Bernie Sanders, as far as the media is concerned, is the Rodney Dangerfield of presidential candidates -- "he don't get no respect." Of the 23 candidates running for president in the two major parties, precisely four of them have ever shown even 20 percent support (in their polling averages from their base voters). Actually, to be completely accurate, five people have hit the 20 percent support level since the race began this year, but Joe Biden is not actually a candidate yet. The other four are Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders.
Archive of Articles for September, 2015
I should start out by apologizing for the sensationalism of that title, but somehow I just couldn't resist. "Priebus Agrees With James Baker" didn't quite have the same punch, but I'm apologizing in advance for two reasons: I actually agree with the chairman of the Republican National Committee on this one; and because of that, the article's going to be supportive and not snarky, as the headline might imply.
Ben Carson would not support a Muslim candidate for president. This statement was made a week ago, and the media is still pressing him on the issue. But what's kind of puzzling to me is why they don't ask a few very obvious questions that would expose the rank hypocrisy involved in Carson's thinking. Instead, they just ask him the same question (in slightly different formats) over and over again, ignoring the fundamental contradictions in what Carson is espousing.
Every so often, when preparing to write these weekly wrap-up columns, I wake up Friday morning and a political bombshell has happened which pretty much wipes out all the political news from the entire rest of the week. Obviously, today was one of those days, as we all learned this morning that Speaker of the House John Boehner will be a private citizen again by Hallowe'en. He'll step down not only from his speakership, but also from his House seat itself, more than a year before the end of his current term. So it looks like the Republicans are going to need a new cat-herder to (attempt to) lead them in the House.
It's been a week since the second Republican presidential debates, and the polling data is finally in from multiple sources. So it's time once again to look at who is up and who is down in the horserace numbers (all polling data comes from the Real Clear Politics Republican nomination poll-tracking page).
So we're down to the paltry number of "only" 15 Republican candidates for president, as Scott Walker has now joined Rick Perry on the sidelines of the race. I must admit, I'm doing a pretty horrible job of picking who will exit the race in what order, as when I wrote about the subject last month, neither man was on my list of the first five candidates I thought would drop out earliest. Both Perry and Walker had substantial support from the billionaire class, which meant both had plenty of funds pouring in to super PACs to support their candidacy. The problem for both men, in the end, turned out not to be lack of funds to air television ads, but rather lack of funds to keep the lights on and pay their official campaign staff. Before their respective exits, Perry put almost all his campaign staff on a volunteer basis (because he couldn't afford the payroll) and Walker announced he was pulling back everywhere but Iowa, and shrinking his campaign staff accordingly. So even with millions sitting in super PAC coffers, what killed their campaigns in the end was lack of financial support for the campaign itself.
It always amuses me when Americans are told that the political climate today is "poisonously partisan" or "divided" and that this is "the worst partisanship Washington has ever seen." While pundits in the mainstream media love to whip this non-story into a frenzy every election year, it only goes to prove their utter ignorance of American history.
For the past few days, the presidential election has focused on religion -- in specific, the Islamic religion. This started with Donald Trump failing to challenge a questioner's assertion that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and then shifted to asking Republican candidates whether they could hypothetically support a Muslim to become America's president. This time it was Ben Carson who stumbled, not Trump. Other Republican presidential candidates have -- to their credit -- condemned Carson's remarks, most notably Ted Cruz (on constitutional grounds: "the Constitution specifies there shall be no religious test for public office and I am a constitutionalist") and Lindsey Graham (on historical grounds: "America is an idea, not owned by a particular religion"). Bobby Jindal tried to win the gotcha battle in his own unique way:
This was one of those weeks when one event overshadowed pretty much everything else that was going on in the political world. The event, of course, was the second round of Republican presidential debates, which lasted for a grueling five-plus hours.
It may not have been the first time that marijuana legal reform came up in a televised presidential debate, but last night's discussion between Rand Paul, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush was certainly the most in-depth and serious handling of the subject I've ever seen. This is something of a milestone, especially since it happened in a Republican debate (all of the quotes below come from a transcript of the debate provided by the Washington Post, I should mention).