In my lifetime I've approached a number of elections with apprehension. I suppose that's natural. We all want "our guy or gal" to win, but this is the first election that I've had a deep sense of foreboding. Frankly, there is only one character running that I have any inkling could actually be a good president: Ohio's John Kasich. He is the only one who hasn't slid headfirst into the pig slop with the rest of his opponents. And he actually seems to know what he's talking about. The others, not so much.
Knowing what you're talking about doesn't carry much weight in 2016. Ask Jeb Bush. Sometime soon, they are going to figure out how much each vote cost Bush's campaign. It's going to be astronomical. They spent $130 million and got zilch.
I could give a pretty good critique on each candidate, but what they have said about each other is anything but civil debate. Thursday night was no exception. Here are a few observations.
After Sen. Marco Rubio rebooted from his poor debate performance where he got stuck on stupid, he remembered he wasn't running against President Obama as much as he was trying to draw him into the contest. While he was using that strategy, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump were busy kicking his tail and each other's. Now Cruz and Rubio are wondering what happened as "The Donald" could run the table on Tuesday.
Although few probably noticed, when Cruz had his moment in the CNN Town Hall spotlight (a much better format than the fake debate style used by CNN and the other networks), the host asked him about his citizenship. Cruz gave a good answer. He mentioned the "settled law" concerning his mom and other candidates born outside of the states, but noticeably absent in his answer was any mention of his father, Rafael Cruz, who at the time of his birth in Canada was a Canadian citizen. No, I'm not playing the birther card here. Cruz's mom is American, and that makes him an American even if he was born at the South Pole. I just found it interesting that he failed to utter his dad's name.
Dr. Ben Carson was obviously a gifted physician, but was he ready for the world of politics? Nice guy, sure, but he found himself in a knife fight, and he was the only one without a scalpel.
Do I really have to tell you more about Trump? Mark my words. If Trump wins the Republican nomination, Hillary Clinton will be the next president, and the Republican Party as we know it will collapse under the weight of his hair.
And here is another troubling thought for the GOP. There are 34 Senate seats up for election this year, and 24 are held by Republicans. If Trump is the standard bearer, how many of those seats will go down in flames with him? A swing of plus-five gives control of the Senate to Democrats and at that point, Republicans will be looking at a bleak scenario.
If they maintain their stance not to talk to an Obama nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, and what I've described takes place, they will have traded the chance to seat a moderate appointee for no voice at all, further damaging the GOP brand if there is anything left of it.
I take no pleasure in any of this. I am not a Hillary Clinton fan. I'm Clintoned out. Too much drama. It follows her around like the dust cloud at the "Peanuts" character Pig Pen's feet. At least Bill had mojo.
I like to listen to Bernie Sanders, but actually, he and Trump are saying the same things, just in different ways. Both are telling voters what they'll do, but without a realistic way of paying for it. There is not enough discretionary money to fund free college or build a border fence and man it, while funding everything the Pentagon says it needs or wants. Oh, and pay down the debt, too.
I can't help but hear Bugs Bunny in the back of my head stuttering "That's all, folks," because I think we've gone "Looney Tunes."
Charles E. Richardson is The Telegraph's editorial page editor. He can be reached at 478-744-4342 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tweet@crichard1020.