Don’t you just love the American political process? Especially in the times through which we now pass, so fraught with fear and uncertainty. If you were to take it all too seriously, you would certainly be justified in believing that we live in the time of the great circling – around the drain, that is. As the esteemed conservative commentator David Brooks observed this week in the New York Times, most of the presidential candidates wallow in “The Pornography of Pessimism.” But say-hey, it needn’t be that way. One can still find reason to be both optimistic and resilient. How, you ask? Well, by simply trying to find the mirth if not outright belly laughs provided by the whole whirligig of the primary season.
If identity politics is your bag, this is the year for you. Diversity in appearance, gender and ethnic origin abounds! Diversity of thought and opinion however, remains a distant second. To illustrate what I mean, let’s examine the candidates, from my left to your right. Bernie is Jewish, Hillary is a woman. In the moderate center…….. checking……………………still looking………………………let me get back to you on that. Okay, over on the right we have two Cuban – Americans, one nasty and one only fifteen years old, one African-American who sleeps a lot, a Bush millionaire suffering from sibling rivalry, two other white governors of various shapes and sizes (Whoops! One just packed it in and rolled back to Trenton ) one certified billionaire – entrepreneur – reality TV star with bad hair. There was a woman running as well, but she was laid off by the party “elders”.
Last week, we were treated to two New Hampshire Primary debates. Hillary and Bernie duked it out first, with Bernie subtly painting Hillary as the establishment Democrat on the take from Wall Street and any other special interest willing to pay her $600K for a motivational speech. He had the good taste not mention the top secrets that she reportedly left on the family laptop. Hillary countered with the observation that Bernie is nothing more than a Don Quixote, able to tilt at windmills but unable to accomplish anything of note. Did I say note? Hillary made it clear Bernie sings only one – the current economic swan song of the poor and middle class. A musician friend of mine agrees that Bernie is a one-note candidate, and opines if he fails to get elected, Bernie’s gesticulations can always get him a job directing a symphony. But overall it was a respectful and in some ways informative debate. Bernie even followed it up with an appearance on Saturday Night Live, posing as a hapless passenger on the Titanic. Probably not a good harbinger for his campaign. But Bernie’s fate is in the hands of the voters. Hillary’s may be in the hands of the Justice Department.
During the Republican New Hampshire free for all, Dr. Carson suffered a moment of stage fright and refused to step out onto the debate floor until prompted by Mr. Trump to “Man up, Ben!” New Jersey Governor Christie took umbrage to Senator Rubio’s sudden rise in the polls and threw his weight around the stage in intimidating fashion. He ate Senator Rubio’s lunch, terming him a diminutive politician whose deepest insight was identifying Barack Obama as the only person in Washington who,”Knows exactly what he’s doing.” This stammered the esteemed Senator who spent the remainder of the debate looking like he had suffered a catastrophic underwear failure after mistakenly taking Dulcolax instead of Mucinex.
Donald Trump managed to tout his vast business success while ignoring his four bankruptcies, failed casinos, failed airline, failed marriages, failed publishing house and failed university. He also managed to insult all of the others on stage, immigrants, China, Mexico, etc. etc. That wall is going up even though the President of Mexico says they won’t pay for it. And rumors abound that Canada is considering building one to keep us out. (The Niagara Falls tourist area excepted, of course)
Jeb!, tried to breathe some life into a campaign that up to now has been a real sleeper. Mostly, he just came across as Bushed.
Senator Trust Ted Cruz reinforced the notion that he is smart, nasty and a two-faced. He apologized to Dr. Carson for having “mistakenly” reported to the Iowa Caucus voters that Ben had passed away and willed all his votes to Ted. Then he attacked Ben for being stupid, slow and out of his league. Sorry, Ben.
John Kasich tried to act as the frustrated grown-up coping with a classroom of unruly sixth graders. He was……and they were.
The circus moves south for the cold weather where undoubtedly more bizarre happenings await us. Stay tuned.
*Authors note: I’m putting the finishing touches on this one while watching the South Carolina Republican debate. Oh. My. God…………………….