By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT – The latest CNN poll reveals nothing more than that Election 2016 is still anyone’s game; well, almost anyone. I think Kasich, Santorum, and Jindal can hang it up and start vying for positions in a future Republican administration.
Following the CNN debate Carly Fiorina’s numbers have surged and Trump has stumbled a bit. Carson has also dropped while Rubio has advanced.
This debate was the first one I’ve watched this season. I wanted to watch to see what I’m missing about Trump – everyone is so thrilled that he is saying things nobody else will say, they’re ready to elect him, it seems. I remain unconvinced.
Trump does indeed say the most outrageous things. Several times during this debate my jaw simply dropped in stunned silence that such utterings could come from a supposedly serious presidential contender. On the subject of whether or not vaccines cause autism, a claim now debunked by science, Trump holds fast:
I am totally in favor of vaccines. But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time. Because you take a baby in — and I’ve seen it — and I’ve seen it, and I had my children taken care of over a long period of time, over a two or three year period of time.
Same exact amount, but you take this little beautiful baby, and you pump — I mean, it looks just like it’s meant for a horse, not for a child, and we’ve had so many instances, people that work for me.
Just the other day, two years old, two and a half years old, a child, a beautiful child went to have the vaccine, and came back, and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.
It’s as if the child simply caught a permanent case of flu or something. Based on nothing whatsoever, Trump concludes that this child “now is autistic” because of “the vaccine.” Based on what? A fever? It’s simply an irresponsible and outrageous claim without real evidence behind it and one that strikes fear in the hearts of parents. Shame on him.
On the subject of war with Afghanistan, I think Dr. Ben Carson really hurt himself when he indicated that the “bully pulpit” would have been his first choice rather that war after 9/11:
I said, you can do the same kind of thing. Declare that within five to 10 years we will become petroleum independent. The moderate Arab states would have been so concerned about that, they would have turned over Osama bin Laden and anybody else you wanted on a silver platter within two weeks.
There are smart ways to do things and there are muscular ways to do things. And sometimes you have to look at both of those to come up with the right solution.
This puts him straight in the camp with Ron Paul, I think, and while I think Ben Carson is a brilliant and gentle man, he cannot lead this country at this time with this philosophy. It is naïve at best.
Peggy Noonan’s analysis of this debate was as spot on as any I’ve seen and her remarks on Carly Fiorina perfectly summarize her performance:
Ms. Fiorina has broken through again. This was the debate in which she became an acknowledged heavyweight. She is prepared, has a highly organized mind, and remains collected under the lights in a way that allows her to be what she is, knowledgeable and eloquent. She was brilliant on Planned Parenthood, direct on Mr. Trump and bankruptcy—at this point she’s using him as a foil. Her closing remarks on Lady Liberty and Lady Justice were so strong, the man sitting next to me insisted she must have known the question was coming. She can, however, be too stern. There’s nothing wrong with putting a woman on the currency; it does not erase anyone’s history.
That being said, (and I’m sure I’m about to infuriate a lot of people) I think Carly will most likely end up in the VP slot – and she would be superb there.
As for Rubio, I think he is statesmanlike, knowledgeable, and strong, but too many people simply don’t trust him anymore. I don’t know if he can overcome that. He will carry that Gang of Eight vote with him like an albatross, yet this is what he says today:
So I’ve seen every aspect of it, and I can tell you America doesn’t have one immigration problem, it has three.
First, despite the fact that we are the most generous country in the history of the world in allowing people to come here legally, we have people still coming illegally.
Second, we have a legal immigration system that no longer works. It primary is built on the basis of whether you have a relative living here instead of merit.
And third, we have 11 million or 12 million people, many of whom have been here for longer than a decade who are already here illegally.
And we must deal with all three of these problems. We cannot deal with all three of these problems in one massive piece of legislation. I learned that. We tried it that way.
Here’s the way forward: First, we must — we must secure our border, the physical border, with — with a wall, absolutely. But we also need to have an entry/exit tracking system. 40 percent of the people who come here illegally come legally, and then they overstay the visa. We also need a mandatory e-verify system.
After we’ve done that, step two would be to modernize our legal immigration system so you come to America on the basis of what you can contribute economically, not whether or not simply you have a relative living here.
As strong as he is on so many other issues, Rubio may never get past immigration; voters have long memories and much mistrust these days.
In the end, I think the CNN poll shows more than anything else that we still have a long way to go and we can anticipate many more changes to come. Once the undercard starts filtering out and those votes swing hither and yon, as will the money, things will change as well.
I have a friend who swears that Trump is going to pull out of this and swing his support, and votes, to Ted Cruz. I’m not seeing that at all, but there you go. I do believe, at least, that Trump never really intended to be this far ahead when he got in this and is as surprised as anyone that he’s still in the lead. But, he’s faltering now, I think. His biggest line is always a blustery roll about how successful he’s been and not much substance after that.
It’s a long way to 2016 and will certainly be an entertaining ride.
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.