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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Who Ya Like?

I have said that likability is one of the biggest factors in winning the presidency. In the GOP field, who do I think is likable, and how much? I'll just do as many of these I deem necessary. (If I think a candidate has zero shot in any universe, you're not going to see him or her.)

Carly Fiorina: If the GOP base decides to try to take Hillary's "history" card away, this could be the most interesting general election in our lifetimes. Likability (out of 5): 3.5. At least some of the GOP will want to know why HP was so bad while she was there. The religious conservatives might be jumpy about multiple marriages. Women don't catch those kinds of breaks. (It should be noted that I think Mrs. Clinton won't be winning anything, so Fiorina's strongest selling point may be moot.)

Jeb Bush: I think a good number of people are saying they hate dynasties, but they are liars. I'm a card-carrying Republican, but if it purports to tell us history, and says "Kennedy," I am watching. The Bushes are actually no different. I might concede much more to Bush fatigue, but for the fact that Obama has outraged conservatives of all kinds so much that we're ready to forget that Bushes always disappoint us. Likability: 4.2. No Christian voter will ever forget his defense of Terri Schiavo, and when he talks about God, it sounds legit. The Bush family is maybe the most skilled in history. You'd have to be, in order to be "establishment" in every single race, and get tons of conservative support anyway. Jeb and W's mom says Jeb is the most talented. Count him out at your peril.

Rand Paul: The son of Ron Paul, he's obviously the natural choice to carry on his father's legacy of offering a libertarian-flavored alternative. Having won a Senate seat in Kentucky, he has accomplished a greater feat electorally than did his father, a congressman. He is uniquely positioned to offer a Republican spin on racial structural injustices, and if successful, could demonstrate a way to begin making a real play for black votes. On the other hand, Paul is the focal point for the most serious rift in philosophy in the GOP: whether, while necessarily limited, government is a positive good, or a necessary evil. He's combative with the media as well, and while this can be a crowd-pleaser among Republicans, he's not likable enough to get the people on his side against the media routinely. He'll be a frontrunner in what I'm calling the "Jerk Primary," between himself, Ted Cruz, and Scott Walker. One of these guys will say, "You're right; I'm not nice. But I get things done." Likability: 2.2.

Scott Walker: Let's tell the truth: this guy doesn't come across well at all. He's the epitome of why George W. Bush put "compassionate" in front of "conservative." Scott Walker doesn't care what you think. I don't think he'll tear up any time, like Mittens did. Walker takes his attempted recall as a badge of honor. I acknowledge his accomplishments, I like his rhetoric, and I still wish he'd go away. He might be the run-away winner of the Jerk Primary. Likability: 2.0.

Ted Cruz: This guy is actually brilliant. His intellectual credentials are formidable. He went to Princeton, he's a lawyer, and he's Canadian. He's actually not that bad, if he's not running for something. The most shameless panderer I can recall not named Lindsay Graham, he said he started listening to country after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. He might be the most anti-Obama person in the field...and I don't believe a word he says. I just don't. Democrats are secretly hoping we nominate this guy, because he says absurd things routinely. Moreover, I can't shake the feeling that he thinks we're all stupid. Likability: 2.3.

 Ben Carson: This guy is the youngest Chief of Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins ever, if memory serves. Legit black American success story. I'm willing to bet his biography, Gifted Hands, is incredible. He's said some crazy things earlier, but it's so early still; it's not fatal, necessarily. I think Obama is a blessing and a curse for him: he gained prominence attacking him, but some segment of people are just tired of talking about Obama. Can he overcome the latent "benign" racism ("We're not racist! We have a black guy, too!") and more obvious forms, to win? Does he actually know anything about politics and governing? Likability: 3.8.

John Kasich: The sitting governor of Ohio, this guy came out of "retirement" to win. I don't know all that much about him...but I like him a ton. He subbed in a few times on the "O'Reilly Factor," and made it 3 times better, at least. This is my dark-horse pick to win this deal. I've heard some chatter that he's insensitive and rude in private to his fellow Republicans, but I've never seen it, obviously. Likability: 4.0.

Marco Rubio: It's like somebody stopped off at the Candidate Store on the way to the lake. I love this kid. The young guy shouldn't have all the gravitas, but he does. He beat Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida, and another Democrat, to win his Senate seat. Meanwhile, when he isn't giving soaring speeches, he's a conveyor of Reasonable Things on the Senate floor. If somehow I am wrong, and Hillary becomes the Democrats' nominee, she will have gained considerable momentum. This guy could end it in one speech, or one debate. When he announced his candidacy, the section about his parents' sacrifice choked me up. I don't even like his foreign policy, and I'll be thrilled to vote for this guy. Likability: 4.99. Maybe he's too slick, but I don't think so. Say hello to the next President of the United States. He had Jon Stewart defending him, for pete's sake!

My thoughts.


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