Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Dy 3 & 4 - more candidates; and Trump!!!

(Andrew C. Bome brings a critical Canadian perspective to the New Hampshire Primary.) 

Plan for Sunday was to go to a Fiorina event before the Super Bowl and then go to the Rubio Super Bowl party.  At some point during the day, we also made plans to attend a Jim Gilmore event; Governor Gilmore is low keyed, and we thought it would be the only chance at a sighting.

Carly Fiorina is an odd candidate.  Her only run for public office was a failed Senate bid in California.  Her big claim to fame is that the was the CEO of Hewlett-Packard; that sounds like a really impressive accomplishment, until you realize that at Hewlett-Packard she bet the company on a takeover of Compaq and almost lost it.  By the time the Board fired her she had destroyed a huge chunk of the value of Hewlett-Packard. Despite her incompetence, she got a massive severance to leave (depending on who you ask she either got $21 million or $42 million).  She really represents everything that is wrong with modern capitalism.  She was an executive that made a huge bet with other people’s money.  Had it worked out, she would have been a hero and paid a fortune; it didn’t work out and she got a fortune anyways.  I am guessing that I am not the only person who is unimpressed by Ms. Fiorina; she is at 5% in the polls or less.

We arrived at the Carly event just as she was leaving.  We had some wings and nachos, courtesy of the Carly campaign, and some tea that was a tepid as her campaign.  She left shortly after we arrived.  In my view, the perfect candidate meeting.

We then headed out to the Marco Rubio Super Bowl watch party.  It was at a sports complex that look more like an astroturfed warehouse than anything sporting related.    There were no Koch brother wings, but we were able to have pizza on the candidate; sweet, dinner was free.  We met a lady from North Carolina; she was a political tourist like we were.  She likes meeting candidates and being in a state that is neither an early primary state nor usually a swing state, they rarely come to her state.  So every four years she goes to New Hampshire; she told tales of being served CanapĂ©’s by waiters in tuxedos at a Forbes event in 1992.    She beats us at any of our political tourism.

Marco spoke to the crowd.  His views are somewhat odd.  His main claim about what is wrong with Obama is that he is trying to make America more like the rest of the world and taking away what makes America special.  Apparently Obama is clever that way.  Speaking as someone from the rest of the world, I actually welcome the United States becoming more like the rest of us.  The rest of his speech was just going through a laundry list of conservative talking points; he even name checked Benghazi. I had so much red meat thrown at me that I seriously considered becoming a vegetarian.  Two amusing lines; first, Marco hates disco.  Second, he claimed he would be President for everyone; after last night’s debate I am not sure that would include Chris Christie.

Jim Gilmore had an event in Windham.  It was the same school that Alan and I had chowder with Chuck Norris and Mike Huckabee in 2008.  This time things were different.  Jim Gilmore is a former governor of Virginia and was governor during 9/11; he has some credibility as a candidate.  However, during the Iowa caucuses he came dead last and polled below “other” on the Republican side.    At first I was really impressed; there were 100 people waiting for him to speak and this was in the midst of the Super Bowl.  I thought this was what made New Hampshire great; they take their responsibilities seriously and will listen to even the least credible candidates. 

I was wrong.  Alan noticed that almost all of the crowd were really young and he wondered if this was a bunch of students on a field trip.  Alan nailed it; it turns out that most of the people in the crowd were students from Hofstra University in Long Island on a field trip to New Hampshire.  Beside these students, there was me and Alan, one 9/11 truther and precisely 1 New Hampshire voter.    The voter did not stay for the whole thing.  I think at that point he stopped being a candidate for President, but was playing one for the benefit of some Hofstra students.  I could talk about what he thought, but he wasn’t all that impressive and did not seem prepared; I know being able to think fast on your feet is important in a President, but you still have to be prepared. 

We chatted with one of the students afterwards; she was a student journalist at Hofstra.  She was not impressed with Governor Gilmore.

The big news of the night: Denver won the Super Bowl. 

Monday was a planned busy day.  Our plan was to see Christie in the morning, Hillary at noon, Cruz at 3:00 and Trump in the evening.  The day was long, but we were able to make it to all of the events.

Chris Christie- On his Knee
Chris Christie - Retail Politics

First up was a Christie event.  It is in a warehouse of a machine shop (Gilchrist machinery).  I have never been to a rally at an industrial plant before.  This being a Christie event, when the Governor came in, the sound track was Bon Jovi; he is from New Jersey and it is appropriate.  He came right by me and I got to shake his hand.  Woot! I checked that off the box.

Christie had the first celebrity endorsement.  This guy called “the cake boss introduced Christie; he is food network dud and he looks like he is from Jersey. One interesting sartorial note; Christie was wearing French Cuffs.  Elegant, but you don’t expect a Republican doing that.  Christie was a very good speaker.  He makes eye contact with a lot of people and caught my eye twice.  He is also a lot heavier than I expected; he is a bit shorter than I am, but significantly heavier. 

He said nothing surprising.  He is a conservative; he makes stuff up about perceived problems (times are perilous, Social Security is insolvent.) and then says not surprising conservative talking points about them (keep Guantanamo open, means test social security and raise the retirement age).  But the way he said it was engaging.  He had one bit of great retail politics.  A New Hampshire voter said she was undecided; he went to to her and got on his knee in front of her and took her question.  Very cool and very smooth; he probably got her vote.

Hillary Clinton - Learned to Speak

On to the Hillary event.  It is at Manchester community college and our first task was queuing.  The line was long and Alan had little faith that we would get in.  I was more optimistic.  Of course, this is our second attempt at getting into a Clinton event.  We tried to get into a Clinton event on Saturday but we were too late, and they were not letting anyone else in.  That was not necessarily a bad thing as Bill was not in the state; he was in Pahrump Nevada.  I didn’t think there was anything else in Pahrump.

Lots of media was at this event.  We saw a roving reporter from Swedish public radio.  I also saw both Rachel Maddow and Tucker Carlson.

Celebrity sightings: Rachel Maddow and Tucker Carlson.

We got in; this is our second attempt at seeing Hillary live and our first success.  The success was temporary though.  I went to the washroom and when I returned, the secret service wouldn’t let me back in.  I spent the rest of the rally standing behind the plexi-glass walls; I saw everything and heard everything, but it would have been nice to snark with Alan.
No Room in the Gym 
Chelsea and Bill Clinton were introduced by Senator Jean Shaheen and Governor Maggie Hassan.   Chelsea gave a warm introduction to both her Dad and her Mum.  She talked about her daughter and the child that she is pregnant with.  She said that the 2016 election is significant because it was her first as a Mom.

Bill then spoke; he looked relaxed after his day in Pahrump.  Bill framed the quest as both who has the best ideas and who is the best change maker.  For Bill Clinton having good Ideas are not enough, you have to be able to make the idea real because change is hard.  He then talked about both her bipartisan successes as a Senator and her successes as Secretary of State.  The latter was a bit weird as he quoted Henry Kissinger’s comments about Hillary’s success at state: don’t know how I feel about that because, Kissinger!

He also talked about her bipartisan successes; curious that.  Everyone claims they want to be bipartisan, but it never really works.

Hillary came on and she began her speech by talking to Bernie supporters.  They may not support her, but she supports them and will always have their backs.

She then moved to attack George W. Bush. Her criticism may have been valid, but that was eight years ago and she may have missed a limitation date on her criticism.

Throughout her speech she would use the term imagine; for example she would say “try to imagine combating climate change by developing clean energy.”  All of her policy proposals were framed that way and that was neat.  She was asking the voters to engage their imagination to see a better world.  This could be a very effective rhetorical device and could be the equivalent of Obama’s 2008 slogan “Hope.”

She finished her speech comparing herself to Bernie Sanders.  She said doesn’t just talk; she introduces legislation and gets things done.  Nifty; she starting talking directly to Sanders supporters and the finished by talking about Bernie.

I saw Ms. Clinton speak in 2008.  She is a smart lady, who would have made a good President and her campaign was historic. Her speaking style did not reflect any of this.  In the eight years since, she has learned to speak; while she may never be an orator like Barack Obama, her oratory can excite and when she is President, I want to hear her inaugural address.

We had a very democratic lunch; it was free.  We went to a diner called the “Red Arrow diner.” It is a diner of note in the Manchester area.  Lunch was on the folks at Sirius XM.  It was a large lunch.  I had this burger that included fried Mac & Cheese and has grilled sandwiches as the buns.  Lots of calories and it kept me fueled for the day.

Ted Cruz - Seriously Deranged Understanding of Second Amendment

The next stop was a Cruz rally at a VFW Hall.
Cruz - Nobody Likes Him

Ted Cruz was introduced by a tea party nation dude; says it all.  He called Cruz the Reagan of today.   I am not sure how Reagan would take that as he made deals with Democrats. This tea party dude focussed on the second amendment as said that it was the most important amendment.  He explained that the second amendment is there to protect the constitution.  It is about the ability of the citizenry to fight a tyrannical government.  This is seriously deranged.  I don’t think the framers of the constitution were famous for their love of the masses of citizenry; many of the checks and balances are to keep rule away from the rabble.  Somehow the notion that they would have an amendment that was there to allow the citizenry to revolt is unhinged.  Also if there were an armed revolt against tyranny, what happens would depend on what the army does; it either supports the revolution, in which case we call it a coup d’etat, or it quashes the revolution in which we call it a massacre.  Or the army could fracture and you have a civil war.

This view of the second amendment is widely held amongst conservatives.  Jim Gilmore also made reference to it.  He ought to know as he is on the Board of Directors of the National Rifle association.

One of the folks introducing Cruz was a state senator.  He tried to convince us that Cruz would unite people.  I guess they have to say that, but Cruz?

Cruz came out and started talking about the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution and he set out his constitutional theory.  It is an Interesting starting point but a tea party crowd is the crowd for it.

Ted Cruz’ speech was curious.  He divided the world into “us” and “them”; not unusual in a politician, but the “them” were not Liberals or Democrats.  He set himself apart from all other Republicans.  In his entire speech, he only attacked Obama near the end of his speech.  The rest of his speech was an attack on all other Republicans.  He called them moderate squishes and thought that compromise was evil.  Also the answer to almost every question (the economy, immigration, drug policy) was securing the border.  I am surprised that his answer to a foreign policy question wasn’t “secure the border”. 

The knock on Cruz is that no-one likes him; this is unsurprising since he doesn’t actually appear to like anybody.

Donald Trump – A Rambling Mess

We ended the evening with the Donald Trump rally.  The folks who introduced him were mildly offensive. The vet who started the pledge of allegiance said he was looking forward to having a President who loves his country.  That is offensive; no one ideology has a lock on patriotism.  Liberals are just as patriotic as conservatives.

A local talk radio guy gave an apocalyptic rant.  It's premised on the political class driving the country into the ground; not much evidence of that, but the fans ate it up.  He also said that Trump’s fans are an army; for Liberty!  Not brown shirty at all.

Trumps musical introduction was an interesting choice.  The first is Nessun Dorma from Turdandot sung by the Three Tenors; the last line is Italian for “I will win”.  He then comes out to the Beatles “Revolution”. 
Trump - Rambling Man

His speech was a rambling mess.  He just talks, and talks and talks, and says nothing.  Occasionally a sound bite goes out to applause.  He may also just be making stuff up (health care costs are going out 50%).   He also whines; he whined about "really winning" Iowa; He also whined about the debate and not getting tickets because they all go to donors.  He sounds whiny.  And Eisenhower; he really likes Ike.  Listening to Donald Trump running for President is how I would imagine Grandpa Simpson would sound like running for president; and I would rather vote for Grandpa Simpson.

Day 3 – Sunday with Jeb!

(Andrew C. Bome continues with his posts from New Hampshire with some interesting insights and praise for Jeb!)
Sunday and Monday were very busy days catching a bunch of rallies.  One of the downside of the Republican clown car of candidates is that there are a whole lot of Republican candidates that are having rallies.  We saw most of them.
Sunday morning was our chance to see Jeb!.  I use Jeb! Because he does; he doesn’t want to use his last name, and I will respect that.  At least it is not an unpronounceable symbol.    The event was in a grade  school gym; the event was full, but  Alan and I made it in time to get some seats. 
Before the rally we were chatting with some of the “no labels” people.  That is the movement founded by Jon Huntsman and Joe Lieberman; somehow they feel that partisanship in the US is destructive and that people should just compromise and sacrifice to get things done.  Sounds nice in theory, but given Lieberman’s (and folks like Lieberman) participation in the “no labels” group, compromise seems to mean that Democrats should just act like Republicans and the world would be a better place.  They wanted to extract a promise from Jeb! That he would convene a meeting of congressional leaders of both parties within 30 days of being elected president.  They never did get to ask their question, mostly because they never put up their hand.
A somewhat concerning moment:  At the beginning (after the roadie sound check) we were asked to turn off our phones; I was afraid that we might see a repeat of “Harperdammerung”, but that never happened.
The Jeb! Rally was the best of the lot.  First, he had endorsement from Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham.  Graham’s endorsement is significant because it tells us that Jeb! Is in the campaign at least until South Carolina; Jeb! Is probably counting on a credible showing in New Hampshire and a win in South Carolina.  Senator Graham will help with that.

Graham was a good speaker.  He was warm and funny and delivered his lines well; I don’t think he should give his day job to go into comedy, but he is funnier than most politicians when he delivers bits.   He talked about the debate and commented on how Cruz made Ben Carson angry, and how difficult it is to make Carson angry; he also said he learned that you never want to make Chris Christie angry at you.   He finished on a serious note and talked about the sacrifice of veterans and their families; he asked the audience to pick a commander-and-chief that is worthy of the sacrifice. 
Susan Collins spoke next.  She was less memorable than Senator Graham, but she did talk about Jeb!’s compassion.  Maybe she is saying that Jeb! Is a compassionate conservative.  She also said that Jeb! Was the best president for perilous times. 
Jeb! Then came on.  He impressed.  While he was critical of the Democrats (he specifically said Obama & Clinton)  he talked of the importance of solving problems and serving constituents.  He said that is why people go into public service. It is what is done and it is what should be done in Washington.
His first promise was to move the embassy to Jerusalem.  

He also made another promise.  He said that he would not blame Obama for anything.  He said that he got sick and tired of Obama blaming his brother for everything and Jeb! would not be doing that.  This was the biggest applause line of the day.  This will probably be the first promise he breaks; blaming the last guy is a time honoured tradition in politics.

Trump Campaign Material
He then spent some time attacking Trump.  He talked how he attacked women, Latinos, Muslims and the disabled and said that you don’t want that kind of man as a president.  He also attacked Trump’s intelligence; not knowing what the Nuclear Triad is, is not a good thing in a presidential candidate.
Jeb! Had one of the best lines I heard.  He is behind in the polls and the media has not been taking him seriously as a candidate.  He talked about the media convening a “secret squirrel meeting” in Washington and anointing a candidate.  It is a line that is worth using and I might use in future.
He went on to questions and answers.  The only thing that was memorable was that someone asked him about global warming.  He did say that Global Warming is a thing and that it is caused by human activity; his solution is that we should learn to adapt.  While that is not a good answer, this is the first time I have heard a major Republican admitting that Global Warming is a thing.
Overall, I was impressed by Jeb!.  He is smart, he is thoughtful and is a good speaker.  He was obviously energized by a good debate performance on Saturday night.  If I was a voter and an independent, I would vote on the Republican side and vote for Jeb!.  Not because I think that he should be president; I am a liberal and I would vote Democrat in the general.  But I think it is important that a democracy has at least two functioning parties.  Jeb! Is one of the few of the republicans who is not a clown; the republicans deserve and need a candidate that would make a credible president.  Jeb! Is credible.
The Next President of the United States?