Monday, February 8, 2016

Response to Breaking the Spell

As they once said of that cherubic whippersnapper Al Gore, Rubio is an older person’s idea of a young person.
Yes, but that can work both ways.

Being someone who has gone through his whole life looking younger than he is (I'm 71, but a few weeks ago, someone guessed I was in my 50s), I tell people it's a good-news/bad-news story; the good news is that I don't look my age, but the bad news is that I am.

With Marco, this works against him. He's 44, but I know plenty of people, especially those "of a certain age", who think he looks too young to be president. And lack of longevity may help explain his debate screwup: The older you get, the better chance that you will have learned tricks to strategize around your mental shortcomings.

Of course, having learned the lesson from Trump -- never apologize, and for godsakes never backtrack -- Rubio's response to his robotic repetition the next day was predictable:
“It’s what I believe and it’s what I’m going to continue to say, because it happens to be one of the main reasons why I am running.”
That's sort of the same lesson I learned being an amateur jazz-guitar jammer; if you hit a wrong note, the trick is to repeat the mistake one or two more times, in hopes the audience will think you did it on purpose. After all, this is jazz! People come to expect weird sounds now and then! It might even earn you praise as an innovative improviser.

But here's one big problem with Rubio trying that same trick:

The short version of what Rubio says -- that we need to stop thinking Obama doesn't know what he's doing because he does -- is something that most of us Democrats, including Obama, can sign on to, which makes it, in effect, Rubio's endorsement of Obama. That would be nice for Democrats if Obama were running for president, but he's not. You'd think Rubio would want to concentrate his admonitions on the people he's actually competing with for the office, especially if he's planning on making some repeated phrase the centerpiece of his campaign.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, is old enough (69) to have learned a few workarounds to his not knowing the first thing about doing the job he's aspiring to, many of which are being wrong about so many of his claims ("His grandmother in Kenya said he was born in Kenya and she was there and witnessed the birth, okay?""If you look at the statistics, of ... the illegal immigrants — if you look at the statistics on rape, on crime, on everything, coming in illegally to the country, they're mind-boggling", et al) that nobody bothers fact-checking his statements anymore.

If anyone has been looking into Trump's latest whopper regarding the Iowa caucuses, I've missed it. Here he was in Arkansas on Wednesday of last week, two days after Iowa:
“Actually, I think I came in first,” he told a cheering crowd of more than 11,500 people who packed into Barton Coliseum to hear him. 
Mr. Trump, who placed second in Iowa, was continuing a theme he had been unspooling over the previous 24 hours — that in his view, Senator Ted Cruz, who won Monday’s caucuses, had in fact stolen the election. 
Mr. Cruz was declared the winner, with 27.6 percent of the vote; Mr. Trump came in second, with 24.3 percent.
I haven't heard estimates of exactly how many Carson voters were tricked into going over to Cruz, but I'm willing to bet Trump doesn't know either. But I do think it's significant that, in quitting Carson, very few if any of them thought to switch to Trump. He may not think that's worth noting, but I do.

"In fact, you would have thought he had won. I came in second, he came in third, and his is a tremendous victory and mine’s not. 
“It’s interesting that Marco came in third place and it’s one of the great victories in the history of politics. They said, ‘No, no, his is, but yours isn’t.' And I said, ‘Oh, that’s wonderful.' I didn’t understand that.”
Do you seriously not understand?

Okay, it's all about expectations, Don. You were expected to win it, but you got beat. Rubio, who many had hoped would be a possible alternative to you and Cruz, and had been hanging down among the also-rans, somewhat surprisingly ended up in a virtual tie with you for second place!

Get it yet? You need to figure out this politics stuff soon if you have any hopes of competing in the general election, much less being a successful president. (Shutter.)

But also:
Trump then argued that the gap between his results and Rubio is much wider than widely acknowledged. 
“People said Rubio was right next to me,” he said. "Well, he was more than 2,000 votes away. That’s a lot of votes. 
“Don’t forget, in the history of Iowa, I got the most votes, other than one person, Ted. ...  I got a tremendous amount of votes, nobody came close.”
Yeah, you got the most votes -- "other than one person", Ted Cruz -- who got more. "Nobody came close" to your votes? How about Marco Rubio?

For a better perspective on actually how far ahead of Marco and behind Ted you ended up, here are the actual numbers:

  • Cruz 
  • votes:  51,666    percent: 28%     delegates: 8   
  • Trump  
  • votes: 45,427     percent: 24%     delegates: 7   
  • Rubio 
  • votes: 43,165     percent: 23%     delegates: 7
So by my figuring, you were 2,262 votes ahead of Rubio -- big whoop! -- but you were 6,239 behind Cruz! Almost three times as many! If 2,000 is "a lot of votes", then 6,000 is "a lot of votes", times three! You and Rubio tied on delegates; Cruz got more.

But here's the thing: With fingers crossed, I still think I want Trump to beat Rubio to the GOP nomination.

Yes, I realize the risk of this venomous lounge-lizard becoming our president, it's just that Rubio gives the appearance of being more normal than Trump, and maybe even Ted Cruz, which means he probably has a better chance to beat either Hillary or Bernie, whereas I'm betting that most of America is more aware of the threat from Trump.

Man, choosing a president in this country is getting to be like tap dancing on the edge of a cliff.

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