Tag Archives: SC primary

Here is the face of a kingmaker

Let me stipulate that I am going to offer an observation in this blog post with some trepidation, given the accusations that the current president seeks to govern like a monarch.

So, here goes …

The face you see in the accompanying picture is that of a man who should be pictured in the dictionary next to the term “kingmaker.”

He is U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat. How does he emerge as a kingmaker? Well, on the eve of the South Carolina Democratic Party presidential primary this month, he endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden’s bid for the presidency.

What was the result? Clyburn energized the African-American voters in his state; Biden rode that energy to a smashing victory over Sen. Bernie Sanders. What’s more the momentum that Biden gained from that victory — given that he had underperformed so miserably in the nation’s first four primary/caucus states — has propelled him from near political death to likely nomination to be the next president of the United States.

The former VP has parlayed Rep. Clyburn’s endorsement into arguably the most stunning political comeback any of us have ever witnessed.

I don’t know what Joe Biden has in mind with regard filling key posts should he be elected president this fall over Donald John Trump. My advice to a President-elect Biden would be this: Appoint James “The Kingmaker” Clyburn to any position he wants.

Actually, Mr. VPOTUS, you need to win … by a lot!

Joe Biden thinks he has the crucial South Carolina Democratic presidential primary in the bag.

Um, truth be told, he doesn’t. Even if he wins, it’s not tucked away. He’s got to win by a lot. You see, the one-time Democratic Party presidential frontrunner had the Palmetto State primary locked up. He was lapping the field. Then Vermont’s independent Sen. Bernie Sanders started winning the early primaries.

Now it’s neck-and-neck between the two of ’em for South Carolina’s primary vote.

Biden said that a single percentage point victory over the field is enough, although he said he expects to win by a comfortable margin. OK, but expectations and reality don’t always mesh.

The former vice president of the United States needs to win by at least double digits. It would be better for him to smoke the field, to trample the rest of the remaining contenders — and that includes Sanders — into the ground.

Anything short of a decisive win spells doom.

It saddens me to say this, as I have staked my own preference on Joe Biden. I want his candidacy to succeed. I fear it’s teetering on the brink of failure.

America is still great


Hillary Clinton might have punched the perfect campaign theme button when she declared victory in this past weekend’s South Carolina Democratic presidential primary.

She took dead aim at Donald J. Trump’s pledge to “make America great again.” The Republican primary frontrunner keeps asserting that the United States no longer is the greatest nation Earth, that it has ceded its greatness to trade rivals such as China and, get this, Mexico. He asserts that foreign governments no longer “fear” this country.

Clinton has a different view. It is that the United States “always has been great,” and she declared it to her fans while basking in the victory glow in South Carolina.

Indeed, the Trump message — depending on how you interpret it — can be seen as a supreme insult to the men and women who serve t protect us. It also insults the career diplomats, foreign service officers, domestic agency staffers and all the rest of those who serve within the public sector at the will of the American taxpayer.

Did I say “insult”? I almost forgot. That’s how Trump has endeared himself to those who claim to be Trumpsters.

I choose not to march to that cadence.

Trump’s fear-mongering, negativity and the message that borders on bigotry might play well among those who have swallowed the notion that we are in steep decline.

Others, though, should keep reminding us — just as Ronald Reagan did so eloquently while proclaiming it was “Morning in America” — that our nation’s best days are still to come.

That’s a big part of Hillary Clinton’s victory message.

There’s no need to “make America great again,” she said.

We’re still the greatest nation on the planet.


Trump earns evangelical support … how?


One of the many — countless, it seems — confounding features of this presidential election cycle concerns the support that Donald J. Trump appears to be gathering from a most unlikely bloc of Republican “base” voters.

I’m referencing here the evangelical voters, those folks who describe themselves as devout, “born again” Christians.

Trump’s victory in the South Carolina GOP primary this weekend came in good measure from the support he got among evangelicals.

I don’t pretend to understand all the nuances of every voting bloc in America. Nor will I jump to many conclusions about any demographic group.

What I know about those who adhere to evangelical Christianity is that they take their Scripture quite seriously. They also prefer that others believe as they do.

So, what does Trump believe? How has he lived?

He’s on his third marriage; he’s been divorced twice. More to the point is that Trump has actually boasted — in writing — about the extramarital affairs he’s had with women who were married to other men. Doesn’t the Bible frown on marital infidelity?

He’s on record at one time as supporting abortion. I haven’t actually heard him say he supports partial-birth abortion, but many of his critics have said as much and I haven’t heard Trump actually deny he ever favored such a thing. I believe evangelical voters vehemently oppose abortion. Isn’t that correct?

Trump has made a lot of money building hotels — and casinos, where people go to gamble away lots of money and, perhaps, engage in activity that is, shall we say, a good bit less than righteous.

The man’s lifestyle over many decades has featured a flaunting of vast material wealth. Again, I won’t presume to know what is in the hearts of those who believe in the principles espoused in Scripture, but I doubt seriously that Trump’s opulent lifestyle fits the bill.

And when I hear Trump talk about the Bible and its contents, he sounds for all the world — to my ears, at least — as though he’s talking about a paperback novel he bought off the used-book shelf. Am I wrong or does he sound to anyone else as though he doesn’t have a clue as to what the Bible actually says — about anything?

But here we are. We’ve been through three contested Republican political events; Trump has finished first in two of them. The South Carolina primary took place in a state where New Testament religion plays a major role in the lives of many of those who call themselves Republicans.

This has been a confounding electoral process so far. Donald Trump’s appeal among evangelical voters within the Republican Party base might be the most perplexing development of all.

What in the name of all that is holy am I missing?


Trump breaks all the rules


It’s become almost a cliché these days to note how Donald J. Trump has broken all the standard political rules.

He has gone on record as supporting abortion on demand, single-payer health insurance, he’s given money to Hillary Clinton’s previous campaigns, he calls the Iraq War a “huge mistake.”

The Republican Party primary base of voters would seem to oppose him on every one of those issues.

They love the guy. He won again tonight in South Carolina’s Republican primary.

Another rule — generally speaking — is to pay some kind of tribute to a vanquished foe. Tonight the foe was former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who bowed out of the campaign. Bush congratulated “the other candidates” who fared better than he did; I presume he included Trump among them.

Did the victor of tonight’s South Carolina primary return a compliment to Bush? Umm. No.

He ignored Jeb Bush. He passed over any mention.

Another rule of good manners … broken!

Will it matter to those who just adore Trump? Hardly.

This has become a campaign where all the standard norms of decent behavior have been tossed aside.

Go … bleeping … figure.




Well, I’ll be dipped …


Dear old Dad had a saying he would use whenever he was mortified, surprised, confused or amazed.

“Well, I’ll be dipped in sesame seeds,” he would say.

Tonight, my dad is being dipped and covered in ’em. I don’t have any other way to describe the news out of South Carolina that TV celebrity/real estate mogul Donald J. Trump has rolled to another Republican Party presidential victory.

The fight is on at this moment for second place. The combatants are U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida.

I’ve admitted already, but it’s worth another admission, a confession, a mea culpa: I was wrong about Trump’s staying power. Many times along the way I thought he’d said something that would doom him.

It started with his denigration of Sen. John McCain’s status as a Vietnam War hero. “He’s a hero because he got captured,” Trump said. “I like people who aren’t captured, OK?”

There would be many other instances of profound crassness. None of them mattered in the eyes of those who continue to support this guy.

I am no longer going to make such predictions as they relate to Trump.

This campaign has become a case study in weirdness.

The insults keep piling up — right along with the victories this individual keeps winning.

He’s two-for-three at the moment. Cruz won the Iowa caucuses, barely. Trump rolled to victory in New Hampshire and appears to be rolling in South Carolina.

If the Republican National Committee still harbors any hope of stopping Trump, of denying him the party’s presidential nomination, my advice is simple and straightforward.

Y’all have to get real busy. Like right now!

Oh, and Dad? Wherever you are, I’m just as baffled as you might be.


It’s do or die for ‘Jeb!’

Jeb  Bush

Erica Greider, writing for Texas Monthly’s blog, offers an interesting analysis of the stakes for today’s South Carolina Republican presidential primary.

She thinks Sen. Marco Rubio has the most to gain — or lose — from the results.

But she inserted this into her blog:

“The prevailing wisdom is that the alternative with the most at stake tomorrow is Jeb Bush. More specifically, there’s a sense that if he can’t manage a strong third-place finish, at least—despite all his advantages at the outset of the race, a strong performance in the most recent Republican debate, and being joined by his brother, former president George W. Bush, on the trail—that it’s time to pack it in.”

Here’s the rest of what she writes.

I’m going to go with the “prevailing wisdom,” which is that the biggest loser from the South Carolina primary could be John Ellis Bush, aka Jeb!

His brother, W, came out of the shadows to campaign actively for his  younger sibling. The 43rd president — who’d made a vow, like their father had done — to stay out of the political arena once he left office. George W. Bush could remain silent no longer, as Donald J. Trump continued blustering about how W and his bunch had “lied” their way into starting the Iraq War.

Jeb figured that Brother W’s continuing popularity in South Carolina could propel him a strong finish when the votes are counted.

I am not privy to the details or the fine print, but it’s looking as though Jeb Bush might not make the grade.

I’ll just offer this bit of personal privilege. I did not vote for W any of the four times I had the chance: his two elections for Texas governor or his two elections for president of the United States. I do, though, like him personally. I’ve had the privilege of visiting twice with him extensively while he was governor — and once briefly in 1988, before he won his first term as Texas governor.

He’s an engaging and personable fellow.

It was my hope that some of that would rub off on Jeb. It apparently hasn’t. Jeb has been caught in that anti-establishment buzzsaw being wielded by he likes of Trump and — oddly enough — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

I will not dare to predict the outcome of the South Carolina vote today. Jeb Bush had better hope he finishes much nearer to the top of the heap than the bottom of it.

At this moment, I am pessimistic.


President Gingrich, anyone?


How decisive will the South Carolina Republican primary be after the votes are counted?

That remains a matter of considerable discussion.

Donald J. Trump is the frontrunner. The fight now is for second place.

But consider what transpired there four years ago.

Newt Gingrich won the state’s primary, which when you look back shouldn’t have been a huge surprise. The former U.S. House of Reps speaker hails from next-door Georgia. He was more or less a “favorite son” candidate of GOP voters. He then promptly flamed out.

The same theory perhaps applies to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ blowout win in the New Hampshire Democratic primary just a while ago. He represents neighboring Vermont in the U.S. Senate. Familiarity didn’t breed contempt there, either.

This process remains in its early stages.

The Republican field has been winnowed considerably from that massive horde of contenders/pretenders that began the race.

For my money, though, the serious test will occur on March 1 when Texas joins several other states in that big Super Tuesday primary.

Then we’ll see who’s got the chops to keep going.

Let’s all stay tuned.


More major culling to occur?


It’s beginning to look as though the Republican Party primary presidential field is going to endure another serious thinning out … maybe soon.

The South Carolina primary is coming up. Donald Trump continues to lead the pack — for the life of me I don’t know how.

Ted Cruz is in the mix. So is Marco Rubio.

That leaves the three also-rans, one of whom I had high hopes could resurrect his campaign.

Ben Carson should leave the race. John Kasich — my favorite Republican and possibly my favorite candidate in either party — needs to score well if he’s going to continue. Jeb Bush? I fear that he’s done, too.

That will leave us with three men running for the GOP nomination.

Two of them are serious, although none of them — for my money — should be the nominee.

It’s looking like one of them will survive the dogfight.

It’s been said that the primary system is a grueling battle that determines whether the “fittest” of the candidates will survive. I’ve called it a form of political natural selection.

This election cycle is proving to be a test of conventional wisdom, which used to suggest that the fittest candidates were those with the most experience, the most knowledge, and who are the most articulate in explaining their philosophy.

That’s not the case these days.

The fittest candidates are those who scream the loudest and who appeal to the fears of an electorate that has been told they have plenty to fear.


As GOP field thins out, so might Trump’s support


An interesting dynamic might be unfolding as the Republican presidential field continues to thin out.

It involves Donald J. Trump and the support he’s been able to get so far.

I believe it’s fair to ask: Who are the voters supporting the dropouts going to endorse?

The GOP field now is down to seven candidates; it started out at 17, if you’ll recall.

Some of the so-called “establishment” candidates have packed it in. The latest significant casualty was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Others have gone by the wayside and none of them appears to be friends of Trump, who’s managed to insult his way to the top of the GOP heap.

I’m wondering if Trump’s support now will dwindle as Republican voters who were loyal, say, to Christie, or Mike Huckabee, or Rick Santorum, or Bobby Jindal start looking around for someone else to support.

Ted Cruz is mining the ultraconservative voters. Marco Rubio, although now severely damaged by the battering he took in the most recent GOP debate, is on the hunt for the same folks. John Kasich, my favorite Republican, also is beginning to gather some steam. Jeb Bush also could find himself thrust into the game.

All of these individuals stand to gain from the remnants of support that rallied around the candidates who’ve departed the campaign trail.

Where does that leave Trump? With his base of support, comprising voters who somehow are infatuated with the candidate’s brashness and don’t seem to care one little bit that he doesn’t seem to possess a political philosophy on which he would govern.

Let’s just watch this thing continue to play out.

I’ve seen the polls that show Trump still leading in South Carolina. However, as we’ve seen in previous election cycles, the Palmetto State is where the GOP campaign has been known to get nasty … as in real nasty.

I’m now wondering how well Trump will hold up when the mud starts flying.