The Republican Muckheap (vol. 1)

OK, kids, pull on your waders. We’re getting into the muck of the Republican candidates. We’ve generally expected 2016 to be a GOP civil war, pitting the teabaggers against the old-line establishment, but the tea partiers got clobbered pretty hard in the midterms. We’re still waiting for the dust to settle before we can see who came out the strongest.

If the establishment rallies around a single candidate early in the cycle, and the tea party puts on its usual shit show, we may end up with someone like Bush being anointed early on. On the other hand, it’s not hard to imagine a long bitter fight to the end. It’s been ages since a nomination was actually decided at a convention, but we could see multiple ballots if things get out of hand. We could even see a walkout or a split.

There’s no particular order here. I basically wrote them out in the order I thought of them. It’s a long list, but I know I’m leaving people out too.

Mitt Romney. There’s no sign that Romney himself is interested, but people around him have been suggesting his name as an alternative to the other terrible choices. Considering the fantasy land they seemed to live in last time around, they might actually believe this is a good idea. Nobody else does, but a couple of high profile tea party meltdowns might change some minds.

Jeb Bush. Widely regarded as the brother who should have run in 2000, Jeb Bush is a solid establishment candidate with endless moneybags to back him up. Conventional wisdom used to say that no one wanted another Bush, but then conventional wisdom got a look at these other clowns. He’s got a good chance of unifying the grown-up wing of the party, and could potentially win a national election. But if we get another tea party primary, it’ll be hard for him to keep his head above water long enough.

Chris Christie. Christie is a loud-mouthed east coaster whose humor sometimes sounds like an attack. I grew up around guys like that, but middle America might not be ready for him yet. The Traffic-gate scandal might impress primary voters who want a candidate who throws a tantrum like it’s serious biz, but it won’t sell so well to everyone else. He lost a lot of stature in his party for saying nice things about Obama while his state was being destroyed by a hurricane. He’s not nearly far enough to the right, especially on social issues. And if he wants to play to the establishment faction, he’d better hope Bush hasn’t sucked all the oxygen out of the room already. I’d call him possible VP material, maybe Secretary of HUD or something similar.

Rand Paul. Paul is not the libertarian America needs or even the one it deserves, but he’s the one it’s got. I’ll leave it to the purists to argue why he’s not “really” a “libertarian”, but let me ask you this: How far are you willing to go for a president who opposes NSA spying and might actually say no to a war on occasion? Paul’s got a tough path to the nomination, but it’ll upset lots of applecarts if he gets it. It’ll be harder for him to carry the tea party banner now that he holds office and has to make actual decisions in the real world, but the party establishment won’t come anywhere near him. His odds depend heavily on the environment he runs in.

Ted Cruz. Cruz set the tone for this election cycle when he tweeted that net neutrality was obamacare for the internet. Whether his ignorance is really this profound, or it’s simply his need to pander to the know-nothings, Cruz is one of the candidates dragging his party to the bottom of the swamp. He’ll be fighting to wrap up the tea party vote against an impressive array of asshats, but that will only alienate him further from the establishment faction and the mainstream of American voters. I nominate him most likely to lead a walkout at the convention.

Marco Rubio. Rubio was a tea party darling until he said something about immigration that was not actually xenophobic and full of hate. They dropped him right quick after that. Hard to say who his base is now, or whether he even has one. He’s of Cuban descent, so some people will certainly promote him as an antidote to the party’s problem attracting latino voters. Florida Cubans are pretty distinct from other latino groups, however, and it may not be as impressive for the GOP as it sounds.

Michelle Bachmann. Seriously? Well, she’s talking about it. A certain number of people will think putting a woman on the ballot is the way to steal Clinton’s thunder, but they tried going after women voters with Sarah Palin and that didn’t go so well. If Bachmann’s in for 2016, it’s only as a joke.

Sarah Palin. If Palin’s in for 2016, it’s a very bad joke indeed. She recently said she was thinking about jumping in just to spite the haters, but she’s long past being taken seriously as a politician. She might make it as a pundit or a reality tv star, but if she had serious political aspirations, she would have finished out her first and only term as governor. I see her doing some self-promotional fundraising appearances, maybe flogging a new book, maybe taking an analyst job at Fox. Running for president, however? Yeah, no.

Well, we’re only knee-deep and I’ve already had all I can stand today. Tune in soon for the next installment, including all of the following and possibly more.

  • Bobby Jindal
  • Rick Perry
  • Ben Carson
  • Nikki Haley
  • Lindsey Graham
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Paul Ryan
  • Rick Santorum
  • Donald Trump
  • Scott Walker
  • John Bolton
  • Peter King
  • Ted Nugent

Isn’t that list depressing just to look at? Go take a walk, breathe some fresh air and cleanse your mind. Tomorrow will be a new day for sorrow and despair.