2016 New Year’s resolutions for presidential candidates
While many of us are considering diets, exercise, and acts of kindness as next year’s self-improvement projects, those running for the highest office in the land need to be more serious about their 2016 resolutions to boost their support in hopes of winning their parties’ nominations. I offer a few humble suggestions.
First, for the Democratic team:
Hillary Clinton. You really are, in the words of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, “the best prepared to be president of anybody that we’ve had in a very, very long time.” You have the experience of being a secretary of state, senator, first lady, and years as a lawyer working on children’s issues. You can answer a question — with a thorough, knowledgeable answer — on nearly any subject, as you’ve proved at campaign events, debates, and interviews. At the Benghazi hearings, you left the GOP inquisition in the dust. You’re ahead in every national and most state polls. Yet you are disliked by many in the media, which tend to overplay your “scandals” like your private email server. You’re often portrayed as unlikable, and less than truthful or trustworthy, and that’s echoed in polls. You need to find an authentic way to be likable and trustworthy, knowing that many Republicans would rather swallow glass than vote for you. In short, you need to court the media.
Bernie Sanders. So many are “feeling the Bern,” especially the Millennial voters that Democrats need to win. Your message about economic fairness resonates across the board, yet you still trail Clinton in polling. Your problem is that too many see you as a one-trick pony. We know you’re not, but having your staff tell reporters not to ask any questions about ISIS on a recent trip to Baltimore didn’t do anything to dispel what some perceive as a too-narrow focus. You stumbled with foreign policy questions at the first Democratic debate, although you recovered at the second one, which got limited viewership. You need to step it up to establish foreign policy and security credentials. The fact that your campaign has received such limited coverage so far plays into this narrative, but many GOP candidates have the same complaint.
Would that Democrats could combine Sanders’ populism with Clinton’s experience and expertise.
Martin O’Malley. Dude, you had ONE PERSON show up at a recent event in Iowa — and the guy STILL remained uncommitted. You were booed at the last debate when you tried to paint your competitors as old. You’re not generating any support. You didn’t even qualify for the Ohio primary ballot. We know you’re gunning for a job in the next Democratic administration, but you’re not doing yourself any favors. Drop out soon, for the sake of the Democratic Party.
Now for the dark side.
Former New York Gov. George Pataki dropped out just in time to avoid being on this resolutions list, so we’re down to just 12 Republicans. If the GOP really doesn’t want Donald Trump as the nominee, most of the rest of the field needs to drop out to merge their single-digit support and give it to another candidate.
Donald Trump. Yeah, like he would take anyone’s advice but the overblown voices in his head. But here goes: You’ve managed to insult so many individuals and ethnic groups that we’ve lost count. When you talk about your mythical free border wall or your desire to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., your support only rises among your mouth-breathing fans. But there’s one group you’re continuing to alienate, and it would cost you the election should you be the nominee — women. You’ve developed a serious gender gap when it comes to women voters. That might be OK for a primary — the other GOP contenders aren’t doing much better — but it’s a losing strategy for a general election. So knock it off with the comments about Clinton’s bathroom habits, Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycle, dating your daughter, and the like. (Think there’s a chance in hell that Trump will change? Nah.)
Ted Cruz. It has become a joke that your Senate colleagues hate you. Your congressional fans are those in the Freedom Caucus on the House side, like Iowa Rep. Steve King, and they’re as wacky as you are. And you, too, have a serious gender gap in your polling. Why don’t you drop the mean routine and try giving a speech that’s not filled with righteous anger and lies? You’re gaining support from evangelical voters and cutting into Trump’s lead. You could do even better if you weren’t such an insufferable jerk. Of course, it’s probably ingrained by now.
Marco Rubio. You have the worst attendance record in the Senate, and that’s saying a lot. No wonder Jeb! Bush’s super PAC is targeting your dismal attendance. You’ve evolved into the Establishment alternative to Trump, but you’re not bothering to court voters in person in early voting states, either. You probably would make a better impression on people if you bothered to show up for your day job once in a while. Attend Senate hearings and listen. Show up and vote. Otherwise, you’ll have nothing come January 2017.
Other than those three, should anyone bother to stay in the race? You could argue that they could compete until Iowa and/or New Hampshire, but what’s the point? So these resolutions are not for their edification but for that of the Republican Party.
Jeb! Bush. Lots of really rich people gave you lots of money, and you squandered it by being such a poor candidate. Your super PAC has spent nearly $50 million, and your support has dropped from the teens to the single digits. Let those rich donors cut their losses (I’m sure they’ll think of some tax scam) and go home. Drop out.
Ben Carson. See above. You’re already bending the rules by giving paid speeches while supposedly “off” the campaign trail, and it’s illegal to mix the two (not that the FEC is going to penalize anyone this cycle). Your wacky claims about pyramids storing grain and Chinese being in Syria have turned you into a laughingstock. Your campaign is leaking money, taking in less than you’re spending, and you’re sinking in the polls faster than a patient’s blood pressure during a surgery gone wrong. Go back to the private sector where you can fleece conservative voters to your heart’s content.
Chris Christie. The longer you stay in, the more lies you have to tell about your record. You might be the media’s darling, but you’re no one else’s favorite. Go home and try to make amends to the people of New Jersey.
For these next candidates, the race has become nothing but a vanity project. Time for you all to drop out and fade into the electoral sunset, for the good of your party.
Mike Huckabee. Boy, how stupid does it look now to have given up that lucrative Fox contract? Beg for it back before they have a chance to change their minds.
Rand Paul. If Kentucky Democrats can’t get enough people to vote against a stinker like Matt Bevin for governor, the state may be a lost cause for Team Blue. Go home and pay attention to your Senate race.
Carly Fiorina. You had your big moment when you spoke in complete sentences at the first kids’ table debate and people noticed you. Now they’ve noticed that they really don’t like you.
John Kasich. You were supposed to be the serious, “moderate” candidate who could save the party from Trump, but every time you say something that makes sense, your support drops among GOP primary voters.
Rick Santorum. You had momentum in 2012, but you’re stuck at the bottom this time around.
Jim Gilmore. Are you still running? You don’t even qualify for debates any more.
Note: The cartoon above has nothing to do with politics, but it was a chance to use a Calvin and Hobbes comic. Hey, how about Bill Watterson for president?