It is no secret that the establishment media wants Jeb Bush to be the Republican nominee for president, preferably matched against Hillary Clinton so the establishment wins, no matter who gets elected.
Standing in the way of that goal is Donald Trump who thus far has managed to deflect virtually every attack on his candidacy and still sits atop all the so-called 'polls' – including those published after contacting fewer people than the average attendance at a Clinton campaign event.
The media was agog last month after Carly Fiorina proved herself to be a competent debater, especially after she is handed softball questions that a third-grader could have anticipated. Yet, despite a quick bump in the 'polls' she began a slow, steady decline into campaign trivia oblivion, right alongside Bush.
This should come as no surprise as it appears to be an intended result. Fiorina makes a good personal impression and has sufficient wit and intelligence to prevail for an hour or two. But the expected result of pushing one candidate to the top, or near it, is that people will start looking closely at this week's version of "The Chosen One."
When voters started taking a closer look at Fiorina they didn't like what they saw. Fiorina got an early boost because Trump made fun of her looks, a faux pas that she rode right into the GOP debate. That proved to be just enough to move the people who actually are contacted for the 'polls,' roughly 400 or so of those nebulous "leaning Republican" type people, to say Fiorina when asked for their first choice.
Fiorina also was touted as a business expert who had broken the glass ceiling and worked miracles that rivaled Trump's status as a giant of business acumen. Then voters discovered that Fiorina not only was a walking disaster in the business world, but that she also had mocked California Senator Barbara Boxer in Fiorina's wildly unsuccessful campaign to be US Senator, in a manner akin to Trump's mocking of Fiorina.
The more people looked, the less they liked and down went Fiorina. Which was exactly what the media wanted. Why? Because her demise is just one step toward the eventual elevation of Bush, and is tied to the yet-to-be released campaign strategy of showing Bush as a fighter who is in for the long haul.
But Trump, against all establishment expectations, is still atop the 'polls,' even brushing back a vigorous surge by neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and the steady presence of Sen. Ted Cruz, who would be this season's anti-establishment favorite were it not for Trump. Carson was supposed to be knocked out of the race, right along with Fiorina after he made some supposedly politically fatal comments, including one that devout Muslims shouldn't be president unless they are willing to denounce Sharia law and really mean it when they swear an oath to uphold the US Constitution.
But instead of driving Carson down, his honesty and forthrightness rocketed him out of the pack to a place virtually on Trump's heels, if you believe the 'polls.' Remember, these supposedly scientific surveys have a margin of error of about 5 percent, which renders them meaningless. If, for instance, the poll says Trump has 25 percent and Carson has 24 percent, it really could mean that Trump has 30 percent and Carson has 19.
Or that Trump has 20 and Carson has 29, or any combination of numbers in between. Bush, who garners 6 or 7 percentage points, could actually be the favorite of as few as 1 or 2 percent of the "leaning Republican" respondents. In other words these 'polls' are irrelevant with the exception that Trump, Carson and Cruz consistently are at the top despite the flaws in the methodology. But that should soon change.
Bush's campaign is starting to get really, really nervous. First you have Bush claiming that he has enough money to last out the primaries right through Super Tuesday – the date when enough states hold primaries to allow a clear front runner, or runners, to emerge – March 1 this year. That statement is intended to quell the big donors' butterflies.
Then you have the Bush campaign mocking Trump – the latest oh, so clever, bon mot, came from a Bush campaign official who referred to Trump as a Zombie. What wit, what a display of elitist intelligence over the crude, blue-collar worker dressed in a Sunday-go-to-meeting suit. Just the kind of comment to drive more voters to Trump.
In the Bush world, upstarts like Trump, Carson, Cruz and whomever may still be hanging around, should be knocked out of contention on March 1. (Cruz's stubborn refusal to fade away already has been noticed, with Jeb's brother, ex-President George, publicly opining that he doesn't like Cruz. More on that issue in another column.) Bush will then emerge as the knight in shining armor who shall sally forth and slay the Clinton dragon. Just like Mitt Romney did to Barack Obama. Or not.
But Trump keeps hanging in there and even though the media reported that he had slipped in their 'polls,' they now are reporting that he is again on the rise. The explanation is that Trump is rising because after looking over his competition the voters still like Trump better. Better than Carson, or even Cruz.
Meaning, Carson, who enjoys the 2nd place standing in the 'polls' is next to feel the full weight of negative media on top of his campaign. I mean, after all, we can't have a surgeon as President of the United States can we? He hasn't even held elective office!
So look for a series of "revelations" about Carson, or 'gotcha' questions in the next debate, that are intended to drive out yet another strong contender. Cruz is already on the hot seat, and once he and Carson are eliminated, Bush will then unleash $100 million in negative ads against Trump. The ultimate goal is to render Trump, Carson, and Cruz totally ineffective by March 2.
However, there is one flaw in this strategy. It is called the voters. They seem to be a bit restless this season, eh what! Oh, and Trump has more money than Bush. And he is a better street fighter, by a long shot. Just anticipating the political battles to come should keep us upbeat and engaged long after the Super Bowl this winter. Oh yeah!