There’s one story out of the CNN Republican debate, and that’s Carly Fiorina. The cable network expanded the ranks of GOP candidates to include her in the primetime debate, and she made the most of the opportunity. She did what no one thought was possible: She beat Donald Trump in the television game with her retort to his comments about her physical appearance. And she did more than that: She gave crisp, strong, visceral answers on questions regarding national security, abortion, and the economy. Conservative audiences have been thrilled at Fiorina’s appearances for months. Tonight she showed the nation that she is articulate, capable, passionate, and fearless. She displayed more thumos than many of the men on stage.
In early July, during another rough patch for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, Dan Pfeiffer took to CNN to reassure his party. Pfeiffer used to be President Obama’s top communications aide. The title of his op-ed was “Stop the bed-wetting: Hillary Clinton’s doing fine.” Bed-wetting, Pfeiffer explained, “is a term of art in Obamaland.” Ah, the president and his acolytes. Such sophisticates.
This week President Obama won the 34th vote in support of his nuclear deal with Iran. The vote, from Senator Barbara Mikulski, guarantees that the deal will survive a rejection by Congress. The fact that the deal will be made despite such opposition—something a few of us predicted months ago—is, in the words of the AP, a “landmark Obama victory.” It is worth asking how many more of these victories our country can withstand.
The anniversary of the U.S. war against the Islamic State passed with little notice. It was August 7 of last year that President Obama authorized the first airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, a campaign he expanded a month later to include targets in Syria. So far this month, the president has delivered remarks on the Voting Rights Act, his deal with Iran, the budget, clean energy, and Hurricane Katrina. ISIS? Not a peep.
The closest I’ve ever come to glimpsing hell was on Monday, when I read an article in the New York Times headlined, “With High-Profile Help, Obama Plots Life After Presidency.”
Reporters Michael D. Shear and Gardiner Harris reveal the “methodical effort taking place inside and outside the White House as the president, first lady, and a cadre of top aides map out a post-presidential infrastructure and endowment they estimate could cost as much as $1 billion,” or about as much as Obama fundraised for the 2012 campaign.
Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, wrote a six-page memo to “Interested Parties” Wednesday on the state of the 2016 presidential race. His message: Everything is under control. “While we always have, and continue to, anticipate a very competitive race,” Mook wrote, “Hillary stands today in a very enviable position.”
“Fewer than 400 families are responsible for almost half the money raised in the 2016 presidential campaign, a concentration of political donors that is unprecedented in the modern era,” the New York Times breathlessly reported last Sunday. The popularity of so-called Super PACs, which can raise unlimited funds, has allowed the wealthy to dominate the fundraising scene. “The intensifying reliance on big money in politics mirrors the concentration of American wealth more broadly.” Democracy, we are meant to believe, is at stake.
Marco Rubio won the first GOP presidential debate on Thursday night. He was confident, energetic, eloquent, knowledgeable, and figured out the way to handle Donald Trump. The importance of debates is vastly overrated, and it’s a long, long time before the first caucus in Iowa, but Rubio proved he belongs in the first tier of presidential contenders, and will be in this race for the long haul.
Will Joe Biden run for president? He’s expected to announce his decision later this month, after a family vacation, but the political class is already excited at the prospect. I’d enjoy a third Biden presidential bid—he’s far more watchable than Hillary Clinton—and I doubt I’m alone. He’s a great political actor, a ham. Imagine him winning the nomination and debating Republican frontrunner Donald Trump. The dueling hair would make it a spectacular encounter.
As he deliberates, though, Biden must be worrying about recent history. The last three presidential cycles all had contestants who announced their candidacy in the summer prior to the Iowa caucus. And all three failed. Biden would be in a similar situation.
Two decades ago, in the spring of 1996, Newsweek magazine described a group of voters it called the “radical middle.” Formerly known as the Silent Majority, then the Reagan Democrats, these voters had supported Ross Perot in 1992, and were hoping the Texas billionaire would run again. Voters in the radical middle, Newsweek wrote, “see the traditional political system itself as the country’s chief problem.”