And then there was one, and lo, it was the orange-haired one, and there was both glee and trembling in the land.
Reader, I had a little of both.
First was of course the obvious gloating one is bound to feel when just a few months ago, the usual suspects were calling the GOP field of primary contenders the best in years. Years, they said! Such a range of philosophies and approaches to the governing of our God-given Republic, yessiree. :::Draws deeply on pipe, or whatever stupid face accessory these people favor nowadays::: It will be a bracing race, and at the end, why, the world will be ours!
Meanwhile, see Gin and Tacos for a somewhat different take on the field:
The big money and bag men in the conservative movement bet on a candidate (Walker) so marble-mouthed, uncharismatic, mean, and stupid that he didn’t even make it to the Iowa Caucus and one so fundamentally incompetent (Bush) that not even a famous name, all the money in creation, and the blessing of the entire GOP establishment could win him better than a third place finish anywhere. The field was so bad and the Republican electorate is so mentally skewed that a man with no elected experience who is quite possibly insane and who never even pretended like he was campaigning seriously (Carson) got 10% of the vote. Red-meat Bible thumpers like Huckabee and Santorum never got off the launching pad. Recycled losers like Jindal, Rick Perry, and Lindsey Graham got so little attention other than mocking laughter that they quit before they too could win their 1% in Iowa. Rand Paul proved that he has a cult following of about 8% of the GOP electorate, just like his dad, and nothing beyond that. Shockingly, it turned out that nobody in any party was prepared to take bloated live-action Nelson Muntz / Tony Soprano hybrid Chris Christie seriously, nor a hatchet-faced sociopath with literally no professional, political, or personal qualities to recommend her to serve as dog catcher let alone president. It was worse than a clown car; clowns are, at least occasionally, funny.
So there was that. And because I am deeply suspicious of victory, knowing the grinding feeling of defeat, the inevitable It Could Happen thoughts intruded, and — may I just say something about victory and defeat? There have been times, in recent years, that I’ve felt a tiny hint of sympathy for conservatives, particularly younger ones, who have never known a world without Reagan worship, when Tax Cuts = Economic Growth is as indisputable as John 3:16, or that if winter comes, spring cannot be far behind. These are the people who are bleating that the problem with people like John McCain and Mitt Romney is that they weren’t conservative enough. The twin state-level disasters of Louisiana and Kansas, and to a lesser extent Wisconsin, large-scale laboratories for this school of thought, faze them not in the least. MOAR CONSERVATIVE, they rage, and then offer up…Ted Cruz. Srsly. (If I may lard this paragraph with ‘net speak.)
Anyway, wheels turn. Today you might be feeling pretty high on that wheel. Six months from now, it could be President-elect Trump. So don’t get too comfortable.
By the way, if you didn’t read Dahlia Lithwick’s marvelous piece on being on the the college debate circuit with young Ted Cruz, do so now. I found it simultaneously irritating — jeez, do all these Ivy League pricks know each other from their summer-camp days? — and amusing, because it’s Dahlia. Funny and wise, of course:
Most of my memories of debating Ted Cruz involve being hollered at. Austan (Goolsbee) was always defter than I was at deflating that which was most infuriating about Ted—the way he’d reframe a debate topic into something he had prepared, or would become fake-angry in ways that suited a 19-year-old even less than it suits a 40-something-year-old. I do remember that he wasn’t funny, and also that he never ever seemed comfortable in his skin. He always wanted to relitigate whatever round had just been decided, even if everyone else was careening drunkenly around the quad.
I have not one single memory of a relaxed Ted Cruz, or a joyful Ted Cruz, or an unguarded Ted Cruz. In every mental snapshot he is leaning forward and importuning someone to believe he is charming.
Sounds like the child really is father to the man.
Then Obama started to speak, and at one point asked for guess-what:
Mr. Obama, who coughed occasionally throughout the speech, paused at one point and looked offstage. “Can I get a glass of water?” he asked, drawing laughs and applause.
“I really did need a glass of water,” Mr. Obama said as he sipped the water that an aide handed to him. “This is not a stunt.”
It may well have been a stunt. But last month, when the governor was telling people that filtered Flint water was safe to drink, he was asked if he’d consider drinking it himself. He said he’d be willing to talk about it. Later he agreed, but the moment had passed, the moment when you reach out, grab that glass, and chug it down.
Oh, this week is going slowly, but once Thursday happens, stuff speeds up.
Let’s hope so.