Monday, January 5, 2015

And They’re Off

No one has actually said they are actually running, but the GOP is already lining up applicants for the 2016 clown car.  Jeb Bush is “actively exploring” a run (as opposed to just lying there and waiting for it to trip over him), and over the weekend, Mike Huckabee gave up his gig on Fox News so he doesn’t have to be fired for running his campaign while still working for them.  Is it because Fox News does not want to be seen as being in favor of a particular political party?  No, they don’t care about that.  They just don’t want to pay someone while they’re running; it’s supposed to be the other way around.

It’s almost exactly a year before the first primary or caucus vote will be cast and a lot will happen between then and now.  Candidates will come and go; there will be boomlets for this or that one, and the Very Serious people will handicap each one for their potential against the other and against Hillary Clinton — assuming she’s running (of course she’s running… isn’t she?) — and that is what sells slots for boner pills and Life Alert on cable TV.

What matters in the primaries is not whether the candidate can be elected in November 2016 but if he or she can win against the others in their party.  So how Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, or Ben Carson comes off to the general electorate doesn’t matter as much as it does to the folks who will decide who gets the nomination.  They don’t have to appeal to the rest of us, they just have to get in good with the base of the GOP, which means they have to go for the crunchy nuts.

According to digby, writing in Salon a while back, Mike Huckabee has potential.

Who else in the Republican Party can appeal to their macho side like Chris Christie while also filling the Christian right’s love tank like Rick Santorum? And doing it all with the nasty politics of Ted Cruz and the smug smile of Ronald Reagan? He has real political talent.

I agree that we shouldn’t count him out.  At this point in the race you can’t count anybody out.  But I don’t think the chances that Mr. Huckabee will win the nomination, much less the general election, are that much better now than they were in 2008.  For one thing, the ground has shifted; we’re no longer in two wars, the economy — wrecked by the last Republican president — is booming and the mood of the country is moving away from the fear and trepidation that the Republicans have been so good at exploiting.  The stock market is soaring, gas prices — something everyone notices — are falling to record lows, people are getting jobs, wages are inching up, Obamacare is working, and Detroit is selling (and recalling) cars in record numbers.  On the social issues, the majority of states now recognize marriage equality or will in the very near future (Florida too, tomorrow!).  In other words, all the things the Republicans used to scare the crap out of us in 2008 and 2012 are either no longer relevant or have turned from a monster under the bed into a dust bunny.

So if Mike Huckabee and the rest want to run a campaign next year based on the issues and fears left over from the last one, let them.  We’ll be waiting for them to catch up.