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Election Day is Only 281 Days Away

January 31, 2016

“Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day;
Monday, Monday, it just turns out that way.
Oh, Monday, Monday, won’t go away;
Monday, Monday, it’s here to stay.
Oh Monday, Monday
Oh Monday, Monday”

– Mamas and Papas

If you’re one who’s afflicted with Sunday night anxieties, perhaps today is particularly rough. Eleven Republicans and three Democrats are making final pushes in Iowa before that state opens its caucus voting tomorrow night.

In 2012, roughly twenty percent of registered Republicans participated in the caucuses. They gave Rick Santorum a narrow victory. In 2008, they favored Mike Huckabee, again with about twenty percent of the party’s voters bothering to get involved. The last time the Democrats held a primary there, when Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton, forty percent of the party came out to vote. The country does its best to place a lot of importance on the opinions of people from Iowa. Tomorrow will be no exception. It doesn’t make sense to me, but I’ve stopped waiting for the call asking for my input.

There are a lot of polls out there. We’re conditioned to believe them. The latest show Donald Trump with a sizable lead over the other Republicans and Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in a virtual tie.

I watch or listen to as many of the debates as I can. I listen carefully to the words. I caught last Thursday’s debate on the radio. Here’s my summary report.

Jeb Bush

In the 1980’s, when George H.W. Bush was the Vice President, I worked with a guy who grew up in social circles that crossed into the Northeast prep schools. He spent some time with Bush’s kids and told me they behaved in wild ways that you might not have guessed. Years later of course, with their decades in wide view of the public,we’ve had the opportunity to know more about them ourselves. One of the stories we hear about Jeb! is that he was a bully when he was a legacy kid at the country’s oldest and one of its most elite prep schools. He doesn’t like to be remembered by his classmates this way, but he does acknowledge that he “was a cynical little turd at a cynical little school.”

Less than a year ago, Jeb! was the guy to beat. He was the clear front-runner with the money, tail winds and all the advantages afforded to a son of a President. He was the legacy kid just waiting out the formalities of the election. But he hasn’t been able to inspire the voters, with or without his exclamation point. One of the funny things about this guy is that he can’t seem to hold himself out as “presidential” for a full debate. Even with his prime tormentor off the stage Thursday, Bush reached back to his inner prep school kid to taunt Trump.

I kind of miss Donald Trump. He was a little teddy bear to me. We always had such a loving relationship in these debates and in between and the tweets. I kind of miss him. I wish he was here.


Given the state of his party, Bush tried to convince Iowa voters that he is the person he said he was when he ran for office in Florida, a “head-banging conservative” who will “club government into submission.”

Ben Carson

How is Ben Carson still around? It’s astounding. We’ve learned long ago that this former highly talented surgeon was no sooner fit to transition to the White House as he was ready to play point guard for your favorite NBA team. It’s just not feasible.

Carson likes to use the phrase “you know” to convince us that he knows what he’s talking about. He used it eight times Thursday. Let’s move on, already.


All a bunch of gobbledygook from Carson Thursday preceded by the phrase, “you know.”

Chris Christie

Chris Christie wants us to vote for him, the Toughest of the Tough Guys. He’s honed the hard-nosed reputation for years in New Jersey, where he hired a professional social media and public relations team with New Jersey taxpayers’ money. One of their specialties is YouTube; they’ve published hundreds of carefully spliced and well-produced videos highlighting his “direct talk.” They accentuate all the attributes he’s now trying to impress upon national voters. It’s textbook political positioning paid for by the people in New Jersey.


Christie likes to rant about Hillary Clinton. Thursday, Christie promised that he wouldn’t let her get “within ten miles of the White House.” The problem is, she owns a house just a short distance from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Ted Cruz 

Once again, it was Ted Cruz v. the world Thursday night. The man carries a chip on his shoulder every which way he looks. His sour personality, aggressive vindictiveness and pious comments make him an insufferable person who’s already wore thin. Just imagine four years of this guy in the White House. He’s a serial liar too. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism site, Politifact, says that only 17% of his statements are true or mostly true. Thursday, when the topic turned to immigration, even his fellow U.S. Senators on the stage, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, questioned his veracity. I listen carefully, but don’t find much reason to believe in this guy. I don’t even agree with his notion of “charming.”

You know, I like Marco. He’s very charming. He’s very smooth.


To some of those who know him best, Ted Cruz has created a reputation as a lar for himself; someone who will say anything to be elected. He did nothing Thursday to dissuade them of their beliefs.

John Kasich

Poor John Kasich. He’s thirty years behind and his party doesn’t listen to guys like him anymore. When most of the loudest voices in his party spew hate and spawn despair, he’s a guy who seems to stay on the issues. The media doesn’t like to cover him much, which is too bad, because he seems to be a capable person with the experience to actually get things done.

But all of this has to come together when we have a positive attitude, an optimistic approach, an ability for us to set the tune as conservatives, to invite other people in to be part of that orchestra. You see, ladies and gentlemen, at the end of the day, I’m an optimist. Because I’ve seen so many things get accomplished in my lifetime. And we can do it again together, all of us, to strengthen this country, work together.


John Kasich’s definitions of “people” and “together” are broader than those of most of the other candidates.

Rand Paul

Rand Paul likes to stay with the issues. These debate formats really don’t serve him well. Thursday, he had defend himself against Ted Cruz for the “liberty vote” that his father courted for many years. What an interesting topic, if only there was time for it. If I was a media mogul, perhaps I’d hold a panel discussion (not a debate) with the candidates on liberty and what it means in a troubled and interconnected world. I don’t agree with some of the places Paul’s logic ends up, but it’s interesting how his party has shunned him.

When we look at this bulk collection, the court has looked at this. Even the court declared it to be illegal. If we want to collect the records of terrorists, let’s do it the old fashioned way. Let’s use the Fourth Amendment. Let’s put a name on a warrant, let’s ask a judge for it. Let’s respect the history of our country. John Adams said that we fought a War for Independence because we wanted to fight against generalized warrants.


On Thursday, Rand Paul once again seemed to be out of step with his party on many issues – incarceration, drug laws, civil rights, foreign policy.

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio’s entire pitch centers around his disdain for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, his pious devotion to his religion, his insistence that the country’s intelligence agencies should be unleashed from boundaries of the U.S. Constitution and that only he can save the most powerful military in the history of mankind from becoming irrelevant. This guy runs the siren at full blare any time the cameras are running.

The Bible commands us to let our light shine on the world. For over 200 years, America’s light has been shining on the world and the world has never been the same again. But now, that light is dimming a little, after seven years of Barack Obama. And that’s why Monday night, what will happen here in Iowa is so important.


There’s nothing charming about Rubio or the things that he said Thursday.


See you on the other side of Monday.

  1. Bruce, I love your profiles and word pictures 🙂 They clip away the useless noise in the media.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Rosaliene, I only wish the word clouds could present the emotion and delivery that came with the candidates’ words. Sometimes, the presentation was just as unattractive as the words and intent.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This post is spot on — what a pack of spoiled rich kids who want to be top dog.


  3. I’ve struggled to listen to Rubio over the course of the debates because he talks so ridiculously fast and only talks in buzz phrases and scripted lines. Which became all the more apparent in this last debate. As near as I can tell, he believes the way to deal with illegal immigration, ISIS, and just about every other issue is that people need to be locked up in Guatanamo and tortured. But Jesus Christ is his Savior. He wants so desperately to be taken seriously and believed in and he comes across so horribly as a result.

    As for Cruz — it’s amazing what keeps coming out about him and his tactics. (1) he claimed at a campaign event that as a result of Obamacare he lost his health insurance. Only problem is that he didn’t. His provider switched him from a PPO to an HMO. His campaign blamed the mistake on Cruz not reading the letter in which his provider notified him of the switch. Yes, this is somebody I want as President. (2) His campaign sent out a mailer to Iowans with their voting history on it and that of their neighbors with purported “grades” for their election participation. The mailer also suggests that failure to vote would be a violation of the law. So, he sends out a mailer sharing people’s voting histories with their neighbors without their permission and falsely suggesting that failure to vote is a violation and his response: that he owes no apology for using every tool at his disposal to win. Think about that response for a moment. (3) he has stated that if nominated he will be the first Republican nominee since 1980 to be a true Reaganite. He makes this claim based on the construct that none of the other nominees supported Reagan in the 1980 primary. The only problem is … well, the nominee in 88 and 92 was George H.W., who did run against Reagan in 1980, but then served as his VP for eight years. Kind of hard to question his loyalty to Reagan. Then there was Bob Dole, who was the 96 nominee and who, yes, ran against Reagan in the 1980 primary. Hard to say that Dole didn’t do anything other than support Reagan during his presidency. Then there’s George W. — kind of hard to hold it against him since his father was running against Reagan in the 1980 primary. Which brings us to McCain, who was still in the Navy in 1980 and as a result was prohibited from any public participation in elections, but who ran for Congress in 1982 as a staunch supporter of Reagan. Romney — who knows what he was doing in 1980. We do, however, know what Cruz was doing — not voting in the primary since he was only about ten years old at the time. All of which just leaves me kind of gobsmacked that this man is anywhere near the lead.

    Of course, even more gobsmacking is the idea that Trump is not just near the lead but in the lead. But maybe not, given the quality of the competition why wouldn’t Republicans decide to go completely and totally off the rails.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting to read your take. I agree it’s too bad more people aren’t paying attention to Kasich. But I guess he’s not sexiest enough since he doesn’t mud sling and say outrageous things to keep the camera on him. I’ll be happy when the Iowa caucus is over. Still lots ahead but at least the first step will be done.


    • Carrie – There’s no love for your gov. out in Iowa. The R’s seem to be teasing him in New Hampshire, however. All the talkers say he “needs” a good outcome in NH. Of course, they seem to have a way of involving themselves in the outcomes with the allocation of their attention.


      • He’s putting all his eggs in NH. Will be interesting to see how he does there. I agree Iowa doesn’t look good for him.


  5. I should add … I’ll never understand how anybody could have imagined Ben Carson belonged in a Presidential campaign and I unwillingly find myself drawn to many of the things Rand Paul has to say.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow … you’ve watch all the debates? I’m at the other end as I’ve watched on … (and oddly enough, I like keeping up with politics). My governor (Kasich) is trying to be the grown-up in the room, but he’s getting overshadowed by various factors. Will be interesting to see what he does in NH. I won’t be surprised if he is the VP pick.

    Meanwhile, I personally can’t stand the fact that he’s still the governor while campaigning on the national stage. (Yes, I feel the same about Sanders, Christie, Rubio, and anyone I left out). I say resign first, then campaign all you want.


    • Aww, you’re no fun. It’s a time honored tradition. What, do you expect Christie to grab a shovel and help with the winter storms in New Jersey, when all the voters are in New Hampshire? I really don’t know much about your gov, but I’d suggest that it’s his American duty to somehow cut off the trouble at the top of the R list right now. If that means he has to leave Ohio, so be it. Maybe he can use Christie’s travel voucher.


      • I may suggest a Constitutional amendment for a future ballot for any future Ohioan wanting to run. My 2016 debate record is still perfect … and I have no plans to watch the next one by the Dems.


  7. kdk permalink

    The odd lot of candidates in 2016 makes for colorful debates and cable coverage, though it’s disconcerting how much actually rides on the outcome of all of this. It’s interesting how unfocused some of the candidates are in their messaging as evidenced by the word clouds – too much time defending against the mud-slinging and not enough time spent distinguishing themselves on the issues. I’m holding out hope for the chance to watch a brokered convention next summer. That would be “do not miss” TV.


    • Hi kdk,

      Well, that “can’t miss TV” can’t have a good ending. We may need one of those fancy “user-generated” alternative ending features to find an encouraging outcome. Something, somebody not now in the mix, entering the mix.


  8. Well Done. I’m particularly grateful you left “The Celebrity Apprentice” out of the conversation. But you’ve nailed Cruz and Rubio to a tee. And I feel for Mr. Kasich a bit…but just a bit. The guy has shown a modicum of compassion for all of God’s children. Which of course means he’s toast mixing it up with this crowd. But the best thing to remember is that IT IS just Iowa. A state with less than 1% of the US population and as least diverse as they could possibly come. So we can get ready to turn that page…and look forward to the next most AND least important, all white state…New Hampshire. How did we get into this mess?…


  9. PS – You might like my FB post on the madness that is Iowa from this past Friday… 🙂


  10. Thanks for the synopses and profiles. You have a strong stomach to watch the debates! I really want them all to go away. Our governor, Christie, actually has gone away (from the state), but unfortunately, he keeps showing up in sound bites everywhere. 🙂


    • Merril – It seems you’ll have your gov back soon. I can’t see this lasting all that much longer. Who knows, maybe a turn of events will keep him out and about. I just don’t see the appeal and have trouble seeing how he just won’t wear thin the longer he keeps the campaign.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. i very much liked this one, a great summation of the candidates… on the Republican side. What do you think of the Democrats? Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley? I’m tired already and we still have all these months to go!



    • It’s so, so long. It’d be so much easier to bear if we could have a few more “inside voice” conversations about the issues. Drop the platitudes and blathering to tell us something with more detail and substance.


  12. Interesting profiles and take on the debate, Bruce. I always enjoy your analysis.


  13. As always, you educate me with your analysis of the candidates. I smiled and grimaced as I read each one, because they’re so spot on. It’s disheartening. Now the New Hampshire primary is over. Can’t wait to hear your take on that one. Let me repeat-it’s disheartening.


  14. Bruce, I’m 2 weeks late in getting to this post, and of course, we know the results of not only Iowa, but New Hampshire.
    Please offer me some reassurance that the occupant of the White House will not be Cruz, Trump, or Rubio.


    • Hi Laurie – I need to ask you for those same reassurances. These things are too hard to call these days. Such an unsettling state of affairs.

      Liked by 1 person

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