Sunday, 4 October 2015

Dark Horse/New Mood?

            There is something strange going on in the country that should have the financial markets rattling and the establishment quaking in its boots.

            In some circles it’s being written off as September madness, and yet how do you explain that well over 50% of Republicans favor a bombastic businessman, a retired African-American neurosurgeon, and a failed CEO over a cabal of experienced Republican governors and senators.

            Nor is this giddiness confined to the party of Lincoln. On the Democratic side, a Vermont socialist with a Brooklyn accent shows many signs of whipping a former senator who up until recently was a dead cert to win the nomination of her party.

            Are Americans finally sick of a stagnant two party system? Or is it something deeper – a new order arising from the cult of celebrity, the breakneck pace of communication, and an electorate that demands outrageous statements along with simple solutions from its leaders?

            Of course we could still end up in 2016 with Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton charging neck and neck down the home straight as I predicted in a February column. But I don’t think so and, though I blush at the omission, I didn’t even mention Donald Trump in that column.

            But that’s my point – the normal has been turfed out the window and the unexpected rules.  Although I don’t have a great opinion of Mr. Trump, yet he has introduced some long needed common sense to the Republican economic platform by demonizing “the hedge fund guys” and their lucrative tax loophole of carried interest. Talk about instant populism!

            My own feeling, though, is that The Donald will bail out at, or before, the Republican Convention in Cleveland next July. I doubt he has the commitment to memorize the names of various Arab potentates let alone deal with the burdens of leading a democracy.

Besides look at poor Mr. Obama’s rapidly graying hair. You think Mr. Trump would welcome such an affliction! And anyway, the Trump brand has been well and truly burnished in his scene-stealing presidential run. So why bother taking on a thankless job.

            A New York Times columnist recently described Dr. Ben Carson as someone who has woken from a nap and can’t find his glasses. Insipid though he may seem, is it possible to take seriously a candidate who states that an American citizen of Muslim faith should not run for president? John F. Kennedy must be twitching in his grave.

            I must say that Ms. Fiorina riveted me with her horrifying description of a Planned Parenthood video that I find hard to even quote. That this video arose from her twisted imagination says more about her than an organization that has helped countless poverty-stricken women since its foundation in 1916 by two Irish-American sisters, Margaret Higgins Sanger and Ethel Higgins Byrne.

            For these and other reasons I very much doubt that any of the above three will become the Republican nominee. Throwing caution to the wind, my own reconsidered prediction is Senator Marco Rubio. He’s young, media savvy, and for the most part has managed to keep his foot out of his mouth – never an easy task when one must impress the conservative brethren of Iowa and South Carolina.

Of course, there may yet be a dark horse waiting in the wings of each party. Which brings me to the Democrats. One has the feeling that the field is not yet complete – and I’m not talking about Vice-President Biden.

Senator Sanders has nailed his radical, if sensible, goals for a fairer society to the mast and, my friend, Gov. O’Malley may yet garner more media attention and make a gallant run down the back stretch. However, the nomination is still Mrs. Clinton’s to lose.

But first she must shed her pollsters and moribund advisors, and remember that she would be president today had she followed her heart rather than her head in the Iraq War senate vote.

There’s a new mood sweeping this country and it has little time for entitlement or the politics of the past. Those running for election had better be out in front of it; for this new beginning has little mercy for those it leaves broken in its wake.

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