Monday, February 29, 2016

The Pre-Super Tuesday Presidential Power Rankings

And then there were seven (or as many as a dozen if you count the different persona Marco Rubio tries every week) and we now have two more clearly established front-runners in Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton so they have ascended to the top of the rankings. A couple of things worth noting: (1) There are currently 54 Republican Senators and 31 Republican governors but the party's nominee is probably going to be a shady real estate mogul/reality TV star who was a registered Democrat as recently as 2008; and (2) the two biggest "challengers" to the Democratic favorite were a self-avowed socialist and the former Governor of Maryland who is about as popular in his home state as the Irsay family, red tide and the Zika Virus. 

Crazy times people. But enough preambling. Let's get to the rankings. 
      
1. Hillary Clinton

After her win in South Carolina, she's starting to look more and more like the presumptive Democratic nominee that she was supposed to be back in 2008 when the arrogance of the Clinton machine led to her gagging it away by underestimating her more charismatic opponent. Now the word on the street is that Team Clinton would relish the opportunity to go up against Trump in the general election. Uh oh.  

2. Donald Trump

One of the many things that the Trump phenomena has exposed is the warped definition that most politicians have of the word "loyalty." They're like the mob in that they like to rhapsodize about loyalty right up to the point where they put the piano wire around your neck. Take for example Maine Governor Paul LePage. At a meeting of Republican governors on February 20th, he declared that Trump's nomination would deeply wound the party and called for the drafting of an open letter "to the people" disavowing Trump and his brand of divisive politics.


"Tell Marco it was only business.
I always liked him."
What did LePage do six days later? Well he of course endorsed Trump saying that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were "killing the brand" of the Republican Party. (Apparently his open letter idea was taken out of context). And if you think that the mob analogy as applied to LePage is too harsh, consider this quote he directed at a Maine charter school that made the mistake of hiring one of his political opponents, “it’s a nice school you have there . . . it’d be a shame if something happened to it.” Meet the spokesman for the Republican brand. Just another reason to mourn the loss of James Gandolfini who could have played him in the HBO movie. 

Of course the LePage endorsement came on the heels of Trump bringing Chris Christie into the fold. If nothing else, that's going to have Marco sweating and fidgeting more than normal every time the Cobra Kai walks through the Republican cafeteria. He may want to start eating lunch in a bathroom stall so he doesn't end-up sprawled on the floor like Jeb Bush.

3. Marco Rubio

So last week we speculated that Marco wouldn't go after Donald because he's afraid of being stuffed in a gym locker. Well someone must have watched My Bodyguard* over the weekend because Chris Makepeace finally stood up to Matt Dillon at the debate in Houston. Then he doubled down by really taking the gloves off Don Rickles style the next day and mocked Trump for misspelling words in his tweets because the nerd route is the most foolproof way to win the popularity of the mob back from the star quarterback. But Marco had a little twist up his sleeve. Check-out the way he mocks Trump for being both uneducated and over educated at the same time, ". . . that's how they spell those words at the Wharton School of Business." [Click here for rimshot]. Don't quit your day job Marco. Oh wait, you basically already did. [Rimshot].


4. Ted Cruz


Ted continues to hold steady in the middle of the pack proving that there is a niche out there for self-righteous condescending lawyers (which bodes well for some of us). Ironically, Ted has become one of Trump's greatest assets because, as long as he stays in the race, he limits the possibility of Rubio making-up enough ground between now and March 15th. In light of Ted's glaring lack of popularity among his peers dating all the way back to college, I'm guessing this is not the first time he's gotten in the way of another dude's attempt to pursue the object of his affection (a/k/a something that rhymes with "clock-bocking").     

5. Bernie Sanders


Wait. That doesn't look like
free college tuition.
It appears that even the young socialists are having a hard time envisioning Bernie as the actual president. Maybe the Larry David thing is starting to have an effect. Or maybe they're hearing the Soviet Union references and finally Googling what they actually mean. If I was working for the Hillary campaign, I'd take Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines, tweak it to Bread Lines and run with it. (And yes, that was really just a cheap excuse to link to the explicit version of the Blurred Lines video).  

6. John Kasich

Remember when John Kasich was going to combine the momentum from his second place finish in New Hampshire with his new "can't we all just get along" message and ride into contention? Yeah, me neither. That was all the way back in the second week of February and since then he earned 7.6% of the votes in South Carolina and 3.6% in Nevada. By last Thursday's debate, he had been relegated to Ben Carson territory meaning that they only asked him a question when the guy manning the camera on the three main candidates had to take a leak.  

7. Dr. Ben Carson

It looks like the good doctor is planning to see this thing through to the end which will probably involve a guy in a suit tapping him on the shoulder and saying, "it's over Dr. Carson. You can go home now." That moment probably should've occurred immediately after he announced at the debate that he would choose the next Supreme Court justice by looking at the "fruit salad of their life." Fruit salad huh? I wonder what criteria President Carson would use for a female judge. [Rimshot].

Footnote

* My Bodyguard is your classic early 80's teen drama where the new kid in school gets bullied and then hires a bodyguard to protect him only to learn that he had the necessary toughness in him the whole time. The only problem with analogizing that kid to Marco Rubio is that the kid in the movie wins the fight at the end.

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