Well, kids, another month of presidential electioneering is in the books. We've made it to July of 2015, and what a frabjous day it is for our nation. At this point, just about everyone who is going to try to run for president in the 2016 election cycle is in the race. The lone holdouts are basically one guy who's been a presumed candidate since November of 2012 (Scott Walker) and two guys (John Kasich and Jim Webb) who are waiting to announce, probably because they think that after a sufficient amount of time passes, we'll all be nostalgic for that period of time when everyone was making announcements. And they'll probably be right.
Think about it. Just one year from now, the vast majority of these people will be just like George Pataki -- not their party's nominee. These are the halcyon days when it feels like anything is possible, including terrible, stupid things. This week, I woke from a fitful sleep, having dreamt that eight or nine GOP candidates were still going after the Iowa caucuses, having each taken about 8 or 9 percent of that vote. Everyone's a winner! Everyone gets a delegate! The state convention is an orgy of feverish backbiting and fisticuffs. I turned to Frontloading HQ's Josh Putnam to help me with these night terrors, and his assurances about this thing called "winnowing" are doing the trick for the time being.
Still, what a country we live in. It's a place where running for president is a thing that an ostensibly rational person does because he's desperate and has no other choice. It's an honest land in which a child might be more excited about a passing turtle than his father's impending presidential candidacy. It's a nation of dreamers, forever striving, knowing that if a Cheeto-colored bag of dead slugs and bluster can, even briefly, top the primary polls, so can they.
Who knows what marvels lie ahead? All I know is that it's time to say a fond farewell to June of 2015 and the things that made this month the Very Best Month of the 2016 Election Cycle.
Thus Endeth The "No Michael Bloomberg" Speculation Portion Of The 2016 Election. Much like Christmas or thoughts of your own impending mortality, the day that a bunch of people start grandly pontificating on how former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the answer to a question that's never been asked seems to come earlier every year. This time out, it's June of 2015, paced by a weird, rationale-free USA Today op-ed from Michael Wolff and a New York Post piece that describes how "New York Dems friendly to Bloomberg have approached him to gauge his interest" in running for president.
The "President Bloomberg" fantasia is pretty old hat by now, but it's worth pointing out how this time something fundamental has changed. In times past, Bloomberg was floated as some kind of independent alternative to another round of Republican-versus-Democrat, a truly "centrist" candidate with gobs and gobs of crossover appeal. Some of our most failed political institutions (unless the point of them was to separate members of the private equity/hedge fund set from their money, in which case they were successful), like Americans Elect and No Labels, exist solely because the alluring force of President Bloomberg fan fiction is, for some, stronger than most designer drugs.
What's unique to this new swelling of Bloomberg mania, however, is that no one's even pretending anymore that the mayor has crossover potential. There's been a modicum of succumbing to reality, in that Bloomberg is now a punchline in conservative circles: He's the guy who is coming for your guns, or your cigarettes, or your trans fats, or your sodas. That truly "independent, centrist" dream is over.
What's been substituted in its place is that he's now an appealing candidate for the Democratic base, in the event that it becomes significantly less besotted with Hillary Clinton, as the Democratic base currently is. That leads to some weird contortions. Take, for example, Michael Goodwin's New York Post report, in which he wrote:
A dirty secret behind Hillary Clinton’s lead in the Democratic presidential race is the lack of a credible challenger. Despite rising voter disgust over sordid revelations about the Clinton Foundation, there is no appealing alternative.
The situation led some disgruntled Democrats to push Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run, an effort that folded [a month ago]. But now comes word of a bid to entice another big-name challenger, and this one is far more intriguing.
It aims to get former Mayor Michael Bloomberg into the race.
You aren't going to find many Democrats whose hearts' desire shifts seamlessly from anti-Wall Street crusader Elizabeth Warren to anti-Elizabeth Warren crusader Michael Bloomberg, unless you're somehow imprisoned with them in their homes on the Upper West Side or, maybe, Tribeca.
Wolff, to his credit, did not equate Bloomberg with Warren. His mistake was equating Bloomberg with someone who could compete in, and hope to win, the Democratic Party nomination. Except Wolff seemed to think that Bloomberg would somehow convince the aforementioned crossover voters, who are now alienated by Bloomberg's policies, to not just vote for him en masse but to do so as supporters of a Democratic presidential ticket. But those crossover voters have alternatives, colloquially known as "Republican candidates."
"Here is a counterintuitive take," wrote Gawker's Alex Pareene. "Given a choice between a conventional Democrat and Michael Bloomberg, Democratic primary voters will select a Democrat." Dunno, man, that sounds pretty out there.
Goodbye, "Run Warren Run"! In June, at least one of the various efforts to draft Elizabeth Warren as a presidential candidate conceded to the reality that she is just not going to run for president in 2016. In a piece in Politico, Ilya Sherman and Charles Chamberlain explained "Why We're Suspending the 'Run Warren Run' Campaign," but "still declaring victory" despite having failed to "achieve our central goal."
Cool, cool, only how does that work? They wrote, "Although Run Warren Run may not have sparked a candidacy, it ignited a movement." OK! How does that work? According to Sherman and Chamberlain, the organization engaged voters in early primary states on the issues central to Warren's policy brief, succeeded in getting Warren's message out to a wider audience, and "sent a message to Democrats: Take on the special interests rigging the system, and we'll have your back." (Since then, fast-track authority to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership passed, so I guess we'll see this back-having put to the test.)
At some point, one of the Draft Warren movements might consider whether Warren's popularity, and the readiness of Warren fans to fund these sorts of organizations, might provide the means by which other people who share Warren's point of view are identified and encouraged to run for state and local political offices, thus forming a deep bench of Democrats who think more like the Massachusetts senator and less like, say, Larry Summers. This is just an idea I had!
Hasta La Vista, Iowa Straw Poll! Iowa, so much to answer for ... the outsized influence on the electoral process, the ethanol pandering, the steak fries at which no steaks get fried. For as long as mankind has walked this earth, we have dreamed of diminishing Iowa's role in our presidential elections. This year, there finally came a breakthrough. The Iowa Straw Poll, which recently propelled Michele Bachmann to nearly eight full hours of game-changing dominance, is no more, a casualty of dwindling returns and overall "meh." Never again will a candidate be able to gain a brief advantage from being able to "buy enough voters" and "put them on buses" and "have the best funnel cake of any major candidate." (Sorry its demise came too late for you, Tim Pawlenty.)
See You Later, People Who Were Staffing Ben Carson's Campaign! Jeezy-creezy! It's only June 2015 and we're already getting our first taste of "campaign turmoil" and "mass staff departures"? In fairness, this has happened before: Back in June of 2011, Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign suffered the same sort of shake-up, with his campaign staff resigning en masse after the former speaker elected "to leave on an overseas vacation with his wife weeks into a fledgling campaign."
But what happened with Carson? As The Washington Post's Robert Costa and Philip Rucker reported, the former neurosurgeon's campaign team ended up crosswise with one another due to "widespread disarray among his allied super PACs." What a mess this was. Per Costa and Rucker:
Two independent super PACs designed to help Carson are instead competing directly with Carson’s campaign for donations and volunteers, while campaign chairman Terry Giles resigned last month with the intention of forming a third super PAC.
Giles said he intends to try to persuade the other two super PACs, called Run Ben Run and One Vote, to cease operations so that all outside efforts can be coordinated through the new group. But with Carson’s brand a galvanizing force on the right, there are potentially millions of dollars to be raised off his name, and the other super PACs are said to be reluctant to shut down.
It's no wonder these competing PAC-men would be hesitant to shut down their operations -- Carson has been, if nothing else, a cash cow for those who lucked into his unexpected success. Now, the Carson campaign is making good on the old Eric Hoffer misquote, "Every great cause begins as a movement and eventually becomes a racket."
This is probably not how the people who originally conceived the Carson campaign thought it would go. Unless, of course, this is exactly how they thought it would go!
We'll Miss The Brief Boomlet Of People Putting Jokes In The Source Code Of Campaign Websites. So, yeah. That was a thing.
We'll Always Remember That Amazing Debate Over The Metric System. As The Daily Beast's Betsy Woodruff reported, no one will be able to claim that Bobby Jindal and Lincoln Chafee failed to leave their mark on what's going to definitely be The Most Important Election In The History Of America:
Adorably optimistic presidential contenders Bobby Jindal and Lincoln Chafee are duking it out over whether or not the United States should move to the metric system.
Chafee, the former Democratic governor of Rhode Island, brought up this key issue when he announced his quixotic presidential bid to a half-empty room in the soulless suburb of Arlington, Virginia. He indicated that moving to the metric system could help right some of the wrongs committed during the Iraq War, as it would be “a symbolic integration of ourselves into the international community after mistakes of the past 12 to 14 years.”
Yes, this would definitely square us with the people of Iraq.
Bobby Jindal rose up, dusted himself off and said, "Yes. This. Here is where I make my stand. For God and country and Fahrenheit, the temperature scale invented by an 18th-century German physicist."
“Typical Democrat -- wants to make America more European,” Jindal spokesman Michael Reed told Politico. “Governor Jindal would rather make the world more American.”
Woodruff wrote the best possible kicker to her piece, commemorating this important debate.
Congratulations To Everyone Who Didn't Write This In June! The past month's big winners in political journalism are "everyone who isn't Alan Rappeport and Steve Eder, who provided The New York Times' readers with the definitive accounting of how Marco Rubio and his wife have accrued 17 citations for "incidents that included speeding, driving through red lights, and careless driving." Which, to the average Floridian, means that the Rubios are some of the Sunshine State's finest drivers.
Reflect, for a time, on why someone -- at The New York Times no less! -- felt like this was a critical piece of information you needed to know about Marco Rubio. Imagine, if you will, a moment where you'd say, "You know, I was having a hard time deciding who to vote for until I learned that Rubio failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign back in 2012."
Now that you've done that, let's just enjoy the worst kicker written this month:
If Mr. Rubio is fortunate to make it as far as the White House, there will be many perks that come with the job. Chief among them, however, might be having a driver.
Pretty bad, right? Alas, I've lured you into a false sense of security, because this story's lede is immeasurably worse:
Senator Marco Rubio has been in a hurry to get to the top, rising from state legislator to United States senator in the span of a decade and now running for president at age 44.
But politics is not the only area where Mr. Rubio, a Republican from Florida, has an affinity for the fast track. He and his wife, Jeanette, have also shown a tendency to be in a rush on the road.
Congratulations to everyone who didn't write that!
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