Day of Decision in the Old Dominion

Day of Decision in the Old Dominion

I voted vb

Dear friends-

As many of you know, yours truly has been struggling with the question as for which candidate I will cast my vote in tomorrow’s Virginia primary election, just as I indicated in my most recent essay ( http://www.drewnickell.com/?p=574 ). You have been very kind in your suggestions on the things I should consider in making this decision- one in which I have felt conflicted, confused and consternated, all at the same time.

As I said, taken separately, there is no reason why any of the five remaining candidates would not become a good president, for each of them is blessed with particular gifts that lend themselves to such an endeavor. Dr. Ben Carson has an innate goodness and gentility of bearing that sets him apart from most politicians. Governor John Kasich is, by all accounts, a successful governor who has shown a can-do approach to the challenges he has faced, both as a legislator and a chief executive of a large and populous state. Senator Marco Rubio has an undoubtable charisma and proficiency in communication that hasn’t been seen in the ranks of Republicans, since Ronald Reagan in 1980. Senator Ted Cruz has a level of intelligence, a constitutional conviction and an overall understanding of the “big picture,” rarely seen in the opportunistic and pragmatic world of professional politics. Businessman Donald Trump has the singleness of purpose and clarity of mission that is the sine qua non of a great leader.

Yet having said this, and shared with you my innermost trepidations, I have also come to see that when the heat has been turned on, to a greater degree than I would have otherwise ever imagined, one thing has become all-too-clear on this eve before Super Tuesday…and that is the sheer desperation- desperation shown by the major media, by the remaining candidates, and by the party of which they are part…to unite to block, and thereby de-legitimize, one of the candidates seeking the Republican nomination, and it is this over-the-top desperation that has led me to the conclusion that such desperation can only mean that Donald J. Trump, flawed as he doubtlessly is, will be receiving at least one vote in the precinct where I will cast by ballot tomorrow morning- a decision with which I have been struggling with these last weeks, since the race really became a three-way race between Trump, Cruz and Rubio. While I would not presume, ever, to tell you who it is for whom you should vote, I would also be less than transparent if I kept this decision under wraps, prior to the Virginia primary, tomorrow.

Having indicated that I will be casting my ballot for Trump, I also hereby pledge to support my party’s nominee, regardless of who that is in the end, because any one of the remaining candidates will doubtlessly do a better job as president, than either of the Democrats running, and that can be taken to the bank of your choice. I am

Very respectfully and appreciatively yours,

-Drew Nickell, 29 February 2016

© 2016 by Drew Nickell, all rights reserved.

The Tempest in Texas- Confessions from a Conflicted and Committed Conservative

The Tempest in Texas- Confessions from a Conflicted and Committed Conservative

It was a debate like none other, in the history of presidential debates. The three Republican front-runners descended into a verbal shout-fest and insult-a-thon that, at times, seemed capable of making the three stooges look civilized, by comparison. Unlike the previous nine Republican debates, the tenth debate, hosted by CNN at the University of Houston, Thursday night, was truly one for the ages. Whereas previous debates have had their fair share of pettiness and petulance, this one descended to a new low for the three front-runners, as all three of these men tried to outdo one another in trading insults and displaying boorish behavior which, in all likelihood, was the overall intent of CNN going into the debate.

Retrospectively, it appears that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were acting out a performance based on their respective desperation, because they have come to realize that their perilous paths to the nomination have grown steeper and narrower with every passing day. While it was generally agreed that Marco Rubio got the best of Ted Cruz, and to a greater extent, Donald Trump, any bounce that he might have otherwise attained was completely obliterated the following afternoon, when New Jersey Governor and former candidate Chris Christie came out and formally endorsed Donald Trump.

Perhaps this endorsement now fully explains why Christie went into full attack mode on Rubio, in the New Hampshire debate just days before he, himself, pulled out of the race. Donald Trump, author of “The Art of the Deal,” who prides himself on being a master of negotiation, may well have arranged the New Hampshire takedown of Rubio by Christie, before that debate even took place. If true, then it is also true that Trump is a master of strategy and a manipulator of media, who has systematically taken down every single one of the former contestants who brought his candidacy into question. Trump appears to be on the verge of doing the same to both Rubio and Cruz, as the country enters into the Super Tuesday contests that will indicate, once and for all, who will likely become the nominees in each of the two major political parties.

Taken separately, there is no reason why any of the five remaining candidates would not become a good president, for each of them is blessed with particular gifts that lend themselves to such an endeavor. Dr. Ben Carson has an innate goodness and gentility of bearing that sets him apart from most politicians. Governor John Kasich is, by all accounts, a successful governor who has shown a can-do approach to the challenges he has faced, both as a legislator and a chief executive of a large and populous state. Senator Marco Rubio has an undoubtable charisma and proficiency in communication that hasn’t been seen in the ranks of Republicans, since Ronald Reagan in 1980. Senator Ted Cruz has a level of intelligence, a constitutional conviction and an overall understanding of the “big picture,” rarely seen in the opportunistic and pragmatic world of professional politics. Businessman Donald Trump has the singleness of purpose and clarity of mission that is the sine qua non of a great leader.

In the end, it’s just all-too-bad that all five of these men cannot be president, all-too-bad that each of their peculiar strengths cannot be extracted to create a master candidate like a Ronald Reagan, who both can win the election handily and use such a mandate to redirect the direction of a country headed in the wrong direction, as it has been in these last eight years. Such is the confession of a committed, albeit conflicted conservative who finds himself caught up in the consternation of deciding who to support, as his Virginia primary looms large on Tuesday, the first of March, 2016.

Perhaps someone reading this, who knows fully-well the peril this country faces with the prospect of a President Hillary Clinton, might be able to help this poor soul, as he struggles with such a dilemma in deciding for whom to cast his vote.

 

-Drew Nickell, 27 February 2016

© 2016 by Drew Nickell, all rights reserved.

Nothing New in Nevada: Trump Wins Big, Yet Again

Nothing New in Nevada: Trump Wins Big, Yet Again

Almost doubling the number of votes cast for his nearest rival, Donald Trump won yet again, sweeping the Silver State’s caucus for his third consecutive win. So convincing was his margin of victory, so solid was his dominance across all of the major constituencies, including Hispanics, that the way forward for the rest of the Republican field largely remains in doubt.

There is much talk from the talking heads that Trump has “hit his ceiling of percentile support- that he will go no higher because of his ‘unfavorables.’” These same talking heads said the very same thing when his polled support was at 15%, then 23%, then 27%, then 31%, and now they are saying is again with Trump winning the caucus vote at 46%.

There is also much talk from the talking heads that “if, only if, all of the remaining candidates would just coalesce around a single candidate, ‘the Donald’ could be stopped, dead in his tracks.” Well, maybe. But such a scenario would almost require that every single one of the voters, who cast votes for all three of the other four candidates, would throw their support behind either Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz. Such an assumption is nearly impossible because some of those votes would doubtlessly go to Trump, others would not be cast at all, and the remaining votes would not be enough to derail Trump’s train, in any event. Add to this the fact that neither Rubio nor Cruz has shown any indication of backing down, and have been going at each other like two feral tom-cats fighting over a molly-cat. As of this writing, neither John Kasich nor Ben Carson have indicated their willingness to drop out, either, despite the fact that they have absolutely no chance of winning anything other than the adoration of those who don’t like the top three.

If Donald Trump were to go on and defeat Ted Cruz in Texas on March 1st,  and defeat both Rubio in Florida and Kasich in Ohio on March 15th, there is no way that anyone else could even dream of catching him, and this is the nightmare scenario that the mainstream Republican power brokers dread, most of all.

Why?

A Trump nomination would settle, once and for all, who controls the Republican Party- the Washington elites, or the Republican voters, themselves. Since all of the Republican insiders can only agree on one thing- that they don’t like Trump- such a victory would render these insiders as, essentially, irrelevant, and so would go their influence on Republican politics. The same holds true for the mainstream media who has been predicting the “downfall of the Donald” since he launched his candidacy in mid-June, 2015.

So it is indeed ironic, that it is entirely possible that the Republican nomination might be all sewn up, even before the Democratic nomination is settled.

Why?

Well, for one thing, most of Hillary’s delegates are “super-delegates,” essentially party insiders who are free to vote however they choose, irrespective of primary and caucus results, which is why Hillary left New Hampshire with more delegates than Bernie Sanders, despite the fact that Sanders won the state’s popular vote by a two-to-one margin. Yet, these “super-delegates” are free to change their votes, right up until the final votes are cast at the Democrats’ convention in Philadelphia, later this summer. Essentially, Hillary’s command of the delegate count is fragile to the extent that further revelations regarding e-mail servers, the Clinton foundation, etc., can eat away at her electability, an electability already beset with questions regarding her honesty and trustworthiness. While the Democrat power brokers are pretty much in the tank for Hillary, they also are smart enough to know that Bernie Sanders’ nomination would all but assure a Republican victory in November, simply because there are just not enough college kids around who want free stuff, to counter the remaining voters who would never abide the election of a socialist, not even a “Democratic socialist” as Bernie has often described himself. So, if it seems that the “criminal” cannot defeat the “commie,” a brokered convention would result in a Biden-Warren ticket, in a last-ditch effort to save Obama’s “legacy,” such as it is.

Regardless, the election of 2016 is shaping up to be an election which will doubtlessly turn conventional (pun intended) wisdom on its ear, for the simple reason that the candidate who has spent the least amount of money (his own, by the way) is likely going to parlay what is now, a three-way race for his party’s nomination, into a freeway sprint to Cleveland, “come hell or high water,” as he likes to say.

And that is the reality facing the Republican Party on the week before Super Tuesday, 2016.

 

-Drew Nickell, 24 February 2016

© 2016 by Drew Nickell, all rights reserved.

Republican Reality Check- the Trump Train and an Exhausted Establishment

Republican Reality Check- the Trump Train and an Exhausted Establishment

What a difference a year makes.

This time, last year, all of the betting money was on Jeb Bush to win the nomination and be the one to face Hillary Clinton, in what was supposed to be Bush vs Clinton, part deux, the sequel to 1992 (I am so glad I didn’t take part in that wager).

While the former Florida governor returns to the Sunshine State, licking his wounds from the brutal beatings brought on by his one-time protégé, Marco Rubio, and his tormenteureuse terrible, Donald Trump, a new reality is slowly sinking in for the Republican Party. The GOP once thought it knew everything needed to be known about conservatism and what it means to be a Republican. As it turns out, the Republican Party did not know “spit.”

All of its mainstream, moderate, go-along-with, get-along-with candidates have either dropped out of the race altogether, or are fighting over the paltry crumbs left on the table by their conservative counterparts. While partisan purists will continue to quibble over whether or not Donald Trump is truly conservative, the fact is undeniable that Mr. Trump has captured much of the conservative base by voicing that on which true conservatives all agree- the border between Mexico and the United States must be sealed, immigration laws must be enforced, and there must be a temporary ban on Muslim immigration, until such time as these refugees can be thoroughly and properly vetted. All of the Republican moderates opposing these stances have failed, utterly failed, to gain the requisite support needed to win the Republican nomination. Therein lies the lesson first taught by one Dave Brat, a Tea Party outsider who trounced Eric Cantor in June of 2014, to win the Republican nomination for Cantor’s seat in the House of Representatives. That lesson is simple: “Stop listening to your base and you do so at your own peril.”

The reason that the quest for the Republican nomination has come down to a three-man race between Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, is that these three candidates are listening to the conservative base of the Republican Party…something that Gerald Ford failed to do in 1976, something that George H.W. Bush failed to do in 1992, something that Bob Dole failed to do in 1996, something that John McCain failed to do in 2008, and something that Mitt Romney failed to do in 2012. Because Messrs. Trump, Rubio and Cruz are listening to the conservative base, each of them has an equally good chance of defeating Hillary Clinton in November- provided their Republican Party begins to listen as well, and rallies around to support whoever ultimately wins the nomination. As things stand right now, given his solid victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and his likely victory in Nevada on Tuesday, that candidate is most likely going to be Donald Trump, whose train is steaming towards the nomination at breakneck speed.

While John Kasich and Ben Carson remain in the race, neither of them has any chance to be on the Republican ticket, other than as a running mate to Trump, Rubio or Cruz.

What the mainstream, moderate go-along-with, get along-with Republican establishment, so exhausted in their attempt to define a race now spun out of their own control, needs to do is to decide on whether to unite in opposition to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, or set afire what is left to the Republican Party by staying home and pouting once again, that they didn’t get their way.

In unity, there is victory, and in division, there is only defeat.

That is the reality check facing Republicans in 2016.

 

-Drew Nickell, 21 February 2016

 

© 2016 by Drew Nickell, all rights reserved.

Democrats and their Dilemma- the “Inevitable” Hillary Clinton vs Bernie Sanders

Democrats and their Dilemma- the “Inevitable” Hillary Clinton vs Bernie Sanders

For Democrats, it wasn’t supposed to be this way.

Hillary Rodham Clinton was supposed to be their nominee in 2008, but then along came a charismatic candidate who excited a base that was just barely out of reach for the former first lady, and that is how they ended up with President Barack Obama. After all, why else did the former first lady of Arkansas, and a native of Illinois, move to New York and become, in effect, a “carpetbagger” candidate for the United States Senate? It was so she would have a platform to run for the nation’s highest office. When she came up short in this quest for her husband’s old job, and in exchange for her own and Bill Clinton’s eventual support, Obama gave Mrs. Clinton his most powerful cabinet post, Secretary of State.

Yet Hillary Clinton, whose ambition and desire for power knows no limits, was not satisfied to be anyone’s secretary- not even Secretary of State- and that may prove to be the ultimate explanation as to why she insisted on having her own server for e-mails, outside the reach of her two bosses- those being the president and, ultimately, the American people.

Hillary Clinton is nothing if not an irrepressible and inexhaustible example of idiosyncrasy and hypocritical irony. The patron political saint of feminism who has always believed and avowed the feminist ideal that “women can make it on their own,” she ultimately achieved her own power from nothing else but the fact that she was married to William Jefferson Clinton. Her ascendancy to being the first female partner with the Rose Law firm followed her husband’s election to the governorship of Arkansas, the year after he took office. Her election as Senator from New York, having had no association with the Empire State prior to this election, was clearly made possible by the fact of her husband’s presidency and nothing else. Her status and influence in the Democrat Party all derived from her husband’s political success, and nothing more.

This great defender of all things related to women’s advocacy and women’s rights has repeatedly flown in the face of those particular women who had complained of her husband’s uninvited sexual advances and assaults. From Juanita Broaddrick, who alleged that then- Arkansas Attorney General William Jefferson Clinton raped her while he was running for governor, to Paula Jones who sued the president for defamation of character, relating to his sexual harassment of her while he was governor (leading to his impeachment for perjury while president), to Kathleen Willey, who claimed that President Clinton sexually assaulted her in the Oval Office on the very day of her own husband’s tragic suicide, to Monica Lewinsky who was forced to produce a blue dress with the president’s DNA to prove that she had actually performed fellatio on the president in that same office, Hillary Clinton has had a history of sicking her attack dogs on these women, and many more. If there is anything that feminism- true feminism- opposes, it is enabling lecherous husbands from marital infidelity, but at the end of the day, Hillary Clinton has been just that- Bill Clinton’s enabler.

Now that Hillary Clinton, her immediate staff at the State Department, and the Clinton Foundation, itself, are all under criminal investigation by the FBI, the once-thought-to-be inevitable Democrat is facing a challenge from a seventy-four year-old avowed socialist and former communist Bernie Sanders, who once opined that it was every woman’s secret fantasy to be gang-raped by three men at the same time, in a 1972 essay published in the now-defunct Vermont Freeman, entitled Men and Women. Wrote Sanders:

 “A man goes home and masturbates (to) his typical fantasy- a woman on  her knees, a woman tied up, a woman abused, (while) a woman enjoys intercourse  with her man — as she fantasizes being raped by 3 men  simultaneously.”

What’s a loyal Democrat partisan to do, faced with such choices?

Such a dilemma is precisely  why it is fortunate to be safely settled on the other side of the Democrat Party in 2016.

 

-Drew Nickell, 19 February 2016

© 2016 by Drew Nickell, all rights reserved.

The Lines of Battle Drawn- the Death of Antonin Scalia

The Lines of Battle Drawn- the Death of Antonin Scalia

It did not take President Barack Obama a half dozen sentences to both note the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and to announce that he intends to replace the late justice, before his term is out. As though the president was chomping at the bit to do so, Obama seized upon the opportunity to leave one last mark- a lasting one, at that- on a Supreme Court that has, at times, thwarted his affinity to rule by fiat, through constitutionally- questionable executive orders on a host of issues, ranging from immigration to the right of citizens to bear arms, as guaranteed in the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

Justice Scalia, a strict constitutionalist and perhaps the most conservative jurist on the Supreme Court, was widely admired on all sides of the judiciary for his academically-sound and scholarly approach to the opinions he authored, both in majority, as well as in dissenting, opinions. The son of Sicilian immigrants, with his brilliant mind and his honest, non-political approach towards the execution of his duties on the high court, will be sorely missed by all but one- that one being the incumbent President of the United States, who has heretofore shown much contempt for that bothersome document, the Constitution of the United States, to which Justice Scalia held in such high regard.

Conversely, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have both indicated their intent to delay hearings on Scalia’s replacement until after the 2016 presidential election. Standing on a tradition that has been in place for the past eight decades, where Supreme Court nominations have been set aside during presidential election years, it is altogether fitting that the Republican leadership in the Senate take such a stance. Certainly there is no doubt that, if the situation was reversed, the Democrats in the Senate would do precisely the same thing, just as they did in 2007-8, when the Democrat-led Senate delayed judicial appointments proffered by President George W. Bush, at the time.

The question is whether or not the Senate leadership will hold firm in their resistance to a political onslaught that is sure to follow, with Democrats, their candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and the mainstream media at the ready, to charge the Republicans with obstructionism, or worse.

All Obama has to do is put forward a nomination of an African-American to the high court, and charges of “racism” will surely follow any Republican resistance to the nominee, regardless of the candidate’s qualifications, or lack thereof. The same holds true for any woman, of any color, where any resistance will fire up Hillary Clinton’s mantra about the supposed “Republican ‘war on women’,” or some such rot. Given that temptation, Obama will likely proffer an African-American woman, such as Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and dare the Republicans to stand in his way, especially since her own confirmation as Attorney General was approved on a 56 to 43 vote, last year.

There is much at stake for the Republican leadership, should they cave into pressure from Democrats and the major media to proceed with hearings and eventual consent of Obama’s nominee, for they already have had the reputation of acceding to the demands of this “imperial president,” on issues ranging from the budget to the dubious Iran “deal,” thanks to the asinine finaglings of Bob Corker (R-TN), who made it easier for the Iran deal to sail through the Senate.

Even more so, the overall direction of the Supreme Court, given the absence of Scalia, already teeters on upcoming rulings regarding Obama’s use of executive orders to bypass Congress, and hazardously remains in flux. Add another activist liberal to the Supreme Court, and we can kiss the concept of legislative power and the rule of law, “goodbye,” for a generation to come.

All of this lends credence to just how important this election of 2016 has become, and for reasons that continue to pop up at such an alarming rate, to boot.

 

-Drew Nickell, 15 February 2016

© 2016 by Drew Nickell, all rights reserved.

Debate Dysfunction – a Bipartisan Malady

Debate Dysfunction – a Bipartisan Malady

In this so-called “Information Age” in which we live, and given all of the various sources from which one can attain related information, one might be tempted to come to the erroneous conclusion that people today are better informed about politics, in general, and presidential candidacies, specifically, than ever before. With the sheer number of intramural debates being televised in this election year, one might also be tempted to come to an equally erroneous conclusion, that people today are better able to select the best candidates to support in their respective parties’ nominations. As much as we would love to believe both of these to be true, sadly, we strongly suspect quite the opposite.

A major part of the problem…are the debates, themselves.

One look into both the most recent Democrat and Republican debates reveals much as to why there is so much dysfunction in the selection of a presidential nominee. The fix would be quite easy but, as usual, the powers-to-be will sadly never go for it, much to the disservice of the American citizenry.

On the Democrats’ side, Thursday night’s debate in Milwaukee offered more acrimony between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders than we have seen to date. Yet, this encounter revealed little if anything to sway their Democrat constituents one way or another. Why? Because the PBS debate moderators Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff offered softball questions to front-runner Hillary Clinton and utterly failed to ask the former first lady the most important question concerning her own campaign, which is “How does she expect to gain the trust of the American people when she, her underlings in the Department of State, and the Clinton foundation are all under criminal investigation by the FBI ?”

On the Republicans’ side, Saturday night’s debate in Greenville, South Carolina approached the food-fight instigated by the late John Belushi’s character “Blutarsky” in the iconic motion picture comedy Animal House (ironically, the character John Belushi portrayed ends up being a U.S. Senator in the closing scene of the movie). The three stooges in the debate, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump spent much of the evening hurling insults back and forth in a three-way pie-throwing contest, largely because the CBS News debate moderators, John Dickerson and Major Garrett, along with Kimberly Strassel, a Wall Street Journal columnist, failed miserably to maintain control in what initially began as a substantive debate on the issues. For their own part, the remaining three candidates, Ben Carson, John Kasich and Marco Rubio each were able to maintain their respective composures by wisely staying out of the free-for-all between Bush, Cruz and Trump. Yet their messages were largely overshadowed by the acrimony on display that night.

Adversely affecting both the Democrat and the Republican debates, and how they are moderated, is the presence of…the live audience, whose raucous behavior- cheering, booing and taking sides- only serves to inflame the acrimony, encourage the childishness and ultimately waste valuable time- things that are most unhelpful in the selection of the next president.

If the debates, going forward, were to return to the format of the 1960 Kennedy Nixon debates, which were televised in a studio set apart from a live audience, a more substantive and informative debate- one which would better serve the American people in their selection of the next president- might be possible.

Then again, when all of the networks ABC, CBS, CNBC, CNN, Fox Business News, Fox News, MsNBC, NBC, etc., view these debates in the paltry prism of ratings and money, why should the public entrust these enterprises with something as prescient as the selection of the next president?

Why, indeed?

 

-Drew Nickell, 14 February 2016

© 2016 by Drew Nickell, all rights reserved.