by Rod D. Martin
November 13, 2015

Most important political fact of the week: The consolidation of a clear Final Four in the Republican primary race.

Anyone watching the debate saw this. Cruz and Rubio owned the night; Trump, though more reserved (more presidential?) held his ground; and Carson, though underwhelming, didn’t slip. Everyone else (except the unusually obnoxious – even for him – John Kasich) was filler.

As of this writing, we’re still awaiting a post-debate national poll. But plenty of other polls bear this out, in a grinding, relentless sort of way that must seem utterly surreal inside the Beltway (and in Coral Gables). As of this morning Trump and Carson are statistically tied in Florida (24% and 23%), with Rubio close behind at 18% and Cruz at 12%. The most recent Iowa polling shows an almost identical picture (though Bush is much further behind). A new Georgia poll shows Carson leading Trump 26%-24%, Cruz in third at 14% and Rubio in fourth at 9%.

It gets worse, from John Kasich’s perspective at least. In South Carolina it’s Trump 25%, Carson 21%, Cruz 15%, Rubio 13%, everyone else at the kid’s table. In liberal New Jersey, it’s Trump 31%, Carson and Rubio statistically tied at 16% and 15%, Cruz and native son Christie statistically tied at 8% and 7%. One Reuters poll actually has more people saying they won’t vote than people saying they will vote for Jeb.

This is not at all how things were supposed to go.

The Establishment has long pretended that these were symptoms of “Silly Season.” That’s starting to prove unsustainable even for those in deep denial. The New York Post reports that Republican bigs are trying to draft Mitt Romney, a man who bitterly bowed out in January due to Jeb Bush’s “inevitability,” to save them.

This is at least as poorly thought-out (and poorly timed) as Bob Dole’s endorsement of Jeb Bush and assault on Ted Cruz. One almost wonders if some of Ted’s big Super PAC donors paid for that one: if they didn’t, they should have. We’ll see if Romney miscalls things as badly a second time.

Jeb’s Super PAC money will keep him alive, unless his poll numbers erode so completely that he is relegated to the kid’s table debate: his dignity could not survive so grim a fate. But no, Mitt Romney can’t save anyone. The Final Four exist precisely because of people like Mitt. And that’s going to be the most important political fact for quite a while.

But the second most important political fact this week – or some week soon – may be the coming seduction of John Kasich.

Imagine you’re Hillary Clinton watching all this. Here’s John Kasich, openly angry at the existence of most of his opponents for the second debate straight, proposing a regulatory scheme in which he gets to decide whose bank deposits are and aren’t protected (he’d probably have liked having that power while he and his Lehman Brothers partners sparked a global financial meltdown) and expanding Medicaid like he’s Bernie Sanders.

Don’t you just almost have to bribe him?

I mean, don’t misunderstand: I’m not saying Hillary Clinton would ever do anything corrupt.

But offering someone incentives to switch parties isn’t strictly bribery, depending on the incentives. And wouldn’t that be a hoot: have someone the left has always labeled (ludicrously) a “right wing extremist” switch parties because “I didn’t leave my party, my party left me.” It would serve the narrative that the Republicans are too far out of the mainstream (the past several elections clearly don’t bear this out), it could help position Hillary as a centrist, and it would unquestionably help her chances in Ohio, without which Republicans cannot retake the White House.

How much it would help is an open question. Kasich (did you see the debate?) is shockingly annoying: he’s a scolding, unfriendly Jar Jar Binks. A lot of Ohioans would probably punish him for a party switch, and it’s hard to see Ohio Dems warming to him.

Still, if Charlie Crist can switch parties – after presenting himself far to the right of Kasich – why not? And there might even be something short of VP that could bring him over to the Dark Side.

It bears watching.

It wasn’t in America, but the third most important political fact of the week may be the Russian resurgence, or at least the perception of same (as we explained last week in “The Ruination of Russia,” the appearance and the reality are very different). You saw a hint of it in the debate: Rand Paul’s channeling of his father’s isolationism draw boos from the crowd and set up some of Rubio and Cruz’s best moments of the night.

But there’s more coming. Putin is kicking butt in Syria, and gaining ground for his old buddy Assad. And last week, no longer able to count on America, Afghan leaders – yes the same people Russia spent the ‘80s grinding to powder – begged Putin to intervene in their fight against the Taliban.

The Afghan thing is a particularly ugly commentary on the Obama/Clinton foreign policy: it almost writes its own TV ads. But it won’t have to. Plenty of others will be writing them soon enough.

The fourth most important political fact of the week may seem a bit odd to you, but bear with me. It was the left’s odd response to the news that, contrary to all the climate models and all the news we’ve heard for decades, the Antarctic ice sheet is actually growing by an astonishing 112 billion tons a year. Moreover, it has been growing all along.

So what is curious about this? Insert your own thoughts here, but I’m going to focus on this one: no one on the left thought this was good news. And that’s very important indeed.

When I was a child, I was taught by my third grade teacher that in science, we don’t talk about “facts”: “theories” are the highest level of certainty that may realistically be attained, because we are always to question everything. This idea, once referred to as “the scientific method,” was charmingly held as sacrosanct, and with almost a religious fervor.

No longer. This week we heard Bill Nye the Science Guy give an extended rant about the need to silence all who disagree with his beliefs. He wasn’t alone. New York’s attorney general launched an “investigation” (read, intimidation campaign and shakedown) into whether ExxonMobil “lied about climate change.” And a Rasmussen poll found that 17% of Americans – and a whopping 27% of Democrats – want to prosecute anyone who disagrees with them on the subject.

I remember when Democrats used to side with Galileo.

Well Galileo was right and the Pope was wrong, you might say, and that’s a fair point so far as it goes. But that scientific method thing immediately rears its head. It’s easy to agree with Galileo’s version of the facts hundreds of years later. But the weight of all science was against Galileo at the time: probably as many as “97% of all scientists” disagreed with him. So should he have been silenced? That’s the logic in play.

27% is a lot of people, especially when they want to put you in jail over things very few (if any) of them understand.

It also tracks with what we saw this week on America’s campuses. At Mizzou, a (liberal) college president was driven from office because…well, no one at Missouri seems to know why. Less dramatic but more important, students demanded that two Yale professors be fired because…wait for it…one of them suggested that students should decide for themselves what sort of Halloween costumes they should wear.

It would be easy to dismiss this as normal campus foolishness. But it isn’t. The demand for “safe spaces” – literally places in which no one may disagree with you, even inadvertently, without being punished – is consuming higher ed: it’s also destroying any hint of academic freedom or, for that matter, First Amendment rights. Nowhere was this better described than in this week’s The Atlantic, a liberal journal horrified by the current illiberalism.

So what we’re seeing, and it is certainly our most troubling political fact of the week, is the rise of (for lack of a better word) fascists. Brown shirts. Large numbers of people who want to punish what Orwell termed “thoughtcrime.” It is more than PC run amok. When 27% of a major political party (and just to be clear, 11% of the other one) want to jail everyone who disagrees with them, your country has a problem.

The next President is likely to name as many as four Supreme Court justices. That’s likely to matter.