Collins, solo

In “An Iowa To-Do List” Ms. Collins says Republicans have a choice of so many good targets to send packing.  Here she is:

Iowa Republicans have a lot of choices on Monday, none of whom bear any resemblance to the second coming of Abraham Lincoln.

They’re not going to pick a paragon. But maybe they could at least get rid of somebody awful. Ted Cruz? Please, Iowa, if you could do anything to knock Ted Cruz out of the race, the country would be grateful. I know he has supporters. But the intensity of loathing among the rest of the population is very strong.

In Iowa, Cruz has been attempting to overcome his personality handicap by visiting every single one of the state’s 99 counties. That’s a sort of tradition, among candidates who don’t know how to prioritize. It didn’t even work on television for Alicia Florrick’s husband on “The Good Wife.” Who, admittedly, was under the handicap of having gone to jail for using public funds to hire prostitutes.

Probably Cruz felt that since he had failed to endorse Iowa’s most beloved government subsidy — the ethanol program — the least he could do was make his way to the town of Fenton, population 279.

Cruz spent most of this week’s debate sniping at Marco Rubio — and Iowa, if you could get rid of both these guys, it’d be appreciated. I know that’s a lot to ask.

But Rubio, who used to be sort of the Boy Scout of the pack, has been getting more and more irritating with every passing day. He’s been trying to glom onto Cruz’s religious constituency, although he sounds less like a young evangelist than Eddie Haskell on “Leave It to Beaver.” During Thursday’s debate, Rubio was asked about a magazine cover that called him the “Republican savior,” and he quickly announced that the only savior was “Jesus Christ who came down to earth and died for our sins.”

Cruz and Rubio are both the offspring of immigrants, and both have a stupendous record of duplicity when it comes to the issue of what to do with more recent arrivals. First Cruz loved all legal immigrants, then some not so much. He offered an amendment to allow undocumented immigrants to stay in the country, then claimed it was only a ploy to destroy immigration reform. Rubio went from immigration hard-liner to bipartisan reformer — cynics say because he wanted to cozy up to Republican donors. Then he changed his mind entirely when the Tea Party got steamed.

Donald Trump, of course, was not around for that debate. We are not going to spend one more second discussing him except to point out that at the counter-event he staged for veterans, he introduced his daughter Ivanka, who is very pregnant. If the baby came over the weekend in Iowa, that really would be a kind of coup. Even better than the time Senator Christopher Dodd tried to win Iowa by enrolling his child in a kindergarten there.

So many worthy targets for political elimination, but is there a Republican we’d want to see Iowa keep in the game? I do look forward to future Republican debates when we could play a drinking game based on every time Chris Christie mentions 9/11 or says “… as a former federal prosecutor.”

Probably not Ben Carson. Granted, he’s a candidate who’s easy to listen to, since it’s hard to hear anything he’s saying. But Carson probably hurt his chances when he responded to a question about Russia by saying “Putin is a one-horse country.”

How about Jeb Bush? Bush really picked up some steam when Trump vanished from the stage this week. And he seems to have made peace with the family-dynasty problem by simply embracing it. At the debate he described George I as “the greatest man alive” and George II as “my brother, who I adore.”

There was also the requisite bouquet to his mother, although nothing weird, like Jeb’s recent announcement in New Hampshire that he loved his mother more than his dad. Who tells a room full of strangers that you like one parent better? Remember the rule about always saying that you love each of your children equally? Works both ways. Even if it’s not true, you stick to the code.

How about Rand Paul? He can be a little strange — we never did get past that day in the Senate when he ranted on about environmentalists ruining his toilet. But at least he’s interesting. And he does do a lot of free eye surgery for the poor. Plus he cuts his own hair. And he’s pretty good at making fun of Ted Cruz.

Or John Kasich? He’s the only candidate who brings up religion and then suggests that God might like to see our government spend money on the sick and the mentally ill. And if you wake up on Tuesday and read “IOWA PICKS KASICH” you’d know that there was a genuine miracle.

The truth, of course, is that someone awful will win, and nobody will go away. There’s still hope. And New Hampshire! Equally cold, but only 10 counties.

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