On the Campaign Trail (early May)

(An occasional entry in a series on the things people say and do when they want to be president)

The campaign trail grows more crowded by the week as unofficial candidates become official candidates, the Jeb Bush and Chris Christie watches continue, and America is about to meet the very impressive John Kasich. It’s becoming harder for the Republican candidates to distinguish themselves from the amorphous blob of contenders and pretenders but so far, most of them have been able to resist the natural impulse to say something outrageous just for the attention.

At least most of them have.

So far.

The following is a quick look at a few of the more entertaining aspects of the campaign since our last report.

 

The Donald

trumpThe Donald Trump watch continues.   He’s not running: you know he’s not running, he knows he’s not running, and the people who ask him if he’s running know he’s not running. Still, they keep asking because, well, that’s an easy thing to do. The Donald, milking this for all it’s worth, says he’ll announce his decision in June or July.

The Curmudgeon, for one, will be holding his breath until then.

 

Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush is running, although he hasn’t announced it yet. He’s doing everything candidates do, including raising money by the buckets-full. He’s also talking about essentially outsourcing his campaign to those new, Supreme Court-inspired groups that can spend without the legal restrictions that prevent campaigns from spending more than a few billion measly dollars and do so without that annoying little requirement that they identify themselves as the people trying to undermine democracy as we know it in this country.

bushIt also was revealed that a few years ago Jeb identified himself as Hispanic on a voter registration form.

Olé!

Fans of the television series The West Wing will understand this: Jeb Bush is Arnie Vinick, the Republican presidential candidate played by Alan Alda. He’s not angry, he comes across as nicer and more agreeable than his opponents, but all that amiability masks views that are pretty much the same as those staking out their position on the far right wing. To protect yourself from the natural instinct to think he’s preferable to the others, every time you find your opposition to Jeb Bush softening, just think two words.

Terri Schiavo.

 

Ted Cruz

The Cruz missile isn’t sold on global warming – not even a little. He told the Huffington Post that

On the global warming alarmists, anyone who actually points to the evidence that disproves their apocalyptical claims, they don’t engage in reasoned debate. What do they do? They scream, ‘You’re a denier.’ They brand you a heretic. Today, the global warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat-Earthers. It used to be [that] it is accepted scientific wisdom the Earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier.

And

If you look at global warming alarmists, they don’t like to look at the actual facts and the data. The satellite data demonstrate that there has been no significant warming whatsoever for 17 years. Now that’s a real problem for the global warming alarmists. Because all those computer models on which this whole issue is based predicted significant warming, and yet the satellite data show it ain’t happening.

This guy’s a loon – but The Curmudgeon hopes he’ll stick around on the campaign trail for a little while because he’s going to be fun.

 

Chris Christie

The big guy’s having a tough time, what with all those people who think he sold out by working with President Obama to help people whose lives were turned upside down by Hurricane Sandy. He’s a moderate seeking the votes of hard-core conservatives, which can lead a guy to say things he shouldn’t be saying.

christieLike when he told reporters that he didn’t want to legalize marijuana in New Jersey because

To me, that’s blood money. I’m not going to put the lives of children and citizens at risk to put a little more money into the state coffers, at least not on my watch.

This from a guy whose state legalized casino gambling nearly forty years ago and who’s been doubling down of late in his efforts to save that industry. But gambling doesn’t jeopardize the welfare of children and citizens – no way.

Now Christie’s complaining that his poll numbers are down because of the negative coverage of the press. So let’s see: there was the George Washington Bridge fiasco, all the time he spends out of state, which New Jerseyans (New Jerseyites?) hate, the state pension problems, the Atlantic City fiasco, and new reports that the replacement police force he demanded in Camden is doing its job better than its predecessor with the help of the business end of a billy club: complaints of police violence have doubled since the takeover. So maybe – just maybe – all that negative reporting is the result of his negative job performance.

Christie also got himself in trouble when he told reporters he didn’t consider himself a rich man – even though he and his wife reported income of nearly $700,000 in 2013, putting him firmly among the one percent.

Maybe $700,000 doesn’t buy as much as it once did.

 

Marco Rubio

Marco? Polo!

Marco Rubio wants to repeal Obamacare and has a better idea – and he has experience with this kind of thing. When he was speaker of the House in Florida he led the drive to enact a voluntary, market-based health care reform plan called Florida Health Choices. Passed in 2008, it now serves eighty people.

Eighty.

80.

Not 800.

Not 8000.

Not 800,000.

Not the 1.6 million Floridians who have benefited from Obamacare even though the state stubbornly refuses to expand its Medicaid program.

80.

8-0.

(Or, for any Romans out there, LXXX.)

So that Rubio health care expertise is exactly what we need in the White House.

 

Scott Walker

Still fresh from busting unions in Wisconsin, where he’s governor, Scott Walker is running pretty hard. It looks like the Koch brothers will be supporting him, and The Curmudgeon suspects Walker’s going to do a lot better in this race than some of the higher-profile candidates.

But Walker’s just an ordinary guy, like the rest of us, and he wants to make sure we know it. He bragged recently about shopping at Kohl’s and took a swipe at Hillary Clinton, suggesting she’d never shop there. He also likes to ride Harleys, which is something all Americans do, and says he wears suits that he buys at three-for-one sales at Joseph A. Banks.

But what would he do as president?

 

Poor Bobby Jindal

The Curmudgeon heretofore renames “Bobby Jindal” “Poor Bobby Jindal” because Poor Bobby just can’t catch a break. His opponents are smarter than he is, better politicians than he is, more articulate than he is, and better known than he is, so all that leaves for Poor Bobby is the adult equivalent of collapsing onto the floor and kicking and screaming like a child who was told he couldn’t have an ice cream cone because dinner is in ten minutes.

jindalIn late April Poor Bobby wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times opposing LGBT rights, writing that

If we, as conservatives, are to succeed in advancing the cause of freedom and free enterprise, the business community must stand shoulder to shoulder with those fighting for religious liberty.

In other words, he wants to preserve the freedom of some by abridging the freedom of others.

Very American, Poor Bobby.

This is the same kind of religious liberty that in the past was used to justify discrimination against Blacks, Jews, Asians, Native Americans, and pretty much anyone else who doesn’t look like a white, Christian European – including members of Poor Bobby’s own family; his parents came here from India. Poor Bobby went so far as to declare that passing a soft-on-discrimination law like the one briefly enacted in Indiana last month will be one of his three top legislative priorities this year as governor of Looser-iana.

 

Rand Paul

When then-senator Barack Obama ran for president Republicans complained that he wasn’t qualified, that seven years in the Illinois state legislature and four years in the Senate weren’t nearly enough experience to be president. By the time 2016 rolls around Rand Paul will have the same amount of experience in the Senate but none of Obama’s seven years in the state legislature. It will be interesting to see how Republicans explain why Obama wasn’t experienced enough in public office to be president but Rand Paul is.

 

Ben Carson

Last and most definitely least, Ben Carson knows the only way he can get attention – aside, you know, from being a Black Republican, which is about as rare as a born-again Christian at a Marilyn Manson concert – is to say outrageous things. That doesn’t seem to be a problem for the M.D.-turned-presidential candidate, whose outrageous beliefs give him a never-ending vein of outrageous views to mine.

Like this one:

A lot of people who go into prison, go into prison straight, and when they come out, they’re gay.

Maybe it’s the water.

While he later apologized for his “hurtful and divisive” remarks, he didn’t say he didn’t still believe them.

Carson also said the LGBT community was the “flavor of the day.” Like Black folks once were, Ben? He refuses to support a ban on “conversion therapy” that seeks to make all homosexual desires disappear with a few sessions on a shrink’s couch.

 

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