Saturday, September 26, 2015

Thirteen More Months

So House Speaker John Boehner is retiring. Mr. Boehner made this surprise announcement in what the New York Times described as “an emotional meeting.” Actually, emotional meetings are the only kind the famously tearful Boehner has been having lately. Lucky for him he has a penis, because a female Speaker who cried that much would have been ousted years ago for being too soft.

The other news of last week was that Scott Walker suspended his presidential campaign. “Suspended” is politician bullshit for quit. I’m not sure why candidates nowadays say suspended instead of quit, but it has become the standard verbiage.

Walker, one of the least likable of the GOP candidates, had the support of less than one half of one percent of Republican voters. As Stephen Colbert pointed out, the other 15 GOP presidential contenders will now have to fight over his former supporters. All two of them. Anyway, with Walker out, somebody else is apparently going to have to carry on the struggle to build a wall against Canadian immigrants.

Walker’s biggest claim to fame was not his ferocious anti-Canadianness, but his relentless battle against unions, a battle that made him a hero of right-wing Republicans. And why shouldn’t he go after the unions? What have the unions ever done for us?

(Well, they fought tirelessly to bring about the 40-hour work week, with weekends off and obligatory overtime pay – all things that the conservatives of the day were against.)

Okay, but besides that, what have they ever done for us?

(Come to think of it, they fought for the 8-hour work day, unemployment insurance, paid vacations. Also, retirement benefits.)

Yeah, but besides those things what have they ever done for us???

(Occupational safety standards, paid time off for illness, an end to child labor.)

But besides giving us the weekend, the 8-hour day, the 40-hour week, overtime pay, health benefits, paid vacations, unemployment compensation, safety standards, retirement benefits, and laws against child labor, what else have the unions done for us? NOTHING!*

It’s no wonder Scott Walker is so well loved by people like the Koch brothers.

Here’s a thought provoker: What if the final election were between Scott Walker and Donald Trump? Who would you vote for – the dishonest, mean spirited political operator or the flamboyant, shallow-minded egomaniac? I can hardly believe I’m saying this, but I’d have to go with Trump. A Trump presidency would immediately face us with the insanely impossible and unethical task of trying to “repatriate” 11 million undocumented immigrants, so that’s a negative. Also, Trump seems to want to rewrite the Fourteenth Amendment to keep people from being born into U.S. citizenship.

Admittedly these are downsides, but compared to the horror of a Scott Walker presidency, I would take them. And besides, it would almost be worth it to have a Trump presidency**, just for the fun of seeing him try to “deal” with Congress.

Then there are the others: Ben Carson, for example - the religious fundamentalist who apparently thinks Christianity is the only religion a president should have. A Carson presidency would make it easier for ISIS to convince the Muslim world that America is anti-Islam. We aren’t, of course, but there are plenty of American conservatives who beg to differ – like that strange audience member who addressed Donald Trump on this issue earlier this month.

I am still inclined to think Jeb is going to wind up with the nomination. His strongest challenger is, I believe, Marco Rubio. I first saw Rubio campaign some years ago here in Florida, and I was impressed. Not for his policy positions which ranged from the dishonest to the absurdly pro-corporate, but for his public speaking skills. Unlike Jeb, or Hillary, for that matter, Rubio is good on the stump. He is the kind of smooth operator who can get people to believe things that are clearly untrue, and make them like him at the same time.

But I believe Jeb will probably get the GOP nod (though I am less completely sold on this prospect than I once was). If Jeb is the candidate, that would rule out fellow Floridian Rubio as a running mate, unless Jeb were to do what Cheney did in 2000 and pretend he was actually from another state.

One aspect of Jeb’s lame campaigning style is his weakness in public speaking generally. I attended a speech he gave back in 2007 when he was nearing the end of his governorship here. At Q and A time, I asked him if he didn’t owe an apology to those Floridians whose right to vote he had stripped away during the 2000 election. He responded first with a joke, and then with a regurgitation of insultingly obfuscating double-talk that led me to walk out on him as he spoke – the kind of rude gesture from which I ordinarily refrain. He did not, by the way, apologize to those his administration had wronged.

And then there is this: Jeb recently said with reference to African-Americans that, “Our message is one of hope and aspiration. It isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting – that says you can achieve earned success.”

“And so,” he might have added, “I hope African-Americans everywhere will feel uplifted by my labeling them a bunch of lazy goof-offs who vote Democratic because they like standing around waiting for free stuff.”

The presidential race has been heating up lately, but it will be over in just about 13 months. Thirteen more months. That’s so depressing. What will I do to amuse myself when it’s over?

(Thanks to the Roper Center of the University of Connecticut for this image.)


*Humble apologies to Monty Python for this theft.

**Not really.