Tuesday, May 24, 2016

After The Primaries, The War For Middle Kingdom


As Donald Trump approaches the finish line, the Republican National Convention that almost certainly will nominate him for the presidency, Democrats will be drawing their long knives out of their rhetorical scabbards in defense of Hillary Clinton. A cautionary note: At the risk of disappointing those on the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign wagon, this column assumes that Hillary Clinton will emerge from the Democratic Nominating Convention with the presidential nomination in her teeth. Miracles do happen, cows are sometimes born with two heads, but rational assumptions must sometimes be made in this wicked world.


Math is unforgiving, and there is no point in quarreling with it. It is nearly impossible for Mr. Sanders to wrest the nomination from Mrs. Clinton. The best he can do at this point is to make a point at the convention; he has sufficient delegates to seize the microphone and make a progressive pest of himself. Mr. Sanders might be able to rally support in favor of a platform that could be to his liking -- a plank, say, that might reserve capital punishment for Wall Street financiers. Progressives generally do not favor capital punishment, however heinous the crime of the criminal. However, they might be induced to make exceptions in cases in which rich financiers offend socialist sensibilities. Sadly, when the balloons fall at the end of the convention signaling Mrs. Clinton’s triumph, it is more than likely the Sanders mob will be asked, very politely, to defend the choice of the party’s Convention.

And the Republican establishment will be forced to defend their nominee as well. This is politics; as Mr. Dooley says, "... politics ain’t bean bag."

The Trumpian response to the coming general election assault, waged mostly by well-paid provocateurs operating outside Democratic Party precincts, will be a vigorous counter-assault. Mr. Trump has shown himself to be a campaign artist in this regard. Whatever virtues she might possess, Hillary Clinton is no match on the stump for The Donald, and Mr. Trump is not likely to allow political sharpshooters to wound him unmolested while hidden behind off-party barricades.

The still unanswered question is: Can the usual establishment Republican, a polite fiscal conservative palsied by fear of confrontations on the social front, support the Trump juggernaut? And the answer is: Of course he/she can. Provided Mr. Trump emerges as the presidential nominee of his party, the Republican establishment, often denigrated by Mr. Trump, will shoulder his candidacy to the bitter end. Likewise, among the Democrats: Can the supporters of Socialist Sanders lend a shoulder to Ms. Clinton after she elbows him out of the race and pivots erratically to the right in the general campaign? Of course they can. Primaries are rough and tumble civil – and sometimes not so civil – internecine wars. But after the smoke has cleared from the battlefields a Lincolnesque peace quickly binds all wounds.

Here in Connecticut, the Sander’s crowd likely will cautiously embrace Mrs. Clinton, the prospective nominee of their party; this despite her fumbling failure to install in Syria a regime acceptable to the Obama/Clinton administration, not to mention a pending FBI criminal investigation concerning hundreds of e-mails sent from a rogue server that later were determined to be highly classified; the classification was tardy because Mrs. Clinton had avoided the usual oversight by the use of a private server. And then too, Benghazi has been a disappointment for those in the United States who, in the words of John Adams, “are the friends of democracy everywhere, but the custodians only of their own.”

Mr. Trump may be a campaign carnival barker, but no one has yet died on the roof of Trump Tower in New York, his latest marriage appears to be a success – if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again – and the author of “The Art of the Deal” can turn on the charm when necessary. Mrs. Clinton is trying desperately to re-do her political persona, but it’s been a slow, painful slog so far. Even when she shows her pearly teeth, people think – Lucrezia Borgia.

The fun in the general election will begin when both candidates veer towards the middle. Mrs. Clinton already is pivoting towards the vanishing vital center of American politics. Mr. Trump has given signs he is mellowing. Behind all that gruff and bluster, his supporters now claim, there lies a heart of gold and an empathetic nature that will make the angels weep for joy.


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