Jennifer Rubin

Square Zero

Presidential Hopefuls Have Already Crossed the Unofficial Starting Line

Easy enough, indeed, to criticize the HuffPo headline for the article from Steve Peoples and Ken Thomas, but we must also recall that such articles are written for the people who do not really pay attention, who might complain that Christmas marketing creeps earlier each year but apparently have no idea that several major political players have spent more of their recent time in office running for president than, well, anything else.

One set of elections ends in early November as another begins when presidential hopefuls cross the unofficial starting line in the 2016 race for the White House.

With control of the Senate at stake, the months leading up to the mid-term elections offer a clearer window on a crowd of potential presidential candidates already jockeying for position from Nevada to New Hampshire. Their cross-country touring will intensify this fall under the gaze of voters who will pick their parties’ nominees. Look for the would-be contenders to road-test rhetoric, expand coalitions, and consider their own political flaws_while keeping close watch on each other ….

…. Whichever party controls the Senate after the November 4 balloting_Republicans need a six-seat gain to win the majority_will say much about what President Barack Obama can accomplish in the final two years of his presidency and the tone of the race to succeed him.

“The end of the 2014 general election does, in a sense, commence a beginning of the presidential primary phase,” says New Hampshire Republican operative Rich Killion. “But an informal, unofficial opening to the process already is underway.”

And it’s been underway for a while, folks. No, really.

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A Benchmark … Maybe?

The Mississippi Loser

Given the unpredictability of politics, such suggestions might seem somewhat naïve; yet one might legitimately wonder if, on the Republican side of things, you know some abstract limit has been violated when Jennifer Rubin comes out swinging:

As I’ve written previously, the far right’s reaction to Sen. Thad Cochran’s defeat of their pet tea party candidate Chris McDaniel in the Republican primary for U.S. senator from Mississippi has been unhinged and at times downright racist. Even the less hysterical voices are up in arms that Cochran’s tactics were unseemly or that the “establishment” betrayed them again.

Among the “sins” Cochran is accused of is finding African American leaders to help turn out the African American vote. (The nerve!) Unearthing egregiously offensive comments McDaniel made on his radio show (no!) and skewering McDaniel for campaign gaffes on everything from Katrina relief to support for the inane shutdown (mercy me!). The attitude that the “establishment” doesn’t have to crush the poor tea party folk every time, suggests, I guess, that there needs to be a mercy rule of the inept tea party (if they lose 10 races they get a freebie?).

I mean, really. Damn.

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Even More 2016 Silliness

Timothy Noah makes an interesting point:

Given the extremism of Paul’s libertarian politics—most famously, he’s quarreled with the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s prohibition against discrimination by privately-owned businesses—one may reasonably suppose that most of the liberal and/or mainstream centrist pundits who tout Paul as a likely or even plausible presidential nominee would never dream of voting for him themselves. What they seem to overlook is that an awful lot of conservatives would never vote for him, either. Indeed, to judge from the conservative press these days, Paul’s fellow Republicans can’t stand him.

Rand PaulIt’s long been apparent that the GOP’s foreign-policy hawks don’t like Paul, a foreign-policy dove who attracted much attention in March for waging a 13-hour “talking” filibuster over U.S. drone policy. Arizona Sen. John McCain has called Paul a “wacko bird.” (McCain later apologized, and still later joked that if Paul and Hillary Clinton are the nominees, “it’s gonna be a tough choice.”) The Washington Post’s neoconservative blogger Jennifer Rubin has called Paul (among other things) “amateurish” and “downright dishonest.” Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol has mocked Paul as the “spokesman for the Code Pink faction of the Republican Party.”

But in recent days it’s become clear that a lot of the economic conservatives who ought to be Paul’s natural constituents don’t much like him either. At issue is an interview Paul gave Bloomberg Businessweek’s Joshua Green in which Paul appeared neither to understand the late economist Milton Friedman’s monetarist theories nor to know that Friedman was deceased. It’s no surprise that liberals like Paul Krugman and Jonathan Chait jumped on Paul for his incoherent criticism of Fed policy (which Paul elaborated in National Review Online). But it was interesting to see conservatives like the American Enterprise Institute’s James Pethokoukis and National Review’s Patrick Brennan do the same.

Indeed, if you want to keep abreast of everything that compromises Paul as a possible presidential contender, you should bypass liberal opinion mongers and objective mainstream news organizations altogether and focus on conservative news sources. The story that Paul aide Jack Hunter was a former neo-Confederate activist who boasted of toasting John Wilkes Booth’s birthday, which eventually led Hunter to resign, did not break in the Nation, but rather in the Washington Free Beacon, a web publication created by the very conservative Center For American Freedom. (Paul is quite testy about the matter.)

And as long as we’re piling on, we should note that Jennifer Rubin went so far as to include him on her list of people who shouldn’t bother running for the White House in 2016. So, yeah. Let’s see how all this 2016 wisdom works out.

Your (sigh) 2016 GOP Presidential Prognistication, v.1

There is, of course, the idea of epistemic closure, what others might refer to as the Bubble, or the Right Wing Echo Chamber. After all, one might wonder at the idea that presidential-caliber political operatives were shellshocked on election night. To the other, the effect is easy enough to see, but in truth it really was hard to believe. And yet amid the right-wing media circus that included arbitrarily adjusted statistics to tell us all the real, “unskewed” poll results, Jennifer Rubin stood alone amid the wrong-minded noise, head and shoulders above her deluded colleagues, and managed the sort of electoral season that the Washington Post really ought to be embarrassed about, except that she’s not as bad as the two people who held the job of WaPo right-wing blogger before her.

But the newspaper’s cruel joke against conservatives remains unbowed. In recent days the Maven of Mistakes has announced her field of candidates for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. No, really.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

Former GOP vice presidential nominee, and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush

Former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Bonus coverage of the field that just shouldn’t bother, namely Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, as well as former Sen. Rick Santorum.

Sounds kind of fun, doesn’t it?

No?

Well … er … right.

One Marianne Doherty lamented, as Romney supporters countenanced defeat, “It makes me wonder who my fellow citizens are. I’ve got to be honest, I feel like I’ve lost touch with what the identity of America is right now. I really do.”

And, well, yeah. If Republicans want to keep feeling that way, they should keep their heads firmly sealed inside the Bubble.

I mean, really. Look at that list. The only real question is how much of his soul Gov. Christie is going to have to sell in order to seal up the nomination.

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Apparently, Romney’s campaign, from top to bottom, had no idea what was about to happen. How does one get to the premiere league of American politics, yet be so blind?