US Presidential Race – Pick your poison, it’s over

The race for the nomination of both major parties has not officially been decided, but I think it’s safe (and depressing) to say the two leading candidates will be going head to head after the conventions. There are more primaries to come, notably Indiana’s on Tuesday, but for all intents and purposes, it’s over.

Last week, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took four out of five primaries in the Mid-Atlantic and the northeast, and although Vermont senator Bernie Sanders picked up plenty of delegates himself, it doesn’t matter. Poor old Bernie never had a chance, because the fix was in from the start. His party, that of the constant kvetching about fairness and disenfranchisement, screwed the Vermont senator all kinds of ways so that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be the nominee, and she will be.

The race has gone as planned for the Democratic establishment, their superdelegates fraud controlling the nomination process. I worry very much about a President Hillary Clinton, but I worry a bit more about a President Bernie Sanders. Unless there is some miracle, I believe Mrs. Clinton will become the next president, and she is better than Sanders in this way – the country will have dodged a bullet only to be hit over the head many times with a baseball bat.

Bernie will be demanding convention perks in Philadelphia in July and he will get some. A primetime speech, but that is obvious, maybe some input with the party’s platform (oy vey to Israel), maybe some Sanders staff appointed to high convention positions, perhaps a promise to get a cabinet position in a Clinton administration.

The RealClearPolitics (RCP) average of polls for Indiana shows Sanders not that far behind Clinton (6.8%), but even were Sanders to win The Hoosier State, and he probably won’t, keep sticking a fork in Bernie. He is very well done.

Things have been quite backward on the Republican side. The more its frontrunner opens his mouth, the more he alienates some constituency or demographic in the country, the more outrageous he becomes, well, the more he wins with Republicans. Yes, businessman Donald Trump had a little bump a couple weeks back in Wisconsin, but he then steamrolled through the Mid-Atlantic and the northeast last week.

Trump gave a “major” foreign policy address last week, and to many, me included, it was simplistic, lacking specifics, and was contradictory. The only thing I learned from the speech was that Trump can’t read teleprompters too well and he remains clueless about how the real world works. I don’t want to waste time on what wasted my time, but if you wish to watch the speech, click here.

The Donald also got into it with Hillary about her playing the “women’s card. “Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she would get 5% of the vote. And the beautiful thing is, women don’t like her.” It is true that many women, even Democrats don’t like Hillary. But many more, including Republicans, don’t like Donald. In fact, outside Republican primary voters, Trump is pretty much despised by nearly everyone on the planet.

Trump’s unfiltered prose reminds me of a song we Jews recently chanted during the Passover Seder, Dayeinu. When people use the word Dayeinu, which means “It would have been enough for us,” in a joking manner, they generally use it as “Dayeinu!” “Enough already!” I will now use it more closely related to its real meaning.

Had a major party candidate for president insulted Mexicans and other peoples, Dayeinu! That would have been enough to disqualify him and we would have watched him quickly fade away.
Had that same candidate demeaned a television journalist by referring to her cycle, Dayeinu!
Had he insulted war heroes, Dayeinu!
Had he had a fake, simply for money-making purposes, university that was being sued for fraud, Dayeinu!
Had he referenced his privates in a presidential debate, Dayeinu!
Had he refused to release his tax returns, Dayeinu!
Had he said women should be punished for having abortions, Dayeinu!
Had he nastily gone after an opponent’s wife on Twitter, Dayeinu!
And on and on.

You get my drift. Nothing sticks to The Teflon Don with many Republican voters.

Texas senator Ted Cruz chose former candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his running mate which would make sense to do were he the nominee of his party, but he isn’t and he won’t be. Ted is pulling out all the stops, even the desperate ones. This kind of move didn’t help Ronald Reagan in 1976 when he ran against President Gerald Ford and selected his running mate just before the Republican convention, and it won’t help Cruz in Indiana, or California, which votes in June, where Carly ran for Senate and lost in 2010.

Indiana’s governor Mike Pence endorsed Cruz, but it was lukewarm. “I’m not against anybody, but I will be voting for Ted Cruz in the upcoming Republican primary. I urge everyone to make up their own mind.” Not exactly passionate.

Interestingly, and it doesn’t matter, former California governor Pete Wilson also endorsed Cruz. Wilson was tough on illegal immigrants but he is a moderate Republican who has always been pro-choice in a pro-life party. Cruz who argues passionately about being principled, isn’t so principled apparently, his being proud to take support from someone who has advocated abortion rights (of all things!), and not just as exceptions.

Cruz argues that Donald Trump can’t beat Hillary Clinton and he is right. But Cruz fails to mention he can’t beat her either. Adding to Cruz’s negatives, former Speaker of the House John Boehner was the latest Republican to express his distaste for the Texas senator. “Lucifer in the flesh,” the former Speaker said. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

To Cruz and his supporters, condemnations like this from “establishment” politicians are a badge of honor. Fine. But they also increase Cruz’s negatives. He is already, and justifiably so, thought of as too extreme.

What has been forgotten is that he is in the middle of his first US Senate term, just over three years, and before that he was the Solicitor General of Texas for five and a half years. That’s it. Hardly any real experience, and no accomplishments except for selfishly and stupidly shutting down the government, and for annoying most everyone who has had to deal with him.

Now I don’t doubt Mr. Cruz is very smart, in fact, he may very well be brilliant and not just because he is a graduate of Harvard Law School. But the smartest guy in the room doesn’t necessarily make the best leader. This country, and the world, has been damaged enough by another slick politician, also a graduate of Harvard Law, who had also served barely five minutes in the US Senate before deciding to run for president. How has that gone?

Folks, I have made it no secret that my choice for president was Ohio Governor John Kasich and I have articulated that both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz would bring disaster upon the Republicans in November. Kasich has tons of experience, a great record in the very important swing state of Ohio, and he is well liked there and elsewhere. And he has consistently bested Clinton, in fact in 17 straight polls, sometimes by a lot. He also does well against her state by state, even in Democratic blue states.

Unfortunately for Kasich (and the country), in the year of the outsider and the angry electorate, experience became an orphan. The Ohio governor won his own state – which was not insignificant – but no other. Sadly, his party, once the party of ideas, decided to become short-sighted, self-delusional and self-destructive.

Kasich and Cruz did make an alliance, or they didn’t, it is unclear now, whereas Kasich would yield Indiana to Cruz and Cruz would return the favor for two later primaries. As hard as it is for me to accept, none of it matters anymore. The latest RCP average of polls for Indiana shows Trump 9.3 points up on Cruz, the last poll having him 17 points up.

Although tailor-made for Cruz – Indiana having the same percentage of evangelicals as does Texas, and an outlier poll from an Indiana paper a few days ago showing Cruz up by 16, I think Trump takes Indiana and its delegates, partly because resignation has set in and that will increase his numbers there, and in later primaries as well. [For a good analysis of Cruz’s failure to expand his narrow support throughout the primary season, click here.]

Even were Cruz to win Indiana, and the media has made this do or die for him, and even if Trump doesn’t get the required 1,237 delegates after the last primaries on June 7 and Trump will be very close if he doesn’t, the businessman will collect what he needs from unpledged delegates before the gavel comes down at the Republicans’ convention. And it now seems the rioting in Cleveland will be outside the convention hall only and not also within it.

I wish things would have been different. I had hoped for a brokered convention and for common sense to prevail after a failed first or second or third ballot, but it was not to be. I will continue to write about the campaigns before the convention, because there is never a dull moment in this year, the year of the outsider and the year of the angry voter.

About the Author
Shia Altman who hails from Baltimore, MD, now lives in Los Angeles. His Jewish studies, aerospace, and business and marketing background includes a BA from the University of Maryland and an MBA from the University of Baltimore. When not dabbling in Internet Marketing, Shia tutors Bar and Bat Mitzvah, and Judaic and Biblical Studies to both young and old.
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