I am spending today with no TV or newspaper, trying to enjoy family and friends and ignore the maelstrom raging around us. There will be time enough tomorrow and for all our immediate tomorrows to deal with the insanity that has overtaken our beloved nation. Enjoy the turkey, relish the pumpkin (or sweet potato in my case) pie, and share love and hope with your close family and friends. I am thankful among other things for Left in Alabama, although I am only an occasional visitor now, it has been a stalwart support for me and I am reassured knowing it is still here. Thank whatever Gods there be for Mooncat and Countrycat and all the rest who keep it alive and well.
So, Hillary Clinton is not as careful and accurate in her emails, and in her recollections about her emails as she should be. And let’s go one more step and say that maybe, she could actually be a little more precise (some would say “honest”) in all her statements. Let’s say I concede both these things. Does that make her a bad choice for president? Absolutely, if this were 2012, and Barack Obama was still a possibility. Even if it were a few months ago, when her recent troubles would throw the primary to Sen. Sanders.
But the truth of the matter is, it is not 2012, nor is it last January, and neither of those choices is viable. So, here is the stark truth. Yes, she is the logical person to get your vote in November. Obviously, the big reason she is a good choice is the total incompetence (in the mental as well as the political sense) of the Republican candidate. He is a sociopathic adolescent with A.D.D., and would be a wild bull loose in the White House. So, one person says, “I’m writing in Bernie’s name”. Okay fine. That will make you feel good, but only about 5,000 to 10,000 others will join your martyrdom. Another 20% of the voters will opt for the Libertarian ticket, which is really Republican II since neither of the candidates on the ticket are Libertarians, but are both long time GOP politicians.
So the horrible truth is that if enough of us get all up in a tizzy over emails and such and vote Trump, we could literally see the destruction of our current way of life in a real and vivid way. Our long-term alliances could be rent asunder; our economy would sink like a Trump casino. It is impossible to exaggerate the damage that four years of Trump would do.
What would a Clinton term look like? Pretty much like four more years of Obama with a few left-leaning programs that Sanders brought aboard.I personally would never thrill to her speeches as I do President Obama’s. I would never have the same warm feeling that this is really a good, if not great, president. I doubt that any of you would either. But, I always say the perfect mustn’t be the enemy of the good. And to paraphrase Barack Obama in 2008, You’re good enough, Hillary.
So, in a previous post, I discussed my view of the Democratic Party’s problems, which frankly, are pretty minor. Across the way, though, on the other side of the playground, a pretty major brawl has broken out. To really talk about how it got started, we would have to go back to Senator Barry Goldwater’s run for the White House, as that was the first time the real nasty streak of the GOP was visible on the national stage. But let’s just start with the knowledge that the very rich are getting much richer in America today, and the poor are becoming destitute, homeless and hopeless.
Enter Donald Trump, billionaire businessman, who managed to inherit some $200 million from daddy, and has become richer by manipulating policies specifically designed to help folks like him. Four bankruptcies, in which everyone but Trump was ruined and he got richer. He is an obnoxious, racist xenophobic misogynist with an ego the size of a small solar system. So he has decided he is the appropriate person to take over the reins when President Obama retires. Putting it in as few words as possible, Donald Trump tapped into the hate-filled ugly underbelly of the Republican Party and that alliance has vaulted him to within a whisker of the Republican nomination for president. This brings us up to the present.
The questions facing the Republican gurus are many. If they allow Trump to become their nominee, he will lose by a huge margin, and likely take down Republican senators, congressmen, governors and every officeholder down to dogcatchers. If they allow him to come into the convention, holding a huge plurality of the delegates but lacking an actual majority, the howl from his supporters will be horrendous, and Mr. Trump himself will likely run as an Independent, taking half the Republican votes and again guaranteeing a Democratic harvest of titanic proportion. Their third and probably last option, and the one they seem to be implementing is to simply mount an all out assault on Trump’s credibility. Attacks came today from Sen. John McCain and former candidate Mitt “47%” Romney. Several lesser-known Republicans have announced they will vote for Sec. Clinton if Trump is their only alternative.If this fails and he still wins the nomination, they are actually thinking of mounting their own third-party campaign to run against their own candidate. Mind-boggling, isn’t it? Again in that scenario, Clinton wins, the GOP is critically injured and it may be a generation before they recover.
In short, decades of encouraging mean-spiritedness and bigotry has finally matured into a full scale implosion in a once-great political party. It is hard to say where it will go, but the future of the National GOP is dismal right now. On a state level we know the Republican brand is not damaged enough in states like Alabama to make a big difference, but there is damage even there. In a few hours, there will be another of the blood-lettings that they call presidential debates, in which nothing of serious importance to the nation will be discussed but hundreds of nasty personal insults will fly around the stage. Perhaps by the end on the evening there will be even more clarity about the extent of the problem, but it is hard to see any way in which they will be closer to a solution. There is a strong temptation to gloat, because they are reaping exactly what they have sowed from the time of Barry Goldwater to Ronald Reagan and the warmongering of George W. Bush. But gloating is probably the wrong reaction, because a strong two-party system is essential to the continued growth and progress of our nation. Maybe, after the firestorm has passed, and the architects of the destruction replaced by honest, clear-thinking men and women of good intentions, there will again be a Republican Party in the spirit of Rockefeller, Kemp and the like. It is to be devoutly hoped that our nation will not be seriously harmed in the process.
Well, we have all heard to saying “Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory”. It is a graphic description of the failed 20 yard field goal that would have won the game. It is the runner who mis-times his final kick and stops ten yards short of the tape. It may also be the sad recapping of the 2016 elections, if we don’t get our priorities in order.
In the Democratic Party, since the withdrawal of Martin O’Malley, we have enjoyed the privilege of having two excellent candidates between whom we must choose our presidential nominee. There are millions of us who “feel the Bern” and support Senator Sanders, while there are millions more who are just as devoted to Secretary Clinton. We are fortunate to have such a choice, given what the “other guys” are going through.
Senator Sanders has put forth an ambitious and beautiful vision – one of a populist revolution that will lever the political and fiscal playing field, provide free health care and education and transform our foreign policy into a much more pacifist posture. And, of course, this vision has attracted many adherents. Secretary Clinton has basically said she wants many of the same things, and the debate has become one of details, Sanders looking to a ‘revolution’ and Clinton arguing that an ‘evolution’ is more achievable and therefore more reasonable. So the debate goes on.
What we know, as Democrats, is that someday, probably very soon, one candidate will acquire enough delegates to render the opponent’s campaign hopeless, and the loser will concede the race to the winner in a courteous and professional manner. There may be a hug, ot at least a handshake, along with a vow to go forward to battle the Republican nominee.
Having said all this, and painted this pretty picture of adult behavior in the political realm, I have to admit to one small potential flaw in the picture. The adherents of Bernie Sanders have increasingly been attacking Secretary Clinton as a “tool of the establishment” and saying that she may even be corrupt. Many of these are threatening to vote for an independent candidate from a minor party, or at least to stay home on election day, rather than support Clinton. And Clinton fans are guilty of the same sin, accusing Sanders of being a deluded dreamer leading the party down a rabbit hole and making the same threats of non-participation in the event of a Sanders nomination.
The Republican Party this year has put forth probably the least qualified and certainly the least attractive field of candidates in my lifetime. The best of them is terrible, and the worst of them is winning. The only way we lose is by intra-party squabbling as I discussed above. We have an “embarrassment of riches” this cycle; two candidates supremely qualified, either of whom may reasonably be expected to provide four or eight years of growth and improvements, while the Republicans have pathetic losers across the board, none of whom can win anything unless we implode for our bickering. I promise you that Bernard Sanders will vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton if she becomes the Democratic candidate and Ms. Clinton will throw whole-hearted support behind Senator Sanders if he wins the primaries. Let’s not screw this up! Let’s not be the punt returner who spikes the ball on the two yard line and loses the game. We are smarter than that……… Aren’t we?
Please do not read this looking for up-to-date commentary on Alabama politics. Being in a light-hearted mood, I am writing instead about the historical basis for trash talk in politics. Read this, if at all, just for laughs, and, I am sure, a small glow of approval for some of these masters of the art. Read on!
Bernie Sanders said to Hillary Clinton, “Madame Secretary, that was a low blow”. Donald Trump uses the language of the dockyards to describe his opponents. So how awful is the dialogue in today’s politics? “Just for fun”, I decided to look through some really scathing attacks from past campaigns and politicians from the past and see how we compare.
We all remember Governor Ann Richards’ brilliant take-down of George H.W. Bush, “He was born with a silver foot in his mouth”, underscoring both his privileged lifestyle and his unfortunate verbal awkwardness. But that pales compared to Secretary of State Dean Acheson’s assessment of President Lyndon Johnson, “(He’s) a real centaur; part man and part horse’s ass”. Teddy Roosevelt was less profane but no less incisive in describing William McKinley. “He has the backbone of a chocolate eclair.” Huey Long aroused strong feelings in many folks, but perhaps no one expressed their reaction better than Harold Ickes, who said “He is suffering from halitosis of the intellect”. I’m not sure what that means, but I know it isn’t a compliment.
The British have a richer store of really nasty political attacks, but then they’ve had longer to work at it than we have. And nobody has been at both ends of the attacks more than Sir Winston Churchill. Apparently, he felt that Lloyd George’s policies were wasteful, when he dubbed him “The Happy Warrior of Squandermania”. And it was never safe to attack Sir Winston. Member of Parliament Bessie Braddock once accused Sir Winston of being drunk, to which he replied, “My dear, you are ugly. But tomorrow- I shall be sober and you shall still be ugly”. And , of course the most famous example of Churchill’s counter-punching came when Lady Astor angrily sniffed “If you were my husband, I would poison your tea”, to which he replied “If you were my wife, I would drink it.” “Winnie’ also did not care much for Clement Atlee, as evidenced by these examples. Outraged by Atlee’s timid approach to the Axis powers, Churchill called him “A sheep in sheep’s clothing”, and scathingly spoke of Atlee’s ascension to power, “An empty taxi arrived at Number Ten Downing Street and…Atlee got out.” He also said this about Atlee, “He is a modest man with much to be modest about”.
Among Britain’s most famous leaders, Benjamin Disraeli was also quite the vicious wordsmith. In attacking Daniel O’Connell, he said “A systematic liar and a beggarly cheat; a swindler and a poltroon. He has committed every crime that does not require courage.” And about Gladstone he said ” If Gladstone fell into the Thames, that would be a misfortune, and, if anyone pulled him out, that, I suppose, would be a calamity.” But he was also targeted by political enemies, like John Bright, who said succinctly “He is a self-made man and he worships his creator”.
In a more recent era, Britain’s first female PM was not spared the vitriol. Johnathan Aiken said of her “She probably thinks Sinai is the plural of sinus”, apparently having little confidence in her foreign affairs expertise. And Tony Banks, judged her personality this way, “She has the sensitivity of a sex-starved boa constrictor.” It was said of her,”I’ve met serial killers and assassins, but nobody scares me as much as her”. and Clement Freud called her “Attila the Hen”.
Lloyd George must have had a reputation for fighting dirty, because the wife of the Prime Minister at the time said, “He can’t see a belt without hitting below it”.
I’m sure by now you get my drift. Christie’s calling Rubio a robot or Trump’s filthy mouth can’t hold a candle to the historical body-slams and put-downs that are in our heritage. Let me finish (as Chris Matthews says) with one more from the UK and one great one from the USA.
First, from Lloyd George about Sir John Simons, “The right honorable and learned gentleman has twice crossed the floor of the House, each time leaving a trail of slime”. Ouch, you know that had to burn. But I have left it to the inimitable Harry S. “Give ’em Hell” Truman to cap off my little essay, with his very blunt opinion of Richard M. Nixon. Brace yourself for some Truman straight talk. “Richard Nixon is a no-good bastard. He can lie out of both sides of his mouth at the same time, and if he ever caught himself telling the truth, he’d tell a lie just to keep his hand in.” Donald Trump, eat your heart out, piker!
In 2008, due to the generosity of Left in Alabama, I was able to attend the Democratic National Convention in Denver. During that brief few days, I met or saw many notables, including Sen. Edward Kennedy, Carolyn Kennedy, Barack, Michelle, Sasha and Malia Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Todd, Ben Jealous, Cecile Richards, and Country Cat. I also met Tucker Carlson, but neither he nor I was impressed with that meeting. The excitement of the event is still alive and stimulating in my memory. I will carry it with me always as one of the greatest times of my life.
That said, I am jealous of Country Cat today, as she tramps all over New Hampshire, meeting and interviewing presidential candidates from both parties as they prepare for an election that will be “make or break” for several of them. Go get ’em, CC. We look forward to your reporting!
Now, although I am sitting in North Florida, many miles away from the center of electoral activity, I am very involved in following the the progress (or not) made by various candidates. It appears, for example, that John Kasich is being recognized as the most nearly sane of the Republican candidates, a somewhat diluted honor but an honor nonetheless. It appears that Ted Cruz is finally beginning to reap the devastation he has been sowing, as he is exposed for the cheating, lying hypocrite that he is. And our beloved Country Cat is on the scene to bring us the details as she uncovers them.
But for me, the campaign in New Hampshire has made a personal difference. I have been a fan of Senator Bernie Sanders. I consider him to be a sincere and dedicated supporter of political and financial equality of a kind that we have not seen in America in decades. I believe him to be completely devoted to seeing our country reverse “Citizens United”, voting restrictions, harsh and unfair criminal justice, and many other wrongs that have crept into our system. I believe him when he says that a great “political revolution” can help to reverse these things. I also believe that he might be able to generate the revolution and fuel it with his passion and determination. For all these reasons, I have been a Bernie-leaning voter since the beginning of the campaign.
Than came the Democratic Candidate Debate. After a lot of stonewalling by the seemingly corrupted Democratic National Committee, and largely due to the complaints of Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, an actual debate took place, moderated by the redoubtable Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd. Again, I was impressed with Bernie’s sincerity and his passion, as he pounded on the theme of financial inequality and electoral discrimination. I believe in the goodness and honest dedication of this man.
However, the debate turned to foreign affairs and world politics and Bernie was unmasked as an amateur competing with an accomplished professional; Hillary’s amazing resume’ came into view as she answered questions with confidence and authority. Not since “Pappy” Bush has a candidate for president had such a complete resume’. Does Hillary generate love and devotion in this voter’s heart? No, I still see a cold, analytical professional, calculating and pragmatic. And so what? That, it seems to me . is exactly what we need conducting our foreign affairs at this dangerous moment in history. She responded with authority to questions about Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and ISIL, while Bernie seemed to be groping to get through this part of the questioning.
So, what am I trying to say here? Plain and simple, I still love Bernie Sanders and I still do not love Hillary Clinton. I still wish Bernie Sanders could implement his sweeping changes in the way we finance elections and the way wealth is distributed in America. But, I am voting with my analytical mind, rather than my heart, and I am supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton for president. I know many on this site will disagree with my conclusions and I welcome your comments here, for I always remain open to consider the opinions of my fellow progressives, and Election Day for me is several months away.
Have we overlooked something? I know “the Donald” has put forth a downpour of quotes, both insane and inane, but this one suddenly got my attention this morning. We are hearing from his supporters that Trump understands the average man, his fears and his doubts. But let’s forget everything else and look at this one statement. “My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars, and the rest is history”.
Let’s think about that. My life was at a financial dead end and I had to borrow $100 from my uncle. It barely covered groceries and kept the power turned on. How about you? Did you ever need a “small loan” to get by? Did Daddy come across with a cool million, or were you like me and had to borrow fifty or a hundred to survive.How in the hell does he have the nerve to say he understands our problems…our fears…our desires.
When I needed housing, I rented a one-bedroom apartment. When Trump needs housing, he builds a 118 room palace in Palm Beach. Can he really understand my need? When times got rough for me, my wife hired a babysitter and got a job to help out. Trump got tired of his wife and bought a newer, more exotic model. When I couldn’t meet my obligations back in 1993, I had to declare bankruptcy, and slowly paid off my debts over the next eight or nine years. Trump declares bankruptcy four times and walks away financially intact, leaving others to take the hit.
There are a hundred reasons to not support this horrible person, his disrespect for women, his unconstitutional disregard for some religions, his grandiose claims that sound like the hallucinations of an opium smoker, but let’s just concentrate on this one fact: Donald J. Trump understands my problems, my hopes and my fears,just as much as my Siamese cat does, and he is just as selfish and arrogant as said cat. I love my cat, he’s a fine beautiful cat, but I would not vote for him as president. Let’s not elect someone who knows nothing about the people he craves to represent.
Can we make this viral? I think it’s the most important single thing “we the people” need to remember about this egotistical, misogynistic, xenophobe.
Nothing is more exciting and riveting to a political junkie than a presidential campaign. Being older than dirt, I remember my grandfather getting almost apoplectic as he listened to the Democratic Convention the year John Sparkman of Alabama was a candidate. I was a wee tyke, but the excitement was palpable and I still feel it every four years.
Of course now, instead of an ancient radio, we have Cable Television, Twitter and Facebook to threaten our cardiac health during campaign season. This year the Republican Party has contributed to the general hilarity by welcoming a dozen or more of the biggest losers on the planet into the race. Did you ever think we would be thinking longingly about that nice Mr. Romney? But, maybe because there are so many non-starters on the R side of the ledger, we are concentrating even more than usually on our own choices.
The good news is that we have three good persons running in the Democratic Primary, two of whom are actually viable candidates. And we each have either made up our mind or are working at it, pleased with ourselves for having candidates so much better then the Trump led Republicans. But that doesn’t make the choice any easier. In my house, for example, my wife and I are supporting different candidates. That hasn’t happened in years and may not ever occur again. But what we agree on is that both candidates are perfectly qualified to be a good president if Fate so decrees. Another thing we agree on is that both of our candidates (pardon me if I do not mention O’Malley again. I am aiming to make a point here, not just be politically correct.) have flaws. That seems obvious, since we are discussing human beings here, but apparently there are those for whom it is not so evident.
Hillary Clinton has perhaps the most perfect resume’ of any candidate since “Pappy” Bush. An active and influential Senator for two terms plus one term as Secretary of State in the Cabinet of the president who defeated her first run for the White House. That and her stint as one of the most active and influential First Ladies in history set her up as a really well-prepared candidate. In addition almost all Democrats would be happy to see a woman break the ultimate glass ceiling.
So Hillary has a lot of supporters, avid, enthusiastic and with a zeal not seen since 2008 in the Obama organization. But she also has detractors, who point to her vote in favor of the Iraq War, her close (some say too cozy) ties to Wall Street banks and giant corporations. They point out that she backed TPP and the Canada to New Orleans pipeline and only switched from political expediency. These opponents will never… NEVER…vote for Hillary.
Her opponents love Bernie Sanders, “Feeling the Bern” they call it. Loving his “break up the banks, restore the unions, reverse the wealth inequality” that has millions of Americans unable to support themselves on their income. Bernie they say will reverse that inequality by taxing the rich more fairly, removing or raising the Social Security tax cap to restore that program to perpetual solvency. But Bernie is rejected by many of the Hilliaryacs who point to his opposition to the Brady Bill, against which he voted FIVE times. They also say that he doesn’t understand how difficult real sea-change is in the real world. They swear they will never vote for Senator Sanders.
So, let’s take a walk through Facebook and let’s try to suggest a little restraint. “Please”, we say reasonably, “let’s agree that any Democratic President will be preferable to any of that crowd from the other side of the aisle”. Our sage advice falls on deaf ears, however, because we are witnessing a classic example of “letting the perfect be the enemy of the good”. “If I cannot have the candidate I think is ideal, I will not vote at all” is the mantra. So, in our role as reasonable person we remind them of the spectre of a Donald Trump presidency alienating all our allies, closing our borders to worker desperately needed, unconstitutionally attacking religious minorities, and we ask them if that is what they want. And here is where crazy-time begins. They will tell you that it is a conscience decision and they simply cannot vote for that horrible Sanders…or Clinton, as the case might be. Besides Trump cannot win. So you and I mention Cruz, the hate-drive Evangelical, Rubio the South Florida gangster with the pretty face, Bush, who is after all a Bush, Christie the bridge closer-downer, and all the rest but they continue to defend the position that staying home on the day of the general Election is the only moral choice they can make.
Folks, we have a majority of registered voters in this country and in presidential years our majority carries the day frequently. And the Republicans have insulted and reviled women, Hispanics, religious groups and minorities in general to the point that Democrats should win the White House in a walk. But if bernie Sanders is nominated and all the Hillary only crowd stays home on election day, we could very well get the trick when we expected the treat. And vice versa, if the Bernie folks are so disturbed at the thought of another “establishment” president that they do not show up, the Donald could have himself a “Yuge” victory.
If you are one of these “my way of the highway” voters, please re-think your obligation to the country and the future generations. How many more conservative Supreme Court justices would it take to roll back every smidgen of progress made in the past fifty years? If you are not one of them, but you know some, please taslk to them. Make them realize that this election transcends personal preference. I promise you one thing. Mr. and Mrs. Piggie heart may be backing different candidates in the primary, but we will proudly walk into our polling place on General Election Day and both will vote for the Democratic nominee. After all, we have children, grand-children and great grand-children who need a place to grow up and live.
I am old. There is no way to kid myself out of the realization – I am old. As an old person, I kinda thought I had seen it all, but not so. To put it perspective, I remember listening to the election results when Truman defeated Dewey. I was a small child but still, I remember that from 1948. In 2008, I was so proud of the Democratic Party for nominating a Black man for the presidency. I was more proud of the American people later that year for electing that man. I was even more proud that his closest rival for the job was a woman.
And then came the HATE. I capitalize it because the level of HATE was just too high for lower case letters.”He’s not an American”! “He’s Kenyan”! “He’s Muslim”! “He’s a Communist (or Fascist, or Socialist or Nazi!”) or anything else they can think up in their HATE-distorted minds. And not just the President but his wife, his children; they all came in for a share of the hatred. That was from a large percentage of the American electorate.
But, one expects our elected representatives to model better behavior for us. After all, these men and women were elected by the people to govern us and one expects at least minimally civilized behavior from them. Then we noticed that Obama wasn’t getting any support from the so-called “loyal opposition”. Eventually we learned a most amazing and crushing truth – that the leaders of the Republican Party had actually met on Inauguration Day 2009 and agreed to block any and everything proposed by the President- to guarantee his failure. Never, at least since Lincoln, had a president been so disrespected by the opposition party. Every nomination he made, every bill he proposed either passed with no GOP support or failed.
During this period, a strange and dangerous phenomenon called the Tea Party came into being with the sole purpose of trying to bring down the Federal government and block routine governing. And the mood of the country took a sharp turn toward hatred and anarchy. The President dealt with the changing climate as well as he could, but normal functions of government ceased to be performed. Congress refused to raise the debt limit to accommodate the new expenditures they had made. They refused to pass a budget, hoping to embarrass and ultimately to defeat the President. It was a terrible time of dysfunction, and our only hope was that it would pass with the next election cycle, but to our dismay the Republican do-nothings actually enhanced their position in the Legislative Branch.
In 2012, the party of HATE lost a big battle, as President Obama was given another term by the voters. But, of course, the obstructionism continued and even worsened. Routinely, judicial appointees do not receive a vote for confirmation. Cabinet-level appointees are treated like enemies by opposition senators, and the hatred and disrespect reach unprecedented levels. Republican leaders McConnell and Boehner even went to the unprecedented level of inviting the Executive leader of a foreign nation to address a joint session of Congress in an attempt to discredit our presdident
Everything I have said here is ancient history. We have all watched in disbelief as the Republican Party has sunk to embarrassing levels of HATE and disrespect. Now another presidential election looms and the two major parties are selecting their nominees. On the Democratic side there is an orderly, respectful (although vigorous) debate, with our candidates challenging one another on issues of foreign and domestic governing. Each of our choices is an experienced public servant with excellent credentials to recommend them to the voters. On the other side-chaos reigns. The front runners are totally without government experience and without even the temperament and life skills that would even minimally qualify them for the highest elected office on the planet. A lunatic buffoon billionaire screeches hatred at a level never before seen in an election cycle. His nearest rival is an amazing paradox. A learned physician who has no knowledge of science. A healer who embodies intolerance and bigotry. It is a terrible time for our great nation.
It is not only historically frightening that one of our parties has sunk to actually considering Trump and Carson as reasonable choices for the Oval Office. There have been dangerous candidates before – Barry Goldwater was actually nominated by this same Republican Party, and thoroughly trounced in the general election. It is the fact that almost 50% of Americans have indicated a willingness to support one of these incredibly unprepared and unqualified men to take over the reins of government in January 2017.
What has happened to the great shining light that once was the American dream, the beautiful and hopeful ideal – a nation built on freedom, equality, even love, to be envied by all the other countries of the world? Can we have strayed so far that xenophobia, homophobia, and misogyny are to replace acceptance and compassion as our nation’s trademarks?
Over the past four decades, powered by a group of extremely wealthy Americans, a groundwork has been laid to make it more difficult for ordinary working people’s voices to be heard. If a change does not come about soon, the American Dream may be so well blockaded that it will never be permitted to to return to center stage. We must act now by registering and voting; by writing letters to the editor; by going door to door signing up like-minded people. Most of all we must hold the vision. We cannot afford to accept the inevitability of this distortion of our dreams. We are America the Beautiful and that beauty must be preserved for future generations. As I said at the top, I am old. But in the years I have left, and in the decades of my children, grand-children and beyond, this America must survive as a great and wonderful experiment.
So, the much-anticipated Benghazi Hearing fades into the past, leaving behind a smiling Hillary Clinton and a faint odor of corruption.The brazen attempt to weaken or destroy Secretary Clinton’s presidential campaign failed like an Edsel salesman. And the reputations of the Republican members of the committee will never be the same.
Trey Gowdy, Chairman of this notorious gang of thugs, will forever be remembered telling members of his own party to “shut up” about the obviously partisan purpose of this committee. He will always wear the loser badge which he acknowledged when he admitted that no new information had been forthcoming from the grueling day’s proceedings.
Congresswoman Susan Brooks claim to fame will be that she had piles of papers stacked on her podium and she has really bad hair. Nothing she said or did enhanced her reputation or advanced her career one centimeter.
Mike Pompelo was an angry attack-Doberman, whose nasty surliness was easily turned aside by the calm confidence of the former Secretary of State and current President-in-waiting.
Peter Roskan seems to be a carbon copy of Mr. Pompelo, but skinnier and with less charm. Proved he can tear a sheaf of paper in half, which was his only accomplishment for the day.
Lynn Westmoreland is a slow-talking Georgia boy with a bad attitude. Maybe living his life with a girl’s name has soured him, but whatever it was it did not prepare him to tangle with Ms. Clinton. He has a “Gotcha!” style of questioning that would have been more appropriate if he had actually had any ammunition in his rhetorical gun.
Martha Roby is well-known to all of us who either live in Alabama or have lived there. The word”stupid” is woefully inadequate to describe the person who provided the only laugh line of the day, but lacked the acuity to understand what was funny. My takeaway from poor Martha,s performance is the picture of her glowering at Ms. Clinton as the Secretary and the gallery roared with laughter as Martha seemed to be probing into Hillary’s sex life.
Jim Jordan is the last Republican member on my list and I saved him till now for a reason. I believe we should all remember his name, because he is not just another stupid, angry and unscrupulous Republican. Jim Jordan is today’s version of Joseph McCarthy, a truly venomous and hate-filled person, who will not soon forgive Ms. Clinton for not cooperating with his plan to destroy her. This is a bad, bad man – the worst in an entire pack of partisan ideologues, willing to destroy the government to advance their partisan agenda.
There were heroes on the battlefield as well, of course, including one, whose heroism on a real battlefield is well know.Tammy Duckworth, celebrated and decorated for her military service, which cost her both legs, seemed determined to actually pursue the stated mission of this committee. Rather than attack Secretary Clinton or the Republicans running this sideshow, she asked actual meanigful questions about ways to improve security measures for our diplomatic corps. Ms. Duckworth stood out as the only person in the room who tried to fulfill the stated mission of the Committee, a habit she undoubtedly picked up in her military service.
Adam Smith and Adam Schiff are both Representatives from the West coast. The other thing they have in common is a soft demeanor covering a steely determination. Both pointed out the foolishness of this entire endeavor and the vast sum of taxpayers’ money being wasted by these proceedings.
Linda Sanchez is a very bright and gutsy Congresswoman from California, who kept reminding the Chairman that Republicans were being shown favoritism by the Chair and that he himself was abusing the rules he had set down concerning the length of time allocated to each member. She may have been responsible for forcing the Chairman to finally close the session, for which I was extremely grateful, and I know Ms. Clinton was also.
Finally, a word or two about Congressman Elijah Cummings, the Ranking Member and senior Democrat on the panel. Congressman Cummings spoke frequently and forcefully about the wasteful and shameful fiasco being perpetrated. He frequently reassured Ms. Clinton and offered her encouragement for which she was visibly grateful. In the penultimate comment of the night, Mr. Cummings delivered an impassioned plea to his colleagues and to the nation at large, when he said “We are better than this!” It was the only applause line of the long, long day. It is an open secret that Mr. Cummings is considering a run for U.S. Senator in his home state of Maryland, and I for one hope he decides to make that run. He is a treasure, a valuable national resource, and would be a great Senator.
And so ended the almost eleven hour long exercise in futility, designed to destroy Secretary Clinton, but ultimately serving to strengthen her position instead. I believe that Vice President Biden is glad today that he made the choice not to challenge Ms. Clinton in her race toward history, for she became much more formidable as a result of this trial by fire.
I truly believe in the two-party system. There has been a remarkably long run of two parties, both peopled by relatively sane and reasonable citizens, with conflicting views about governing. There have been crazies throughout our history, of course, the Joe McCarthys, the Barry Goldwaters, but always there were level-headed folks to balance them out.
What I am seeing now is something entirely different. A spirit of revolutionary anarchy has sprung up and taken one of our parties captive, and is holding it for ransom. The ransom demanded is nothing less than the destruction of our nation as we know it. Hyperbole? I don’t think so. When a party is controlled by a relatively small group of members who seriously want to refuse to pay the debts we have incurred, who threaten to shut down the day-to-day operation of our Federal government, the Defense Department, there is really a crisis. The Veteran’s Administration, healthcare, education, and all the other functions that we depend on every day.
It is hardly a surprise that, when that mindset is common among the members of the party, a mindless buffoon like Donald Trump actually seems not so crazy. A truth-challenged harridan like Fiorina doesn’t evoke outrage. And an apparently brain-damaged babbler like Ben Carson is seen as the reasonable alternative.
One has to wonder whether this rupture in the GOP can continue to exist, or whether it will devolve into an actual third party, specifically for the nut-job who cannot even be satisfied by the routine craziness of what they call the “moderate center” of the party. One wonders which is the more harmful to the nation and to the GOP itself, the complete secession of the extreme right, or the continued turmoil as two apparently incompatible groups brawl for dominance.
There is a temptation to sit back, as a Democrat, and enjoy the spectacle, but there is no pleasure in watching a melee that threatens our nation’s stature and standing among world powers. There can be no enjoyment in seeing potential destruction approaching and knowing that, unless some statesmen step forward soon, this once-proud political party may degenerate into a fair imitation of a drunken brawl, dragging the United States down with it.