A Possible GOP Voter Rates the Debate

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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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194 Responses

  1. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    [Hillary Clinton] somehow manages to combine the charm of Ted Cruz and the ethics of Richard Nixon with the down-home, common-people folksiness of Mitt Romney. [¶] But you know what? Based on what I saw last night, I don’t see anybody beating her.

    Ouch, and more ouch.Report

  2. Avatar Will Truman says:

    Only one mention of Kasich. I’d thought that there might be more! His resume is actually stronger than he let on, so I’m not sure why he couldn’t communicate that. He was sort of the Paul Ryan of the day. I guess he’s trying to avoid talking too much about his governorship?

    From most accounts, the Jeb Bush that showed up is the Jeb Bush that I had previously argued would have more trouble than the people saying “Like Romney…” think. His responses to current events tended to be good, though, making me think that maybe he was getting his head in the game. But… no.

    If it’s not Jeb or Walker, though, then it’s Rubio, Kasich, or Cruz, with only the first having more than a very remote chance. That’s why I’m seeing more 2008 than 2012, where the candidate wins the nomination because someone has to and not because – as with Romney – they had the coalition to do so.Report

  3. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    I’m a little surprised that you think you could be convinced. The likelihood of several SCOTUS nominations happening in the next presidential term make this an easy pick for me. Does that make me partisan? Maybe it does, I don’t know…

    Both Rubio and Bush would go light on the immigrant bashing-that’s certain. And that would be welcome. But they’d have to do something to please the base, and what better than a couple of hard-right judges appointed to the highest court in the land?

    Also, Hillary does not affect me the way she appears to affect you. It’s pretty subjective, I guess.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      Also, Hillary does not affect me the way she appears to affect you. It’s pretty subjective, I guess.

      The notion that Bill was warm and fuzzy while HIllary is a stone cold bitch is presentism. People had the same reaction to Bill, back in the day. Clinton Derangement Syndrome was only incidentally about Hillary. I never understood it.

      As for ethics, who can tell? There has been so much bullshit over the past quarter century that it has buried any genuine scandal. The belief, to switch metaphors, that where there is smoke there is fire is simply an incentive to build a smoke machine.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I cosign this.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck says:

        No, I remember there being plenty of shade thrown at Hillary during the Nineties. Bumper stickers saying “Impeach Billary”, “I don’t trust President Clinton — OR HER HUSBAND”, that sort of thing. Vince Foster’s suicide and the rest of the Whitewater business. And, yes, the general attitude of “Hillary Clinton’s a bitch” was very much present.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          That shade was at Bill for being a weak guy who had a strong wife. Yeah there was a part that was about hating Hillary for being whatever, but it was Bill mostly.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            Oh yeah, that was the whole point of the smear. Clinton wasn’t just a smarmy, backwoods hick. He was actually a weak man, and his WIFE wore the pants in the family. HIS WIFE.

            The “OMG, we really elected a woman! Bill’s just a beard!” vibe was pretty..obvious, really.

            CDS remains amazing.Report

  4. Avatar greginak says:

    Two questions: 1 From what i read Rubio said he doesn’t even support abortion being legal in cases of rape or incest. That seems like a position that is aimed at freaking out a lot of people who aren’t warm for abortion but still think it should be legal in some cases. That sounds pretty hard line.

    2 You don’t “trust” Hillary. But what does that actually mean? I’m not really sure. What do you think she will do or not do based on that lack of trust?Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      I see a lot of polls about Hillary’s “trust” levels but what they boil down to is Democrats and independents trust her (80ish % and 50-60%), and Republicans think she’s the Bride of Satan (like 10%). Which skews it to something like 45%, due to intensity.

      I think “Hillary’s not trusthworthy” is just factesque, to use the Colbert term. It’s just assumed to be a fact, repeated as a fact, and you’re the crazy one for asking why because it’s a fact.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        If that were the case, her numbers would look like Obama’s, but they don’t and it’s not.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Oh yeah i agree about those numbers. But when talking about a Prez, trust seems sort of like an odd word and concept. It’s not like i have to trust Obama or Clinton or Rubio to not raid my fridge if i let them crash on the couch or rack up PPV bills on cable. It’s an indirect signifier for something else. I think it comes back to whether you like her and her policies ( for whatever actual policies actually matter)Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Rubio’s answer to the abortion question could cause him trouble down the line. It seems to me that his answer was intended to be more ambiguous than it ended up being. Some people did see it as ambiguous, but it looks like a liability to me.

      Edit to add: And at the root of it, it was a little bit ambiguous. Basically, he doesn’t particularly support an exemption in those cases, but that’s not the hill he’s going to die on (and would, presumably, be among the first things he’d compromise on). Still… that’s where people get antsy.Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        Well at least, unlike Walker, he didn’t come out against abortion even when the pregnancy threatens the woman’s life. I hope that statement puts a least one stake in Walker’s coffin. That guy scares me.Report

        • Avatar TrexPushups says:

          Which creates under president Walker he nightmare scenario of dying becuase you can’t get an abortion for the non-viable fetus after being raped.Report

    • @greginak

      You don’t “trust” Hillary. But what does that actually mean? I’m not really sure. What do you think she will do or not do based on that lack of trust?

      I can’t speak for Tod, but here’s where I don’t trust her, in order or less serious to more serious:

      1. I believe it’s at least even money that she’ll start enforcing federal marijuana laws in the states that have opted for recreational.

      2. I believe that in the right/wrong constellation of events + government shutdown, Hillary might very well sign a repeal or at least scaling back of the better elements of Obamacare . That sounds crazy, and I believe it’s unlikely, but I wouldn’t put it past her if she thought the polls swung in that direction.

      3. I’m afraid she might take us to war.

      Now, except possibly for no. 1, none of the GOPpers who stand a chance of winning seem much better. And as someone said above, who gets to choose the SCOTUS is a big deal. So even though I’ll probably be voting 3d party, I’ll be rooting for her side (or preferably for some other democrat) come November 2106Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        3 is my main concern about her. She is to hawkish for me. But that isn’t something she hides.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        #2 seems ludicrous to be honest. She might be able to play for some centrists but her own party would burn her in effigy. There’s no way the lady who spent much of her political career in the 90’s trying to enact health care reform would be the lady who burned down her own parties signature achievement, especially not the way the reform in question has been performing.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Those are all fears that would more aptly apply to any of the candidates running for the GOP nomination. Much more guaranteed to have them happen if one of them’s POTUS.Report

        • I agree, which is why even though I’ll probably be voting 3d party, I’ll be rooting for her side (or preferably for some other democrat) come November 2016.Report

          • Avatar zic says:

            I wish you wouldn’t; I don’t like the potential of Nader Effect; but I live in ME, where our governor sits in office due to 3rd party candidates and is a complete buffoon.

            ETA: I’ve been working on a ballot initiative here for ranked-ballot voting; we’ve gathered enough signatures to get it on the ballot, and now we’re starting an educational campaign. That would make 3rd party voting viable.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              Gabriel is in a solid blue state, though, so he can vote third party with immunity.

              Glad to hear Maine is taking action on the plurality problem. Or at least some residents are trying. I’d like to see IRV nation wide.Report

            • I live in ME, where our governor sits in office due to 3rd party candidates and is a complete buffoon.

              I lived in the United Stated from 2001-2009, so, yeah.Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                The only real problem in 2000 was voter-role purges in FL; the rest is all a distraction.

                FL purged between 10,000 and 20,000 people from the roles; mostly in north-central and the pan handle who’s names were similar to convicted felons from numbers of surrounding states, and those folks couldn’t vote. There’s no way to determine how many were turned away. And yeah, they were mostly not-white.

                ETA: and yes, I realize I’m contradicting myself, but Nader would not have been a problem if those voters had been allowed to cast their votes.Report

            • Ranked ballot voting might be something I’d support, depending on the specifics.

              And Will’s right about the blueness of where I live, although we have a pretty red governor right now (and for what it’s worth, I voted for the blue guy, not a 3d guy/gal).

              Still….I do admit to a certain…cynicism?…about voting. Even in a very purple state, one vote is almost never going to make a difference. And there’s something I don’t like about “trying to get everybody to vote” thing. But then again, I have a hard time thinking of a better way of choosing our leaders.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Idea-Decline-Western-History/dp/1416576339

    I don’t know much about this book. I think the author is conservative leaning (he works at the conservative Hudson Institute according to wikipedia.

    There is a large strain of conservative thought that latches unto the idea that the West or their country is always in danger of being in decline or is actively in some kind of moral and ethical decay. You also saw this after WWI with the popularity of such books as Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West and Lothrop Stoddard’s The Rising Tide of Color Against White-World Supremacy (Stoddard is mentioned as Goddard in The Great Gatsby when Tom Buchanan goes on his racist rant at the start of the book). Here is the exchange:

    “Civilization’s going to pieces,” broke out Tom violently. “I’ve gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things. Have you read “The Rise of the Colored Empires’ by this man Goddard?”

    “Why no,” I answered, rather surprised by his tone.”

    “Well, it’s a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be — will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved.”

    “Tom’s getting very profound,” said Daisy, with an expression of unthoughtful sadness. “He reads deep books with long words in them. What was that word we — ”

    “Well these books are all scientific,” insisted Tom, glancing at her impatiently. “This fellow has worked out the whole thing. It’s up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things.”

    “We’ve got to beat them down,” whispered Daisy, winking ferociously toward the fervent sun.

    “You ought to live in California —” began Miss Baker, but Tom interrupted her by shifting heavily in his chair.

    “This idea is that we’re Nordics. I am, and you are, and you are, and —” After an infinitesimal hesitation he included Daisy with a slight nod, and she winked at me again. “ — And we’ve produced all the things that go to make civilization — oh, science and art, and all that. Do you see?”

    There was something pathetic in his concentration, as if his complacency, more acute than of old, was not enough to him any more.”

    There seems to be a siege mentality that always exists in human politics. Forces inside and outside the nation are conspiring to bring it down and replace it entirely and we will no longer be Rome but be in the dark ages or some such. There have always been politicians and blowhard who were willing to tap into this psychic fear and Trump is the latest example.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Well if people keep saying western civ is dying at some point ( likely far past our lifetimes) they will eventually be right.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Western civilization has been dying since the fall of the Roman Empire.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          There were plenty of cranky old men yelling at clouds in the middle of the Roman Empire who thought it was all going to hell. And don’t get me started on how the Etruscan’s thought civilization was going right into the bin. Of course they may actually have been correct.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

          @burt-likko

          Enoch Powell’s infamous anti-immigration speech contained the words “I see the river Tiber foaming with much blood”.

          Also every anti-war foreign policy development is always comparable to Munich.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq says:

            Enoch Powell was one weird duck because his two great political beliefs, a complete trust in free market capitalism and dyed-in-the-wool romantic English nationalism, were incompatible with each other. Free market capitalism requires the free movement of goods, people, and money. You can’t have a heavy barriers to the entry of goods or people and have a free market capitalist economy. Powell’s romantic English nationalism required some very anti-capitalist policies to be effective because preserving communal structures necessary for romantic nationalism requires anti-capitalist policies that would give everybody a stake in the country and reduce immigration. Weirdly enough, Powell was one of the few Conservative politicians that did not rally against the other social changes of the 1960s. He or less went along with the Permissive Society as it was called.Report

        • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

          Yes, exactly. It dies at sundown, and a pyre is lit at midnight. Come morning, a new civilization is born from its ashes.Report

        • To get a little pedantic here and take things perhaps more seriously than intended, I’d say that “western civilization” is a relatively new concept, and its purported “dying” might be conceived as just a new way of looking at the world. Even the notion of studying “western civilization” is, if I recall, more an invention of the last 200 years. (Rufus or others here could probably fill me in on the details.)

          What is “the West”? We probably all *think* we know, and each of you could probably offer a serviceable definition. But it’s not clear to me that what consider “the West” actually counts as coherent civilization.

          All that said, the “sky is falling” and “kids these days” rhetoric is over the top, and probably isn’t thinking in the terms I mention anyway.

          [/pedantry]Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Let me help you out Saul. We are human. We are young, we’re children, then young adults, adults then elderly, then we die.
      As adults and the elderly we look back and by and large we miss being young. It’s easy to do, it’s easy being young. Everything works, so many possibilities, and as adults or elderly we can see just how many possibilities there were if only.. if only..
      Therefore we all view our childhood/young adult world through a golden lens of memory. The world must have been better because it seems so much harder then. If it was better then and it’s worse now that naturally leads to a declinist inclination.

      Decline theory thrives because we are mortal.Report

      • One of the things that fascinates me about the Middle Ages is that back then decline theory was right. Life really was poorer, shorter, more dangerous, and in every way worse than it had been in Roman times. It why the Holy Roman Empire (which was none of the above) was called that: regaining Rome was a goal that was universally inspiring.Report

    • The best sentence there being

      And we’ve produced all the things that go to make civilization — oh, science and art, and all that.

      Because Tom Buchanan was as likely to produce any of that as a Shih Tzu.Report

  6. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Rubio is the strongest GOP candidate for the general election. Party voters might not like him because of his immigration policies but he is just as much as a rightist as the rest of them. Rubio’s big advantage is his youth and that he doesn’t invoke the level of bile in Democrats and non-Republicans that Walker and other GOP candidates do.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      I continue to think that Walker can best bridge the gap between the Tea-Party-red-meat crowd and the mainstream GOP, is young and good-looking enough, and has a strong enough history as a fighter and fundraiser, to put all the pieces together. But if he can’t debate, and the seemingly universal assessment of his performance last night was that he was a flop, that’s a big knock against him.

      His past and present enemies from Madison and Milwaukee will tell you that he can debate, that the can think on his feet, and that he is a formidable and dangerous opponent — so that makes his bad performance all the more inexplicable.

      Rubio, I’m going to have to look at him more closely. My last big impression of him was taking a big gulp of a tiny bottle of water with visibly shaky hands, at a time that he really needed to be 100% on his game and could have prepared better to deliver a message over which he had 100% control over the manner of delivery. But perhaps his forensic skills have improved since then.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        The GOP candidate like the Democratic candidate has to attract voters who aren’t in any party to. I think Rubio has a lot more mainstream appeal than Walker does. Walker is to close to the Tea Party and is to likely to piss off Americans of color, particularly Hispanics. He has all the downsides of Richard Nixon and none of Richard Nixon’s good points like intelligence or even Nixon’s unique but definite brand of charisma.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          I think whomever gets the nod is going to be facing campaign ads that are, effectively, YouTube clips of the GOP candidate saying the things he had to say to get the nod.

          And the longer the primary goes — and especially the longer Trump drives the race, unleashing the GOP’s id, the longer that list of YouTube comments is going to be.

          Rubio’s “Let the woman die, no abortions. Make her carry her rapists baby” statement, for example, is going to play on endless loops as he faces a female candidate, no matter how much he tries to clarify it, backtrack it, or place it in context.

          And the GOP will claim the Democrats are the real sexists, which I’m sure will have RedState nodding approvingly even as women continue to flee.Report

        • Avatar Michelle says:

          Walker is Satan. From everything I’ve read about him, he’s got an authoritarian streak a mile wide. His record in Wisconsin is less than stellar. He’s gutted the school systems, driving UW graduates from Wisconsin to its neighboring state of Minnesota, which has a flourishing economy. I hope all the investigations of him, investigations he’s labored to shut down, come to fruition with some kind of indictment so he can be driven from politics forever.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I think Walker’s got some serious baggage from the backroom methods of his reign in Wisconsin. Enough baggage that party leaders don’t want it dug up and paraded around in a general. My reasons root in the whole FOIA rules change; which seemed to appear out of nowhere, he claimed ignorance, and yet he and his office were the source. It suggests a pattern of doing business that he’s discomforted to have open to view, a hint of a way to hide some corruption and back-room dealing.Report

        • And worse for Walker is that the rest of the USA isn’t like the Milwaukee suburbs and won’t do 80% turnout for the chance to stick it to Milwaukee & Madison (or whatever other large cities Walker would attempt to paint as nests of communists, fags, and bureaucrats.)Report

          • Avatar zic says:

            We drove through Milwaukee from the airport a few weeks ago, through the western neighborhoods.

            I commented here after, it felt like driving parts of Guatemala to me; all the business shuttered, and churches vying for souls.Report

      • Avatar bookdragon says:

        ‘Good-looking enough’? I can’t look at Walker without thinking ‘Ferret-face’. Seriously, the guy strikes me as a weasel on looks alone. The impression is only deepened by reading about his record. He’s avoided indictment (so far and by some dubious maneuvers) but an awful lot of the people who closely with him and for him are facing charges.

        People don’t trust HRC but they’d trust this guy? Really?Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck says:

        Walker didn’t have a bad performance. He had no performance at all. Which, y’know, at this point in the election process (and with both Donald Trump and Rand Paul sharing the stage) isn’t a bad idea. Play it laid-back and let everyone else say lines about the 47% of corporations that are people too, or whatever.Report

        • Avatar Lenoxus says:

          Women’s bodies have ways of shutting down those calves the size of cantaloupes. Bet you $10,000.Report

        • Avatar Patrick says:

          I more or less agree with Duck, here.

          This stage of the game, being a frontrunner isn’t a winning position, it’s just a position with more guns trained on it. Being unremarkable early worked for Mitt, remember.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Depends what kind of election this is. If it’s seize the middle then Rubio is the better candidate. If it’s rouse the base then one of the others (Not Bush) may be more effective.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Its really hard to tell what kind of election it’s going to be. Kevin Drum thinks that the economy is ambivalent enough that it will be a relatively low-key one compared to 2008 or 2012 and focus on wonky issues like immigration or foreign policy. Low-key policy elections are weird because you want to rally the base to get out the vote but not scare the middle at the same time.Report

  7. Avatar zic says:

    So you’d vote for Rubio despite the fact that he’s so pro-life he doesn’t much care if women die, so long as their fetuses are brought to term? Thinks it’s okay to force a woman to bear her father or rapists’ child?

    I’m stunned, Tod.

    Do you really think, in the balance, trading away women’s rights to self-determination for anybody but Clinton is acceptable?Report

    • Avatar Patrick says:

      FWIW, Rubio has about a thimbles-full chance of doing anything about abortion, just like every President since RvW.

      The idea that a social conservative President is going to get enough militant pro-life judges on the bench to overturn RvW is… ah… *highly* dubious. The Democrats in the Senate are of sufficient numbers to prevent this from happening. Hell, RBG probably wouldn’t retire if she thought it was within the realm of possibility. If there is a litmus test anywhere in modern American politics, anywhere, it’s the question of “do you support a woman’s right to choose” for SCOTUS candidates.

      So.

      Barring that, the only change in federal-level American abortion policy that is even remotely possible is at the legislative level, not the executive.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        You’re missing the point: the discussion is offensive.

        At the state level, where the GOP is currently politically leading, restrictions are popping up like kudzu vine.

        And it’s not just about American women; it’s about women all over the world; it’s about foreign policy.Report

  8. I proudly confess to having not watched the debate, but if what I saw on Twitter is any indication, it probably wouldn’t have moved the needle much for me on any candidate. I’m reasonably familiar with just about all the candidates, even the extraordinarily minor ones, though that familiarity is a bit less for some of the newcomers.

    In any event, I’m very much in the category of a “swing voter,” though by no means could I be said to be a “typical” swing voter, so I thought I’d put together a ranking that reflects my swing voter status.

    So here’s where I’m at:

    Tier 1: Candidates So Clearly Superior To HRC That I’d Absolutely Vote For Them Over Both HRC and Whoever the Libertarian Party Nominates
    1A: John Kasich. For me, the most important thing in a President isn’t necessarily ideological agreement (though that’s certainly important), it’s a combination of basic competence, an ability to prioritize when fundamental principles conflict (as they must frequently do), and a genuine curiosity/willingness to identify problems. On all of these, I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for Kasich for a very long time – in fact, a Q&A of his that I attended when I was a Congressional intern in the 90s was the most proximate cause of me self-identifying as a conservative for a five or six year phase of my life. Anyhow, I’m not sure that Kasich is the candidate with whom I’m closest ideologically, though he’s closer than most, but he’s the candidate in the race who I think would be most likely to be the type of President that winds up being remembered especially fondly by history.

    Tier 2: Candidates I’d Consider Voting For Over Both HRC and Whoever Is the Libertarian Candidate
    2A: Rand Paul. Ideologically is probably closest to me, but (1) I’m not sure how much I trust him on the areas where I think I agree with him, and (2) I strongly suspect he needs a few more years of seasoning before he meets my basic competence test. On the other hand, I continue to think that him somehow winning the nomination would do wonders to modernize the GOP even in (and perhaps especially in) a general election loss.
    2B: Carly Fiorina – This is with the massive caveat that I really don’t know enough to trust where she fits ideologically and don’t know enough about her tenure at HP to fully form my opinion here. But whenever I’ve seen her speak, she comes across as wholly competent. The lack of good knowledge of her ideology is why I’ve slotted her here as someone who potentially could persuade me to vote for them. But my guess is that she’ll move down a notch as I get to know her ideology better.

    Tier 3: I’ll Vote For The Libertarian
    Subtier 3(1) On Net, Probably Won’t Be Significantly Better or Worse Than HRC
    3(1)A – Bush – Seems more competent than his brother, but ideologically similar
    3(1)B – Rubio – Have huge problems with his hawkishness, but otherwise seems no worse ideologically than most of the other candidates. Seems to meet my minimal competence standards and seems capable of prioritization, but I’m uncertain about his curiosity. Saw him called the GOP version of Bill Clinton in 1992, and that seems apt.
    Subtier 3(2): Somewhat Worse Than HRC, But Probably Not Disastrous
    3(2)A Gilmore. Decent governor of a fairly large state, but would be in way over his head trying to keep his coalition together. Have no idea why he’s running.
    3(2)B Christie. For both better and worse, would be the second coming of Richard M. Nixon.
    3(2) C Perry. I’d have rated him lower a few months ago, but has proven to be a lot more savvy than I thought him to be in recent months. Meets my minimum competence standard and my prioritization standard, but not the curiosity standard and is quite far from me ideologically.

    Tier 4: I’m Voting For Hilary
    4A Huckabee. Competent and able to prioritize. While incurious, his lack of curiosity seems more closely tied to his religious beliefs than loyalty to movement conservatism, which is a more benign (IMHO) form of incuriosity. Ideologically close to my opposite, but I still give him points for acknowledging in 2008 that waterboarding is torture and for, as I understand, being fairly liberal on criminal justice questions as governor.
    4B Pataki – Fails my competence test for a bunch of reasons and could never keep his coalition together enough to meaningfully govern. But ideologically better than most and can prioritize and meet my curiosity standard.
    4C Walker – Competent, but fails my prioritization and curiosity standards and is far from me ideologically.
    4D Santorum – Somewhat less competent version of Huckabee.
    4E Carson – Would be in way over his head in the realm of politics. Seems incurious but able to prioritize. Seems very far from me ideologically.
    4F Jindal – Not very competent or curious, far from me ideologically, but at least able to prioritize. Ranks below Carson because his incompetence has a track record.
    4G Graham – Same as Jindal, except that his hawkishness knows no bounds.

    Tier 5: I’m Voting For Hillary And Will Probably Leave The Country If He Wins
    5A Cruz – Competent in his own way, but that competence has nothing to do with the act of governing. Ideologically far from me, lacks any kind of curiosity or ability to prioritize. Would be an unmitigated disaster as President. The good news is that I’m pretty sure that by the time I went through the process of finding a job and place to live overseas, he will have been impeached and convicted with the support of a good chunk of his own party for one abuse of power or another. Sure, every President abuses power, but they usually make sure their own party doesn’t despise them when they do it.

    Tier 6 He’s A Troll
    6A Donald Trump. I’ve come to the conclusion that the Donald is the Presidential Race version of that guy (it’s almost always a guy) who runs for President of Student Government as a write-in candidate in part in order to mock the very existence of Student Government. In college, I actually voted for that guy….twice. Because the very idea of Student Government is a farce. It’s the equivalent of voting “None of the Above,” except with a sense of humor. Either that, or he actually conspired with Bill Clinton to make the election safe for Hillary (not out of the question seeing as Bill is alleged to have in fact encouraged him to run). But trying to screw with the existence or purpose of Student Government is one thing – I’m pretty sure plenty of people would be ok with the non-effect of Student Government ceasing to exist, and in fact no disasters ensued in the one instance of which I’m aware (“The Pirate Captain” at NC State) where that dude won. Actually getting elected as a troll to run the most powerful organization in the world (the US Government) is beyond terrifying. The good news is that there is exactly zero chance of Trump both getting nominated and winning the general election, so whatevs, I guess.Report

  9. Avatar Chris says:

    My list, after last night:

    Candidates Who, Should They Win the Nomination, Would Demonstrate Conclusively That the Gods Have A Sense of Humor

    Donald Trump

    Best Decision of the Night

    Mine, to watch a Netflix.Report

  10. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Scott Lemieux seems to think Fox decided to throw Rubio slowballs (and that is an understatement)

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/megyn-kelly-moderators-fox-news-debateReport

  11. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    Ben Carson, super racist: “The skin doesn’t make them who they are. The hair doesn’t make them who they are. And it’s time for us to move beyond that…”

    I mean, can you believe that garbage?Report

  12. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    greginak: 2 You don’t “trust” Hillary. But what does that actually mean? I’m not really sure. What do you think she will do or not do based on that lack of trust?

    I’m going to assume, since I’ve written so much on my trust issues with Clinton, that this is one of those rhetorical questions meant to diffuse me saying I don’t trust Clinton.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      ummm…urrrr…Actually i don’t’ remember what you have written about them re: trust. So no it isn’t rhetorical but I’ve you’ve repeatedly stated it that is fine.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          Okay. That seems fair enough. Not much different from any other pol in terms of holding to whatever her true beliefs are. I doubt Hillary is much more malleable they any other pol. Unless you get to the True Believer types like the hucker or Cruz. But those guys have weather vaned a bit also. Lord knows an alleged TB like Paul has shifted around some.I think Hillary and just about any other pol can be predicted to act within a pretty certain range of behavior. I trust her to be in the moderate hawky D range with an eye towards polling.

          Trust still seems like a marker for a generalized feeling about a person. The more you like their stances, the more you will trust them. But i can certainly see some cynicism towards pols when they shift positions since they rarely explain it well.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            No, I don’t think that’s it.

            Unlike most people here (I think), I don’t have a thing against politicians. I think being a politician is a hard thing, a necessary thing, and even a good thing. But more than that, there is this: I don’t equate being a politician to having no moral compass.

            What I said about Clinton in that post is something I do not believe about Obama. Were the tide to change tomorrow on gays and lesbians, or more realistically people who are transgender, I do not believe Obama would throw them under the bus. I don’t think Nancy Pelosi would throw them under the bus. I don’t think any of my state or local representatives here on Oregon would throw them under the bus. But I think Clinton would.

            As to the “It’s all about agreeing with the person’s positions,” foreign policy aside (which is not a big driver in my voting, and where Clinton is on more solid mainstream ground than I am), I can’t think of a single issue where she and I differ all that much. Or at least, I can’t think of any that I disagree with her that I also don’t disagree with Obama, and I absolutely trust him.Report

            • Avatar greginak says:

              That seems a bit surprising to me since i don’t see Hillary much differently than any other pol. I’m not sure why she is less trustworthy. Of course the D coalition would constrain her from going to far off the reservation. I do trust O to head in a certain direction and hold to it pretty well. Is he more trustworthy than H….maybe a little.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                I think for me, it likely has a lot to do with the fact with the way I see her husband’s transgressions (I would call them crimes), and the way over time I’ve grown to see her as being actively complicit in the demonization of his victims in exchange for power. And that’s a level of amorality that even I’m not cynical enough to see in most of the people I vote for.

                And here again, I know from all the conversations I’ve had here on the topic that it’s a “just me” thing, that no one else think either of them did anything worth crying about. But since you asked, that’s my most honest answer.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Were public opinion on gays and lesbians will reverse course, however, I have little doubt that Hilary would absolutely ago much further to the side of repressive than Huckabee were she to decide that she needed to in order to be reelected.

                This, from that link, is absolute crazy talk. Like literally I think we’re talking about different people here.

                Is your Huckabee the one running for President, or some other one? Are we talking about the Hillary running for President, or Bizarro Hillary?Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                I’d like to point out that Clinton pushed DADT which cost him a TON of political capital. A TON. He did that for GLBT rights, and he paid for it.

                But Hillary would attack them more harshly than Huckabee if the wind blew right? Jesus.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Actually i’ll second Morat’s comment here. I forgot to respond to it earlier. Really, you can see Hillary being more repressive then Huckabee? Huck is pretty far to harsh side of the conservative view on gays. I can picture here waffling quite a bit but not going full SantorumReport

              • Avatar Zac says:

                That would probably be a useful heuristic for the GOP: never go full Santorum.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Oh Billy was very very wrong and that shouldn’t be dismissed. I really don’t’ how to calculate that into what to think about both of them now. There is so much history it’s hard to separate out and i don’t have any problem with people holding some of the defenses of Bill against her.

                She was fine with trashing the accusers. Of course with the CDS at the time i also can’t truly blame people for just not believing the accusations against Bill. That he had affairs and sexually harassed women was small change so it was easy to ignore that for a long time when all that other poo was flying.

                In the end Bill was actually guilty of something and plenty of D’s covered themselves in shame for their defenses. I don’t see her actions as amoral as much as very human. She had been unfairly attacked for years along with the man she loved. He humiliated her and hurt her. I have no idea how a person deals with that in general let alone in the most public forum ever. Was it a desire for power or shell shock from years of being shat at by conservatives or a way of trying to rebuild her life or genuine forgiveness of bill and some sexist attitudes towards the accusers. I have no frickin idea and it was likely a combo of some or all of the above plus other things i didn’t list.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                After being accused of multiple murders, it’s really hard to tell what’s real. And the fact that there was a literal political witchhunt going on — anything and everything was politicized.

                And heck, I feel bad for anyone who was a victim.

                I mean where were you supposed to stand? It was flinging mud at the wall to see what stuck, and so much of it was clearly made up. How much money was spent investigating a land deal where the Clinton’s lost money? How much was spent investigating, well, everything Clinton did both before and during his Presidency.

                And in the end, all they could pin on him was Monica. Tens of millions and it was a woman having an affair with her boss. Funny thing is — if they hadn’t already accused the Clintons of murder, theft, and treason — the public might have cared. It’s not terribly unique, but dignity of the office and power dynamics alone would make it iffy. There’s a reason it’s something HR frowns upon firmly in the corporate world. But you know, after accusations of murder? It’s stale tea.

                It’s been 20+ years, and I’ve still got no idea who — if anyone — was credible about what happened. All those women? I’ve got no idea whom or what to believe. The well was so thoroughly poisoned, the waters so muddy, that I think it more or less boils down to what you want to believe.

                It’s a mess, and while Clinton is an excellent politican who could muddy the waters with the best of them, the ones that did the lion’s share of that was the House GOP.

                The only new data point is that it’s been 15 years since he left the White House, and nobody else has come forward. No new allegations. If Bill was a serial sexual harasser or predator, then he’s basically fairly unique in stopping. Or I suppose the Clinton’s have just gotten into NSA levels of suppression.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Yup. I vaguely remember when the first allegations of his affairs came out my thoughts were ” oh good all the is finally calming down if they are down to mere infidelity.” And some of the sexy time allegations, as i remember, were pretty shaky.

                Given nothing has come up since then it is mostly likely he learned to keep it in his pants. So good for him and them i guess.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                The accusations weren’t regarding “affairs.”

                And with all due respect, I have a hard time believing if all of this transpired against a GOP pol the liberals here would be calling it “shaky.”Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Well there was some things that were affairs and some worse. To be clear he was wrong; he did not only immoral things but others that would lead to him being fired or charged nowadays.

                There were so many allegations at the time it was hard to keep them straight. Some of the things in the other section are on the shaky list based on my quick read and memory. And there was Vince Foster etc. So saying there was shaky stuff thrown at him seems fair. The stuff he did was definitely bad enough.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                The thing is — it’s already started again. What was Benghazi but another round of this? The NYT had to rapidly remove a story because of a massively false allegation — they didn’t even bother to fact check and just ran it.

                That’s the atmosphere I’m supposed to be judging Bill in. An atmosphere where it’s a known fact that people lied about what he did, that they’d throw an accusation — no matter the basis or lack of it — at him. That no facts were checked. That people literally made money generating these things.

                What I know — what I truly know about the Clintons is there’s been an absolutely amazing amounts of totally false, ridiculously baseless accusations thrown at them over the last few decades. That there is an entire breathless industry devoted to making them, and a media that finds them to be irresistible catnip.

                Why are the Clinton’s untrustworthy? Because of all the accusations. How do we know they’re true? Because the Clinton’s are untrustworthy.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                Almost 25 years of experience with Hillary suggests that after all the investigative money is spent, it will be determined that her behavior was inside the legal lines under the laws/rules in force at the time.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                I guess we will see.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                It would if the GOP politician in question had been the subject of a 20+ million dollar investigation over everything he’d every done, by a prosecutor with pretty much unlimited reach and power.

                That was my point. We could never fairly assess ANY of that because by the time it surfaced, there had been so many discredited cries of ‘Wolf’ how were you to tell?

                We had clear proof that not only were people happily lying about the Clintons, but that an entire branch of government was encouraging it.

                In that atmosphere, wouldn’t YOU be suspicious of new charges? Wonder if they were politically or financially motivated?

                Muddied waters, poisoned well, take your pick. By the time this all came out, the Clinton’s had literally been accused of treason, murder, extortion, blackmail, embezzlement, and abuse of office. Charges which, despite the money, manpower, and zealous prosecution of an independent prosecutor ranged from “laughable” to “baseless” to “Seriously? You actually spent money on that?”

                Even now, I’ve got no idea which of those women to believe. Or what to believe about them. It could be two consensual affairs, or multiple counts of rape and harassment. I don’t know. I can’t know, because 90% of it came out in 1998, when peak CDS hit and he got impeached (and more popular because of it!).

                I don’t think you’re really recalling the attitude back then. There was so many obviously false accusations against Clinton that the man got impeached and got more popular. Not because America rewarded him getting a hummer and lying about it, but because the witchhunt had become that obvious.Report

              • Avatar Notme says:

                So lying under oath means nothing to you? Not surprising.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Aren’t you cute. Gosh, that makes me feel nostalgic. It’s like it’s 1998 again!Report

              • Avatar Notme says:

                Whats cute and quite sad is that liberals are still in denial. Did clinton lie under oath? Its an easy question, even a liberal can answer it.Report

              • Do you believe that Clarence Thompson had never discussed Roe v. Wade with anyone? He so testified while under oath.Report

              • Avatar Notme says:

                Do you mean clarence Thomas bc i thought this was about the perjurer bill clinton? We know bill lied. I dont know about thomas but ill tell you that after bork i couldn’t care less if he lied.Report

              • It’s about perjury, and how it’s important to take it seriously all the time. And I got exactly the response I expected.Report

              • Avatar Notme says:

                Can you prove he perjured himself like clinton? No, i didnt think so. Neither can i. Honestly i dont think anyone in those hearing tells the truth, as theres no upside to it. So you can get off your high horse. Slick lied and its pathetic that liberals refuse to say so.Report

              • i couldn’t care less if he lied.

                You said it. You can own it like a man, or you can do what you usually do.Report

              • Avatar Notme says:

                Whats a matter? You cant handle an honest answer? I guess ill have to stick to to shallow quips as you usually do? Whats so amusing is that i have yet to hear a liberal admit that slick lied. Instead you keep wanting to talk about Thomas possibly lying during a process when they all lie, in my opinion.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                And that’s the thing. If you bought into it, then you rewarded the “there’s smoke, there must be fire” when the House GOP was busy buying smoke machines in bulk.

                If you didn’t, then obviously you didn’t consider sexual harassment a problem.

                And by the time Monica came around, it had become way too obvious that the bulk of the smoke was, in fact, from smoke machines. If there was any real smoke, it was covered over with the industrial sized machines the Hastert was setting up and running off the taxpayer dime.

                Given nothing has come up since then it is mostly likely he learned to keep it in his pants.

                From what I know about sexual harassment and the folks that do it, odds aren’t that he mended his ways. Odds are his ways weren’t what people thought. People don’t change that much, especially not about sex.

                You see that a lot. People get caught and then turn around and do it again and again.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                No. That is wrong. People change. They change all the time. ex; drug addicts, in fact addicts of every kind. That some people don’t change, which is also very true, doesn’t deny that many people make permanent 180’s in their lives. The people that do 360’s make all the people who do make changes look bad.

                fwiw…i hear the claim “people dont’ change” all the time. But addicts change. Many people live lives of crime then go straight, i’ve known many. People are abusive in relationships then never have another report of DV. People are always changing, not always for good and sometimes only due to getting older. But people change.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Clinton’s been accused of everything from rape to exploiting his power over women to get them into bed. Those two things are not like alcoholism, and are not things you generally quit from.

                Rapists don’t stop raping, and people that use their power to coerce women into bed (also known as rape) don’t tend to stop either.

                Now, I can say this: If Clinton is merely like a lot of type-A sorts (including virtually every President ever and quite a few Governors and Senators and other Congressmen) and perfectly happy to screw anyone who seems into it and discreet, THAT he might change on.

                Because that’s just a combination of high sex drive and infidelity. It being coworkers or underlings is about access and convenience — like most affairs, it’s going to be with someone you already know.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Citation needed as the kids say. Really where is the evidence for those type of people not changing. Also most rapists are serial rapists. Many people who commit sex crimes are never convicted again. And sex drive often diminishes over time. In general most crimes are committed by younger people. As people age they just offend less. Simply aging leads to certain changes that make people less dangerous in general.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I am totally flashing back to the 90’s, here.

                If only a prominent black conservative recently had sexual assault accusations against him be made public and the general response was pretty much the opposite of this, I could break out Mezzanine and pretend I still had a full head of hair.Report

              • Is 1991 recent enough? His accusers got trashed and he got a sweet lifetime gig.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Time to bust out “Of the Heart, of the Soul and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience”.Report

              • Man, and I thought I was good at being obscure.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                That was like the best album that year.Report

              • Sorry, never heard of it. My cultural referent for 1991 is the Series, which was amazing: between two Cinderella teams, and it went seven games with almost all of them close, in fact three in extra innings.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                @tod-kelly
                and the way over time I’ve grown to see her as being actively complicit in the demonization of his victims in exchange for power.

                Haven’t we *already* have this discussion where I ask you what the *hell* you’re talking about with that idea, and the closest *anyone* can come up with is her insulting Monica in a private email to a friend? (Or was that conversation with someone else who *also* believes this very odd idea?)

                Seriously, again or not: WTF are you talking about? Can you point to even *one* instance of Hillary *actually* demonizing Bill’s accusers? A single one. One example.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                The difference between Obama and Clinton, in my mind, is that one of them has had 20+ extra years of having half the media claim she’s a soulless, calculating b*tch who’d throw anyone under a bus if it got her an extra vote.

                I can’t help but think there’s a certain “I trust Obama/Don’t trust HRC” gut level check going on that might, just maybe, be influenced by a steady stream of that. (Cogitative studies have basically shown that heavy repetition just sinks in like that. Doesn’t matter what reality is, you’ll come to believe what you hear often enough).

                Because I look at Hillary and I see a politician. The real difference between her and Obama was that Obama was new enough, in 2008, to have avoided a lot of “being a politician”. He had very few needles to thread, compared to the Clintons.Report

          • Unless you get to the True Believer types like the hucker or Cruz.

            If Cruz believes in anything but maximizing his own personal power, he’s hiding it damned well.Report

  13. I recently read a Jeffrey Goldberg interview with Rubio about the Iran deal. They both oppose it, of course. Rubio had a damned impressive command of the details of both the state of Iran’s nuclear program and the treaty. I wasn’t swayed by his arguments, but he’s obviously an intelligent and knowledgable guy.

    But I think it’s true of Republican officeholders in general that they’re a lot smarter and more capable than all the stupid crap they have to say make them seem. I mean, judging from his resume and accomplishments, Ted Cruz is impressive as hell, but from his public statements and behavior you’d think he has the cranial capacity of a mollusk.Report

  14. Avatar Lurker says:

    OMG, did you vote for Bush in 2000, Tod?

    What you said about sounds like the sort of thing that otherwise reasonable people said to convince themselves to vote for Bush over Gore:

    Rubio/GeorgeBush was the only person I watched and thought to myself, “You know, I might vote for him if he gets the nod.” He was presidential, respectful, strong, and immensely likable. He seemed willing to push toward the center, and find non-flame thrower ways to disagree with his fellow party members who want to drag the GOP further to the right. It’s easy to see him having some heavy cross-over appeal.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      His stance on abortion make me think he’s extra-moderate!

      Actually, it sounds even more like people in 2012 trying to convince themselves that the “real” Romney was the one that agreed with them, and that we was gonna do better than they thought.

      Seriously, what’s Rubio’s actual general election appeal? He’s stuck on the same cleft as the GOP has been. He — or the clamoring Congressmen of his party — are going to be too extreme for any real crossover appeal (invade Iran! Repeal the ACA! Make women die in childbirth or have their rapists babies!), but he’s personally not going to be ‘orthodox’ enough to excite his base.

      That’s the real problem here, Tod. A candidate you’re willing to vote for? He’s going to be too mushy for the base, and because he’s either had to fake whackjob to get the nod or because he’s sharing a party with the whackjobs running Congress, he’s not going to get any crossover appeal.

      Maybe I trust Rubio and I think about voting for him. But then I remember that his party controls Congress, and they’re talking about shutting down the government AGAIN and also want to invade Iran. Nope. Sorry, I don’t want the whole kit and kaboodle under those guys.Report

    • @lurker

      OMG, did you vote for Bush in 2000, Tod?

      I don’t know if Tod did–and I didn’t–but in the 2000 campaign W tried really hard to paint himself as a moderate (“compassionate conservative” and “anti-nation building”). And I, for one, bought it enough to at least think he wouldn’t be so bad. I was wrong. But for a low-information kind of moderate but also left-leaning voter like me in 2000, voting for Bush was not necessarily as obviously a foolish thing as 20/20 vision shows us (or me) it was.

      ETA: “but also left-leaning”….I should’ve said “greenish” because I voted for Nader in what was (then) a mostly red state.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        He did. I thought it was BS, but that was because he was my Governor.

        And even then, mostly what was BS was listening to people blather on about his ‘experience’ as Governor. Seriously, the Texas Governor is basically a less powerful Lt. Governor in other states.

        Literally no power. No responsibilities. Pretty much pure figurehead. Weird little quirk of Reconstruction.Report

        • Avatar KatherineMW says:

          Interesting. So who actually runs Texas? Is the legislature a lot more powerful there?Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            The lieutenant governor has a lot of power within the legislature, which itself has quite a bit of power. Power is also diversified into a series of statewide elected positions (railroad commission, land commission, agriculture commission, AG, etc) and in boards.

            To pick one example, Texas is one of the few states where a governor does not have unilateral power to grant pardons. It has to go to a board, who has to recommend it first.

            OTOH, if a governor is popular, ambitious, and has been there for a while, he or she can accumulate a lot of power. George W Bush did because he was popular. Rick Perry did because he was there forever and over the years had appointed everybody to everything, one vacancy at a time.Report

      • Avatar Lurker says:

        I would argue the evidence was clear and there that a Bush presidency would clearly not be moderate and leftish and that to vote for him over Gore in 2000 was “foolish” (not that you are a fool, we all do foolish things) for a centrist, left-leaning person.Report

        • You’re probably right, and I certainly didn’t look at what evidence was available. I was also naive about the base he would have to appeal to. In other words, he could have been as compassionate, etc., etc., as could be, but he’d be part of a party that had gone off the deep end, and would have to appeal to or work with that base.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Republican party?Report

      • Avatar Lurker says:

        Yeah, it is a witch hunt against Republicans to say it is a terrible idea to have voted R for president since the extreme conservatives have taken over the party. Just like McCarthyism. Totally Jaybird. Great argument. In case you don’t get it, I’m being sarcastic.Report

  15. Avatar Roland Dodds says:

    Even though I feel more conservative than I once was, there was nothing for me to celebrate in either debate.

    The audience (or crowd) was absolutely the worst. If that is the company one keeps in the conservative movement, count me out.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      Oh, that’s the polite crowd. Go over to Redstate and read the feedback on them removing Trump from their big to-do over his menstruation comment. Let’s just say the audience isn’t very appreciative of that move.

      But honestly, why would they be? Look at Trump. Then take a look at the mancrush you see about Putin. What’s Trump but an American version of that? He’s rich (that’s success in America! hes’ the best at being American!), he cares nothing for the “liberal politically correct ways” and does not bow to the foolish, weak rules of the political elites. He’s a strong, alpha man who says what he wants and FIRES ANYONE HE WANTS.

      Hear him ROAR.

      Yeah, Trump’s a clown who will eventually collapse. But the role he’s playing? There’s a reason he hasn’t already flamed out.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        Uh, I wouldn’t have expected myself to say this, but I think you’re being unfair to Putin. Trump is more like the oligarchs Putin took down during his early years in power.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          No, no. I’m not saying Trump is like Putin in a real sense — like they share issues or something.

          Trump is like Putin in attitude, and it’s Putin’s attitude that inspired the mancrush — suitably Americanized, I mean.

          For all the talk of a conservative hero, there seems to be an equal desire for a conservative strongman. A conservative who says what he says, and screw the PC thought police. Who makes quick decisions and sticks by them. Who doesn’t bend to anyone’s whim. Who relentlessly attacks and attacks and attacks and dominates everyone.

          Trump, sadly, is the closest thing on stage to that.Report

  16. Avatar zic says:

    So I am not the only person who thinks the GOP will give up on gay marriage and double down on reproductive rights; Scott Shackford at Reason thinks this is happening, too:

    Blame (or credit—depending how you feel about it) Planned Parenthood. Given a priority list of social issue/culture war battlefields, abortion now trumps gay issues. The controversies over how Planned Parenthood treats fetal tissue and whether it’s breaking the law has put the abortion debate back front and center for now, and when questions included references to both marriage and abortion, candidates zoomed in on abortion. Candidates talked about defunding Planned Parenthood. Cruz even promised to send the Department of Justice after them.

    Obviously, this doesn’t mean that Cruz, Walker, Huckabee, or anybody else has softened on gay marriage. But given the number of issues to discuss and the number of candidates in the field, there needed to be a limit of culture war battles to wage, and clearly everybody decided abortion was the way to go. There are actually policies to debate (whether to fund Planned Parenthood) that indicate what these candidates might do as president. A constitutional amendment on gay marriage recognition is simply not going to happen. I suspect the religious freedom question Paul tackled will come up again (there are 11 more GOP debates!) because it represents an unresolved policy matter. Gay marriage itself, not so much.

    Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      Well, that’s just gonna play into an already existing narrative.

      But what else has the GOP got? They’ve got no new ideas, they’ve over a dozen candidates none of whom have much in the way of charisma or charm, they’ve got a nasty legacy weighing them down. The only playbook they’ve got is incoherent anger and fear.

      Problem for them is…I don’t think they’re capable of “subtle” on abortion anymore. They won’t just go after PP in a “this is only about breaking the law” (which is, badly enough, pretty transparently false anyways — nobody really buys into those sting videos anymore) — they’re gonna go full screaming anti-abortion mode.

      I mean you’ve already got candidates promising to send the IRS or the National Guard against PP.

      Pair that against Hillary Clinton talking about contraceptive access and GOP denunciations against that, and whomever the GOP chooses is going to start out at a disadvantage because the primary will have already set that storyline in stone. “The GOP wants to go back at least a few decades. Maybe back a century. Hard to tell. They’re crazy on this topic”.

      I’m just wondering where they’re expecting to get votes. Blacks? Hispanics? Millennials? Women? Or are they just hoping to turn the base out and hope that’s enough?Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        They’ve got at least a couple candidates who are willing to accept a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. I think they’ve realized that, even if they don’t get the majority of the Hispanic vote, they can’t continue losing it by a landslide if they want to win the presidency. Hence the rise of Trump’s popularity among the racist fringe.Report

  17. Avatar Neil Obstat says:

    Ridiculous thought:

    Republicans haven’t won a Presidential ticket in 80-plus years that did not have the names Nixon or Bush on the ballot.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      That’s one of those statistics that sounds more noteworthy than it is.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        OTOH, if somehow Jeb pulls everything off, that the last three GOP presidents came from the same family would be noteworthy.

        Not likely, of course.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          Personally speaking here, I don’t think Jeb would be a bad Preznit. He wouldn’t be a good one, either, mind, no matter wutcher ideological predispositions. I think he’d be mostly milquetoast with a side of backroom TP Veto. I really don’t think he’d go along for the tea party ride. Probably get us into fewer wars than Hillary, taboot. 🙂

          My own GOP favorite is Rubio. I really can’t understand why TPTB don’t realize and play to his huge upside. I think that alone speaks to the GOP’s internal dysfunction.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            I’ll give you this, Still, you were pumping Rubio a year ago when I was a skeptic. And now, I agree that he is likely their best play (from a weak hand) and the party would be foolish to not line up behind him. At least, pending future performance.

            But, foolish they are. I think the comfort factor with Jeb is just extremely high, and I think that’s something that sort of guides the decision-making. (see Dole, Bob.) And it’s that sort of laziness and lack of imagination that actually gave rise to a lot of the anti-establishment sentiment within the party. (I mean, they told Rubio not to run for the Senate!!!)Report

          • Jeb had done nothing to make me believe that he doesn’t embrace his brother’s foreign policy 100%; he’s even had Paul fishing Wolfowitz as a campaign adviser. That’s “bad president” right there.Report

            • Avatar Autolukos says:

              Indeed, Jeb! has done everything he can to convince me that he’s a bigger fan of W than W.Report

              • Avatar Road Scholar says:

                Autolukos: Indeed, Jeb! has done everything he can to convince me that he’s a bigger fan of W than W.

                Well, winning the White House is anywhere between “far from a sure thing” to “long shot at best” depending on who you ask. Sitting through a number of family Thanksgiving dinners is guaranteed.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              Is Wolfy currently advising him? I agree that’s bad. I guess I’m inferring from some of his behaviors and lifestyle choices that he’d be much less willing to drop bombs on brown people than his brother. (Ie., he’s more mature.)Report

              • Avatar North says:

                His entire God(ess?) damn foreign policy team is flat out transplanted from W’s administration.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Yeah, even so, I remain steadfast in my belief that Hillary will almost certainly take us into at least one. I don’t have that high a confidence level for Jeb, even given the FP team he’s put together.Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                I don’t know.

                She was secretary of state for a good while; and she seemed pretty darn good at avoiding it; paving over the use-of-drones, for instance.

                Personally, I think she actually cares about the lives of women and children living in 3rd world countries, and sees that the economic development from supporting those concerns will help the American economy; the global economy.

                Waging peace; something women are more prone to do when they’re not trying to act like men to prove they deserve a seat at the table.

                But I think we’re using dramatically different metrics to come to these opposing expectations. From mine, after all these years in the public eye, she’s possibly the most qualified candidates to ever run for POTUS; she does not need to prove her worth for a seat at the table.

                I mean Donald Trump, who feels like he can tell everyone to piss off, ‘you’re losers,’ paid her to come to his wedding; and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he’d raffled-off a few tickets to the many nuptial parties to highest bidders and lucky winners; that’s how he said the system works.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                But I think we’re using dramatically different metrics to come to these opposing expectations. From mine, after all these years in the public eye, she’s possibly the most qualified candidates to ever run for POTUS; she does not need to prove her worth for a seat at the table.

                No, she doesn’t need to prove her worth, even tho I’m inclined to think that her public service has come very late in the game and piggy-backed off the other Clinton’s successes. That’s not a dig at her so much as a rebuttal to her being one of the most qualified candidates ever.

                That said, I do think she’s qualified. She’s incredibly bright, well versed in the major (and probably the minor) issues of the day, understands the complexity of foreign policy dynamics, etc. She’s certainly more qualified than Trump or Walker (or Jeb!).

                But to your main point, tho, I’ll just say I disagree. I don’t see the situation quite the same way you do.Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                downright circular way to agree with me in part, @stillwater

                I already get your perspective; there was a time toward the end of GWB’s second term, I couldn’t forgive her or Kerry for those votes. As I said, I’m most supportive of her efforts on behalf of women around the world in the bottom 40% if income; and I think she’s the only person running who comprehends that potential.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC says:

            @stillwater
            Personally speaking here, I don’t think Jeb would be a bad Preznit. He wouldn’t be a good one, either, mind, no matter wutcher ideological predispositions. I think he’d be mostly milquetoast with a side of backroom TP Veto.

            Which is exactly how I would have described his brother in 2000. I hope we all have learned the important lesson in that if you elect milquetoast presidents, you can get evil advisers along with them.

            It is better to elect someone we know where they stand on things, instead a guy who is going to go along with what ‘people near him’ suggest, because figuring out who is ‘near’ someone is nearly impossible and not something that comes up often in an election. (Although at this point, we *do* know who are ‘near’ the Bushes, and half of them are neocons.)

            Probably get us into fewer wars than Hillary, taboot. 🙂

            …what wars would she get us into?Report

            • Avatar notme says:

              Didn’t Hillary vote for the whole thing?Report

            • Avatar Patrick says:

              Which is exactly how I would have described his brother in 2000. I hope we all have learned the important lesson in that if you elect milquetoast presidents, you can get evil advisers along with them.

              And GWB was *well* on his way towards an utterly unremarkable single-term Presidency which would have resulted in his exit in 2004 (very probably the same outcome that would have applied to Gore, just based upon the economy from 2000-2004)… except for 9/11.

              9/11 is a big enough outlier in American history that I think it ruins the GWB presidency of anything resembling generalizable lessons.

              Well, except the lesson that Americans don’t like to change leadership when they consider themselves at war. But we knew that already.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                Maybe. Or maybe not. We lost our collective shit when the Iranians had a revolution and seized the embassy in Tehran and held our hostages for days. It was a slow burn to get there, but we eventually lost our collective shit over Vietnam. We lost our collective shit after the Maine blew up.

                If you look at the political and legal reactions to Pearl Harbor, there are quite a lot of parallels to the response to 9/11, only we acted on some of our darker impulses back in ’42 — internment camps, rationing, functional nationalization of lots of industry. Less internal spying, to be sure, but not none.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                How were rationing and functional nationalization of lots of industry our darker impulses? They were neceesry for a totall war effort. Same thing with employing women.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                The seizure of private property by the government is a grave step indeed. Restricting access to the market is a significant restriction on freedom.

                I’m unconvinced that rationing and nationalization were actually necessary. They were thought necessary at the time, but were there really shortages of things like meat and grains and toothpaste? Were factories really unwilling or unable to produce weapons for sale to the government on their own? Was the government unable to afford them any other way? I don’t know for sure, but the answers are at best non-obvious.

                So I’m not sure that we actually needed to do these things to fight and win the war, any more than we really needed to intern perfectly loyal citizens.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            Fewer wars that Hillary? I want some of what you’re smoking Still.Report

          • Avatar Lenoxus says:

            Probably get us into fewer wars than Hillary, taboot.

            Is this an “only Nixon could go to China” thing, with modern politics substituting Iran for China, and modern GOP belligerence having transformed “go to” into “not bomb the hell out of”?Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              No analysis required. Well, unless you view implication as a type of analysis: I think Hillary will take us into at least one war.Report

              • Avatar Lenoxus says:

                I acknowledge the strong possibility of such. What’s interesting is that you don’t think the same principles or situations or whatever that might inspire Clinton to make war wouldn’t have an equal or greater effect on Bush.

                I can kind of see how that might actually be the case. For one thing, isolationism has increased among Republicans in tandem with warmongering. For another, the Nixon-China principle.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Well, I do think there’s a big push towards Iran within the GOP, less so amongst the Dems. Point to GOP candidate on that score. But I think Clinton will, for reasons that go beyond the normal projection-of-US-power-abroad-when-a-new-Preznit-takes-office-so-the-rest-of-the-world-still-knows-that-the-new-boss-is-same-as-the-old-boss, feel compelled to drop some bombs on someone. I’m betting the ISIStanis will be target one. Of course, Iran will eventually bubble up to the level of “compelling”, and maybe tip her in favor of some missiles and such, depending on how vehemently Congress demands that she requests from them an authorization to do so. So that’s close to 2. The GOP will more than likely (when viewed thru my crystal ball!) call it quits at only one engagement given the political disaster resulting from the last bit of military adventurism they engaged in.

                Edit: and adding on to something Tod said, and contra what zic has suggested, she strikes me as deeply authoritarian, to such an extent that she believes you can bomb people into better behavior. See, for example, her AUMF vote.Report

  18. Avatar Maureen says:

    My presidential voting priority is the Supreme Court, so I am going to enthusiastically support whoever emerges from the Democratic party primary. I don’t see any Democratic candidate being MORE likely to start a war than any Republican candidate. And as a woman with daughters, I want their rights to be fully autonomous human beings to be protected.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW says:

      I don’t see any Democratic candidate being MORE likely to start a war than any Republican candidate.

      As a general rule, I agree. If it was Hillary versus Rand Paul? Well, I loathe most of Rand Paul’s other policies, and he’s more dubious on the anti-war front than his dad is (in the form of hawkery towards Iran), but I wouldn’t be sure which one would be more interventionist.

      (Which is a major decline in my confidence in Rand Paul’s foreign policy, because a few years ago I’d have said he was definitely less hawkish than Hillary Clinton.)Report