Friday, March 11, 2016
Clearly I Cannot Choose The Cup In Front of Rubio!
I met my frienemy in the park. He sat across the picnic table from me with four covered cups. Before each of them was an index card with the names TRUMP, CRUZ, RUBIO, and KASICH. He eyed me, suspiciously.
Me: "We're doing this again?"
Him: "After I schooled you the last time, I wasn't sure you'd be back--but as you're a glutton for punishment . . ."
"YOU schooled ME??"
He wasn't listening: "You still think you're smart," he said. "So tell me? Who am I voting for."
I looked back at him: "It's the Princess Bride rules, right? Your candidate's cup is filled with some horrible soft drink and you claim you have liquid draino in the others? I choose, we both drink?"
He smiled, blandly. "That's correct. If you have the guts."
"I thought you were, bizarrely, a Sanders guy now?"
"I hate the banks." He shrugged. "But I'm still--and will always be--a registered Republican--so I have a GOP vote to cast in the Primary. How do I cast it?"
I sat back. I surveyed the cups.
"Oh--and it's just Coke Zero in all of them--but . . . I've done something to all but one."
Now his smile was real--as real as Ted Cruz's lizard-smile, anyway. I felt my blood go cold.
He nodded. Once. "Chicken?"
I watched him. Hmm.
"Okay," I decided. "I'll play." I couldn't have him thinking I was chicken.
"Make your choice, Marty McFly," he said. "Then . . . we drink."
I glowered. Was he reading my mind?
"I know your Primary Vote," I said. "It's easy. You're transparent."
"I am?" Now he was smug.
"I can see right through your oversized head." I told him.
"You can?" he waggled his eyebrows.
"I can." I asserted. More confident than I felt.
"You're stalling," he said. He was right.
"Okay--sure. You find Trump to be a buffoon and not-a-conservative who will probably lose your beloved Republican party for a generation if he is nominated by proving every negative stereotype true--so clearly I cannot choose the cup in front of Trump."
His faint nod was acknowledgement: he gave nothing away.
"If your primary goal is to stop Trump," I said, "your best bet is to vote Cruz since he is (a) the closest in delegate count to Trump and (b) the only other guy who could maybe appeal to Trump voters as he's an 'outsider.' Most analysis says that this is a two-man race: Cruz vs. Trump. If you want to stop Trump, a lot of people say Cruz is the only way to do it."
Now he grinned--just a little? A feint.
I eyed him.
"Drink?" he asked, smirking. Damn.
"Not even close," I countered. "You also know that Ted Cruz is so conservative that despite having a few good states he's hardly a favorite with even moderate GOP voters who may just sit the primary out--and he's hated by, well, everyone who knows him personally. You also know that Cruz's best chance to stop Trump is by actually winning Florida and there's no poll on earth that shows that as possible right now. If Trump does win Florida, he's going to be really hard to stop--maybe impossible. So Cruz, despite his promise, is a losing game."
I looked flatly at him: "Obviously I cannot choose the cup in front of Cruz."
Did he flinch? Was it a bluff?
He went back to stony face. "Alright then? What?"
"Not what--who. See I know in your heart that you want to believe you're a Reagan, adult-in-the-room style Republican. Old School. You like governors. If you have to sleep at night, the guy you'd like is Kasich. All things being equal. You liked Jeb, for God's sake--before he crashed like a lead balloon."
He shrugged. "Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction. It's just a cover-up by the liberal media. They moved them to Syria."
"Uh-huh." I nodded--watching him. Was he unraveling? "But you also know that if you vote your heart, it's a throwaway vote. Kasich might win Ohio and hold Trump back--but if you vote for Kasich in Florida that's a waste of a waste."
He shrugged uncomfortably. "It's an . . . embarrassing election season. What can I say?"
"You said that in 2012," I reminded him. "Clearly I cannot choose the cup in front of Kasich."
He . . . was okay with that. Crud. "So--Rubio then?" The eyebrow waggle again.
"Voting Rubio in Florida is a Trump-blocking move that might actually pay off. Polling shows that Rubio may well have banked a huge margin in early-voting and his crash last Tuesday might be improved by his strong debate last night."
"You called that a strong debate?" he asked.
"I thought Rubio was pretty sharp," I said.
"You're biased," he told me. "For obvious reasons."
"I try not to let on," I said airly.
"On the other hand, you know that tactical voting aside, Rubio is the guy who is most likely to beat your preferred candidate Sanders. He's the guy who, if he somehow won the nomination, could maybe unify the party--bring in moderates who hate Cruz. He's got a likability-factor. If you want Sanders, you want the guy who will run weakest against him. That's not Rubio. It's . . . Trump."
His eyes widened. A hit!
"Clearly," I said, "I cannot choose the cup in front of Rubio."
He sputtered. "That's -- that's all of them--so who?"
"WHAT DID YOU DO TO THE OTHER CUPS!?" I demanded. I thought I knew--but it was unspeakable.
"What you think," he said, darkly smug.
"If it's your own bodily fluid you're drinking," I said. "It doesn't count against you. The only fair way to do this is I choose Trump--and I get to, erm, violate two of the three remaining."
"That's not the deal," he said.
"I make," I told him, "only the best deals. The classiest deals. I'm an expert negotiator. You wouldn't believe the deals I make."
In the end, it was all just nasty Coke-Zero.
At least I think so.