Circus Maximus MMXVI

18 03 2015

We have a winner!

As previously mentioned, “Bread and Circuses 2016” was in the lead as the theme name for the upcoming ongoing presidential campaign, but when I came across this phrase, I thought Yessss.

To inaugurate this chariot race, let’s (re) consider the contenders:

Republicans, short- to long-shots:
Jeb Bush
Scott Walker
.
.
Chris Christie
Marco Rubio
.
.
Legit politician, could affect debates/win a state or two, no chance:
Ted Cruz
Lindsay Graham
Mike Huckabee*
John Kasich
Rand Paul
Rick Perry
Rick Santorum*

The entertainment:
John Bolton
Ben Carson
Carly Fiorina
Bobby Jindal

Update: *Included in “legit” category only because have actually held office and have chance of affecting the chances of other candidates; otherwise would, like Jindal, be slotted as “entertainment”.

Democrats:
Hillary Clinton
.
.
.
.
.
Joe Biden
.
.
.
Martin O’Malley
Bernie Sanders
Jim Webb

Do note that this list is near-completely impressionistic, i.e., I did no additional work beyond the mostly-casual reading I’ve been doing of the race thus far. Jonathan Bernstein is a clear influence (even if I don’t always agree with him) in terms of the significance of the invisible primary, and I did look at Larry Sabato’s list in compiling this one—although, again, I don’t necessarily follow his line.

Look to the “Know Yer Politics” links to the right for more-than-just-horse (chariot?)-race coverage. In the meantime, get your togas cleaned and your sandals resoled: it’s gonna be loooong 20 months.

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Welcome to the terrordome, 2016

10 11 2014

D’ya like that as a theme? Too much?

I’ma play around with themes for a bit before I settle on one for the Long March.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Now that the midterms have ended,  it is officially Not Too Early to discuss the presidential election—so let the games begin.

They have, pace Jonathan Bernstein and the “invisible primary”, already begun: prospective candidates have already been sussing out talent and numbers and lining up the money folks like a bank of ATMs. Absent such resources they will be relegated to either to sentimental/puzzling sincere long-shot (Buddy Roemer, Dennis Kucinich) or clown-candidate status (Herman Cain, Donald Trump)—the latter of which at least helps plump future revenue streams.

In any case, let’s consider who on on each team is maybe-possibly assembling to beat each other bloody before reaching center ring:

Republicans: Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan

This site lists many more, but I don’t think Nikki Haley or Susannah Martinez will run—no resources—but could end up on VP lists.

The Half-Guv deserves no comment.

Whatever you think of this bunch, you can at least see it is a bunch, and thus likely to create the kind of conflict and bloodletting that makes primary politics such a delight.

(As a side note, I generally hate cringe-comedy—I cringe too much to enjoy it—but I do loves me some cringe-politics, especially when it’s the other side creating the cringe.)

Democrats: Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders, Brian Schweitzer

Again, there are more possibilities, but what is so notable about this bunch is that they are not, in fact, a bunch. Barely even a handful.

This is bad.

It is true that most folks don’t pay attention to primaries, but I think they serve to prepare the candidates, and the candidates’ operations, for the main card fight: primaries are where weaknesses are exposed, where one learns how well a candidate can take a hit and how well s/he recovers, as well as how well they can hit.

In addition to get-out-the-vote and money-raising and message-honing and all that, course. And good  candidates can bring in fresh volunteers who, after their preferred candidate does lose, nonetheless may stick around to help the nominee.

That’s party-building 101.

So, yes, I want more contenders because I’m not enthused about Hillary Clinton, but also because I think the fight would do the eventual nominee (which may very well be her), and the party, good.

Thus, while Democrats try to rustle up some contenders for the White House, I’ll do my part and try to rustle up some lyrics for blogging about that contention.





Across the river to the Jersey side

5 02 2014

I’m still unwilling to weigh in in any sustained manner on the 2016 presidential race—let’s get thru the midterm elections first, shall we?—but I’m not not paying any attention whatsoever.

We’re at the stage that Jonathan Bernstein calls the “invisible primary”, when all of the action is behind-the-scenes and limited to a comparatively few people: potential candidates, fundraisers, high-level organizers and would-be staffers. If you’re not one of those folks, and if you’re not a political scientist, there’s no reason other than sheer cussedness (or masochism) to pay attention now.

Still, things do pop up. Or just plain ‘pop’.

I’m talking, of course, about Chris Christie.

I didn’t/don’t take him seriously as a 2016 candidate because I’m not taking anyone seriously: I’m not a part of the invisible primary and while I am a political scientist, American politics ain’t my field. Still, I’m not willing to poke out my eyes, so I have noticed one or two items about his possible candidacy.

I know some Dems were/are worried about him, but I think they were/are foolish to do so. It’s not that he wouldn’t be (or wouldn’t have been) a strong general-election candidate, but that the main work of shredding him would be performed by his fellow Republicans.

Yes, any decent Dem is going to do all of the opposition research and analysis, but chances are any dirt would be dug by the GOP, specifically, those who would run against Christie in the primary. Ted Cruz would be the one to ferret out corruption and Rand Paul would bring up issues of government spending; Rick Perry would talk about the difficulties of doing business in the Garden State and Scott Walker would hit him on union issues. And Rick Santorum. . . , well, christ, he’d do his Rick Santorum thing.

Could Christie make it through that gantlet?

I don’t know. It’s possible—primary voters have to pick the best available candidate, not the theoretically-best candidate—and it’s not as if Christie’s skills have suddenly disappeared. But his weaknesses have become manifest, and magnified, since the bridge scandal broke, and it’s not at all clear that his skills will be enough to overcome those problems.

Especially if his fellow Republicans insist upon drawing attention to those problems.

In the meantime, Christie’s problems shouldn’t matter to you if you’re not a) a New Jersey resident; b) an invisible-primary actor; c) a political scientist; or d) cussed and/or a masochist.

We now resume our regular programming.