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Outsiders vs. Insiders: If politics were fantasy football, Democrats would all be benchwarmers

Seeing as it’s fantasy football time of year many people are paying close attention to their team’s starters and bench players. Building and possessing a “deep bench” is extremely important for long-term success in everyone’s fantasy league. Bragging rights (and maybe a little coinage) are on the line, right?

The same goes for politics, though it isn’t readily apparent who the parties’ “starters” versus “bench” performers are. Establishment swamp dwellers usually look to party leaders to fill the former category, though grassroots Rand Paulconservatives certainly don’t see the GOP’s top brass as capable point scorers…too many non-productive touches and turnovers for those guys.

Needless to say events of late have helped separate the producers from the pretenders. For Democrats in particular Americans wonder if the shallow loser “team” they fielded during Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings are the best the party can “draft”. Is this really it?

America Rising’s Alexandra Wilkes wrote at The Hill last week, “It is no secret that Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) viewed the bright lights and rolling cameras at the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh as the perfect stage to launch their 2020 presidential campaigns. It is time to evaluate their performances…

“Booker used the days following the hearings to announce that he was traveling to Iowa to speak at a Democratic Party dinner in the first caucus state, where he also said he was hiring staff. Harris did much of the same standing by her clear distortion of the comments by Kavanaugh. For them, the ends justify the means on the road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue...

“Instead of setting a solid foundation on which to introduce themselves to mainstream Americans, they appear to be running to win an online straw poll for MoveOn.org. Mired in their political interests and an existential need to ‘get to the left’ for 2020, Booker and Harris are setting a narrative that is fundamentally out of step with most voters. If this was the opening shot for the Democratic Party at 2020, count me unimpressed.”

Seeing as Democrats view the Kavanaugh nomination as their latest “hill-to-die-on” it wasn’t at all surprising to see them assailing the judge with such ferocity it conjured up unpleasant visions of Suicide Cliff (on the island of Saipan, which also has Bonzai Cliff), the infamous jumping off point for hundreds if not thousands of Japanese suicides in the waning days of World War II.

Due to Japanese propaganda (concerning the expected ill-treatment of captives under American occupation) the poor unfortunate souls believed death was preferable to living as a prisoner of war (it was considered disgraceful to be captured as well). This sounds remarkably similar to the Democrats’ rationale for treating Kavanaugh so poorly, as though the man’s expected elevation to the Court would end life as we know it in America. If anyone buys this tortured logic they clearly have no understanding of the way constitutional jurisprudence functions.

Regardless, Democrats committed everything they had – including their credibility – in hopes of stopping Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Someone should’ve reminded them before they flung themselves over the edge that Kavanaugh will only be replacing safely retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, who certainly forged a reputation as a “centrist” during his three decades on the Court but also was believed to lean towards the conservative end of the spectrum on a number of key constitutional issues.

In other words, if Democrats truly intend to “end it all” they might as well save their final breath for if/when President Donald Trump nominates a true originalist conservative to fill the vacated seat of one of the Court’s four Democrat-appointed lockstep liberals. Now that will be a sight to behold when the occasion arises. It needs no restating that two of the four liberal horsemen/horsewomen are quite long in the tooth (for the rigors of the Court at least) and if experience is a teacher, could be expected to hang up the long black robe any time now.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 85 and has weighed-in on 25 years’ worth of high Court cases. Liberals love touting her famous workout regimen, but come on, she’s been diagnosed with cancer and possesses a penchant for saying off-the-wall things (mostly about Trump). Though Ginsburg’s obviously still lucid at her advanced age one must think it’s only a matter of moments before nature and the ravages of time force her to walk – or be wheeled -- away. Wouldn’t Ginsburg be happier traveling or going on cruises or something? Didn’t Hillary Clinton, who is much younger than Ruth, talk lovingly about spending afternoons with grandchildren as life’s greatest joy?

Meanwhile, Justice Stephen Breyer turned 80 a month ago, and although he’s not quite as renowned for bizarre utterances as Ginsburg, Breyer’s nonetheless a great candidate to be next to exit the Supreme Court chamber in search of a retirement party. No doubt Breyer and Ginsburg will hang on as long as they’re physically able but time isn’t on their sides and President Trump would seemingly have a solid chance at reelection in 2020.

For what it’s worth it makes sense that Senator Mike Lee will be Trump’s choice to succeed one of the liberals if/when a vacancy occurs. Lee may be the only one in the land who could withstand the leftist histrionics that will invariably follow when a liberal vote is at stake.

As for Booker and Harris, both should just don “I am running for president, pay attention to me” buttons and drive around with “Honk if you like socialism!” bumper stickers. Other slogan possibilities include “Racists R Us” and “If you want to glimpse the true face of evil, stare at a Republican.” Saying Corey and Kamala are over-the-top is putting it mildly.

But one of the keys to a credible presidential candidacy is not to appear too anxious to assume the job. Americans instinctively frown on over-ambitious politicians. By that measure Booker and Harris are already under suspicion for being empty-suited pols without principles or sufficient scruples to build a necessary coalition to win a national election. They’re clearly both vying to follow Barack Obama’s precedent (relatively young in age, of color, junior senator from a large blue state, etc.), but in the immortal words of the late Lloyd Bentsen, “Senator, you are no Barack Obama.”

Booker’s stupid “Spartacus” tirade during Kavanaugh’s hearings fell flat the instant he uttered the words. Who the heck understood what he was referring to? Who (or what) is/was Spartacus? Does it get any more elitist and snobbier than that? And Harris? She objected to the hearings before committee chairman Chuck Grassley even finished his opening sentence. Harris’s gutter scraping dearth of manners must’ve set a record for fastest self-beclowning in history.

If Booker and Harris were fantasy football players most team owners would dump them into the waiver bin after their horrible performances, destined for a long stay in limbo. Both should have a “Q” (for questionable) next to their names and if they’re not careful an “O” (for out) isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.

Contrast the Democrat benchwarmers with the emerging slate of game ready Republicans. Conservatives have known about them for years and it’s only a matter of time before these brilliant and capable folks emerge from obscurity to command center stage.

Take Senator Rand Paul for example. True, Paul already ran for president and is the son of another famous libertarian/conservative politician, but the Kentucky Senator is too often unfairly passed off as a curious outlier by the media rather than given well-deserved credit as a serious policy mover.

That may change as Paul’s relationship with President Trump continues to grow. Alexander Bolton reported at The Hill, “Some of the most libertarian-leaning members of Congress, such as Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), have served as forceful critics of Trump within the GOP. But Rand Paul, who prefers the mantle of constitutional conservative to libertarian, has repeatedly offered Trump a stirring defense...

“[But a] legislative scorecard compiled by FiveThirtyEight.com, a website that specializes in statistical analysis, found that Paul voted with Trump only 74 percent of the time, the lowest percentage of the Senate GOP conference.

“Outside of the daily policy debates that dominate Washington, Trump and Paul have forged a personal friendship. Before Trump ran for president, he helped fund Paul’s first medical mission to Guatemala with a contribution to the University of Utah. They have golfed together many times since Trump won the 2016 presidential election.”

And everybody knows, politicians who golf together stick together. It should also be mentioned Trump frequently tees it up with longtime critic-turned-buddy Sen. Lindsey Graham, so the lifelong businessman and first-time politician appears to enjoy the back-and-forth of good contrarian banter rather than simply partnering with yes-men on the links.

Why shouldn’t Paul be friends with Trump? They have a lot in common. They’re both outsiders, both believe the media reports falsehoods (or badly distorts the truth when they do cover news events.) Paul was on the receiving end of several sharp Trump barbs in the 2016 GOP primary campaign debates but it never got heated or intensely personal like it did with Ted Cruz.

Paul can get away with disagreeing with Trump on issues, and as highlighted above (in Bolton’s article), Rand isn’t the least bit intimidated to vote against something Trump favors. Isn’t that the “independence” Americans claim they want from elected officials?

In keeping with the “strong bench” theme, a few of the “experts” Bolton quoted in his piece think Paul’s only cooperating with Trump for purely selfish political reasons, including the possibility of running for president again should Trump decide not to do so in 2020 (though the president already announced his campaign and has infrastructure in place to make him a formidable opponent for Democrats and any wayward #NeverTrump Republicans who might consider an “oust Trump” suicide mission of their own).

Speaking of Lindsey Graham and Paul, each represents an opposite end of the Republican foreign policy spectrum, the former being a dedicated neoconservative soulmate to the late John McCain and Paul being more in line with his father’s libertarian non-interventionist credo. Since both lawmakers enjoy more than their share of facetime with Trump on the golf course, quite a competition has arisen to sway the commander-in-chief’s policy.

At least one commentator sees Paul emerging as the leading influencer. Jack Hunter wrote at The American Conservative, “[A]s the Tea Party movement took shape in 2009 and 2010, inspiring many to question the exorbitant cost of federal budgets—including Pentagon budgets—and majorities of conservatives opposed President Barack Obama’s interventions in Libya and Syria, opportunities arose for Paul’s foreign policy to get a fairer hearing on the right.

“Today, under Trump, those realist and noninterventionist views are not only receiving more attention than anyone would have expected just a few years ago, but the libertarian Paul appears to be resonating with the president more than the frozen-in-2003 Graham—much to hawks’ chagrin.

“This is not to say that Trump will remain on this path. As Pat Buchanan noted Tuesday, the president is in danger of going ‘full neocon’ regarding Syria—something Graham would undoubtedly approve of.”

Regular readers of Buchanan’s columns recognize the staunch paleoconservative opposes anything that would risk war in the Middle East – or anywhere else for that matter. For example, Buchanan was against cancelling the disastrous Obama Iran deal, fearing it would create instability in the region and lead to armed hostilities. He’s also quite critical of administration policy towards Saudi Arabia and U.S. support of the kingdom’s bombing campaign in Yemen.

Thus far in his presidency Trump appears to be a good mix of the non-interventionist and realist philosophies. Based on his actions and words Trump would just as soon chew off his own arm as commit the United States to another fruitless largescale land war that would soil and ruin his own legacy. Trump wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of bashing the heck out of the Bush family (in the 2016 campaign) only to repeat their mistakes.

Advisors like Paul will help make sure of it. Paul represents the epitome of a “hybrid” philosophy which includes favoring a strong but budget-conscious U.S. military for defense and deterrence purposes. But he also repeatedly cautions against costly entanglements.

President Trump is fortunate to have a strong “bench” full of Republican political players he can call on in times of need. The GOP “fantasy team” includes not only a dream starting lineup but also capable backups who contribute. The Democrats? They’re all hopeless benchwarmers.

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