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The Next 362 Days

Has it really been seven years and three days since President Barack Obama’s first inauguration? The calendar says so, so we have already begun marking off the more or less Constitutionally-guaranteed final 362 days of his presidency on our wall with the grimly optimistic impatience of a prisoner awaiting the end of an unjust sentence, but as bad it’s been it somehow doesn’t seem like seven years and three days.
Our memory of that first inauguration, which entailed such unforgettably nauseating coverage by the adoring press and such a rapturous reception by the public at large that it seemed more of a coronation or canonization or even a messianic anointment, remains so vivid that it seems just yesterday. We still recall sitting in a car dealership waiting for some annoying automotive repair with nothing to read but a Time Magazine with Obama as Frank Delano Roosevelt on the cover, and pulling into an ice-covered parking lot on some chore while listening to a radio report about some school district someplace that voted to make Obama’s first inauguration a National Holiday when the kids didn’t have to go to school, and all the good-looking celebrities pledging their allegiance to the new leader and the choirs of cute children singing the new leader’s praises,and all our liberal friends swooning, and how even some more or less Republican types were writing they liked the cut of this Obama fellow’s jibe and the crease in in his trousers. Ah, it truly does seem only yesterday.
Yet how far we seem have travelled in time, given what we find in the news and hear from our varied friends these days. By now the big issue was supposed to have been the hasty repeal of that nasty Republican-inspired 22nd Amendment so that Obama will be allowed to serve a third term, and how the upcoming Chicago Olympics will allow the world to celebrate his new era of global peace and prosperity and hip-hop coolness, but we can no longer find any of that among even our craziest friends or the most fervid reaches of the internet. Instead we awake to the current date’s news and rub our eyes and look about and we note that Obama seems but a minor player these days, albeit an annoying one, and that along with brief mention of the dour economic and foreign affairs news most of the talk is about the strange stew ¬†of politics that is lately ¬†brewing in the red-hot metaphorical pots of both parties. The past seven years of hope and change have both parties in an anti-establishmentarian mood, with wildly divergent ideas about what to do, even if the moderate moderate wings of both parties somehow survive the revolutionary zeal, and that glorious inauguration-coronation-cannonization-annointment and moment of more or less national faith in the new leader seems so very long ago.
Former First Lady and Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is running for a third term of the First Black President as the First Woman President, which somehow makes sense to a significant portion of Democrats, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating some pretty darned serious charges about everything from her un-secured e-mail account to her family foundation’s hefty donations from the dubious countries she was dealing with as Secretary of State, that whole First Woman President thing is being undermined as her perv husband’s countless scandals are suddenly viewed by her own stated standard that victims of sexual assault should always believed, and there’s all that one-percenter kind of money she’s racked up from the Wall Street slickers which she’s now obliged to rail against after the past seven years, and even her promises of an another eight years just like the past seven aren’t playing well with Democrats.
Seven years and three days after that historic inauguration-coronation-canonization-anointment day, almost all of the Democrats we know are by now so fed up they’re itching to itching to go full-blown and self-described socialist along with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. That long ago dawn of the Obama is not so far ago that they’ll ascribe the new leader any blame, but they all seem to reluctantly concede that their leader did not dare to go quite far enough to have reached that once-promised land. Some Republicans still persist, they glumly note, along with all their noise about illegal and legal immigration and terrorism and a sputtering economy heading for a scary downturn, along with their unaccountable lack of concern about global warming and transgendered rights, and there’s still all that white privilege and social injustice and whatnot out there, and all in all they can’t disguise a certain disappointment with the past seven years of hope and change. Sterner stuff, they seem to believe, is required.
The Republicans and the conservatives and the populists and the anti-establishmentarians and the independents and the moderates and whatever else you want to call the majority of dissatisfied America are by now worse than disappointed. There’s currently a mad scramble for their votes among the Republican presidential candidates, and oy vey, is that a mess. Through-thick-and-through-thin Republicans such as ourselves don’t have to choose between another seven years of Wall Street-financed socialism and a baggage cart full of scandals or an even more outright socialist, but we find ourselves wading into internecine battles over conservatism that we didn’t anticipate just seven years and three days ago.
Gee aint it funny how seven years and three days, out of our mere three score and seventy, slips away.

— Bud Norman

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Whatever Happened to the Democratic Race?

A few of our neighbors have planted “Bernie ’16” signs in their lawns, enough of them that we pass by one on any route out of Riverside, but otherwise we might have plumb forgotten that the Democratic party is also having a presidential primary race. The only mention of it we’ve seen lately in the press was Foxnews.com’s report on how the press isn’t mentioning it, and the matter rarely comes up in conversation.
There are perfectly innocent explanations for this, of course. Conventional wisdom and the most up-to-date polling hold that Hillary Clinton’s coronation is all but inevitable, and the Republican race has the attention-grabbing presence of Donald Trump, so it’s understandable that any editors with an eye on circulation figures or overnight ratings would go where the action is. Still, there’s something slightly suspicious about all that silence from the Democratic side.
We’re always suspicious of conventional wisdom and up-to-date polling, for one thing, especially when it doesn’t quite jibe with the anecdotal evidence we encounter in everyday life. Just about every Democrat we know is for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, his yard signs and bumper stickers and lapel pins seem to vastly outnumber Clinton’s around here, and we haven’t yet heard anyone express anything resembling enthusiasm about a potential Clinton presidency. Even if those up-to-date poll numbers are correct the Clinton lead isn’t so large Trump’s in the Republican race, and the conventional wisdom hasn’t yet resigned itself to his inevitability, so for now at least her nomination doesn’t seem any more a foregone conclusion than it was the last time she ran.
As recently as last summer there was a flurry of news about Clinton’s use of a private and unsecured and most likely illegal e-mail server, which led to a renewed interest in her failed Libya policy and the resulting murder of an ambassador and three other Americans in that anarchic country, and the big and enthusiastic crowds that Sanders was drawing was also a hot topic. The e-mail scandal continues to unfold, and there was some slight attention paid to the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation assuring that a strictly apolitical criminal investigation also continues, which seems a rather big deal, and so far as we can gather from scattered local newspaper reports Sanders is still packing the young folks in and racking up a large war chest from small donations, which is slightly reminiscent of the last time Clinton ran and turned out to not be inevitable, yet the stories have stopped.
Last summer’s coverage of the Clinton campaign was so uncharacteristically harsh that we assumed it was intended to clear a path for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Vice President Joe Biden or any other remotely credible Democrat to get into the race, but Warren and Biden both bowed out and there was a sudden realization that there are no other remotely credible Democrats, even by Warren and Biden standards, and ever since we’ve heard only that deafening silence. Better by far to focus on the Republican race, and to give Trump 25 times the attention paid to the rest of the field, and to make sure all coverage has that familiar sorrowful tone about it. The Democratic party’s big-wigs are doing their part by scheduling few debates, scheduling them against the most popular sports broadcasts on Saturday nights, and making sure the candidates are both boringly nice to one another. With Sanders pitching in by stubbornly refusing to go negative, despite the target-rich environment Clinton offers, and despite an anti-establishment sentiment among the Democratic base is that every bit as palpable as the more widely remarked one on the Republican side, we don’t expect to hear much about the Democrats until convention time.
It might work, but we can’t recall the last time any party won a national election by staying out of the news.

— Bud Norman

The Democratic Panic

Although the presidential election is still more than 15 months away, and the odious Donald Trump is currently atop the polls in the Republican race, it’s none too early for the Democrats to panic. The situation is now so desperate that such names as Vice President Joe Biden, former Vice President Al Gore, and current Secretary of State John Kerry are being bandied about.
Ever since she lost in ’08 the conventional wisdom has assumed Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic presidential nominee for ’16, but on this date in ’15 it no longer seems so wise. All the opinion polls have lately been brutal, with majorities of Americans finding her untrustworthy, a plurality of Democratic voters in the crucial first primary state of New Hampshire preferring her self-described socialist rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and her lead over potential Republican rivals in swing states has evaporated. The press has lately been just brutal, with apologetic reports dripping out about the Federal Bureau of Investigation involving itself in the matter of the private e-mail account she used to conduct public business, which naturally reminds everyone of the past 23 years of Clinton scandals, and then there’s the problem that she’s an inept politician and a thoroughly unlikeable sort and too tied up with corporations to pass muster with a currently far-left Democratic party. As hard as it is to abandon seven years of conventional wisdom, we’re not surprised to Democrats scrambling for a Plan B.
It is a sign of how very panicked the Democrats are, though, that such names as Biden, Gore, and Kerry are being bandied about. Biden is such a gaffe-prone doofus who has failed in two previous attempts at the presidency that even the leftist clowns at “Saturday Night Live” have taken notice, Gore is by now mostly associated with the “global warming” hysteria that the gleefully carbon-emitting general public isn’t the least bit hysteric about, and Kerry is the guy who lost to someone named Bush and has since negotiated that lousy Iran-gets-a-nuclear-bomb deal that all the polling shows the the public absolutely hates, and except for that faux-Indian woman from Massachusetts who thinks that businesses don’t have to hire security guards because the government is doing such a good job of keeping us all safe, it’s hard to think of a more plausible name the Democrats might come up with. The Democratic party’s current panic seems entirely justified.
Our guess is that the odious Trump’s current poll-leading twenty-something numbers are an absolute ceiling on his support, and won’t suffice when it gets down to a two or three man race, or a two man and one woman race if former computer company executive Carly Fiorina continues to surge, and that he’ll affect the general election only if his formidable ego compels him to run as a third-party candidate.n The eventual Republican nominee will likely be someone with a successful record of political leadership, with far fewer scandals than Clinton, and despite the best efforts of the media will be conspicuously less ridiculous than Biden, Gore, Kerry, or even that faux Indian woman from Massachusetts, We figure they might as well go with Sanders, who seems a likable enough fellow despite his self-described socialism, but coming from the virtually all-white state of Vermont he’s having trouble with the black vote, which is lately booing down his reasonable claim that “all lives matter” and is unaccountably loyal to the Clinton name, and if Obama were to come out for his Vice President or current Secretary of State rather than his mere former Secretary of State that would likely shift the black support and leave Clinton’s already troublesome poll numbers caving. A Gore candidacy would also peel off a significant number of Democrats nostalgic for the era of Hillary Clinton’s husband’s presidency, so almost any scenario makes Clinton’s previously assumed coronation all the more doubtful.
The Republicans could still screw this up, and the odious Donald Trump seems determined to make that happen, but as of now we can see why the Democrats are the ones in panic mode.

— Bud Norman