The Dumbo/Teabagger Klown Kar rolls on as the pundits assess the just-concluded third act of Meet The Dumbo/Teabagger Candidates of 2016. Two of the Klowns have hit the eject button, to dater: Goodhair of Texas and The Dropout of Wisconsin. Most of the punditry guesses that The Jebster of Florida will be the next Dumbo to cut-and-run. If this is the (fair & balanced) equivalent of dead man walking, so be it.
[x NY Fishwrap]
Jeb Bush's Mayday
By Eags (Timothy Egan)
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Good to know that you may soon be able to bring guns to Donald Trump’s casinos — a great combination — that Ben Carson’s crackpot worldview extends to a questionable dietary supplement made of larch tree bark, and that Jeb Bush’s fantasy football team is 7-0 and totally crushing it.
Bush will soon be free to spend his days on his little football empire with other early retirees in the Sunshine State. His hapless, hollowed-out performance in Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate seemed like a call for help and a not-so-subtle signal that he wants out. He telegraphed this earlier, of course, with his whiny complaint about all the “really cool things” he could be doing if didn’t have to put up with the indignity of running for president of the United States.
And he telegraphed his one punch — perhaps his last — in letting the world know that he planned to smack down his former mentee, Senator Marco Rubio, for missing 34 percent of his votes in the Senate this year. Rubio was ready with a counter-jab: “Someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.”
Bush never recovered. Later, his people complained about not getting more questions. No, no, no. Better to pass away with a mercy killing.
You could blame political malpractice — bad aides, bad advice, bad strategy. A hundred million dollars doesn’t buy what it used to. But the fish stinks from the head down, as any Sicilian grandmother will tell you. Bush owns this debacle, the third in a row. The debate broke him. And the only question remaining is whether he’s deliberately managing a slow exit consisting of cringe-worthy moments, or if there’s something deep in his subconscious driving him to quit. In any event, I’m sure he can hear his mother’s admonition rattling through his ears: “We’ve had enough Bushes.”
Too bad. For the sanity wing of the Republican Party is now down to Governor John Kasich of Ohio. Rubio will get some attention and a bump in the two weeks leading up to the next debate. The scrutiny will not be helpful. He’s a man too eager to crush his mentors, and looks like a little boy lost. But more than that, he has a sketchy personal financial background to go with a really sketchy tax plan. (The nonprofit Tax Foundation concluded it would give nearly twice as much gain in after-tax income to the top 1 percent as to middle-income people.)
Senator Ted Cruz, the most hated man in Congress by his colleagues, went after a perhaps even more hated target, the media. Good show. Good fun. Felt great to tell those CNBC people how shallow and inconsequential they are. And then Cruz proved himself to be, yet again, more shallow and inconsequential than anyone on the panel. The betting money is that Cruz, a vulture whose demagogy is so pitch-perfect you could have taught it at the now-defunct Trump University, will swoop in to claim easily confused primary voters as the unelectable front-runners fade. But don’t actually bet on it.
With Bush neutered, stunned and stricken, it fell to the likable Kasich to inject the rarest of modern Republican commodities into this show — common sense. But he also telegraphed his moves. (Didn’t these folks ever watch a boxing movie?)
“I’ve about had it with these people,” said Kasich, leading up to the debate. “I’m done being polite and listening to their nonsense.”
In the debate, he listened to only a few minutes of nonsense before attacking. He warned that “we are on the verge, perhaps, of picking someone who cannot do this job.” Duh. It was aimed at Carson and Trump. Neither man was touched by the blow. What Kasich has yet to realize is that their selling point is being ill-qualified to do the job.
Still, Carson and Trump proceeded to prove Kasich right. Carson avoided his usual ahistorical grab bag of Nazi and slavery analogies. Score one for his keepers. But he could not begin to explain how his bizarre, biblically based tax plan would do anything less than “put us trillions and trillions of dollars in debt,” as Kasich charged.
And he said it was “propaganda” that he endorsed a nutritional supplement peddled by a company, Mannatech, that paid $7 million to settle deceptive marketing claims that its products could be used to cure autism and cancer. Carson appeared in promotional videos and made paid speeches for the company. PolitiFact ruled his claim of noninvolvement “false.”
Trump got fact-checked in real time. It took only a few seconds after he denied calling Rubio a stooge of a program backed by the Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg for people to find that very statement on Trump’s website. Ah, well. As he’s proved, veracity is for losers. Ω
[Timothy Egan writes "Outposts," a column at the NY Fishwrap online. Egan — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 as a member of a team of reporters who wrote the series "How Race Is Lived in America" and a National Book Award (The Worst Hard Time in 2006) — graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Whitman College in 2000 for his environmental writings. Egan's most recent book is The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America (2009).]
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