A couple weeks ago, Iowa GOP officials released a date to hold their quadrennial political caucuses early next year – January 15, 2024 – thus setting a definitive marker Republican candidates will etch on their calendars. Democrats will hold their own vote on that date as well, though the tabulated results won’t be released until March – Super Tuesday – so as to
stave off potential embarrassment from a forecasted poor performance from senile president Joe Biden in the state.
Recall that in 2020, Iowa’s Democrats couldn’t figure out how to count the ballots from the Hawkeye State’s somewhat complex caucus system, producing a near tie between socialist Bernie Sanders and the party’s “Look at me, I’m young and I’m gay” identity politics candidate, Pete Buttigieg, with the impasse ultimately settled in favor of the thirty-something former mayor of a mid-sized Midwestern City.
Democrats then, as now, are/were terrified of having Sanders recognized as a frontrunner, considering the unabashed leftist Vermont crackpot unelectable. To aid Biden, therefore, the current Democrat powers-that-be moved South Carolina’s primary to the front of the line (February 3), where a preponderance of black voters will almost certainly give Biden an easy party triumph next year.
Yes, that’s right, the Democrat establishment has fixed the 2024 nomination result before voters even get a chance to weigh-in. Of course, former Democrat Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced last week that he would mount a third-party independent bid for the presidency. We’ll have to see how this influences the Democrat faithful, many of whom have called for new candidates for months now – but still showed little interest in RFK Jr.’s common sense themed candidacy.
Republicans have their own issues, including an ongoing endeavor from the GOP bluebloods to stop former president Donald Trump’s runaway primary candidacy. A group of them got together recently to talk about the possibilities – or more appropriate, impossibilities. In an article titled “Romney-Ryan network revives to influence 2024 election”, the always interesting Paul Bedard reported at the Washington Examiner last week:
“A moderate and well-funded network led by the former 2012 Republican presidential ticket of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and former House Speaker Paul Ryan is teaming up to influence the 2024 election and contemporary politics.
“With an eye on pushing former President Donald Trump to the sidelines, the duo’s allies of donors and influencers [met] in Park City, Utah, [last week] to push for new GOP leadership and hear from a series of Republican presidential candidates who apparently agree. The candidates [that spoke] to about 250 are Nikki Haley, Chris Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence, and Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND).
“Ryan told Secrets that the E2 Summit, named for ‘experts and enthusiasts,’ is his way to jazz up Republicans looking for a new party leader. ‘There's a vacuum of leadership right now which underscores the importance of bringing together an array of key voices for serious and substantive conversations about the challenges we face and how they can be addressed,’ he said of the summit that he [hosted].”
Notice the buzzwords Ryan employed to describe his (and presumably Romney’s) justification for hosting such an obviously anti-Trump meeting. “Vacuum of leadership”, “importance”, “array of key voices”, “serious and substantive conversations”, and, “challenges we face”, among others. One wonders whether the baby-faced former Republican House Speaker maintained a straight expression talking this way while completely ignoring the candidate who’s WAY out in front of the others (Donald Trump) as well as the one (Gov. Ron DeSantis) who consistently polls in second place, at least nationally.
It's not a direct correlation, but Romney’s and Ryan’s Utah gathering mimics the GOP presidential primary debates thus far. By hosting a handful of candidates with virtually no chance to end up the Republican nominee -- primarily because they’re establishment candidates with very little conservative backing – the Ryan/Romney group appears to be trying to jumpstart the old Bush/Romney status quo loving “moderate” faction of the party. You know, the one that was summarily tossed to the side by Trump and the other “outsider” candidates in 2016.
The people who would attend a fundraiser/strategy session given by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan cling to the notion that dislodging Trump from the de facto nominee spot is even possible. To most objective observers of the GOP today (is there such a thing anymore?), there’s no “vacuum of leadership” in the Republican party at all; it just materializes in the form of a new populist/conservative coalition, one adamantly opposed to the establishment’s fondness for cheap illegal alien labor and the elites’ tolerance for meatgrinder-type forever wars, those that lend truth to the old saying, “Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight.”
These wishy-washy “moderates” lost the 2008 and 2012 elections precisely because they conducted content-free campaigns trying hard not to lose, which they did, rather than mounting scorched earth, win-at-all-costs scuffles with the Evil Party based on trusting voters to be willing to demand substance rather than settle for the more attractive of two establishment contenders.
I can’t say for sure, but here’s guessing this group probably was excited to hear from Nikki Haley, since the former Trump U.N. ambassador is the only Republican hopeful who’s shown even a smidgen of movement since this summer – unless you count Vivek Ramaswamy’s rise from total obscurity to solid single digits that guarantees him participation in any further GOP debates.
But Ramaswamy must be too much of a risk taker and visionary for Romney/Ryan’s stoic collection of #NeverTrumpers and Bush worshippers, the purveyors of the swamp, founders and perpetuators of the DC Uniparty/War Party and the chief roadblocks to real reform in the nation’s capital. Thirty-something Ohioan Vivek talks about cutting 75 percent of federal bureaucrats in a first term as well as eliminating several executive departments. This isn’t exactly the type of “leadership” the establishment is searching for, is it?
By suggesting there’s an important need to hold “substantive conversations”, Ryan implies that Trump, DeSantis and Ramaswamy are “un-serious” (for their regularly stated desire to take the fight to the leftists who are ruining this country). Voters, at least according to the polls, also lean towards candidates with Trump’s combative mentality. Ruling elites like Romney and Ryan can object to the lack of political “civility” all they want, but where’s the clamor for the “let’s get along” presidential candidate this time around?
Besides, why are the attendees to this conference wasting their money in the first place? Even if they’re put off by Trump or DeSantis or Ramaswamy, aren’t there more productive uses for their cash instead of tossing it towards a forlorn hope that one of the not-Trump establishment candidates will somehow catch fire and compete? Couldn’t they invest in PACs or campaign committees that will help congressional candidates, senators and/or state and local Republicans?
The truth is, the rationale for the lower polling Republican candidates to continue in the race much beyond this point is dwindling quickly. As stated in this space before, Mike Pence appears to be continuing with his campaign solely to reshape his political legacy. Like it or not, the Indiana native will always be known for being Donald Trump’s vice president, an incontrovertible fact that can never be altered. Unlike the others, however, Pence isn’t competing to be Trump’s choice for running mate. If the former veep doesn’t start making noticeable headway, there’s no reason for him to continue to Iowa.
The same definitely goes for Chris Christie, though winning the nomination has never been Christie’s goal, and his definition of success differs from every other candidate. Christie keeps going so as to spread the (negative) word about another Donald Trump candidacy/presidency, and, by all appearances, he’s failed miserably. The rotund former Garden State governor is the most articulate and aggressive of the not-Trump faction, but everyone knows what he’s all about. Chris is only in this for the fun.
As referenced above, Nikki Haley is probably the only 2024 establishment candidate who’s demonstrated improvement in her standing. Nikki’s said to be running second in New Hampshire by some surveys, but she’s still not even within the same realm as the frontrunner. Some pundits think Haley’s clinging to hope she’ll be tapped as Trump’s running mate, but this is highly improbable now. Trump’s lead is so substantial and enduring that he can literally choose whomever he likes – and it definitely won’t be Nikki Haley.
Meanwhile, North Dakota governor Doug Burgum is such a mystery that it’s not clear as to which category he belongs to. One of the only features that distinguishes him are his bushy eyebrows and curious, cartoon character-like looks – but his advocacy for an energy policy overhaul is solid. Is there enough known about Burgum to cast your vote for him? Doing so basically amounts to a “protest vote” in the primaries, but who benefits? Right now, Burgum looks like a top candidate… for Secretary of something, in Trump’s cabinet.
Bedard’s story didn’t mention it, but Paul Ryan is probably hanging around the news to keep consideration alive for a “draft” movement, where this group of donors could support an RFK Jr.-like independent candidacy of their own, using Ryan as their “White Knight” fill-in. Again, if this was the scenario, why waste the money? And would these Republicans really want to help senile Joe Biden?
With now less than three months to go until the Iowa Republican caucuses in mid-January, it appears as though the DC swamp establishment is getting more and more desperate. Undeterred by recent history, the out-of-touch elites surmise a switch in presidential candidates at the top will produce the results they desire. If such a magic “compromise” candidate exists, he or she is yet to reveal themselves.
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