Thursday, March 03, 2016


Political Mayhem Thursday with Guest Blogger Publius

Over the past three weeks, I have allowed some of my wise and insightful friends to guest-blog about the presidential election. Waco Farmer opined on the state of the race, and then IPLawGuy gave a very reasonable argument in favor of John Kasich (who remains surprisingly unsuccessful, to my mind, given his experience). Then, last week, my dad weighed in convincingly on the candidacy of Bernie Sanders.  This week, I am taking the unusual step of allowing someone to guest-blog anonymously.  This friend, though, both has a good reason (work in the public sector) to remain anonymous, and is remarkably even handed. 

This may well turn out to be the worst general election in my lifetime. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both terrible candidates. They are inauthentic, self-obsessed, speak in generalities, and are prickly and defensive.  Their flaws have been ignored for reasons I cannot understand. Yet, they both are products of parties that have lost their way. A pox on both of their houses!

Let's begin with "Hillary," as she seems to want to be known. I suppose this is to humanize her, but the attempt is as manufactured as everything else about her (except her face-- to her credit, she seems to have avoided plastic surgery).  The only other candidate to try this first-name gambit was Jeb!, and it came off as silly.

The Clintons, in whole, are so compromised by big money, so saturated in scandal, so bereft of a moral compass, that is surprising that they are still in business. Hillary seems shocked-- shocked!-- when people question her taking $650,000 from Goldman Sachs as "speaking fees." I think she is genuinely shocked, because in her world taking huge sums of money in exchange for influence is simply the way that the world works.  Bernie Sanders' almost-whispered critique is exactly right: how can someone take that much money, personally, and not be corrupted? It defies everything we know about human nature.

Yet the Democrats have set the table for the return of the Clintons for over a decade. Hillary became, almost magically, the Senator for a state she had not yet really moved to (remember, she was elected in November of 2000, when she was, in fact living in Washington, DC, in the White House).  Then, in some remarkable stroke of luck for her presidential candidacy, she was able to burnish her foreign policy credentials by become Secretary of State in 2009.  What luck!  These two experiences, which arrived on butterfly wings at just the right time, are held out as her vaunted "experience." I suppose that compared to lightweight first-term senators like Obama, Cruz, and Rubio, it is relatively significant, but does not compare to a number of previous presidents, good and bad. Johnson? Ford? Even George H.W. Bush had much more experience.

And now, for reasons that are equally mysterious, labor seems to fawn over a candidate dedicated to trade deals like NAFTA, and African-Americans are in thrall to someone who supported nearly every recent federal initiative that has hurt black people.  How does this happen?

Of course, she will probably win.

That is because Republicans have chosen Donald Trump, or at least seem poised to do so. That is, Republican voters are; the Republican intelligentia seems mortified.  I can't imagine why, though, since Trump represents everything they have been about for the past decade, which is being against everything. Republicans have had no interest whatsoever in actually governing lately. Instead, they are interested in opposing whatever the other side might come up with. Were Obama to simply take a Republican proposal and make it his own, Republicans would stand in protest and scream in outrage at the President's proposal. In fact, they have done just that in some specific instances, including cap-and-trade and some aspects of the ACA.

Having made outrage their principle value, Trump is the candidate that best embodies it.

So why are the power players upset?  Perhaps because they know they cannot control the dialogue once and if Trump is elected.

What can be done?

Democrats can and should demand integrity.

Republicans can stop embracing obstreperousness as their principle virtue, starting with the naming of a new Supreme Court justice.

And we voters can listen to whoever else emerges.

-- Publius

Admittedly, I had not clue as to the meaning of Obstreperousness but I didn't hesitate to look it up. Unfortunately, most of those in the Trump camp (that I have met) wold never do so: from the Oxford Dictionary-

1.noisy and difficult to control:
"the boy is cocky and obstreperous"

synonyms: unruly · unmanageable · disorderly · undisciplined ·

I can't wait to use this word in a sentence some day. Perhaps in my Haiku
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