When people assert that “President so-and-so seems like a good guy” I always respond “If he were a good guy he would be a laborer or doctor or soldier, instead he went to law school and decided to enter politics.”
The odds of anyone who chooses to stand in front of a TV camera and tell lies for a living being “a good guy” is vanishingly small. I’m sure there are exceptions, but the burden is on them to prove it.
I have spent at least some time with most of the candidates, and what Perry, Paul, Fiorina, and Rubio really lack isn’t an issue or a slogan or a strategy — it’s that terrifying, insane glint in the eye. Some people call that passion, but it has always seemed to me closer to psychosis. Neither Rick Perry nor Carly Fiorina needs to be president; at times, Rand Paul visibly detests the dog-and-pony-show element of politics. Marco Rubio may harbor a deep desire for the White House, but he is canny enough to know that 2016 is not the end for him. That unspeakable need makes for great candidates and troubled presidents: George H. W. Bush did not need to be president, and Bill Clinton needed it worse than any normal human being can imagine. Bush was a war hero, a deft statesman, and the operational heir to the Reagan legacy; Clinton was a lecherous nobody governor from a backward state without much to say for himself.
But he had the bug.
As I listened to Bobby Jindal’s mile-a-minute stream-of-consciousness scattershot invective on a conference call earlier this week, I could not help but think: This guy has the bug. Cruz has the bug, Walker has the bug, and Trump has a bug of a special carnivorous sort, a whole hive of them. Hillary Rodham Clinton has the bug so bad she married the bug in human form.
Part of me is enjoying watching the Trump rise: it is fun to watch the Republicans scramble around trying to figure out why so many Republican voters are going to that baboon and not the respectable Jeb Bush, as if Republicans like Jeb had not spent the last few years systematically insulting and lying to their core constituents.
I don’t think Trump will end up getting the nomination: many of his supporters are not registered Republicans (or even registered to vote) and I suspect he alienates as many Republicans as he attracts. Walker and Perry, the two most accomplished candidates, are running out of money and can’t find traction, as is Senator Paul, the one of the few independent thinkers among them. The primaries will be between the Trumpkins, the establishment Republicans (Kasich or Bush) and a Tea Party candidate (Cruz or Rubio). To stop Trump, the Establishment and the Tea Party are going to have to coalesce around one anti-Trump.
While the Establishment will hold its nose and support a Tea Party candidate, many in the Tea Party would rather lose the election than support the Establishment.
I’ve said all along that if the Republicans want to win, they would go with Rubio. If they want to lose with honor, Bush. If they want to govern, Walker or Perry. They apparently do not want to govern. It seems many of them, the Trumpkins and disaffected Tea Partiers, just want to watch the world burn.
Can’t really blame them.