Is Michael Bennett Still Running for President?

Michael Bennet during the New Hampshire Primary

You may not see his name listed when the cable news shows list the incoming results, but according to Evan Malmgren’s piece at the Baffler, Michael Bennett is still running for president.

Here is a taste:

If Bennet’s primary strategy and political positioning echoes Gary Hart’s, his New Hampshire gamble is even more of a fantastical long shot. Bennet is polling below half a percentage point in the statewide Real Clear Politics average, but he’s nonetheless invested in thirty-five paid staffers there—a significant fielding for a candidate who has raised less than $7 million over the entire election cycle—and he has spent the last two months traipsing up and down the state on a fifty-stop town hall tour called “the Real Deal Road Trip.”

I attended the fiftieth stop of this political death march, a rally in Manchester, and found what might have been an impressive showing, had Bennet been running for county treasurer. A crowd of more than two hundred packed the event space as Bennet droned on with a tempered and unfocused speech. “Among all the candidates in this race, I have the most —” Bennet stammered and paused, seemingly unsure of what, exactly, he has the most of. After some thought, he landed on a vague Obama-ism. “I have the plan that is most targeted towards, how do we allow people to stay in the middle class that are in the middle class.”

No one seemed to be paying complete attention; the people around me issued disjointed claps at seemingly random intervals. Eventually, the campaign wheeled out its “star slugger” for a brief appearance: James Carville, one-time architect of Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign who is better known today as a minor septuagenarian tastemaker among the MSNBC-addicted crowd. That he has endorsed Bennet’s 2020 presidential campaign is all you need to know about his continued relevance. At the rally, Carville rammed Bernie Sanders as an “ideologue” and spoke to his personal desire for Democrats to win in 2020, but he said almost nothing about Bennet’s vision in particular. “They’ll run away from Bernie Sanders like the devil running away from holy water,” Carville claimed of down-ballot Democratic candidates in conservative states, a convoluted metaphor that managed to compare hypothetical future fans of Bennet’s uninspiring program to Satan himself.

The rally ended with an awkward New Orleans twist, as the speakers blared a Cajun tune and Carville donned a Mardi Gras mask before tossing beads into the crowd, abruptly leaving to catch a flight.

Read the entire piece here.

Mike Bloomberg’s Critique of the Primary System Makes Sense

Bloomberg

Why are Democratic candidates running all over Iowa when the nominee will have no chance of winning the state in November?  Former New York mayor and presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is asking this question.

Here is a taste of his recent piece at CNN:

It’s true the party has come a long way from the days of candidates being selected in smoke-filled back rooms by party bosses. But our current system—in which two early states dominate the candidates’ time and resources—is in urgent need of reform.

The Democratic Party reflects America’s incredible diversity. But the first two voting states, Iowa and New Hampshire, are among the most homogenous in the nation. While it’s great that candidates reach out to voters in these states at every pancake breakfast and town hall around, what about African-American, Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islanders, and other voters in places like Detroit, Montgomery, Phoenix, and Houston? I’ve visited them all recently, and almost to a person, voters tell me the other campaigns have almost no presence in their cities.

The problem is compounded by the fact that the two early voting states are unlikely to be consequential in the general election. So as a party, we are spending all of our time and resources outside of the battleground states we need to win.

Meanwhile, President Trump is spending his time in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and North Carolina — all states we lost in 2016 by razor-thin margins. In 2020, we need to reverse at least some of those results — and we also have the chance to flip other states that voted for Trump, including Arizona and even Texas.

But right now, we are in danger of repeating 2016 in large part because, as Democrats focus on Iowa and New Hampshire, Trump is operating at full-speed in the battleground states, with field staff and targeted television and digital advertisements. Tuesday, while Democrats are on stage in Des Moines, he’ll be speaking to thousands of supporters in Wisconsin — a state Democrats need to rebuild the Blue Wall.

Read the entire piece here.

The Anti-Christ in New Hampshire

bible_Geneva

If you have been following the GOP presidential race, you know that New Hampshire has fewer evangelicals than Iowa or South Carolina. But though evangelicals do not make a large swath of the population in the Granite State, it does have its fair share of born-again Christians.  One of them is apparently Susan DeLumus, a member of the state legislature. DeLumas is supporting Donald Trump.  She obviously has no problem with Trump’s recent squabble with Pope Francis because, after all, the Pope is the anti-Christ.

Here is a taste of an article on DeLumas:

In response to her own Facebook post of three snippets of scripture from the Geneva Bible, Rep. Susan DeLemus (R) wrote: “The Pope is the anti-Christ. [sic] Do your research.” In another response, DeLemus said “I’m not sure who the Pope truly has in his heart.”

She told Politico that she was generally referring to the papacy, rather than Pope Francis in particular.

“I was actually referencing the papacy. And what I wrote after that ‘do your research,’ if you read the Geneva Bible, which is the Bible I use when we study, the commentary is – actually by the founders of the United States actually, the Protestant Church – their commentary references the papacy as the anti-Christ,” DeLemus said.

DeLumus is correct about the Geneva Bible.  Here is a taste of the notes on Revelation 13:12 that appeared in the 1560 edition:

13:12 17 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein 18 to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 

(17) The history of the acts of this beast contains in sum three things, hypocrisy, the witness of miracles and tyranny: of which the first is noted in this verse, the second in the three verses following: the third in the sixteenth and seventeenth verses. His hypocrisy is most full of lies, by which he abuses both the former beast and the whole world: in that though he has by his cunning, as it were by line, made of the former beast a most miserable skeleton or anatomy, usurped all his authority to himself and most impudently exercises the same in the sight and view of him: yet he carries himself so as if he honoured him with most high honour, and did truly cause him to be reverenced by all men. 

(18) For to this beast of Rome, which of civil Empire is made an ecclesiastical hierarchy, are given divine honours, and divine authority so far, as he is believed to be above the scriptures, which the gloss upon the Decretals declares by this devilish verse. “Articulos solvit, synodumque facit generalem” That is, “He changes the Articles of faith, and gives authority to general Councils.”
Which is spoken of the papal power. So the beast is by birth, foundation, feat, and finally substance, one: only the Pope has altered the form and manner of it, being himself the head both of that tyrannical empire, and also of the false prophets: for the empire has he taken to himself, and to it added this cunning device. Now these words, “whose deadly wound was cured” are put here for distinction sake, as also sometimes afterwards: that even at that time the godly readers of this prophecy might by this sign be brought to see the thing as present: as if it were said, that they might adore this very empire that now is, whose head we have seen in our own memory to have been cut off, and to be cured again.

John Kasich Is Offereing a Message That Evangelical Voters Should Embrace

John Kasich is a breath of fresh air.  He has found his voice in this primary season.

While Cruz and Rubio continue to come across as culture warriors, Kasich is an evangelical Anglican with a message defined by compassion, neighborliness, empathy, and local attachments.  When I heard him give his speech last night I thought about the University of Virginia sociologist James Davison Hunter’s book To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World and his concept of “faithful presence.”

As I have said before, Kasich is using his Christian faith in a subtle way.  It informs his sense of human flourishing and his care for the vulnerable members of the society.  He is pro-life.  He connects job growth to strong families.  Is he nostalgic for a world that we will never get back?  Probably.  But “slowing down”and social “healing” can also be seen as counter-cultural ideas in our society today.

If this guy doesn’t win the evangelical vote going forward the problem is with evangelicalism, not Kasich or his message.

Who Will Win Tonight in Pittsburg, NH?

PittsburgI wrote the better part of two of my books from a house on Back Lake in Pittsburg, New Hampshire. Pittsburg is the northernmost town in the state (in red on the map to the left).  Lindsey Graham was the only presidential candidate to visit the town in the lead-up to tonight’s primary.

By the way, Pittsburg is the largest town in the nation in terms of square miles.

Check out this article on Pittsburg and the New Hampshire primary at Boston.com. Here is a taste:

But if residents were to lobby for a candidate visit, they’d want Donald Trump, who is the clear favorite up here. The outspoken businessman’s signs are outnumbered only by those decrying the Northern Pass, a proposed 180-mile, $1.1 billion power line that would run right through the town’s scenic vistas.

The “live free or die” motto is taken very seriously in Pittsburg, where voters overwhelmingly supported Mitt Romney in 2012, giving him almost 63 percent of the vote.

But not everyone is disappointed with the lack of political attention. In fact, some residents are happy to let the political circus pass them by.

“I won’t have anything to do with politics in any way, shape or form,” said Al Goudreau, who owns Treats and Treasures General Store, an establishment that caters to residents looking to pick up a six pack or gallon of milk, or tourists seeking homemade fudge or a “Live Free or Die” t-shirt.

I should add that Al Goodreau sells some delicious fudge and makes a mean breakfast sandwich.  Last summer I bought a Pittsburg baseball cap from him.  I was actually wearing it earlier today.

The Big Difference Between Iowa and New Hampshire GOP Voters

wleome_New_HampshireIt’s religion, of course.

Check out Tracie Mauriello’s article at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Devoutness doesn’t resonate as strongly in New Hampshire as it did in Iowa.” It does a nice job of explaining why GOP presidential candidates need to approach New Hampshire differently than Iowa.

I even got quoted at the end of the article about the independent spirit of New Hampshire voters.

Here is a taste:

Here in hardscrabble New Hampshire, the nation’s second-most secular state, you’re more likely to find candidates on barstools than in pews.

“Candidates who were appealing so openly to the religious right in Iowa are going to find their message faltering in New Hampshire a week later,” said Randall Balmer, who grew up in Iowa and now is chairman of the religion department at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.

To win here, candidates have to quickly tone down the religious conservative images they projected in evangelical Iowa.

“I don’t think you’re going to see Donald Trump going to church in New Hampshire” as he did in Iowa, said Seton Hall University political scientist Jo-Renee Formicola.

“Politics is about doing what you have to do in order to win votes, and if going to church is going to win votes, they’re going to go to church,” said Ms. Formicola, who studies church-state relations. “In New Hampshire, where do politicians go? They go to the bars. That’s where most of the business is done in New Hampshire.”

Read the entire piece here.

“This is My Super Bowl”: A January Vacation to Iowa

Apparently 1000s of people come to Iowa in January every four years to watch the political frenzy leading up to the caucuses.  The NPR show Here & Now has a nice piece on these political tourists.

//embed.wbur.org/player/hereandnow/2016/02/01/iowa-caucus-tourists

Joy heard this on NPR today and when she came home from work she strongly encouraged me to do the same thing this week in New Hampshire.  (I am on sabbatical, after all and this is a bucket-list thing for me!)  For about ten minutes a frenzied brainstorming session took place in the Fea household about how I might be able to pull this off.  Then we realized that my daughter has a volleyball tournament in New Jersey on Saturday and I need to take her to it.  I love watching my daughter play volleyball, but this realization took the air out of the balloon.

I am still thinking about a Sunday through Tuesday visit, but I think it will be a long shot.