Carson for the win?
Some thoughts on your article on the Republican debate, Rubio wins Republican debate, Trump completely embarrassing – 10 November
You wrote regarding Ben Carson’s performance, ” Carson was not very impressive. His closing statement bordered on the bizarre. He’s fading.” In a conventional analysis, you’d be right. His grasp of policy in all 4 debates has been what you’d expect from a brain surgeon – ie, little. His knowledge of foreign policy is probably worse than the average American (the Chinese are involved in Syria?).
But none of that actually matters right now. Since the first debate in August, Carson has soared from middle of the pack to frontrunner, taking the crown from Trump. Republican voters appear far more impressed with his understated, calm performances than more wonkish Bush. When pressed, he can respond with fairly standard conservative points on cutting taxes and defeating ISIS.
Ben Carson isn’t fading yet. The last week of media scrutiny has made the media look bad more than it has him in the eye of the conservative voter. As voting nears it’s likely his numbers will start going down, but not quite yet. He has a base of primarily evangelical support, but I think many of those saying in the polls they would vote for him are looking for another first choice and now voicing support for a guy they like and respect. It also looks like some of them are ex-Trump supporters.
Nonetheless I see Carson as the favorite to win Iowa right now, alongside Cruz and perhaps Jindal. It’s hard to imagine a candidate that fits Iowa, particularly Iowan evangelicals better. As others have pointed out, evangelicals in the South and western states are looking for a saviour figure. Recall that in the last two cycles the state choose Huckabee and Santorum, deeply religious candidates but implausible nominees. There’s little indication Iowa will behave differently this time, although a 1st or 2nd place Cruz win could be different from the last 2 nomination cycles as Cruz is better organised in other states.
Trump has never been a good fit for Iowa. His secularism and populist rhetoric is much better suited to New Hampshire, which picked Buchanan back in 1996. Trump could win here if the establishment lane remains too crowded with Rubio, Bush, Kasich and Christie all taking a chunk of voters. If an establishment-friendly candidate wins NH, it’s hard to see how the other 3 have paths forward (if they haven’t already dropped out). The most interesting scenario is what happens if Carson wins Iowa and Trump NH…
You also write, “Rubio’s answers were crisp. He made the most sense and looked like a nominee. He was impressive.” Rubio was a standout, as always, but I noticed many US conservatives on twitter and in the media saying he sounded a bit repetitive, copy/pasting parts of his stump speech into answers.
A more serious problem is he is sometimes evasive in his answers. On the child tax credit discussion, he could have pointed out that the credit is not refundable, but he allowed Rand Paul to portray it as welfare above what a person has paid in taxes. The fact his tax and spending plans (massive tax cut including elimination of investment taxes, the child tax credit, extra defense spending, AND a balanced budget) makes little sense may not matter now, but it will in the general election. Infact, all Republican tax plans are hugely “regressive” to use liberal terminology. It’s guaranteed this will come back to hurt the eventual GOP nominee.
M Killerby, Leeds, UK
Editor, Iain Martin | @@iainmartin1
Thank you. Great letter.
Best, Iain Martin
Scotland may survive but not thrive
SIR – I write in response to your article The whining SNP is about to collide with economic reality – 10 November 2015 and as a unionist (with a small u) I must with a heavy heart agree with the sentiment in the article.
One issue which was consistently brushed under the carpet by many Yes campaigners was the end game of a yes vote. What is going to happen when the magical money tap gets turned off and Scotland has to go it alone? Scotland can raise enough revenue to survive – that was always never in doubt – but to thrive?
My nightmare always was that Scotland was sleepwalking into the wilderness where it was as far from the land of unicorns, rainbows and endless good cheer as one could get. Where instead cripplingly hard spending choices would have to be made. The SNP and the Yes campaign successfully hid all of that from the electorate but as they have to make tough choices now, I have doubts over their credibility over the next four years in Holyrood…
Peter Vine, Tonbridge, Kent, UK | @@prestwickuk
Corbyn is generally right
In response to Corbyn is right. Generals should stay out of politics – 8 November 2015
In times of war it is the Defence Minister and PM that make the decisions, but on the recommendation and advice of the armed forces leaders. They know their trade and that is what politicians’ depend on in time of crisis. To say then that they should stay out of politics when it comes to matters of defence is quite short sighted as they are in fact right in the middle of the politics of war and defence
Stuart Murray, Brussels, Belgium
Iain you are right but ( God forbid) it ever came to the crunch then someone has to act! You only have to visit places like Kelvendon Hatch to revisit the terrors that would face the PM when it happens (1983 exercise Able Archer nearly brought that scenario). If firing commences then retaliation has to follow (any way if UK is wiped out the the sub captains will operate independently unless that’s been changed). Russia still has the doomsday weapon & it’s not certain what its current status is. Hopefully in the event of of launch I would hope the the strategic forces would overrule any political inertia at that time that may emanate inside Pindar.
Frank Withers, Rochester, UK
Fears of Brexit are pants
Mr. Rohac’s comments in Concerns over Brexit are not scaremongering – 11 November 2015 are all very well but why must he, like so many other commentators, make such bold and sometimes improbable assumptions. I will focus on two.
Firstly, the premise that banks congregate in London because of its access to the European market. The way this is written suggests it is the only reason why this happens. Certainly it might have some bearing on financial institution’s decision making but I very much doubt that it is the dominant factor.
Secondly, the improbable claim that the United Kingdom might not have the technical expertise to extract the best terms from any reciprocal trade agreements that might be signed in the future. The underlying inference here seems to be that continental bureaucrats are far better at their job than those from the UK. Unfortunately I cannot accept that particular presumption especially when British negotiators would be armed with an intimate knowledge of the UK’s largely service centric economy. Their Brussels based counterparts would surely be pulled in a number of different directions trying to account for the specific requirements of economies as diverse as Germany and Greece.
Of course all change will incur some risk and that comes with the territory but the choice to be put in front of the British people is complex and nuanced. Concerns over the outcome are legitimate areas for discussion but Mr. Rohac needs to be more balanced than this.
Howard Tolman, Epping, UK
Would the “liberal democracy” that Mr. Rohac feels underpins the EU be the very same democracy that imposed over 3,500 new laws on British commerce between 2010 and 2014 that have never been voted on by the British electorate? Might it also be the same liberal, democratic organisation where policy is dreamed up by Commisioners we never voted for and have never heard of? Forgive me if I am thinking of somewhere else.
Nicholas Stone, England, UK | @@NicoStone1
M&S will still sell me pants made in China and my local BMW dealer will not shut. The financial implications for the UK will be small either way. A small percentage of the population will be worse/better off, but most will not even notice. No companies will leave or invest in the UK because of Brexit providing politicians in the EU and UK do not behave stupidly after the vote.
However when I vote to leave the EU, I will do it because I think that my potential grandchildren are better being governed by bad politicians from Westminster than worse un-elected politicians from Berlin, Athens, Brussels, Madrid, Paris and Sofia.
Gerry Markham, Brentwood, Essex, UK