“Things fall apart,” as Yeats was wont to say, “The center cannot hold.” The center is most assuredly falling apart today, and who is at the center? Well, his name is Barack H. Obama. He is our president, and I think many Americans wish he would shut down. Every time he pipes up, especially on a peripheral issue, he makes things worse—no, not worse, appalling.
The Current Crisis
I cannot recall another time when the American media has given so much aid and encouragement to a fledgling candidate as they have given to Donald Trump, and he is a billionaire. He does not need their help.
A couple of weeks ago he was scrambling within a tight pack of Republican also-rans. Now thanks to the media’s almost ceaseless coverage he is near the top of the Republican heap. In some polls he is atop the heap. The fact that the media were endeavoring to ambush his candidacy should tell you quite a lot about the media’s own ineptitude in politics and about Trump’s cunning. Trump in his characteristically discursive campaign announcement spoke across a whole range of issues, and the media pounced on the one issue that would make him a hero to millions. The media were thinking that they would render him a pariah or in their words a racist. Who knows the public better, the floundering media or the accomplished billionaire?
Political observers are still speculating over whether the July 4thNew York Times’ report on the loony biography of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was meant as a hit-job or an encomium. He is closing in on the Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton. Joe Biden is standing in the wings. Other ambitious Democratic pols are smelling blood. Sanders is surging in New Hampshire, the first primary state.
The Times went all the way back to the late 1960s and early 1970s to capture young Bernie when he was a hippie expatriate from Brooklyn forging a political career for himself amongst the left-wing youth movement that was then intent on ousting Vermont’s political “Establishment” and moving on to other states, possibly to the whole wide world. Everyone would learn to play the guitar, sit cross-legged in the dirt, and affix flowers in their hair.
If you dutifully read the weekend newspapers and watched the Sunday morning gasbags on television, I suspect you departed the chaos with a terrible headache. Possibly you departed for the bar.
Typical of the news stories was one that the Washington Post headlined: “GOP Struggles For Footing As Cultural Ground Shifts Leftward.” Who was doing the shifting? Well, a couple of delusional Supreme Court justices supported by a homicidal maniac, seated in someone’s backyard, flying the Confederate flag over his puny shoulder, and a narcissistic self-promoter who recently changed his/her name to Caitlyn. Such are the dynamic forces driving history in America today—at least in the eyes of the Hollywood-New York-Washington axis.
Actually there is a more subtle, albeit more significant, transformation stealing across America, and it has been at work since 2010. It is the consequence of what our Founding Fathers embedded in our Constitution over 200 years ago. It is federalism, working through the democratic process; and it cannot be stopped by a politicized court, a crazed gunman, or a narcissist.
The Republican Party, the political party of commerce (and of jobs!), has two aspiring candidates for the presidential nomination who are drawn from the business community, one, who evokes unwarranted snoozes, the other, who rather astonishingly evokes derision. I am speaking of Carly Fiorina late of Hewlett-Packard and Donald Trump the billionaire developer. Those who offer their expert appraisals of these two candidates are retired politicians, political advisors, and pundits. In other words, these appraisals are coming from those who have left the field of political combat for whatever reason, or those who have never stood for election yet whose assessment of candidates are taken very seriously by journalists who, incidentally, have themselves never stood for election. Political commentary is unusual. It is as though the leading culinary critics in the country were all vegetarians, or at least fruitarians.
What did I tell you a couple of weeks ago? In fact, what have I been suggesting for months? Hillary is going to have a very tough time winning her party’s nomination. Since we have been appraising her looming presence on the campaign trail a growing list of scandals have been revealed. They have surprised even me, though, truth to tell, any seasoned Clinton watcher has seen their precursors reaching all the way back to her Arkansas days. Lying, secreting evidence from investigators, funny money (and lots of it), campaign contributions from shady characters (some foreign, some felons), and being asleep at the switch during Benghazi. I suppose her Benghazi contretemps was an evolutionary breakthrough for Hillary, but then she had never been secretary of state before.
For a generation—perhaps longer—the liberals have been segregating Americans into smaller and smaller groups. Then they claim to be each group’s unique champion. First they fragmentize America. Then they step forward and represent themselves as fragmented America’s noblest defenders.
Last week Hillary Clinton identified yet another of these fragmentized groups, and she promised to take up their cause in time for the 2016 election. Her cause is the voter who oversleeps, particularly the voter who oversleeps on Election Day. Hillary is coming to the aid of these drowsy voters by demanding at least a 20-day period for them to vote. Even a chronic oversleeper ought to be able to awaken at least one morning in 20. Hillary assures us that the 20-day period will include evenings and weekends and perhaps mood music. Possibly the Federal Election Commission will throw in an alarm clock and a cup of coffee. Voting rights advocates claim that as many as one-third of our fellow citizens suffer from this disability.
Are American voters still suckers for identity politics? Have they not learned that character matters more to leadership than some random physical trait, say: race, color, or creed? Did Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s race help him win World War II? Did Ronald Reagan’s creed help him win the Cold War? What was his creed?
Before he passed away recently John M. Templeton, the distinguished physician and philanthropist, questioned: “Should we tolerate a public educational system with its entrenched self-interest which virtually every inner-city parent knows is destroying any hope or possibility of their children achieving meaningful opportunity in a 21st Century economy?” A growing number of parents say no. Now critics of the public school system are coming forward with alternatives to it and many of them are parents, often parents of disadvantaged students, usually parents that fear for the fate of their children in schools in the inner city.
Last week Prince Charles, in all likelihood the next monarch of Great Britain, suffered a defeat. For ten years he and his aides have resisted a concerted effort to make public certain letters written by him and sent to Prime Minister Tony Blair and several of his ministers. The British newspaper, the Guardian, had sought the letters—27 written in 2004 and 2005—under a Freedom of Information Act inquiry. Now Britain’s Supreme Court has ordered that the letters be released to the public. So this is one the royals lost and the anti-monarchists at the Guardian won. Yet, asking as purely a cisatlantic spectator, I cannot for the life of me discern why the Guardian sought these letters in the first place; or, for that matter, why Prince Charles objected to making them public.