Hooray for CNBC

 

Bush-RubioJeb Bush’s campaign may be mortally wounded. Limping in the polls despite his massive war chest, he stooped (almost literally if you check the body language) to attacking Marco Rubio in an attempt to revive his fortunes.

Rubio’s response, suggesting that Bush had been “told” to attack him, seemed like a bull’s-eye. Jeb Bush is an honorable man; a man raised to behave like a gentleman; but he was feeling desperate at Wednesday’s debate, and tried to play against type. It failed utterly. Rubio was ready, and parried Bush’s thrust by highlighting — for Bush and the audience — how very unbecoming the attack was. He made Bush look small, and you could almost tell that Bush himself felt diminished for doing it. This was not the “joyful” race he had envisioned.

Is it really so shocking that Republican primary voters have turned their faces away from Jeb Bush? Though he was an outstanding governor of Florida, his election would represent something unprecedented in American politics – a third president from one family. It bespeaks a wholesome anti-dynastic spirit in the electorate to say, “No, two is the limit.” Those were certainly my sentiments. Nor did his donor base guarantee anything. Who was the best-financed Republican candidate in 1980? Not Reagan. Not even G.H.W. Bush. It was John Connally. He got exactly one delegate.

On the other hand, since we’re predicting his political demise, it’s worth saying for the record that the anti-Bush vitriol among some on the right has been needlessly hysterical. There is nothing hateful about Jeb Bush or the Bush family. If they have a sense of entitlement, well, there are far worse things – like, oh, flagrant corruption such as we find in the likely Democratic nominee.

Many on the right are completely convinced that the “Republican establishment” foists “moderate” nominees on an unwilling conservative electorate cycle after cycle. This is myth. Henry Olsen, my colleague at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, tracks election results with meticulous attention and observes that the reason moderates (Olsen actually calls them the “somewhat conservatives”) get nominated is this: they get more votes. Though I wish the party were more conservative, and God knows I wish the country were more conservative, the voters are in charge.

In addition to Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Ted Cruz also had very good nights at the third debate. Carly Fiorina was strong and sensible too.

I think all of the Republican debates should be hosted by CNBC from now on. The network demonstrated a number of traits people loathe about the press – and the candidates, most of them anyway, came out smelling like roses.

In the first place, by declining to use a stopwatch and a buzzer, CNBC (like CNN before it) guaranteed that the moderators would have to stomp on the candidates’ sentences in a bullying fashion. This provided an opening for Chris Christie to quip: “That’s rude even by New Jersey standards.” By providing so few rules and leaving so much to “moderator discretion,” CNBC invited the disorganized melee that sometimes broke out. This is an object lesson in letting liberals run things.

Second, by proffering “gotcha” questions, failing to provide sources (“Where did I read that?” asked Becky Quick at one point), and arguing with the candidates, the immoderate moderators revealed their bias.

Third, by posing questions about trivia like missed votes, who said what about whom (and please repeat it here so we can have a food fight and higher ratings), and fantasy football betting, the questioners demonstrated that they are not up to the task of discussing the great challenges that face our nation.

The candidates, however, are. They sailed over the heads of the petty and niggling questions and managed to debate several serious points. 1) How to reform entitlements? 2) Is a flat tax feasible? 3) How can we generate economic growth? 4) What is the proper role of the federal government?

Well, not all of the candidates. The one candidate on the stage Wednesday night who had almost nothing of substance to say was the frontrunner. History suggests that the voters will not choose him when the time comes. But here’s a question for the conspiracists: If the Republican “establishment” always picks moderates, wouldn’t that be Trump?

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  1. Commodore BTC Inactive
    Commodore BTC
    @CommodoreBTC

    conservative elites lining up behind Rubio

    conservative grassroots lining up behind Cruz

    the two sides couldn’t ask for better champions

    • #1
  2. Brian Watt Inactive
    Brian Watt
    @BrianWatt

    Jeb is an embarrassment. He is more passionless than Romney which I wouldn’t have thought was possible (and I supported Romney when he became the nominee).

    Jeb is awkward and weak on a debate stage which he has demonstrated three times now. He openly admits that he’s not a strong performer. A good deal of the job of President is performance and stagecraft – in order to change hearts and minds, to steer the country in a decisive way or to convince Americans about the soundness of his judgement and his decisions. Why in the world should the electorate consider a politician with such a low opinion of his own performance skills?

    His positions on immigration and Common Core are out of step with the Republican base even as he attempts to scold conservatives on these issues.

    His judgement to attack Rubio on his Senate absences, no doubt following the advice of his campaign brain trust, wasn’t wise, came off awkward, and made him look like he could easily be manipulated by subordinates. His mistake (and the mistake of his advisors) was in underestimating Rubio’s ability to fight back. The same mistake Charlie Crist made.

    I’m not sure what it will take for Jeb! to realize that the Republicans don’t want him as their nominee. It may have to be a decisive loss in a primary. I suspect more millions will be tossed down his campaign rat hole up until that time. My guess is that some on his campaign staff may begin to defect to other candidates or just throw in the towel before Jeb does.

    Unfortunately, we’ll have to endure more of his embarrassing and passionless campaign until that happens.

    • #2
  3. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Mona Charen: He made Bush look small, and you could almost tell that Bush himself felt diminished for doing it. This was not the “joyful” race he had envisioned.

    Jeb Bush:

    I’ve got a lot of really cool things I could do other than sit around, being miserable, listening to people demonize me and me feeling compelled to demonize them.

    (Emphasis mine, obviously.)

    He doesn’t like the way he’s campaigning, and yet he seems to have found no other way.

    He should go do some of those really cool things — and I don’t say that in a mean way; I’m sure he has worthwhile things he could be doing. Running for president isn’t one of them.

    Bush can’t unite this party, he can’t inspire us, and he is losing what respect he could have had. Kevin McCarthy had the maturity to put all that together and step aside. Jeb Bush should do the same.

    • #3
  4. Jim Kearney Contributor
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    It bespeaks a wholesome anti-dynastic spirit in the electorate to say, “No, two is the limit.”

    Let’s make that one per generation, including spouses.

    • #4
  5. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily
    @tigerlily

    Jim Kearney:It bespeaks a wholesome anti-dynastic spirit in the electorate to say, “No, two is the limit.”

    Let’s make that one per generation, including spouses.

    Hmm… I can already hear Hillary saying It depends on the definition of the word generation.

    • #5
  6. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Brian Watt: He is more passionless than Romney which I wouldn’t have thought was possible (and I supported Romney when he became the nominee).

    Romney was capable of sounding authoritative. The only time I think I’ve seen Bush do this well was when he stood up for his brother in the last debate.

    In retrospect, he also actually managed his Romneycare problem fairly well during the primary — whereas Bush has made all his problems bigger.

    • #6
  7. JavaMan Member
    JavaMan
    @JavaMan

    My tinfoil hat keeps telling me there’s something not quite as it seems about this Bush/Rubio fight……Nah that would mean that Republicans might actually be able to strategize and pull off political judo. It’s just wishful thinking on my part…sigh!

    • #7
  8. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Leigh:

    Mona Charen: He made Bush look small, and you could almost tell that Bush himself felt diminished for doing it. This was not the “joyful” race he had envisioned.

    Jeb Bush:

    I’ve got a lot of really cool things I could do other than sit around, being miserable, listening to people demonize me and me feeling compelled to demonize them.

    (Emphasis mine, obviously.)

    He doesn’t like the way he’s campaigning, and yet he seems to have found no other way.

    He should go do some of those really cool things — and I don’t say that in a mean way; I’m sure he has worthwhile things he could be doing. Running for president isn’t one of them.

    Bush can’t unite this party, he can’t inspire us, and he is losing what respect he could have had. Kevin McCarthy had the maturity to put all that together and step aside. Jeb Bush should do the same.

    I agree. When Bachmann talks now about how she felt compelled to be dishonest about Boehner, she’s plausible, because she was really nice about him when it was politically beneficial to her to be so (such as in her book), but now that it’s beneficial to go the other way, she’s become obsessed by hatred for him.

    I don’t think that most Congressmen are the same as Bachmann, but she imputed her poor character onto the party at large. Likewise, I think Bush clearly does feel compelled to demonize his opponents, but clearly lacks relish or talent for it. His failure to be good at his new strategy speaks well of him, but his failure to resist adopting it does not. Still, it’s not the worst character flaw (his visible guilt is helpful).

    I rolled my eyes at a lot of articles telling him to pack it in when he was in the lead among non-trivial candidates, but he’s lost a lot of ground and does not appear to have a clear route to making it up again. Iowa was always going to be bad for him, which makes it harder for him to recover in New Hampshire.  And he clearly has preferences among the non-Bush candidates. He could make a bad primary less likely by stepping down now and he could make a good general more likely through the same means. That enormous machinery and copious cash could still be used for something worthwhile.

    • #8
  9. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Mona Charen: Many on the right are completely convinced that the “Republican establishment” foists “moderate” nominees on an unwilling conservative electorate cycle after cycle. This is myth. Henry Olsen, my colleague at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, tracks election results with meticulous attention and observes that the reason moderates (Olsen actually calls them the “somewhat conservatives”) get nominated is this: they get more votes.

    A myth, perhaps, but most likely a true myth.

    More votes is the proximate reason. That doesn’t mean the big money bags aren’t foisting hardline moderates on us, cycle after cycle.

    • #9
  10. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    The Reticulator: A myth, perhaps, but most likely a true myth. More votes is the proximate reason. That doesn’t mean the big money bags aren’t foisting hardline moderates on us, cycle after cycle.

    Me in 2012, oversimplified:

    1. Romney again? Please, you’re kidding.
    2. Will someone really take him on, please? Pawlenty? Perry? Anyone?
    3. This debate is ridiculous, and no one looks serious but Romney. We’re stuck. He’s inevitable.
    4. “Right-wing social engineering” — at least Romney didn’t say that. Come to think of it, he’s solid on Medicare.
    5. King of Bain, and suddenly the top alternative is worse than Romney.
    6. There is no alternative. His positions are as good as we’re likely to get, after all. Romneycare is a problem. But the only alternative is worse.
    7. Voted for Romney.

    I wouldn’t say the Establishment “forced” Romney on me. But they certainly managed to run a serious primary campaign with a serious (if flawed) candidate — while the alternatives were unserious. To some extent, that has to be because they managed to deter credible alternatives.

    If the process repeated with Trump in the Gingrich role, I’d find myself in the same situation again. But it’s not repeating.This time, the conservative wave of 2010 has had time to mature, to field more than one candidate with the experience and credibility to make a serious run, to let the most capable rise to the top (probably Rubio, but the process isn’t finished yet).

    • #10
  11. LilyBart Inactive
    LilyBart
    @LilyBart

    JavaMan:My tinfoil hat keeps telling me there’s something not quite as it seems about this Bush/Rubio fight……Nah that would mean that Republicans might actually be able to strategize and pull off political judo. It’s just wishful thinking on my part…sigh!

    They’ve proven perfectly capable of this when the ‘enemy’ is limited government conservatives.

    • #11
  12. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    I was going to snark that one must have a heart of stone to read about the end of the Jeb campaign without laughing, but Jeb seems a decent man who for all his strengths is in the wrong fight at the wrong time.

    Our biggest problem right now is that with Hillary coasting to the nomination, all those open primaries mean that our opponents will be picking our nominee for us, or at least heavily influencing that selection.

    • #12
  13. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    If Bush had the spine we needed for these times, he would not have allowed an adviser to convince him to stoop to that.  I liked him as a governor.  He needs to quit before the lasting impression we have is of a pol taking cheap shots.

    • #13
  14. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Leigh: King of Bain, and suddenly the top alternative is worse than Romney. There is no alternative. His positions are as good as we’re likely to get, after all. Romneycare is a problem. But the only alternative is worse. Voted for Romney. I wouldn’t say the Establishment “forced” Romney on me. But they certainly managed to run a serious primary campaign with a serious (if flawed) candidate — while the alternatives were unserious. To some extent, that has to be because they managed to deter credible alternatives.

    For some reason this brings to mind the way Mitt Romney’s daddy backstabbed the Republican candidate in 1964 and refused to endorse or campaign for him.  Romney, Jr., wasn’t old to vote then, but was old enough to be his own man, and didn’t disavow his father’s actions then or since.

    These days they act if it’s terrible, just terrible, if the conservatives don’t support the hardline moderates who get nominated.   Maybe today’s hardliners should disavow the way their type acted back in 1964.

    • #14
  15. Pilgrim Coolidge
    Pilgrim
    @Pilgrim

    The Reticulator: For some reason this brings to mind the way Mitt Romney’s daddy backstabbed the Republican candidate in 1964 and refused to endorse or campaign for him.  Romney, Jr., wasn’t old to vote then, but was old enough to be his own man, and didn’t disavow his father’s actions then or since.

    Please let me expand on this a bit. The Republican candidate in 1964 was, of course, Sen. Barry Goldwater. This was the first successful attempt by movement conservatives to gain control of a major party platform for presidential politics.

    The Republican “moderates” a.k.a. the “Rockefeller Republicans” or maybe “Romney Republicans,” withdrew their support and contributed to the election of Lyndon B. Johnson.  The damage of the LBJ presidency continues right up to the debt ceiling increase yesterday.

    The election of Ronald Reagan completed the conservative triumph in the Republican party. The rump of the Republican moderates finally learned that they had to sound like conservatives long enough to be able to use a major party platform to try to get elected but then they could govern in a “sensible” manner.

    Don’t look for Jeb! or the GOPe to support the choice of a party they seek to use but don’t respect.

    • #15
  16. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Pilgrim: Don’t look for Jeb! or the GOPe to support the choice of a party they seek to use but don’t respect.

    Would you care to bet on this? I’d lay claim that Bush will do 3/4 of: hold fundraisers, give a convention speech (possibly off-site, but in clear support of the campaign), endorse the nominee at an early stage of the general election or before, and work to support Rubio’s successor as Florida Senate candidate.

    There’s a reason that Jeb’s got so many more endorsements than anyone else on the GOP side; he’s a hard worker when it comes to supporting Republican candidates. Bush has a lot of flaws, and I hope he pulls out, but he’s not a Palin, a Newt, a Paul, or similar.

    The Reticulator: For some reason this brings to mind the way Mitt Romney’s daddy backstabbed the Republican candidate in 1964 and refused to endorse or campaign for him.  Romney, Jr., wasn’t old to vote then, but was old enough to be his own man, and didn’t disavow his father’s actions then or since.

    I don’t know how much you know about Mormonism, but they take the commandment to honor your father and mother unbelievably seriously; there’s a lot of other doctrine built on it, and it’s featured in a fair number of their set sermons. Mitt is pretty keen not to repudiate or in any way criticize his father on any topic, but his policies are way to George’s right. Mitt worked hard for candidates like Ernst and O’Donnell who were as marginal as Goldwater. He’ll support some more staunch conservatives this cycle, too.

    • #16
  17. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Mona Charen: Rubio’s response, suggesting that Bush had been “told” to attack him, seemed like a bull’s-eye. Jeb Bush is an honorable man; a man raised to behave like a gentleman; but he was feeling desperate at Wednesday’s debate, and tried to play against type. It failed utterly.

    A good leader will seek counsel but he won’t blindly follow bad advice from his advisers. You are right, this made Bush look weak.

    • #17
  18. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    Leigh:

    Me in 2012, oversimplified:

    1. Romney again? Please, you’re kidding.
    2. Will someone really take him on, please? Pawlenty? Perry? Anyone?
    3. This debate is ridiculous, and no one looks serious but Romney. We’re stuck. He’s inevitable.
    4. “Right-wing social engineering” — at least Romney didn’t say that. Come to think of it, he’s solid on Medicare.
    5. King of Bain, and suddenly the top alternative is worse than Romney.
    6. There is no alternative. His positions are as good as we’re likely to get, after all. Romneycare is a problem. But the only alternative is worse.
    7. Voted for Romney.

    I wouldn’t say the Establishment “forced” Romney on me. But they certainly managed to run a serious primary campaign with a serious (if flawed) candidate — while the alternatives were unserious. To some extent, that has to be because they managed to deter credible alternatives.

    I can identify with this process of acceptance. I was barely lukewarm for Mitt. However, I now admire Romney for running when other credible candidates wouldn’t.

    • #18
  19. Pilgrim Coolidge
    Pilgrim
    @Pilgrim

    James Of England:

    Pilgrim: Don’t look for Jeb! or the GOPe to support the choice of a party they seek to use but don’t respect. Would you care to bet on this? I’d lay claim that Bush will do 3/4 of: hold fundraisers, give a convention speech (possibly off-site, but in clear support of the campaign), endorse the nominee at an early stage of the general election or before, and work to support Rubio’s successor as Florida Senate candidate.

    #4 is kind of a gimme for any registered Republican in Florida. Make it two out of three.

    If the nominee is Trump, Carson, Fiorina, Paul, or Cruz you are on for $50 in merch at the Ricochet store.  If the nominee is Rubio or Kasich no bet.

    • #19
  20. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Mr. of England, allow me to commend your very humane comment-

    • #20
  21. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Pilgrim:

    James Of England:

    Pilgrim: Don’t look for Jeb! or the GOPe to support the choice of a party they seek to use but don’t respect. Would you care to bet on this? I’d lay claim that Bush will do 3/4 of: hold fundraisers, give a convention speech (possibly off-site, but in clear support of the campaign), endorse the nominee at an early stage of the general election or before, and work to support Rubio’s successor as Florida Senate candidate.

    #4 is kind of a gimme for any registered Republican in Florida. Make it two out of three.

    If the nominee is Trump, Carson, Fiorina, Paul, or Cruz you are on for $50 in merch at the Ricochet store. If the nominee is Rubio or Kasich no bet.

    Palin actively opposed the Republican ticket in Alaska last cycle, preferring an ex-Republican and a Democrat because they opposed tax cuts. I agree that it is normal for Republicans to support the party, but only because it’s normal for Republicans to respect the party. Jeb isn’t going to support the Senate race because he’s looking for personal gain; this primary has been brutal enough that he’s not likely to have much of a future in politics. He’s going to support the race because he believes in this stuff.

    Still, I’ll take the bet as 2/3, and conditional on one of those winning. I’m slightly surprised by your inclusion of Fiorina; I’d have thought that Fiorina was one of Bush’s favorite candidates. They agree on policy, they agree on campaigning approaches. They agreed on 2012 candidates (both Romney) and 2008 candidates (both McCain). What is there to dislike about Fiorina? Likewise, if Carson smartens up his act enough to win, I’d be very surprised if Bush was anything other than an enthusiastic supporter.

    Edit: To be paid out after the convention? I’d prefer it to be sooner rather than later.

    • #21
  22. Pilgrim Coolidge
    Pilgrim
    @Pilgrim

    James Of England: Jeb isn’t going to support the Senate race because he’s looking for personal gain; this primary has been brutal enough that he’s not likely to have much of a future in politics. He’s going to support the race because he believes in this stuff.  I like Jeb, voted for him twice for FL Gov and would again. IMO he is good solid managerial conservative who would work to make the federal leviathan run more efficiently.  My enthusiasm would be more for a saboteur than a mechanic.  Jeb’s private sector success, not any political future, depend on his Rolodex and the same crowd that funded his run so his interest lies in supporting candidate that his backer would support. 

    James Of England: Edit: To be paid out after the convention? I’d prefer it to be sooner rather than later. Paid when you assert that you have won or admit that you have lost.  Open a conversation, take a well-deserved victory lap and serve out the humble pie.  I’ll come around for a piece.

    This is weird: Trump is the Republican nominee, but since Jeb doesn’t endorse him, I am happy because I got a muscle shirt with Lileks face on it? 

    • #22
  23. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Henry Olsen, my colleague at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, tracks election results with meticulous attention and observes that the reason moderates (Olsen actually calls them the “somewhat conservatives”) get nominated is this: they get more votes.

    Wow!  That is meticulous.  Why didn’t we ever hear about these… what did you call them again?  Votes?  This is important news for the anti-establishmentarians.

    • #23
  24. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Larry3435:Henry Olsen, my colleague at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, tracks election results with meticulous attention and observes that the reason moderates (Olsen actually calls them the “somewhat conservatives”) get nominated is this: they get more votes.

    Wow! That is meticulous. Why didn’t we ever hear about these… what did you call them again? Votes? This is important news for the anti-establishmentarians.

    And then they can ram united but minority Democrat agendas through Congress against opposition from their own party.  This is so exciting!

    • #24
  25. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    The Reticulator:

    Larry3435:Henry Olsen, my colleague at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, tracks election results with meticulous attention and observes that the reason moderates (Olsen actually calls them the “somewhat conservatives”) get nominated is this: they get more votes.

    Wow! That is meticulous. Why didn’t we ever hear about these… what did you call them again? Votes? This is important news for the anti-establishmentarians.

    And then they can ram united but minority Democrat agendas through Congress against opposition from their own party. This is so exciting!

    How often has that happened under Obama?

    • #25
  26. Richard Finlay Inactive
    Richard Finlay
    @RichardFinlay

    Percival:Our biggest problem right now is that with Hillary coasting to the nomination, all those open primaries mean that our opponents will be picking our nominee for us, or at least heavily influencing that selection.

    This is my objection to open “party” primaries to select one “finalist” for the general election (as opposed to a runoff between the top two in a single primary).  A winning strategy is to dominate your own party enough so that your operatives (and voters) work on the opposing party’s election, to select a beatable candidate, e.g., Missouri senate race / Todd Akin.

    • #26
  27. Benjamin Glaser Inactive
    Benjamin Glaser
    @BenjaminGlaser

    The problem always is that the many anti-establishment candidates undercut themselves, which allows the one establishment guy to go through.

    • #27
  28. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Richard Finlay:

    Percival:Our biggest problem right now is that with Hillary coasting to the nomination, all those open primaries mean that our opponents will be picking our nominee for us, or at least heavily influencing that selection.

    This is my objection to open “party” primaries to select one “finalist” for the general election (as opposed to a runoff between the top two in a single primary). A winning strategy is to dominate your own party enough so that your operatives (and voters) work on the opposing party’s election, to select a beatable candidate, e.g., Missouri senate race / Todd Akin.

    Akin was the progressive’s dream, but only because of a single piece of bad luck. The general history of trying to push unappealing candidates to the front has not been a successful one.

    • #28
  29. Susan the Buju Contributor
    Susan the Buju
    @SusanQuinn

    Does anyone care about how the candidates repeatedly try to capitalize on a lie? Or am I naïve? Ben Carson clarified (yeah, he has to do that quite a bit) his “10% tithing” suggestion which was an analogy, not a 10% tax, and the candidates kept going after his 10% tax after he clarified. That annoyed the heck out of me.

    • #29
  30. Pilgrim Coolidge
    Pilgrim
    @Pilgrim

    Susan the Buju:Does anyone care about how the candidates repeatedly try to capitalize on a lie? Or am I naïve? Ben Carson clarified (yeah, he has to do that quite a bit) his “10% tithing” suggestion which was an analogy, not a 10% tax, and the candidates kept going after his 10% tax after he clarified. That annoyed the heck out of me.

    Carson’s dismissal of involvement with Mannatech nutritional powder as “propaganda” because “there was no involvement” annoyed the heck out of me.  That was a lie that would embarrass Hillary

    See National Review : Ben Carson’s Troubling Connection Watch the video in the link and see Carson’s infomercial.

    The real explanation: “That was a mistake.  My expertise is surgery and I know next to nothing about business.  Someone said that I could make some money and I just said “Yeah, sure” and allowed my prestige to be used without vetting either the company or the product.  Now let’s talk about the real issue, my qualifications to be president.”

    Wait, I think we just did.

    • #30
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