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What Bernie & the Donald Portend
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Three weeks out from the Iowa caucuses, and clarity emerges.

Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, is in trouble.

Polls show her slightly ahead of Socialist Bernie Sanders in Iowa, but narrowly behind in New Hampshire. And the weekend brought new revelations about yet more classified and secret documents sent over her private email server when she was secretary of state.

Between now and November, she will be traversing a minefield, with detonations to be decided upon by FBI investigators who may not cherish Clinton, and might like to appear in the history books.

Clinton’s charge about Donald Trump’s alleged “penchant for sexism” brought a counterstrike — her being the “enabler” of Bill Clinton’s long career as a sexual predator — that rendered her mute.

But with Hillary Clinton having raised the subject, it is almost certain to be reintroduced in the fall, if she is the nominee.

Then there is the newly recognized reality that Clinton, who ran a terrific comeback race against Barack Obama in 2008, is not the candidate she was. Nor is Bill the imposing surrogate he once was.

Both are eight years older, and show it. “Low energy” nails it.

Lastly, Hillary Clinton now has a record to defend as secretary of state, a four-year term in which it is hard to see, looking back, a success.

Moreover, a defeat by Sanders in Iowa or New Hampshire could prove unraveling, with the press herd tapping out early obits.

New Hampshire has consequences.

A Granite State defeat by Sen. Estes Kefauver ended Harry Truman’s bid for re-election in 1952. Lyndon Johnson’s narrow write-in victory over Sen. Eugene McCarthy, 49-42, brought Bobby Kennedy into the race — and LBJ’s withdrawal two weeks later.

George H. W. Bush’s unimpressive New Hampshire win in 1992 brought Ross Perot in as a third-party candidate two days later, and Bob Dole’s loss in 1996 portended defeat in the general election.

But if a cloud is forming over the Clinton campaign, the sun continues to shine on The Donald.

Last July, in a column, “Could Trump Win?” this writer argued that if Trump held his then 20 percent share, he would make the final four and almost surely be in the finals in the GOP nomination race.

Now, in every national and state poll save Iowa, Trump runs first with more than 30 percent, sometimes touching 40. And, save in New Hampshire, Sen. Ted Cruz runs second to Trump.

What does the surge for Socialist Sanders, and the Republican base’s backing of the outsiders Trump and Cruz, and collective recoil from the Republican establishment candidates, tell us?

“The times they are a changing,” sang Bob Dylan in 1964.

Dylan was right about the social, cultural and moral revolution that would hit with Category 5 force when the boomers arrived on campuses that same year.

A concomitant conservative revolution would dethrone the GOP establishment of Govs. Nelson Rockefeller, George Romney and William Scranton in 1964, and nominate Barry Goldwater.

Something like that is afoot again. Only, this time, the GOP has a far better shot of capturing the White House than in 1964 or, indeed, than it appeared to have at this point in 1980, The Year of Reagan.

In June 1964, Goldwater, about to be nominated, was 59 points behind LBJ, 77-18, in the Gallup Poll. On Sept. 1, he was still 36 points behind, 65-29. In mid-October, Barry was still 36 points behind, when some of us concluded that Mr. Conservative just might not make it.

Yet, in January and February of 1980, Ronald Reagan, during the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary, never got closer than 25 points behind President Jimmy Carter, who led Reagan, on March 1, 58-33. Yet, that November, 1980, Reagan won a 44-state landslide.

Today, according to a new Fox Poll, Trump would beat Clinton by 3 points in the general election, if held now. Another poll shows Trump pulling 20 percent of the Democratic vote.

What this suggests is that nominating Trump is by no means a guarantee of GOP defeat. But beyond politics, what do the successes of Sanders, Trump and Cruz portend?

Well, Sanders and Trump both opposed the war in Iraq that the Bush Republicans and Clinton Democrats supported.

Both Sanders and Trump oppose NAFTA and MFN for China and the free-trade deals that Clinton Democrats and Bush Republicans backed, which have cost us thousands of lost factories, millions of lost jobs, and four decades of lost wage increases for Middle America.

Trump has taken the toughest line on the invasion across the U.S.-Mexican border and against Muslim refugees entering unvetted.

Immigration, securing the border, fair trade — Trump’s issues are the issues of 2016.

If a Trump-Clinton race came down to the Keystone State of Pennsylvania, and Trump was for backing our men in blue, gun rights, securing America’s borders, no more NAFTAs, and a foreign policy that defends America first, who would you bet on?

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.”

Copyright 2016

• Category: Ideology • Tags: 2016 Election, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump 
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  1. “If a Trump-Clinton race came down to the Keystone State of Pennsylvania, and Trump was for backing our men in blue, gun rights, securing America’s borders, no more NAFTAs, and a foreign policy that defends America first, who would you bet on?”

    – women voters flocking like sheep to support Clinton

    • Agree: Realist
    • Replies: @Simon in London
    , @TWS
  2. OutWest says:

    Trump needs some intelligent populism. For instance, don’t have Medicare set drug prices but instead have a requirement for favored nations pricing, i.e. let the drug companies set prices but have to offer the same prices in the U.S. as in Canada, France etc. Also, terminating the discredited ethanol fuel fiasco might be helpfully constructive.

    There’s plenty of stupid in the federal government, a campaign treasure trove.

  3. @Johnny Smoggins

    There are a hell of a lot of middle aged and baby boomer women who will back Clinton no matter what, on a “Buggins Turn” principle – We Voted Obama, Now It’s Our Turn. But how many of them are not already committed Democrats? Republican & Libertarian women seem to hate Clinton, while Reagan Democrat men are likely to back Trump. His populism will also see him do relatively well with black & Hispanic lower-middle class men.

    • Replies: @Johnny Smoggins
  4. Rehmat says:

    Sorry Mr. Buchanan, your prediction is not based on facts.

    Hillary Clinton is the most pro-Israel among all the Democrat and GOP candidates. She is greedy, immoral, anti-Muslim, anti-Iran nuclear deal and a rabid hawk politician when it comes to American imperialism in the Muslim world. She is also member of the Tribe through her son-in-law.

    Bernie Sanders, though Jewish and blind supporter of Israel, is anti-Wall Street in his rhetoric, and thus hated by a great majority of the 1% fat cats. Personally I think, Sanders a Jewish lobby decoy and will withdraw in favor of Hillary Clinton.

    Donald Trump will most probably win GOP nomination, because he represents peoples like you.

    But, as some wise guy said here that no matter who wins 2016 race – It will be victory for Israel and anti-Muslim racists.

    Don’t take me wrong, I did agree with your views on Egypt and Syria.

  5. alexander says:

    Dear Mr Buchanan,

    Of the less than savory (in my view) stable of candidates for President in the next election cycle…..Bernie and the Donald are far and away my two top picks….I would love to see them each get their party’s respective nomination and go at it ,toe to toe, in some lively (and actually somewhat authentic) debates about the future direction of our country and the problems that ail us.
    I think both candidates have hit the nail on the head, many times, about the “real” issues the country needs to address. It will be interesting to see the differences in what they aim to do about it, and who will be able to do more, effectively, to get our country back on track.

    To seize the Presidency…it seems that both candidates would be best served to absorb some of the more notable characteristics of their opponent…and show the constituencies of the “other guy” that they are there for them too.

    If it comes down to Bernie and the Donald…My interests are piqued. I will re-stake my claim in this presidential outcome…because it could become an exciting race that has some guts and authenticity to it.

  6. TWS says:
    @Johnny Smoggins

    Yeah, just like they did for Geraldine Ferraro. Oh wait….

    • Replies: @Johnny Smoggins
  7. @TWS

    Comparing the Clinton campaign to the Ferraro campaign is ludicrous, wouldn’t you agree?

    • Replies: @TWS
  8. Svigor says:

    – women voters flocking like sheep to support Clinton

    Even the sheep are deserting Clinton, it seems:

    NH Poll: Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton in every major voting bloc

    And the new poll shows that Clinton has also lost her edge over Sanders among registered Democrats, women and older voters.

    Sanders (50 percent) now leads Clinton (44 percent) among women voters


    Bernie and the Donald are far and away my two top picks….I would love to see them each get their party’s respective nomination and go at it ,toe to toe

    You may just get your wish, if Hillary keeps bleeding like this. The Chinese water torture of drip, drip, dripping emailgate.

    The Donald would eat him alive on immigration. Sanders would have no comeback other than deflection and subject-changing.

  9. @Simon in London

    Insofar as a non American can be, I’m a Trump supporter so I hope you’re right. However I don’t have much confidence in the ability of women to think for themselves so if Oprah or one of the Kardashians said vote for Hillary all bets are off.

  10. keep on voting, suckers. Soon enough, a Politics of the Deed will replace all this nonsense

  11. Renoman says:

    Agree! It will be Bernie and Don, I hope it’s Bernie but I’d bet on Don. Americans are suckers for charisma. I’m Canadian by the way so this is strictly an outside observation.

  12. @Anonymous

    Not only did we wear scars from 1964, but some of us lost arms and legs in the 1976 battle between Reagan and Ford. Reagan was a superb candidate, and we, the grunts, finally handed him the GOP nomination on a silver platter where he didn’t have to cut deals with anyone. Yet, why did he contemplate putting Gerald Ford on the ticket as a co-President? Why did he feel that he had to compromise? When he came to his senses, he upchucked the Ford deal and put George H.W. Bush on the ticket. From that point on, the Neocoms, like maggots, crawled into the Reagan Administration and became firmly entrenched in the bowels of the government. We were “bushwhacked.”

  13. Realizing it is important to have a single person as head of state-marketing I wonder which current canadidate can actually operate and meaningfully steer a bureaucracy too.

    Too bad my hero, The real Donald (Rumsfeld), is not a candidate. After declassification his torrent of presidential snowflakes would be so much fun to read.

  14. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    My initial impression was that Sanders’s job was to provide competition for Clinton so as to make it seem that there was a genuine contest but not to damage her in any way and then to take a dive in the last round, providing the illusion of democracy in action. That he’s doing so well shows how unenthusiastic people really are about her. Trump is riding high right now but Bush is still loitering around in the shadows. Perhaps Bush expects to be next in line should something unexpected happen to take Trump down. It wouldn’t be surprising for the Republican establishment to actually try to undermine Trump to the point of supporting Clinton over him. It’ll be interesting to see how things work out in this coming year.

  15. Renoman says:

    No one will vote for Bush, he’s too goofy to be President. That’s the real problem with the GOP, the only one who walks like a Man is Trump.

  16. Rapparee says:

    “My initial impression was that Sanders’s job was to provide competition for Clinton so as to make it seem that there was a genuine contest but not to damage her in any way and then to take a dive in the last round, providing the illusion of democracy in action.”

    Sanders is not really a Democrat. He spent most of his career as an independent, winning elections without any backing from the party machine. He hardly seems like a person the Democratic establishment would confidently trust to take a dive in the last round.

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