It’s not like presidential candidates have not been running for weeks and months already; from everything I hear, the Iowa airport stays pretty busy year round. However in the last couple of weeks we have had our first official entrants: Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul on the Republican side, Secretary Hillary Clinton for the Democrats.
Much like the last Republican primary, this year is guaranteed to be one of the most interesting races in the history of politics. There will undoubtedly be the same jaw-dropping, forehead slapping, hilarious, frustrating and offensive moments; but the fact that this field will comprise current senators and household names — not obscure pizza producers — makes for a reality TV drama to rival “Keeping up with the Kardashians.”
If this race were just between Joe McCarthy reincarnate, Ted Cruz, and Kentucky’s own self-certified (apparently self-vaccinated) ophthalmologist, Rand Paul, it would be can’t-miss TV. This is the most intriguing matchup: two guys running to become the standard bearer for small government will result in some unprecedented campaign hyperbole — not classic hyperbole like abolishing the IRS and Department of Education, which Cruz has already vowed.
Rand Paul is so committed to being the outsider candidate, he has dropped “Senator” from his title, and is running as “Dr. Rand Paul.” For his part, Paul is very intelligent and a shrewd media magnet — while Cruz is simply a media whore — and does have broad appeal on some issues. However, like every “real” candidate, Paul has already begun to demonstrate a willingness to compromise his sanctimonious libertarianism in the interest of winning an election … or primary.
The scary part, however, is that they still have incredible influence as members of the U.S. Senate, and can shutdown the government by themselves, like Cruz did over Obamacare in 2013. Ted Cruz is made-for-TV politics.
In the end, these two will be the most entertaining of the Republican field, but will never be president, 2016 or beyond. If for no other reason, Paul has to find a barber who can make him look like an adult, and Cruz can’t look like the guy complaining about the cost of gas prices to fuel his jet. While all presidential candidates must have some warped sense of self-import, Cruz may be the first candidate in my lifetime who has absolutely zero interest in helping others, and sole interest in becoming president.
As for Senator Marco Rubio, I believe he has a legitimate shot at becoming the nominee. He will be unjustly criticized for being nervous and needing a sip of water — instead of bailing on his own immigration legislation when Papa McConnell told him so. He is the Barack Obama of the field in terms of his candidacy’s unknowns. If I had to guess, he needs to find a few issues on which to standout and not toe the party line, build his brand and become a serious contender against Hillary in 2020 or 2024.
As for the Democrat … I understand the enthusiasm for Hillary, but I don’t share it. Perhaps it is because I was “ready for Hillary” back in 2008, until I was truly won over by Obama, the candidate who conveyed the world and a future that reflected my own. Plus, Hillary ran such a horrible campaign, I’m not ready to trust that she can pull this off.
Candidly, I am ready for a woman — of course not just any woman, and not just Elizabeth Warren although I do share the Democrats’ enthusiasm for a real progressive. I just believe it is time to bring a different world experience to the Oval Office. I would love to see a group of men push birth-control and women’s-health legislation at “her.”
Hillary could win me over again, just like Obama did, if she truly can be herself and not the wax-figure politician she was seven years ago. She’s brilliant, compassionate and experienced in a way no other candidate is. She has an amazing life story that she should be proud of. That is the Hillary I want to see, and would be excited to vote for.
At this point, 20 months out, it is hard to bet against Hillary. The Republican primary is going to become the most expensive circus ever, with more clown cars on the way — along with one serious car. I have no doubt that the actual policies of the campaign will lead me to vote for Hillary, my only hope is that she becomes the candidate I want to vote for, not just the only candidate not voted off of the island. •