The Race Begins to Take Shape

 

Rubio-CruzI have not been blogging much recently — in part as a consequences of exhaustion (I have been and still am ushering books into print), and in part because I know only one thing about this presidential race: my expectations have repeatedly been proven wrong.

I did write a post on Jeb, expressing my admiration for his accomplishments as Governor of Florida, and indicating wariness, and I did describe the Democratic Party as The Party of the Living Dead. I think that I was right on both counts.

But I will have to confess to you that I did not anticipate the debut of The Donald and, when he appeared on the scene, I figured that he was flash-in-the-pan: this year’s Herman Cain. I read about Ted Cruz’s plan to turn out evangelical voters as never before, and I thought, “That won’t work.” I took note of Hillary’s age and the fact that she seems frequently out of it, and I told myself, “This is a great opportunity for Martin O’Malley. He is the only Democrat in the race with a pulse.”

I did think Rubio had a shot. “He wants it,” I thought. “He has worked for it, he is charming, he is handsome, and the ladies like that sort of thing.” But I thought Rand Paul would be more of a force, and I had high hopes for Scott Walker, Rick Perry, and Bobby Jindal. Men with executive experience generally make better Presidents than men who have only served as legislators. Senators posture. Governors, generals, and corporate leaders take responsibility. Look at the current President, and you will see what I mean. He has not yet learned to take responsibility, and he stills gives speeches full of references to himself.

When I look at the Democratic race, I think, “Neither of the candidates is qualified to be President. Hillary is obviously a crook, and what she did with her communications as Secretary of State would get anyone else put behind bars.” Bernie Sanders is a joke. My bet is that the Democratic race gets upended, and that Joe Biden, John Kerry, and/or Elizabeth Warren report for duty.

On the Republican side, it is possible that Donald Trump will bounce back after Iowa. But my guess is that his loss there will let air seep out of the balloon. I do not believe that he wants to be President. He enjoys the game. And I do not believe that he will receive the nomination. He is not a Republican, and he has been on the wrong side most of his life.

That leaves Cruz and Rubio. Bush has passed his sell-by date. John Kasich has the support of Pravda-on-the-Hudson, which tells you everything that you need to know. Ben Carson is a fine man but he has not bothered to learn what one must learn if one is to be a credible candidate. Chris Christie is parochial. He opens his mouth, and one thinks, “Joisey! Dat’s a man from Joisey.” I enjoy him but one has to be from New Jersey to really appreciate the man.

Cruz and Rubio have this advantage. Each has a pulse. In the world of the living dead, the man with a pulse is apt to win. They are also both smart, and they know how to get out the vote. I myself would prefer a genuine conservative with executive experience to both of them, but we do not have that option.

Rubio is more likable, and everyone will say that he is more electable — and they may be right. Charm counts for a lot, and he plays nicely with other children. Rubio makes friends; Cruz makes enemies. The regulars really hate the man. It says a lot about the Republicans in Congress that quite a number of those in the House recently expressed a preference for Trump over Cruz. It says a lot about how much they hate Cruz, and it says a lot about their stupidity. “He is a businessman,” they say. “We can work with him. He does not know a lot about the issues. He will follow our lead.” Think a bit about that. Do you really think that a man as vain as Trump would be willing to follow anyone’s lead? If anything, the odds are good that, if elected as a Republican, Trump would play ball with Nancy Pelosi. Over the years, he has given a lot more money to Democratic candidates than to Republicans.

So, two sets of questions remain. What should we think of Rubio? Is he a conservative? Can he be trusted? On close examination, is he as attractive as he seems to be?

And what about Cruz? What would he be like in office? Is he a real conservative? Does he have a capacity for charm? If he is a conservative and he can turn on the charm, could he get the party to dance to a conservative tune?

To those sets of questions, we need to add another. What do our present circumstances require? Can we afford to continue the post-New Deal Republican Party policy of temporizing? Or have we reached the point at which further compromise means that we have lost our country altogether? After all, Barack Obama set out, as he said shortly before being elected President, to “fundamentally change America,” and he called his administration “The New Foundation.” Can we accept that new foundation and move smartly along? Or must we reverse it? If the latter, which of the two surviving Republican candidates has the requisite understanding and the required gumption?

Published in General
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 67 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Sash Member
    Sash
    @Sash

    Doesn’t matter Cruz is not at all compelling.  I agree with him on nearly all topics and want to get away from him the moment he begins talking.  I have no idea how he was elected to anything.  He is just not appealing.

    If one is impossible why bother with him at all?

    Focus on getting good people around Rubio to help him make the right decisions.

    • #1
  2. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Sash:Doesn’t matter Cruz is not at all compelling. I agree with him on nearly all topics and want to get away from him the moment he begins talking. I have no idea how he was elected to anything. He is just not appealing.

    If one is impossible why bother with him at all?

    Focus on getting good people around Rubio to help him make the right decisions.

    Fair enough. But if Cruz is that unappealing, how did he win in Iowa? And is Rubio appealing, or is there something smarmy about the man? I will not say that you are wrong, but let’s face it. Rubio picks the people who will be around him. We don’t.

    • #2
  3. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Cruz has surprised me in Iowa. But then it is Iowa, so who can extrapolate from there? I believe Rubio to be the best candidate because he is the most conservative AND electable of all the candidates. He is a polar opposite to the aging beast on the Democrat side. I like him paired with Fiorina or Nikki Haley.

    • #3
  4. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    Clinton allegedly won six out of six coin tosses in Iowa. We have barely started and the Clinton machine is already rigging the vote. If each had won 3 of the tosses (makes sense statistically), Sanders would have been declared the victor in Iowa.

    • #4
  5. Benjamin Glaser Inactive
    Benjamin Glaser
    @BenjaminGlaser

    The personality issue with Cruz seems to be one more of appearance than substance.

    Cruz did better among women in Iowa than did Rubio.

    That counts for something.

    • #5
  6. BThompson Inactive
    BThompson
    @BThompson

    Benjamin Glaser:The personality issue with Cruz seems to be one more of appearance than substance.

    Cruz did better among women in Iowa than did Rubio.

    That counts for something.

    Cruz did better among the evangelical Republican women who made up most of the female vote in Iowa. They don’t represent a cross section of the women’s vote in the general election. If you think that Cruz will be more appealing to women than Rubio come general election time, I’ll have what your having.

    • #6
  7. Lucy Pevensie Inactive
    Lucy Pevensie
    @LucyPevensie

    Benjamin Glaser:The personality issue with Cruz seems to be one more of appearance than substance.

    Cruz did better among women in Iowa than did Rubio.

    That counts for something.

    There is a non sequitur in there.  Are you suggesting that women care about personality in a candidate and men don’t?

    • #7
  8. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    It’s important not to lose sight of the ultimate objective, keeping the keys to the White House out of the hands of the Clinton Crime Family™.

    Pragmatically speaking, that means supporting whoever is the Republican nominee. I subscribe to the “this is the last chance” hypothesis. I don’t want to test it by electing The Godmother.

    That means suck it up buttercup. Get over the hurt feelings. No “standing on principle.” No staying home. If Clinton wins, the Obama legacy is cemented, and America as we’ve known it is over.

    The real question in the general election isn’t going to be where the Republican nominee stands on any of the issues. The question is going to be whether the nominee can go the full 15 rounds in the cage with Clinton and her retinue of henchmen, janissaries, myrmidons, and flying monkeys. Not just survive, but prevail. Not just win on points, but by a knockout. He’s going to need help so it would be useful if the bien pensants of the conservative commentariat would get over themselves and concentrate on winning the election, and not their next appearance on Fox or their next book.

    Cruz (my favorite) probably can. Trump maybe can (he counterpunches well, but seems a bit thin skinned and temperamentally unsuited). Rubio, I have my doubts. The remaining Republicans could serve their country best by dropping out.

    • #8
  9. Paul Dougherty Member
    Paul Dougherty
    @PaulDougherty

    We are blessed for such a choice. If asked for preference, I’d rather hear a SOTU, stumps for support of conservative legislation, commemorations on tragic events, defense of judges, commemorations on joyous occasions from Sen. Rubio’s solid oratory. I’d prefer to not be convinced through lecture/sermon/closing argument.

    • #9
  10. Scott R Member
    Scott R
    @ScottR

    Justified or not, it’s no small thing that Cruz has so many enemies within the party. A president needs allies — partners in the tent pissing out.

    For instance, it’s entirely possible Rubio, while less conservative than Cruz, could usher through a rightward reform of entitlements, while Cruz could not.

    Hard to say, really. But a disposition that prevents one from playing well with others is no great attribute, and indications are strong that Cruz has exactly that.

    • #10
  11. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    Whatever Rahe says about the race is wrong.  Period.  I got all jacked up last time because he said Obama was gonna lose.  Not sticking my head in that hole again.

    PS – This is sarcasm.  It’s what I’m known for.  Just chuckle.  Don’t get all rumbly-and-a-bumbly because I criticized Dr. Rahe.

    • #11
  12. 1967mustangman Inactive
    1967mustangman
    @1967mustangman

    Nick Stuart: Cruz (my favorite) probably can. Trump maybe can (he counterpunches well, but seems a bit thin skinned and temperamentally unsuited). Rubio, I have my doubts. The remaining Republicans could serve their country best by dropping out.

    Rubio isn’t the one that said he would have to leave the last debate if the questioners kept being mean to him.  There were plenty of elbows thrown at him and he elbowed right back.

    • #12
  13. harrisventures Coolidge
    harrisventures
    @harrisventures

    Go along to get along is precisely why this country is in the shape it’s in. Cruz stands on principle, knows the constitution, and is a true conservative. He gets my vote.

    Rubio is pretty conservative too, but he has already demonstrated that he can be rolled by the likes of Schumer and Reid. I have more confidence in Cruz standing firm than Rubio.

    If push comes to shove, I would vote for anyone, even Trump, against the Hildebeast or the Socialist.

    • #13
  14. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor
    @OkieSailor

    I don’t understand why so many people find Cruz distasteful. I am not at all disturbed by his manner. He’s obviously a lot smarter than I am but that’s what I want to see in office. He is not as smooth as rubio, not as good looking either but we’re talking about a president not a movie star. Personally I find Trump much harder to take the way he insults anyone who disagree with him and so on, he’s juvenile. I hope he’s not really like that but how would I know? I would not have any big problem voting for Rubio but I prefer Cruz as I think he would press harder to repair the damage of the Obama years.

    • #14
  15. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Scott R:Justified or not, it’s no small thing that Cruz has so many enemies within the party. A president needs allies — partners in the tent pissing out.

    For instance, it’s entirely possible Rubio, while less conservative than Cruz, could usher through a rightward reform of entitlements, while Cruz could not.

    Hard to say, really. But a disposition that prevents one from playing well with others is no great attribute, and indications are strong that Cruz has exactly that.

    I agree — which is why I raised the question. But . . . but the others with whom Cruz did not play so well are the Republicans in Congress who, after winning a landslide in 2010 and another in 2014, were too timid to do anything. The Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse. That is what constitutes legislative supremacy. But to judge by the results after 2010 and 2014 elections in this country no longer matter. Cruz may have been right to ruffle feathers. And, then again, he may simply be unclubbable.

    • #15
  16. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    Paul A. Rahe: It says a lot about the Republicans in Congress that quite a number of those in the House recently expressed a preference for Trump over Cruz

    In fairness to Congress, that’s true all across America.

    • #16
  17. Tom Riehl Inactive
    Tom Riehl
    @TrinityWaters

    Look at how Cruz strafed both the Republican and Democrat candidates in Texas to get where he is today.  Texas is a large state with significant blue cities, and Cruz came out of essentially nowhere and pounded his opposition.  He couldn’t have accomplished that if he were truly so “unelectable” and “nasty”, etc.  He is usually the smartest man in the room, unlike you know who…

    Rubio comes across as a bit smarmy, for unknown reasons.  And he got Schumered with amnesty, so he’s dead to many possible supporters.  I’m sure he loves his family, and all that usual blather, but that’s not the bar he failed to clear.

    I hope Cruz prevails, for all our sake.  Trump will probably self-immolate at some point, and Cruz will pick up the pieces with great alacrity and precision.

    • #17
  18. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Spin:Whatever Rahe says about the race is wrong. Period. I got all jacked up last time because he said Obama was gonna lose. Not sticking my head in that hole again.

    PS – This is sarcasm. It’s what I’m known for. Just chuckle. Don’t get all rumbly-and-a-bumbly because I criticized Dr. Rahe.

    Your instincts may nonetheless be right. I certainly — as I say above — had no idea what was going to happen this time. And let’s face it: I am only guessing now.

    • #18
  19. Tom Riehl Inactive
    Tom Riehl
    @TrinityWaters

    Spin:

    Paul A. Rahe: It says a lot about the Republicans in Congress that quite a number of those in the House recently expressed a preference for Trump over Cruz

    In fairness to Congress, that’s true all across America.

    Maybe, Spinner, but I smell fear in the beltway.

    • #19
  20. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    Paul A. Rahe: I am only guessing now.

    Aren’t we all.

    • #20
  21. BThompson Inactive
    BThompson
    @BThompson

    Cruz didn’t ruffle feathers to motivate reluctant leadership or actually accomplish anything, he did it to raise his profile and make a run for the presidency a potential reality. Cruz has never had any intention of actually trying to reform the party or accomplish anything other than win the nomination and the presidency. He is rather like Hillary Clinton in that regard. What he would be willing to do with the power of the presidency I have no idea, but the gobsmacking amount of naked and calculating ambition I see in him makes me very wary.

    • #21
  22. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    For my part, I said at the outset that I like Rubio, and expected that he, above all others, would be the party’s nominee.  Sitting here, roughly 48 hours after the first real votes of the primary season, I see nothing that tells me anything different.  I am still a bit worried about Trump, but not as much.

    In the end, the folks hung up on Rubio’s gang of 8 black eye will get over it if he is the nominee.  They have to.  If it weren’t for that one issue he’d be the darling of the conservative movement.  And when faced with choosing between him and the whatever comes out of the other side, there just isn’t a choice.

    Considering Rubio to be some newly bearded Marxist is fine…until he is compared to an actual Marxist.

    • #22
  23. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    Tom Riehl:

    Spin:

    Paul A. Rahe: It says a lot about the Republicans in Congress that quite a number of those in the House recently expressed a preference for Trump over Cruz

    In fairness to Congress, that’s true all across America.

    Maybe, Spinner, but I smell fear in the beltway.

    You call me Spinner again and I’ll come through the internet and make you wish you’d never been born.

    Note – That is also sarcasm.  Or do we call that hyperbole?  I don’t know.  But I really hate being called Spinner.

    • #23
  24. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    I want Walker or Perry;  I will be happy with Cruz or Rubio.  Neither Cruz nor Rubio is Dole, McCain, or Romney.   Romney, Dole & McCain all  really really wanted the nomination.   Cruz & Rubio both really really want the Presidency; for them the nomination is a means to the end, not the prize itself.  Both love our country; both want to do something with the presidency.  We  could do way worse than either.

    • #24
  25. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    Spin:

    Tom Riehl:

    Spin:

    Paul A. Rahe: It says a lot about the Republicans in Congress that quite a number of those in the House recently expressed a preference for Trump over Cruz

    In fairness to Congress, that’s true all across America.

    Maybe, Spinner, but I smell fear in the beltway.

    You call me Spinner again and I’ll come through the internet and make you wish you’d never been born.

    Note – That is also sarcasm. Or do we call that hyperbole? I don’t know. But I really hate being called Spinner.

    Spinner evokes another visual…. not COC

    • #25
  26. Benjamin Glaser Inactive
    Benjamin Glaser
    @BenjaminGlaser

    Here is a good example of questioning some of us have of Rubio:

    • #26
  27. Tom Riehl Inactive
    Tom Riehl
    @TrinityWaters

    Spin:

    Tom Riehl:

    Spin:

    Paul A. Rahe: It says a lot about the Republicans in Congress that quite a number of those in the House recently expressed a preference for Trump over Cruz

    In fairness to Congress, that’s true all across America.

    Maybe, Spinner, but I smell fear in the beltway.

    You call me Spinner again and I’ll come through the internet and make you wish you’d never been born.

    Note – That is also sarcasm. Or do we call that hyperbole? I don’t know. But I really hate being called Spinner.

    Can I have another?

    • #27
  28. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Here is my question for Ted Cruz (and I like him, but I have questions for him and all of the candidates):

    President Cruz asks Congress for legislation on a matter.  He gets about 50% of what he wants.  Is he capable of negotiating for more?  Would he be willing to settle for less than 100% even if he could move Congress to 75 or 80% or even 90%?  There is a part of me that worries that he would not be happy unless he could walk away and tell everyone that Congress failed him; that he is more concerned about being perceived as the purest one out there than to settle for anything that calls his reputation into question.

    I wonder if anyone else has that worry.

    • #28
  29. Tim Wright Inactive
    Tim Wright
    @TimWright

    Cruz is about as likeable as Nixon but mentally stable. The best Twitter comment I saw last night described the top three GOP finishers as Face punchable, solid gold dumpster fire, and Tracey Flick. (And the Democrats as Mrs. Indictment and the communist, I believe.)

    I don’t see any real evidence of belief on Rubio’s part in his positions. And when spokesmen for Rove’s American crossroads, and the senate leader McConnell start praising him, that pretty much settles it for me.

    The republican establishment, however you wish to define it, likes Rubio because they know nothing will change under him. They can just go on as before. And that’s why I simply won’t vote for a bad republican this time. Better Hillary, and all the corruption and leftism she will bring with her, than a bad republican who will bury forever any prospect of reform.

    Tim

    • #29
  30. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    Benjamin Glaser:Here is a good example of questioning some of us have of Rubio:


    I’m sorry, what?  Rubio got campaing money?  Somebody donated to his campaign?  OMG!  I renounce my support immediately!

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.