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The Pathetic State of the Races

Tonight brings the latest episode in Donald Trump’s highly-rated reality show, also known as the second debate of the Republican Party’s presidential nomination race, and it’s as good a time as any to note that the Democratic Party’s less-watched show is just as appalling.
In one of those surprise plot twists that any half-attentive viewer could have seen coming from a mile away, the sudden front-runner in the Democratic race suddenly seems to be the self-described socialist and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. He’s still frequently described as a “long-shot” by most of the media, who with the same hopefulness occasionally use the same term for Trump, and the consensus of pundit opinion is still that former First Lady and Senator and Secretary of State and presumptive-first-female-president Hillary Clinton will somehow survive all the scandals her resume has to offer and eventually wind up in a successful race against some more-or-less establishment Republican or another. This strikes us as an unlikely scenario at this point, and not just because it’s too boring to generate any ratings. This Sanders character, on the other hand, inspires all sorts of intriguing and yet oddly plausible plot lines to grip the public’s attention.
On Monday Sanders spoke at the self-described conservative and Christian and Rev. Jerry “Moral Majority” Falwell-founded Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and the speech lived up to its fish-out-of-water possibilities. Although the presumably anti-abortion, pro-same-sex-marriage, and reliably left on every other social issue Sanders was preaching to the wrong choir at Liberty he was nonetheless treated with a quiet consideration of his views and a respectful round of applause at the end of his rambling and insane speech, quite unlike the treatment that a pro-abortion, anti-same-sex-marriage, and really right on every other social issue conservative speaker might expect at almost any other university. The speech and its civil reception didn’t get nearly so much coverage as The Donald’s latest “tweet” about some woman’s ugliness and how he bangs hotter broads all the time, but it’s just as disturbing in that ironic way that modern television viewers seem to relish.
Sanders made a valiant attempt to cloak his socialism and social issues libertinism in scripture, citing Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,” but then undermined the argument by insisting that all the world’s religions take the same generous view. Islam as practiced by the Islamic State and the Islamic Republic of Iran and all the rest of those head-chopping, stoning, burning-at-the-stake adherents of the Religion of Peace apparently sees no religious obligation to treat the infidels as they would hope to be treated, and we expect the ordinary Liberty University student is at least well educated enough to understand that. Most of the media also understand this, and understand that most of America understands this, which is probably why they’d prefer to report on The Donald’s latest “tweet.” Sanders also quoted the Old Testament book of Amos, chapter five and verse 24, “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a falling stream,” to justify his pro-abortion and pro-same-sex marriage stands, but we expect the average Liberty University could cite other chapters and verses of other books in both the Old and New Testaments that are more specific about such matters. Most of the media couldn’t, we suspect, which is another reason they’d prefer to report on The Donald’s latest “tweet.”
Sanders also cited scripture through the rest of his rant, mostly about the dreaded “1 percent,” “with huge yachts, and jet planes and tens of billions. More money than they would ever know what to do with,” and their obligation to cough it all up to finance a few hours of federal spending. We suppose there’s something somewhere in the scriptures about greed or one of the other relevant Seven Deadly Sins that might bolster Sanders’ theological argument, but even such protestant students as one might find at Liberty University are likely to notice there’s a certain amount of envy and covetousness in Sanders’ pitch, and the economic considerations are too ridiculous to contemplate. The Wall Street Journal has tallied all the spending that Sanders proposes and come up with an $18 trillion price tag, which would be added to the $18 trillion or so already owed, and not including the many tens of trillions of previous unfunded promises, as well as all the the state and municipal and private debt that’s accumulated, and it’s going to take some hellacious scripture-citing to make that work out.
The best we can say for the Democrats is that Sander’s explosion is just the equal and opposite reaction to Clinton’s implosion from various scandals and the increasingly apparent fact that she has no provable accomplishments to show for her many titles and is just an awful, awful woman, which we saw coming from a mile way, no matter what predictable plot lines those hack writers in the media type up, and perhaps there’s some out-of-the-blue plot twist that will lead to a happy ending. They’re pitching the idea of Vice President Joe Biden, at which we point the storyline has reached the absurdism of Samuel Beckett. We’re waiting for a Democrat more worthy than The Donald, which isn’t asking much, but at this point its going to take some deus ex machina that the jaded public won’t buy.
We can only hope that there are still a few twists left in the Republican plot line, as well, and that it ends with one of the many other more heroic characters somehow prevailing over Trump’s “tweets.” Tonight’s episode of the Donald Trump reality show might even set that in motion, and we’ll be watching with avid interest.

— Bud Norman

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Running on Cruz Control

Texas’ Sen. Ted Cruz has officially entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination, and we’re glad of it. He’s a smart fellow and solid conservative who deserves his party’s consideration, and it will be fun watching the ensuing hysteria on the left.
The howling commenced immediately after Cruz launched his campaign Monday with a speech delivered at Liberty University and clearly aimed at the party’s conservative base. Just the choice of venue was enough to rile the left, as Liberty University is an unapologetically evangelical school founded by the late Moral Majority founder and left-wing boogyman Jerry Falwell, and is full of the kind of clean-cut and well-groomed and chaste young people who give the left the willies, and is even located in a town with the scary-sounding name of Lynchburg, Virginia, but all the talk about repealing Obamacare and restoring constitutional limits on government and balancing budgets was was like fingernails scraping across a blackboard to leftist ears, and when Cruz through in some talk about abortion and same-sex marriage and God it became all the more painful. “Tweets” immediately twittered across the internet from outraged listeners, most with the usual snarky but unspecific complaints about what a “moron” and “joke” and “wack job” Cruz is, the lattermost with a row of exclamation marks to emphasize its misspelled assertion of intellectual superiority, and yet they also seemed to fear that Cruz is also a diabolical genius. There’s already much talk about Cruz having been born in Canada, and we can’t tell if this is meant as a sarcastic payback for the questions that a small group of people raised about President Barack Obama’s place of birth or is a serious effort to have Cruz declared ineligible for the president, but in either case it demonstrates Cruz’s unhinging effect on liberals.
This only further endears Cruz to the conservative primary voters that he’s courting, though, and it made the praise for Cruz’s speech all the more effusive. Cruz is already well respected by conservatives for his willingness to take political risks for his beliefs, such as his leading role in the “government shutdown” of a while back in a noble but failed to effort to get Obamacare repealed, which is also why he is more despised by the left than the average Republican politician. To whatever extent Cruz becomes the favorite of his party’s conservative base he will be even more vehemently opposed by the liberal base of the opposition party, so his fortunes will ultimately be determined by all those folks in the middle. Much of the media will be happy to inform those largely uninformed voters that Cruz is a fire-breathing right-wing radical who will dismantle the government and force women into back alley abortions and conduct a foreign policy without proper respect for the touchier Islamic sensibilities, but Cruz can count on the support talk radio and other far-reaching conservative media, and it won’t be easy for the opposition to caricature him.
The “moron” stuff will quickly fade as the public comes to Cruz, who was graduated from Princeton and then Harvard Law School, where liberal Prof. Alan Dershowitz regarded him as his most brilliant student, so the diabolical genius angle will probably take over, but the birth certificate stuff will just give Cruz a chance to recount his heartwarming and humanizing family history as the son of a Cuban refugee. Nor is Cruz’s staunch conservatism so far out of the mainstream to be considered “wack job.” Repealing Obamacare and abolishing the Internal Revenue Service and the “Common Core” takeover of local education are not ideas that will strike a vast majority of Americans as radical, and the public might even be in the mood for a little more governmental dismantling. Cruz’s blunt talk about social issues will strike many as old-fashioned and self-righteous, but when the Democrats are increasingly perceived as the party of transgenderism and forcing bakers to make cakes for same-sex weddings and a general distaste for anything religious, it’s hard to say which party that vast middle now considers out of the mainstream. Nor does the public seem to share the exquisite sensitivity to the touchier Islamic sensibilities of the current administration or any likely Democratic successor, so unless Cruz makes some very bellicose blunder he should enjoy the same advantage on foreign policy as any Republican nominee.
The Republicans will have other candidates who deserve consideration, though, and even Cruz’s admirers might find others a preferable candidate. Some have executive experience to go along with their own acts of political bravery, and there’s a case to be made that’s preferable to one term in the Senate now mater how distinguished it might have been. Some have their own heartwarming and human family histories, too, and more likable personas to go along with them. A few have also been vilified with the same vehemence by the left, which always endears a candidate to the right, and it was often because of the things they succeeded in doing. Cruz strikes us as far superior to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee or former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum or any of the other candidates who might be making the same pitch for cultural conservatism, and the intellectual equal of any of his gubernatorial rivals, and the least establishment of any the congressional contenders, so we consider him a viable possibility to win it all. It’s going to be a long contest, though, and the field is strong, and Cruz might have weaknesses that have not yet revealed themselves, but we will be watching.
If nothing else, the hysteria on the left should prove amusing.

— Bud Norman