Fat Lady Hasn’t Sung, but She’s Warming Up

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Source: AP. Graphic: Kevin Schaul and Samuel Granados. Washington Post

Newark   How many Tuesdays can be super? We must have calendared three or so by now?

In the latest, Donald Trump obliterated the field, besting the combined totals of both Florida’s own Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, sufficiently to force Rubio to drop his bid for the nomination. Trump also won North Carolina and Illinois and may end up taking Missouri in a close battle with Cruz, only losing Ohio to favorite son and current Governor John Kasich. Kasich says he’ll hang in, believing that the rest of the primary calendar with states like New York, New Jersey and California will favor his more middle-of-the-road effort. The math though says that there’s no way anyone catches Trump.

Hillary Clinton smashed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in Florida and North Carolina and beat him solidly as well in Illinois and Ohio while leading the race in Missouri for an overwhelming takedown. The signs of a momentum swing in the rust belt after Sander’s upset victory in Michigan disappeared without a trace. My email inbox was missing its usual exhortations from the Working Families Party and Move-on boosting Sanders’ campaign. It’s man against the machine now, and all over but the shouting.

Paul Begala, a longtime Clintonista, political operative, CNN commentator and, frankly, a pretty funny guy, cracked wise in a discussion about a potential someday Rubio comeback that “Rubio’s future is behind him.” David Axelrod, Obama big campaign whoop, argued that there is no way that the Republicans can deny Trump the nomination even if he lacks the exact number and comes close, saying it would “be ludicrous” to assume that someone who didn’t run could be nominated in Cleveland at the Republican Convention or that someone who lost to Trump throughout the primaries could be nominated ahead of him. Begala quipped that with half of the Republicans saying the party would be destroyed if Trump was the nominee and the other half saying that the party would be destroyed if Trump were denied the nomination, he planned essentially to sit back and simply enjoy watching the show.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is now inarguably and incontestably in the catbird seat. Super delegates are noncontroversial; her nomination is now inevitable. Sanders has the resources to keep going through June, but strategically it may be time for him – and us – to make the best deal for Sanders’ Nation with both the Clinton campaign and, potentially, the next Clinton Administration. Clinton needs Sanders’ young supporters and his disaffected blue collar base to win in November, and she needs to dramatically move out of the hip pocket of Wall Street, the elites, and the establishment to embrace with sincerity a real program to decrease inequality. She needs Sanders on side. Sanders shouldn’t want to be a spoiler, and Clinton should resist being vengeful. It’s Democratic détente time.

On the Republican side it’s hard to see a deal, because only Trump is a dealmaker. Cruz is a last-stand-at-the-Alamo guy. Anyone who will try to shut the whole government down doesn’t care if he’s splitting a Republican Party and an establishment that he disdains. Rubio is totally damaged goods at this point. I would bet that Trump is going to have to talk to his new buddy New Jersey Governor Chris Christie about whether they could make a deal with Ohio’s John Kasich to be vice-president, but if Kasich stays in, they can’t do that until Christie tries to help deliver Jersey and New York to secure his own place on the ticket. Cruz might have the stomach for a third party bid but Rubio doesn’t, and with people like New York’s former billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, saying he’s against a third party bid, then how would it be financed, and who would be willing and able to lead it? They’re stuck in the muck.

November is what matters now. It will be interesting to see who has the skills to pull all of these Humpty-Dumpty pieces together.

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Is Senator Ted Cruz Most Hardball Campaigner Since Nixon?

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Marco Rubio, left, and Ted Cruz take part in the presidential debates at the Reagan Library on Sept. 16, 2015 in Simi Valley, Calif. (Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)

New Orleans   There are a long list of things that can be said about Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz, many of them darned close to scary, but I have to admit one thing that has become increasingly clear about him: he plays hardball! His strike zone is high and hot towards the head with wickedly sneaky curves. If Marco Rubio has proven himself to be an immature, vacuous, empty suit, Ted Cruz is a take no-prisoners, win-at-all-cost, knife-in-the-back, sucker puncher the likes of which we may not have seen since Richard Nixon with campaign tactics reminiscent of George Bush the First’s dirty trickster, Lee Atwater.

The evidence is overwhelming.

In Iowa there was the well-publicized flyer his campaign put out in the caucuses to his evangelical hordes at the 11th hour saying that Dr. Ben Carson, another wacko, religious zealot had dropped out of the race, helping pave his way to first place in the caucuses there.

In Nevada, on the eve of the their caucuses he had to ask his communications director to walk the plank for him because they were putting out a video that his opponent Rubio was “dismissing the Bible” in some fashion, once again trying to stoke up his hardcore religious base out there in the desert and the Sodom and Gomorrah wilderness. On his “ends justify the means” moral compass, he came in 3rd there because he was caught in such an un-Christian act.

In Florida,which is likely the last stand for Marco Rubio in his winner-take-all home state where Donald Trump is still leading, although Cruz has virtually no chance at winning a single delegate and registering more than a token showing, he’s spending money and time in the run-up, even exploiting his own Cuban and Hispanic heritage for the first time, solely to pull votes away from Rubio and force him out of the race. In a brilliant tactical move he suddenly opened ten offices throughout Florida compared to Rubio’s five to up the ante. Talk about political hardball! No chance to win, helping the frontrunner Trump to potentially take the huge prize of all the delegates in order to try and reduce the players in the race.

This guy specializes in scorched earth tactics. This path to victory is Desolation Row. Remember, friends and neighbors, the original Cruz strategy was to buddy up to Trump in the early stages of the campaign and give him a bye from any harsh treatment. Cruz still has a light glove for Trump, as evidenced once again by his masterful tactics in Florida.

Senator Unpopular who even scares his colleagues in the Senate with his tactics, just to remind you, he tried to shut the entire government down with his quixotic attempt to try and force President Obama to ditch the Affordable Care Act, has shrewdly calculated that the only way he can win the nomination is to appear to be a more reasonable alternative to an even more frightening buffoon. He figures if the choice is Trump or Cruz, the devil or the deep blue sea, he’s got a good shot at being the deep blue sea, whether they like it or not.

This is one dangerous dude! He doesn’t make the Rubio mistakes, he’s a master of throwing the rock and hiding the hand. He’s willing to bring down the country, the Republican Party, and about anything else to have a chance to win. Every race for him is win at all cost, winner take call, the ends justify the means, and every pitch a behind the back of the head beanball.

When we have to hope for Mr. I’ll Negotiate to beat Mr. Crash-and-Burn, we know we’re out of our league and in serious trouble!

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Please enjoy Mount Moriah’s Baby Blue.  Thanks to KABF.

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