As an earlier post today noted, the crop of Republican 2016 presidential candidates, both announced and unannounced, is like a carnival midway freak show. While the lunacy and bigotry of the clown car occupants plays well with the knuckle dragging GOP base, it is hard to see most of them gaining much traction in a general election. Moreover, while the right wing is bloviating about Hillary Clinton's possible donor problems with the Clinton Foundation, as noted in the past, Jebbie Bush could well have his own problems if focus shifts tot he anonymous donations - some from foreign governments - flowing to various foundations. As Frank Bruni notes, the main beneficiary of the fringe nature of the GOP candidates is Hillary. Here are highlights:
AS fleetly as Hillary Clinton vacuums up the money, she piles up the paradoxes.She showed fatal weaknesses the last time she chased the presidency and her inevitability evaporated like a California puddle, but she’s somehow inevitable all over again.
She’s fashioning herself as someone uniquely attuned to “everyday Americans” while her husband fashions $500,000 speeches as amulets against the bill collector. Someone’s got to pay for the burrito bowls.And her Republican rivals convince themselves that “I’m not Hillary” is their strongest argument and best bet, although the reverse holds true. At least for now, not being any one of them is her ace in the hole.The 2016 race in its adolescence is between the dependably messy, perpetually maddening spectacle of the Clintons and a party with a brand-decimating profusion of mad hatters like the two who announced their bids and grabbed the spotlight last week, Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson.Advantage: Hillary Clinton.
That’s a clear takeaway from several surveys of voters released last week. They showed that despite her email shenanigans, despite the ethical muddle known as the Clinton Foundation, despite the growing confusion about whether the Hillary Clinton of 2016 will be of an ideological piece with the Hillary Clintons of yesteryear, voters will gladly take her, considering the alternatives.
[A] New York Times/CBS News poll found that over the past month and a half, during which she weathered a veritable hurricane of negative news coverage, her favorability rating improved, and the percentage of voters who see her as a strong leader rose to 65 from 57.
[M]any Americans . . . . as they notice journalists pouncing on the Clintons, they’re apt to shrug. The substance of the accusations is eclipsed by the familiarity of the tussle. It’s like lions on an impala: bloody, yes, but the natural order.
And the Clintons are being accused of what? Greed? There’s plenty of that to go around. Just ask Huckabee, a self-styled man of God and slave to Mammon.[Huckabee is] a case study in financial high jinks, a master class in shamelessness. He reportedly used the Arkansas governor’s office “as a personal ATM,” in Fournier’s description, channeling public money toward private expenditures (a doghouse, Taco Bell) and accepting tens of thousands of dollars in highly questionable gifts, some from people who later received prominent political appointments.More recently he did an infomercial hawking dietary supplements as a diabetes cure, even though reputable physicians and medical associations call it poppycock.Clinton benefits from not being Huckabee, who described Obamacare’s contraception provision as a big-government sop to women who can’t “control their libido,” blamed an absence of God in schools for the deadly shooting rampage in Newtown, Conn., in 2012 and then proceeded to write a book with a title that put firearms on a comforting par with breakfast food. Run, don’t walk, to pick up your copy of “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy.”Clinton also benefits mightily from not being Carson, who has lumped together homosexuality and bestiality and has likened Obamacare to slavery . . . .Republicans crow about their deep bench. And they do have some formidable candidates, including Marco Rubio, who is an anti-Hillary in ways that could indeed work for him, and Jeb Bush. But Rubio and Bush share the bench with an unruly crowd that pulls them and the party too far to the right.The party’s image hasn’t gone through the intended upgrade after its defeat in 2012. According to the Times/CBS poll, just 29 percent of Americans now view Republicans favorably, though 43 percent feel that way about Democrats. That number is unlikely to improve much with the likes of Huckabee, Carson, Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum roaming Iowa and foaming at the mouth.Besides, these two words come into play: Supreme Court. I know voters who’d give more consideration to Rubio, Bush, Chris Christie or John Kasich if they didn’t fear the kind of jurist one of them might nominate at the behest of the religious right. And the next president could easily wind up filling two vacancies on the high court.
In another recent poll, by CNBC, she was the preferred candidate of voters with a net worth of $1 million or more. Apparently they, too, have made peace with her. Or maybe they just recognize a kindred spirit.