The results from Iowa were almost ideal, whether we are talking about the Republicans or the Democrats.
But first, the Democrats and Hillary. It is of course a major big time desideratum that she implode, and I am sure that I am joined in this pious wish by friends of the Republic everywhere. But if she implodes, why should we want it right out of the starting gate? We would have our implosion later on. Give us a minute. Let us rejoice that she virtually tied with a commie in the Heartland, and is now off to New Hampshire to get shellacked by him there. The Democrats there have radically emended the noble motto of that state, which is “live free or die.” With Bernie as their drum major, it is now “live for free or die.” Then Hillary can stagger off to the super-primaries down south, win a bunch of them, and then the FBI indictment. Timing is everything in these things.
Now to the Republicans. I said almost ideal. Donald Trump almost came in third, and I do admit that I wanted him in fourth. So you can’t have everything, and we were not put into this world for pleasure alone.
The received wisdom on the teevee, which formed almost instantly, was that Cruz did what he had to do, that Trump under-performed, and that Rubio over-performed. What is the measuring rod against which these pronouncements are made? Well, mostly the groundless speculations of those making groundless speculations now. But it is the game, and so let us play it.
The received wisdom, when everybody receives it, does drive and shape subsequent events, and so let us be good sports and take it from there. The standing nostrum is that there are three tickets out of Iowa, which means that we should now have a three-man race. The long shot that might surprise us in this expectation would be if someone like Kasich or Christie, or possibly Bush, pulls off a surprise showing of some sort in New Hampshire. But all that would do is keep them alive until our southern brethren finish them off. The one exception down there could be Florida, where Bush might be strong but where Rubio also will be. That will likely just top off this particular part of the primary story with some unseemly ugliness.
So the chances are pretty good that we have our three semi-finalists, in other words. A cluster of men will drop out after New Hampshire, and another one or two might even follow Huckabee and drop out before New Hampshire. That should help us clarify our lives.
If Trump had walked away with it in Iowa (and then again in New Hampshire), a number of establishment types (who find him gauche and distasteful) would have blinked at what the trumpen-proletariat had done to us, but nevertheless would have started to accommodate themselves to the prospect of lots of Deals. But I think the strong presence of Rubio will keep them from doing that, at least not right away. Right or wrong, I think they believe they could work with Rubio and I think we will start to see a lot of their support start to consolidate there. If this happens, keep in mind that Rubio will be the most conservative “establishment” pick to come along in a long time. The establishment will have been dragged right, in other words.
In the meantime, Cruz needs to continue to win without being recognized as someone who is winning. Whatever he accomplishes for the remainder of the campaign will only be grudgingly acknowledged, if at all, until the point where it is undeniable and he has become a Public Menace. Cruz is disciplined, he is smart, and he has money. There are some areas where I wish he were more disciplined, or disciplined in a different fashion, but I will just keep those thoughts to myself for the present. For the time being, I just want him to continue to terrify the denizens of every cozy cubby inside the Beltway. This is because I think Rush is right — those people fear Ted Cruz and fear is the only appropriate sensation for them.
I don’t want to send a deal-maker to Washington. I don’t want someone who knows how to work both sides of the aisle. I want an Ostrogoth king dressed in furs with a spear of ash in his right hand and his well-worn copy of Hazlitt in the other. So to speak.