Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Rick Perry has the ignominious distinction of being the first GOP presidential candidate to drop out of the race.  He used the opportunity to hurl abuse at Donald Trump, and also the Democrats, which he believes clouded his campaign with the Travis County indictment hanging over his head.   Hard to admit your campaign simply failed to gain any traction even with the sporty new glasses, which Trump effectively ridiculed.

Former Governor Rick tried to evoke George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism," but it was no match for Trump's fierce rhetoric that quickly seized the imagination (what little there is) of the Republican base.  The "Know Nothings" are clearly in control of the party right now, casting their lot for two outsiders, Trump and Carson, who now command 50 per cent of the electoral pie.  That leaves 15 other candidates to carve up the remainder, with Rick getting a measly one per cent, which once again didn't qualify him for the prime time debate.

Jim Gilmore hangs in despite polling zero per cent, and didn't even get an invitation for the warm-up match.  Anyone's guess what he's getting out of this campaign.  Certainly not name recognition, as  Stephen Colbert offered $100 to anyone in his studio audience who knew who he was and he kept his Ben Franklin.

At some point, the now 14 other candidates will have to rally around one candidate to go up against Trump and Ben Carson, because they are currently running away with the show.  It's an interesting contrast in styles, which is finally generating some sparks as the two challenge each other's legitimacy.  Carson questioned Trump's faith.  In turn, Trump questioned Carson's experience, even that of being a doctor.  I don't imagine the good doctor is going to take this latest round of insults lying down, even if he said that he was no longer going to let persons make him angry so that they could have power over his life.

It's an interesting statement because it sums up Trump pretty well.  This is a guy that goes out of his way to incite anger at every level.  I guess he figures that if he can get people all riled up he can control them to suit his purposes.  Look at this crowd at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, which he whipped up into a huge frenzy against immigrants, the media and just about every one he felt was leading this country to ruin or questioning his legitimacy.  He attacked George Will and Karl Rove, who no one listens to anymore, and of course Megyn Kelly, who insulted him in the last debate.  I'm surprised he didn't bash Miss Alabama too, who derisively called him an "entertainer" when questioned about Trump at the Miss America Pageant.  I suppose the Donald is saving his wrath for her when he visits Alabama again.

Adam Gopnik offers this interesting assessment of the Donald in the New Yorker, charting Trump's scorn back to the 2011 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner when President Obama rubbed salt into the wounds of Trump's birther campaign that year.  Gopnik was sitting close enough to the Donald to see his icy stare as everyone laughed at his expense.  Trump is now channeling that anger into this campaign, and garnering the biggest piece of the Republican electoral pie in the process.  If there is anything we have learned about the GOP in recent decades it is that victimhood sells.

By contrast, Ben Carson has considerably toned down his rhetoric, after launching broadsides at the President earlier this year, such as accusing him of lying like a psychopath when it came to the low unemployment figures Obama cited.  The new Gentle Ben no longer attacks his opponents, or if he does he apologizes afterward, as was the case when he questioned Donald's faith.  As a result, he is soaring in the polls thanks to Evangelical voters, who appreciate his kind heart.

Trump doesn't believe in apologies (or confessions) because he is never wrong, at least not in his mind.  He offered up his usual nonsense on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, engaging in an amusing interview where he played his own reflection to Jimmy Fallon's caricature.  As Miss Alabama said, the Donald is quite the entertainer.

Governor Rick should be more upset with Dr. Carson for stealing his "compassionate conservatism," rather than Trump, who gave him every opportunity to display it.  Instead, Rick lashed out at the Donald, allowing himself to fall under Trump's control.  Whatever barb Rick slung at Trump, the Donald would sling back one better.  Just look at Jeb, who similarly found out the hard way you can't win a twitter or instagram battle with Donald J. Trump.

Republican voters are once again expressing their frustration with corporate proxy candidates like Governors Rick, Walker and Jeb and their super-sized PACs.  They want the real deal, they just haven't decided which way to turn -- the loud-mouthed braggart with a well-worn red mop on his head, or the soft-spoken doctor who seems to have the evangelical cure for what ails you.   However, four years ago it looked like it was going to come down to Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain, who likewise held the commanding share of the Republican electorate, only to see their fortunes fade rapidly when the primaries actually began.  Maybe Rick dropped out too soon?

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