Thursday, October 29, 2015

Low Ebb Jeb

I had a hard time determining who I thought the winner of last night's GOP Presidential Debate was. I thought Marco Rubio once again showed that he has the best political skills of any one on the stage. Ted Cruz was also outstanding and last night could prove to be a break-out moment for him. Chris Christie also had a great night and he may have re-energized his flagging campaign as a result. Carly Fiorina turned in another consistent performance. These would be my four definite winners from last night's debate. Between Cruz and Rubio, it is tough to pick one overall winner.

However, it was easy to determine who was the biggest loser of the night---Jeb Bush. Jeb has definitely reached a low ebb.  Before he gets any lower perhaps he should think about getting out.

It makes you wonder how so many wealthy, influential people invested their money in a Bush candidacy?

For the record, I have had doubts about Jeb from the outset.

I wrote this about Bush back in May.
For now the race is mostly about money. And there seems to be a lot of money flowing in. Jeb Bush will bring in the most. I read one report that suggests he might have $100 million banked by the end of this month. However, will Jeb Bush be able to collect votes as easily as he is raising cash? In my view it will not be easy running with the Bush name. He starts the race with more money and also with more baggage that he only has by way of birth. It may not be fair but it's politics. It's never fair.

And followed it up with another observation in July about Jeb.

Interestingly, in a Bush-Clinton race 44% would definitely not vote for Bush and 43% would definitely not vote for Clinton. That is why, despite whatever merits Jeb Bush has as a person or candidate, he is a poor pick to run against Clinton. Hillary is carrying a lot of baggage into the race. Why would I pick someone with an equivalent amount of baggage when I have 15 other candidates that can be marketed with a relatively clean slate with most voters? 

It clearly is not easy running with the Bush name but it is even harder when your former protege stands next to you on the debate stage and you just don't measure up.

I saw a definite "Marco problem" for Bush in my observations immediately after the first debate in August.

It was difficult to pick a clear winner in the main debate (as contrasted to Carly Fiorina in the early debate) but I thought Marco Rubio stood out for his presence and his articulate answers. I also thought that Jeb Bush definitely suffers when he is on the same stage with his protege.

It all came crashing down on Jeb last night when he was standing right next to Rubio on the debate stage and made an ill-considered decision to attack Marco on his voting record in the Senate.

What was most inexplicable about the Bush attack was that Rubio had just done a great job of parrying the charge about his Senate absences from the CNBC moderators  agitators which drew good applause from the audience. However, Bush nevertheless tried to pile on with what was obviously a premeditated attack ("the French work week" line). It made no sense.

Credit: Seattle Times

And it did not end well for Bush. Rubio responded with what I believe is the best response on the debate stage since Lloyd Bentsen smacked down Dan Quayle in the 1992 Vice Presidential debate.

Credit: C-Span

I thought it was interesting to see a few of the comments from Jeb supporters in the aftermath of last night's debate that were reported by Politico.

“Horrible” is how one Florida-based Bush bundler summed up the night. “He got crushed.”

“Marco is a [expletive] Jedi master,” one distraught Florida donor said. “Hopefully these idiots learn not to [expletive] with him anymore. Not necessary.” Of course, how smart are these bundlers and donors if they gave Jeb money?

Of course, how smart are these bundlers and donors if they gave money to Jeb in the first place?

It is not the first time that the establishment placed their money on the wrong horse in a political race.

I still remember 1980 when all of the big establishment money went to John Connally early.

How did that work out?

Connally earned exactly one delegate in the Republican primaries.

The cost---$11 million. That would be about $36 million in today's dollars. That is a lot of money for one delegate.

Who was the anti-establishment candidate who won the GOP nomination that year?

Ronald Reagan.  It is still hard to think that in 1980 Ronald Reagan was the Ted Cruz or Donald Trump of the day.

Who ultimately picked up the establishment mantle in the GOP primaries after Connally faltered?

George H.W. Bush.

It looks like his son may end up looking more like a Connally than a Bush in this race.

Meanwhile, Jeb's protege, Rubio, may soon become the establishment choice squaring off in the end against whoever becomes the anti-establishment candidate (Trump, Carson, Cruz?).

History may not repeat, but it rhymes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Boat, Back and the Budget Man

BeeLine has been on hiatus for the the last seven weeks-planned and unplanned.

The planned hiatus involved a trip to Denmark and a transatlantic cruise from Copenhagen to New York City that took me offline for almost a month. We visited Norway, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia in addition to the voyage across the North Atlantic that was not far off of the path the Titanic took over a century ago.

The unplanned hiatus involved a back injury I sustained on the last day of the voyage when I made a misstep on some stairs. That resulted in about two weeks where I was laying prone most of the time and it is only now that I am able to sit for any extended period of time. Needless to say, blogging is difficult when you are flat on your back.

However, I am finally back on the road to recovery and a lot has happened in the last two months.

Among the big news items...

  • Donald Trump still defying political gravity in the GOP Presidential race.  However, Ben Carson seems to coming on strong of late in recent polls.
  • John Boehner resigning as House Speaker and his heir apparent, Kevin McCarthy, self-imploding on his way to the Speaker's chair.
  • Paul Ryan being "drafted" to run for House Speaker after taking himself out multiple times before. Interestingly, many true conservatives don't think he is conservative enough but consider that Ryan's lifetime American Conservative Union Rating is 90. His score last year was 84. Daniel Webster, who received the initial endorsement of the House Freedom Caucus ( and effectively ended Kevin McCarthy's bid for Speaker) which represents the Tea Party wing of the party, has a lifetime rating of 78.83 and his score last year was 72.  McCarthy's lifetime ACU Rating is 88.63 and he also had a 72 score last year. Based on the ACU Rating, Ryan is more conservative than either of them!
    • I am a big supporter of Paul Ryan and I think he was the only realistic candidate for Speaker. Why? He is the smartest guy the Republicans have in the House. He knows policy and he understands politics. Very few politicians have both skills. He has the needed experience on how the House and Washington work. He is articulate and is the best spokesperson the Republicans have to explain their positions to the American people. He has been a national candidate and is used to the spotlight and the scrutiny with a high profile position. He got his college degree from the same school I did! What more can be said?
    • I have written about Paul Ryan many times before in these pages. Here is an excerpt from a blog I wrote shortly after Mitt Romney selected Ryan to be his running mate in August, 2012.

I believe Paul Ryan is the most consequential person I have seen on the political scene in the last 30 years.  We have not had anyone since Ronald Reagan who has had more influence on the direction of the debate in Washington.  Ryan almost single-handedly put the budget debate and entitlement reform on the front page.  Many have said that you could not broach the subject of entitlement reform in Washington and survive.  Ryan did and he has only not survived, it has gotten him to a place where he and Mitt Romney might actually be able to save the country from its fiscal delinquency.

I have written about Ryan several times in these pages.  The first was a year and a half ago in The Punter and The Quarterback.  I described how I saw Paul Ryan compared to Barack Obama.
To use a football analogy you've got a punter and a quarterback.  The punter runs on the field, kicks the ball quickly and hopes that his teammates make the tackle on the return so he doesn't have to get his uniform dirty.  The quarterback is determined to take his team to victory.  He is not afraid to put everything on the line to do it.   If he has to scramble, he won't be sliding to avoid getting tackled.  He is all in to win. 

The punter-President Barack Obama.  The quarterback-House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan.
Barack Obama was elected as President of the United States because he said he was going to change Washington.  He was going to cut the deficit in half.  He was going to be a leader like none we had ever seen before.  All he has done is punt, punt punt.

Paul Ryan was just a young Congressman from Wisconsin when he came to Washington.  However, he has done nothing but lead, lead, lead.  He not only has shown a mastery of the difficult budget issues of our country but he crafted a concrete plan and path to deal with it.  He not only took on the tough issue of entitlement reform in that proposal but he has been able to get the entire Republican caucus in the House and Senate to support his approach. 

He has persevered even when he has been viciously and unfairly attacked by Democrats.  They have run ads showing him throwing grandma over the cliff.  They have called him every name in the book. 

You will hear it all over the next few days.  He's radical.  He's heartless.  Of course, the Democrats have no plan of their own other than to take the country over the cliff.  President Obama's budget has not even been able to get one Democrat vote in the Senate in the last two years. The Democratic-controlled Senate has not produced a budget for over 3 years. On the other hand, Ryan's budgets have passed the House in each of the last 2 years.

I said this about Ryan in April, 2011 after he released his 2012 Budget proposal.

"Paul Ryan has put a proposal forward that will require the American people to decide what path they want to be on.  A path that can provide a way out of the fiscal mess we are in and the potential to put us on a "path to prosperity" as Ryan calls it.  Or the current road to ruin that we are currently on.  The American people have to decide the future they want.  

The 2012 election just got much more interesting due to Paul Ryan. That is when we will also find out whether Ryan is the man for the times or simply is a man ahead of the times.  No matter which way it goes, I know one thing.  Paul Ryan is A MAN!  We have not seem many like him in Washington in a long time.

I don't agree with Paul Ryan on everything. However, I don't doubt his capabilities, his courage and his commitment to do what is right for this country. That is all I need.

If there is a man for these times, I believe that Paul Ryan is that man.

If you still have doubts, read this blog that I also wrote in 2012 about Paul Ryan and The Fourth Turning.

May the House of Representatives agree with my conclusion about the man tomorrow.