A VOICE of BALTIMORE POLITICAL COMMENTARY
THE MAN EVERYONE CLAIMS
TO NOT TAKE SERIOUSLY
TEERERS ON THE BRINK
The Donald as the President?
He is on a Lightning Path…
BUT CAN HE DEFEAT THE GOP FIELD?
AND BEAT THE FORMER FIRST LADY
TO WIN THE ELECTION NEXT YEAR?
By Helen Delich Bentley
It would have been unthinkable a half year ago, an idea too frivolous to even mention a few short weeks ago.
But the Republican candidate everyone insists they don’t take seriously is suddenly in a position to actually become — dare I say it? — the next President of the United States.
That’s If he can maintain his up-till-now unprecedented momentum.
And If he can outlast the umpteen other Republicans seeking the party’s presidential nomination.
And If he can run a decent campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton, the presumptive standard bearer for the Democrats whose luck suddenly turned favorable last week when Vice President Joe Biden and two other opponents dropped out of the race, and the foolish Select Benghazi Committee beat up on her, unwittingly transforming her from distrusted politician into sympathetic victim.
A lot of Ifs for The Donald, to be sure.
Yet the legitimacy of Trump’s candidacy for the most important office in the world can no longer be denied: He is gaining converts every day.
Just this week, seven in 10 GOP and Republican-leaning voters told an Associated Press poll they believe he could win in 2016 if nominated. Plus six in 10 said the same for retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
No longer can the country hide behind the observation that Trump is saying all the right things the electorate wants to hear, but that he’s not the right person for the job.
No longer can we brush off his brusque criticism of the status quo and a myriad other indignities and refuse to take him seriously.
SOME WOULD CALL TRUMP “BLOWHARD”
No longer can we make him out to be a one-dimensional candidate — some would say “blowhard” — with no hope of universal support.
He is on a Lightning Path to the Presidency, make no mistake about that.
And, if he can keep from faltering in the manner the former Secretary of State is wont to do, he will become the 44th man to occupy the Oval Office come January 20th 2017.
(Actually the 41st: the first three Presidents didn’t live in the White House; and Grover Cleveland was only one President, although he is generally counted by historians as two, making Barack Obama the 43rd Chief Executive, not the 44th.)
In my opinion, if it’s Clinton versus Trump, the winner won’t be Hillary, it’ll be The Donald.
The Road to the 2016 Election has been a highway full of accidents and surprises.
Jeb Bush, the once and future GOP front-runner, is currently polling low and may be running out of steam as well. At week’s end he announced a drastic retrenchment of his campaign, including deep cuts in staff along with a 40 percent payroll reduction across the board.
Some analysts are starting to question if it may already be too late for him. Plus he looks and acts more and more like a candidate who really does not want to even run.
Bernie Sanders, the acknowledged Socialist/entitlements spendthrift, is giving Hillary a run for her money, which of course she has more than plenty of, from foreign sources.
Perhaps if she gets elected she’ll use some of those umpteen millions she and Bill have amassed from speechifying to pay for the ambitious trillion-dollar programs the Independent Sanders is proposing?
Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee, arguably the best of the Democratic field, both fell by the wayside at the end of last week, stranding Martin O’Malley as the lone Standard Bearer of the Democrat Unknowns.
As for “MO’M,” who knows what he’s looking for? A cabinet post perhaps? He’s polling less than one percent, and these days probably would have trouble getting elected to the Baltimore City Council.
Or maybe he’s hoping for a draft? — like I personally believe Biden is angling for if Clinton continues to falter and she and Sanders deadlock.
There could be a convention deadlock on the Republican side as well. I wonder if Mitt Romney is contemplating being drafted by the GOP? The party could do a whole lot worse.
Recent history is against that, however, on both counts. The last presidential candidate to be drafted by a major party convention was Democrat Adlai Stevenson nearly 60 years ago, in 1956.
Since then, the party conventions have been rubber-stamps for whichever candidate prevails in the primaries. The last dark horse candidate to be elected President was Woodrow Wilson in a three-way race in 1912.
Like O’Malley, the Republicans for their part have plenty of anonymous wannabes of their own this year, who I will refrain from mentioning one-by-one by name for fear of leaving anyone out, the list is so ridiculously long.
At the outset of the campaign, who would have thought Ben Carson would be around for more than a week or two?
Or that Carly Fiorina would gain traction as the only female candidate in the overcrowded Grand Old Party Sweepstakes?
Yet here is Carson, running a strong second to Trump, the two of them eclipsing the rest of the Republican field.
A GOOD MAN WHO WOULD MAKE A FIRST-RATE PRESIDENT
One would hope a moderate candidate like Ohio Gov. John Kasich — a good man who would make a first-rate President — would gain some traction, but so far he has been woefully unable to do so.
Yet Trump has said he would take Kasich for VP, an excellent choice.
Still, it seems the party would prefer a showman or physician untested in the realm of politics to a sitting governor with a trove of good credentials and proposals.
Or at least the party fringe wants that. They’ve co-opted the mainstream and are dangerously close to controlling the final outcome of the nomination process.
Unwilling to compromise or even negotiate, they are wrecking the GOP.
Shame on those intransigent Republicans who sat out the 2012 election! refusing to get behind the nominee because they wanted everything their way, or no way… and are threatening to do the same again next year.
They’ve made a mockery of the Speaker of the House selection as well and have gone a long way toward convincing voters that the GOP does not know how to govern and/or is incapable of getting the job done.
Let’s hope that Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, the party’s No. 2 behind Romney in the 2012 election, can reverse that impression and become a huge success as Speaker.
Not just for the good of the Republican Party, but for all America as well.
And who knows? maybe Ryan himself will be drafted if The Donald and the other candidates burn themselves out… or deadlock?
VoB Managing Editor Alan Z. Forman contributed to this commentary.
Helen Delich Bentley is a former U.S. Congresswoman, presidential appointee/independent agency chairman and leader of the Maryland Republican Party for many years.
Prior to entering politics she was a news reporter and Maritime Editor of the Baltimore Sun as well as host/producer of the long-running television series “The Port That Built a City and State” which ran live on WMAR-TV (Channel 2) for 15 years.
Now semi-retired she comments frequently on political issues and is an adviser to the Port of Baltimore, which was renamed in her honor by former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich in 2006.
This is her initial commentary for Voice of Baltimore.