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On a night when Sen. Rubio exceeded expectations, Gov. Jeb Bush, who finished with 2.8% of the vote in Iowa, sounded totally unlike his dad and his brother. Gov. Bush sounded like a total sourpuss, saying “Speaking of Rubio and Cruz Monday night, Bush said they don’t have the experience to win. And the two other candidates that are likely to emerge in Iowa are two people that are backbenchers that have never done anything of consequence in their life. They’re gifted beyond belief. They can give a great speech. But I think it’s time for us to recognize that maybe what we need is someone who can lead.”

Bush’s supporting super PACs spent almost $25,000,000 attacking Sen. Rubio in the hopes of building Bush up. Rubio far exceeded expectations, finishing with 23.1% of the vote in Iowa. Meanwhile, the guy who thinks we need “someone who can lead” finished a mere 20.3% behind the guy who Jeb thought should wait his turn. That doesn’t sound like a guy who entered the race saying that he wanted to run a joyous race. That sounds like a bitter man who didn’t see this impending defeat coming.

What’s particularly insulting is Jeb’s suggestion that Sen. Rubio is incapable of leading people. Part of leadership is understanding what’s important to people, then offering a vision that inspires them to achieve their goals. If there’s anyone on the GOP side that can do that, it’s Sen. Rubio. Half the battle of leading is directing people to where they already wanted to go. People want to prosper. Sen. Rubio offers that. People want to feel safe from the advances of ISIS. Sen. Rubio certainly passes the commander-in-chief test.

People have tried crippling Sen. Rubio’s campaign by saying he’s an inexperienced first-term U.S. senator. It’s indisputable that he’s a first-term senator but that isn’t a strike against him. When Barack Obama started running for president, the truth is that he was just 2 years removed from being a state senator in Illinois. He spent the first 2 years playing politics and not taking policy seriously.

That isn’t what Sen. Rubio did. Sen. Rubio took his responsibilities seriously on the Intelligence and Armed Services committees. He learned national security issues until he could recite them backwards or frontwards.

The Bush dynasty should go into hibernation. The American people aren’t interested in dynasties.

The latest Monmouth University poll shows Donald Trump with a 7-point lead in Iowa. It’s a lead that doesn’t exist at this moment. According the poll’s horserace numbers, “Donald Trump earns 30% support [with] Ted Cruz [at] 23% support when likely caucusgoers are asked who they will caucus for on February 1st.” Marco Rubio finished with 16%.

The bad news for Mr. Trump’s supporters is that “the current poll estimates turnout will be approximately 170,000 voters, which would far surpass the 122,000 record GOP turnout from four years ago.” Yesterday, reporters on the ground in Iowa said that there hasn’t been a big upswing in Republican registrations in Iowa. In fact, National Journal’s Ron Fournier noted that Republican registrations are down slightly from 2012.

That’s proof that the onslaught of new Trump voters hasn’t materialized, at least at this point. The Trump wave will either have to happen Caucus night or it won’t happen. Projecting a record turnout is one thing. It’s quite another to project a turnout that would be 50% bigger than the record turnout.

Decreasing the turnout projection to 130,000 voters, which would still be a record level, puts the race in a tie at 26% for Trump and 26% for Cruz, with Rubio at 15% and Carson at 12%.
“Turnout is basically what separates Trump and Cruz right now,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ. “Trump’s victory hinges on having a high number of self-motivated, lone wolf caucusgoers show up Monday night.”

Most of the reporters on the ground in Iowa are projecting a record turnout in the 130,000-140,000 range.

The bad news for Trump-Cruz is that last night’s debate was Sen. Rubio’s coming out party. Last night, Sen. Rubio showed himself to be the only ‘complete package’ candidate in the race on either side of the aisle. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been a Rubio guy since Scott Walker dropped out. With that on the table, let’s get into why I was impressed with Sen. Rubio.

It wasn’t that Sen. Rubio didn’t stumble. When they got into a discussion about immigration, he took a couple of hits. It’s that he focused much of his attention on his vision for the economy and foreign policy while training his attacks on Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and President Obama. Sen. Rubio’s quip that Sanders “would be a good president — of Sweden” was followed by him saying “We don’t want to be Sweden. We want to be the United States.” It was the best line of the night.

During his speech from the Oval Office Sunday night, President Obama called on Congress to trample innocent people’s civil rights in the name of national security, saying “To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security.”

That’s interesting since the Washington Free Beacon reported that 72 employees of the Department of Homeland Security are on the Terrorist Watch List. Either there are lots of terrorists working at DHS or that list isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. I suspect it’s the latter. Either way, using that list to deny people the right to protect themselves would be a great injustice to the law-abiding people on that list.

That doesn’t mean I think everyone on the list is innocent and should have the right to purchase weapons. What I’m saying is that the TWL isn’t airtight and shouldn’t be used to determine a person’s civil rights status. Sen. Rubio explains it perfectly during this interview:

If people want to read a good fictional novella, I’d recommend that they read Rand Paul’s op-ed. What Sen. Paul’s op-ed misses in serious policies, it makes up for with sensationalism and old-fashioned BS.

Early in the article, Sen. Paul reveals his goal by talking about Hillary Clinton’s and Marco Rubio’s “liberation foreign policy.” After that, Sen. Paul’s op-ed reads like a letter from an angry child upset that nobody’s paying attention to him. There’s good reason for that. Sen. Paul’s upset that nobody’s paying attention to him. There’s a reason for that. He’s sounding more and more like a not-quite-as-crazy-as-his-dad-noninterventionist.

First, Sen. Paul’s accusations are without merit. He’s basing his statements on a myth. Early in the op-ed, he said “When I forced the Foreign Relations Committee to debate an authorization of military force against ISIS, Senator Rubio and McCain insisted that the new authorization be unlimited temporally or geographically. Basically, they want a war without end against an undefined enemy in an unspecified region of the world.”

I don’t recall Congress putting a time limit on FDR after Pearl Harbor. I don’t recall Congress giving FDR permission to declare war on Japan but not on Germany and Italy. War is, by its chaotic nature, open-ended time-wise. I’d be worried if Sen. Rubio and Sen. McCain agreed to give President Obama an AUMF that had an expiration date. That’s the definition of insanity.

This sounds like a petulant child:

Senator Rubio wrote the President at the time that he saw “no legal reason preventing” him from using his “commander-in-chief” powers to attack ISIS. His letter makes no mention of the Constitutional requirement to seek Congressional authority.

There’s a reason for that. The AUMF that the House and Senate passed gave the president, then George W. Bush, the authority to go after terrorists “with global reach.” ISIS definitely fits that definition.

As we enter into the season of determining the next Commander in Chief, I hope voters will seek out a leader who will learn from history and not pursue a reckless policy that seeks to liberate the world but in reality traps us under a mountain of debt and beguiles us into perpetual war.

I hope that voters will learn from recent history that the terrorists haven’t quit fighting a war against us. Sen. Paul apparently hasn’t figured it out that we don’t quit fighting a war if the terrorists haven’t quit waging war against the United States. That’s the definition of national suicide.

Sen. Paul isn’t concerned with preventing terrorist attacks. The thing that he’s most worried about is “mountains of debt.” It’s time he figured out how to fight the terrorists while reducing the debt.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think that Donald Trump didn’t have a clue about foreign policy. I’m thinking that because Mr. Trump thinks that going into Afghanistan after 9/11 was a mistake but thinks that bombing the s— out of ISIS is smart.

During an Oct. 6 appearance on CNN, Mr. Trump said “We made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place. It’s a mess, it’s a mess and at this point we probably have to (leave U.S. troops in Afghanistan) because that thing will collapse in about two seconds after they leave.” Of course, Trump denied saying that, telling Alisyn Camerota “We made a mistake going into Iraq. I’ve never said we made a mistake going into Afghanistan.”

Everyone’s seen the video of Mr. Trump talking about bombing the s— out of ISIS. That’s when he said “ISIS is making a tremendous amount of money because they have certain oil camps, certain areas of oil that they took away. They have some in Syria, some in Iraq. I would bomb the s— out of ’em. I would just bomb those suckers. That’s right. I’d blow up the pipes. … I’d blow up every single inch. There would be nothing left. And you know what, you’ll get Exxon to come in there and in two months, you ever see these guys, how good they are, the great oil companies? They’ll rebuild that sucker, brand new — it’ll be beautiful.”

According to Trump’s logic, if it can be called that, it was a mistake to go into Afghanistan and kill the terrorists that planned, then executed the terrorist attacks on 9/11 but it’s a beautiful thing to “bomb the s— out of ISIS” even though ISIS hasn’t attacked the United States … yet. In what galaxy does that make sense in? I don’t have a problem with going after ISIS. Readers of LFR know that I’m down with that.

I’m questioning why Mr. Trump thinks it was a mistake to go into Afghanistan to demolish the terrorists that attacked the US on 9/11. Does Mr. Trump think that defeating the Taliban and sending al-Qa’ida running didn’t protect the United States? If Mr. Trump thinks that, then he isn’t too bright.

Actually, I think Mr. Trump is bright. I just think he speaks first, thinks later, if even then.

Finally, Sen. Cruz criticized Sen. Rubio for promoting the establishment of a no-fly zone that would slow the onslaught of Syrian refugees but he hasn’t criticized Mr. Trump for saying invading Afghanistan after 9/11 was a mistake. Sen. Cruz and Mr. Trump deserve each other.

There’s no question about whether Ted Cruz is a skilled debater. Apparently, though, his debating skills are limited. Sen. Cruz thinks that political opportunity outweighs the need for honesty and intelligence. This time, Sen. Cruz thinks that creating a no-fly zone in Syria is foolish.

During his interview with Bloomberg, Sen. Cruz criticized Sen. Rubio and Mrs. Clinton “for supporting a no-fly zone and arming the so-called moderate rebels. I think none of that makes any sense. In my view, we have no dog in the fight of the Syrian civil war,” he said, arguing that Rubio and Clinton “are repeating the very same mistakes they made in Libya. They’ve demonstrated they’ve learned nothing.'”

Sen. Cruz should be ashamed of himself. Saying that a no-fly zone is a mistake is a mistake. I suspect that he knows that but he couldn’t resist the opportunity of linking Sen. Rubio and Mrs. Clinton. Building a safe haven, which a no-fly zone would do, might cause a dramatic reduction in refugees leaving Syria.

Is Sen. Cruz foolish enough to think that a dramatic reduction in Syrian refugees fleeing their country is a mistake? Seriously? Is Sen. Cruz foolish enough to think that potentially reducing the number of ISIS terrorists using the crisis to get into western Europe and the United States is a mistake? If he is, then he isn’t qualified to be commander-in-chief.

I don’t think Sen. Cruz is that stupid. I think, though, that Sen. Cruz can’t resist being a political opportunist, even if that means being dishonest.

“If the Obama administration and the Washington neo-cons succeed in toppling Assad, Syria will be handed over to radical Islamic terrorists. ISIS will rule Syria.”

Sen. Cruz, establishing a no-fly zone is the opposite of toppling Assad. It’s simply creating a safe haven for victims of Assad’s brutality. It wouldn’t require but a handful of US boots on the ground while protecting Syrians.

If you want to talk about learning from the past, let’s look into how establishing a no-fly zone in 1991 in northern Iraq created Kurdistan. The US protected the Kurds from Saddam Hussein after Operation Desert Storm. Now the Peshmerga, the Kurds’ army, are one of our best allies in the Arab world. If that’s Sen. Cruz’s definition of a mistake, he should visit dictionary.com. Their definition of mistake is “an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc.”

I’d argue that protecting the Kurds and creating a loyal Arab ally in the heart of the Middle East is a success story.

When then-Candidate Obama ran for office in 2008, he sounded an optimistic tone, constantly talking about “hope and change.” A month into President Obama’s administration, President Obama’s governing motto morphed into “We won.” President Obama killed bipartisanship a month into his administration. It’s been downhill since. Salena Zito’s latest column highlights President Obama’s boorish behavior last week in the aftermath of ISIS’s terrorist attacks on Paris.

Ms. Zito noted that the definition of leadership “is guidance, direction, inspiration, motivation. And, at a moment when our nation felt most vulnerable and needed reassurance that the man in control was looking out for our welfare, we found ourselves irrevocably disappointed. Americans wanted sober, serious and authoritative. What they got was prickly and tone deaf.” President Hope and Change hasn’t listened to We The People since the passing of his failed stimulus bill. We saw the last of President Hope and Change about 3 years before the end of his first term.

Pressured by reporters about his strategy for fighting ISIS, his ill-tempered response offered no direct answer. Instead, he sharply rebuked his critics before doubling down on his tepid, ever-changing policy for taking on the terror group.

President Obama is too narcissistic to admit that he’s gotten virtually every major foreign policy wrong. It isn’t just that others might’ve done details differently. It’s that they wouldn’t have been foolish enough to offer Russia a reset button or negotiate with Iran, the biggest state sponsor of terror. They definitely wouldn’t have held a Rose Garden press conference to announce that he’d traded 5 top terrorist generals for an American deserter.

Ms. Zito got the ending right:

The majority of Ameri­cans are not behind Obama’s plan to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States, according to Bloomberg and NBC News polls conducted last week. The fear felt by Americans crosses both parties, and it is not unreasonable. In such a time of crisis or doubt, a president’s purpose is to calm our fears, not to put on a professorial hat and declare, “I am right and you are wrong.”

The fact is, Obama will never change; anytime he is backed into a corner, he not only puts on that professor’s hat but he also blames whatever problem exists on Congress and, inevitably, divides the country still further.

That is not leadership — but it sure is politics.

President Obama failed Leadership 101 in college. That’s why he’s spent the last 7 years as the Divider-in-chief.

When President Obama told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that ISIS was contained hours before ISIS’ sophisticated terrorist attacks in Paris, it was done in response to people’s concerns that President Obama’s strategy wasn’t working. What it revealed, however, is how dishonest the administration is.

When Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser, was interviewed by CNN’s Jake Tapper, Rhodes said “What we’ve been able to do is stop that advance and reclaim territory, going on offense with our partners on the ground, most recently retaking the strategic town of Sindjar, which cuts off the supply line between Raqqa, Syria and Mosul in Iraq.”

Let’s be clear about this. While the US military has performed valiantly, this administration has tied their hands with counterproductive restrictive rules of engagement. Further, it’s dishonest to hear Deputy Rhodes distract attention away from the important consideration of whether ISIS terrorists have the capability of conducting sophisticated terrorist attacks anywhere in the world. It’s nice to hear that ISIS is contained geographically. It’s important that we know that ISIS can’t inflict mass casualty terrorist attacks in Paris or Washington, DC.

Finally, the truth is that President Obama hasn’t contained ISIS geographically. ISIS has temporarily chosen not to expand geographically, devoting more of its resources to killing western infidels than on expanding its geographic footprint.

That isn’t a soothing final thought.

Normally, Kirsten Powers is one of the somewhat sane liberals in the national media. Ms. Powers’ latest USA Today article proves that there’s an exception to every rule.

The subject of Ms. Powers’ latest column is last week’s Benghazi hearing. According to Ms. Powers, who seems to have digested the Democrats’ chanting points then regurgitated them for this column, Republicans “bungling and bullying at Thursday’s hearing should count as an in-kind donation to the Clinton campaign.” Of course, Ms. Powers then said that what “happened in Benghazi matters” before saying that “investigating security failures, especially those that resulted in the deaths of Americans, is a laudable endeavor.”

Unfortunately, she then asked “does anyone really believe that’s what the Republicans were up to last week?”

The reason I suspect that this is a world-class spin job is this question:

But is it really a mystery as to why a friend of at least two decades would have her email address?

That’s spin. It isn’t surprising that Sid Blumenthal would have Hillary’s email address. It’s that Christopher Stevens didn’t have it. This emphasizes the point:

“During the hearing Michael McFaul tweeted, “As ambassador in Russia, I enjoyed multiple ways to communicate with Secretary Clinton. Email was never one of them.”

Actually, McFaul might’ve highlighted something important in that tweet. Clearly, he was able to “communicate with Secretary Clinton.” Why wasn’t Ambassador Stevens able to communicate directly with Mrs. Clinton? It’s clear that Stevens tried getting Mrs. Clinton’s attention often. According to documentation introduced at the hearing, Christopher Stevens literally made hundreds of requests for additional security.

According to Mrs. Clinton’s testimony, she never received a single request. She said that she “neither rejected or approved” any of Christopher Stevens’ security requests.

Ms. Powers says that “hate-blinded Republicans” bungled the hearing. That’s a cheap shot and then some. Republicans weren’t blinded with hate. They were determined to find out why Mrs. Clinton failed to protect Christopher Stevens, the man Mrs. Clinton called her “dear friend.” Is it typical for Mrs. Clinton to treat dear friends like that? If it is, then I’m thankful I’m not one of Hillary’s dear friends.

Does Ms. Powers think that it isn’t a big deal that Mrs. Clinton repeatedly told the American people for well over a week that a video caused the terrorist attack after telling her daughter that it was a terrorist attack? Does Ms. Powers think it isn’t a big deal that Mrs. Clinton told the Egyptian prime minister and the Libyan president that Christopher Stevens died in a terrorist attack?

If asking tough questions of Mrs. Clinton is bullying, then this nation’s best days are in its past. If trying to hold Mrs. Clinton accountable for her decisions is proof that Republicans hat Mrs. Clinton, then Ms. Powers has a dramatically different definition of hatred than I do. Does Ms. Powers think Mike Pompeo bullied Mrs. Clinton when he asked her why nobody at the State Department got fired for not approving Christopher Stevens’ requests for additional security? Does Ms. Powers think Susan Brooks bullied Mrs. Clinton when she asked Mrs. Clinton if she ever talked with Christopher Stevens after he was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to Libya?

Personally, I’d call those important, thoughtful questions proof that Republicans on that committee took their jobs seriously.

Finally, I’d love hearing Ms. Powers response to whether these questions are either a) inappropriate or b) proof that I’m trying to bully Mrs. Clinton.

Donald Trump has defied political gravity this entire summer. No matter what offensive thing he said, no matter who he offended, Mr. Trump’s poll numbers stayed high or, sometimes, increased. Based on this NBC-Wall Street Journal-Marist poll, that incredible run appears to have ended in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

This poll doesn’t appear to show that Mr. Trump’s numbers have leveled off. In both Iowa and New Hampshire, Mr. Trump’s numbers have dropped — significantly. Iowa’s results highlight this perfectly. In this month’s poll, Mr. Trump leads with 24%, followed by Dr. Ben Carson with 19%, Carly Fiorina with 8%, Jeb Bush with 7%, with Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal getting 6% each. That’s a sharp drop-off from September’s poll, which had Mr. Trump leading with 29%, Dr. Carson with 22%, Jeb Bush with 6% and Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul with 5% each.

It doesn’t get better for Mr. Trump in New Hampshire:

It isn’t coincidence that Trump got exposed at the last debate as not having much of a command of the issues, especially compared with Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina. Put differently, Mr. Trump is failing the ‘commander-in-chief test’.

In interviews afterwards, Mr. Trump said he didn’t want to say what, specifically, he’d do in the Middle East because he wanted Putin and Assad to worry what he’d do. It sounded to many like he was dodging the question because he didn’t have a plan.

Mrs. Fiorina in particular didn’t have a problem telegraphing her strategy. In Mrs. Fiorina’s case, she wanted Putin to know what things she’d do to Russia if she became president.