As a snow storm moves in on New Hampshire in the hours before the primary, with your correspondent having to brush up on his seriously rusty snow-driving skills (which way do you turn on a skid again?), the local airwaves are filled with chortling Republican governors having the political equivalent of orgasms over Marco Rubio’s miscues at the debate the other night.
Those orgasms may be, ahem, premature.
At least you would have thought so if, as I did, you attended yesterday’s Rubio Super Bowl party, which was so over-subscribed they had to change venues to a cavernous Manchester sports arena. Everything was ad hoc — the usual sodas, mediocre pizzas and Super Bowl cakes with Broncos and Panthers icing, etc. rushed in to accommodate the large crowd.
A number of media heavies were there, including my favorite electoral analyst, Michael Barone, who told me he was as clueless as the rest of us in this wildly unpredictable year.
Rubio gave a football-infused version of his stump speech and then departed to watch the Super Bowl with his boys (more on that in a later post). At that point many of us departed the scene as well to places like JD’s Tavern, where alcohol was available.
What was more interesting were Rush Limbaugh’s comments about the debate, which I heard while driving through heavy snow to a Trump event in Londonberry, a form of multi-tasking I don’t recommend. Rush pointed out how Republican primary voters may have been more interested in what Rubio was saying than that he repeated it multiple times — to wit, that Obama was not inexperienced, but was indeed getting precisely what he wanted, the radical overhaul of America.
As James Carville might have put it (were he on the right) — it’s the ideology, stupid.
Now Rush acknowledged Rubio stumbled but he questioned why the governors did not agree with his assertion. So do I. Even Trump calls Obama incompetent. No, he’s not. He’s plenty competent — look around. It’s not the same America it was seven years ago and that was exactly the president’s intention.
The reason these governors — Bush, Kasich and Christie — demurred is that they have more or less cooperated with Obama’s system, particularly Christie who posed with the president in the midst of an election. Which side was he on, anyway? That was the same Christie whom I recall making an abysmal, self-referential speech at the last Republican convention that barely mentioned candidate Mitt Romney. He’s not much of a team player and veers to the slimy. Egomania is endemic to presidential candidates, but he has one of the purest cases. Still, I’d vote for him if I had to. The situation is that bad.
Cruz and Fiorina are the only other candidates, besides Rubio, who have made full-throated criticism of the direction Obama has taken the country. The others ought to think about it, especially Trump who may already be an unstoppable front runner before he has won even one primary.
This is especially true with the scary popularity of Bernie Sanders. He will be far more difficult to beat in a general election than Hillary Clinton, who can easily be tarnished as corrupt if she isn’t under indictment already. The Republican candidates should get off the “I can beat Hillary !” rhetoric. It already sounds passé. On the ground here in NH, it’s hard to find a Hillary voter, except for Madeleine Albright who sounds as if she’s giving an angry feminist speech at Wellesley circa 1971. (Although I have to admit, “burning bras” makes some sense in New Hampshire. At least, they would warm you up.) And there’s Bill running around the state, looking and sounding years older than Sanders, although he’s younger.
Instead, with Bernie looming, the Republicans should be studying up on socialism (Hayek, anyone?), so they can explain to an ignorant public why it doesn’t work. If they don’t, we could all be in a heap of trouble.