Nothing seems inevitable in this crazy presidential election year, even the ultimate victory of Hillary Clinton. The former First Lady and Senator and Secretary of state and long-presumed First Woman President is on a one-for-six skid against the nebbishy self-described socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, with three blow-outs losses coming over the weekend, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has barely started leaking its case against her. She still leads in the delegate count, with plenty of those mysterious “super delegates” set to come to her rescue, but she doesn’t look any more inevitable than she was back in ’08.
The Democrats are in an anti-establishment mood somewhat similar to the one that’s been driving the Republican race,and much if not most of the party is by now eagerly embracing the self-confessed socialism of Sanders, so it shouldn’t be at all surprising. This time around the media isn’t treating the alternative as some sort of messiah, and her opponent is obligingly ignoring any of the non-Wall Street scandals that might hurt in a general election, and black and Latino portions of the party have been loyal enough provide victories in states where the white flight from the Democrats has reached a critical point, and of course there are all those “super delegates” and the organizational support of the party, but Clinton is such an awful person and awful candidate that such advantages are insufficient.
Ordinarily all that would bode well for the Republicans, but in this crazy presidential year they’re so angry at the Republican party that they’re threatening to nominate the one person in public life even more widely distrusted and disliked than Clinton, self-described billionaire and real-estate-and-gambling-and-reality-show mogul Donald J. Trump. All the polls show Trump losing to Clinton and Sanders, but his supporters remain convinced that only he will be down-and-dirty enough to prevail over Clinton, and that it takes a thrice-married strip joint owner who boasts of his affairs with married women to make an issue of Clinton’s sleazy husband, and that only someone who donated $100,000 to Clinton’s phony baloney found to get her to come to his wedding can make an issue of her blatant influence peddling, which is an interesting theory. Trump’s supporters dismiss all the polls except the one’s showing Trump with a winning plurality in the primary and recall how Ronald Reagan made up an even larger deficit in the 1980 election, which is another interesting theory, but we don’t recall Reagan doing it the same way Trump will attempt.
A recent poll from the National Broadcasting Company and the Wall Street Journal finds 47 percent of Republican women saying they wouldn’t support Trump if he were the party’s nominee, which is a disastrous number that actually understates what we’re hearing from the Republican women of our acquaintance, and as much as the down and dirty stuff satisfies some rhetorical blood lust of Trump’s supporters it isn’t likely to win many of these women to his cause. Nor is it likely to be persuasive to the eye-popping 68 percent who told the Monmouth pollsters that Trump “does not have the right temperament to be president.” Trump’s latest down-and-dirty tactics have included threats to “spill the beans” on pesky rival Texas Sen. Cruz’s wife, and a “tweet” intended to disparage her looks, and the latest polls show it’s not helping his efforts in Wisconsin. His friends at the National Enquirer have unleashed some nasty innuendo about Cruz, and it remains to be seen if that wins any new admirers of his presidential temperament.
All Republicans and an easily winnable majority of independents and even a handful of old-timey Democrats are rightly alarmed at the prospect of Clinton winning the presidency, and now they can also start worrying about Sanders winning, but a majority of the entire country have similar qualms about a President Trump, so once again nothing is inevitable. This could be a crazy enough year to have a race between a self-described socialist such as Sanders and an authentic conservative as Cruz who will make their cases for their starkly different visions and obligingly avoid anything of less importance. Or you can have Clinton and Trump, in which case the mud will fly and get all over the country, and you might even see a serious third party challenge by someone not as awful, which won’t be hard to find.
— Bud Norman