Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A tetralogy of 2016 thoughts

What do you do with thoughts that are too long for Twitter, but too short for a full-blown post?

You slap them together, google the technical term for "four things", and call it a "tetralogy" of 2016 thoughts (Originally, I was going to call those four thoughts a "trilogy + 1 of thoughts", but something sounded off about that).

So here they are, in no particular order.

Rand Paul benefits from contrasts with his dad (photo: Gage Skidmore)

1. Rand Paul is "savvy", mainly because his dad wasn't.

Rand has piggy-backed nicely on Ron Paul's name, career, and organizational work.

But there's something else Ron has done for his son -- he's made his son look savvy.

Rand is continually portrayed as a slick political operator who knows how to charm every audience and play the political game with the effortless grace of a Viennese swan.

Well, he's some of that, but he's most of that because people are continually comparing and contrasting him with his dad, who was none of those things.

If Rand Paul's dad were Ronald Reagan, then Rand Reagan would seem bumbling in his efforts to woo Howard University students, shifty in his position on drones, and slippery on gay marriage and foreign aid.

But, to his great fortune, Rand's dad is Ron Paul, and thus, every time Rand so much as extends a physical hand to a mainstream Republican, he's pegged as the smoothest operator since Peter O'Toole (who was the smoothest of all-time).

In fact, of the 2016 candidates, doesn't it seem that Rand Paul is the one spending the most time "clarifying" comments he earlier made -- ones that have appeared contradictory as he tries to be all things to all people?

Ron Paul didn't particularly care about winning anyone's vote, but Rand cares about winning everyone's vote. That doesn't make him necessarily savvy; it just makes him like every other politician out there.

2. Ted Cruz looks like Kevin Malone from The Office.

I noticed it during the series' penultimate episode last week, and it fits with the contention that Cruz doesn't have the looks to be president.

Sen. Ted Cruz, stressed out?

Sen. Kevin Malone (R-TX)

3. Can Christie quit the media?

Some politicians don't care about media love (see Kevin Malone/Ted Cruz), others love to be loved, and that's Chris Christie.

He was the Huffington Post's toast at the White House Correspondents Dinner, Bruce Springsteen hugged him, Alec Baldwin and Bon Jovi cameod for his recent video, Mark Zuckerberg raised money for him, and Democratic mayors are falling over themselves and Barbara Buono to endorse him.

BUT.... if Christie is going to run for president, the assumption is that he'll start pivoting to the right in 2014 to curry favor with a party that doesn't fully trust him.

But that's going to be hard for Christie, because it will inevitably lead to a rash of stories about how he's just the latest captive to the demands of the base, and how (sigh) even Chris Christie can't withstand the siren song of GOP "extremity."

So Christie's entire presidential fortune hinges on this -- will those stories bother him?

If they do, he'll run toward The Huntsman Middle, smack the base around, win votes from Democrats who can't vote in a GOP primary, and lose the nomination.

Viva La Iowa! The state gave us Slipknot and reintroduced us to Rick Santorum

4. Ted Cruz could win Iowa and, in doing so, screw himself.

Iowa might have been welcoming to Rogers and Hammerstein, but it's not terribly friendly toward any aspect of illegal immigration. Ted Cruz isn't, either. Theoretically, they're on the same page.

But here's the rub -- Cruz is Hispanic, and as such, in an Iowa caucus, he might posture even more aggressively on illegal immigration to prove he's not a "La Raza operative" like some are maliciously calling Marco Rubio.

In fact, it's easy to envision Iowa caucus goers picking sides based on the Cruz vs. Rubio split on immigration, particularly because the senators agree on almost everything else. There's got to be a tiebreaker, right?

Thus, a Cruz campaign could make immigration one of the defining issues in an Iowa GOP caucus (Another key note: Rubio is Catholic; Cruz is Southern Baptist and is, thus, a snugger fit with Iowa caucus-goers).

The problem is that Univision and other Hispanic media outlets would crucify Cruz for any win coming on the back of an immigration dispute. He's already had his ethnicity questioned by Bill Richardson, and Republican ethnic minorities always have to, reprehensibly, fight to prove they're minorities, anyway.

Thus, the danger for Cruz is winning an Iowa primary, partially on the back of a heated dispute over immigration, which could, in turn, alienate him with Hispanics in the general election.