Don’t worry, they can still fake it

Staff Columnist

The 2016 presidential sweepstakes are well underway and, to say the least, there have been a few surprises. Donald Trump on the Republican side and Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary are enjoying unexpected success.

Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia Center for Politics calls this a populist revolt against brain-dead politics. It is difficult to find a newscast that doesn’t lead off with a breathless announcement that the Trump circus is still in town and American politics has never seen anything like it. Even Sanders’ surprise candidacy is hailed by some as groundbreaking. Sabato isn’t buying all the hype.

Sabato doesn’t agree. The Trump bandwagon may still be rolling along and Sanders may still pose a threat to Hillary Clinton, but neither candidacy, according to Sabato, is anything all that new.

In recent years we were treated to the home-spun wisdom of Ross Perot in 1992 and the white-washed racism of George Wallace in 1972, both of whom enjoyed a remarkable level of acceptance when they ran as spoilers.  Both Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton had their moments in the sun in the 1980s and 1990s before their candidacies flamed out.

The 1930s saw luminaries such as Henry Ford flirt with presidential politics. Ford was enormously popular and was a certifiable manufacturing genius. His politics were, however, a toxic mixture of racism, anti-Semitism, and ant immigration. Father Coughlin, the socialist Catholic radio commentator, had similar views and threatened to be a real force in the 1936 presidential race until the Catholic Church shut him down. Huey Long, governor of Louisiana, threatened to be a credible third party candidate in 1936 until a jealous husband, exercising his Second Amendment rights, ended Long’s candidacy.

It’s old news now but unlike the Trump candidacies of prior years, Trump and Sanders success is driven by their unscripted style. There is no dominant issue that a candidate can ride to electoral success. Most candidates, as Sabato points out, will rely on their talking points − scripted memorized statements concerning the major issues of the day − and any interview or conversation with the candidate will feature a recitation of these canned position statements. That hasn’t worked so far this year. This, believes Sabato, is going to be the election where the candidates, if they want to be successful, can’t fake it. It is here that Sabato may be wrong.

Despite the new spontaneity now so popular in American politics, it doesn’t mean that either Trump or Sanders is going to be their respective party’s nominee. On the Republican side, Ben Carson is challenging Trump. He is another anti politician and he combines a gentle frankness that is unusual in a political figure. Carly Fiorina also manages to sound unscripted and intelligent at the same time but she is far from a loose cannon. Despite all their freshness and spontaneity, neither will win the nomination.

Marco Rubio remains a viable candidate. He might be the best prepared candidate in either party and, like Fiorina, he is not tied to talking-point blurbs. This gives him the ability to engage a questioner in unrehearsed dialogue and the resulting appearance of unrehearsed sincerity is critical in this election cycle. Still, given his shifting responses to questions like immigration it is hard to believe he is unscripted.

Jeb Bush has a problem. Like Rubio he can discuss issues at some length but, unlike Rubio, he does not appear fresh and unscripted. In fact, he is slightly boring. He also has the “last name” disadvantage as there is a certain weariness that appears when discussing the Bush family. Still, you can sympathize with Jeb. It would be hard to be the only male member of the family that didn’t get to be president.

Bernie Sanders claims he has neither pollsters or managers. We can bet this is true as no self-respecting political consultant would let Sanders say the things he does and say them in the way he does. It is this trait, of course, that makes him so refreshing. Still, Sanders cannot take the nomination away from Clinton.

Vice President Joe Biden is the only Democrat who could challenge Clinton for the Democratic nomination, or a least the only Democrat expressing the slightest interest in running. Talk about unscripted. Biden is the poster child for unscripted political comments. Laugh at Biden’s misstatements and missteps if you will but he is an astute and effective campaigner and will be a force in the primaries or in the general election, should he beat Clinton.

Hillary Clinton can’t be described as open and unscripted. In fact, she is the most scripted, closed, duplicitous candidate to run for the presidency since Richard Nixon. Even her supporters, and she has many, must admit to themselves that Hillary, like her husband, is a master of the artful denial. When Hillary, or one of her acolytes, responds to a charge with, “there is no smoking gun,” they aren’t really saying “I didn’t do it,” they are saying, “You can’t prove it.”  It is a Tony Soprano answer and it is never quite the same thing as a denial.

Despite the public’s new appetite for unscripted political discourse, it is quite likely that the candidate on the Republican side will be from the moderate wing of the party. The guess here is that it will be either Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush. While neither is confined to talking points, neither can be said to be unscripted, at least in the Trump or Sanders manner.

On the Democratic side, the nominee will be Hillary Clinton and she will likely be favored to win the presidency. At the least, she will be living proof that candidates can still fake it and win the big prize.







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1 Response for “Don’t worry, they can still fake it”

  1. Dave Francis says:

    Millions of Americans don’t care how loud Donald Trump is, his scattering of his words, his little but growing knowledge of foreign policy, his numerous bankruptcies or anything about his insults to other political patsies of the corporate Special Interests. Trump has substance, an outsider that I truly believe he isn’t going to crucify the American people of their hopes, dreams or the usual promises, that runs through the GOP establishment like water. I couldn’t care less what the pundits have to say, the anchors, the investigative reporters or the personalities on the TV shows, that do their level best to repudiate anything that Mr. Trump makes his speeches about. There is one thing I know the wall across our Southern border with the stopping power of any further invasion from Mexico or even further a field by unwanted welfare desperation?

    What are we doing when millions of genuine men, women and children who have a right to be here, are suffering from abject poverty? The American people are justified in thinking that illegal aliens get better considerations, than our own vets?

    I have no interest in what Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton has to say, as their prior background has a lot to be desired, specifically the foundation that has donors from foreign nations? Although when Bill was President he does has some claims on a far better economy? I am ashamed of myself that I voted for this veiled Liberal called Barack Obama. Other countries wonder if the United States even exist today, as the most powerful country in the world stand back when their are military conflagrations in the Middle East. There obviously is a secret agenda to give Tehran free reign over self inspection of nuclear sites which is ludicrous. I’m telling you now, with no hesitation Israel will not fall for this agreement, and stands ready with any inkling of IRANS whispered aggression, they will be wiped out. A terrorist nation! just as Cuba is a communist state and throws free speech dissidents into prison, once again we are giving them all, including GITMO and probably like IRAN $$100’s of billions of dollars in so called reparations? And once again, what do we get–NOTHING. Just promises to change?

    We should have impeached King Obama ages ago, because his a agenda is extreme socialism to control the American people with nothing but promises. What have we got from this administration $$trillions of dollars in more spending, growing a nation of “Freeloaders” as their is no restrictions under this government. A governing body with the political correct policing that has turned different skin colors against each other.

    I know President Donald Trump will revise the E-Verify tool that ICE audit agents use, that MUST BE Mandated. That employers will have to peer over their shoulder, as every American worker could be a whistle blower ready to call ICE on companies nefarious act using illegal aliens in the workforce for profit? What I do care about is the Special business interests buying career lawmakers votes and ignoring THE PEOPLE who pay their salaries. One thing Donald Trump is not, a plant by the GOP establishment or Democrats to adopt the same corruption in Washington. I think the Washington Establishment is going to sell you — and every Tea Party American — out in this upcoming election.

    Again I don’t care if Trump has $$10 billion dollars or $$2 Billion as nobody has the financial power to buy his loyalty. He cannot be bribed or dirt to blackmail him for past tactics in either party. Donald Trump will align himself with the American people, not vested interests, crony capitalists and career politicians. The others who are trying to climb in the polls, trying to spotlight on the American peoples center of attention in the race to the oval office; in my eyes are already being unknowingly corrupted as they have taken checks from wealthy donors who want something in the immediate future?

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