Well, the Iowa caucuses are over and now we can all go back to confusing Iowa with Idaho and Ohio for the next four years. I'm grateful to Iowa for how this all turned out, but it will be nice to get a reprieve from politicians pretending to care about the state. Now they can move on to pretending to care about New Hampshire, then South Carolina, then Nevada for a few minutes. As a Maryland resident -- considering our primary isn't until late April, when the nomination is already decided -- politicians never pretend to care about me. And I couldn't be happier about that.
Anyway, a few thoughts on the race after last night:
1. Ted Cruz won in impressive fashion. Not only did he beat Donald Trump by 4 points, but he outperformed the polls by 5 points and won more votes in the Iowa caucus than any GOP candidate ever. Everyone thought Trump was energizing the GOP base, but it turns out the folks in Iowa were much more excited about Cruz. This is particularly impressive when you consider the fact that Cruz is running as a small government, issues-oriented conservative. For God's sake, he vigorously opposed ethanol subsidies in Iowa and still won -- not only that, he won Iowa's heaviest corn-producing counties. In an election cycle dominated by a pandering, big-government circus clown, Cruz stayed boring, stayed on message, and managed the most massive Republican win in the history of the state.
Supporters cheer as returns are reported at Sen. Ted Cruz's caucus night rally. (AP/Chris Carlson)
What does that tell us? Well, as pessimistic as I tend to be, it tells us there may be reason for optimism. Whether you support Cruz or not, you should be encouraged that someone like Cruz can win so handily, even while the media does everything in its power to hand the election to the guy from "The Apprentice." Whatever else you might say about him, Cruz is radically conservative -- he's "so extreme," as Viagra pitchman Bob Dole put it -- and he runs on his ideas and his principles, not his personality.
As for his personality, I admit it leaves plenty to be desired. It's even kind of off-putting at times. He has no style. He's not much of a charmer. He tells bad jokes. He has a weird face. He's not entertaining at all. He's not the type of dude you'd necessarily want to get a beer with. I bet he'd order a Stella Artois and spend the whole time giving his list of the most outrageous 20th century Supreme Court decisions, which I actually think would be pretty interesting, but I'm guessing a lot of people would find it lame and head over to the other end of the bar where Chris Christie is shotgunning Miller Lite.
The point is, the people who support Cruz support him because they like his ideas, they think he's competent, and they trust him to stick to his principles once he's in office. You might think there's someone in the race who better fits this bill (Rand Paul at least equals Cruz in this regard, but unfortunately he's not going to win), but you should still be happy that so many GOP voters are voting based on the right things and for the right reasons. It would be a sign of national health if a wonkish nerd with no swag won the presidency.
Cruz is a long way from winning, but last night was a good start for anyone who values substance over style.
2. This should be the end of Trump's campaign. It won't be, sadly, but it should because Trump's one single solitary selling point was just destroyed. As we've covered ad nauseum, Trump is not a conservative, he has no principles, he has no integrity, he has no moral courage, and he lacks the judgment and wisdom to govern this country at such a volatile time, or at any time. But, up until now, he was a winner. He wins. He makes deals. He wins. He always wins. He never loses. He should win because he wins, we were told. That was always bunk considering the great "winner" bankrupted four businesses, destroyed two marriages, and failed spectacularly in many other ventures, sometimes so badly that he's being investigated for fraud. But that was all in the past, and now after a lifetime of failures, he'd been reborn a perpetual winner. And winners win. Until last night.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump smiles as he speaks during a campaign event at the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux City, Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Sure, the race isn't over, but think about it: Trump lost to Cruz and almost lost to Rubio despite being a billionaire celebrity who'd gotten more media coverage than every other candidate in the history of the party combined; and despite ringing endorsements from supposed conservative "stars" like Sarah Palin; and despite the desperate shilling done on his behalf by the likes of conservative media powerhouses like Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, Breitbart.com, and a variety of ridiculous personalities on Fox News.
The media has spent this whole race talking about Trump's "shocking" political success, but, first of all, he hasn't had any actual success yet. Second, it's not shocking. He has all the attention, all the money, all the name recognition, and the enthusiastic or tacit endorsements of a bevy of conservative influencers. Give an illiterate ex-con meth addict a few billion dollars and 8,000 hours of non-stop media coverage and I bet even he could lead the polls for a while.
That's not winning, that's just accepting a gift you've been handed. When it came time to actually win, he lost. Maybe he'll win New Hampshire next, but we've all now seen that the King bleeds. That's a problem for a guy whose entire platform is that he doesn't.
One other thing: now that we've reached Big Boy time in this election cycle, maybe the media might consider asking Trump big boy questions. Instead of letting him dictate the news cycle, maybe ask him for his specific policy ideas, and don't let him get away with his patented "well, we'll get smart people to come in and take care of that" answer. Just a thought, media.
3. Speaking of losers, the Democrat race is supposedly still locked in a tie. Hillary Clinton and Bernies Sanders both took 50 percent, with Martin O'Malley earning the support of his mother and two of his cousins (his dad said he's really more of a Sanders guy). I say "supposedly" because I have no doubt that Clinton and her minions will do, and have done, whatever they can to steal this win. Six precincts came down to a coin flip (which is a thing in Democrat elections, apparently), and Clinton won all six of them. These kinds of "coincidences" have been happening to the Clintons for 30 years. They must be very lucky.
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Whatever ultimately happens there, it won't matter. Clinton is the loser even if she's the winner. Clinton, the presumptive nominee with the support of the Democrat establishment, who's been in the spotlight for decades, is once again getting taken to the mat by a no-name socialist. And this time the socialist is old and white and he smells like shoes (at least that's what I've heard). The takeaway here -- and I've been saying this for about eight years -- is that Clinton is simply a horrible candidate. She has no ideas, no principles, no integrity, and unlike her husband, she's unable to pretend otherwise. Teams of experts have tried to teach her how to emulate human emotion, but after three decades she still hasn't mastered it.
Clinton is weak, easily beaten, and impossible to like on any level. I think that was proven in 2008, but it's only reinforced by the fact that she was tied by a 119-year-old socialist eccentric in Iowa. It's not that Bernie is such a compelling candidate, it's that he's running against one of the worst candidates in the history of American politics. And it certainly hasn't hurt Bernie that his historically abysmal competitor is also a proven felon who committed a series of crimes that would have put literally any other person in prison. Obviously, integrity is not a priority of Democrat voters (see: every Democrat elected official in the last 50 years), but it seems we haven't yet gotten to the point where being a criminal actually helps you in a Democrat primary.
4. I won't, however, celebrate the continued public humiliation of Hillary Clinton until, and if, a Republican president not named Donald Trump is elected president. If Hillary's all around awfulness makes Sanders the nominee, and if Sanders somehow wins (which I think he will if he's running against the reality TV show character) then we won't have any reason to cheer. Hillary and Bernie are both terrible and would, to equal degrees, be disasters for this country. Bernie isn't a crook and a morally bankrupt cretin like Hillary, but he is a rabid progressive radical who, if elected, would irreversibly complete Barack Obama's fundamental transformation of America. Bernie's ideas are equal parts insane, childish, silly, and dangerous. Worst of all, incredibly, he actually seems to believe them. He would be a catastrophe, and it could be said without exaggeration that America will be officially dead the moment it decides to elect an avowed socialist as president.
(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
Hillary isn't a left wing ideologue. I don't think she believes in anything or cares about anything. She would govern less as a liberal and more as a vindictive tyrant -- which is effectively the same as governing as a liberal, I guess. Hillary is a spiteful, deceitful, power hungry Medusa, and her reign would be one of corruption and destruction. A Hillary presidency would be cataclysmic, and so would a Bernie presidency. Citizens who love America have no dog in the Democrat fight. Indeed, citizens who love America stopped voting Democrat a long time ago.
5. That said, without the Hillary campaign the world never would have been given Sticker Boy. He made 30 years of Clintonian lawlessness and malfeasance almost worth it.
6. Ben Carson -- who took a break from campaigning to fly back to Florida for fresh clothes, because there aren't any washing machines or Targets in Iowa -- now claims that other campaigns played dirty tricks by telling caucus goers he was dropping out of the race. I don't know if this is true, and if it is the other campaigns should be ashamed. But it is true that Carson should drop out. He came in a distant, non-competitive fourth in Iowa. He'll be trounced in New Hampshire. He has no chance in South Carolina. He can't win. He won't win. He has no path to winning. And, really, he shouldn't win. The only function he serves at this point is siphoning votes from Marco Rubio and Cruz and elevating Trump. Indeed, if Carson had dropped out before the race, Trump most likely would have come in an embarrassing and utterly delightful third.
I understand it's hard to let go after you've put in all this work, but for the good of the country, the campaigns with no way to victory need to get out. And if they don't get out, voters should punish them by refusing to support them. I think it's a great thing for any citizen to serve his nation by running for political office, but it reaches a point where this "service" starts to look an awful lot like a vanity project or a ploy to sell books and increase the visibility of his brand. In most elections, I wouldn't have much of a problem with that. But it so happens that in this election, the six or seven no-shots are actively and willfully keeping Donald Trump at the front of the pack in the polls. Soon, Trump may start winning states because of them.
About a month ago, the polls said Trump was the second choice of only 14 percent of the GOP electorate. I think the number is quite a bit smaller than that. Trump is a very particular candidate who appeals to a very particular group of people (such as Nazis), and he's already had his chance to make his pitch many times over. Everyone knows who he is, they know what he's about, and they know if they like him or not. And most don't like him. His unfavorable numbers are astronomically high.
So whoever is going to support Trump probably already is. The sane ones can't stand him. That means almost all of the supporters of the no-shots would go to Cruz or Rubio instead of Trump, which, if the no-shots drop out quickly and collectively, could plummet Trump from front runner to a veritable no-shot himself. That would, obviously, be the best thing for this nation, for freedom, for the Constitution, and for our children. It is now the moral responsibility of fringe candidates to leave the race.
If they choose not to, they will be making a statement. And it's a statement the rest of us will never forget.
7. If this race comes down to Cruz and Rubio, that would be a very good thing for conservatives. In a different, better universe, it would be Cruz v. Rubio v. Paul, but much to the shame of the conservative base, Paul never gained traction. I admire him greatly, I think he's a brilliant, authentic, liberty-loving man, but he will not win. I hope he leaves with grace and continues to fight the good fight in the Senate. And if he decides to endorse someone else in the race, his recommendation will weigh heavily on my own decision when my irrelevant primary happens in two months. He's a true conservative and he knows both Rubio and Cruz very well. I'm not saying I'll vote for whoever he endorses, but his endorsement would be meaningful to me, and, I think, to a lot of other people in my generation.
Feature Image: Getty Images
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