Sometimes I wish I had a daily TV show so I could go off half-cocked on breaking news instead of having time to digest, evaluate and gain perspective on matters.
The November election is over. Maybe you voted; maybe you didn’t. Maybe you helped in a campaign. Maybe your side won; maybe it didn’t.
But at least it’s over, right? No more ads or pleas for help for two years? Your phone isn’t ringing; your email isn’t dinging. It’s over.
Not so fast, buckaroos. This is America, by cracky. There are livelihoods – and frequent flyer miles – at stake. There is no post-election cooling-off period. Welcome to the latest installment of the persistent campaign, where well-heeled Super PACs and their well-paid brow-beaters work their agenda while you sleep.
Campaigning is no longer about persuading hearts and minds every election cycle. It’s a daily show and it’s about buying you. Well, before your head swells, it’s not about buying you, per se, it’s about buying whole lots of you, plural, because campaigns have lost any semblance of personal touch. Contrary to the love-child malarkey you bought into when you were still idealistic, you are not a Child of the Universe. You have no right to be here. You do, though, have a wallet.
No sooner had the GOP secured control of Congress last month than operatives on the right began unleashing attacks on Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president in 2016. Initially, pundits were saying the midterm results were damaging to Mrs. Clinton’s aspirations. If so, why is the right so scared of her now? Meanwhile, the left is pressuring her to state already that she will, indeed, run. The Washington Post reported that a couple of dozen of Clinton’s staff affirmed – anonymously, of course — that Mrs. Clinton is running. This was undoubtedly a planned leak, approved if not contrived by the boss lady herself, but it begs the question: Why, at this stage, would Mrs. Clinton feel the need for such a trial balloon?
Meanwhile, her husband, speaking at the University of Southern California, predicted Congress “will do a boogie dance” for a few months, but, reflecting on his experience working with a divided government and intense partisanship, suggested Congress and the White House could still “get things done.”
House Speaker John Boehner sounds like he wants to boogie dance far longer. Maybe he was just posturing for the loud, intransigent faction of his party, but within hours of the midterm results, Boehner crowed for the media, essentially saying President Obama will yield to Congress or else. And the 114th Congress hasn’t even been sworn in. That’s no way to “get things done,” but it’s nothing new with Boehner.
Obama doesn’t have the skill or the charm of, say, a Bill Clinton or a Ronald Reagan to work out compromises with opponents. But I don’t recall when a president faced such open hostility. Still, if Obama digs in his heels over Boehner’s childish posturing, it serves no one. It’s all well and good to be the last defender standing at the Alamo, but after the enemy had prevailed there anyway, what was accomplished? A catchy slogan and more bloodshed.
It turns out there will be 100 women in the House of Representatives after this election. It might as well be 99 or 101 for all that it matters. But 100 is supposed to be a celebratory number. It’s not. There are still 435 men in the House, so female representatives there still are nowhere close to the percentage of the population, and the females in Congress are not advocates for women’s issues, by and large. Moreover, leadership positions, like committee chairmanships, held by women in the expiring Congress will be taken over come January by the male-dominated GOP. This election was actually a setback for representation of women in Washington, the number 100 notwithstanding.
Meanwhile, the leader of the Log Cabin Republicans lamented the fact no openly gay Republicans were elected to Congress (there were two such candidates, in California and Massachusetts). I can’t understand why LCRs think their party was going to support those races, especially given that the GOP has firm control of the House without those two guys.
The gun lobby lost one in Washington State, where voters overwhelmingly approved expanded background checks for prospective gun buyers. It was the only state with such a proposal on the ballot.
Take this fact as you will: It was the lowest turnout for a midterm election since 1942. That was not quite a year after Pearl Harbor, and the nation was embroiled in World War II. Patriotism was fervent, yet voter turnout was low.
Finally, one under-reported result was a true victory for the people over big business. Voters in Malibu, Calif., easily passed a measure that would require a vote of the people for many new retail projects, prompted by a plan to build a Whole Foods market in the beach getaway for billionaires and celebrities. The measure had strong backing from Barbra Streisand, Tom Hanks, David Geffen and the like. Hey, entertainment moguls are people, too.
I’m grasping for a silver lining.
Before the election, there was the dramatized, drawn-out Ebola scare. Some political types went to the airwaves and called for President Obama to appoint some kind of “health czar.” The funny thing is, we would have had one, called the surgeon general, but Congress has refused for months to act on the president’s nominee for the position.Pat Robinson, head Pharisee of The 700 Club on the Christian Broadcasting Network, has a new health warning for us: You can get AIDS if you touch a towel from Kenya. I guess ol’ Pat’s so senile he didn’t know the current health scare is Ebola. But AIDS still resonates with Pat because you can contract it through sex. Through other means, too, but it’s mostly associated with sex, and sex, in most of its forms, is a sin in the eyes of Robinson and his acolytes. I’m not sure what Kenyan towels have to do with sex, but there it is: Touch a Kenyan towel and you could get AIDS. You’ve been warned. I can just see a run on made-in-America towels at the West Rome Walmart.
The Christian Broadcasting Network issued a correction, but Kenyans have demanded an apology from Pat himself. And this was surprising to learn: The 700 Club is very popular in Kenya. Let’s tally the irony quotient in this: 1) There is absolutely no evidence that towels transmit AIDS; 2) the CBN actually stood up for accuracy; 3) Pat Robinson has managed to anger a large segment of his fandom without angering any minorities or liberals. That’s a trifecta, folks.