“The Adventure of the Silver Blaze” is a Sherlock Holmes mystery that introduced a meme into our culture: the importance of an event that didn’t occur. While investigating the disappearance of a famous race horse, Holmes had this brief encounter with Inspector Gregory of Scotland Yard.
- Gregory: “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
- Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
- Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
- Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”
Long advertised as the day that clarifies the Presidential race, Super Tuesday was – well – not so super after all. No dog barked, and that was both curious and significant. Going in, the leading contenders in both parties seemed on the verge of delivering a knockout blow, but neither succeeded. Still, Hillary and The Donald remain odds-on favorites.
In fact, in a way, Tuesday’s results were a resounding success for Donald Trump, not just because he won seven states in all regions of the country, but because he lost just about the right number. Cruz took his native Texas, neighboring Oklahoma, and in a bit of a surprise, Sarah Palin’s Alaska. He survived and emerged as the prime but limited contender to Trump. Rubio eked out one win, in the Minnesota caucuses, which is enough to justify remaining in to test his mettle on March 15 in his native Florida. Even also-ran John Kasich put up a good enough fight in Vermont to bolster his fantasy of triumph in the rust-belt contests to come. Thus, Trump’s competition remains divided but defiant. For the while, no plausible real contender to him emerged, and that bodes well for the coming winner-take-all contests. If he had planned all this, Trump could not have calculated better.
The possibility of a brokered convention remains and is openly discussed in the Cruz and Rubio camps. Cruz’s interest is absurd. He would no more emerge as the candidate of the party bosses than would Ralph Nader. But it does provide a flicker of hope for Rubio. I have commented on this before, but there is one fatal flaw in this last-ditch plan. How on earth could the establishment contrive to select someone other than Trump while hoping to enlist his millions of devotees for the election to come? That would certainly fracture the party in ways not seen since the disastrous divorce of Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft in 1912.
Some inventive if desperate establishment spokesmen have conjured another way out. Let’s join the two Trump opponents in a marriage of convenience, they whisper. I am not sure that a Cruz/Rubio ticket would do much better than either has done independently, but that is the idea. The other way around is less plausible since Rubio has underperformed and is currently even behind in the polls in Florida. Some point to the unexpected ticket of arch-rivals Kennedy and Johnson in 1960. I view that comparison as a gross slander on two giants of the Democratic Party.
Meanwhile, Hillary rode a wave of resounding support from the black community to victories across the south, plus a somewhat surprising but tight win in Massachusetts. Sanders did well, winning a scattering of four states. His message has caught the hearts if not the minds of Democratic voters and Hillary would do well to tread gently in opposing him. Still her delegate count continues to build convincingly. Only some kind of terrible blunder or outside shock can stop her now.
However, Sanders has every reason to continue his quixotic endeavor through all fifty states as he has repeatedly declaimed, and his campaign coffers are overflowing. But I couldn’t help noticing that the personal toll seems to be great. In recent speeches, even those celebrating victories, his voice seems weaker and his gestures more subdued. For a 74 year-old man, he appears robust but a modern campaign for President is a physical and mental endurance race, and it has really only just begun. Can he keep this up? We shall see.