Littwin: Someone else, please, in 2016

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here are many things in life I don’t pretend to understand. Accretion discs. Dynamic scoring. Adam Sandler.

But I’ve always had a pretty good handle on politics. For one thing, it’s not that complicated. And for another, when I get confused, there’s always Nate Silver to straighten me out.

So, in that spirit, we will begin our 2015 column season by explaining why none of the many Republican presidential candidates could possibly be nominated in 2016. One of them will be, of course, which you’d think would ruin the concept of the column. But, fortunately, it doesn’t.

I mean, I said repeatedly that Mitt Romney couldn’t possibly be nominated in 2012 because the guy who invented Romneycare would obviously not be chosen to run against the guy who invented Obamacare. And yet I knew he would be nominated because, who else — Bachmann, Newt, Santorum, Cain, Oops? And so Romney got the job and, as everyone except Romney knew, he would lose. And looking back, it was clear he should never have been nominated …

… so clear that respected people are actually talking about him running for a third time. Why couldn’t Romney run this time? Are you kidding? It’s not just because Chris Mathews predicts – in mid-tingle – that Romney would win the nomination. It’s 47 percent of everything else.

Let’s go to the real candidates. One of them will win, I guess, even though none of them would seem to have a chance.

1. Jeb Bush. Of all the candidates, this is the most confusing one to me. Would Republicans really nominate pro-Common Core, pro-immigration Jeb Bush? Who is his constituency — the younger and smarter brothers of America? The idea of another Bush-Clinton race is so outlandish, so interstellarish, that when Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination (see: Romney, 2012), Americans will look back at yet-another-Bush candidacy as the time when someone actually Googled William Henry Harrison.

2. Marco Rubio. He’s a young, smart, attractive, inexperienced, first-term senator. And he’s written a book. (Sound like anyone you know? I can’t wait to hear about the time he spent in Indonesia.) He’s also from Florida, where Jeb Bush will have tapped every donor this side of South Beach. Rubio will run eventually. He might even win. Eventually.

3. Mike Huckabee. In 2008, he shockingly won in Iowa, winning the evangelical vote that Rick Santorum won in 2012, proving that winning in Iowa doesn’t mean all that much any more. Huckabee couldn’t raise money in 2008. I don’t see where he could raise any in 2016, even if he wins Iowa again. He’s a great retail campaigner in an era when retail campaigns have gone wholesale. I spent a day with him in New Hampshire in 2008 and one of his supporters gave me his card – which had imbedded in it a piece of a pink Elvis convertible. Or so he told me. What’s not to like?

4. Chris Christie. Bridgegate? Cowboygate? Coloradoqualityoflifegate? Obama hug? Jerry Jones hug? YouTube bully boy? Springsteen (who can’t stand him) fan boy? Governor who would be an underdog in his own state? I’m running out of questions. Anyone got any answers?

5. Rand Paul. Libertarianism is in among Republicans, or at least libertarian-lite. Not necessarily the kind of libertarians whose first thought is to blame a police-chokehold death on cigarette taxes. Not necessarily the kind who has to explain how his foreign policy chops differ from his dad’s, especially on Israel. He is a different kind of candidate. But Republicans don’t often pick different kinds of candidates.

6. (tie) Scott Walker/John Kasich. Midwestern governors who have won in blue states and who have taken on unions and who, in Walker’s case, has won three elections in four years and who would be even hotter prospects if there weren’t so many Republicans in the field who have major name recognition and major face recognition and who would, in the case of Bush, Christie and maybe Romney, take up all the oxygen (and money and establishment media) that a couple of Midwestern governors from blue states would need to be competitive.

8. Rick Perry. This is the do-over candidacy. He might have won in 2012 if he had actually prepared for the campaign. He apparently assumed that being the pro-secession, America-second candidate from Texas was enough against a field that included no viable candidates who hadn’t invented Romneycare or run a hedge fund. If Perry hadn’t run in 2012, he might be the favorite in 2016. He can raise money. He can tout Texas. He can say he’s not Ted Cruz. But since he did run in 2012, it’d be a victory if he leaves this campaign without once mentioning back-pain medicine.

9. Ted Cruz. I may have mentioned this before, but you have to be likable to win the presidency. (Hillary, you may recall: likable enough.) The last unlikable president was Nixon, and we all know how that turned out. But Nixon wanted to be liked. Cruz couldn’t care less what you think of him. And what do people think of him? Let’s just say when he’s introduced, the fans aren’t yelling Cr-u-u-u-u-z.

10. Mitt Romney. OK, I said he wasn’t running. But if I didn’t put Romney down at 10th, I’d have to go with Bobby Jindal or Rick Santorum or Ben Carson.

One of these people will emerge as the winner, although it’s hard to see who or how or when. Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Clinton — we’re told – can’t lose because she’s basically cleared what there was of the field. But here’s the real question 22 months from Election Day: Does anyone really know which side is better off?


  1. Good God Almighty! Another Bush? How stupid are we Americans supposed to be? Oh! That’s right! I forgot! Daddyspook and Dubya the Dumbbell are just the beginning of the dynasty that will follow the demise of our Constitutional Republic -as with Caesar in old Rome. Or at least that’s the way the Teabaghead-Republikkklan Party sees it. After all, they DID re-elect Boehner as Speaker of the House today; and that Rubicon crossed, the coup d’état is on its way.

    Great review, Mike. Too bad that’s all the future has for us – damn-foolery and total incompetence.

  2. Lord yes, let there be a new GOP candidate in 2016!
    Enough is enough. I have listened to far more Bush speeches than I need, it is time for new blood in the Grand? Old Party.

  3. “But I’ve always had a pretty good handle on politics. For one thing, it’s not that complicated. And for another, when I get confused, there’s always Nate Silver to straighten me out.”

    There are those who even Mr. Silver can’t straighten out and Mr. Littwin appears to be one of them. So before getting too excited(?) about Mr. Littwin’s observations on possible 2016 Republican presidential candidates it would be instructive to go back one year and examine Mr. “good handle on politics” Littwin’s observations/predictions for last November’s mid-term elections.

    Nostradamus he ain’t:

    – This is the day on which Republicans should be nominating someone in the race for governor who could reasonably challenge incumbent John Hickenlooper. But, of course, they won’t. Because there’s no one in the four-way field who can. Here are the possible scenarios for the Republican nominee: It could be a disaster (Tom Tancredo) or a snooze (Bob Beauprez) or possibly a long shot’s long shot (Scott Gessler) or maybe (nah, it can’t be him).- June. 2014
    – Women already vote in large numbers for Democrats. If contraception coverage becomes an issue, that number should only grow. It’s certainly the way that Democrats will bet – March, 2013
    – In the year of women’s issues, the Democrats had already brought in their Big 3 — Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama — to energize the voters. But Bill (Clinton) comes in as the closer. And he’s still got wicked stuff. – October, 2014
    – There are issues and then there are issues. The Republican stand on abortion and, from some, on birth control is a big part of the Republican problem with women. – June, 2014
    – And there is another big issue, but it works the other way: the government shutdown. Gardner not only voted for the shutdown, he also voted, just recently, against raising the debt ceiling, risking default. Then there are the rest of the issues. Gardner is on the wrong side of the poll numbers on immigration reform (Bennet beat Buck 81-19 on the Latino vote), on “forcible rape” (remember this vote, because it will become a major issue), on personhood, on abortion, on minimum wage, on cutting $40 billion in food stamps, on gay rights, on his vote for the Ryan budget and its impact on Medicare. – February, 2014
    – So, might Colorado turn away from Democrats? The answer is easy enough: It would be possible if — and this is one gigantic if — there were something else to turn toward. – November, 2013
    – Can (Cory Gardner) the 10th most conservative House member — a number that most Tea Partiers would give up their Ted Cruz decoder ring to claim — really be elected statewide in a Colorado that has been trending blue for a decade? – February, 2014

    Now, the answers:

    Did Republicans nominate “someone in the race for governor who could reasonably challenge incumbent John Hickenlooper.”? Yes.

    Did contraception coverage hurt Cory Gardner? No.

    Did former President Bill “the Big Dog” Clinton bring his wicked stuff? No. He endorsed Andrew Romanoff (for the second time, by the way), Senator Udall and Governor Hickenlooper. Only the latter saved him from the trifecta nobody wants.

    Did abortion hurt Cory Gardner? No.

    Did “forcible rape(remember this vote, because it will become a major issue)” become a major issue? No, and neither did the government shutdown, immigration reform, personhood, minimum wage, cutting $40 billion in food stamps, gay rights or his vote for the Ryan budget and its impact on Medicare.

    Did Colorado voters find “something else to turn toward.” Yes.

    “Can (Cory Gardner) the 10th most conservative House member — a number that most Tea Partiers would give up their Ted Cruz decoder ring to claim — really be elected statewide in a Colorado that has been trending blue for a decade? “ Yes.

    Will Mr. Littwin ever be right? Maybe, tilting towards no. So his “observations” should be taken seriously only by true believers, all others should take them with a train-load of salt.

    And before Mr. Littwin gets too far ahead of himself, there are at least two important stories from 2014 that he has yet to comment on:

    – assassination of two New York City policemen
    – white-cop-black-victim in Berkeley, Missouri

    Maybe he got so wrapped up in predicting future events he forgot about covering current events or maybe he just doesn’t consider these stories newsworthy or, more to the point, Littwin-worthy.

    “After passing the stimulus, Democrats should have continued to propose middle class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus, but unfortunately Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them. We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem – health care reform, Only a third of the uninsured are even registered to vote, about 5% of the electorate (benefits from the entitlement). To aim a huge change in mandate at such a small percentage of the electorate made no political sense.” – Senator Schumer (D-NY) Head of the Democratic Policy and Communications Center

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Wounded Warrior Project
    Memorial Day – May 25, 2015

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