Monday, February 22, 2016

Making Oxford Great Again

Never got around to recording those South Carolina predictions on the site here, but much discussion on the state of US affairs over pre-match pints and the Oxford Tube to/from the old stomping grounds on Saturday, as the race came in mostly as expected.

Fairly intense feelings of nostalgia on the brief tour - wandering Cornmarket, past the old chip-wagons, to the back room at the Eagle and Child for Fish and Chips, Rachmaninoff's second symphony at St. Peter's Chapel (with its glorious, heart-breaking adagio), getting lost and found en route to the Turf courtyard (hint: turn into the hole-in-the-wall under the Bridge of Sighs) before a final walk past various clubs with kids in line outside in tails and white bowties getting id'ed, and the favoured weeping willows before the late night bus back out.   Seems so strange to imagine it as a place where I spent ten months as a student more than ten years ago...

I wonder what my reaction would have been, if you had found me coming out of the Examination Schools in June 2005 and told me that I would be back in February 2016, now a Partner at McInnes Cooper and over in the UK for an ocean energy conference in Edinburgh, wearing a red "Make America Great Again" Trump hat as a bit of an ironic joke / conversation starter?  I no doubt would have laughed, and no doubt have been satisfied at hearing the chronology of travels around the world to come in the ensuing years, and no doubt been quite excited about my three nephews and now one niece that have recently arrived into the world to be spoiled and corrupted by their uncle.  It would have made for quite a laugh and story-telling over many pints, I am sure.

The wearing of the Trump hat in Oxford on the night of the South Carolina primary certainly did not fail in its intention to provoke.  Lots of confounded looks, double-takes, and angry mutterings.  I particularly enjoyed the guy who came over during the symphony's intermission to ask if I was wearing what he thought I was wearing, and who then called me a hero for wearing such a hat to such an event.  Also the three international guys sat in front of us, who just could not accept that I was serious, especially after my half-hearted attempts to stay in character floundered at the absurdity of repeating Trump's own words in response to their questions.  And finally the British girl at the Turf, who came over to sit down with us at last call to find out on behalf of herself and her friends, what the story was - to determine, in her words, whether or not I was an asshole.  The clear implication being, of course, that serious support of the Donald would qualify me as such.  Trump is still very much a joke abroad, a reinforcement of all the worst stereotypes that Europeans hold in thinking of America.  His nomination, if it comes, and the campaign to follow will be even more impossible to explain.

So can he win?  I think the concensus of the writers here is that the nomination seems very much his at this point, as hard as that is to believe.  Even with the tide coalescing around Rubio, it is far from clear whether and when Marco can even win a state, as Trump continues to hold massive leads among the actual voters.  Cruz is far too disliked at this stage to be considered a serious challenger either, and unless all his support ends up flowing to Rubio (which seems very unlikely) then it is really hard to see what trips Trump up.

The other wrinkle we have been discussing is that Trump may have a straightforward chance to begin to assuage the GOP elites and avoid the looming possibility of a divisive convention by simply choosing Rubio as his Vice-President.  Rubio is not running for re-election to the Senate, so it seems a no-lose proposition for him.  He helps in the swing state of Florida and would clearly relish the role of Hillary attack dog.  Most importantly, it positions him - win or lose - as the presumptive nominee for the Republicans in 2020 against Hillary's second term assuming she wins, or (gods help us) 2024, after the second term of President Trump.

Ha.  Now there are words I certainly would not have imagined writing a few months ago, let alone back in 2005.  What an election year this is.


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