In Which I Select a Current GOP Presidential Candidate to Vote For, 2015 Edition

Four years ago this month, I took a look at the field of Republican candidates for the office of President of the United States and ranked them, from the one I would be least likely to vote for to the one I would be most likely to, if it came to that, (i.e., if a series of microstrokes robbed me of all sense and sensibility, because at this stage in the GOP’s evolution that’s the only reason I would vote for a Republican as President).

Now it’s 2015 and it’s time once more to do the same sort of ranking. Note that once again this election cycle I would rather take a refreshing shower of hot lava than to vote the GOP into the presidency, and so you should be aware my selections and rankings come from that point of view. Which is to say: Brace yourselves, this is not going to be pretty.

In order of the least likely (i.e., I’d rather feed my fingers to bears than to vote for this jerk) to the most likely (i.e., I won’t be happy about it but I don’t think he’ll entirely trash the joint in four years, please don’t take that as a challenge), here are my choices:

14. Mike Huckabee: As near as I can tell, what passes for Huckabee’s presidential campaign is in reality a months-long audition for Pat Robertson’s gig on The 700 Club once Robertson finally but clearly reluctantly shuffles off this mortal coil to the Hell that awaits terrible people who think they’re in with God. If so, good luck, Mr. Huckabee! You’ll finally become the smug and awful bigoted fossil you’ve always aspired to be!

13. Rick Santorum: Sadly for Santorum, there’s only room for one smug and awful bigoted fossil at the bottom of the GOP polling charts, and that’s Mike Huckabee, because he’s got seniority. I rank Santorum slightly higher than Huckabee in my preferences, but that’s like ranking “puke on your shoe” slightly higher than “bloody puke on your shoe.” It’s still puke on your shoe.

12. Ted Cruz: You know, I can appreciate Cruz’s painfully obvious sense of manifest destiny when it comes to him and the presidency, and the fact that that every step of his life has been a direct and calculated step to that goal. Good for him! It’s nice to have ambitions. However, it also hasn’t escaped my notice that at every step of the way, the thing that most people apparently have to say about Cruz is “wow, what an asshole.” I can’t help but think that’s kind of a telling fact. Even his fellow GOP senators think he’s a real prick and don’t want anything to do with him.

Leaving aside that everything that comes out of his mouth is at best meretricious claptrap that would shame even Newt Gingrich, and the fact he has no real legislative record to speak of, I think it would be good for his growth as a human being to learn that being a complete douchenozzle at every available opportunity won’t, in fact, get you the highest office in the land. Humility, Mr. Cruz! It’s well past time you tried some.

11. Donald Trump: The GOP establishment would like you to believe Trump was their summer fling, who in September didn’t take the hint that it was over, followed the GOP back home, and now drives by its house every hour to peer through the window, and texts at 4am asking if the GOP wants to go to the local Waffle House just to talk.

But in reality, it’s terribly unfair to Trump to suggest this has not been an entirely consensual affair. Fact is, the GOP has been actively looking for a populist demagogue for years, one it could control with money. The GOP’s problem is that Trump has money — as he’s very happy to tell you, as often as you would like to hear and then again a few dozen more times after that — and he’s apparently perfectly happy to go full fascist, when the GOP knows you never go full fascist, you just hint and wink. But Trump’s looking at his supporters and seeing that they, at least, are ready for him to go full fascist, and Trump didn’t get where he is in American culture by being subtle, now, did he?

And here we are: With a billionaire would-be oligarch who the GOP can’t use its only real lever — cash — to control. And maybe they’ll wash him out in the primaries, and then maybe Trump will run as an independent and take his tribe of hopped-up jingoists with him — or maybe not! Maybe he goes all the way with the GOP. Some summer flings just keep on going, whether they should or not.

10. Ben Carson: Carson’s problem is that running for president isn’t brain surgery — which is to say it involves a whole bunch of things he appears to know absolutely nothing about. While the idea of Chauncey Gardiner, MD, is compelling as a literary character, the idea of Carson’s brain grinding horribly into neutral in the middle of a legitimate crisis fills me with an unholy terror. Trust him with a scalpel? Sure, probably. Trust him with The Button? Oh, let’s not.

9. Carly Fiorina: Well, she’s only the second-worst businessperson in the race, I’ll give her that. But my thought is that when someone promises to run the country like they ran a company whose stock value declined by more than half and also ditched 30,000 workers while they were in charge, I should take them at their word, and run the other way.

8. Rand Paul: Every time I think of Rand Paul, I imagine that on his bedside table is a copy of Atlas Shrugged, the pages of which are stiff and stuck together and smell vaguely of corn chips. Then I shudder for five whole minutes and try to think of something else.

7. Marco Rubio: Rubio is these days apparently emerging as the GOP favorite for the nomination, which undoubtedly pisses Jeb Bush off to no end. Well, okay: Rubio is generically handsome and seems pleasant and is what passes for smart in the GOP these days, and I’m sure he will be perfectly happy to jump through whatever various hoops his handlers require. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

Thing is every time I hear him talk I get the impression of a fellow who is trying very hard not to let others know he is ever so slightly in over his head and not quite managing it. Hilary Clinton’s gonna gnaw on him in a debate like he’s a chew toy. Can’t we put him back into a cool, humidity-controlled cellar for a couple more election cycles until he’s aged up a bit? No? Well, fine, then, GOP, do what you want, I’m not the boss of you.

6. Chris Christie: Angry dude with a demeanor of a schoolyard bully who may or may not be above pulling shenanigans involving a bridge to annoy people he doesn’t like, and is apparently of the opinion that five-year-old Syrian refugee orphans are a clear and present danger to our country. Bless his heart.

He should not be president; he’d stroke out within the first six months, I’m certain of it. For all that, there is worse in the current field of candidates — much worse, in fact — and this is where we are here in 2015.

5 (tie). Jim Gilmore and George Pataki: Former governors, perfectly competent and utterly colorless and have no chance because “competent and colorless” is not what anyone wants these days. I mean, I would be okay with it, obviously given the rest of the field, which is why these guys are as far up as they are on my list, obviously. But the GOP isn’t going to ask me.

This particular spot, by the way, marks the dividing line between “Things could be worse” and “Check out the Canadian immigration Web site to see if you could get in” on this list for me. I’ll also note that currently none of the remaining candidates on the list are polling above 4% nationally. I am not an actual GOP primary voter, is what I’m saying.

3. Jeb Bush: I feel kind of sorry for Jeb Bush, because for years we’ve been told that he was the “smart” one, and his campaign has just been so flabby and disappointing and tired, and as for Jeb, if this is what passes for smart in the Bush family then we’re all just going to have to admit that our standards for smart when it comes to politicians, or at least Bushes, are too damn low (search your heart. You already knew this to be true).

So why is he so high on my list of GOP candidates? One, please see the rest of this list, which makes the 2012 GOP clown car look like the friggin’ Athenian Agora, and two, because Jeb may be tired and listless and doesn’t actually give any indication of running for any other reason but familial obligation, but he’s also got infrastructure, i.e., two previous presidential administrations worth of resources to pick and choose from to keep the nation going despite him. I mean, shit, even W. couldn’t sink the country, and he put real effort into it. Jeb literally could not be any worse. His people will see to that.

On the other hand, if Bush lets a Cheney within 700 miles of him or his proposed administration I swear to God I will literally shove all my money into a Hillary Clinton SuperPAC. Don’t make me do it, Jeb.

2. Lindsey Graham: Apparently a decent human being, has a record of reasonable bipartisanship and is what passes for a moderate these days, and his current polling in the field is at, like, 1%. Which makes him almost perfect for the likes of me. I suspect he’ll get some nice speaking gigs out of this run. Good for him.

1. John Kasich: He’s cranky and too conservative for my tastes and he’s got a hard-on for defunding Planned Parenthood here in Ohio (not to mention an attempted union-bust which required a citizen initiative to smack back) and he said a genuinely dumbass thing about opening a government office for Judeo-Christian values like he’s never heard of the Establishment Clause before and has shamefully said he doesn’t want Syrian refugees and yet I look around at who is running in the GOP field this year, and Kasich is one of the few I trust not to run the whole country into the ground either through incompetence or ideological rigidity, or both.

Part of it is that at least some of his crankiness is directed at his own party and its current slate of candidates, which appear to strike him as fumbling doofuses. He’s not wrong. Part of it is that he hasn’t been entirely horrible for Ohio, and occasionally signals that there’s an actual working brain inside of that suit. Which sounds like faint praise, and it is, but look: This is 2015 and we’re grading on a very serious curve, here. Kasich is the best we’re getting out of the GOP in this election cycle. So of course he’s polling at 3% nationally and I wouldn’t give him much of a chance in the primaries, just like my 2012 first choice, Jon Huntsman. I’m sorry, John Kasich — by choosing you, I’ve probably doomed your candidacy.

Be that as it may: If I had to vote for one of these folks, he is the one I’d vote for. May God have mercy on him. May God have mercy on us all.

(All photos borrowed from Wikipedia and used via Creative Commons license.)

172 thoughts on “In Which I Select a Current GOP Presidential Candidate to Vote For, 2015 Edition

  1. As always with political posts, the Mallet is out. Please behave yourselves and treat each other kindly. Thanks.

    Also, if you’re planning to complain about the Democrats being just as bad/even worse/etc, please be advised that whether or not that is true (and it just might be!), it’s the GOP we’re talking about at the moment. Thanks.

  2. One of my favorite tests for candidates is “if this person had their way, how many of my immediate family would be dead?”

    The modern GOP has not scored well on this test. I mean, not that they necessarily actively want us dead or would be willing to waste perfectly good bullets, but they’d be horrified at the suggestion that merely letting us die by denying us any kind of service or legal protections would be anything short of a moral duty.

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this. It seems there are quite a few who find Kasich palatable, I was very disappointed that he jumped on the defund PP bandwagon. If you look up witch hunter in the dictionary you may find a picture of Lindsey Graham there. Great post!

  4. I’m not choosing my candidates by who is least objectionable, but I’m not voting Republican, either. All of the jingoism about “Christian” values and so on makes my skin crawl and the recent flap about Syrian refugees and Muslims-are-a-source-of-eeeevillll almost makes me want to change my personal view on having guns around.

  5. You know, I’m a lifelong Democrat and I love my party, with all it’s foibles and it’s strengths. But good lord, I’m almost sorry for the GOP in this cycle. (Well, except for how they’ve taken over a lot of the states with their gerrymandered districts and anti-voter crusades.)

  6. When I was young, at some point during the Nixon presidency, I once had a fight with my sisters over who got the last of whatever brand of cereal we were most obsessive about that day. Freaks? Quips? My memories say Wheat Chex, but honestly, who fights over Wheat Chex? Raisin Bran? Yeah, could have been Raisin Bran.

    Anyway, I was so sleepy that after I won the fight, I accidentally started pouring orange juice, instead of milk, on the cereal. Horrified, I pointed this out to my mother, who told me that I fought so hard to get the cereal, I had to eat it. So I compounded by error by pouring milk over it, too, in hopes of diluting the orange juice. It was…not a successful combination.

    Anyway, what I’m saying is: The thought of voting for anyone on this list makes me think of eating that nasty, unpleasant bowl of cereal again. Every day for at least four years.

    So I hope you don’t have to do it, John. It would take an extraordinary set of circumstances to get me anywhere near that decision.

  7. Kasich is perfectly reasonable top choice. I would go switch Rubio and Graham. Rubio would hopefully go back to at least pretending to care about immigrants. Lindsey Graham is too much of a warmonger even compared to other Republicans. The last thing we need is someone even more eager to bomb random countries for no apparent reason than W.

  8. The only reason I know Christie isn’t the Devil is because he appears to have eaten the Devil. As an NJ resident I can assure you that he is both incompetent and widely loathed. Our only hope here is that he prolongs his doomed campaign long enough to allow voters here to galvanize and de-Governor him (I don’t know if that’s an actual verb but I like it)

  9. I agree, but would switch your #’s 1 and 2. Graham is a decent guy. Basically a hawk, but he and Joe Biden are great friends, and for some reason that comforts me.
    You really nailed the list, though. God help us if Cruz is the nominee. My Texas friends think he’s the bomb. My fear is that he’d drop the bomb. He’s an asshat deluxe with a messiah complex.

  10. the problem is that the GOP electorate has a list almost entirely inverted to yours, which raises the question, no matter who actually does win from the list above, we still have a sizable fraction of the likely voting public that are entirely willing to wrap themselves in the US Constitution even while they are using it as toilet paper. Count me a single-issue voter – the Republican Party says that Muslim American is a oxymoron, so I simply wont vote for any GOP candidate, no matter who they are, until that changes.

  11. Am I the only one wondering where Bill the Cat (long may he thbbft) would rank on this list? (Myself, I’d put him above Christie but below Pataki.)

  12. There used to be a saying, “All roads lead to Rome”. The capital of the Roman Empire was the most important place in half a continent, and decisions made there affected the world far beyond Rome’s borders. These days, all roads lead to Washington DC, and, as a foreigner, I wish you Americans would take better care of the ship of state. The whole “terrify the planet with a parade of sociopaths every four years” thing has gotten old.

    It’s also worth noting that this recent anti-Muslim kerfuffle has exposed many candidates as espousing plans which are utterly unconstitutional – and it’s very sad that I, a foreigner, know that better than your god damned Presidential candidates.

  13. Brian K – Bill the dead cat would be top of the list. At least he’s not likely to start 3 wars within a week of becoming elected…

    I became a US citizen last year, and…. this is the best you can come up with? Seriously? I demand a refund.

    I think Trump is actually less insane than about 10 of the others, so should be around 3-4 place. At least he is vaguely social liberal and doesn’t want to ban all abortions, ever, for whatever reason, like all the rest. He is a total egomaniac but I think he will be the candidate. probably with Rubio as the VP.

    Fiorina appears to have become completely divorced from reality. Not that she’s the only one, but she seems to have given up on even being tangentially related to the truth.

    Lindsey Graham is a total warmongering bedwetter, so he should be down the bottom. Last I checked the debates, he wanted to invade Iran, do something unspecific in Syria, and start a war with China.

    Cruz is pure concentrated condescension and evil, he is one of the biggest slimemolds in politics.

    Jeb! just doesn’t care and is as animated as week old road kill.

    They will all cause the debt and deficit to explode. I suspect from a tax basis we will end up about even, as the elimination of the mortgage interest and state tax breaks will offset lower rates.

  14. Excellent. I have sent it to my overseas family and friend as a helpful guide while they wonder what the heck is going on over here.

  15. A confession: I like to think that I pay attention to national politics, but I have no idea who Jim Gilmore is, where he’s from, or that he was running for president. You sure he’s not the new male lead in the sequel to I Am Number Four?

  16. I’m with Seebs. A good number of my friends and family would be in dire straits were most of these people let anywhere near elected office (and in fact have suffered harm from some of these people and their peers being elected officials).

  17. John–your #s 8-12 I would place (with a nod toward the Hugo ballot) several notches below Bring Back Monarchy, Please. (We could fill the empty slots with Anarchy, Archie Bunker, and Random Names from the Duluth Phonebook.) And if a version of Scott Walker minus the blatant crookedness is the best the GOP can muster, I weep for both of my Republican friends (who are quite nice people despite their, you know, issues).

  18. My list would be pretty close to yours , but I’d probably move Trump down a notch. The breathtaking aspect of this crew, for me, is the sheer meanness of their rhetoric. The only exceptions are Graham and Kasich, and yeah, that’s grading on a curve.

    I wish I felt more certain that none of these people will ever be President.

  19. What gets me is that so many on the far right would be hurt themselves if their candidates won the election. Sigh. How many of them depend on Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid? How many of them are veterans who already complain about the VA? Gonna get worse as too many Republicans want to cut funding or outright do away with all those programs / organizations.

  20. Thankfully, I have my Canadian Citizenship Certificate well in hand (thanks Mom!) so I am set. And I have to say every time I see a poll with Trump at the top or Ben Carson creeping up, I pull out that certificate and think “save me Obi Wan, you’re my only hope…”

  21. I miss Huntsman. I disagree with many of his positions, but he seemed like a decent guy when he was thinking about running.

    Of course, so did McCain back in the day. Seeking the GOP nomination these days…well, there may be a Ring of Power metaphor here.

  22. Does it seem to anyone else that this year’s slate as a whole is just far crazier than anything you can remember?

    Romney, McCain, GWB, Dole, GB1, Reagan… all seem normal in comparison.

  23. I’m a registered Republican, and I can’t stand any of the current crop of GOP candidates. I’d love an option to vote ‘none of the above’ and toss the whole lot and start again.

  24. I think it is very suspicious that your top picks for this and last election cycle both are named John/Jon. I think there is a conspiracy. :oD

  25. You know, as recently as maybe 2 decades ago, if you were told that the Republican field would consist of several sitting and former governors and senators as well as a couple of prominent business people and a famous neurosurgeon, you’d have been impressed by the depth of their bench and assumed they were going to knock it out of the park. Instead, we have… this.

  26. Even money that Kasich’s election team is, at this very moment, discussing if they can use your #1 ranking in a press release… “Prominent prognosticator picks Kasich as #1“.

  27. @David Gustafson – Gilmore is a former governor of Virginia, from 1998-2002. And don’t feel bad – I follow politics as well, but had no idea who he was either when he announced. From what I can see on Wikipedia, he hasn’t been involved in politics since 2002.

    Regarding the list … I’d probably rank Christie lower, and Rand Paul/Ben Carson higher (though certainly not at the top). Carson’s a neurosurgeon .. that has to mean functioning brain cells, doesn’t it? That’s better than about half the current 2016 contenders. And Rand Paul at least is right on some civil liberties, though he’s far from perfect. Graham has, aside from the warmongering, turned out to be a relatively reasonable human being. That’s a fairly low bar given the rest of the field, but still.

  28. I would put them all at #14 but if that is impossible I offer this tidbit: Graham scares me a lot with the war mongering and his absolute certainty that the solution to any problem is engaging the enemy with troops. Yet I agree he has said some other semi-reasonable things. But the kicker for me with all of them is their refusal to acknowledge that the best way to avoid abortions (which they obsess about, much more than the tens of millions of women who have had abortions) is to provide free and easy contraceptives to everyone, both men and women. None of them will even consider that so why we we, the voters, even consider one of them? Sheesh.

  29. David Gustafson: it may help you to know that I’ve lived in Virginia for 20 years, including Gilmore’s entire gubernatorial term, and when I first heard “Jim Gilmore” mentioned as a candidate for president, it took me several minutes to remember where I’d heard that name before.

    Basically, he’s the Ann Veal of the GOP. “Him? Really?”

  30. Yeah the cartoon candidates seem so much worse this year than in 2012. Maybe I feel that way because I was hopeful for a strong GOP candidate. I don’t trust a word Hillary Clinton says, and I’d rather almost any woman in the world were running for president. But, I’ll likely vote for her, because she is a grownup with a brain, unlike the GOPers. Besides it will be a presidency much like the one she enjoyed from 1992-2000, as I still strongly suspect she had a lot of influence during those years. They will need to keep Bubba in check though. The last thing we need is the First Gentleman hitting on visiting Heads of State or their spouses or staff.

  31. Just remember that in the unlikely circumstance that the Republicans choose the least worst as their nominee, one of the worst is likely to be their choice for Veep.

  32. Does the Republican Party actually exist anymore?

    I thought it was their job to arrange a group of candidates to run for elections, but it seems like anyone with enough money who can grab the attention of the media can call themselves a Republican candidate.

    I think we’re watching the GOP in the process of tearing itself apart.

  33. Rubio is the only one left of the Republican candidates who have any real shot at the nomination who doesn’t just terrify me (Bush is finished). Cruz, Carson, and Trump would just be so incredibly horrible.

    I think Rubio would have a very good shot at beating Clinton, too. I think he can be bland enough to get some of the Independent vote, and the hard right is ready to turn up en masse at the polls to defeat Hillary. Not sure the left will turn out as strongly against Rubio.

  34. If Ted Cruz were merely an asshole, that wouldn’t worry me much, but he is in fact a highly intelligent, dangerous asshole with absolutely no reservations about pandering to the ignorant and fearful. And thanks to the unholy alliance of the GOP and Fox News, there’s plenty of them to pander to. (It is telling that both 41 and 43 have made disparaging remarks about Cruz, in contravention of Reagan’s 11th Commandment.)

    Like a lot of people, I find it very amusing that the Republicans have painted themselves into a corner in which virtually everyone who wants to run for office on their ticket has to take positions that are immoral, antithetical to the principles of democracy, or dumber than a bus full of Klansmen. Or I would, that is, if the GOP weren’t dragging us to hell along with them.

  35. One or two election cycles ago, I was amused by the “Republicans for Voldemort” bumper sticker I saw in western Wisconsin(and if THAT isn’t an excellent example of irony, I don’t know what is). In this election cycle, I would rank Voldemort’s candidacy in the Republican field somewhere in the middle of your list. Evil just isn’t what it used to be for the GOP in 2015.

  36. I too was sort of a closet Huntsman fan. I mean, as much as I could be for someone who I still disagreed with on a majority of positions. But… he was clearly intelligent. (And, okay, he spoke Chinese, and having gotten a degree in the language myself, well, respect. Or maybe clubbiness. Something.) And the combination of international experience that didn’t actively involve killing people was… novel.

    As another Ohioan – at least at the moment (apparently that Washington State bit doesn’t, like, wash off) – I *hate* Kasich… slightly less than all the others. I mean, he’s wretched, and untrustworthy, and generally a horrible person to entrust the country to. But he’s not actually insane, I don’t think. And he will make decisions for the general good, sometimes, at least if it doesn’t support someone he has it out for.

    I keep wanting to look at the slate and say “Surely no one expects us to take this seriously.” But then, that’s how I felt about George W Bush.

  37. @Seebs As someone who is a) queer, b) female-bodied, c) works in research tangentially related to climate change (methane mitigation strategies for livestock), and d) is reliant on several doctors and good access to medical care so that I can continue to work, due to a congenital issue, I rank them based on ‘how much worse is my life gonna get if one of them gets elected?’ and honestly, right now the options seem to range from ‘it’s gonna suck’ to ‘ask my buddies in Australia and NZ if anyone’s hiring postdocs, and bring my important family members with me’. It’s looking pretty damn grim. And I’m about to spend a week with the conservative Republican side of my family, who will all be harmed by said clown car’s policies, but religion and racism trumps all (Mom stumped for Santorum last election cycle). I’m kinda terrified one of these wastes of DNA is going to mobilize enough pseudo-fascists to win.
    On the Dem side, I wish Jerry Brown was running – he’s doing a great job out here.

  38. @Rick If it is then don’t make the mistake the UK made in the late 1990s and early 00s. Don’t just sit back and assume it will die, you gotta finish the course of treatment. Make sure you kill it properly, drive a stake through its heart, cut off the head and feet, and bury it at a crossroads at midnight on a new moon and plant garlic over the grave. Conservative parties are the worst sort of pernicious weed, and if you don’t get it all then it’ll be back and in even worse form. However, if you gotta put up with one of them then I agree with our host. Kasich is probably the least worst choice, but any of his league of bland blandness (sans Bush Mk3) could probably manage to inflict the least damage on both America and the World.

  39. What do Athena and Krissy think of you spending all the money on a pro-Hillary pac?, I mean it is their money too.
    I know that you have conservative neighbors what is their opinion?
    I ran into a trucker for East Texas, I talked him into looking hard at Sanders.

  40. The debates alone have shown that no GOP candidate should be allowed even near the white house. I for one am looking forward to your review of the Democratic candidates, however will will not sway my vote from Bernie! Feel the Burn!

  41. John, just two things:

    First, and least reverent: Jeb Bush and his kin are proof that Vannevar Bush was cuckolded repeatedly by someone who was himself produced by repeated first-cousin or full-sib matings within a limited gene pool that had already undergone a disastrous founder effect. (In this case, “founder” has a delicious double meaning.) I know that intelligence per se isn’t hereditary, but if it were, it’s apparently a recessive allele in this family.

    Second, and more reverent: Yes, please do check the Canadian immigration Web site. I will personally sponsor you, and you can live in the guest room until you find a compatible place. I’ll even feed you horrible carbonated beverages if I can’t tempt you with great local microbrews. I’ll even swear you’re Syrian so we can slip you in the door with the 25K refugees we’re supposedly accepting in the coming year.

  42. More interested in hot lava showers, actually. I think Hawaiian lava is better. Thinner, less clogging of the plumbing. Something about iron, I think.

  43. Since these candidates mainly disgust me and since Kurt Busiek mentioned Quisp, I’m now going to spend my time trying to figure out how Quake managed to beat Quisp in the great Quaker cereal balloting.

  44. Kasich has to outlast Jeb and Christie, then he has a shot.

    He’s already accomplished that. Jeb and Christie are both burnt toast.

    Carson’s a neurosurgeon .. that has to mean functioning brain cells, doesn’t it?

    Have you listened to him?

    Oh, and Ben ‘I Stabbed a Man Just to Watch Him Die’ Carson ahead of Trump? Cold man.

  45. In 2012, it was obvious from the start that Romney was the “not completely batshit insane” candidate. Huntsman and Johnson were also not completely insane, but they got no traction at all. I don’t know which one of these bozos the Republican establishment is going to get behind. It was supposed to be Walker, Christie, and Jindal, but two are out already and the third is being measured for an orange jumpsuit.

    I figure that Trump and Carson, despite being current frontrunners, have no chance. The Republican Powers that Be can shut out any candidate that they don’t approve of. Cruz is also in that category, as he’s made enemies of essentially the entire Republican establishment.

    Friendly hint to Republicans (not that there are any reading this!). Move ASAP to preferential (instant runoff) primaries. Otherwise, you’re going to get a candidate with about 25% support. Not good.

  46. Interesting. I agree with much of the list, but I’d put Graham in the middle. He understands government and is by most accounts a decent enough person, but I think he’s as warmongering as Fiorina and don’t trust him as Commander in Chief. I’d probably put Pataki in his place.

    At the bottom, I would rank Trump and Carson below the Tea Party Triplets. I can understand your rationale and agree with your reasoning, but I would rather the devil I know than the devil I don’t know. As much as I dislike the people who hold Huckabee’s strings, I at least understand them. I could see Carson and Trump being unpredictable in a scary way, the former because he seems to believe that all a person needs is intellectual brilliance and religious faith to lead a country and the latter because I don’t think he considers other people at all when making decisions and because I think he might find it amusing to fiddle while Rome burns.

  47. Evaluating not only the Republican candidates but the Democratic candidates is well, I have the following observations:

    1. I am very glad I’m a registered Independent. Both major parties disgust me, and the minor parties rate too high on the “Wingnut” scale.
    2. NONE of these candidates, regardless of party, is fit to run the country.
    3. I propose a Constitutional amendment that requires an available choice of “None of the Above” on every ballot, for every contest for every office, nationwide. In any contest where “None of the Above” wins, all other candidates in that contest are legally prevented from running for any elected office for the next five years.

  48. Kasich is, I suspect, hanging in long enough to be a viable VICE presidential candidate who, it will be devoutly hoped by the party, can deliver Ohio.

  49. Does it seem to anyone else that this year’s slate as a whole is just far crazier than anything you can remember?

    Eh. It’s up there, but the early primary season always has lots of kooks. 1988 had Pat Robertson, Alexander Haig, and Harold Stassen.

    1968 had Jim Rhodes (who later, as governor of Ohio, sent the troops to Kent State with horrific results), Strom Thurmond (late of the Dixiecrats), Wally Hickel (who was both the 2nd and 8th governor of Alaska, the latter as the candidate of the Alaska Independence Party), and Harold Stassen (who first ran for President in 1940 (!) and last in 1992).

    And that’s not even bringing in the elections with Pat Buchanan.

  50. “…once Robertson finally but clearly reluctantly shuffles off this moral coil to the Hell that awaits terrible people who think they’re in with God.”

    I’m afraid Robertson has long ago shuffled off this moral coil in favor of a moralizing one. Perhaps he’ll shed the mortal coil too, before he does much more damage.

  51. As a fellow Buckeye, I can’t stand Kasich. Which makes the fact you are right about placing him at the top of your list really irritating.

    I think you have Carson way to high though. I’m wondering if there was some reason he is a retired brain surgeon besides just getting older. I know I wouldn’t allow any one that sounds like he does now operate on my big toe, never mind my brain.

    And Graham should be below your “move to Canada” line. He strikes me as “Most Likely To Start a Nuclear War” material.

  52. It is now impossible for me to do anything other than snigger at Lindsey Graham, this is because I took to watching Adventure Time and realised that Graham bears an uncanny resemblance to the small southern pie-baking elephant Treetrunks.

    Please tell me that Treetrunks is not a viable political candidate.

  53. “Full fascist”. Yep, that strikes a chord. We are in the scary position of having a significant portion of our electorate– not majority. I hope– actually looking for a strongman to protect them from Syrian three-year olds and un-White people, force gays back into the closet and make fourteen-year-old girls who’ve been raped by their step-father carry the baby to term. Trump wants the job, very much, but too many of these other bozos would fit some portion or another of the job description. It’s like half our political landscape has been transformed into Mordor.

  54. Surprised you’d throw all your money at Hillary. To me, she reads borderline GOP and only changes her tune to what the people want when pushed, which tells me she’d go back to her original opinions as soon as she got the seat. So, why not throw your cash at Sanders?

  55. John, you forgot to mention that none of these candidates has taken a position on the important issue of kitten naming.

    I think we should all prepare ourselves for President Trump. I don’t think he’d be a good president, but that’s my prediction. The Republicans are getting very nervous about whether they can stop him, and there are a lot of Republicans who would walk through fire to vote against Hilary.

  56. You have to bear in mind that this whole process was engineered by the GOP establishment (hereinafter GOPe) to ensure that Jeb! got the nomination. Most of the other candidates (Kasich, Graham, Gilmore, and Pataki among them) were in there to be vote-splitters in key states to divide the non-Jeb! opposition so that Jeb! would come out on top. They’ve even changed the primary rules to make that happen.

    (Note that I don’t think the GOPe really cares whether Jeb! actually becomes President, or gets creamed by Hillary in the general. They get what they want either way. And, if Jeb! proved to be not up to the task, they have Rubio as a backup.)

    Donald Trump came in and upset that applecart in a big way. (To a lesser extent, so did Ben Carson; he was originally one of the “vote splitters” as well but caught fire in unexpected ways.) So, at this point, it’s come down to either Trump or Jeb…and, if you don’t pick Trump, you’ll get Jeb. (And that means you’ll likely actually get Hillary, but, again, that would suit the GOPe just fine.)

    I, personally, would not be surprised to see an attempt made on Trump’s life to try and stop him. I would advise him to stay away from hot tubs and private planes (at least, ones not flown and maintained by people he doesn’t already own).

    But, yeah, that accounts for the no-hopers still being in the race at this point. Hucksterbee is long since done; really, he was done in 2012, he just hasn’t figured it out yet. Look up on Urban Dictionary what people are using the word “santorum” to refer to…and prepare to be sick. And nobody believes Lindsey Graham is going to be the nominee, including, I strongly suspect, Lindsey Graham.

  57. Would the Canadians on this list please, please consider sponsoring some of the rest of us? On a happier political note, Louisiana just elected a Democrat for the first time since the hurricane. He sounds like he’s going to be o.k We were all shaking in our shoes that Vitter would pull it out at the last minute, especially after the terrorist attacks in Paris. But somehow it didn’t happen. Still in happy shock.

  58. In the event that this came to pass:

    a series of microstrokes robbed me of all sense and sensibility

    Do you think the list would simply reverse? Or randomize? Are any candidates MORE likely to receive approval from your altered brain state? C’mon, reading the Sensible Scalzi is boring. I want Microstroke Scalzi Multiverses!

  59. Thank you for the comparison of Ben Carson to Chauncey Gardiner. That just scratched an itch I didn’t know I had.

  60. John, four years ago I thought this was a stupid concept. I still think so.

    But you made it work then and you made it work now. How do you *do* that?

    The only thing about this Republican clown bus that gives me any hope at all is the chance — however slim — that the eventual candidate will manage to trash the structural slant that Republican gerrymandering has installed into so many down-ticket races.

    The unholy alliance of corporate oligarchy and the Republican Party leadership has done its best over the past 20 years or so to build an epistemic bubble around their base. It worked. This is the result. This is why we can’t have nice things.

    Nice things like an imperfect but reasonably functional government.

  61. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton voted together 93% of the time when she was in the Senate. Their DW NOMINATE scores were comparable, though Clinton’s was to the right of Sanders. They were both in the liberal wing of the Senate Democrats. Sanders is not as liberal in action as his speeches are in rhetoric; Clinton is more liberal in action than in speech. They’re not that different.

  62. Funny that they are now trying to sell JEB? as the smart one. We lived in Florida the first time he ran for Governor. One of our neighbors was a medium-shot in the State GOP and he assured me JEB? was the stupid brother, he seemed to like Neil but the S&L thing killed his chance, one with no interest & “this other brother that is a flat-out junkie”.

    JEB? proved he was smrt by selecting as his running mate a clown on record making anti-Cuban and anti-Jewish comments . . . in Florida! JEB? got eaten alive in that election.

  63. @David Gustafson: What I remember Gilmore for is running for governor of Virginia almost entirely on the basis of a promise to repeal the car tax. When he won the election, many voters apparently assumed that the car tax would disappear immediately, and were dismayed that the legislature had to be involved. Ultimately, it didn’t work out.

  64. I pretty much agree with our host’s rankings and assessments here, though I’d swap #3 and the tie at #5 (Jeb! swapped w/ Pataki/Gilmore), based on the tendency he or those n his orbit had of muddling the legal process for political expediency, including the Schiavo case and his brother’s election, but also lesser issues.

    And rhetorically, hot lava jus doesn’t work for me, I prefer to prioritize what body part I’d willingly do without rather than see that person elected. The top 4 on my list? Meh – maybe a big fingertip or an ear. Mid list, maybe a hand or an eye.

    The folks over at 538, who have a truly amazing track record of predicting election results, give rank the candidates for likelihood of getting the nomination (given the CURRENT political climate as):
    Rubio
    Cruz
    Trump
    Kasich/Jeb!/Christie
    Fiorina (on the bubble between having a theoretical chance and no chance)
    (The others have no chance.)

    However, they note that it is *way* early, there’s a big shortage of good data, and they can certainly be wrong. They admit that they’re basically making a horseback guess, rather than the fairly accurate data model they do for general elections.

    However, they note that the GOP nomination process gives hella weight to both moderate republicans in blue states and party insiders, skewing things towards electable and moderate, respectively.

  65. I question whether Trump is just spouting rhetoric that people want to hear and he is doing it purposely to bring out the nuts in our country; showing how crazy we really all are. However he is very scary and I’m just waiting for the US kristallnacht against Muslims in this country. Where I do not agree with most of what Kasich has done, I think he is the most sane of the lot.

    As David said above: “Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton voted together 93% of the time when she was in the Senate. Their DW NOMINATE scores were comparable, though Clinton’s was to the right of Sanders. They were both in the liberal wing of the Senate Democrats. Sanders is not as liberal in action as his speeches are in rhetoric; Clinton is more liberal in action than in speech. They’re not that different.”

    Bernie is not being backed by any super blocs where Hilary is beholden to them. I do not trust her. Bernie is getting the shaft in that he’s pretty much being ignored by the media. I like his politics.

  66. I don’t agree at all that Graham is a decent person, and as for Kasich, he’s been hacking away at women’s civil rights and healthcare for the poor since he got in office. The federal stimulus saved the state economy right as Kasich took office and he claimed credit for it, while doing his best to tank it again by cutting government jobs and giving tax cuts to the wealthy. And neither of them has the foreign policy sense of a goose. They aren’t the reasonable ones — there are no reasonable people in the Republican clown car. They’re a combination of grifters, bigots, totalitarians, corporate stooges and neocons. But if we’re really, really lucky, Trump will run as an independent, and we can pretend the whole car doesn’t exist.

  67. Once again, America has achieved something we in NZ have considered impossible.

    You’ve made Winston Peters look like good by comparison.

  68. Your least objectionable candidates line up with my father’s list. My father is the elderly, white male, former Republican who finally decamped in disgust two presidential elections ago. I’d been watching the smoke curl out of his ears for years but was still surprised by his support of Hilary. He’s been running through the least objectionable candidates for a while, has a list of what he does and does not like about them–and dutiful daughter that I am, I listen to him. I also hear a lot about what disgusts him about where the party has gone–the party he voted for as a young man, as a member of the Air Force, as a young father, a corporate CEO, a small business man. He is the voter the GOP truly needs to fear, the one they drove out of their own fold. He is smart, he makes his own decisions–and he is very very angry.

  69. If I were a Republican, I’d want Kasich to get the nomination. But he hasn’t a chance of getting it, because the lunatics won’t have it. (I was going to write “lunatic fringe”, but they’re no longer the fringe; indeed, they are the warp and woof.)

    At this point it is not impossible that Trump becomes the GOP nominee. (It may be unthinkable, but it seems entirely within the realm of the possible.) If it’s Trump, I think the Democrats not only recapture the Senate (which may happen in any case) but the House as well.

  70. I have to admit I think Bush!?! is despicable for the way he treated Mr. Schiavo as he tried to care for Terri Schiavo at the end of her life.

    I think Trump is despicable because he cheers on his “fans” while they kick and beat an opponent with the courage to come to a Trump rally and shout “Black Lives Matter”! Well, they do. And beating someone who points that out, that’s just evil. Nazis did that back in 1932, and it was evil then and is still evil today.

    I won’t go down the whole list; they’re all despicable. The ones who propose to do things the day they’re elected which are plainly unconstitutional are the same ones who would arrest the 5 or 6 justices who voted to reject their proposals as unconstitutional. Anyone who would arrest the Supreme Court is unqualified to be president. Trump. No Muslims allowed to hold office – Unconstitutional!

    I gotta stop now before I hurt myself. In no Science Fiction novel can I vote for any of these despicable clown Nazis. Sorry. If you gotta ban-hammer me, do it. I confess. Just don’t joke about voting for any of these people, please!

    I have to admit – I’m wondering what countries I could stand to live in that would also admit an immigrant retiree who is dependent upon two government pensions? Canada? Costa Rico? Belize? I dunno? Any hints would be welcome. I can’t live in a country governed by most of the Republican candidates. Not that I’m that happy about Mrs Clinton, but who else?

  71. I think Trump and Carson are both worse in bark than bite. Carson blusters, but he doesn’t seem to have any concrete ideas of what he’d DO if he were actually elected. Trump is creepy and awful, but his past actions and statements seem to indicate he doesn’t actually agree with half of what he spouts, he just knows the rhetoric appeals to the GOP id.

  72. @MRAL – Nah, John hasn’t shifted much, if at all – the Right has moved ever further to the right while you weren’t paying attention.

    The list, especially the descriptions, match pretty well with my thoughts. They’re all either ignorant, incompetent, delusional, or just a nasty piece of work, with some a combination of all of those traits.

  73. “He should not be president; he’d stroke out within the first six months, I’m certain of it.”

    And from Kit: “The only reason I know Christie isn’t the Devil is because he appears to have eaten the Devil.”

    Seriously, can we not with the Chris Christie fat jokes? He is a terrible person, with terrible policies, and terrible ideas for more policies. There is plenty of territory there to take shots at on their own merits. “Fat = bad/hilarious” isn’t one of them. John, I hold you more responsible because you set the tone here.

  74. When I see Ted Cruz, I always think of the President played by Martin Sheen…
    Not the one from the West Wing, silly, the one from Dead Zone

  75. I think it’s unfair to say that Ted Cruz has no legislative record. He has a record – he’s willing to shut down the entire federal government for spite, and he’s clearly willing to do it again.

  76. Jack:
    >> I’m now going to spend my time trying to figure out how Quake managed to beat Quisp in the great Quaker cereal balloting.>>

    Rampant voter fraud.

    CB:
    >> Cooler mail-away toys. I remember them well. Miner’s helmet >> Propeller Beanie.>>

    My sister STOLE my Quisp proof-of-purchase seals and sent them in for one of those damn miner’s helmets. Outright theft! Vileness! Treachery! I was so pleased when it broke almost instantly.

    **

    I like many of the things Bernie Sanders says, but I have three problems with him as a candidate:

    1. He’s gotten very little done for someone who’s been in federal office for as long as he has. He’s made few allies, sponsored few bills of any significance that have passed, and his rhetoric is almost all about citizens rising up to wreak their will, not about actually getting much done through the usual corridors of government. As a Democrat-of-convenience, I don’t think he’d have much support from Democrats in Washington and he’d have firm opposition from the GOP. Accordingly, all that nice talk doesn’t sound much to me like it’d translate into an effective presidency. Clinton would have the party behind her (along with the intransigent GOP opposed, but that’s not a change), and strikes me as someone more able to get things done, rather than hoping for a citizen uprising.

    2. Aside from being less effective, I think Sanders also would have a harder time winning. And I want to win, not just the Presidency, but I want the Senate back and as much of a run on the House as we can manage. I see that happening with Clinton more than I do with Sanders.

    3. Foreign policy is going to be important, and Bernie just doesn’t care much about it, nor does he have much experience dealing with it.

    I agree that Clinton acts more liberal than she talks (and Sanders vice versa), but even if she didn’t, I think the single biggest issue affecting the future of the US is the makeup of the Supreme Court, and that’s going to be affected by whoever wins the next election. I think Clinton can win more readily — and with better downticket results — than Sanders, and assuming she does, I think she’ll do a better job of getting better judges onto the Court, something the President will need allies in Congress and a pragmatic approach to pull off.

    So much as I like a lot of what Sanders says, I think we get better results with Clinton. I’m willing to take a long view on a lot of things, but I don’t want to risk the Supreme Court in the short term.

  77. @MRAL:
    That assumes that the parties are in a fixed place. From my vantage point overseas, it seems that the right is a lot farther to the right than it used to be, while the Democrats haven’t moved left.

  78. J R in WV, you’re looking for low cost of living plus political stability (of the fairly sane kind). Which is pretty much limited to low-rent pockets of Europe. If there are any. (What’s the cost of living in Lithuania these days? Do they accept immigrants?) You’d have to be immune to Seasonal Affective Disorder and cold, though. Australia has grown batshit expensive recently.

    Yes, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought for the same reasons as J R. When the government gets bad enough, all you can do is run. And this post of John’s throws the badness into awful focus. I’m with the commenter who said they’re all #14.

  79. This is a shit vs diarrhea issue :(. Please elect a sane president, pretty please. I really don’t fancy my country going into another war alongside yours for the next 8 years. We have problems enough already.

  80. MMMWWWAAAHHHAAA! You’re clever, Scalzi, but not as clever as I! The Principle Of Paradoxical Intention suggests I should vote for Mike Huckabee. Unless that’s really what you want me to do all along! Oh well, I’ve got another year to get it wrong.

  81. @Scalzi To jog your philosphy degree re Kasich: Is the least bad possible also the best possible? Myself I have no answer and It might be an empty question.

  82. Elusis:

    I didn’t make a Chris Christie fat joke. I made a Chris Christie anger management joke, which is textually supported by other references to his anger in what I wrote.

    That you saw it as a fat joke is about you; that you apparently hold me responsible for that fact does not impress me.

    MRAL:

    Reading what I wrote four years ago versus what I wrote this year does not support your claim.

  83. @David

    “Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton voted together 93% of the time when she was in the Senate. Their DW NOMINATE scores were comparable, though Clinton’s was to the right of Sanders. They were both in the liberal wing of the Senate Democrats. Sanders is not as liberal in action as his speeches are in rhetoric; Clinton is more liberal in action than in speech. They’re not that different.”

    Not necessarily.

    1) Candidates can only be ranked as progressive as they legislation they are able to vote for. The further left the bulk of proposed legislation, the greater the nuances teased out between individual leftist candidates. But we haven’t had a truly progressive administration in a very long time. If we had, it’s possible that Clinton wouldn’t have voted for certain things that Sanders would have, and therefore their records would be more divergent. The current GOP field, whose rightward shift has been well-covered in politnerd circles, serves as a great example of this effect in action.

    2) You’re conflating voting records and legislative policymaking. I’m sure there is a relationship between how liberal a President’s voting record is, and what they actually go on to do in office, but I’m not immediately convinced that the relationship is as straightforward as you imply.

    Best,

    Jo

  84. I feel pretty good. I get to agree with our esteemed host. If there were any justice and common sense left in the GOP, John Kasich would be the front runner. His leadership as the chair of Ways and Means in the 1990s is at least half of the reason why the federal deficit almost disappeared.

    I’m a little surprised at where Cruz got ranked.

    However, I am willing to vote for a Democrat for President, if they can nominate someone that is sane and morally decent. However, Jim Webb left the race a while back and there is no way anyone should want either Hillary or Bernie in the Whitehouse.

  85. I’m scared of most of these guys. Right now, Trump scares me the most – possibly because the last thing I read about any of the candidates was Trump insisting that muslims in NJ cheered on 9/11, and that he witnessed it. (and I know this is merely the latest truth-free statement from Trump I’ve heard of, there are probably numerous others by now). My fear doesn’t stem from the lies, per se, but the inability or unwillingness of a major part of American voters to be concerned about this.
    One of the front-running presidential candidates will blatantly, obviously and shamelessly lie to you to score a few political points. It may be deliberate, or he may just be that delusional. But why isn’t this a concern to his base?

  86. “I was robbed” Correia has a whole column on his site devoted to why Ted Cruz is going to win the nomination. And as crazy as that sounds – with Carson and Trump leading the pack – who knows?

  87. John, you talk about the Huckster doing the audition for the 700 club. I still remember Robertson and group praying, asking for money and claiming someone would be healed of stomach cancer if they claimed the word of knowledge. Real carny stuff.

    Then I see Ben Carson talking about how a tree bark product relieved him of prostrate cancer symptoms but he went ahead with regular medical treatment anyway. This testimony given for a large fee from Mannotech. So trust him with a scalpel? I think not. He would be a horrible choice for President. A worse choice for doctor. IMHO.

  88. Although you don’t mention it, Kasich pushed through Medicaid expansion in Ohio over the opposition of his own party, and also has been pretty good on environmental issues (he used his first veto to ax a bill to protect the Great Lakes because the bill was too weak, forcing lawmakers to come up with a better bill.) He really hasn’t been a bad governor.

  89. Yeah, I pretty much entirely agree with this. Graham and Kasich would suck to have as President, but hey, at least they wouldn’t actively start WW3 or turn the US into a fascist state.

    …fuck it, I’m moving to Finland if the Republicans win. Maamme Suomi on suurin maa! And all glory to the Finnish fatherland.

    And if Trump wins, I’m going to lead a freaking armed insurrection, no way I’m letting that Hitler-aping assclown tell ME what to do.

  90. [added to avoid WordPress thinking this is a duplicate comment]

    @David

    “Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton voted together 93% of the time when she was in the Senate. Their DW NOMINATE scores were comparable, though Clinton’s was to the right of Sanders. They were both in the liberal wing of the Senate Democrats. Sanders is not as liberal in action as his speeches are in rhetoric; Clinton is more liberal in action than in speech. They’re not that different.”

    Not necessarily.

    1) Candidates can only be ranked as progressive as they legislation they are able to vote for. The further left the bulk of proposed legislation, the greater the nuances teased out between individual leftist candidates. But we haven’t had a truly progressive administration in a very long time. If we had, it’s possible that Clinton wouldn’t have voted for certain things that Sanders would have, and therefore their records would be more divergent. The current GOP field, whose rightward shift has been well-covered in politnerd circles, serves as a great example of this effect in action.

    2) You’re conflating voting records and legislative policymaking. I’m sure there is a relationship between how liberal a President’s voting record is, and what they actually go on to do in office, but I’m not immediately convinced that the relationship is as straightforward as you imply.

    Best,

    Jo

  91. George Kirby:

    It’s entirely possible Cruz could get nominated. I also suspect it would be the worst possible thing ever to happen to him (and not much better for the rest of us).

    Also, let’s not drag unrelated drama into this thread. Mr. Correia’s first name is “Larry.”

  92. Candidates can only be ranked as progressive as they legislation they are able to vote for.

    Sure, and that’s a problem with DW-Nominate, though note that Sanders can, in fact, introduce legislation himself. And note that Sanders doesn’t even rank as the most liberal Senator in the Senate (Warren of MA and Baldwin of WIS score as more liberal — Warren substantially so).

    But we haven’t had a truly progressive administration in a very long time. If we had, it’s possible that Clinton wouldn’t have voted for certain things that Sanders would have, and therefore their records would be more divergent

    I disagree about the “truly progressive,” as I tend to think that Obama is much more progressive than he gets credit for, but in any case, you’re positing a hypothetical, not presenting evidence. Clinton, in an environment with much more left legislation, might shift to the left as well.

    I’m sure there is a relationship between how liberal a President’s voting record is, and what they actually go on to do in office, but I’m not immediately convinced that the relationship is as straightforward as you imply.

    Luckily, there’s a DW-Nominate score for Presidents as well! As Senator, Obama’s was -0.363. As President? -0.368. So it was almost identical. So was LBJ’s (the previous Democratic President who had been in Congress before the Presidency.)

    DW-Nominate is by no means a perfect way of measuring partisanship, but it’s a reasonable one, and it indicates that Sanders and Clinton are fairly close together, despite their rhetoric. That rhetoric, we should remember is also being driven by political necessities. Clinton is occupying the moderate, technocratic Democratic space in the primary season (aka, the “Obama space” — one of the reason why other moderate Democrats are having such trouble getting traction is because she’s sucking up all the oxygen there). It’s in her interest now (and for the general) to play up her moderateness. Sanders is occupying the radical Democratic space (aka, the “Warren space”) and it’s in his interest to play up his radicalness.

  93. I found this post to be highly entertaining, which is more than I can say about anything political these days. Kudos.

  94. @Lina: I think Trump and Carson are both worse in bark than bite.

    Perhaps, but I certainly wouldn’t bet the country on it.

  95. I’m probably an optimist in this, but this field of GOP candidates is probably the best gift the Democratic party could ever ask for. The more they see Trump or Cruz getting good poll numbers, they’re probably wetting themselves with glee.

  96. I would very much like it if every liberal/progressive/Democrat over the age of 30 would just stop with the “I’mma move to Canada” nonsense. If you didn’t move by summer of 2005, you’re not going to. That entire line of reasoning became a bad joke years ago, largely due to Alec Baldwin’s inability to control his own mouth when he gets himself het up. Scalzi, I trust, was being clever in making the off-handed reference, but the rest of you? Shoosh now.

    I too would like to meet this “Decent, if hawkish” version of Lindsey Graham. I’d sometimes think Jon Stewart was being unkind in his “Southern Dandy” impression and choice of quotes, but then I’d see Graham’s press conferences in person, and I’d change my mind. He’s either disingenuous jackass, or an honest to goodness one.

    Despite the absolute hilarity of this cycle’s GOP Clown Car primary process, I also think a pattern is forming in the past 8 years. The GOP primary voters will flirt with the idea of a “dynamic candidate” (read: one who loudly voices their id), but in the end settle on someone: a) blandly, generically “Republican”; b) vaguely hawkish; c) with some kind of track record; and d) still polling in the double digits. So basically, we’re looking at Bush/Kasich ’16. Bush/Rubio is a possibility, but I agree with whomever upthread pointed out the vain hope of Kasich delivering Ohio. Bush/Cruz won’t happen because a) everyone hates Ted, and b) Ted’s ego won’t allow it. Anyway, the GOP electorate, cheered on by the right-wing punditry, will consider the election a lock, despite the race staying within the margin of error. Then they’ll be shocked when they lose, maybe by a little, maybe by a lot, but badly enough for there to not be a question.

  97. I’ve always thought that our ballots should have a “none of the above” option. And if none of above wins.. then we throw out all the candidates on the ballot and try again. That would help me when I find myself voting for who would be least bad.

  98. The promises/threats/jokes about having to move to Canada are both childish and terrifying.

    On the one hand, joking about being a political refugee is a paranoid fantasy. (It’s also in poor taste considering how many real people have become refugees.) It’s a mirror image of the gun nut who plans to build a treehouse fortified compound to fight off FEMA shock troops, or UN black helicopters, or ISIS terrorists, or post-apocalyptic scavengers. The USA is, thankfully, a very long way from becoming either a dictatorship or a war zone.

    On the other, most of the Republican candidates are truly, deeply scary, and could do a lot of damage if they get elected. I’d like to think that democracy and the rule of law in the USA are robust enough to survive President Rubio, President Cruz, even President Trump. If not, then we’re all in big trouble. Canada might not be far enough to escape the consequences, and as a Canadian I find that alarming.

  99. To docrocketscience et al:

    As an American I would prefer not to move to Canada if/when this country flips fanatical, but I have a family as well. I don’t anticipate the USA going collectively nuts at the moment, but what I read in the news leaves me wondering from time to time. Probably the fact that I was raised outside the continental US influences my impressions, but it is what it is. I know this place can be better since it is better in other places I have lived. If you find these sort of references to Canada irritating, all I can say in reply is I find it irritating that I even have to ponder such a possibility.

    Also, as far as I know it was Vietnam that really got the ‘head to Canada’ schtick rolling.

  100. @Greg Leon Guerrero: If you have a specific reason to move to Canada, and you’re actually prepared to go and do it, fair enough. Avoiding the Vietnam draft was a reason. Getting health care is a reason (if people are dependent on Obamacare for coverage, and a GOP President/Congress were preparing to repeal it). The outcome of an election being generally not to your liking is not a good reason.

    ICYMI, Canada had an odious right-wing government of its own until very recently. Harper was less crazy than the US Republicans, but that leaves a great deal of room for nastiness. What were the Canadians supposed to do, move to Sweden?

  101. I’m trying to think of anything Pataki did as governor of my state that stands out.

    On the other hand, he appears to be what remains of the northeastern moderarately liberal Republicans (of which Barack Obama would be fine example). He’s at least somewhat pro-choice and doesn’t favor banning same-sex marriage. He’s..tolerable…on the environment and actually understands that climate change is a real thing and that scientists around the world aren’t just making shit up (unlike, say, the most of the rest of the GOP).

    I don’t think he’s nearly batshit crazy enough to win the GOP nod because he can’t run far enough to the right.

  102. “Sure, and that’s a problem with DW-Nominate, though note that Sanders can, in fact, introduce legislation himself.”

    Of course. But there’s a significant difference between introducing legislation from a leadership position (and with a popular mandate) and doing so independently.

    “Clinton, in an environment with much more left legislation, might shift to the left as well.”

    A fair point. However it reinforces an underlying theme that candidates DW-Nominate is not a flawless measure of how progressive a candidate is, as political context still matters.

    “DW-Nominate is by no means a perfect way of measuring partisanship, but it’s a reasonable one, and it indicates that Sanders and Clinton are fairly close together, despite their rhetoric.”

    My irritation is that saying they are “fairly close together” hand-waves moments where their differences were substantive and the ramifications of the votes were truly momentous e.g. votes concerning the Iraq War and the repeal of Glass-Steagall. Incidentally, financial reform, political reform, and foreign policy are precisely the areas I don’t trust Hilary because of her history. The 7% difference DW-Nominate describes between liberal positions might be small as far as American political differentiation goes, but could make a huge difference to how their Presidencies would affect America’s relationship to the world as a whole.

    “It’s in her interest now (and for the general) to play up her moderateness. Sanders is occupying the radical Democratic space (aka, the “Warren space”) and it’s in his interest to play up his radicalness.”

    That /might/ be true. But I don’t think it’s necessarily so. For various reasons the Democrats have recently faced problems getting people to actually turn out and vote for them. A candidate playing the moderate game might struggle to enthral and motivate the Democratic base as much as a radical (although the identity of the Republican they’re facing is another important factor).

  103. jopearson89, what vote on “the repeal of Glass-Steagal” are you referencing for Cinton? The only Clinton involved with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act was titled “President” and had a first name of “William”.

  104. To Ian Roberts:
    A poor election result would not be my reason for leaving this country, but it may be a harbinger of something more extreme. I actually have no problems with a conservative in office. I used to be conservative and come from a conservative family. But what we have for conservative candidates is ludicrous for the most part, and it seems the loons are the most popular. Of course, one has to wait and see what comes out in the wash, so to speak, but it continually amazes me what passes for a politician (and I’m not only talking conservative). It could be a side effect of a more intensely media-driven world, but I’m not quite convinced yet.

  105. Does anyone else think that DW NOMINATE sounds like one of those semi-semantic classified codenames from Charles Stross’s Laundry novels? As in, “WARNING: If you do not have DW NOMINATE clearance: 1) Stop reading immediately; 2) Commit suicide in a manner consistent with HR guidelines for preservation of brain structure integrity; 3) Report for your Residual Human Resource initial debriefing within 48 hours.”?

  106. To Bill Blondeau:
    Regarding DW NOMINATE, this only proves beyond a doubt that I’m getting old. Were that a brochure it would see the inside of my trash bin very quickly. No offense is meant by my sentiment, merely a realization that maybe, yes, my ship has sailed. And yes it has sails too.

  107. The biggest problem with any of these candidates is that they are in or support the Republican party. That should automatically take you out of the running for president, and being classified as a rational human being.
    The Republican party has run off the rails and is full on bat crap crazy.
    The people with ethics and morals have left. So what’s wrong with these people that they can’t see that the Republican party has become a group of lunatic insular nut jobs?

  108. But there’s a significant difference between introducing legislation from a leadership position (and with a popular mandate) and doing so independently

    Uh, sure — but if Sanders had introduced highly progressive legislation, it would help his DW-Nominate score nonetheless. And given that neither LBJ nor Obama shifted substantially from their Senatorial scores, it seems like it’s a pretty reasonable measure.

    However it reinforces an underlying theme that candidates DW-Nominate is not a flawless measure of how progressive a candidate is, as political context still matters.

    Absolutely — but it does nothing to demonstrate that Sanders is markedly more progressive than his score and that Clinton isn’t.

    My irritation is that saying they are “fairly close together” hand-waves moments where their differences were substantive

    My irritation with saying that they are substantively different is that it hand-waves the way in which both are main line Democratic politicians who are only liberal because we live in a highly conservative time.

    So I guess we’re both irritated.

    The Iraq War was horrendous, indeed, and Sanders should be honored for voting against it. He did vote in favor of the war in Kosovo (1999), Afghanistan (2001), and the surge in Afghanistan (2010-2011). This illustrates my point — he’s certainly to the left of Clinton but not by all that much.

    As to Glass-Steagall, Hillary Clinton had nothing (official) to do with that, so I’m not sure to what you’re referring.

    A candidate playing the moderate game might struggle to enthral and motivate the Democratic base as much as a radical

    Ah, but Clinton substantial (non-political) advantages in that regard. As a woman and as a Clinton, she’s guaranteed to drive the Republicans into a foaming frenzy of ludicrousness, which will likely rile up the Democratic base and get them out to vote. The GOP will get so nutty about her that (as they did with Obama) they’ll overreach and drive turnout (in O’s case, among other things, it was the voting restrictions, which actually seem to have lifted voting turnout in Democratic voters in the concerned states). Clinton *looks* radical to the GOP, but can play moderate to the voters.

  109. @joepearson89 – I have a Hillary-supporting (fanatically so, IMO) friend who keeps waving a similar thing to DW-Nominate in my face, saying “You see! You See! Hillary Clinton’s as Liberal as Elizabeth Warren!” To which I say, “What do you want me to believe? You, or my lying eyes and ears?”

    I think you put it why “close” isn’t near close enough when it comes to Hillary far better than I have to date.

    @John D. – what he’s referring to is that Hillary has repeatedly said she wouldn’t reinstate Glass-Steagal if elected, but thinks the toothless Dodds-Frank bill put up as a replacement is “fine”. So, until she starts kicking her husband under the bus? It’s reasonable to assume she shares his political views….

  110. Greg Leon Guerrero: Vancouver Island is a myth. No such place exists. Please don’t mention it again as a place for Americans to escape to. Besides, if there was such a place, it has wolves, man eating cougars (the kind with real fur and sharp teeth and claws, actual 100 lb cats), an airborne fungus that kills people, a very low rental vacancy rate, and the province is run by conservatives. Plus, I think this mythical place had two murders in the last two years.
    That is, if it was real, which it most certainly isn’t.

  111. @Iain Roberts, AFAIK, every GOP candidate plans to repeal the ACA. Whether or not they’re at all likely to be successful is another story entirely, but that’s been a pretty major GOP talking point pretty much since the ACA was first introduced. I know that ‘I’ll just move to Canada’ reads like a joke, and maybe for some people it is, but there is some legitimately frightening stuff happening in this country. Our police are getting increasingly militarized, prisons are being privatized, major party presidential candidates are talking about closing down mosques and issuing mandatory ID badges to Muslims, a major part of the Voting Right Act was recently overturned, leading to a rash of incredibly racist voting laws popping up basically overnight…

    Look, I’m not saying that the U.S. is in any way comparable to Syria. It isn’t. And as a middle-class white lady with no serious health problems, I’m not that likely to feel the brunt of it. For people who are, though? I don’t blame them if emigration is starting to look like a better and better idea.

  112. Just want to give a shout out for CHAUNCEY GARDINER!!!!!!!

    Also, watching Trump run the number one slot in polls, I kind of get the *experience* of what it must have been like watching Hitler rising to power. I think I *understood* the appeal of blaming all your problems on everyone else but you, but now I get a sense of what it would *feel* like going on at a national level.

    He is such a fucking fascist. Better to be straight about it than to resort to dog whistles I suppose. At least he is honest in that regard. A fascist, but honest about his fascism.

  113. saying “You see! You See! Hillary Clinton’s as Liberal as Elizabeth Warren!” To which I say, “What do you want me to believe? You, or my lying eyes and ears?”

    Given the unreliability of witness testimony, you might want to believe DW-Nominate (which, I should note, suggests that Elizabeth Warren is substantially to the left of Hillary, unlike, say, Sanders).

    but thinks the toothless Dodds-Frank bill

    Sanders voted for Dodd-Frank. And, for all his talk, he didn’t introduce a bill to reinstate Glass Steagall — that was Elizabeth Warren (he did come on as a co-sponsor later).

  114. So in the past week, Turkey shot down a Russian jet, Trump advocated Hitler-style registration of Muslims with the government, and a bunch of governors decided that letting Syrian children die on beaches is worth a few paranoid constituents feeling safer that they don’t have to share a country with brown people.

    Fuck it, as soon as I graduate I’m moving to Finland. At least the Finns don’t give a shit about your gender, race, or religion, just whether or not you’re an asshole.

  115. @John D.
    @timeliebe

    I must admit that I was mistaken about Hilary voting re: Glass Steagall. I thought her senatorial career started earlier. My error.

    @David

    My personal instinct remains that you are wrong, but you make good points. I will bear your thoughts in mind, and go away and examine the record in greater detail.

  116. DocRocketScience: I am over 30 and I would move to Canada if they would take me and if I could get a decent job there. However, I would not do as a knee jerk reaction to a single election, but more because my native habitat is being destroyed down here. Maybe Canada will have temperate climes and real autumns for something like the rest of my life.

  117. I have been saying for a while that the GOP has been promoting medieval-style, feudal-style aristocracy (with corporate CEOs or right-wing church leaders as the aristocrats, depending on which GOP faction). And that people eventually would get mad about this, and that that was when fascism would have a chance to be popular, because fascism is actually marginally better for the common people than Dark Ages-style feudal aristocracy. Fascists support infrastructure and the *existence* of public services, if you’re of the “right” ethnic group and toe the line and join the “patriotic” military. Feudal aristocracy will torture you on a *whim*, won’t build *any* infrastructure, will make you fight constantly against the other feudal aristocrats. Hitler built the Autobahns and promoted Volkswagen. Aristocrats often actually prohibited the lower classes from riding horses. (Boy, “better than the Dark Ages” is a really, really low standard.)

    So it happened. Trump is a fascist, and that’s understandably more popular than the aristocrats.

    Historically, the only agenda which can beat fascism in the popular mind is SOCIALISM. In Germany the main socialist party of the time (the SPD, which still exists) idiotically adopted hard-money austerity policies, discredited themselves, and opened the floodgates for Hitler.

    In Italy, the socialists were about to be elected, and the King deliberately ignored the election results in order to give power to Mussolini, so that’s a bit different… the problem there was that the *aristocrats* are so afraid of even a hint of socialism (because they might lose a little tiny bit of their money) that they’ll support fascism to stop it. Which is dumb on the part of the aristocrats, but nobody ever said they were smart.

    So here’s hoping Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic nomination. I’m sure Hillary would be an OK President, but she’s deeply associated with Bill Clinton and Obama’s austerity-lite hard-money policies, and she’s not a very good campaigner.

    Bluntly, in order to steer the populace away from fascism, we need someone with fire in their belly offering the poor and middle class the free money they deserve, and willing to denounce the aristocracy of CEOs. (The government prints the stuff — the money really is free, as long as there’s no inflation, which there isn’t any risk of right now — we should give it to people who need it, rather than piling it on the unused hoards of the billionaires.)

    If you’re seriously looking at “electability” in this environment, you have to go with Bernie over Hillary. Regardless of what you think of the candidates on policy.

  118. Partial take from a republican. I think some of the people running are less popular due to the large number of candidates. You have to do and say different things to stand out in a bigger crowd then you do in a small crowd. Before lefties get all holier than though. Atleast we didn’t annoint a retread before the election started.

    1. Lyndsey Graham: No ‘it’ factor. Lacks national charisma. I dont know what else to call it. Charisma locally and charisma nationally are totally different things. He looks like a weenie when he talks. When he tries to be tough he looks like a petulent 8 year old. He just doesn’t look the part.

    2. John Kasich: He is boring. No charisma. Lacks anything to make him standout. In a cast of 15 what makes him special? He is generic republican #4. There are 100 guys like him in Congress. Bill Parcells called bottom of the roster players ‘JAGs’ (just another guy). Kasish is a JAG.

    3. Trump: You honestly are such a hater you put trump ahead of Ted Cruz or anybody. Thats just John trying to be obnoxious. Trump has no chance. He is at a ceiling. He gets polling because he says stuff and changes debates. HE has no chance at the nomination.

    Unlike Democrats we expect our candidates to have a little experience as well.

    4. Ben Carson: Please get him to run for Senator from Maryland. Long time democrat retired. We took the governorship. He could flip the seat. The guy lives in Maryland. He is perfect. He is not a prime time national candidate, but he is senate material. We don’t need any more lawyers in congress.

    5. Carly Fiorina: Im in IT. She shipped jobs off shore and fired older americans to replace with H1Bs. She never won anything. I would sit home if she was nominated. She has no chance. Then she cried sexism when she deservedly got fired and was replaced with another woman CEO. Yeah ok. She gutted Hewlett Packard. She was CEO for 2 years. She hasn’t done anything else.

    6. Rand Paul: Considering that 50% of Rand Paul is Ayn Rand and 50% of Rand Paul is a liberal democrat. Rather silly for you to put him so low. He is farther to the left than Obama on the NSA Panty Sniffer Act.

    The winner Will be Rubio/Cruz/Bush.

    Ones I did not mention are has beens and I don’t know why they are running other than to get some publicity to get speaker fees later. Not only will they not win, they won’t go back into politics and no one will name them to any cabinet seats.

    Bush: Boring just another bush. Meat and potatoes. Did I say boring? But has alot of money and its a state by state primary.

    Cruz: Yeah lets fire americans and replace them with cheaper laborers then use laws that don’t let them quit and get more money. A little biased here. I think next year the H1B support will hurt him more than illegal immigration since its clearly shown that its used to out source jobs.

    I think its Cruz or Rubio. Outside shot for Bush. I have not decided who I support, but you can tell a few I wonder never support.

    Rubio is the strongest candidate against Hillary cause he is Hispanic and he pawns her on illegal immigration. Plus he is young (like Cruz). In 2008 Obamas age vs. John McCain was a huge factor in the election. Likely Hillary would go right on H1bs if Rubio faces her which would be ironic.

  119. No one else is horrified that Lindsey Graham – LINDSEY GRAHAM – was the runner up? His policies foreign & domestic are mad. Mad I say.

  120. Guess —

    From your response, it reads like you think John’s listing them in order of how likely he thinks they are to win, which is a very different criterion from which one’s he’d be most willing (however unlikely) to vote for.

    Also: Ben Carson has been a Florida resident for the last two years.

  121. Jerry Tarone: Where is my spouse’s co-worker flying into the Vancouver office from, if Vancouver Island doesn’t exist? If K.’s got a portal to mythical realms, I’ma borrow it long enough to haul my family to a nice quiet bit of the Culture, please and thank you.

    A woman of my acquaintance has been fighting the good fight with a reactionary state government for decades; tomorrow she’s packing a container, and leaving for Ireland the next week (she holds dual citizenship and has family there). While my spouse’s manager would probably agree to move us to Vancouver, the tax issues for US citizens living outside the US are a clusterfuck in their own right, as a family member is learning to their cost.

  122. “Besides, if there was such a place, it has wolves, man eating cougars (the kind with real fur and sharp teeth and claws, actual 100 lb cats”
    Oh, quite a bit heavier than that. They’re around 8ft nose to tail, have apparently been seen to leap 15+ metres straight up into trees (or maybe LEO) and more than that horizontally. The cougar population of this mythical island (which really doesn’t exist, honest) is the healthiest in the world and I’ve had one In my garden . And there’s bears too. Big buggers. Wolverines also. And Woozles, according to my little friend Piglit.

  123. To paraphrase the Blessed Molly Ivins, (a) there’s nothing like a Republican primary to send you screaming back into the arms of the Democrats and (b) Trump’s recent remarks probably sounded better in the original German.

  124. My personal instinct remains that you are wrong, but you make good points. I will bear your thoughts in mind, and go away and examine the record in greater detail

    You are very gracious. Thanks. it’d be nice if they were *both* more liberal than the scores indicated.

    I do so wish that Elizabeth Warren was running.

    Unlike Democrats we expect our candidates to have a little experience as well.

    Guess, you have to track what you said earlier. If you’re going to ding the Democrats for “retreads” then you can’t complain about a lack of experience too. Also, coming from a party that nominated George W. Bush, I wouldn’t crow about how sensible the GOP is on qualifications.

    If you’re seriously looking at “electability” in this environment, you have to go with Bernie over Hillary.

    Uh, well, no. Someone self-describing themselves as a “socialist” is not particularly electable, no matter how hard you assert it. Note that in the last general election test poll (PPP, November 19), Sanders loses to every major GOP candidate (Trump, Cruz, Carson, Rubio, Bush), while Clinton beats all but Rubio. Early days and a single poll, but that’s pretty indicative.

  125. >> I do so wish that Elizabeth Warren was running.>>

    I’d rather have Warren in the Senate for 20 years than in the White House for 8. I kinda think that’s what she wants, too.

    With the voters of Massachusetts behind her, she can be openly and directly more liberal than it takes to win nationwide, and can stay in the Senate as long as she wants, wielding power, winning allies and accomplishing things on her agenda (or just pulling the rest of the agenda leftward), while in the White House she’d be up against Congress rather than part of it. I like her ideas enormously, but I bet she can realize more of them by being a force in the Senate with a Dem in the White House than by being in the White House herself.

    I don’t think she’s the next Obama, I think she’s the next Ted Kennedy. A lion of the Senate who energizes and rallies the left from a base of strength, rather than needing to accommodate the tides of a national constituency in order to keep her position.

  126. Except that there’d be someone else in the seat, and knowing Massachusetts, it’d almost certainly be a Democrat, and while I’m sure most ex-Presidents could primary out the competition, it doesn’t seem terribly polite.

    Not to mention that the Presidency is an exhausting job, and involves a lot of things that Warren doesn’t seem all that interested in, like foreign policy. I think, in the Senate, she’ll be an increasingly-powerful committee member dealing with her favorite causes, and we’re probably better off with her full attention on that.

  127. One of my best friends was a lifelong Republican, who always said she was staying a Republican so there would be at least one sane vote cast on that ballot. I’m not using the past tense because she died, far from it — the current crop of Presidential candidates (plus the idiot who bought his way into our governor’s mansion last election) managed to drive her into changing her party affiliation to Democrat. That’s a major accomplishment, but not one the GOP should be proud of.

    Personally, if I had no choice but to vote for someone on this list, I’d shove Trump a few spaces lower. I don’t think he’s making bigoted statements to appeal to the tea partiers, I think he’s genuinely a bigot. But I’m also hoping Trump does a nice belly-flop once the primaries start, because you _know_ he’s going to backtrack on that “no running as independent” pledge the party made him sign. Either he’ll split the Republican vote with whoever gets the nod and we get a Democrat in the White House, or his independent run will force the Republican party to quit kowtowing to the tea party, let them split off by themselves, and move the GOP to a more mainstream posture.

  128. “I’d rather have Warren in the Senate for 20 years than in the White House for 8. I kinda think that’s what she wants, too.”

    Yes, yes, yes. She should not be running, at least now. Maybe in 8 years.

    Being mayor of Burlington, VT is not quite the same as being President but Sanders was a fiscal conservative and the city flourished during his tenure.

    I am one of the many struggling in the middle class as my pay has remained flat yet everything (excluding gas) is going up. I also really like Robert Reich who most likely will work with Bernie Sanders if he’s elected President.

  129. I think, in the Senate, she’ll be an increasingly-powerful committee member dealing with her favorite causes, and we’re probably better off with her full attention on that.

    Mm. Lot of progressive bills passing the Senate these days, are there? Has Warren ever got a bill she introduced passed in the Senate? At least as President, she’d have a shot with executive actions and appointing Supreme Court justices.

    No, I’d rather she was running.

  130. No, I’d rather she was running.

    Actually, I think she IS more influential as a Senate member. Because there are too many people who believe in wielding from the top downward, rather from the bottom up. That kind of power gets erased rather quickly when the political winds change.

    You want 20 Elizabeth Warrens in the Senate rather than one as President. That way you CAN have progressive bills pass the Senate. Do note that legislation was a lot more progressive when there were a lot more Democrats in the Congress.

  131. You want 20 Elizabeth Warrens in the Senate rather than one as President

    Uh, while I’m wishing for impossible things, can I have a pony too?

    Do note that legislation was a lot more progressive when there were a lot more Democrats in the Congress

    Yes, I’m aware of that. Is that going to happen anytime soon?

  132. (Before someone jumps into explain that 2016 looks like a good year for Democratic chances in the Senate — yes, it does: 24 GOP seats up, 10 Democratic. But realistically speaking, the Democrats are going to need 60 seats to manage anything as progressive as Warren would like, and that’s not going to happen)

  133. Elizabeth Warren is 66 – she’ll be too old in 8 years.

    I wish there was a younger democrat running – HRC is 68, Bernie 74. IMHO, that’s too old – if you’re paying attention (unlike Shrub) president years are like dog years, they wear you out quickly – just look at home Obama looks now compared to when he was elected.

    I think it will be Trump from the Republican side – Cruz is toxic to just about everybody, it may be him. Rubio is bland enough to be a threat, unfortunately.

  134. Yes, I’m aware of that. Is that going to happen anytime soon?

    That’s up to you. You keep thinking 20 Elizabeth Warrens are impossible, then it won’t.

    Stop thinking top down. Think bottom up. Local then county then state.

  135. I think folks are conveniently forgetting what primary season is for – you promise everything to everybody in order to drum up local support and get the nomination. Then the slate clears, and you’re free to change your positions on almost anything. It’s why everyone is for ethanol in Iowa, but no one is for it in Washington, DC.

    I don’t believe for a second that these folks are so entirely anti-Muslim or anti-Syrian refugee or anti-immigration. I think they (especially Trump who, after all, has made his entire career out of being good at EXACTLY this game) know that these opinions are going to earn them the free press they desperately crave, and garner favor with the small subset of the GOP that votes in primaries. Whoever wins will sprint to the center in the general election and make the election about the things Hillary is weakest on: trust/ethics, foreign policy, the economy, etc..

    In the meantime, John’s post was entertaining, just like this reality show we’re calling “The Primary Debates” has been. When the show is over and the actual election cycle begins, then I’ll tune in. Until then, let the fun continue…

  136. @Not the Reddit Chris S.: Well, there is Martin O’Malley (age 52, ex Governor of MD). At this point, he looks like he’d make an adequate VP candidate. Other than him, there really aren’t many up and coming younger Democrats, which speaks to a longer-term problem for the party.

    Suppose hypothetically (deity of your choice forbid this actually happens), they lose in 2016. Hillary and Bernie are too old to run in 2020. Does O’Malley have it in him to take down an incumbent Republican President? Doubtful. But who else do they have?

  137. Does it seem to anyone else that this year’s slate as a whole is just far crazier than anything you can remember?

    A bit Rabid Puppy, in fact.

  138. So, the thought of a Ted Cruz Presidency kind of brings a horrified grin to my face. Trying to imagine a President who is thoroughly and justifiably hated by nearly every Congressman and Senator is warping my brain a bit. I’m tying to figure out what he thinks is even the point of being such a President? Since he claims to be AGAINST wielding power through executive fiat, and yet that would be the only way he could get anything done, how does he imagine he would function?

  139. I think it is insensitive to discuss these guys on Thanksgiving Day, when so many of their brethren have or will have been sacrificed.

  140. Fiorina is not running for President. She is running for a Cabinet position. The point of having her as a Presidential nominee is to be the See, Republicans Do Too Care About Women foil to Hillary Clinton, and if the eventual Republican nominee wins the election, she gets a reward for her efforts.

    I find it difficult to believe that most of the other candidates are running for anything other than better fees on the speaking-and-book-deal gravy train.

  141. I’ve been under the impression that Kasich was really running for Vice President. I’m starting to lose track of which candidates I’ve disqualified because of which hopelessly bogus GOP Political Talking Point they’ve played (I think Kasich’s was Climate Change, which would mean he’s dishonest and/or really stupid – most of them have bought in to that one.) I haven’t paid much attention to Pataki as governor, but apparently not enough other Republicans have either, so he’s way down in the polls, but he seems to be the one I least dislike. My guess is that Rubio gets the nomination, because Jeb!’s too willing to buy into his brother’s advisers and funding base and he’s already fixed one election, but I wouldn’t bet more than 70-30 odds.

    The big policy difference between Hillary and Bernie is that he’s anti-war and she’s not; Rand Paul’s the only other candidate who makes that a major policy position. Bernie”s also too liberal and honest to get elected, while she’s got a large support base.

    I’m one of those annoying Libertarians, so I’m theoretically neutral between the big-money parties, which I’ll get around to right after the GOP cleans up the corruption of the Bush/Cheney/Rove/Koch/Norquist years. But I live in California, which will be voting for a Democrat, so I’ll be safely voting for whoever my party comes up with (or if they somehow pick some unacceptable quasi-Republican, I may vote Green.) And the last Romney I supported was Hugh (aka Wavy Gravy, the Woodstock MC, aka Nobody for President! Because Nobody’s telling the truth, and Nobody’s going to stop the war!)

  142. (My opposition to Kasich may have been the “not having a bloody clue about separation of church and state” one rather than climate change dishonesty.)

    Forgot to mention Lindsay Graham, who’s the most pro-war of the vaguely serious candidates. What really scares me about him is how often he takes a sensible position on some issue when the other candidates have just said something hopelessly appalling; I wouldn’t trust him in office because he’d do something horrible thinking it was a good idea, rather than just because it keeps his base happy, but I would place him ahead of Jeb! and behind Pataki.

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