"Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance?" -- Former Republican Sen. Roman Hruska defending appointment of "mediocre" Judge Harold Carswell to the U.S. Supreme Court.
I will state right up front that I don't know anyone who intends on voting for Donald Trump -- or any other Republican for that matter -- at either the primary or the national level.
Like Pauline Kael, who once said, "I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon," I too live a "special world" devoid of ALL-CAPS! flag-waving 'Muricans. Or maybe they exist around me but they have the common decency to keep it to themselves -- like Scientologists and pedophiles.
To say that the run-up to this GOP primary is a "half bubble off plumb" would be gross understatement.
We have never seen the likes of a Donald Trump on the campaign trail -- making like Tom and Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby, smashing up "things and creatures" and then retreating "back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”
I, for one, have no idea what Trump's endgame is or whether he is trapped by his success like Max Bialystock in The Producers, as Joe Scarborough once noted in one of his rare lucid moments.
I do know that he has disrupted the hell out of the field, tamping down establishment Republicans like Jeb Bush and John Kasich, leaving American-by-way-of-Canada grotesque Ted Cruz and over-achieving model UN ambassador Marco Rubio jockeying to finish in the money but nowhere near the lead. This doesn't even take into account the GOP's Breakfast Club bench of the whack-job (Ben Carson), egomaniac princess (Carly Fiorina), sullen teen (Rand Paul) and school bully (Chris Christie).
So I guess Republican voters could be forgiven for not knowing whether to "shit or go blind," as Zeno of Elea so puckishly put it in Parmenides. It's in there, trust me.
Which brings us to the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire who are going to set the tone in the next couple of weeks.
As regards Iowa's caucuses, we know one thing: they don't mean jack.
Past two winners: Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.
But if you still want to know what Republican New Hampshirites and Iowidiots (or whatever they are -- who cares?) think and why they think it, New York mag put on their travel logs and traveled to the hinterlands to talk with the local yokels.
If you're looking for well-informed opinions backed up by rock-solid policy prescriptions --- dude, c'mon. Really?
They're more like the people you see at the track who bet on the horses depending on what colors the jockey is wearing that particular race -- even if the horse is limping badly. Which is to say, yes, some people are thinking about voting for Carly.
- Mom and student Allison: "Our system is so backwards. Nothing has been working for the past eight years. Something big has got to change so people are safe and financially okay. I’m going into law enforcement. And look at the war on police. We have a war on everything — war on gender, war on police, war on race, you name it. We’re just way too politically correct as a country. And you got to do what you got to do to keep your country safe. If it’s banning Muslims … I don’t know. I think Trump would make an awesome president. I love that people have tried to knock him down so many times and he’s still going strong. I really admire that."
- Jack, a doctor who is totally not racist, but....: "I have nine children between the ages of 16 and 30. One of my daughters is dating a patrol officer who’s black. He moved up from Miami. I like him — more than I like my daughter! She’s a good girl, though. She lives at home. It’s hard to get rid of them. The city has changed a lot. It was very homogeneous. Now it feels like I’m back at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. There are shootings, stabbings. A friend of mine who works in the DEA said you’ll be having drive-by shootings here. I said no way. He said the drug trade is prevalent and they’ll feast on a town where they aren’t going to get pressured."
- Andrew, IT consultant: "One of the biggest issues for me is gay marriage. I considered switching to the Democratic Party because of that alone. The Republican Party has been on the right side of social issues for the last 200 years, and this is just the one time when they’re on the wrong side. It’s a generational issue. I’m not going to let it define me politically. '
- Thom, insurance broker who would vote for Christie because ... beer: "I like Jeb, but he’s not dynamic enough. And he’s had to carry that baggage of being the third Bush. Kasich’s politics are right next to mine, but I didn’t get the same hee-ha I got from Christie. I like Christie best. I think people are over the bridge issue. He passed the sit-down-and-have-a-beer test."
- Earle who is 34, unemployed and on disability: "Ted Cruz is the most conservative guy in the bunch and he’s frankly the smartest guy in the bunch. I was leaning toward Rand Paul until Rand started to give me the impression that he was a little soft. Largely, the reason why I’m a conservative is because I’ve been on public assistance my whole life, and I have always felt ashamed of it. I have two major health conditions — cerebral palsy and an injury to my left hemidiaphragm. The whole idea of welfare and entitlements is to create a permanent underclass. They’ll give you plenty of handouts, but they won’t give you any hand-ups.” [Note: this one makes me sad.]
- Bill, retired engineer: "The life of one American is worth how many of the Islamic people that come in here, even if there’s only one in a million of them that [are] a threat?"
- Rory, a truck driver who supports Trump: "We’ve got the greatest country in the world. So I want us to be better. In the last eight years, we’ve gone backwards. Our candidates can start that: treating people nice and polite and with common courtesy. "
- Valerie, student: "It’s different if people come in to be Americans, but then there are people coming in to be what they want to be. They want to have all the rights that we have, but then they still want to be called Americans and they want to be called Muslims and they want to be their own race. They just want to live where we want to live.”
And our grand prize winner without comment no matter how much I really really really want to:
- Brett who is in sales: "I just want to feel safe like I felt like I did with George W. after 9/11. He had just taken office, and that kind of ruined his presidency, in a way. Our president now isn’t tough at all. I don’t think he cares. I think he’s an economic — I can’t say Hitler. But part of me feels like he does the national debt on purpose, because I feel like he hates America."