With the midterm farce of 2014 now past, Eags looks at his 2016 tea leaves and reviews the possible grabbers of the brass ring in 2016 and comes away whelmed at the prospects. Ultimately, Eags forecasts our version of the War of the Roses and we have instead of the Houses of Lancaster and York the Bushies and the Clintonistas. The Dubster's younger (and smarter) brother versus The Slickster's cuckqueen. What a choice: The Jebster or The Hillster! Bleah! Of course, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson said that we get the government that we deserve. If this is a (fair & balanced) national nightmare-to-be, so be it.
[x NY Fishwrap]
The Big Sleep
By Timothy Egan
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Maybe it’s best to close your eyes and fall into a Rip Van Winkle slumber for the next two years. The party that has refused to govern for half a decade and ran a substance-free campaign will now play at governing and not take up anything of substance.
Of course there will be votes, investigations and intrigue. Having worked tirelessly to make the Senate inert, Mitch McConnell now says he wants it to be relevant again. The man most likely to head the Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, would flunk a high school science class. He claims climate change is a huge hoax. The new senator from Iowa, Joni Ernst, vowed to bring at least one thing to the capital. “I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson 9 millimeter and it goes with me virtually everywhere,” she cooed.
Did you vote for that? No, you voted against President Obama. Why? David Letterman had the best line of the campaign. “Take a look at this: Gas under $3 a gallon — gas under $3 a gallon! Unemployment under 6 percent — who ever thought? Stock market breaking records every day. No wonder the guy is so unpopular.”
Democrats would not embrace that record, or even try to explain it as a decent start for a country shaken by two decades of income stagnation. And so they were trounced. Where substance was allowed on Tuesday’s ballot — minimum wage increases in four red states, gun background checks in a blue state — big majorities did what the new Congress never will.
But enough with the postmortems. On to 2016!
Hill and Jeb. Can we get to it now, and treat the next two years as a fog of fractious do-nothingism that has already passed? Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are poised to complete some unfinished business. Bush would be running for the second term of his dad, the now beloved George H.W., and to make everyone forget the two terms of his brother. And Clinton would be running for a third term of her husband, the most popular president of the last 20 years and the last Democrat who knew how to win over white people in red states.
Call it monarchy in a country that got its start by throwing off a king, or a dynasty in a nation that still likes to think of itself as a model of egalitarianism. But a moderate Bush and a problem-solving Clinton are really the only choices. Everyone else is flawed in special ways.
Take Senator Rand Paul, who always manages to look like a guy who just woke up from a long nap and missed a button on his shirt. Sure, he has some of his kooky father’s baggage, the 18th-century view of 21st-century issues. But of late, Paul’s been trying a little outreach beyond the Republican base of old white Southerners. He thinks our prisons shouldn’t be stuffed with drug offenders, predominantly black. He says Republicans should not be passing laws making it harder for the poor, minorities and students to vote. And he says his party’s brand “sucks” — his word — in many, many parts of the country.
All of this will get him nowhere, and be replayed in attacks ads, when the Republican presidential primary moves to its whitest of bastions in the South.
We saw a lot of Gov. Chris Christie in the last week of October. If you liked seven days of a red-faced guy shouting “shut up” and “get in line” and medical diagnosis from afar — “She was obviously ill,” he said of a healthy nurse — you’ll love a Christie presidency. The New Jersey governor demonstrated, again, the character traits we don’t want in a president: poor judgment, a temper, pettiness. He’s all bombast without even the belly anymore.
Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor re-elected Tuesday after taking on and taking down organized labor, will be a flavor of the month. That’s part of the problem: Scott is personality-free. But more important, an anti-labor candidate will not fare well in old-school blue-collar states like Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Ted Cruz will be around — a microphone, that is. He’ll be shadowed by his female doppelgänger, the new Iowa senator, Ernst. His problems are myriad. He loves brinkmanship and shutdowns, but more than that, he really loves himself. Nearly everyone who comes in contact with him in the Senate, no matter the party, can’t stand him.
That leaves Jeb Bush, a seemingly sensible nonpartisan. He’s for immigration reform, the kind his base despises. If he can get over that hurdle, he’s the nominee. And then he’ll face one final problem: his name. He is, of course, the younger brother of a man who will long remain on the list of worst presidents. Take it from his mother, the reliably blunt-speaking Barbara Bush, last of the flinty New Englanders. The country, she said, has had “enough Bushes” in the White House.
Hillary Clinton, it’s yours to lose. You’ve already started co-opting the progressive flank, making nice with Senator Elizabeth Warren. And yet, Wall Street likes you! The best thing Hillary has going for her right now is what happened in this week’s midterms. Republicans will overreach, because they always do, prompting much nostalgia for the days when Stuff Got Done.
Two years is a long time to wait if, say, you are a fan of the New York Jets and believe that professional football teams should get more than one win every now and then. But it’s nothing in politics. It’s here now. Take a long snooze, and then wake up to 2016. Ω
[Timothy Egan writes "Outposts," a column at the NY Fishwrap online. Egan — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 as a member of a team of reporters who wrote the series "How Race Is Lived in America" and a National Book Award (The Worst Hard Time in 2006) — graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Whitman College in 2000 for his environmental writings. Egan's most recent book is The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America (2009).]
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