Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Scattershooting on the Night of the New Hampshire Primary

I've been watching the results from the New Hampshire primary tonight.

Although there was much talk about how many New Hampshire voters don't make up their minds until the last days before the vote, I can't say the results surprised me. I knew what the outcome would be. I guess everyone knew what the outcome would be. Donald Trump won the Republican primary. Bernie Sanders from neighboring Vermont won the Democratic primary.

For me, the entertaining part was hearing their speeches. That's when the show really began. I heard several of them — and darned if they didn't all sound like they won, even though only two, Trump and Sanders, actually did.

First I saw Hillary Clinton give her basic stump speech, and she sounded like she had won — although she got Berned by more than 20 percentage points. I guess she was getting in some practice for a couple of weeks from now, when she is likely to win by as much — or more — in South Carolina as she lost by in New Hampshire.

I heard John Kasich's speech, in which he sounded like he, too, won, although he lost to Trump by better than two to one.

I had an odd feeling when I watched Marco Rubio.

See, I was a big fan of The West Wing when it was on the air, and I especially enjoyed the last two seasons that chronicled the rise of a Latino from Texas to the presidential nomination — and, eventually, election as president.

There were several things about Rubio that just reminded me of Jimmy Smits, who played the longshot candidate, a virtual unknown. The character Smits played was more left of center whereas Rubio is more right of center, but it wasn't most of the things Rubio said that reminded me of Smits as it was gestures, mannerisms, even pronunciations.

I have heard it said that when Smits' character was written, it was partly modeled after Barack Obama, who was a state senator in Illinois at the time but whose ambition for higher office was already well known. And Smits' character certainly had a lot in common with Obama philosophically.

But I never had the same feeling with Obama that I have with Rubio concerning their similarities to Smits' character — and, as a writer, I guess I am always looking for those examples when life imitates art.

Could that be what is happening on the Republican side this year?

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