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There Will Be Blood

PS#30

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At 11:30 on New Year’s Eve, a friend asked me what actual “new” things would come in 2016. The political junkie in me rose up in excitement and …sighed… because the answer is “not mfuch.” The Republicans, their excessive number of candidates not withstanding, sound no different than they always do—pounding their war drums while dissing Democrats on national defense, and urging lower taxes as the solution to just about everything else.

And Hillary Clinton—our likely next president—may be competent but she’s hardly new. That’s not a bad thing, mind you. IMO, most politics should be boring; I hate it when that ancient curse “may you live in interesting times” applies to world affairs <insert more sighing here> as it always seems to apply these days.

Sidebar: The fallacy of the aforementioned eternal two-point Republican strategy was demonstrated amply by W’s administration: they lowered taxes and went to war—external to the budget, no less!—and turned Bill Clinton’s surplus into the biggest deficit we ever had. Reagan, at least, managed to explode the budget without starting a major war.

But back to the boring old “nothing new here” 2016 election cycle… there is a cheap thrill on my immediate horizon: primary season is finally here and the knives are finally out. Much of the unlimited money unleashed by the SCOTUS “Citizens United” ruling is raised and held by super PACs who can’t contribute directly to a campaign, but they can buy negative ads about other candidates. And oh yes, they do!

I’m grateful to NOT live in an early primary state; I get to choose when to see these commercials (on demand, on the internet). And what of the poor voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada? Whatever you do, don’t break the Mute button on your remote!

So… pass the mud-balls, please. And duck before you take one in the face.

The Republican hordes continue to pound the “Barack Obama / Hillary Clinton” administration, of course. IMO, it’s mostly lame stuff that her enemies have been shouting for years. Consider in particular Trump’s pitiful attack ad on Hillary, which matches her up in still photos with former NY Congressman Andrew Weiner, Bill Cosby, and OMG! her husband.

There’s also an ironic serving of irony in there, blaming a woman for the sexual transgressions of men—with other women! And note if you watch the ad that Trump forgot to include the famous photo of Bill and Hillary at his most recent wedding.

Now these folks have begun pounding each other in earnest, as well. No choice, we’re in end game territory for some candidates. That gets silly attacks from the lower tier—like Rand Paul mocking Marco Rubio’s shoes.

Possibly the most prominent fight right now is between the two poll leaders. No surprise there. Trump and his birther friends from 2008 are now questioning Cruz’s “natural born” citizenship. Why? Trump is trailing him in Iowa, and so has finally jumped on the bandwagon worried about Cruz’s possible disqualification for the office, because he was born in Canada.

Hey, birthers! If the guy who finishing up his seventh year in office right now was born in Kenya, how bad could a Canadian be? Oh wait, it’s Ted Cruz. <insert nervous chuckle here> And while Obama was provably born in the U-S-A, the provably foreign-born Cruz may indeed have a problem. The Constitution does not specify exactly what a “natural born citizen” is.

To speak in The Donald’s defense (me!?), I watched video of both Joe Scarborough and Wolf Blitzer baldly leading Trump into the accusation like some undercover cop entrapping a terrorist. W-a-a-ay too obvious: “Don’t you think there could be a problem?”

But if you’re the Donald, how can you say no when this Cruz guy is suddenly making you a loser? So Trump chimed in. After that he began volunteering the issue, all the while protesting that the two are friends and he only has Mr. Cruz’s best interests at heart. “I mean, what if he’s the nominee and there’s a lawsuit?”

Indeed. It’s the same sort of concern that Christie lays down in a couple of his ads, positing that nominating Trump would surely hand the White House to Hillary Clinton.

Not to be outdone, Hillary put out her own version of this attack. I love it when opposing sides make the same claims and criticisms, except reversing who is responsible! “Unqualified? I know you are, but what am I?”

The airwaves in Iowa and New Hampshire are awash with new ads—some of them disgustingly predictable and some off in a direction you didn’t expect. That’s the beauty of campaign advertising: it’s so of-the-moment that much of the bland filtering which tones down ordinary advertising doesn’t apply.

Here’s an interesting batch of ads:

· Trump goes Full Trump with his most-vilified slogans. Now that is playing to the base!
· Jeb! goes full Lindsay Graham.
· Kasich goes full bluegrass.
· Santorum goes full negative—on Ted Cruz.

Going negative on Cruz is popular right now, with Rubio (of course) and Trump weighing in, although I must note that every time Trump speaks out against Cruz, I’ve observed that he’s answering a question, not bringing up the topic on his own.

But who needs to attack a man who tries so hard to be his own worst enemy? That would be Cruz, who allowed his people to release some 13 hours of raw footage, and Trevor Noah’s Daily Show ran with it!

The best laughs? Offscreen stage directions. Seriously, watch the link above. You can find gold in those 13 hours yourself, and push it to the world with the hashtag #CruzYourOwnAdventure.

The best attack I’ve seen that isn’t an ad is a 3-second animated GIF of Christie capering about and hugging Jerry Jones in the Dallas Cowboys VIP skybox. Ewwww! Christie might win Texas, but that’s red anyway. He’ll lose both New York and New Jersey if that little gem goes viral.

But I grudgingly give Christie credit for not going Full Trump in his response to an attack ad from Marco Rubio. Then I wonder if being mellow and giving a rational argument is a mistake, because mellow does not seem to match the mood of the current Republican electorate.

And by Full Trump, I mean language such as this: “Wow, people used to get shot for talking like that. Insulting someone else. But I wouldn’t do that. No, we shouldn’t even talk about it.” If you think I’ve gone over the top, take a look and listen to Trump’s little fantasy regarding the press:

“I hate some of these people, I hate ‘em. I would never kill them. I would never do that… Uh, let’s see, uh? No, I would never do that.”

Trump may have fallen behind a bit in Iowa and New Hampshire, but he has risen in national polls. This FiveThirtyEight.com article offers three theories regarding Trump’s popularity vs. his chances for success, but the Time magazine cover that begins the story says it in the simplest way:

TRUMP WINS
Now all he needs is the votes.

That sentiment duplicates what I—and so many others—have been feeling (hoping?) for months now: that the voting booth is a very different place than the business end of a pollster’s telephone. Truth-or-dare time is upon us in a month.

If any strategy against him can be effective—and so far none has been—then it might be a clever use of Trump’s own words: “I probably identify more as a Democrat.” The Club for Growth, infamous for non-election year attacks on Democrats, put those rather effective spots together.

Hah! Those at least look professional. Who knows if anything will bring Trump down? It probably won’t be this fun but seriously lame “Donald Duck” ad.

Oh yeah, did I mention that former New York governor George Pataki dropped out on DEC 29? Had I not written it down at the time, I would have forgotten.

How bad could it (not) get?

Even more than each other, the Republican candidates are of course pounding Hillary Clinton. They want to tag her not only with her own past (read: Benghazi) but also with Barack Obama’s administration—which she hasn’t been a part of since he was reelected. But here’s the trouble with their portrayals of the horror of Obama’s presidency:

This ThinkProgress.com article highlights four 2012 predictions by Republicans about what a disaster Obama’s reelection would be…

· $6 gas (national average today is $2)
· 8% unemployment (it’s at 5%)
· Crashed stock markets (it’s up 25%).
· Total destruction of the U.S. economy. It’s hardly robust but has chugged steadily uphill since Obama first took office. I do not grant a single gram of thanks to Republicans, who have been openly eager for the economy to fail so that they could blame someone else and return to power.

Bill Clinton left a surplus for W, who promptly spent it instead of saving it for the future. And what of the voters who keep putting these fools back in power? As an employer of mine used to jest about fools: “His memory’s only as long as his dick.”

My list of disasters for the GOP is:

· Obamacare is working. At least 17 million U.S. citizens now have healthcare, who didn’t before. It didn’t kill jobs.
· Taxes on the rich went up, and (wait for it) it didn’t kill jobs. The economy not only survived, it improved.
· The two Supreme Court justices appointed during the last 7 years are not conservative.

This week all that indignant anger will be live! At the last Republican debate before the Iowa caucuses, you’ll hear—or have heard already—a lot from both of those lists. Of course, they’ll be selling the bullshit view of everything: Obamacare a failure, the economy in ruins, etc.

That’s the old hat part of this equation. The real entertainment—let’s call it Republican on Republican violence—will rear its head somewhere in there too. Has to. It starts there, but it won’t stop until just one is left standing.

***

I’ll finish up with my own attack ad… the New York Times headline reads:

Ted Cruz’s Iowa Bus Tour: Benghazi, and the Benefits of Spanking

Talking about Hillary Clinton and Benghazi, Ted Cruz notes that his 5-year-old daughter gets a spanking when she lies.

My wife’s golden response: “Does he?

Political Survivor#30

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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 www.RodSerling.com, writing songs and short stories. In 2004, he created www.NakedWashington.com, 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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