The 2016 Presidential Election: The View from 30,000 Feet

Queen Hillary officially threw her crown into the ring last Saturday.  Let the games begin.

I hear it was a good speech, with a touching topper being a little vignette about her mom’s childhood.   I hear Hillary touched lots of issue bases as well.   Maybe not a home run, but she gets credit for a line drive double at least.

That is unless you can’t stand her to begin with.  Her and her husband, Bill, the potential first FGOTUS.   (doesn’t work as well as FLOTUS or POTUS, but that mirrors the unshaped nature of what would be a ground breaking, possibly risque role, that of first gentleman).  

Who among us that remembers the Lewinsky scandal can think of “cigar” in the same way as before?  But it certainly is interesting to contemplate POTUS Hillary and FGOTUS Slick Willy, isn’t it?   A curiosity factor that might sway the vote of the Kardashian and Housewives of Almost-Every-American-City fans, as yet an untapped demographic.

My tone might suggest I’m one of those who can’t stand the Clintons.  But that would be wrong.  It is not that I love them but I do respect their abilities not only as politicians but as rulers.   What I can’t stand is what the Republican party has become ( a few election cycles ago I would have voted for John McCain for president had not GWB grabbed, maybe stole, the nomination).

Whatever.   The key illumination was flashed decades ago by that now dead but once larger than life character/writer/womanizer Norman Mailer:   “Americans don’t vote for someone, they vote against someone else.”

And I’ll be voting against all those Republicans out there.    If either Bush III or Ohio Governor John Kasich survive the endless night of the long knives otherwise known as the Republican primaries I might think about it a bit, but I’m still likely to vote for Hilary.

She is at least as smart and as tough as those guys with much more experience of the inner workings of Washington and other capitals around the world, in short the  most capable.

I still like and respect President Obama, but my sad conclusion is that he is too professorial to be a great president, especially in these chaotic, confusing times when it comes to the world order.  Far preferable to a gun slinger like “W”, who shot our way into the Iraq mess, but still not quite up to shining in an admittedly impossible job.

I’m hoping Hillary is the best of both.  At least, no one is better prepared to be our next president.

As for her campaign thus far, I like the slow roll out.  What’s the rush?  Who’s queen here anyway?  From 30,000 feet she’s all one can see.   Everyone else needs growth hormones.  So, keep em guessing, all those detractors in the press and the other party who are just waiting for more targets to stab.

And one thing in her favor is her trio of democratic challengers, who are more sparring partners than detractors, especially Bernie Sanders, the foremost, the rarest of politicians in that he says largely what he thinks, and has for many years.  But he is a self-proclaimed Socialist.  Reminds me of the book The Scarlet Letter, though his is “S”.   Sort of a Democratic version of Ron Paul, with that sort of chance.

Let the Republican phalanx  of candidates slash and dash each other playing king of the small hill (sorry Carlie, but like Charlie Tuna…) .   Mount Hillary will await for the survivor.  Most important for the queen right now is to craft an image that is fresh and fun (I mean, within reason here), to counter Clinton fatigue and the image Republicans will continually paint as “a third term of Obama’s failed policies” along with being one Clinton too many, old old hat.

Here’s the big picture:   Most of us already know who we will vote for as president.   Either Hillary or almost anyone but Hillary – we probably need to set some parameters lest we include Charles Manson and such, perhaps drawing the line just past Donald Trump, but you get the picture.

There are tons of polls, but I can’t find one that simply asks:  If the election were held today, who would you vote for?  Hillary or someone not Hillary?  I’d be interested in what they’d come up with.

I agree with those who argue that there are really very few “independent voters” these days.  The Dem-leaning, but relatively  impartial professor, columnist, etc. Larry Sabato estimates real independents to be around 5%.  Things have become too polarized.  When the bullets are flying, you are either on one side or another.

I’m a case in point.  I think of myself as independent, but I’m really a Democrat by default.    Hillary has my vote barring some truly icky skeleton popping out of the Clinton closet. (Please, Bill…..no.)

These next 17 months of trench political warfare which most of us will come to loath is aimed not at we vast majority of decideds, but at the 5%  of the fully fickle. If you have followed this blog for years perhaps you recall my story about my bartender friend Bob, who made up my one person poll prior to the 2012 election.

As to the question of who he was voting for, he said:  “Well, I don’t like Obama, but Romney is a Mormon and they’re really scary.  Maybe I’ll vote for my dad.  He’s a good man.” I think in the end Bob wound up not voting.

In any case, think of him in upcoming months as you are being strafed by attack ads through your TV screen or hand grenaded via your mail box, its not aimed at you.

It’s all Bobs’ fault.

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Evaluating the Presidential Candidates for 2016

Here is the proper response to the title above:  “Are you effing kidding me?”  That has been my reaction when seeing THE NEXT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION seeping into many discussions of politics right now, on TV and in print.   Didn’t we just inaugurate this president a few days ago?  MSNBC pundits and guests seem the most addicted to jumping ahead to 2016.    Not all of them, but Chris Matthews was positively drooling even prior to the last vote at the prospect of an H. Clinton vs.  Chris Christie contest.   Chuck Todd’s Daily Run Down often speculates on that next big election day, too.  And their sickness is contagious.

Horse race

Could that be Hillary in front?  (Photo credit: Boston Public Library)

They call themselves the “place for politics” but they should call themselves The Great Race Place. I’ve spent a few decades involved in horse racing, so I’m familiar with gambling addicts.   These people are similar, but instead of gambling, they are addicted to the race itself.    Having the big early favorite in their stable, Hillary Clinton, juices up  their excitement.   They love comparing her chances with, oh Joe Biden I guess among the Democrats, but more so vs.  several potential Republican rivals whose every action is evaluated in terms of their jockeying for position in that NEXT BIG RACE.

I have a few words to say about the matter, which might add to your irritation, but then I’ll shut up for two years, or so, unlike so many others.   If Obama’s second term is judged to be more positive than negative, and if Hillary wants to run, she very likely wins.   No surprise there.  If  for some reason she doesn’t run, then the race opens up among Democrats and the door opens for Republicans.

Chris Christie is the big horse in the Republican barn, and I’m not referring to his size.  Though he’ll need some skillful navigation through the wreckage of his own party, elements of which would rather be right than elect a President( “right” as in far right).    In  a country hungry for a politician who doesn’t envision a focus group reaction before every word he says, Christie is unique and could give Hillary a good fight if nominated, especially if bad things happen over the next four years that Democrats can be blamed for.

As for the other potential Republican candidates?  I don’t see Paul Ryan at all.  His plan to balance the budget by 2040 didn’t make sense and now he’s talking about balancing it by 2023, without new taxes.   What?  Also, consider this:  No VP candidate in a losing race has ever become president.   My guess is that Christie sensed this if he did not know it.

Jeb Bush’s name is often tossed around and he was an effective, popular governor with sensible thoughts on an immigration policy, not to mention fluent in Spanish with a Latina wife.  All that could help with a needed boost in the Latino vote.   Maybe in four years he won’t seem like one Bush too  many.   Our American inclination towards amnesia as to unpleasant pasts could help.   If Christie upsets enough big donors and others on the right, Jeb’s stock would likely jump up.

Governor Bobby Jindal says some good things, but his record in Louisiana conflicts with them.  Also, if you recall, he bombed giving a Republican reaction to a presidential State of the Union message awhile back and I can’t see him in the top spot now.   Not yet.   Senator Marco Rubio maybe, but he needs to show more, like help shape an immigration policy both parties can buy.  Unlike potential rival Rand Paul, he asked some good questions in the hearings with Hillary Clinton on Benghazi, so perhaps the chatter about his rising star status has some validity.  I’m not convinced yet, though again, if Christie takes a tumble, he along with Jeb seem likely to benefit most.

As for Rand Paul, forget him.  When he stated at those hearings that had he been president, he would have fired Hillary after Benghazi, I can only imagine her thoughts which she wisely kept to herself.  Maybe something like:  “YOU fire ME?  Listen piss ant, I know up close and personal what it takes to be president and you’re no president.”

So, that’s basically all you need to know right now about the next Presidential race.   Unless some surprise candidate pops up and picks up steam.   Here is one long shot.   Suppose Hillary doesn’t run, Joe Biden would be an OK Democratic candidate but no shoe in, so how about a real  surprise:  Cory Booker.   He is going to run for the Senate and if he wins and does a few things to catch attention there to build upon his reputation as a popular Newark mayor, who occasionally turned super hero, saving a citizen here and a dog there…???

A contest between the Jersey boys.  The press would eat it up.  Maybe the crew from Jersey Shore would get press credentials, too.  And whoever won, Bruce Springsteen would still play at the inauguration in the spirit of togetherness.   You never know.  Who was Barack Obama back in 2004, four years before the election of 2008?