They’re Dropping Like Flies

The Democratic field has lost half since we last spoke. Not the Republicans, the Democrats! Joe Biden: gone, even if never official. Jim Webb: a war hero, gone. Lincoln Chaffee: a joke, gone. Martin O’Malley: still around, and still irrelevant.

A newish entrant, also irrelevant, is Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard professor running to protest the effect of money in campaigns, among other things. But he doesn’t really count as a candidate, in my view. He’s running on very relevant ideas, but Bernie Sanders has covered every one of them for years.

Oh and BTW… Bernie Sanders: strong. Hillary Clinton: even stronger.

Biden never was a candidate, but he was touted as the most viable possibility when Hillary seemed to falter. Webb and Chaffee never got enough traction to rise above the correction error in polling results. And that’s too bad, because subsequent debates will be less mockable, unless you’re Fox News.

Fox News, BTW, was the only cable network to drop live coverage before the Benghazi hearings ended. Rule of thumb: when your hard-on has shrunk to the size of your pinky, it’s time to put it back in your pants.

One intriguing story I heard: somewhere around either 7:30 (hour 10) or the actual hour 7 of testimony(4 p.m.-ish), came a barrage of questioning on the subject of Hillary’s email. Nothing on that subject before then. Bear with me, slowly: the left-wing conspiracy theory is that the right wing conspiracy was to wear her down and then attack, hoping to generate a moment of weakness, a filmed outburst that could be used against her in presidential campaign advertising.

Didn’t work. Her tormentors never moved her past patient exasperation. They, on the other hand, looked like clumsy gymnasts vaulting into a mud pit. Or fourth-graders trying to explain that the dog ate their assignment.

The result is that after 8+ hours of speaking, spread over 11 hours of meeting and days of TV coverage, Hillary Clinton looks more presidential than ever. Remember how exhausted Donald Trump looked after 3 hours at the Reagan Library? He does. Let’s imagine him, or half the Republican field, after 11 hours.

* * *

There are two rising stars in the Republican field: Ben Carson overtook Trump in a couple of new polls, and by a significant margin. Is this The End for The Donald? Probably not, but one can hope.

But IMO the most significant jump is Marco Rubio, now in third place. Carly Fiorina occupied that spot following her fiery debate condemnation of a non-existent portion of a doctored abortion video. And insisting on the opposite when confronted with the truth. No wonder she’s slid back down into the polling mire.

How long can Rubio stay there?

Ted Cruz is still hanging at the fringes of the top tier. Do you want to be really scared in time for Halloween? Read this frightening article about Cruz’s political acumen and the right-wing extremism that he carefully nurtures. The argument is that he’s poised to grab Trump’s and Carson’s supporters when those two finally tank. Their supporters represent half of Republican votes.

What about ole Jeb! Bush, struggling to defend his indefensible brother? He’s in fifth with no real hope of rising. Now making “deep cuts” in his campaign staff. Yesterday Fox News’ Megan Kelly asked him rather sarcastically what it would take for him to leave the race.

I’m thinking of a wonderfully snarky cartoon of Jeb!, standing at a grave with flowers in his hand and a tear in his eye. The tombstone reads: “2016 Election Chances” and a passerby cynically snarks at the grieving Bush, “Stuff happens.” Now there is some effing justice.

So: will the nomination battle be between the Cuban (Rubio) and the ex-Canadian (Cruz, of the Cuban father)? And the winner then losing to a woman in the general? Next thing you know, they’ll legalize weed.

* * *

I want to note the range of topics covered in the Democratic debate before that event gets too far away in the rear view mirror. Each subject deserved a memorable moment, and most got one. These are just some:

Gun Control: Here, as nearly everywhere else this year, the conversation immediately drifted into mental illness. That’s unfair, when you consider that the mass murdering gunmen who have been convicted so far, were found to be sane. But what DO you call mass murders? Their acts are certainly insane.

So is the gun lobby’s success in blocking mandatory background checks. But in their defense, the crappy existing system of background checks (sometimes) is also insane.

Syria: No one offered anything that sounded like a workable strategy. Clinton pledged no “boots on the ground,” but also leadership—form a coalition. How do you do that without committing troops? She also noted, ominously, that “We are already flying in Iraq and Syria.”

Except to say that Russia was in the wrong for bombing opponents of Assad who also happen to be informal allies of the U.S., no one had any good options for dealing with the ambitious Mr. Putin, either.

Do black lives matter, or do all lives matter? Shame on CNN/Anderson Cooper for this trick question. As I wrote in an earlier column, the real question is: Why does it seem that black lives do not matter?

No one had an inventive answer, just the usual “We have to do something.” Hillary did lots better a few months back, with Believe that people can be persuaded to do the right thing. Then pass laws and enforce them.

And on another occasion, “You can’t change hearts. Change laws instead.” She may not have tons of charisma, but she has an excellent unxderstanding of How Things Work.

The Patriot Act, Edward Snowden, the NSA, eavesdropping in general. Jim Webb’s remarks on these subjects are the only thing I recall—perhaps because they were scary. He wasn’t against collecting data, and believe me there is a trillion terabytes of eavesdropping saved somewhere. Webb’s point was that it could be hacked and this ought to be destroyed after a suitable period.

They won’t be, of course. Someone will keep them until the media they’re stored on disintegrates. The only comfort I get is that there’s so much data, browsing through it with any efficiency (and thus effectiveness) is probably impossible.



“On Wall Street, fraud is a business model.”


“Congress doesn’t regulate Wall Street, Wall Street regulates Congress.”


“Republican Sympathizers” (what other word do you always hear before “sympathizers”?)

“Isn’t it Obvious?” (how she’s not Obama’s 3rd term)

Intransigent Republicans

Sanders: People must vote. Young people must demand change. People must come together. Vote! He’s absolutely right, but actually getting those “kids” to the polls has always been the problem.

Obama had an excellent ground game in this area. Using skills he may have learned as a community organizer! I hope that the Democrats adopt it in some form for all subsequent elections.

The top story at this link is thematically consistent with my feeling that Clinton is a more effective politician than Sanders, and thus better equipped to parry with intransigent Republicans.

And not least: she’s been hit so many times, she’s impervious. Like Bill, she can read the signs and act accordingly. But she’s also able to stand her ground and fight when necessary.

Does that mean more would get done, or less? I’m ashamed to say that at this point in my life, I’m more interested in drawing enemy blood. After so many years of non-cooperation, I’ve come to believe it will take a few, and maybe a lot, of broken Republican noses to generate cooperation. That’s a contradiction, but I see no evidence that being nice Obama-style has worked at all.

Remember how Iran released the hostages on the same day that Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as President in 1981, before he had a chance to act? God help me, I’m dreaming of using fear that way. I’m hoping that Hillary has that effect on the Republicans: she could show up at her election victory speech carrying garden shears with blood-red handles, and her enemies could recall Tucker Carlson’s infamous quote “…when she comes on television, I involuntarily cross my legs,” protecting their crotches as they run away.

It’s a fun fantasy. And I’ll give Carlson some credit: he’s willing to eat crow—or in this case, shoe—when it’s time to pay off a bet: Hillary feeds Tucker a cake shoe.

Political Survivor #23

Written by

Steve Schlich is retired after 35 years of writing fiction about software: “easy to use,” “does what you want,” and the like. Hobbies include webmaster for, writing songs and short stories. In 2004, he created, a website chronicling the naughty public art in Washington, D.C. He lives happily with his wife and cats, north of San Francisco.

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