Saturday, October 31, 2015

Ben Carson and Donald Trump

The Very Serious Beltway pundits are grateful to be able to say someone, anyone, other than Trump is leading the race.

True, Carson is no more acceptable to the GOP establishment than Trump but the hope is that this shows that maybe Trump's time in the sun is coming to an end and that he's finally ready for the decline the pundits have insisted is coming any day now for three months.

The idea is that supposedly the voters have finally scrutinized Trump-after not doing so for three months and so they realize that Carson is ore suitable as he's not bombastic and doesn't insult people like Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina.

I find this rather laughable to think Trump has received no scrutiny till now. Carly Fiorina when through the stages of discovery, scrutiny, and decline within a few weeks.

I guess the pundits find it reassuring that someone, anyone, can lead other than Trump. They confidently tell us that Carson might be able to win Iowa and then someone suitable like Jeb or more likely tat this point Rubio will take it from there.

This is as usual for the pundits in the primary cycle, way too eager. They are way too eager to declare that their rules of political gravity have been restored.

How is it that Carson can win Iowa, but it's ruled out that Trump can win in NH when a new poll shows him leading Carson his nearest competitor there 30-12?

If he wins NH how is that nothing? If anything Carson winning Iowa is easier to dismiss as an outlier as the state goes for religious conservatives that seldom win elsewhere.

On the other hand, they are out in front by claiming that Carson is the new leader. He clearly is in Iowa but nationally it looks like for now they are tied. Yesterday's Survey Monkey poll shows that Trump hasn't lost support, but rather Carson has gained it as Trump leads 29-27.

The truth is that Carson catching up with Trump hardly helps the establishment. It might be a good sing if he had clearly taken Trump's support but that Survey Monkey poll makes clear he hasn't. Carson has taken that support from establishment candidates. The real story here is that Trump and Carson have almost 60% between them and Ted Cruz has another 10%

"But here is the most important and enduring fact of the GOP race so far. In every recent national poll of Republicans, including those with likely voters, with or without leaners, the breakdown is that the five main outsider candidates (Trump, Carson, Cruz, Fiorina, Huckabee) combine to generate between 63 and 70 percent support. The three main establishment candidates, Bush, Rubio, and Kasich, combine to between 12 and 19 percent."

"Of course, there is a chance that as one or more of the outsider candidates falters, their supporters will gravitate to Rubio or one of the other establishment figures. Or that the outsiders will fragment in support, allowing Rubio, the establishment favorite, to do what Mitt Romney did in 2012. But it is a bit more likely that the bulk of those voters will opt instead for another outsider."

I also think that Norm Ornstein makes a case that it's Carson's support rather than Trump's that might be more fleeting.

"The vast majority of scholars and pundits, including but not limited to those who confidently predicted multiple times over the past four months that Trump had peaked and would soon be out of the race, and who are now gleeful that he has dropped to second in the latest CBS/New York Times survey, assume Trump cannot possibly win a nomination. But consider that Trump’s supporters are far more set in their deep support for him than Carson supporters, who indicate that they are more flirtatious than romantic at this point. And consider that, contrary to conventional wisdom, Trump is now investing more in building an infrastructure in early primary and caucus states than most of his rivals."

Carson seems to me to have an excellent shot in taking Iowa but not so much beyond as most states are not so dominated by religious conservatives. 

And Trump's lead in NH is just massive and this has been ignored.

The talk now makes it sound like Carson has taken over everywhere. 

Trump's strategy on debate night was smart. He didn't attack Carson at all and embraced him as he nailed Kasich for being at Lehman's in 2008.

Both he and Ben are standing close to each other as Ted Cruz also is. Makes sense. Rubio-the most likely establishment conduit going forward will have his work cut out for him. 

Why this GOP Primary Really May Be Different This Time

Normally this is seen as famous last words. The idea that it's different thins itme is usually wrong. Though I think that's more the case in markets and economies than politics.

I've been arguing this point for awhile.

I'm happy to see that Nate Silver is finally now considering this possibility that it's different this time.

I wonder when Jonathan Bernstein finally considers it. I had a Twitter exchange with hi where he is basically just sticking to the Party Decides meme regardless of how different this cycle has been.

For a refreshing view, we have to look to Norm Ornstein who as way back as August admitted that maybe it's different this time.

Here I think Orstein breaks it down in a very succient way which shows that maybe the party will-eventually-get it's nominee-which at this point is probably Rubio not Jeb.

But the word eventually is the key. It would be wonderful for Rubio for Jeb to drop out but he'd still face a huge uphill battle.

"But here is the most important and enduring fact of the GOP race so far. In every recent national poll of Republicans, including those with likely voters, with or without leaners, the breakdown is that the five main outsider candidates (Trump, Carson, Cruz, Fiorina, Huckabee) combine to generate between 63 and 70 percent support. The three main establishment candidates, Bush, Rubio, and Kasich, combine to between 12 and 19 percent."

So maybe eventually when Jeb and Kasich give it up Rubio has 19% and the outsiders sill have at least 63%. He is going to have to convert an awful lot of primary voters.

Maybe it can be done but why simply presume it will?

"Of course, there is a chance that as one or more of the outsider candidates falters, their supporters will gravitate to Rubio or one of the other establishment figures. Or that the outsiders will fragment in support, allowing Rubio, the establishment favorite, to do what Mitt Romney did in 2012. But it is a bit more likely that the bulk of those voters will opt instead for another outsider."
Ok, historical precedent would suggest it will. But show me the historical precident that looks like this?

This makes us think of the Dems, erc. It used to be the Dems who would insist on falling in love the the Republicans who fell in line. Things sure have changed. The Dems over the years had some disastrous primaries. 1968, and Ted Kennedy really hurt President Carter in his fruitless primary challenge.

There was the Dixiecrat revolt of 1948. That year the Dems were split three ways with Henry Wallace on the Left and Strom Thurmond on the Right.

Somehow Truman weathered it.

But to tell you the truth, if this year's GOP primary reminds me of any historical precedent it's the 1924 Dems whose primary was every bit the joke that this GOP primary is.

You had the Southern Dixiecrats who were besotted by Klansmen. You had the Yankee liberals, the ethnic immigrant machines and the farmbelt who was econoimcally populist but also bigoted against  Catholics, etc.

"The 1924 Democratic National Convention, also called the Klanbake,[1] held at the Madison Square Garden in New York City from June 24 to July 9, 1924, took a record 103 ballots to nominate a presidential candidate. It was the longest continuously running convention in United States political history. It was the first major party national convention that saw the name of a woman, Lena Springs, placed in nomination for the office of Vice President. It was also known for the strong influence of the Ku Klux Klan. John W. Davis, initially an outsider, eventually won the presidential nomination as a compromise candidate following a virtual war of attrition between front-runners William Gibbs McAdoo and Al Smith."

"Davis and his vice presidential running-mate, Charles W. Bryan of Nebraska, went on to be defeated by the Republican ticket of President Calvin Coolidge and Charles G. Dawes in the 1924 presidential election."

Everything from Klansmen to suffrageists, to Tom Brown's religious fundmanetalists and points in between.

Interesting to see if this year's GOP primary lasts as long as the 1924 Dems.

The Returns are in and the Serious Pundits are Wrong about GOP Debate

You will never go broke underestimating them. What has been an article of faith after every GOP debate is that Trump is done, he's over with, his decline has started. And every time this has been shown to be wrong.

After Wednesday night, here was a pretty representative example of the consensus from a Yglesias review of the debate that was overall pretty good but totally wrong on Trump.

"The main losers in that dynamic were once-upon-a-time frontrunners Jeb Bush and Donald Trump who, for different reasons, were unable to feast at the table of anti-moderator zingers."

No argument with Jeb but Trump didn't lose the debate by any stretch. And he didn't need to get in on the anti-moderator zingers.

He did get in a few good zingers of his own-most notably Kasich who he shutdown for the night.

As for the anti-moderator frenzy, he didn't have to as other candidates did so on his behalf. First Cruz called out John Harwood for his comic book campaign jibe on his behalf and then Mike Huckabee refused to question Trump's 'moral authority' to be President.

Huck said he's not going to give Trump more time and then he pointed to his Trump hat he wore for the night.

I've gone through this before that Trump was fine.

It's obvious that the Beltway just wants to rule out Trump no matter the facts. They say that he's been breaking the laws of gravity-and they have seen it as their job to reimpose those laws.

I think that was the deeper meaning of Harwood's zinger at Trump  about 'Your tax plan has as good a chance of not exploding the deficit as you have of flapping your arms and flying off that podium.'

There has not been the liberal bias the GOP is now claiming-to the contrary my reading of the situation has been rather the media has been trying to assist the GOP by putting Trump/Carson back in their place.

That 'flap your wings' jibe is clearly a tell that in Harwood's mind like many of the Very, Serious pundits the laws of gravity need to be reimposed and it's their job to do that.

Anyway the verdict is in and: big surprise, Trump was not a debate loser and Rubio was not the big winner: this honor goes to Ted Cruz.

Overall, 24% think he won, 20% choose Rubio, Trump is next with 17%, and 15% choose Carson.


I should also note that these numbers correlate with who is leading the polls and that analysis from Team Rubio that argued that the candidates who have a real shot at winning the nomination are: Rubio, Cruz, Trump, and Carson.

So these Rubio prognostications are in line with reality unlike the Very Serious Pundits.

Yes, usually the party decides but it may really be different this time.

Regarding Trump, while the pundits are so eager to reimpose the laws of political gravity they aren't willing to fairly apply them to him. After all, standard primary wisdom is that when you are the frontrunner you should take it easy-you don't have to engage as they are chasing you.

It's better to step back and not punch down as this elevates your target. Yet Politico claimed that:

"The usually boastful businessman only bothered to insult one of his Republican rivals during the third GOP debate. He fell from first in speaking time to the bottom half of the pack. He wasn’t even the most-mentioned candidate on Facebook."

"With Trump slipping in the polls in Iowa and nationally, the moderators and the other candidates paid him scant attention. Trump, meanwhile, held back, exercising a restraint that befits a besieged front-runner but that also raises questions about his ability to defend a lead that he had maintained by keeping himself at the center of the conversation""

First of all there's no proof that he is slipping. It's more a story that Carson has rallied than that he's fallen. He's not besieged though clearly Politico wishes it were so.

But restraint is the way a front runner is supposed to act according to conventional wisdom.

Again he had his moments like with Kasich but overall I think he did what he needed to do.

Rubio's Team Handicap's Primary Contenders and Guess Who's not on the List

Three guesses. Ok, here's a hint his campaign name has three letters with an exclamation point at the end of it.

One more hint: he really loves his brother and thinks he kept us safe.

Jeb's team had its own leak of their team's thinking to US News.

What's notable is that one metric his team focuses on is the popularity of George W. Bush. This kind of says it all-and shows the uphill climb his campaign will face.

After Jeb's blueprint came out a Rubio Super PAC put out this statement which is also very revealing.

“When you consider all angles, as we do, we believe there are really only four candidates with a reasonable chance of becoming the Republican nominee: Senator Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, Donald Trump, and Senator Ted Cruz,” two strategist for the super PAC, Warren Tompkins and Jon Lerner, wrote in a strategy memo obtained by NBC News. “And when you look on to the general election against Hillary Clinton, we are convinced that Marco gives the GOP its best chance to win. Clinton Machine itself openly acknowledges that Marco is the candidate they most fear.”

Now, look, obviously there's probably an element of trolling Jeb in this and trying to shape perceptions. Whether Jeb is really in mortal trouble or not they hope to drive a narrative that hie is.

But here's what's striking. A Survey Monkey poll came out yesterday that showed the top four candidates in order: Carson and Trump tied at 26, Ted Cruz third at 10%, with Rubio in 4th with 9% and Jeb in fifth with 5%.

In my attempt at a grand unified theory of this year's GOP race I argued that this is three tiered race with outsider candidates: Trump and Carson; insider candidates: Jeb and Rubio; and then there's the wild card candidate: Ted Cruz who sort of straddles both.

This latest poll shows that at this point the outsider candidates are way ahead with 52%, the insider candidates have just 14% between them and then Mr. Wildcard, Cruz, with 10%.

At this point a reasonable assessment is that Jeb! is in big trouble and won't be there for the long hall. This helps Rubio immensely. Based on this current poll this would push him from 9% to 14%. But 14% is still a fraction of what the outsider candidates are getting.

Nate Silver has suggested that Ted Cruz could even end up being the compromise the establishment may have to settle on to keep Trump or Carson away from the brass ring.

But at this point while it would help Rubio a lot to pick up Jeb's support which seems to be dissolving as we speak he would still be way behind the outsider vote.

So how and when would he pick this up? He has t convince all these outsider votes to vote for the establishment's darling instead-who is on record for passing the Gang of Eight Senate immigration bill that he has since totally repudiated.

Can he do it? While you can't say for sure either way, I think it's fair to say that if he can, it won't happen over night. It will be a marathon not a sprint in converting the outsider vote which is currently over half the party voters to insider voters.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Ryan Honeymoon is Over Already

See this is what happens when you trust GOPers even for a minute. For years I have argued that you never go broke underestimating Republicans-ie, it's not possible to underestimate them.

However, I was so shocked by Ryan's positive and reasonable speech that I let myself for a minute think maybe things might be a little better under him than Boehner-which isn't saying much at all as Boehner was terrible. The most unproductive Speaker in history or at least a long, long time.

So I argued that we Dems should take him at his word.

Dems liked this speech and Rush hated it-which might be a problem for Ryan.

However, it didn't take long:for the Ryan Honeymoon to end. He's vowed to never, ever do immigration reform while Obama is President because he's untrustworthy.

“We can’t trust Obama” is the lamest excuse for not legislating anyone has ever come up with. How about just saying you don’t want to do it?

So the rumor that Ryan had promised the Freedom Caucus not to do immigration reform during Obama's term has been confirmed.

He had waxed almost poetically about working with the minority during his acceptance speech:

"A neglected minority will gum up the works. A respected minority will work in good faith," he added. "Instead of trying to stop the majority, they might try to become the majority."

"So much for being the House Speaker rather than just the Republican Speaker. The Hastert Rule wins the day again."

"A neglected minority will gum up the works. A respected minority will work in good faith," he added. "Instead of trying to stop the majority, they might try to become the majority."

However, he does claim that immigration is the only issue he will practice the Hastert Rule on.

"Although pledging to abide by the Hastert Rule on immigration, Ryan made clear that he was only committing to following it on this issue. He left open the possibility of bringing other bills equally unpopular among Republicans to the House floor for votes."

We'll see.

Look again, we should never rationally expect more out of the GOP Congress than that they raise the debt ceiling and fund the government. We have both of these things through 2017 with the bonus of the government funded above sequester levels.

Anything more we get from the House between now and then is gravy anyway. Ryan says he's willing to bring other bills equally unpopular to Republicans to the floor?

Looking forward to it. If he doesn't well we never had any rational basis to expect it anyway.

P.S. One reason I still think he may do something is that he has future ambitions and doesn't want a failure of this size on his resume.

My guess is he may try at least on some things if for no other reason than to make himself look good. Which is fine with me-nothing wrong with rational self-interest getting us to a better place.

His resume looks better if he has the legacy of turning the House around and 'fixing it.'

Ok, we haven't given up totally on you yet Speaker but I'm waiting for those other unpopular bills.

Democrats Liked Paul Ryan's Acceptance Speech-Could That be a Problem for Him?

If you have read me at all you know I don''t spend a lot of time praising Republicans, mostly because for a long time they just have done nothing worthy of praise, Certainly nothing in the Boehner-Obama era.

However I have liked the kind of noises I've hear from Ryan from the start. He very reasonably called for the end of the Speaker trying to lead the House under the gun-he called for a 'demilitarization.' He rightly said that it makes no sense to accede to Freedom Caucus demand at the start as that's setting yourself up for failure.

He also sounds like he wants to waste less time on show votes like voting down the ACA 50 times which goes nowhere once it leaves the House.

And his opening speech certainly sounded like a leader should. He  is not engaging in the usual partisan cant but admitting that the House is broken and his own party is a big part of the problem. So he at least sees the problem. As I've said before-Greg Sargent also has-Ryan honestly may be better than Boehner-he can hardly be worse.

Boehner died by the same tactics he had his members use against the President in the first two years that they then trained on him, himself.

"Democrats are welcoming Thursday's changing of the guard in the House, expressing optimism that newly elected Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will have better luck managing the rambunctious chamber than his predecessor, Rep. John Boenher (R-Ohio)."

The Democrats say they're buoyed by Ryan's debut speech calling for more comity and cooperation, hoping the power shift will bring a new stability to the chamber and grease the skids for future legislative successes.

"It was an aspirational speech," said Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), head of the Congressional Black Caucus. "He seemed to suggest that he wants to work in a bipartisan way, and I believe if he delivers on that commitment we're going to have a better Congress and a better America."

"Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said she's hoping Ryan's allusion to the struggles of the working class will reignite the congressional debate over the minimum wage, childcare benefits and gender pay parity — issues Democrats have long promoted."

"The frame of reference that he had there this morning says that we have people in this nation who are struggling economically," DeLauro said. "Their jobs don't pay them enough, [and] wages have been stagnant for 30 years. He talked about the many and not the few. And so far, the few have benefited so mightily and the many have not."

Listen, I don't think he's going to become a liberal over night nor is there any reason to expect him to. He doesn't agree with for example raising the MW. Ideally he'd probably like to cut it.

But let's see if he isn't willing to pass a bill that looks at other ways that wages could be raised-by no stretch of the imagination is the MW the only way to do this.

Maybe he'd be willing to look for example at a payroll tax cut or raising the earned income tax credit.

Liberals like me don't have a right to expect him to get a lobotomy over night. But we do have a right to hold him to what sounds like a very good foot to being on.

I don't expect him to change his policy positions overnight, just the tone and the way things are run. He seems interested in promoting bipartisanship.

Leadership is about finding consensus not in polarizing the situation and scorched earth opposition. It's about agreeing to agree rather than agreeing to disagree. Ryan seems like he may know this

He seems interested in being more than just the Republican Speaker. He seems to get that he is the Speaker of the whole House and that Democrats and Republicans should work on the people's business rather than just opposing camps where every vote breaks down on a strictly party line vote.

You know me. No one is more skeptical and pessimistic about the Republican party. But I think Ryan is sincere here. He's saying the right things which is not enough but is the first step. Whether or not this really will be a change from the obstructionist shenanigans of the past remains to be seen. But this was a very good start I think.

Ryan sounded like an actual Statesman.

"We need to let every member contribute — not once they have earned their stripes, but right now," he told the chamber Thursday. "The committees should retake the lead in drafting all major legislation. If you know the issue, you should write the bill. Open up the process. Let people participate. And they might change their tune."

"A neglected minority will gum up the works. A respected minority will work in good faith," he added. "Instead of trying to stop the majority, they might try to become the majority."

"Ryan also took strides to reach across the aisle, calling for the parties to unite for the sake of their constituents and the country."

"A lot is on our shoulders. So if you ever pray, pray for each other — Republicans for Democrats, Democrats for Republicans," he said. "And I don’t mean pray for a conversion. Pray for a deeper understanding, because … wherever you come from, whatever you believe, we are all in the same boat."

"Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), who entered Congress with Ryan in 1999, was quick to hail the message."

"It sounded an awful lot like a Democrat speaking," said Crowley, vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus. "I think he's a good person and a decent guy. That came through, I think, today."

"But many Democrats, Crowley included, are wondering how long Ryan can keep the Republicans united in the face of the conservative unrest that led to Boehner's ouster."

"The message was good," Crowley said. "It's really a question of how that's followed through and how that actually happens, and whether it actually happens."

We'll see. I mean a lot depends on his own conservative members. He does seem sincere. But again, he said the right things. Saying the right things doesn't mean the right things will end up being done. But if he came in saying the wrong things it'd already be impossible

 So Dems like what he said and should for now start by taking him at his word. Only time will tell whether the House style of business-or not doing business-changes. He is inidcating he wants more good faith between the parties. Time will tell whether this happens or not. 

We should not expect conversions though like Ryan said. There are many things that both parties could probably work on that wouldn't violate the beliefs of either side if they goal were to get to yes-as Obama likes to do-rather than get to no. 

Look at the GOP Senate which at this point is actually functioning decently well under Mitch McConnell-they even recently passed a criminal reform bill recently.

So the idea of actually functioning is not a pipe dream even if it's been so long since we've had it-not since the Gingrich Revolution. 

UPDATE: If it turns out that things end up no different at least both the debt ceiling is raised and the government is funded beyond sequester levels through the start of 2017.

That's all you can really expect out of the GOP House anyway. Anything else is gravy.

One way Ryan could show his sincerity and goodwill early would be to quietly shut down the Benghazi Committee. and not start the new Planned Parenthood Committee. 

Marco Rubio Hasn't Done Right by the People of Florida; How Then can He be Trusted by the Country

I mean it's not just that he doesn't do his job, has missed so many votes. That's bad enough. But he's on the record as saying he just doesn't like the job very much.

Rubio dismissed that Florida paper that asked him to do his job or resign as being just another part of his fictional liberal media. He and his fellow Republican candidates whined about this canard to good effect the other night. Don't like the question? Just blame the liberal media.

But as Jeb Bush pointed out the other night, this is the same paper that endorsed him for Senator back in 2010.

If he doesn't like the job why doesn't he resign? As Senator Harry Reid says, he's ripped off the state of Florida with his shoddy attendance and service.

Rubio used this same liberal media nondefense when asked about his personal finances. Despite the fact that he wants to impose on the nation fiscal austerity he goes the opposite way in his own private life. That's different. We should have to live a meager existence collectively as a country but he personally shouldn't deprive himself of anything.

"This was as predictable a question as Rubio could expect. His personal finances have been raised as an issue for years. In his own memoir, Rubio wrote about the troubles he had mixing personal and business purchases on a Republican Party credit card, and lamented his “lack of bookkeeping skills.”

"But Rubio decided that the question was hostile and that he could therefore evade it. “You just listed a litany of discredited attacks from Democrats and my political opponents,” he said, as if that proved the accusations were false, “and I’m not gonna waste sixty seconds detailing them all.”

Yes, the Democrats, his opponents and he himself in his own book.

Rubio hasn't just robbed Florida of the Senate service he was elected for, he's also misused state funds for his own personal expenses. 

"Rubio, clearly feeling how the room had turned against the moderators, came back a little later in the debate and delivered one of the big applause lines of the night: “I know the Democrats have the ultimate super PAC. It’s called the mainstream media.”

Not a bad line. But Rubio must know that the issue of his finances isn’t going away. The Miami Herald has reported that Rubio “amended his financial disclosure forms … after The Miami Herald asked why they lacked a $135,000 home equity loan he obtained from a bank controlled by his political supporters.” The Tampa Bay Times has reported that Rubio “double-billed the Republican Party of Florida and state taxpayers for eight flights while he was House Speaker.” (He said that was a mistake, and that he would repay the party.) The Times also reported that “Rubio billed the party for more than $100,000 during the two years he served as the state’s House speaker,” and that “charges included repairs to the family minivan, grocery bills, plane tickets for his wife, and purchases from retailers ranging from a wine store near his home to Apple’s online store.” (Rubio said that the expenses were all related to party business.)" 

To say he 'mixed campaign and personal funds' is another way of saying he stole campaign funds for his own personal use. 

Constituents donated money that he then used to by groceries and plane tickets for his wife. 

There are a lot of levels that make this issue of his personal finances relevant. It shows the contradiction of public austerity and him being a personal spendthrift, Of public trust in misuse of funds. 

Then we have the issue that he seems to get bored easy. If he hates his job in the Senate might this not happen if he's President as well?

Harry Reid Calls on Marco Rubio to Resign From Senate

You go Harry Reid. I still love that line about Mitt Romney's taxes in 2012. It was perfect. I mean when he wouldn't release his tax returns how do we know he paid them?

Now he's calling out Marco Rubio's chronic absenteeism.

What I think Rubio is going to have to explain is how Americans can trust him not to get as sick of being President as he is of being Senator

"Reid said Thursday that Rubio should resign from the Senate if he felt his duties there were insignificant compared to a presidential campaign."
“If he thinks his job is such a nothing job, let Florida send somebody here that works with [Sen.] Bill Nelson, who is a substantive senator,” he said. “Bill Nelson finds a lot to do to help Florida. So I don't accept that.”
"Reid dismissed Rubio's contention that his absenteeism was no worse than that of past senators who have run for president."
“I've never heard John McCain say he didn't like the job. How could he compare himself to John McCain? John McCain is one of the certified American heroes of our time," Reid said. "John Kerry, same damn thing. Barack Obama, African-American running for president -- if he thinks he can compare himself to those three, more power to him, cause he can't walk in their shoes. Make sure you got me there. To think he could compare himself to those three men is ludicrous.”
This is why I love Harry Reid. He's smart in this interview. He says nothing disparaging about Ted Cruz.
He compares Rubio to John Edwards. It's almost like he's trying to give Rubio's opponents talking points. Jeb's team can hit Rubio as not like John McCain but John Edwards-comparing him to a disgraced Democrat is more palatable for the Jeb campaign. 
I think you can argue that where Jeb lost it at that debate is on the counterpunch. His first shot was pretty good I thought. It was  six year term. He should resign if he's not interested in the job. 
But he was not ready for Rubio's counterpunch. This is where he fell off. He looked totally shellshocked by Rubio's response, just sort of stood there in stunned silence.
That's the problem. He had to have an answer there. He couldn't just stand there with his mouth open. But that was the end of it. 
If you want the job of President of the United States you have to push back there. He should have pointed out what Harry Reid did: that comparing himself to McCain, to Obama, to John Kerry is a joke. 
That McCain sure never saw his Senate job as a boring waste of time. 
Again, I almost think Reid is trying to help out Jeb here, throw him a lifeline. Say Rubio is no John McCain, he's John Edwards. 
We know that Jeb is working on some oppo research for Rubio.

It Must be Easy Being a Republican Candidate for President

I mean no matter what the question is, it's the liberal media's fault. Every question a GOP candidate doesn't like has the same answer.

Charles Pierce touches on something else about that debate. The candidates basically felt no compunction to even answer the questions they were asked.

Often they'd just decide they didn't like the question and answered another one no one had asked.

"There never has been a debate in which the panel seemed less relevant, and this isn't the fault of the three people on it. The folks behind all the podiums came to the stage wanting to say things, and damned if they weren't going to say them. It started when John Kasich answered a question about his biggest weakness by pointing out what know-nothing schlubs Donald Trump and Ben Carson are. Sequiturs? Non! It got worse. Trump bludgeoned Kasich in return about how much of Kasich's success as governor of Ohio was due to the fracking boom, and then mocked him for getting tough because he's polling so badly. Dr. Ben (The Blade) Carson spun his mathematical cotton candy into sweet swirls of complete non-fact. And Marco Rubio claimed that the bad press he's getting about missing votes—and, it must be said, for his going around talking about what a miserable job the Senate is—is a result of the gap between "the mainstream press" and conservative politicians. Jeb! Bush asked him "as a constituent" why he didn't walk away from the completely miserable existence forced upon him as a United States Senator. Rubio flashed back by reciting how many votes previous senators—​citing Bob Graham, John Kerry, and the president​—​missed while they were running. Of course, none of them complained about their day jobs and, by the time Kerry ran, he was a decorated war hero, and a veteran senator who had led hearings into international money laundering and the drug trade. Marco Rubio was…speaker of the Florida House. Where is Lloyd Bentsen when we all need him?"

"But the highlight of the first hour, and the most vivid example of what was going on, was when Ted Cruz was asked about the budget deal that was struck this week between the Congress and the White House,and he replied by ripping the moderators up one side and down the other. This was the Tailgunner in full cry, channeling the spirit of the original Tailgunner when he called the last Democratic debate, "the Bolsheviks vs. the Mensheviks." Are you now, or have you ever been."

"This wasn't a lack of control. The format was fine. But there's nothing you can do about someone like Ted Cruz, who isn't encumbered by either truth or civility. Even defending the other candidates, he doesn't care what damage he does, as long as he can stand atop the rubble. Come to think of it, that could be said of pretty much all of these people.​"

I'm still not sure how to characterize what happened with the moderators. The consensus seems to be they did a horrible job. I do agree with Paul Waldman here. It's not that the moderators are liberal-and how has there been this terrible media bias when the first debate was on Fox and the third was on CNBC-which if you've ever watched the station you know prefers Republicans?

You could just as soon call CNBC Stephen Moore TV. 

"The real bias is in the journalists' weak attempts to create drama."

I think that's spot on. The CNN debate was very tiresome in this respect. Almost every question there was along the line of 'Donald Trump likes this for lunch. Why is he wrong?'

Meanwhile there is a movement afoot among the GOP candidates themselves to set up their own format in future debates. Just like the House GOP is always at war with its Speaker, the candidates are now taking aim at the RNC for doing such a bad job.

Josh Barro on Chris Hayes last night made the good point that Ted Cruz's war on the moderators doesn't benefit all the GOP candidates equally. The 'cage match' approach actually suits some, he argued like Carly Fiorina who would have been fine with another marathon 3 and a half hour debate like second debate.

Now Ben Carson is declaring that it's time to change the format as there isn't enough time to answer questions. That was true but then of course, as Tom Brown points out:

"Regarding Carson's demands that the debates be restructured, I found these two quotes:

"There's not enough time to talk about your plans..."

"Bennett noted that the Carson and Trump campaigns forced CNBC to shorten the debate"

Hmmm, is this a case of (as Jason pointed out in a recent post) A < B, B < C and C < A?

I.e. mob "logic?" Are the candidates becoming personifications of the irrational emergent "representative agent" of the mob?''

Yet, I think in this case Ben's demands are coherent. The second debate was way too long and this one left too little time to answer questions properly.

The real problem is there are too many frigging GOP candidates. At the very least they ought to can the kid's table already. Sorry, if you have less than 3% just watch it from home.

P.S. The good news is that is the next GOP debate is under two weeks away and for this one Chris Christie may well not have the requisite 3% poll numbers to be in the main debate-I'm careful not say adults' table.

In that vein, maybe we shouldn't do away with the kid's table debate so fast. It would be worth it just to see Christie confined to it.

For more on Christie, here is the NY Times telling him to go home.

Trouble is they don't want him there either. NJ was very clear that they wanted him to resign if he ran for President.

What Hillary Probably Thought Watching the GOP Debate

My guess is she was humming Send in the Clowns where her only thought is which one she's going to get to beat up.

I think after seeing her at her Benghazi hearing, it's tough to imagine anyone on that stage going toe to toe with her in a debate.

Still she's probably not being overconfident either knowing her. And there were important takeaways from this debate for her and her team which they are no doubt looking at.

A few takeaways from the debate for Hillary.

1. Marco Rubio is probably looking more and more like the one for the GOP establishment. They know how daunting it will be to go up against Hillary-she's got to be the most formidable politician in the country to debate or oppose.

Remember the establishment first and foremost wants an establishment candidate.

So the choice is Rubio or Jeb. In my view, neither Kasich or even less Chris Christie are at all plausible-Christie is a hostile witness in criminal probes over Bridgegate so this will take away from his campaign time.. Kasich because his image is too reasonable for the base-his call for reasonableness and to stop saying crazy things on Wednesday went over about as well as lead paint until Trump put him out of his misery.

If you compare Jeb to Rubio in terms of who has the best chance against the White Whale Herself, I think there's a much stronger case for Rubio.

For one thing, it's just in the interest of the establishment to unify around one candidate already. Jeb is the one who has just had some terrible buzz. Even before this debate there his intervention with his family and donors on Monday.

Now he just had a debate performance that everyone thinks was just awful. If you are in the establishment then you probably wish Jeb would get out.

Besides that Rubio simply obliterates Jeb on the biography candidacy. Rubio is young, Latino. and can even use his personal financial struggles to argue that he knows where the average guy is coming from, he knows the struggles over average people.

You can already imagine his attacks on Hillary. He's been using them liberally already. He suggests that unlike her he really gets it, that she said she was broke when she left the WH with Bill, there will be rather transparent allusions to her age.

He'll key into 'Clinton fatigue' though a lot of us have made it clear we have Clinton fatigue fatigue!

But he can much more plausibly suggest that he's forward looking and fresh and that she's yesterday's' news and indeed, a dynasty candidate who cares only about her own legacy.

While Jeb loses the biography battle with the prospective first female President, Rubio as a young, good looking, Latino can compete.

So how does she prepare for Rubio who if I was betting probably is at this point something of a favorite to win?

She will have to differentiate between running on biography and running on policy substance.

Just being Latino doesn't mean his policies will be in the interests of Latinos. But this is going to be the implication of Rubio's campaign. He will argue that he's personally struggled so he gets the struggles of teh average Joe-or Juan as the case may be.

But this is false. While he may have had his own struggles this hasn't  led him to empathize with the average Joe. To the contrary.

Another interesting point was in this post.

But it’s also true that we saw two very different Marco Rubios last night. The scripted senator excelled, dazzling pundits and earning hearty audience applause. The unscripted senator struggled in ways careful observers shouldn’t overlook.

That's the  impression I get with him. He's always very studied. He is like a student who has photographic memory. But when it goes beyond simply apple polishing he is out of his depth.

2. The second takeaway is the Carly Fiorina syndrome. She won't win the nomination-my guess she's had her one 15 seconds of fame and has declined for good.

But watch for a lot of her attacks on Hillary to be used by the eventual GOP nominee-quite possibly Rubio.

She had all kinds of jibes at how Hillary is not good for women based on some pretty misleading statistics she gave out at the debate about how women did under Obama. She has that absurd claim that women 92% of the jobs lost in the President's first term.

But I would examine Fiorina's anti Hillary barbs at these debates. Expect a lot of this material to be used against her in the general.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

My Grand Unified Theory of the GOP Primary

I figured by calling it a 'unified theory' it makes it sound scientific and by calling it 'grand' it makes it sound, er, grand.

Actually you could say that on Presidential primary elections in general there are two theories.

A. There is the General Theory that says The Party Decides. 

This is the theory of political scientists and what most pundits during this election continue to assume.

B. But then there's the Special Theory that says the theory usually  holds, but not for the GOP this year.

For more on A and B see Nate Silver.

The 2016 primary race has required a Special Theory to explain it. Just like Einstein's relativity theory only became unified once he had a special and general theory of relativity-and Keynes had the same thing in mind with his General Theory-so we here need a ST to round out the GT where the party decides.

In this year's debate you can say there is three tiers.

1. The establishments candidates. These are Jeb and Rubio. Yes, technically you could also argue for Kaisch and Christie but I think the ship has sailed on both of them.

2. The outsiders. Mostly Ben Carson and Donald Trump. Arguably you could put Carly Fironia here but I think she's more establishment in her positions and presentation. It's also notable that she has a few insider endorsements though not many. Also I kind of see Fiorina as done.

3. The wild cards-mainly Ted Cruz. Rand Paul is not a wild card-he's not a factor at all. Cruz sort of straddles both worlds to get the best of both.

It's in the interests of the establishment to see someone from 1 win it's true.

Parenthetically, Cruz as Silver has suggested could be the firewall if they absolutely cannot get anyone from 1 in as he'd be preferable to 1 though he is hated by literally everyone in the establishment GOP>

But there is also a real timeliness concern. I think it's certainly arguable that the longer this drags on the worst it is for the establishment even if they ultimately prevail

The longer it takes them to choose an establishment candidate the worse their ultimate election prospects look.

This means they want to choose from 1 ASAP. Logically then, it's in their interest to kick Jeb to the curb ASAP. There has been so many worries for his donors and last night is going to lead them to full panic mode.

In any case Jeb's biography is horrible. Rubio will doubtless is he runs against HRC accuse her of being a dynasty candidate. This is impossible for Jeb to do as he's from the biggest family dynasty in the country.

You have young, Latino Rubio who talks about knowing how average people feel with debts, etc vs. Jeb who has now been reduced to running as his brother's third term.

"In the insurgent lane, Ted Cruz, a candidate whose chances were already on the upswing, probably helped himself during the debate. It’s possible that Cruz’s gains will come at Donald Trump’s expense, although I personally thought Trump did fine2 and that if Cruz gains in the polls, it could come from Ben Carson or some other candidate instead."

"But whether it’s Cruz or Trump or Carson ahead, the Republican establishment can’t wait that much longer to get its act together. And the most expedient way to do that may be to kick Bush to the curb."

So it seems to me that if I'm the establishment that would be my move right now. This was Yglesias' argument for Jeb getting out a week ago.
Of course, that is what he should do for the good of the establishment but it's not in his own best interest. His interest is in becoming President not making sure the establishment gets in even if it's not him. This is though the argument Scott Walker had made in dropping out. 
So where does this lead the outsiders? From their stand point it may be better than Jeb doesn't leave which is ironic considering that Trump has done more than anything to make sure Jeb has no chance of every sniffing the nomination. 
Is the 50% or more of the party that's been going for the outsiders ready to shut and sing for Rubio? I have my doubts about this. 
You could argue that from the outsider perspective it would make sense for either Carson or Trump to get out but again, Jeb isn't running for insiders firstly but himself. Trump and Carson would be even less interested in sitting out just to help an outsider win. 
I think what happens here depends on this question:
How much did last night change the mood of the party. Are they now ready to jump in for an insider? Probably not yet, but it will be interesting to see if the total outsider vote continues to hover around 50%. 
The establishment hopes it won't. My thumbnail prediction for now:
I assume that Rubio will be the guy. At some point there will be a battle between him for the establishment and Carson and/or Trump for the outsiders. My assumption is that Carson doesn't have much legs beyond Iowa. 
Meanwhile there will be a third lane with Cruz in it. 
If Jeb does stay in it will be harder still for the establishment. Even if he leaves this may simply redistribute the roughly 17% he and Jeb have been splitting, while leaving the outsiders at 50% or beyond. 
The best hope for an insider is for Jeb to leave ASAP. The best hope for an outsider is for the other to leave-probably it will have to be Carson. 
At this point in time the vote in the party for outsiders more than doubles up insiders. The challenge for the GOP establishment is to change this ASAP or at least before the Convention next year!


Sorry Beltway Pundits, but Trump's Night Was Fine

It's become the ritual of every post debate prognosis includes a claim that Trump is done. Politico argues that he was a 'bit player.'

The incredible shrinking Trump

The usually blustery billionaire offered a downright demure performance at the third GOP debate."

Donald Trump, a man of many distinctions, has racked up another one — the incredible shrinking candidate.

The usually boastful businessman only bothered to insult one of his Republican rivals during the third GOP debate. He fell from first in speaking time to the bottom half of the pack. He wasn’t even the most-mentioned candidate on Facebook.

"Trump may have limited the length of the third Republican debate — CNBC disputes his claim that he forced the network to cap it at two hours — but the most notable shrinkage on Wednesday night was in his own share of the action."

"With Trump slipping in the polls in Iowa and nationally, the moderators and the other candidates paid him scant attention. Trump, meanwhile, held back, exercising a restraint that befits a besieged front-runner but that also raises questions about his ability to defend a lead that he had maintained by keeping himself at the center of the conversation"

Read more:

I just get the sense that pundits like this are gong to claim Trump is in trouble no matter how things went. I mean what would the pundits need to see to not make this claim?

To claim that Trump is slipping in the national polls is certainly out on a limb. There was one poll nationally-as opposed to Iowa-that shows him slipping so far. We'll see if there are more that show this but at this point it's premature to say he's slipping nationally.

Trump's campaign has always offended them as it kind of calls out their whole meme that both parties are roughly equal in terms of fairness and coherence, that there are reasonable people in both parties, etc.

They are uncomfortable speaking of today's GOP as an outlier or dysfunctional. Trump's positions are no more ridiculous than any of the other candidates but the Betlway has tried hard to make this claim.

I agree they are all ridiculous to be sure, but the Beltway press has mostly focused just on Trump.

I think Trump did pretty well last night. He is a counterpuncher. Kasich was the only one who took a swing at him which is why he was the only one who got hit.

Moderator John Harwood also took a swing on him to start the debate by claiming attacking Trump as a comic book candidacy.

Trump hit him back too and when Harwood asked a leading question to Huckabee that was meant to get him to claim Trump lacks the moral authority to be President Huck didn't take the bait.

Trump's takedown of Kasich though was just epic. Just a couple of words to shut him down: Fracking and Lehman Brothers.

Further more, Trump was shrewd in embracing Ben Carson on stage. When he went after Kaisch on Lehman Brothers he spoke of how Lehman's fall could have destroyed 'Me and Ben.'

Towards the end of the debate, Trump declared that he and Ben deserved credit for shortening the debate. John Harwood was again the foil as he claimed implausibly that the debate was always going to be only two hours.

Now Ben Carson is demanding a new format for future debates that his and Trump's campaign are going to work on.

I think Ben White put it best in a tweet. The RNC can demonize the moderators all it wants but there are just too many candidates.

The Lies of Marco Rubio

So the pundits are hailing Rubio's win. I always get kind of frustrated with the Very Serious Pundits as so often they pronounce less what happened or even what seems to have plausibly happened but rather what they think should have happened.

They have been pushing a Rubio surges story for a month now and so far it's born little resemblance to reality.

It's easy to understand where this narrative comes from. They are presuming the theory of most political scientists-The Party Decides theory of primary campaigns.

I don't dispute that this theory normally does pretty well in predicting and analyzing primaries but I have been impatient with the the blanket refusal of these serious pundits to consider that maybe it really is different this time.

Sometimes it really is different. The GOP seems to be in a level of truly unprecedented dysfunction this election cycle between their House leadership struggles and all these wildeyed Presidential candidates. Deep bench indeed.

Nate Silver I'm happy to report has finally looked at the chance that GOP dysfunction makes this a year when possibly it is different this time.

So if most pundits presume that the party always decides then clearly the choice is going to be Rubio or Jeb. With all Jeb's clear weaknesses as a candidate it stands to reason that therefore Rubio has to be the guy as we know that it will be one of the two as the party decides.

So the pundits are telling us Rubio hit a grand slam but then they've been promoting him for months. Nevetheless, if the other big narrative is true-that Jeb was crushed

then it stands to reason by default it was a big night for Rubio.

There's a Daily Caller piece out that asks if being a skilled liar is a requirement for higher office. It's a hit piece on Hillary Clinton.

I don't agree that HRC's any kind of a liar, of course. But I do think there's a case that being a skilled liar is a requirement for being declared winner of a GOP debate.

Think about it, in the last debate, Carly Fiorina was coronated the big debate winner.

Her stellar performance was based on mawkish lies about a phony Planned Parenthood video and her own business record.

Now Rubio is being crowned King despite his lies about his personal debt. For some background on his personal debt please see this Washington Post piece.

While he demands rectitude out of us-he wants to go on a Holy War against government debt-he is personally profligate.

Last night when asked about this he flat out lied. What is a good sign is that conservatives like Ann Coulter-of all people-and Joe Scarborough are calling him out for his lies last night.

We'll see how this plays out. Does Rubio get the bounce the pundits are suggesting?

My one thought is that if Jeb is either down or out after this then by definition you will see some rise in Rubio's polls-if Jeb leaves, you'd presume that Rubio's nubmers would basically double-they both have about 7% in national polls.

I do agree with Greg Sargent's post this morning about Rubio. He is potentially a dangerous candidate.

When you compare him and Jeb it's clear why the establishment would go with Rubio. Rubio wins hands down on the biography primary.

Unlike Jeb, he's considerably younger and can claim to be a new, fresh face. He would be able to hit HRC as being a 'dynasty candidate' whereas Jeb is the ultimate dynasty candidate.

I don't thin Rubio would beat Hillary-I don't think anyone in this clown car will-she must have been watching that debate last night humming Send in the Clowns where her only question is which clown she gets to beat up.

But I do think if you're the establishment you would logically think Rubio's winning biography has a better chance than Jeb's George W. Bush restoration tour.

Where Jeb Lost it Last Night

It's universally accepted at this point that he bombed.

Nate Silver, who's very fastidious about not buying into a narrative too quickly is saying this may be it for Jeb.

Ok, so as we agree he lost, the next question is why he lost or when exactly it is that he lost. I have been watching Morning Joe this morning-not usually a guy I want to start my morning with but an important bellwether today.

I think he's actually spot on in his analysis. Rubio didn't so much win the debate as Jeb lost it. I think he's right about when Jeb let it get away from himself.

I had thought he did a pretty good job of going after Rubio on his Senate absenteeism. Some conservative pundits are now saying that Jeb was wrong to even bring it up. I think it is a legitimate question.

If he doesn't have time for his current job-and as some have noted, seems to hate his Senate job-how do we know the same thing wouldn't happen to him on his desired next job: POTUS?

I wasn't that bowled over by Rubio's response either: Well if not doing my job in the Senate was good enough for John McCain it's good enough for me and it was good enough for you too. You're just doing this now because someone told you it would help you. 

As Joe notes, at this point Jeb simply backs down. He says nothing more. This was a mistake. If he every had a chance last night-and I don't know that he did-it was there. He simply has to push back there.

Trump would have. Carson, Ted Cruz, Christie, Fiorina, most anyone  else on that stage would have. Anyone serious about winning the job would have. Jeb didn't. I think Jeb himself gives away the game here in something he said to Dana Bash..

"When pressed by Bash about whether other candidates onstage outperformed him, Bush interjected."

"I'm running for president of the United States. I'm running with heart. I'm not a performer. If they're looking for an entertainer-in-chief, I'm probably not your guy."

 He thinks he's above running for President. It's a sense of Bush entitlement.

His father had the same problem in 1992 when he was caught checking his watch. Noblesse Oblige

And there I think lies the problem. He feels above the process. This always came through with Poppy Bush as well. He doesn't like to think of himself as begging for votes. But that's the job. Before you get to govern you have to campaign. 
His brother turned out to be the smart brother. W always had more political savvy than this even though this is admittedly a bad year for the GOP with so many wildeyed candidates.

UPDATE: I should add that a big part of why I think Jeb failed to push back was the reaction of the audience to Rubio-it cheered him wildly. My sense is that the fix may have been in from the onset and that Rubio was the guy the establishment audience wanted to shine.

This sense might have further intimidated Jeb. 

Everyone Agrees the Debate Moderators Were the Big Losers Last Night

I was just watching Morning Joe. Neither he nor Hugh Hewitt feels that Rubio simply won the debate. They argue he may have won a part of it, Ted Cruz.

Of course, my main man, Donald Trump-the man I want to win the primary if it were up to me; as a Democrat of course it isn't!-has again defied those who claimed that he was a big player' by winning all the online polls though I will freely admit these are not worth much at this point.

Who can forget that post Democrat debate polls where all these polls showed Bernie beating Hillary 80% to 15%? Once I saw some that had her being blown out not just by Bernie but by Jim Webb, I knew they weren't worth the paper they were printed on-or as it was an online poll, the paper they weren't printed on.

Speaking of Ted Cruz, his big moment was stepping up the demonization of the media that Rubio had already started in his response to the Florida editorial that had called on him to resign from the Senate as he never shows up for votes.

I was happily surprised that no one less than Ann Coulter got bored of the GOP whining about the moderators last night.

"GOP's media bashing is getting boring.CNBC Qs not measurably different from CNN or FNC. They're just imitating Trump "

However, the consensus is that the moderators really did do a bad job and Morning Joe speaks for many in saying it was just a terrible debate. Listen to Bill Kristol!

"Would be better to have @PaulBegala, @davidaxelrod, & @danpfeiffer as questioners. They'd be more intelligent and less self-righteous."

I'm sure they'd be willing to do it. Heck I'd be willing to do it. How about me, Sid Blumenthal, and David Brock?

Part of it I think was the moderators were bullied by Cruz, Rubio and then Chris Christie who this morning on CNBC was still demonizing John Harwood.

"RNC Chair Reince Priebus, who partnered with CNBC to put on this debate, is crapping on CNBC big time for putting on a terrible debate. I thought it was a terrible debate. But I was a little unclear why Priebus thought it was so terrible from a GOP perspective. That became a little more clear after I saw the breakdown of how much each candidate got to talk. Carly Fiorina, who is barely in the running, got more time than anyone else. Jeb Bush got the least by a significant margin - less than Rand Paul, Huckabee, Christie, people who aren't even really in the race. Priebus is clearly getting hell for that."

There was that moment when Jeb Bush's campaign manager was banging on the door, irate:

"Banging on the CNBC production team’s door halfway through the debate, campaign manager Danny Diaz reamed the debate host over how little time Bush was getting. In the end, the one-time front-runner scored less than seven minutes, worse than almost every other candidate"

As far as Carly Fiorina leading in time goes I have a few reactions.

1. I really hadn't noticed this which shows that her performance didn't stand out too much or at least not for me.

2. It points to the rather disorganized way the moderators ran the debate. They allowed some candidates to gon for longer than others.

3. She dominated in time last debate too on CNN. This suggests she may know how to game the system. She's able to get moderators to let her go on for longer.

That CNBC did a terrible job is a pretty universal meme this morning.

Josh Marshall offers an explanation of why it was so bad:

"But as I reflect on the debate a bit more I think a big reason the debate was so weird was that so many of the questions were based on obscurantist and myopic CNBC nonsense - which is not only far-right and identified with great wealth but specifically owned by the bubble of Wall Street. That led to a lot of odd questions - like Jim Cramer's saying why aren't GM execs going to jail, Santelli's wild questions or that question about fantasy football. Lots of people are into fantasy football. But whether it's betting and whether it should be regulated, that's a Wall Streeter question - in the same way huge amounts of the money that gets pushed through political betting sites comes off Wall Street. It's hard for Republicans to say this. But I think this is a significant reason why the debate seemed so odd. And it made it kind of odd to hear anti-liberal bias attacks on the moderators when they were asking questions like shouldn't the Fed be forced to take us back to the gold standard."

I did find the media bashing of Rubio, Cruz, and Christie pretty cheap. But they got away with it. Like I said, Christie was still bashing Hardwood this morning.

P.S. Joe Scarborough picks up on the way Rubio lied last night about his personal finances. Ann Coulter pointed out the same thing. Joe can't believe there was no followup.
So we'll see about just how well Rubio really did or not. But at the end of the day, if Jeb is going down as even Nate Silver seems to think then this is a bonanza for Rubio.

My Interpretation of Last Night's Debate

Well like Keynes said of the market, what matters is not just my opinion but my opinion of what the GOP establishment and base thought-which is usually not the same thing.

The consensus is that Jeb bombed.

Bush walks into Rubio's trap

For Jeb’s supporters, it was a night of crushing disappointment.

"Banging on the CNBC production team’s door halfway through the debate, campaign manager Danny Diaz reamed the debate host over how little time Bush was getting. In the end, the one-time front-runner scored less than seven minutes, worse than almost every other candidate"

"Banging on the CNBC production team’s door halfway through the debate, campaign manager Danny Diaz reamed the debate host over how little time Bush was getting. In the end, the one-time front-runner scored less than seven minutes, worse than almost every other candidate"

"Bush’s bad night benefitted Marco Rubio most. Indeed, Bush donors were quick to complain about what they saw as a bad strategic decision to take on the junior Floridian."

“Marco is a [expletive] Jedi Master,” one distraught Florida donor said. “Hopefully these idiots learn not to [expletive] with him anymore. Not necessary.”

Read more:

See the funny thing is I thought Jeb had done pretty good in going after Rubio there. It was a legitimate issue that everyone had been talking about-a Florida paper that same day had demanded Rubio resign.

So that was my own thought. But what I did notice right away is that Rubio clealry seemed to be winning the Keynesian beauty contest aspect as the crowd cheered Rubio's response wildly.

On its own terms I didn't think much of Rubio's response: all it came down to was saying it missing the Senate was good enough for John McCain it was good enough for himself.

I guess that was sort of a ding when he went on to say 'I know what's going on here. You've been told this is the way to get back in the race.'

UPDATE: I should also note that Rubio never did answer John Harwood's question: Does he hate his Senate job?

At the time I didn't see that as a big deal, but in retrospect I do see that with that response and Jeb having no answer to this rather pointed response was not the way to go.

A candidate with fight has to push back a little more but Jeb kind of wilted at that point I guess.

Josh Marshall I see also had this same reaction: he didn't see Rubio as doing all that well but the consensus in the crowd and among the pundits post debate clearly said different.

Jeb clearly had a pretty bad debate if Nate Silver is now arguing that Jeb may be in big trouble. After all, Nate is all about being skeptical of narratives. If he's saying this, it's notable.

I think the most worrying aspect for Jeb is simply that as Nate says, the best interests of the GOP establishment at this point may just be kicking the Governor to the curb.

"In the insurgent lane, Ted Cruz, a candidate whose chances were already on the upswing, probably helped himself during the debate. It’s possible that Cruz’s gains will come at Donald Trump’s expense, although I personally thought Trump did fine2 and that if Cruz gains in the polls, it could come from Ben Carson or some other candidate instead."

"But whether it’s Cruz or Trump or Carson ahead, the Republican establishment can’t wait that much longer to get its act together. And the most expedient way to do that may be to kick Bush to the curb."

If Jeb either is done or sees his numbers flag then it's almost certainly going to redound to Rubio's benefit-regardless of what the base itself really thought of his performance. 
And this brings us to my own interpretation of last night. I felt that the fix was sort of in with the crowd. It's an establishment dominated crowd. In the last debate they were cheering Jeb but last night they seemed to have turned on him early. 
My take is that they cheered for Rubio over Jeb in that exchange because this was the game plan coming in for precisely the reason that Nate suggests: they need to coalesce around one establishment candidate and Jeb is less and less looking like that guy. 
I agree with Nate on Trump as well, he didn't wilt in my view as many pundits claimed. I thought that he was strong in his moments especially with Kasich.
He took out Kaisch's early wildeyed ranting about how these outsider candidates are making this a joke with just a couple words: fracking and Lehman Brothers. 
One note is that Trump didn't dominate in time as he did in previous debates. This brings us to the other big story last night: the CNBC debate moderators. The sentiment of just about everyone is that they were as Trump would say a disaster.
But this is a subject for me to take up in my next post. I have to pace myself. LOL. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

So Who Won Tonight's GOP Debate?

The big question is who won? There is a clear media consensus right now that Marco Rubio won.

This Atlantic piece asks who won and answers its own question with a huge glossy picture of Rubio.

I do agree with one media meme: the CNBC moderators clearly lost the debate.

 Ted Cruz really set the tone with a bromide against the allegedly unfair moderators that the audience clearly loved.

After this the balance of power was clearly on the caniddates' side against the moderators.

As usual the only thing that ever unites the GOP is opposition to something else. So the media were the fall guys this time. Cruz came up with an interesting test of fairness: he claimed that none of the moderators were interested in voting GOP.

“How about talking about the substantive issues people care about?” Cruz asked, saying that the moderators of the first Democratic debate on CNN went easy on the candidates from the other party.

“That debate reflected a debate between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks and nobody watching at home believes any of the moderators has any intention of voting in a Republican primary.”

So is that the new rule-the Ted Cruz rule, where all moderators have to vow to vote GOP?

As for which candidate won, the media narrative is that Rubio hit a home run. I am naturally skeptical of the media narrative as I feel like every step of the way in this GOP primary the press has mostly told us what they think should happen and usually what has actually in fact happened has been quite different.

I actually thought Jeb did a good job hitting Rubio on his absenteeism in the Senate.

Here is Josh Marshall:

"As I said in my previous post, this was a pretty poorly run debate. But that's media criticism. The real question is how it will affect the race. Jeb Bush needed to get back into this campaign. And he absolutely didn't do that. I thought his attack on Marco Rubio was pretty strong. But after that, I'm not sure what happened to him. Maybe he took a nap. I'm not sure. It's really hard to see how he can hold on to any level of confidence from establishment Republicans at this point. He just doesn't seem to have it in him. Not that he was a leader of the pack in the first place. But he really needed to change the equation. He didn't."

"I think Trump was basically fine, not good or bad. Carson was somewhat more coherent than in past debates."

Well what I had noticed was that the audience wasn't on Jeb's side when he went after Rubio but seemed to really like Rubio's response.

Politico has this:

"Bush lectured Rubio that if he wanted to continue skipping votes he should “just resign and let someone else take the job.”
“Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term,” Bush said. “And you should be showing up to work.”

"Rubio was ready, dismissing Bush as a political opportunist turning on an old friend. “Someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you,” he said.

"It was the end of discussion. The mentor had gone after the protégé but came away bruised."
Read more:

So this is probably why Jeb shrunk after this. I am still a little skeptical that Rubio was this great; I think the media is just figuring that if Jeb is in trouble-and Josh is not the only one who thinks tonight more or less finishes Jeb off-then process of elimination means it's going to be Rubio.

Josh's thought process more or less mirrors mine on Rubio too.

"The final thing is Marco Rubio. He seemed on the defensive and without terribly good answers to the senate absenteeism charges. As I've said, I think Rubio is really the one to watch simply by a process of elimination. I didn't think he came off that well. But the audience didn't seem to agree with me. He kept getting ovations from the audience. I'm curious to hear what people think about how he did."

Again, I tend to think that the fix was in with that audience-in the last debate they were cheering Jeb, this time they focused on building up Rubio.
This bothers me as it's just the media presuming that The Party Decides and so at it decides it must be Rubio if it's not Jeb. I think the party usually decides but it may be different for the GOP this time.

Nate Silver finally gave voice to this view today.

Basically my premise has been and I'm happy Nate is finally voicing this possibility is that usually the party decides but this year's GOP is having a much harder time deciding than usual.

However, even though I'm skeptical of the Rubio surge, I did see that Howie Carr was very positive about Rubio tonight. This is significant to me as Carr is a good bellwether for the hard core Right wingers. Carr thinks that the Cubans-Rubio and Cruz-stood out

It will be interesting to see if Carr's is the common view. I do see that Coulter still is much more in love with Trump. She also called out the GOP media bashing as 'boring' and just copying her boy Trump.

As a matter of fact, I was just on Coulter's page and RT a bunch of her lines. She pointed out that GOP media bashing was ridiculous-CNBC was no different than Fox or CNN.

She also answered Rubio's tweet that HRC was discovered to be a liar by pointing out that he himself tonight was revealed a liar.

So we;ll see if Rubio really did as well as media narrative this time bearing in mind that they've been wrong on every GOP debate till now.

I have to admit though that if this really is the last stand of Jeb-and boy I hope it is!-then by definition Rubio should see a hike anyway as presumably he would be the second choice of most of Jeb's supporters.

In this case you could see a race between Rubio and two outsiders-Carson and Trump-and one kind of hermaphrodite-Ted Cruz who's kind of bot an insider and outsider of sorts.

I agree with most of Josh Marshall's analysis but not on Kasich:

"Finally, Kasich was great. Actually knows what he's talking about, has a decent argument about his record in Ohio and called out the nonsense a lot of the other candidates are spewing. But let's get real: this is a GOP primary race. I can't really see him getting into the top tier."
I felt like Trump totally owned him on fracking and Lehman Brothers;. After that we didn't hear much from him. And what we did wasn't terribly compelling. He's also for a balanced budget amendment which hardly makes him a breath of fresh air in this field.