terms;
  • Looks like a used car salesman;
  • Has an isolationist or anti-intervention foreign policy;
  • Not well-spoken; and
  • Is named “Bush.”

There are 46 comments.

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  1. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    My qualification with “poison pills” is that if two of them come up against each other I reserve the right to decide one is far worse than the other, rather than vote for a long-shot.

    Umm… are yours serious?  Or were you coming up with a way to disqualify everyone but Rubio?  I happen to think taking on public sector unions can be a good thing, and having been a CEO is largely irrelevant.

    • #1
  2. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @IWalton

    Leigh: Or were you coming up with a way to disqualify everyone but Rubio?

    Maybe Rubio looks like a used car salesman?  I think Jindal survives the list.

    • #2
  3. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    Taking on public sector unions is a GOOD thing!

    • #3
  4. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    Here is my list:

    I will not support any candidate who claims to be able to “fix” government, “run it better”, “run it like a business”, “manage” our lives or “root out waste.”

    I am sick and tired of Republicans who think they can be better Democrats than the Democrats.

    I will vote for that candidate in a General Election, while I hold my nose.

    • #4
  5. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Vice-Potentate: things that either primary voters or the general electorate won’t (or can’t) swallow

    The list carries over to things that will make it hard in the general for people to countenance, hence things like fighting unions and being from Texas on there.

    • #5
  6. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    How anyone can defend public sector unions is beyond me. It is not as if public employees are easily fired in the first place!

    • #6
  7. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    John Penfold:

    Leigh: Or were you coming up with a way to disqualify everyone but Rubio?

    Maybe Rubio looks like a used car salesman? I think Jindal survives the list.

    I’m not sure Jindal qualifies as “well-spoken.”

    I’d add a couple:

    1) I’m a social conservative, and the candidate I vote for needs to be as well.  That’s not the same as a culture warrior who talks about specific issues nonstop and nonproductively

    2). Kasich was, from what I understand, a good congressman and has been a decent governor for Ohio.  If I try hard, I can imagine some situation where I vote for him.  But his Medicare expansion and the way he justifies it are deeply problematic.  He is basically saying Christianity and compassion require this government expansion — and that argument is anti-conservative, theologically twisted, and probably disqualifying.

    • #7
  8. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @IWalton

    Leigh:

    John Penfold:

    Leigh: Or were you coming up with a way to disqualify everyone but Rubio?

    Maybe Rubio looks like a used car salesman? I think Jindal survives the list.

    I’m not sure Jindal qualifies as “well-spoken.”

    Your thinking his first outing replying to the State of the Union.  He’s become as fast and articulate as Rubio.

    • #8
  9. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @IWalton

    iWe:Here is my list:

    I will not support any candidate who claims to be able to “fix” government, “run it better”, “run it like a business”, “manage” our lives or “root out waste.”

    Yes, or create jobs, eliminate waste fraud and abuse, or for that matter reform the tax code or the regulatory code.  They must be tossed and replaced and that solves the first three.

    • #9
  10. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    iWe:How anyone can defend public sector unions is beyond me. It is not as if public employees are easily fired in the first place!

    I was thinking about this very problem this morning. Because everything government does has the force of law everything government agrees to becomes legally enforceable. This makes for the most inflexible workplace ever, both for the employer (gov’t, the people) and the employee.

    I’ve read some of the OPM rules. What a quagmire of nit-picky, arbitrary bureaucracy. I don’t want (except in extraordinary, egregious instances) to hold the government to the letter of the law because I really don’t want them to return the favor.

    • #10
  11. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    iWe:How anyone can defend public sector unions is beyond me. It is not as if public employees are easily fired in the first place!

    I don’t think the OP was serious.  Looking at the list closely, I think it’s designed to attempt to eliminate everyone (or everyone but one candidate), and he didn’t come up with anything actually bad with which to eliminate Walker.

    Besides, being from Texas is probably a political disadvantage in this particular election, but it’s hardly a disqualifier, forever.  And I can’t imagine that having once been a CEO should automatically eliminate you, regardless of what kind of CEO you were, and how long ago, and what else you’ve done.

    Either that or he just thinks Walker’s record is a political loser in a general election — these are poison pills for “the electorate,” not just conservatives.

    • #11
  12. user_966256 Member
    user_966256
    @BobThompson

    Leigh: 2). Kasich was, from what I understand, a good congressman and has been a decent governor for Ohio.  If I try hard, I can imagine some situation where I vote for him.  But his Medicare expansion and the way he justifies it are deeply problematic.  He is basically saying Christianity and compassion require this government expansion — and that argument is anti-conservative, theologically twisted, and probably disqualifying.

    Anyone here think Governor Kasich might have recognized the need to move Ohio to the Republican side for the next presidential election and that might explain some of his actions that might, on their face, seem disagreeable to conservatives?

    • #12
  13. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Walker is, to me, a lot like Napoleon Dynamite. Everyone is talking about it, but I just don’t get it.

    • #13
  14. user_966256 Member
    user_966256
    @BobThompson

    The King Prawn:Walker is, to me, a lot like Napoleon Dynamite. Everyone is talking about it, but I just don’t get it.

    Well, Walker’s fight against public sector unions surely is not a disqualifying act!

    • #14
  15. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Bob Thompson:

    The King Prawn:Walker is, to me, a lot like Napoleon Dynamite. Everyone is talking about it, but I just don’t get it.

    Well, Walker’s fight against public sector unions surely is not a disqualifying act!

    For many in the general it might be. Although most of us here can differentiate between state/local government unions and the federal government, many in the electorate simply don’t/can’t think that far into the matter. I know plenty of school teachers and other public employees who are conservative and rational on all things except where their paychecks are concerned.

    • #15
  16. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Bob Thompson: Anyone here think Governor Kasich might have recognized the need to move Ohio to the Republican side for the next presidential election and that might explain some of his actions that might, on their face, seem disagreeable to conservatives?

    Maybe.  What I find utterly unacceptable is his rationale and his aggression in pushing that rationale:  “When I stand before God I’ll know what I did to help the poor” — as opposed to all those heartless conservatives who thought the Medicare expansion was the wrong way to help the poor.

    The King Prawn: Walker is, to me, a lot like Napoleon Dynamite. Everyone is talking about it, but I just don’t get it.

    In one sense Walker’s just a solidly conservative governor who’s been able to be very effective, and happens to be very politically savvy too.  That could apply to Jindal or Perry.

    I think what makes the difference with Walker is that people have more confidence in his both conviction and ability because of the context.  It’s rather easy, for example, to promote the 2nd Amendment in Texas.  Conservatives are desperate to win and to do something with that win.  That’s exactly what Walker’s offering, and his record gives it a little extra credibility.

    • #16
  17. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Shockingly, many conservatives don’t seem to understand that when one’s livelihood is (perceived to be) threatened by a candidate, one might not view said candidate all that favorably. Walker is “anti-union.” Public/private is not a distinction many voters are going to make on their own. Blacks are disproportionally employed in government. Which means, not only does Aunt Therese vote Democrat, so do all her nieces and nephews and neighbors….

    We can only hope to garner votes from the margins of these groups. And only then by persuading people that public sector unions are a scourge, and everyone will be better off when they’re eliminated.

    I’m more and more attracted to any candidate who hasn’t given up on persuasion.

    • #17
  18. user_966256 Member
    user_966256
    @BobThompson

    The King Prawn:

    Bob Thompson:

    The King Prawn:Walker is, to me, a lot like Napoleon Dynamite. Everyone is talking about it, but I just don’t get it.

    Well, Walker’s fight against public sector unions surely is not a disqualifying act!

    For many in the general it might be. Although most of us here can differentiate between state/local government unions and the federal government, many in the electorate simply don’t/can’t think that far into the matter. I know plenty of school teachers and other public employees who are conservative and rational on all things except where their paychecks are concerned.

    Not sure I follow you here. Didn’t Walker win three statewide elections, in a very pro-union state,  where this was a key issue?  What differentiation are you suggesting needs to be applied between state/local government and federal government?  I don’t see a difference whenever the ultimate overseers and influences on their paychecks are elected officials.

    • #18
  19. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    I will also go so far as to defend Kasich’s record and explanation on Medicaid expansion for Ohio.

    The way a governor governs in relation to the federal government is completely different from the way a president governs. Kasich is right that his responsibility to Ohioans comes first, as governor. It was incumbent on him to return as many tax dollars from Washington as possible, even if the national program is a disaster and unsustainable. It’s the president’s job (in conjunction with Congress — ha!) to fix national policy.

    Now, you could argue that Kasich was short-sighted and will hurt Ohio in the long run. But, when Medicaid goes belly-up, I don’t think citizens will be able to distinguish much between states where Medicaid expansion occurred — and those where it didn’t. There’ll be pain all around.

    • #19
  20. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Bob Thompson: Not sure I follow you here. Didn’t Walker win three statewide elections, in a very pro-union state, where this was a key issue? What differentiation are you suggesting needs to be applied between state/local government and federal government? I don’t see a difference whenever the ultimate overseers and influences on their paychecks are elected officials.

    I think the level of knowledge between a state election and a national election can make a difference here. I have no data, but it seems like common sense.

    • #20
  21. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Western Chauvinist: The way a governor governs in relation to the federal government is completely different from the way a president governs. Kasich is right that his responsibility to Ohioans comes first, as governor. It was incumbent on him to return as many tax dollars from Washington as possible, even if the national program is a disaster and unsustainable. It’s the president’s job (in conjunction with Congress — ha!) to fix national policy.

    WC, if he used that argument as you presented it, I’d give it a fair hearing.

    And I’d say that’s a solid argument for what Walker did.  Rather than taking the Medicaid expansion they moved many people already on Medicaid to the exchange — and that let them eliminate the Medicaid waiting list and left no gap in coverage.

    But I have a big problem with this:

    I said, ‘I respect the fact that you believe in small government. I do, too. I also know that you’re a person of faith.

    ‘Now, when you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer.’

    • #21
  22. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    The King Prawn:

    I think the level of knowledge between a state election and a national election can make a difference here. I have no data, but it seems like common sense.

    I agree.  Specifically, Walker won because people had a chance to see it in action.  The schools didn’t collapse.  People didn’t lose their jobs.  The world didn’t end.

    People in Florida and Pennsylvania won’t see that with their own eyes when the attack ads start.  But that said, he still has an answer.  He has those election wins and lots of soundbite-ready data.  He’ll have ads from cute kids and satisfied parents.  And he’s not going to run a general election on a plan to “take on the unions.”

    If he loses a general election, it’ll be because he’s going to “take everyone’s healthcare away” (conservatives call that repealing Obamacare), and because he’s a “dangerous extremist who hates women” (he opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest).

    • #22
  23. gts109 Inactive
    gts109
    @gts109

    This is very subtle trolling for John Huntsman to enter the fray. I can feel the Huntsmentum!!!

    • #23
  24. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @Manny

    My only poison pill is pro-abortion.  Other than that, I can’t see voting for a Democrat over any Repbublican.

    Edit: I should qualify that.  I can’t see voting for any Democrat over any serious Republican.  I do not consider Donald Trump a serious candidate.

    • #24
  25. BastiatJunior Member
    BastiatJunior
    @BastiatJunior

    Even FDR opposed the concept of public sector unions, for the same reasons we do.  The OP is trying to steer us toward a particular candidate.

    Some poison pills indicate economic illiteracy:

    • Denouncing capitalism.  (Rick Perry, I’ll forgive you that one time since you were on drugs.)
    • Refusal to include the phrase “economic growth” in speeches.
    • Talk about income inequality.
    • Talk about “leveling the playing field.”
    • Thinking a balanced budget is more import than economic growth.
    • Supporting the Fed’s “quantitative easing.”
    • Blaming our current problems on globalization and automation.
    • Claiming that immigration is bad for the economy.  (Oppose unfettered immigration for other reasons if you want, but don’t say it’s bad for the economy.)
    • Talk about stimulating demand instead of productivity.
    • Thinking that FDR ended the depression.
    • Thinking that World War II ended the depression.

    This list is already too long.  I’ll stop here.

    • #25
  26. Vice-Potentate Inactive
    Vice-Potentate
    @VicePotentate

    iWe:Taking on public sector unions is a GOOD thing!

    I agree it’s a good thing. I also think it makes you unelectable in a national election.

    • #26
  27. Vice-Potentate Inactive
    Vice-Potentate
    @VicePotentate

    gts109:This is very subtle trolling for John Huntsman to enter the fray. I can feel the Huntsmentum!!!

    I got a new one.

    • Speaks Mandarin while looking smug
    • #27
  28. Vice-Potentate Inactive
    Vice-Potentate
    @VicePotentate

    Leigh:My qualification with “poison pills” is that if two of them come up against each other I reserve the right to decide one is far worse than the other, rather than vote for a long-shot.

    Umm… are yours serious? Or were you coming up with a way to disqualify everyone but Rubio? I happen to think taking on public sector unions can be a good thing, and having been a CEO is largely irrelevant.

    I thought I might put on

    • offers a comprehensive plan for immigration that included an amnesty

    I decided to leave it off because the whole Republican field seems pretty determined to not talk about immigration seriously in the primary and I think it’ll wash in the general. If immigration becomes the major issue of the primary, like Trump wants, you can add an extra bullet to the list.

    • #28
  29. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Vice-Potentate:

    iWe:Taking on public sector unions is a GOOD thing!

    I agree it’s a good thing. I also think it makes you unelectable in a national election.

    If taking the basic steps necessary to balance your budget (as required by law) without triggering massive indiscriminate layoffs makes you unelectable, let’s pack it all up and go home.

    By 2014, the law “taking on the unions” was sufficiently popular in Wisconsin that Walker’s Democratic opponent wouldn’t even talk about repealing it.    Compare to how the leading Republicans talk about Obamacare.

    • #29
  30. Vice-Potentate Inactive
    Vice-Potentate
    @VicePotentate

    Leigh:

    Vice-Potentate:

    iWe:Taking on public sector unions is a GOOD thing!

    I agree it’s a good thing. I also think it makes you unelectable in a national election.

    If taking the basic steps necessary to balance your budget (as required by law) without triggering massive indiscriminate layoffs makes you unelectable, let’s pack it all up and go home.

    You can see why I’m a bit depressed.

    By 2014, the law “taking on the unions” was sufficiently popular in Wisconsin that Walker’s Democratic opponent wouldn’t even talk about repealing it. Compare to how the leading Republicans talk about Obamacare.

    I really don’t think Walker would win Wisconsin in the general. Scores of people who don’t pay attention to state and midterm politics would come out to vote against a balanced budget if it meant their power and earnings potential might be marginally diminished. Also, the Wisconsin recall almost succeeded, even though it was basely partisan and rubbed people the wrong way. If they had run a measured anti-Walker campaign instead of a crazy one they probably could’ve sniped him.

    • #30
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