Winnowing The Herd
by Deacon Blues
I typically pay little attention to anything Jennifer Rubin says, the right-wing opinion writer for the Washington Post. She's often enough wrong that giving her much respect on anything is a risky proposition. But with the realization that even a broken clock is right twice a day, Rubin's column today on the 2016 GOP presidential beauty contest deserves some reflection.
Rubin opines that Jeb Bush's almost certain entry into the race closes out the participation of Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, and even Mitt Romney. I think she is correct here, and for the reasons she gives. Ryan has no real reason to abandon his imminent chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee and leave the center of the action these next two years just to take on several 800-pound characters and their fundraising bases. Rubio for his part just lost part of any geographic base he had, and the man comes across as a boy desperately trying to play in a man’s world. Romney for his part lost the large claim he would have had on the establishment vote.
So with those people probably not on the stage in the coming contest, where does that leave things? What are the camps and candidates that will fight things out?
1. Establishment Money: Even with Romney out of the race, how big is Chris Christie's ego for him to think that he could still keep his donor base sufficiently intact if those same elite funders have a choice between Bush's relative safeness and Christie's warts?
2. Tea Party Darlings: Ted Cruz will run because delusional people boxing above their weight always do things that make no sense. Rick Santorum may want a piece of this action in this camp as well.
3. Libertarian Rising: Rand Paul; that's all you need to know.
4. Statehouse "Successes": Do Scott Walker, John Kasich, and even Susanna Martinez run regardless of Bush's entry just to claim that part of the GOP electorate that wants a current leader who gets things done outside of the Beltway? I'm thinking that at least one of these three does run, if for no other reason than to be someone's Joe Biden.
5. "Niche" Candidates: This is my Mike Huckabee/Carly Fiorina/Ben Carson catch-all category, where any assortment of nuts thinks they offer something that makes them relevant and essential. In truth, the three of them offer nothing and are this cycle's Herman Cain.
So where do things end up at the back end of the GOP beauty contest? Well, despite some of the dismissive talk on both the left and right about Bush's chances, he will be there at the end because of the money and people behind him. Rand Paul will be there at the end because of his ego and because he really wants to have a debate about the future of the party. And Ted Cruz may hang around a while because he really thinks he's "The One."
It'll be good viewing for all of us.