Proper Political Punditry

Proper political punditry, especially in Washington, requires the use of disdain. Nothing can ever be good enough especially for the likes of an erudite pundit such as, for example, the author of whatever piece you happen to be reading.

As to last night’s Republican debate, I will, yet again, fail in my quest for insider-ness by admitting to liking both debates and learning from them.

Here is a link to my Twitter feed where you can see about 60 tweets that constitute sort of a play-by-play of both debates interrupted only by an important daughter phone call at the end of the first session and wifely dinner during most of the second. Click on “tweets” if you check it out.

I do agree that 4+ hours for both debates was long. Attention spans suffered to say nothing of the stamina of the participants.

The free market approach would be to let the candidates decide and suffer through as many more four-hour evenings as they choose to inflict upon us. On the other hand, there is a desire to cull the herd, if only to learn more about the most likely winners.

In an effort to sort this out, I created a “top-third, middle-third, bottom-third” spreadsheet including: the name of each candidate; his or her current poll ranking; how each did in the debate (totally subjective); should the candidate continue (again, totally subjective); why should the candidate continue; what should the candidate really run for; and, finally, the “Pundificator Index,” which is simply the average of the candidate’s three numerical scores.

Here, in Pundificator Index order, are the results including the reason to continue running and the office to seek.

Next go-round, I’d put these seven on the main stage.

Marco Rubio should continue to run for president but in 2020 or 2024. His goal should be to make it his turn next time.

Jeb Bush should try to win the presidency in 2016.

Carly Fiorina should continue to try to win but prepare herself for a possible vice presidency.

John Kasich should keep trying to win the nomination.

Donald Trump should build his personal brand as a celebrity entrepreneur. He should keep doing so as long as his combined advertising budget and ego trip permits. It’s his money. Carly Fiorina likely delivered Trump’s Joseph Welch vs. Joe McCarthy moment — “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” — when she replied that American women had taken note of his comment about her appearance.

Ben Carson should seek a cabinet position, perhaps as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Chris Christie should continue running to keep the others focused and should aim to be Attorney General.

The undercard next time could include these five.

Bobby Jindal should continue to show some modest level of diversity on the right but should seek to chair the Republican Governors Association.

Mike Huckabee can keep the socially right advocacy groups happy as he tries to invent the role of an evangelical Pope.

Scott Walker can keep the focus on state and local government expenses while competing with Bobby Jindal to chair the Republican Governors Association.

Rand Paul should keep drawing attention to the process of declaring and making war, but then seek a permanent role as an Aspen Institute panelist.

Lindsey Graham should try to win the South Carolina primary and solidify his chances of becoming Secretary of Defense.

Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, would do us all a world of good by getting the last three to pack it in.

Ted Cruz should continue his advocacy for dour and angry people as he pursues the role of Lord High Executioner.

Rick Santorum seems to be providing an ego trip for his backers but his best role would be heading a religious right advocacy group.

George Pataki should avoid further shame and run for cover.

Two debates down, 14 to go. In time the list will shorten.

11 Responses to “Proper Political Punditry”

Peter Pell, September 17, 2015 at 6:02 pm said:

Will you share the numerical results?….

I would also look at the betting odds:

I think a better predictor right now than the polls.


Haven Pell, September 17, 2015 at 6:21 pm said:

I thought spreadsheets might be a turn off but here they are

Name Current How They Did Continue? Pundificator Index
Rubio 1 1 1 100.00
Bush 1 2 1 133.33
Fiorina 2 1 1 133.33
Kasich 2 1 1 133.33
Trump 1 2 2 166.67
Carson 1 2 2 166.67
Christie 3 1 1 166.67
Jindal 3 1 2 200.00
Huck 1 3 3 233.33
Walker 2 3 2 233.33
Paul 2 2 3 233.33
Graham 3 2 2 233.33
Cruz 2 3 3 266.67
Sntrum 3 3 3 300.00
Pataki 3 3 3 300.00


Haven Pell, September 17, 2015 at 6:26 pm said:

I like the betting odds. Not too different.


Rob, September 17, 2015 at 6:07 pm said:

Agree 100%. Only difference is that if I were Reince I would eliminate all but the top 7 now.

You have boiled it down to Bush, Fiorina and Kasich with the others as foils playing a role. I agree with your choices. I suppose one could make the case for adding Graham in support just because no one else has any foreign policy chops at all – although he is mostly wrong on everything and can’t seem to find a country he doesn’t want invade.


Haven Pell, September 17, 2015 at 10:42 pm said:

He can have a voice in that as Sec Def.


stan hatch, September 17, 2015 at 6:46 pm said:

Right on with your calls. I’m looking forward to the other 5 getting some of the support that is now going to Trump and Carson.


Haven Pell, September 17, 2015 at 10:41 pm said:

the next set of polls will be interesting, but for the moment only the backers opinions matter


bill gordon, September 17, 2015 at 9:30 pm said:

Any combo of Kasich, Rubio or Bush works for me. Republicans desperately need Florida and Ohio and these provide the best opportunity to help reach that goal.

It helps that they may be the best qualified of the pack.


Haven Pell, September 17, 2015 at 10:43 pm said:

That pesky electoral college thing


David Irons, September 17, 2015 at 11:36 pm said:

The only grown-up in these four debates (under card and main draw, and ain’t that indicative of the seriousness of the enterprise?) is Gov. Kasich, the one with the most national legislative and state executive experience. If he’s the Republican nominee, Hillary, Joe, Martin, Bernie, or Lincoln may have something to worry about — not least because of where he governs and his popularity there. I hadn’t realized the betting odds against him were so high; I’m tempted to put $1000 on him for the nomination tonight.

As for the others, the highest position in government to which Dr. Carson might aspire is Surgeon General (and only if he doesn’t know what the job entails).

Ms. Fiorina would last two months as Secretary of Commerce before her political incompetence would be apparent to all; she would be marginally more convincing as a vice-presidential nominee than half-term Gov. Palin.

I like the idea of Govs. Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal competing for regional Republican oblivion.

Gov. Christie will probably avoid going to jail, but his lifetime lawyer fees may ultimately exceed Hillary’s.

Senator Cruz is the true Joe McCarthy of American politics today and will eventually meet his Joseph Welch this year or next. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened yet.

Senators Paul and Rubio surprised me by seeming occasionally sane… but only barely.

Former Gov. Pataki had his opportunity to run and lose two times before and missed both.

Senator Graham… really no more need be said about Lindsey Graham. Ever.

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee should become a greeter at Walmart.

As for (“My-brother-kept-us-safe”) Jeb!, tell it to Richard Clarke or count W’s inauguration day as September 12, 2001.

Remarkably, the only one likely to win what he’s really after is the Donald, forever the brand-obsessed, “short-fingered vulgarian” (h/t Spy magazine).

PS – Here’s a little-known campaign finance regulation that explains in part why there are so many Republican candidates. Candidates are allowed to pay themselves from campaign funds the amount of the salary of the office they seek (the presidency now pays $400K) or the amount of their last year’s salary. That, plus their new resume line “former Republican presidential candidate” explains why several of them decided to run.

PPS – Rick Santorum was forever defined by Dan Savage, editor of Seattle’s alt-news-weekly The Stranger. If that doesn’t ring a bell, Google “Santorum”. The definition now shows up as number two. Throughout the 2008 primary race, it much more baldly and consistently held the number one position without the moderating influence of Wikipedia.


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