It seems like we have been hearing about the Iowa caucus since President Obama last took the oath of office. Residents have had to endure a barrage of ads and phone calls for a long time.
For months we have listened to news outlets breathlessly announce the latest poll. These polls are of little value for several reasons. First, the turnout is very low. The winner of the Republican caucus will receive votes from around 1% of the state's population. That makes it very difficult to find them. Many don't make up their minds until the day of the caucus. Finally, there are technology difficulties. Everyone had land lines a generation ago. It is much harder to reach them now.
A much better way to predict the outcome is to look at those who vote and each campaign's ability to reach them. Voters are willing to sit and listen to speeches for several hours. Newcomers are less likely to show up. Iowans take great pride in being first and seeing the candidates up close. The Republican cause is dominated by the religious right.
So who will win? Ted Cruz will appeal to the party's core, has visited every county and is more likely to attract the experienced caucus goer. Clintons have
been coming to Iowa for a quarter century. They were overconfident in 2008 and I don't expect them to make the same mistake.
Here's my summary of lady night's debate in a nutshell: Ben Carson was invisible. Rand Paul was off in his own world. The other five all benefited by being able to seriously discuss the issues. Bush, Christie and Kasich were able to get some attention and show they were worthy of consideration.
The real winners and losers weren't on the stage. The biggest winners were those that watched. They got to see a open discussion of the issues without the Trump sideshow. I think Trump made a huge mistake. His absence likely won't affect many of his supporters but others will see that a serious discussion is preferable to his bullying and bluster. Democrats also lost. They like to talk about the Republican clown car. Last night we saw five candidates who are most definitely not clowns.
Iowa’s caucus goers take their responsibility very seriously. Many listen to all the candidates and decide in the final days. They are very proud of being first and highly dislike anyone showing their state any disrespect.
Donald Trump has been upset with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly since she asked him a question about disrespecting women. He tried to bully Fox into removing her as a questioner in tomorrow’s debate. When that didn’t work, he threw a temper tantrum and said he wouldn’t show up.
I believe he has made a huge mistake. This is another indication that he does not have the demeanor of a president. I also believe it is a stupid political move. It is a slap in the face to Iowa gives his opponents more visibility.
These debates have mainly about Trump. With him absent, it might be worth watching.
Rubio is a little light on experience but still has an impressive resume. He is currently in his first term as a senator. He also served in the Florida House of Representatives, becoming Speaker at age 34. That gives him leadership experience sorely lacking in many other candidates. While others have spent their time garnering attention, he has dug into the nitty gritty of many issues. He can speak intelligently on the while others stick with the generalities. He has a disposition far more suited to the presidency than Trump or Cruz. He would be an attractive candidate and would bring the all-important Florida electoral votes to the GOP.
If the choice were between Cruz, Trump and Rubio, I would recommend Republicans go for Rubio. However, I believe Bush, Christie and Kasich deserve a second look.
Trump has clearly tapped a rich vein of discontent. Like everyone else, I underestimated his political appeal. However, I feel he is a horrible choice for president. Where to begin! He has no political experience. Obviously he has been successful in business primarily through self-promotion. However, business and government are quite different. Their aims are totally dissimilar. He can take a “my way or the highway” approach with employees but that would be a total failure in dealing with Congress, the bureaucracy and foreign governments.
He has no hesitation in tapping into hate for political gain. Immigration is certainly a topic in which many views are legitimate. He is the only one willing to stir up animosity against Hispanics and Muslims by attacking them personally.
Far more important is his demeanor. If he doesn’t have the biggest ego in the country, I’d hate to meet the person who does. His expression is a constant scowl and his response to most questions is to insult someone. I have often criticized President Obama for exceeding his constitutional authority but I believe Trump would show even less discretion. He clearly is not someone who should be given nuclear launch codes.
Cruz certainly has the brainpower needed to be president. He graduated magna cum laud from Harvard Law School. His experience is rather thin. He is a first term senator but has served positions in the federal and Texas government. I am not aware of any character flaws that would be of concern. The fact that he was born in Canada is a phony issue. It seems logical that someone who is a citizen at birth (like Cruz) meets the definition of a “natural born citizen”.
There are several reasons I believe Republicans should look elsewhere. His extreme positions probably make him unelectable. Of greater concern is his leadership skills and demeanor. He is a true believer and has no respect for anyone that deviates even slightly from his ideology. If he can’t get along with his own party, how can he lead the country? He is so rigid that, had he been president in 2008, I think he might have let the entire financial system collapse rather than showing some flexibility. Ronald Reagan was certainly conservative but he was also a realist. That attribute is vital for a successful presidency.
Even though not a single vote has been cast in a Republican primary or caucus, it looks like Ted Cruz, Donald Trump or Marco Rubio will get the nomination. Two are first term senators and one has never held political office. Many seem to think that little or no experience is required to be successful in the world’s most important and demanding job. I believe three highly qualified men are being overlooked. They are:
Jeb Bush – Bush has been governor of one of our largest states for two terms. He pursued many new policies while in power. Many suggested that his brother did not have the gravitas needed for the job, but nobody is making that charge against Jeb. He may not be able to come up with snappy remarks in a debate, but that is a skill of little use to someone living in the White House. Conservatives don’t care for him but he is with them most of the time. Many object to his last name. In this country, people should be judge for themselves, not their family.
Chris Christie – Christie has been a two term governor in a Democratic state. He has shown the ability to negotiate with a Democratic legislature (something that could come in handy next year). He is conservative on fiscal issues. He is combative but not in a mean way like Trump. He also has experience as a US Attorney. Some may object to his girth but that shouldn’t be a factor. He would be a strong candidate.
John Kasich – He is the most experienced candidate in the field serving 18 years in Congress and two terms as Ohio governor. He won reelection by almost two to one and would certainly deliver that key state to the GOP. His positions are solidly conservative. He may not generate the “buzz” of the front-runners but he should be considered.
Time will tell but it is possible that one or two of these guys might generate the serious attention they deserve.
Hillary Clinton has the best chance of anyone of being our next president. She has only one challenger while several Republicans are in the running. If so, she would be our first female president. Her gender shouldn’t make any difference in whether people vote for or against her.
She certainly has considerable experience. Few candidates have ever had the close-up view of an administration as her. She has served in her own right as a senator and secretary of state. She has had plenty of opportunity to demonstrate her leadership skills. She would be more effective if she had some of her husband’s easy charm. She is far more of a pragmatist than Bernie Sanders.
My primary concern relates to character. The Clintons seem to feel they are exempt from the rules that apply to the rest of us. Any ex-president is bound to become fairly wealthy but the two of them ran around the world grabbing every loose dollar they could. She may not have been involved, but those close to her brought in millions to the Clinton Foundation from foreign governments while she was Secretary of State. The biggest ethical lapse was her decision to flout the rules and set up her own server. There are countless examples of her sending classified information on that server. She has told a number of lies while trying to explain herself.
We rarely have the perfect candidate available to us. This is certainly the case Democrats face this time. The choice comes down to someone who is competent but untrustworthy or someone who is incompetent but trustworthy. We are in difficult times so I feel Democrats should go for competence and pick Hillary Clinton.
As an Independent, I don’t participate in primaries. I have to decide among the choices I am given. In choosing a president I focus on experience, leadership skills, temperament for the job and character in addition to ideology. Today I will look at Bernie Sanders.
He has held elective office for 35 years. Serving in Congress certain exposes a person to federal issues. I prefer someone with administrative experience as well. He was mayor of Burlington, Vermont in the 1980’s. That’s not what I had in mind but it’s better than nothing. When I speak of character, I am referring to political character not personal character. I have heard of nothing that would cause me concern.
However, I have serious reservations about him. He has an ideology that is way out of the mainstream. In a nutshell, he wants a cradle to grave utopia while simultaneously doing everything he can to destroy the people that he wants to pay for it. He is totally inflexible and is constantly ranting and raving. He has neither the temperament nor ability to lead. I am concerned about his age but don’t know enough about his health or vitality to determine if he is up for the job.
If you are looking for someone to shout at street corners, Bernie’s your guy. If you are looking for a president, I suggest you look elsewhere.
Next time I will take a look at Hillary Clinton.
No, this is not a Trump-style rant against illegal immigrants. Nor is it about some cheesy sci-fi movie. It’s about a real invasion; of plants, animals and even viruses. Examples abound. The Everglades is overrun with pythons. Asian carp are a serious problem in the Mississippi River basin. The emerald ash borer is devastating our ashes. West Nile virus has killed over a thousand Americans. I could go on and on.
Sometimes the invasions are accidental. The zebra mussel came over in a ship’s ballast. Ornamental plants and exotic pets escape into the wild. Sometimes it is deliberate, though misguided. Kudzu was introduced as an ornamental plant, erosion preventer and cattle food. Now it’s known as the plant that ate the South. An organization known as the American Acclimatazion Society gave us the startling, allegedly because Shakespeare mentioned it.
Enormous resources are devoted to fighting these pests. Much of this effort requires large organizations. However, there is still much we can do. Get rid of invasive ornamentals. Clean boots before entering a sensitive area. If camping, don’t bring firewood from the outside. Volunteer to help eradication efforts at a nearby nature preserve.
This doesn’t generate the headlines like discussions on immigration or generate the buzz of a new sci-fi movie but it is a serious issue that deserves our attention.