Brace Yourself for President Gavin Newsom

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Believe me, I hope I’m wrong, but I can’t shake the feeling that we’re going to end up with President Gavin Newsom next year.

Did you see the interview he did on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show? He kicked Hannity’s rear end up and down the street. I’ve had this dread about a Newsom campaign for a while. Sure, he said a bunch of stupid things to Hannity, defending his record on homelessness and the exodus of people fleeing blue states, but he accomplished what he came to do. Newsom presented an image of a progressive hero defying a conservative bully, and Hannity fell into the trap. Honestly, it’s completely unclear what Hannity was trying to accomplish, but he ended up giving Newsom exactly the platform he wanted.

Newsom took every opportunity to appear willing and able to answer Hannity’s questions (Republicans pounce!). He had facts at hand, he didn’t use notes, and he deftly sidestepped the questions he couldn’t answer by redirecting. If you take out the political ideology and the movie-star good looks, one could easily conjure Newt Gingrich and his ability to own the interviewer.

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He didn’t need to give direct answers. He didn’t even need to tell the truth. He simply needed to look like a fighter, someone a FauxNewz rethuglican couldn’t knock off his pins. There were several times when Hannity would try to bring the heat, only for Newsom to respond, “Alright, let’s do this! Bring it on!”

Now, under what scenario would Newsom ascend to take incumbent Joe Biden’s place as the Democrat nominee? It doesn’t take much imagination to get to a world in which Biden declines to run again. It doesn’t even take a conspiracy, although this one seems fun:

The Democrats already seem to have started planning to replace Kamala Harris as Vice President, so she poses no threat as a presidential candidate. She’s about as non-viable as a candidate could be — although, to be fair, we used to say that about Vice President Joe Biden, too.

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They’ve floated alternatives for the past several years. First, it was Stacey Abrams, but that didn’t go anywhere. Now, it seems they’ve turned their allies in the press on to promoting another alternative in Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Admit it: a Newsom/Whitmer ticket would present a formidable challenge. Those of us in our right-wing political tribe may scoff, but Main Street voters would give that a long look. I’ve seen several conservative friends posit on social media that Newsom’s movie-star good looks present more of a threat than many of us want to contemplate. He’s well-spoken, quick with an answer, and comes across with an air of authority. Adding Whitmer to the ticket would add a swing state where electoral security remains questionable (more on that in a moment).

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That’s just the retail politics analysis. A lot of factors in campaign mechanics also offer a skeptical outlook for Republicans in 2024, both in the presidential election and in congressional races.

Don’t forget, Republicans start at somewhat of a disadvantage. The Republican nominee has won the popular vote only twice out of the last eight presidential elections. Now, obviously, we don’t count our votes that way due to the Electoral College, but in both 2016 and 2020, Trump’s results came down to a minuscule number of votes in swing states.

Despite the overwhelming math — Democrats have to defend eight senate seats in 2024, Republicans none — the results from 2022 don’t exactly scream confidence in the ability of Republican campaigns to cross the finish line. That’s on top of 2020 and 2018.

At least the RNC didn’t reelect a failed chair for an unprecedented fourth consecutive term. Right?

The Republican National Committee has a dismal track record in organizing its 50 state committees and 3,141 county chapters. The wreckage of the 2022 Red Wave That Wasn’t (Except In Florida) revealed structural issues that leadership has refused to address. This led to an insurgent campaign to replace Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel with California National Committeewoman Harmeet Dillon. Despite the real risk of retribution faced by the RNC’s 168 members for voting against McDaniel if she held on to her seat, Dillon garnered a historic number of votes for a challenger to an incumbent chair.

It wasn’t enough. McDaniel is still in charge, and alarm bells have been ringing ever louder:

This is the building block of election management.  It is stunning how absolutely incompetent the Republican Party is performing this fundamental task.

Last week, NBC News did a story about how the canvassing for Republican candidates was so bad that it likely lost the Senate elections in Nevada and Georgia, and probably others as well.

Our Republican Party pals could not deliver a list of voters that was close to accurate!

The next time you sit back bemoaning the country going to the devil, remember that fundamentals win elections, and your team cannot deliver the most fundamental task: an accurate list of registered voters.

That’s bad enough, but the election security issue is a much bigger problem for Republicans:

A Rasmussen poll taken in October of 2021 found that 56% of all likely voters believed that cheating affected the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.  Another Rasmussen poll dated April of 2023 revealed that 60% of all likely voters believed that cheating affected the outcomes of many 2022 midterm elections.  Unsurprisingly in a Rasmussen poll published on June 14, 2023, 54% of all likely voters believe that cheating will determine the outcome of the 2024 presidential election.

For a majority of the American electorate, and for a much higher percentage of Republicans, the issue of whether there was rampant cheating in the past two election cycles is no longer in question and their concern about the outcome of the 2024 election is fully justified.

The Republican National Committee (RNC), beyond issuing the usual fatuous press releases and reports about what they are going to do, has done nothing of substance on the ground to offset unabashed Democrat cheating.

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Kurt Schlichter wrote at Town Hall about all the reasons the RNC should have shown Ronna the door:

In 2020, I lawyered after the election in Las Vegas …. Democrat lawyers had been there and elsewhere for months prepping the battlefield for election night. I got a desperate call the day after the election and drove out to Vegas to help. Guess how many lawyers Ronna had ensured were on the ground by the time I rolled in 24 hours after the election ended.

One? Not one, Kurt. That would be crazy.



Fast-forward to 2022. Did that look like the RNC’s legal forces were adequately deployed and ready to win?

It was pretty obvious in 2020 that Trump’s reelection hopes hinged in large part on how many lawyers were deployed in battleground states where COVID lockdown policies provided a pretext for relaxing electoral security. These policies should have faced intense legal pushback. Instead, the RNC was nowhere to be found, and it shows no signs of properly organizing itself for the next election. In a razor-thin election, in which the Electoral College comes down to a few thousand votes in swing states, we cannot afford not to fight the legal battles over ballots with everything we have. After all, that’s what the Democrats are doing.

Back to Newsom. He has repeatedly said he won’t seek the nomination, and he firmly defended Biden’s presidency in the Hannity interview. Smart move. Coming across as an attack dog in defense of President Applesauce burnishes his progressive bona fides while he takes every opportunity to find the cameras and tell the world why Democrat policies lead to freedom and prosperity. In our cable news galaxy, in which the corporate media controls the images you see every night, it doesn’t have to be true. Newsom just has to look good and not stumble as the words flow from his mouth.

Don’t believe me? Just look around at how many people are still wearing masks.

Look, I’m still amazed Biden even made it to Inauguration Day 2021. It’s hard to imagine him getting to the first debate, never mind running an actual campaign. Democrats know this, and Biden’s approval ratings have to frighten them. Replacing him carries serious risks, because the replacement won’t have the power of incumbency. On the other hand, it gets more obvious by the day that they have to replace him if they have any hope to win in 2024. Though it’s risky, the Democrats have to consider it a net positive to get out from under his dismal approval ratings and his rapidly declining health.

My guess is Newsom is their man or will be sooner than later, and he’s a more credible liar than anyone else they have. Whoever emerges as the Republican nominee better get ready for that debate stage.

The French Laundry has nothing on the White House culinary staff.

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