Two points emerge from the coming fog of primary politics, both pointing toward the Iowa/New Hampshire duo, that freeze the undead blood running in the cold veins of the consultant class in both parties: Sanders’ lead in New Hampshire, and Cruz’s lead in Iowa.
Nothing scares the establishment elites more than a battle royale between two uncompromising principled opponents on opposite ends of the spectrum, because it spells their own demise.
In Iowa, Sanders has been slowly eroding Clinton’s lead, although most reliable polls have her up by 9 points or more—outside the margin of error. But in N.H. the latest Fox News poll has Sanders crushing Clinton by 13 points.
One could perhaps read Sanders’ lead as a damning condemnation of Clinton, and I read it that way for various reasons I won’t get into here. Clinton-bashing is a bandwagon many Democrats would gladly ride, if Sanders comes along with just the right timing. It will give the Queen’s Court a giant case of deja vu from 2008 if “The Bern” starts to catch fire.
What’s got the GOPe (as Erick pointed out) panties twisted up is Ted Cruz leading in Iowa, with Cruz up between 4 and 10 points in the current polls. Trump should take N.H., and win it big, but Iowa can catapult Cruz into South Carolina and the “SEC primary” with a significant boost—so they say.
And both Cruz and Sanders are a good thing, according to The New Republic’s Brian Beutler (a liberal’s liberal, if there ever was one). Perceiving the Republican race with more clarity than most of the GOP campaigns themselves, Beutler wrote that betting on Cruz and Trump to mutually annhiliate so a more moderate (e.g. Marco Rubio) candidate can emerge is “borne of shortsightedness and petty spite.”
[Cruz would] also give the GOP something it desperately needs: an opportunity to purge its ranks of scores and scores of self-interested operatives and advisers who treat campaigns as opportunities to soak candidates and build networks of future clients. It would also provide a clarifying moment for the conservative movement and the rest of the country. For conservatives, it would be the first time since Ronald Reagan (or arguably Goldwater) that they’d see the Republican Party run a candidate who is a leader of the movement itself. For the broader public, a Cruz nomination would provide a referendum on the substantive aims of American conservatism, untempered for once by the unprincipled, election-driven impulse to tack to the center.
Hoo-ray! Beutler nailed it (bold mine).
Arguably, Trump would similarly freeze the hearts of the consultant class, but everyone knows that with Trump it’s all about the art of the deal. They’d find a way to weasel in; after all, a rat can squeeze through a hole the size of a dime.
Sanders would inflict incalculable damage to the sycophant brigade on the Democrat side—wiping out the Clintonista consigliere in one fell swoop, along with their cadre of filthy characters worthy of dime novels. (Like Sidney Blumenthal, whom Jonah Goldberg called a “malevolent, lugubrious political mercenary who would be more appropriately placed as an adviser to a Medici prince in the 14th century.”)
Maybe that sniffing sound you’re hearing is the establishment cronies from both parties searching for ways to return power to their masters, like the Nazgûl looking for the hobbits as they fled the Shire with the One Ring. Even now, I can feel it slipping away from their cold, undead grip.