US Opinion and Commentary

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What’s Going On?

Posted March 14th, 2016 at 4:46 pm (UTC-4)
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Donald Trump can take that leap to presumptive Republican presidential nominee with victories in Tuesday’s primaries. But will rising tensions and violence surrounding Trump campaign events have any impact on those results — and the general election to come? Civil discord and acts of violence have surrounded the Trump campaign over the past few days. Wednesday a protester was sucker-punched by a Trump supporter. Friday, Trump supporters and protesters pushed, shoved and yelled at each other after a Trump rally in Chicago was cancelled due to security concerns. Saturday, Secret Service agents surrounded Trump when a protester tried to rush the stage in Dayton, Ohio. Republican challengers Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich have all blamed Trump for confrontational atmosphere, as have Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Trump has denied any violence at his events, saying at one point today that they’ve been “love fests.” The question many are asking: Is Donald Trump tapping into anger that’s been festering in many Americans or is he feeding it?

Trump Breaks Out the Red Meat and Wine

Posted March 9th, 2016 at 1:42 pm (UTC-4)
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Donald Trump celebrated his three state victory Tuesday with a smorgasbord of Trump-branded steaks, wine and water for the assembled at his post-primary press conference. Contrast that to Bernie Sanders, who talked to reporters in a dimly-lit room in front of hastily stapled-together campaign posters following his biggest victory of the campaign. Sanders defied the pundits and exceeded expectations by narrowly beating Hillary Clinton in Michigan, where his anti-free trade mantra resonated in a state hit hard by job losses in the manufacturing sector. However, because Clinton beat Sanders so handily in the Mississippi primary, she finished the evening with more delegates, strengthening her position as presumptive nominee. Trump was a clearer winner, picking up 60% of the delegates at stake in the four contests Tuesday. Trump won Mississippi, Michigan, and Hawaii while Ted Cruz won Idaho. Victories in next Tuesday’s primaries in Ohio, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Missouri will put Trump on track to clinch the nomination.

The Risk I Will Not Take

Posted March 8th, 2016 at 11:47 am (UTC-4)
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[W]hen I look at the data, it’s clear to me that if I entered the race, I could not win. I believe I could win a number of diverse states — but not enough to win the 270 Electoral College votes necessary to win the presidency.

Was Tuesday Super?

Posted March 2nd, 2016 at 1:23 pm (UTC-4)
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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton each won 7 of the 11 Super Tuesday state primaries. But the outcomes for each mean different things. Here’s why: Presidential primary elections are more about collecting delegates to each party’s convention than winning states. And in Super Tuesday primaries, delegates are allocated proportionally according to the raw vote. Trump won Virginia, but he only got one more delegate than runner-up Marco Rubio. And the number of delegates Ted Cruz got by winning Texas is more than what Trump got in his best two victories. Hillary Clinton’s overwhelming victories in Southern states enabled her to take a commanding lead over Bernie Sanders in the delegate count. What does this all mean? Republican votes will continue to be split three ways among Trump, Cruz and Rubio, while John Kasich and Ben Carson continue to hang on through the March 15th winner-take-all primaries. And Hillary Clinton can start honing her general election strategy.

Tuesday Is Super

Posted March 1st, 2016 at 3:59 pm (UTC-4)
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Super Tuesday is usually the day when a presidential hopeful can morph from frontrunner to presumed nominee. Both Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are poised to take that step once polls close across a total of 12 states. While it’s unlikely Clinton will sweep the 11 states holding Democratic primaries today, polls show she will do extremely well against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, walking away with the lion’s share of delegates.As usual, Donald Trump is sucking up most of the oxygen, as supporters and concerned establishment Republicans wait to see if the outspoken mogul will trounce his opponents Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — making the reality of Trump much more than just a television show.

Not-so-Super Tuesday

Posted March 1st, 2016 at 1:59 pm (UTC-4)
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The Party of Lincoln has reaped what it sowed: All these years of anti-government, anti-immigrant, anti-establishment and often hateful, venomous rhetoric and dog whistling attacks on President Barack Obama have produced that strategy’s uber-candidate, someone who embraces all of it without the niceties — or even intellectual consistencies.

Politics, Punditry and Puffery

Posted February 26th, 2016 at 3:40 pm (UTC-4)
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Time is running out for Republican Party establishment figures to execute a “Stop Trump” strategy. Next week’s Super Tuesday primaries in 12 states will go a long way in determining whether Trump and Hillary Clinton will be the presumptive presidential nominees. And less than 24 hours after a debate in which Marco Rubio was declared the winner by most political experts, Donald Trump stole the spotlight from him by winning an important endorsement from former presidential candidate Chris Christie. Trump’s ascension — and, to a lesser extent, that of Democrat Bernie Sanders — has upended conventional wisdom in American politics. But political blind spots have allowed Trump’s anti-establishment message to take root.

Wising Up to Big-Money Bribery of Both Parties

Posted February 24th, 2016 at 12:22 pm (UTC-4)
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It’s harder to get out than to get in because you have people who have invested their time, their money, and their sweat and reputations to help you. You want to give them your best and leave it all on the turf for them.

Young Voters, Motivated Again

Posted February 22nd, 2016 at 3:29 pm (UTC-4)
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This is the first presidential campaign in which people age 18 to 29 make up the same proportion of the electorate as do baby boomers — about one-third. This year, the youth turnout for both parties in the primaries so far is rivaling 2008, the year of Barack Obama’s first campaign.

Jeb, Trump and the New Republican Playbook

Posted February 22nd, 2016 at 1:51 pm (UTC-4)
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On Saturday night in South Carolina, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump appeared to cement his status as the party’s frontrunner – and, perhaps more importantly, his dream of becoming its nominee.  And then, a notable domino came crashing down. After Trump landed a decisive win in the state’s primary, Jeb Bush, the GOP’s presumed establishment candidate, dropped out after finishing in fourth place.  In an instant the Bush political dynasty was history, and a long chapter in American politics closed.  How?  How could a campaign bankrolled by $150 million with such name recognition fail?  How could a billionaire businessman who has never held elected office, whose campaign depends on Twitter, personal insults, public anger and charisma have unseated such a powerful family?  Pundits and experts alike point to many factors and missteps by Jeb – among them, underestimating Trump’s appeal. Ultimately, what the outcome seems to say is that the rules of the game to the White House have changed.

Fearing Trump, Republican Power Brokers Turn to Rubio

Posted February 19th, 2016 at 3:41 pm (UTC-4)
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The Republican presidential nominating contest turns to South Carolina, where polls show Donald Trump holding onto to his frontrunner status over Senator Ted Cruz, who prognosticators say will most likely come in second place. Neither candidate is very appealing to the party establishment’s money machine. Most were counting on Jeb Bush, whose lackluster campaign and poor showing in both the Iowa and New Hampshire contests has put his bid in peril.
Traditional Republican donors have been both stunned and panicked by the steady rise of Trump, whose insults to women, Latinos and pretty much every other voting bloc have only seemed to increase his popularity. Cruz has support from Tea Party conservatives, but has made enemies in Congress and elsewhere in the mainstream. Florida Senator Marco Rubio is projected to finish third in South Carolina, and very likely with the backing of the Republican establishment.

How Spiro Agnew Shaped Republican Rhetoric

Posted February 10th, 2016 at 10:51 am (UTC-4)
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“Nattering nabobs of negativism” is what Agnew branded liberal foes of the administration. In brass-knuckled rhetoric that would foreshadow that of today’s younger Republicans in the House “Freedom Caucus” as well as presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, the vice president denounced “an effete corps of impudent snobs” who encouraged a “national state of masochism.”

Inside Out: Which Republican Party Wins in New Hampshire?

Posted February 9th, 2016 at 3:03 pm (UTC-4)
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Trump. Cruz. Marco. Jeb. Carson, Christie, Carly and Kasich.

Eight Republican presidential hopefuls are on the ballot today in New Hampshire, the country’s first primary vote in the race for the White House. The winner may well shape the Republican Party’s collective identity crisis.

This time last year, the party establishment had seemingly chosen its man and message. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a centrist Republican, the son of one former president and brother of another, was positioned to be the Republicans’ choice to shape the post-Obama era. But something happened that no one predicted. The party was crashed by two outsiders: businessman Donald Trump and Tea Party leader Ted Cruz. The United States was in very bad shape, they proclaimed, and drastic measures were needed.

That message found traction and Bush’s star faded. Today, establishment Republicans are said to be panicking, particularly over Trump’s unshakeable frontrunner status. By tomorrow, the path ahead for America’s conservative party may be set in stone.

I Miss Barack Obama

Posted February 9th, 2016 at 9:50 am (UTC-4)
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Obama radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance that I’m beginning to miss, and that I suspect we will all miss a bit, regardless of who replaces him.

Marco Rubio Is In a Precarious Spot In New Hampshire

Posted February 9th, 2016 at 9:19 am (UTC-4)
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Even before Saturday’s debate, Rubio’s hold on second place wasn’t especially secure, and with Rubio, John Kasich, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush all huddled with support in the low teens or high single digits, even a small post-debate dip could push Rubio from second to third … or fourth … or fifth.