Some Thoughts on The Candidates

I didn’t pay much attention to the last US presidential election. In fact, I didn’t pay much attention to the last two US presidential elections. I haven’t really noticed Barack Obama at all. I vaguely remember that he seemed to come out of nowhere, an outsider who could make passionate speeches, and who snatched the presidency from Hillary Clinton.

In the past I always used to be rooting for the Democratic candidate, whoever it was. Back then it was quite simple: Democrat = Good, Republican = Evil. If a Republican got in, he’d make poor Americans poorer, and start a war.

But that was then. Because now I’ve switched sides. So I’m most likely to be rooting for the Republican candidate, whoever it is.

And as with everything these days, it all goes back to smoking bans which always seem like somebody is pinning me to the ground with their foot on my throat. I was a contented little Lib Dem voter here in the UK until 95% of Lib Dem MPs voted for the UK smoking ban, and I realised there was nothing liberal about them, and nothing democratic either. They’ve never got my vote since, and they’ll never get it again. And since 90% of Labour MPs voted for the smoking ban (including Jeremy Corbyn), I was hardly likely to vote Labour, was I?  I would have voted Conservative in the last two general elections if Cameron had even made a few faint noises about maybe relaxing the ban, but he didn’t, and so I didn’t. All that was left was UKIP, who actually do want to relax the ban.

I now identify the ‘progressive’ political left as antismoking, and the political right as being not quite so determinedly antismoking as the left. I realise it’s not quite that black and white. But since the smoking ban is the sole determinant of my voting patterns, that means I’m most likely to vote for the right. If Genghis Khan was running for office, and promised to lift the smoking ban, he’d get my vote.

So who will I be rooting for in the upcoming US election? Almost certainly a Republican. Because there’s obviously no way I’d ever want to see antismoking ice queen Hillary Clinton elected. It’s anybody but Hillary as far as I’m concerned.

But I was reading recently that she already got a whole bunch of delegates pledged to support her, and it’s actually going to be quite difficult for anybody else to muscle in like Obama did. Short of a miracle, it looks like she’s going to be the Democratic candidate.

But I really don’t know why anyone wants to vote for her. She’s thoroughly uninspiring. Obama was a rousing speaker with a message: “Yes We Can!” Hillary is dull, and she has no message. Or, if there is a message, it would be something like, “It’s My Turn Now.” Because I think she just deeply envied Bill when he was in office, and convinced herself that she could do the job just as well.

But aside from all that, the bad news for her is that her campaign is losing support. I’m not sure why. It seems to be something to do with sending confidential emails from an insecure private server while she was Secretary of State. And being in some way partly responsible for the death of a US ambassador in Benghazi. And being widely regarded as dishonest and untrustworthy. And maybe also just being another thoroughly uninspiring machine politician.

Which more or less describes most of the Republican candidates she’s likely to be up against. All except Donald Trump, that is.

Donald Trump makes all the other Republican candidates look like bit part players in the movie: Trump The Candidate. He hogs the limelight completely. He’s torn up the political rulebook, and thrown it away. He’s amazingly politically incorrect. He has no spin doctors or pollsters. He just shows up and answers questions himself, bluntly and unhesitatingly. And if anyone attacks him, he hits back even harder. He may be getting a bit too cocky. Everybody is expecting his candidacy to implode (myself included), but he seems to be bullet-proof, and his support keeps building.

I seem to read four or five news stories about him online every day, which has me wondering whether he’s running a viral campaign. When I go on Facebook, there are always lots of stories about him posted by fanatical supporters. And it’s not as if I’ve subscribed to any Trump newsfeeds. The other guys never get a look in, except when Trump has something to say about them. It’s Trump, Trump, Trump, and then some more Trump.

His big problem is that, aside from his growing grassroot fan base, nobody in the Republican party really wants him. He’s a bit of an embarrassment. They’re not even sure if he’s really a Republican. They want one of their safe, boring, neutered, machine politicians to be adopted as the Republican candidate. And so given that he’s already fighting Hillary and the Democrats, Donald Trump is fighting a war on two fronts. Maybe three. It’s The Donald versus the entire US political class and the US mainstream media. And at the moment, if he’s beating the lot of them, it remains most likely that the political class will win in the end, by fair means or foul.

In Donald Trump America is being offered a wild card. The real choice, if it comes down to Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump, will be between More Of The Same and Something Completely Different. It’ll be a choice between sticking with two pairs, or twisting.

In fact, a Trump presidency would probably be just like the Trump candidacy, except instead of other candidates being the butt of his damning criticisms, it would be other world leaders. The diplomatic rulebook would be torn up. There’d be a war of words from day one. And lots of brinkmanship. And maybe it would all go over the brink, not once, but several times – and become a real war on two fronts, maybe three.

But aside from that, I’m not sure that Trump has thought through his policy positions very carefully. Many of them seem over-simplistic. Is an enormous wall really the right way to deal with illegal immigrants on the Mexican border? Aren’t there smarter ways?

Last, but not least, Trump is a strange man. I’ve yet to hear him say anything against tobacco or alcohol, but here’s a man who doesn’t smoke tobacco (or anything else), and doesn’t touch alcohol, and also doesn’t even drink coffee. And also doesn’t like shaking hands with people either. What kind of man is that? Is this another Sir Thomas More, wearing a hair shirt under his Chancellor’s robes?

About Frank Davis

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17 Responses to Some Thoughts on The Candidates

  1. junican says:

    At least he can stand as a candidate and seek election! We in the UK can neither vote for our ‘President’ (the Queen) or our ‘Prime Minister’. I still wonder how Cameron became a candidate for Leader of the Tory Party. Who decided that he, and a couple of others, were the right people to be permitted to stand? Even in the Labour party leadership election, it is questionable about how there are only four candidates. Why are there not twenty, or thirty, or forty? Who decides? OK – I suppose that the candidates are those four who can garner the most support from fellow MPs, but that in itself is liable to intrigue, such as the ‘feminista’ or ‘anti-smoking’ variety. What is interesting is that almost all the intrigue is likely to have little to do with the best interests of THE PEOPLE.

  2. Qui Magistratum ullum ambierit, ex spes omnium redditur.
    (Anyone who campaigns for public office becomes disqualified for holding any office at all).

  3. waltcWaltc says:

    I am in rant mode. Sure, I like political incorrectness and straight talk but

    While it’s true that the more I see of most of the R candidates, the less I like them, Trump is beyond the pale. Overly thin-skinned. blustering pandering egotistical bully. If anyone says anything against him or disagrees with him, or a reporter asks a tough question, he erupts into overkill retaliation that’s often just juvenile, but played on the world stage would start a lot of wars. His ego and narcissism outstrip Obama’s, and that’s saying something. Here’s a close parody of a Trump speech that’s been going around:

    The too: He’s flipped positions on everything, and sometimes even in the span of a week. He throws out generalizations and refuses to say how he’d go about them.

    Eg, He insists on deporting all 13 million illegals, all of them, and then “expediting” the return of what he calls “the good ones.” And when asked how, his sole repeated answer is “management.” Aside from the fact that this is legally impossible since each person is entitled to a protracted and costly trial before deportation, aside from the fact that the airfare alone would cost billions, the plan leaves you with images of pogroms or black-shirted thugs going house to house, pulling people out in the middle of the night and loading them onto box cars and into holding camps. And what of those who’ve been here for 30 yrs and own homes and businesses? Confiscate their property? Yes, there’s a problem with illegals and no, having broken the law, they should not have a “path to citizenship.” Yes, illegal felons should not only be instantly deported, but preferably deported to Cape Horn or Outer Slobovia where it won’t be so easy for them to re-enter. But Trump’s plan is impossible, impractical and fascistic. And “management” my ass.

    Then too he blames all our economic woes on China when more than half of them are caused by over regulation and bad tax policy. I hate the fact that most things here, or their ingredients or parts are made in a China so lax that people are poisoned by medicines and dogs are poisoned by dog food and Chinese components are used in crucial civilian and military hardwAre. But is that China’s fault? And is it their fault that we so overspend that we’re forced to borrow billions from them? I could go on but I won’t.

    Of what’s left: to my surprise because I’ve never much cottoned to the idea of a woman president, I so far like Carly Fiorina and though he’s been flummoxed lately, I still give mind-room to Rand Paul. I’ll still give Rubio a shot tho his saying abortion should be illegal even in the case of rape is cold-hearted and pandering, but I keep in mind that presidents don’t actually set abortion policy and he doesn’t strike me as a guy who’d waste time or have an interest in on tobacco control. Huckabee is fiercely anti-smoking and an extremist in other offensive ways. I once liked Kasich , but he too has a bad do-gooder and anti-tobacco streak. Walker has floundered badly, doesn’t seem up to the job, and will wrongly be attacked as anti-labor. Jeb is flaccid and too middle of the road but I!d unenthusiastically vote for him and think he could beat The Terrible She.

    If it’s a choice between Hillary and Trump, I’d sit on and/or throw up my hands.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      He throws out generalizations and refuses to say how he’d go about them.

      That’s exactly what politicians do………………they never say exactly what they mean none of them. But we can sure know what democrats are and rinos. Trumps different but the same. That difference is he is exciting is saying what americans want to hear and has the audacity to kick suicide bomber reporters out at the first sign of them getting ready to try and trap him. Trump is excitement fort eh first time in years,somfrontething ameicans are not only needing but demanding…………they’ve got it all in Trump for right now. Remember Reagan he grabbed the front from the beginning and never looked back.

      If trumps the nominee or if he isn’t I will vote him in.

    • garyk30 says:

      Which is your real feeling?
      “Jeb is flaccid and too middle of the road but I!d unenthusiastically vote for him and think he could beat The Terrible She.”

      Your next post:

      “I’m kind of a Democrat, but if Hillary is the best the party has, I’d almost be inclined to vote Republican. But damn well not likely. ”

  4. mikef317 says:

    Frank, for quite a while, reading your posts that discuss America, I’ve often started to write a comment that says, HELL NO!

    In past posts, when I see links to Ann (that asshole?) Coulter, Pat (isn’t he dead?) Buchanan, and Ralph (isn’t he dead?) Nader, my RED ALEART – STOP READING alarm blares.

    I never released my comments because the tone struck me as borderline (or crossing the border) insulting.

    How do I disagree with your reading of the American psyche without being offensive? The issues are too complicated to address in a few paragraphs. Saying “you’re wrong” isn’t a respectful argument. But I do disagree. If I cross the border of offensive, apologies in advance; it is not intended.


    Frank, there is a big difference between me and you (and your non-American readers) – I am an American. I’m nearing my 70th birthday. I learned history in American schools. Grew old enough to read a daily American newspaper. Watched news on American TV, and read or listened to American pundits discuss current events, domestic and international. (Don’t ask me about British politics – I know virtually nothing.)

    Unlike non-American readers, I have experienced American history, day after day, for as long as I can remember. I’ve been exposed to Donald Trump’s opinions for decades, and decades ago wrote him off as an asshole. Coulter, Buchanan, Nader – I’ve been exposed to their ideas equally, and equally wrote them off as assholes. (I write a good number of people off as assholes; I stop paying attention to anything they say.)

    My (unsupported by numbers) take on the American psyche? Left and right, about 10% on each side are nuts. The left rants about health and global warming. The right is hysterical about guns and alien hordes invading our (Southern) borders. Like anti-smokers, these people are convinced that they know the truth. Nothing will ever persuade them otherwise.

    Another 10% on each side might be open to rational debate. That leaves 60% of the population. They like some right wing ideas, and some left wing ideas – BUT – IN MODERATION. These people hover around the middle. I’m one of them.

    The American middle does not shout much. They do not appear on TV, host or call in to talk radio, write blogs or newspaper / magazine columns. But they can (and when they choose, do) vote. Left or right, these people determine the future of the country.

    (Might I say that the situation is not so different in England?)

    To listen only to the extremes of American political discourse (right or left) gives you a distorted picture of American political opinion.


    I’m not much interested in politics, but I could debate Smokervoter or Walt C with respect. They’re too far right for my taste, but not members of the fringe 10%.

    By contrast, from the “Unhinged Generation” August 9th post, Harleyrider’s 1:58 PM comment: “The only reason people still listen to Obama speches (sic) is because they’re hoping to hear a shot.” A joke in poor taste? Certainly politically incorrect!

    America has a history or political assassinations. It is not a laughing matter. If any non-Americans think Haraleyrider represents mainstream American opinion, think again.


    On Hillary Clinton.

    I don’t like her either!

    Frank, you often say that Hillary banned smoking in the White House. No. The WH is the center of American government. It is also the living quarters of the President’s family. In her own “home,” Hillary could ban smoking, as could anyone else in their home. Only Bill Clinton, President of the United States, could ban smoking by executive order in the White House and other federal office buildings. And he did. Hillary certainly wanted the policy, but Bill issued the order. (And probably any other Democrat would have.)

    Again, as an American, I’ve been familiar with Hillary since Bill ran for President in 1992.

    What has Hillary accomplished since then? Not much that I can see.

    Bill put her in charge of health care reform. (Nepotism, but John F. Kennedy appointed his brother as Attorney General.) Health care reform failed.

    Hillary was First Lady for eight years. Other than speaking on various scandals, I can’t remember anything she did. She was later elected Senator from New York (the state where I live.) I don’t remember any laws she championed or got passed. She served as Secretary Of State for four years, but achieved no diplomatic breakthroughs.

    Hillary is a “cookie cutter” Democrat. She says what most other Democrats would say. If she hadn’t been married to Bill (like him or not, a great politician) it is doubtful that anyone would care what Hillary has to say. Other than being the first woman President, (not good enough!) she has little to offer.

    I’m kind of a Democrat, but if Hillary is the best the party has, I’d almost be inclined to vote Republican. But damn well not likely. The Republican candidates are so inept that they make Hillary look good.

    On Benghazi. Four U. S. diplomats were killed in Libya. As Secretary Of State, should Hillary have been at their side, rifle in hand, shooting it out with Arab terrorists? There is a real issue about protection of diplomatic personnel. Republicans have had investigation after investigation over these four (very unfortunate) deaths. If Hillary knew what she was doing, those people would not have died, Republicans say. I’d say Hillary has been unjustly targeted for blame.

    The e-mail scandal. This involves transparency in government. Jeb Bush (governor of Florida 10 years ago) decided to release “his” e-mails to the public. Mitt Romney (governor of Massachusetts) had his people delete computer files when he left office. Hillary Clinton had her own e-mail server in Chappaqua New York while she worked in Washington DC. Who has authority over this data, and under what rules? I’d like to know, but I don’t.

    There is also the issue of senior government officials having e-mail accounts under their own names, but also having other accounts under assumed names and conducting government business under these false names (to avoid Freedom Of Information requests for “all” their correspondence).

    Strange things are going on with government e-mail, and if Hillary gets her toes stomped (and Jeb and Mitt), it will be fine by me.

    I’m NOT looking at Hillary based on her position on smoking. I’m looking at her as a potential President of the United States, someone who may have to go to war with Russia or China, guide the U. S. economy through God knows what storms, and deal with a thousand other problems. Smoking is not my top concern.

    Frank, it’s fine by me if you base your English vote on the smoking issue. I agree with you. I have the same problems you have. However, SMOKING IS NOT AN ISSUE ON THE AMERICAN PRESIDENTIAL LEVEL. City or maybe even state level, it could be a minor (contentious) issue, but nationally, Hillary or any Republican candidate, smoking bans are not on the American political radar. I wish they were, but they are not.


    FD quote: Obama “seemed to come out of nowhere…” and “snatched the Presidency from Hillary Clinton.”

    Hell no! Out of 300 + million Americans, Obama was one of 100 U. S. Senators. (Hillary was another.) Illinois (Chicago) and New York (New York City). Being one person out of 100 who have a major say in what the U. S. government can and cannot do (or should and should not do) is a position of enormous power. Voters gave Obama and Clinton this power. Neither “came out of nowhere.”

    Obama probably first rose to national attention when he delivered an address to the Democratic convention in the 2004 Bush / Kerry election. Like him or not, this guy could write and deliver one hell of a speech. A future President? Many people considered the idea. (Not me; I don’t recall listening to the speech, but Obama is really good with words.)

    “Snatched the Presidency….” Hell no! Won the Democratic nomination. A big difference. (John McCain could have won the Presidency.)

    FD quote: “she [Hillary has] already got a whole bunch of delegates pledged to support her…” Double hell no! This is not the way the U. S. system works.

    With complicated (not discussed) exceptions, each state holds primary Democratic and Republican elections to vote for all registered Presidential candidates (which may not be the same in all states). Suppose three Dems run in NY. They get X, Y, and Z percents of the vote. They each get some delegates. Nationwide, X, Y, and Z also get delegates from other states. (Some states are “winner take all.”) Nationwide, for the Democratic party, the person who gets the most delegates from all states becomes the Presidential nominee.

    Obama didn’t “snatch” the Presidency from Hillary Clinton. Based on elections, he won more delegates. (Like him or not [and I do] it is the delegate count that determines who gets the nomination, and Obama was smart enough to target delegates.)

    For the next election, any delegate “pledged” to support Hillary CANNOT be pledged until the election is held and voters give Hillary their support. (Forget “muscel in like Obama did;” that wasn’t the case.) Current opinion polls and the statements of people who want Hillary (or anyone else) as President are meaningless until voters decide.


    It’s close to 9:00 AM in New York. I’m too tired to write about Donald Trump, but I will say one thing, perhaps to be discussed tomorrow….

    This egomaniac asshole will NEVER be President of the United States.

    Donald Trump is not remotely FIT to be President of the United States.

    I say this as an American.

    • Frank Davis says:

      All that seems fair enough.

      Frank, there is a big difference between me and you (and your non-American readers) – I am an American. I’m nearing my 70th birthday. I learned history in American schools. Grew old enough to read a daily American newspaper. Watched news on American TV, and read or listened to American pundits discuss current events, domestic and international. (Don’t ask me about British politics – I know virtually nothing.)

      Well, I’m English, and could say much the same about England. But I don’t think that makes me an uniquely privileged commenter on UK politics. For example I never expected the UK parliament to bring in a draconian smoking ban. So what do I know? And I think that Americans are often astute commenters on UK politics (the Telegraph’s Janet Daley comes to mind).

      I generally get the impression that Brits are much more aware and interested in US politics than Americans in UK (or European) politics. And I think that’s because whoever becomes the next US president is going to have much more influence in UK affairs than any British prime minister will have on US affairs. Equally, with some exceptions, US culture has more influence on UK culture than vice versa. So I’ve been following US politics on and off for over 45 years, starting with JFK (I could probably name, from memory, every single US president from FDR onwards). And recently I’ve felt (and Walt for one agreed) that US and UK politics have become a bit synchronised, with a lot of shared concerns (e.g. smoking bans, political correctness, global warming, and now immigration). It wasn’t always like that.

      These days I get the feeling that politics has become globalised in ways that it wasn’t 10 or 20 years ago. Everybody has become much more interested in everyone else’s politics than they ever used to be. It now feels like US politics is just as much my concern as UK politics is. Same with European politics.

      In addition I’m someone who has become a bit radicalised by the draconian UK smoking ban. It really has had a very big impact on me, and seen me change my mind about a lot of things, the main one of which has been to move me sharply from left to right. 10 years ago I used to read a lot of US left wing blogs (there weren’t any UK ones back then), but now they have little to say to me, and I find the right wing bloggers much more interesting (I may write something about this). Thomas Sowell, Pat Buchanan, etc. I wouldn’t have done that 10 years ago. I think that’s a remarkable (if not particularly unusual) and unforeseen transformation. But one result is that when a new smoking ban is introduced anywhere (like New Orleans), I feel it personally. It’s something that’s being done to my people, even if they’re Arabs or Russians or Chinese. And that’s something very, very new. That’s an identity which straddles borders.

      The differences between Americans and Brits (and all sorts of other people) are getting blurred.

      In respect of Obama, I wasn’t paying much attention when he was elected. It seemed to me that he came out of nowhere, and snatched the candidacy and the presidency from Hillary. That was my perception at the time. One day nobody seemed to have heard of him, and the next day he was a big star.

      As for Hillary’s existing pledges, see Bloomberg:

      As Hillary Clinton’s campaign seeks to project dominance in a field that could soon include Vice President Joe Biden, her top advisers are touting a decisive edge on a little-discussed metric: superdelegate commitments.

      At the Democratic National Committee meeting in Minneapolis, where Clinton spoke on Friday, senior Clinton campaign officials are claiming that she has already secured one-fifth of the pledges needed to win the Democratic presidential nomination. They come from current and former elected officials, committee officeholders, and other party dignitaries.

      The campaign says that Clinton currently has about 130 superdelegates publicly backing her, but a person familiar with recent conversations in Minneapolis said that officials are telling supporters and the undecided in the last few days that private commitments increase that number to more than 440—about 20 percent of the number of delegates she would need to secure the nomination.

      I know that smoking isn’t an issue on the US presidential level. It isn’t an issue in UK politics either. Nobody ever talks about it. But it is my number one issue. And given that it’s a big issue for many smokers, I expect that one day it will become a political issue of national or even global concern, much like immigration or anything else becomes a hot issue if enough people talk about it.

      As for Trump, I have no idea whether he’ll win the Republican nomination. But he’s sure doing pretty well right now. And quite a few Americans (who are presumably as American as you are) seem to be right behind him.

    • Some French bloke says:

      Left and right, about 10% on each side are nuts… Another 10% on each side might be open to rational debate. That leaves 60% of the population.

      If roughly 50% of the adult population are either left- of right-leaning, two 10% fringes on each side amount to 10 + 10%, leaving 80%, but aside from this piddling and highly pedantic remark, your count also leaves out blank voters and the abstentionist “camp” (“Among the 34 OECD countries, the U.S. ranks 31st in terms of turnout among the voting-age population but seventh in turnout among registered voters.”). Perhaps your not mentioning them reflects the want of aggregation (“a collection of individuals gathered together in response to the same external conditions”) and discussion affecting large swathes of the population. Just think about the difficulty of getting anywhere in a discussion about smoking, most of the times.
      And it would then be this persistent indecision and (probable) mistrust that prevents the emergence of new meaningful, cohesive forces in politics, becoming increasingly vocal and active, and at last enabling disgruntled voters to get shot of the options of voting grudgingly for the other side’s candidate, or feeling “almost inclined” to do so.

  5. garyk30 says:

    ” I am an American. I’m nearing my 70th birthday. I learned history in American schools. Grew old enough to read a daily American newspaper. Watched news on American TV, and read or listened to American pundits discuss current events, domestic and international.

    I have experienced American history, day after day, for as long as I can remember.

    These people hover around the middle. I’m one of them.

    I’m kind of a Democrat, but if Hillary is the best the party has, I’d almost be inclined to vote Republican. But damn well not likely. ”

    Well now, I am older than 70 and have also studied a lot of History.
    If, after all of that history, you are a Democrat, you have not learned much from your studies.

    Your name calling marks you as a typical ‘Leftist Elitist’ and a pomp ass know-it-all.

    • waltc says:

      Ah Gary, I think you’re too hard on Mikef who’s an intelligent guy who expresses himself well, agree with him or not. He doexn’t sound much like a leftist, elitist ot the other thing to me. I would merely say that, presented with deplorable candidates, it’s better and more honorable to abstain

  6. Clicky says:

  7. jltrader says:

    I wish Arnold Schwarzenegger was allowed to run for US Presidency.

  8. slugbop007 says:

    Barack Obama should go back and reread the speech he gave at the Democratic Convention when John Kerry was running for president. It appears that his appeal for inclusiveness has been watered down quite a bit since then. Another smoker hypocrite. Like your British Prime Minister.

  9. gainny says:

    Donald Trump is the only candidate who says it’s okay for America and Americans to have interests. The rest are all globalist puppets. And people love him because he fights back against the lying media. We all hate the media.

    Frank, Congress repeatedly legislated a wall, but failed to fund it. All talk, no action. It’s not the only measure needed, but we were repeatedly promised a wall. I was thrilled that before issuing his immigration paper, Trump consulted America’s Senator, Jeff Sessions, who is the man when it comes to immigration. That’s a sign that Trump can pick good advisers.

    I don’t think Trump is a hothead, but rather a strategic thinker. My brother, a commercial real estate lawyer, says his greatest job satisfaction is bringing parties to agreement. Remember, Trump is a negotiator. Right now he’s showing us that he’s a fighter who stands his ground.

    I knew he was in it for real when I saw him working a line, shaking hands.

    Go, Donald, go!

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