Friday, December 2, 2016

The High Cost of Hillary's Hubris


How the Arrogance of the DNC Gave us President Trump.


Three weeks after an election steeped in a mystifying result, I’m like a couple of hundred million other people and still trying to get to the bottom of things. So bear with me while I offer some opinions more based in strategy than any ideological rant. Never one to bury the lead, I’m going to save a lot of you some time by pointing out three things very quickly.

            Item #1: The first is the simple fact that over 3.2 million of Hillary’s 2.5 million plus majority in the popular vote comes from the State of California with another 1.5 million majority coming from New York. Without those two states, Donald Trump won the rest of the US by 2.4 million votes. That should have been enough to speak for itself. But of course it’s not enough for “The Donald,” because that would require logic, maturity and a statistical sense of perspective. Instead, this guy is so hypomanic that he has now impugned the integrity of the voting system by which he won, claiming that millions of ballots were cast by “illegals.” This grants him the unique status of being the only President Elect in American history to challenge his own win. (You just cannot make this stuff up.)

            Item #2 has to with Dr. Jill Stein and the Green Party’s demand for a recount in key states. To that I offer my firm belief in the electoral system and the fact that recounts are an important part of the process. I’m all for it, because it removes all doubt. So let’s do it. But please! All those of you who think this was some spontaneous grassroots movement started by The Green Party for the betterment of the country, get a reality check. The $6.2 million plus now being raised to fund this recount more than doubles the money Dr. Stein received for her entire 2016 campaign. It was predominantly bot funded…with a money trail leading to George Soros. And the Green Party gets to keep the change (now in excess of $1.7 M) no doubt to help pay off some campaign debts. And do understand that Jill Stein has been in touch with Hillary’s camp from the beginning. So she is in fact their stalking horse.

            Item #3 comes as a question: Am I the only one who finds it absolutely ironic that the first state they’re petitioning for a recount is Wisconsin, a state where Hillary never made one personal appearance during her entire campaign for POTUS? Not one! She ignored the Laws of Attraction and the karma that creates. Instead she took Wisconsin for granted. She took Michigan for granted with two perfunctory stump stops in the same day. Hillary took a good many things for granted. And therein begins the unraveling of the flawed election philosophy of the DNC in what had to be some of the worst set of campaign strategies ever put into play in modern political history.

             Let’s stop right here. Because at this point I’m on the verge of being accused of a hit piece on Hillary, when it is not. My distaste for both presidential candidates is well known by now. It is only exceeded by my utter amazement at the most bizarre pair of political campaigns ever conducted for President of the United States—one hip-shot by a billionaire who daily and deliberately (it seemed to me) tried to gun down his own flying circus; the other by a candidate who did herself in on a much deeper level, in what I believe was the result of trying too hard and drawing to her the thing she feared the most. Or did she?

            In the course of human dynamics, self-sabotage can be a low profile antigen that is both insidious and deadly, the political equivalent of HIV.  It often kills the host without their being a conscious party to it. In HRC’s, case I will lay down my scenario on how she and her minions managed to feed her the political version of hemlock. To make my point, I offer a flashback to Hillary’s post election appearance on November 16 where she was being honored at The Children Defense Fund Dinner as the perfect dovetail into my argument. 

            So there I was watching Hillary Clinton’s first post election appearance since her resignation, and actually feeling my heart tear at the seams. Here was a woman I’ve never cared for very much trying to explain yet again that she ran for President of the United States because she loves America—as if she needed to. And she did so because at some very deep level she truly thought we didn’t believe that aspect of her character. I have so say that saddened me. Because despite her myriad miscues while both Senator and Secretary of State, no sane person could ever doubt her patriotism or love of country.

            Nevertheless here is Hillary, looking twenty years older in just one week—her face a map of betrayal, confusion and regret—soldiering up in the most admirable possible fashion, confiding her pain and disappointment and yet exquisitely defining her dedication to the cause of children (a proven staple of her career). I even gave her a pass on slipping over into her Nixonian trope about remembering her mother’s struggles. I understand her playing the “mama” card. What skilled politician would miss the opportunity to do so? Finally, once she had eloquently bid farewell, I realized that here at last was a woman at peace with herself. She had at long last laid bare that inner chamber in her soul that was dedicated, serene, clear and free of the specter of deceit that had dogged her for the entirety of her career.

            Odd, I thought, even poignant. Where was that Machiavellian aura that had always hung about Hillary like some demon of denial—the one she tried so hard to veil? Instead, in this moment, in this contact with the better angels of her nature, Hillary Clinton managed to appear as deeply committed, unrepentant and in that singularity of purpose more terrifyingly strong than at any point in her career.

            At last for a few brief moments, Hillary Clinton had arrived at peace with the one quality that would have put her over—the Golem of Ruthless Compassion—of uncompromising dedication at the risk of all else. Gandhi had it. Mother Theresa had it. George Washington had it. So did John Adams and Winston Churchill. It is so often the secret sauce of greatness, and it takes some courage to pursue it to the end. Many politicians have the aspect of ruthlessness down pat but lack any real understanding that you can be both tough and kind.
           
            Make no mistake, many political players in American history have owned their toughness and even capitalized on it. Lyndon Johnson often boasted of his penchant for riding roughshod over others. Harry Truman never hid his pure pugnacity in the face of conflict. Putin makes a franchise of his. And certainly Hillary’s opponent in 2016 made a political fetish out of it. When challenged, the Donald has always gone out of his way to be churlish, abusive, reactionary and even hateful—the consummate political counterpuncher, and it only served to build his brand. And don’t think for a minute that ruthlessness in the political arena is exclusively a male province. Maggie Thatcher had no problem being ruthless. Israel’s Golda Meir was no one to mess with. And Indira Gandhi was so damn tough while running India that, by all indications, it probably got her killed.

            Hillary Clinton could never come to grips with hers. Even in this Age of Transparency when everyone knew all along that behind the scenes she was the managerial equivalent of The Red Queen, here is Hillary still trying to act like everyone’s Cub Scout den mother. And as a result she only managed to come off as disingenuous and dishonest. In this age of social subtext everyone hates a phony. Hillary could never shake that. She could never embrace her own toughness, and so became the Poster Child for duplicity itself.

            She was an enabler to her husband, a “fall-guy” for the Obama administration, and the punching bag for every hint of scandal surrounding the Clinton Foundation. Always seeming to suffer these slings and arrows of “unfair” assaults on her character, Hillary has forever behind the scenes justified those suspicions. Noted for being cold-blooded and even tyrannical in how she evaluates the utility of others, she has often misconstrued what was important and what was not.

            Announcing her open dedication to “carrying on the great legacy of the Obama Administration” had to be a Hobson’s choice for her out of the gate. Barack Obama’s legacy is a failed one. Between Obamacare, the Iran Nuclear Deal, his cozying up to Islam and the Monsanto Protection Act, he managed to leave Hillary with the political equivalent of cyanide. Add to that the fact that Barack Obama’s is a “personality cult” presidency. Like JFK and Ronald Reagan before him, Barack Obama has so much swagger and charisma that he can carry about 6 million votes by the sheer force of his star-power alone.  And Hillary utterly lacked that going in. So she was carrying forward all the negatives of Obamanation without any of the exiting POTUS’s practical magic.
           
            Starting her campaign in a serious hole where her public image was concerned, Hillary had managed to do one thing right, and that was to lock down the power structure inside the DNC. Coming out of her Faustian pact with Obama (and the private meeting where Joe Biden was told that “this is not your year”), Hillary had paid enough party dues to shore up 520 of the 710 plus super-delegate votes before she ever hit the campaign trail.

            Along the way, she simply took some things for granted—like the black vote, the Latino vote and Millennials…especially Millennials. Vocally suspicious of her going in, their key politicos tried to forewarn the Democratic power elite as far back as the 2008 primary that they had issues of credibility with Hillary Clinton, but apparently no one listened.

            Then in 2015 and 2016, a majority of Millennials polled fell into the ideological thrall of Socialist renegade conveniently turned Democrat named Bernie Sanders. Openly critical of all political candidates, they voted overwhelmingly for Obama with 62% of them voting the way of the Democrats in 2008 and 2012. Bernie Sanders in his 2016 campaign was just behind that number at 56% of all Millennials and was the only candidate in the plus column where Gen Y was concerned. In fact, they formed the vibrant energy backbone of the Sanders campaign. They campaigned, held rallies in colleges, took to the streets, protested trump and basically became the vocal Brownshirts for the new socialism Bernie was selling. Along the way, they locked arms with the environmentalists, anti-establishment activists and the economically disenfranchised, including independents long since lost to the party.
           
            This of course terrified the Democratic National Committee (DNC) who had for four years been carefully manicuring Hillary’s grassy stroll to the nomination and felt absolutely threatened by populist Sanders’s unprecedented support. Chaired by Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (whose main credentials were political infighting and dirty tricks) the DNC set its game to head Bernie off at the pass. Internally aware that Hillary, with the second highest negatives in political history, was beatable even inside her own party’s convention, the DNC power structure knew they had to be proactive if not preemptive. Bernie Sanders was getting 12,000 people to his rallies to Hillary’s 1,200. And momentum is a capricious beast. So they had to take some draconian measures and they did, by waiting until just the right time to play their trump card.

            Just as both candidates crossed near the 2000 mark (with 2807 delegates needed to win, with Hillary at 2240 and Bernie at 1600 plus) and with some states still left in play, the DNC dropped the super delegate bombshell, declaring that combining the regular vote count with Clinton’s more than 650 super delegates, Hillary had more than enough votes to be declared the winner. Game over. Close the book.

            In making this declaration, the DNC had done more than lock up the nomination for Hillary Clinton. They had also shut down the biggest grass-roots movement in the Democratic Party since 1972. Everyone knew they couldn’t afford to risk a floor fight in Philadelphia. So they stacked the deck to make sure it never happened. What they also managed to accomplish was to blow the lid off the “Big Tent” myth that the Democratic Party had been selling for decades. It also shattered once-and-for-all the grand illusion that the Democrats were the “party of the people.” What it had become over the last 30 years was the establishment scam of that long abandoned ideal—the one that still managed to reel in women, minorities and Millennials to vote their way because after all “what other choice did they have?”

            The first grave miscalculation that the DNC made was that people always have a choice. And it was being expressed in ways that they had not seen since 1968. Bernie Sanders had a message—one of new ideas, a viable plan for taking on the establishment dragons and shaking up the Leviathan of bureaucracy. Taking that message to the street, Bernie’s storm troops were rebelling at every level. They were blocking highways, protesting rallies and stopping traffic. They were even making calls to super-delegates, pleading, cajoling and even threatening them with violence. It didn’t help in the least that Bernie was a sore loser and actually gave his silent consent for the protests by acknowledging the frustration of being so rudely—and unethically—brushed aside. Sanders had only been a de facto Democrat since 2014, and had only joined the party to use it as a platform for his grass roots revolution. So in essence he had nothing to lose. And “playing ball” was nowhere on his radar.

            Unsettled by such dissent in the ranks, Hillary, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DNC power structure decided they had to shut down any semblance of discord before the media could sink their teeth into it. Building a 3-mile moat and stockade around the Wells Fargo Convention Center, they shut out thousands of protesters, while allowing just enough delegates inside to voice a brief but well-orchestrated complaint. After that they had a sit down with Bernie where they agreed to adopt many of his initiatives into the Party Platform and then quickly as possible sent him on his way…or so they thought.

            What followed at the Democratic Convention was a metaphor for Hillary herself. For the networks and the press it was the shining example of harmony, replete with a parade of celebrities saying all the right things, love-bombing candidate Hillary while condemning the cretin candidacy of that Titan of Intolerance Donald Trump. Beneath the surface the Democratic convention had become a hotbed of acrimony and discord—much of it minimized by a highly complicit media determined to put the best possible face on the week.

            Not without its controversy or its sacrifices inside the power structure itself, the Philadelphia convention was conveniently marked by the summary dismissal of Debbie Wasserman Schultz who was thrown under the bus for some (Wiki-leaked) anti-Semitic email indiscretion leveled at Bernie. It was obvious to anyone with eyes to see that she was offered up as blood sacrifice to the howling wolves of Bernie Sander’s pack to assuage their vocal rage, while Schultz in turn was replaced by an even more presentable face of the franchise in black author and political strategist Donna Brazile, who seemed more taciturn and tactful but no less committed to the game plan.

            The game plan, of course, was to send Bernie Sanders and his crew out to pasture as soon as possible and let this be the Hillary Show, the one she had so carefully orchestrated since 2012. If only the DNC had thought about it for a single day, someone with a logical sense of perspective would have realized that it was not only Bernie Sanders’s message people loved; it was the man himself. Bernie was brash. Bernie was refreshing. Bernie spoke from the heart. Bernie was “the people’s candidate.” His poll numbers showed him swamping Donald Trump by double digits (while Clinton and Trump were dead even). And that seemed to terrify Hillary and the DNC to death. So rather than embrace the guy, the Democratic power structure virtually kicked him to the curb, disregarding an enormous voting block in the process.

            There is a tipping point in every run for POTUS. For me, “The Bernie Decision” was the bullet to the brain. If Hillary Clinton had been able to tuck her ego in a drawer for a couple of days and offer Bernie a job as her Number 2, her journey to the White House might have been assured. That would have meant sharing the limelight with a public figure far more popular than she, and it just wasn’t in Hillary’s ego matrix to make that concession.

            Behind the scenes it is common knowledge that Sanders isn’t all that easy to deal with. Often as brusk, rude and dismissive to staff as Hillary is reputed to be, Bernie can be irascible and stubborn to a fault. (Doubtless JFK felt the same way about LBJ but also knew how to make a deal. It’s called politics; and that’s how elections are won.) The simple truth is Hillary and her minions didn’t even try.

            Selective memory is the poison dart of any losing campaign. In this case, Hillary ignored her own biggest failing. She wasn’t well liked. She needed to bring in someone to share the ticket who was not only well known but also beloved as a running mate. Her very personable spouse Bill Clinton was smart enough to pick the highly regarded and popular Al Gore as his running mate in ’92. And Barack Obama, brilliant oratory and swagger notwithstanding, still possessed enough insight to pick popular political pro Joe Biden as his VP.  Common sense dictates that these people bring cachet to the team; they are called “assets.” And smart politicos know how to use them effectively. So what did Hillary Clinton do? She completely bypassed the one man who might have helped put her over and picked instead a metrosexual political cipher named Tim Kaine.

            Tim Kaine, a grey eminence Virginia senator with all the charisma of a streetcar conductor, had absolutely zero marquee power and a kind of bitchy androgyny that rendered him irritating when challenged on issues. Ostensibly bilingual, Kaine was almost condescendingly sent out to Latino audiences to address them in Spanish with an American accent so thick he sounded patronizing every time he opened his mouth. Other than that, his only other contribution to the campaign was to make Mike Pence look presidential and restrained during their two debates, both of which Kaine lost rather handily. Losing to Mike Pence (who still gives me Waffen SS Panzer commander flashbacks) took some doing. But Kaine managed to crater, leaving everyone wondering why he had been chosen at all.

            Along the way there was created a subtext of the Democratic power structure that, I think, did some serious damage. That was the eventual evacuation of all testosterone. Instead of Bernie Sanders who had been the vocal male voice of the franchise, the DNC hit the airwaves after the convention with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Warren, an uber-liberal attack dog with aspirations of her own, quickly swept into view with her bully pulpit. Annoyingly self-righteous, she may have galvanized more women but, lacking any of Bernie’s likability, turned off every man who had to listen to her daily diatribes.

            With Hillary appearing with Michelle Obama and the distaff power structure of the DNC, with Elizabeth Warren piling it on, I eventually became convinced that they were overplaying their “woman card.” I’m going to be accused of being sexist for saying this. I’m not sexist in the least. But I am a strategist…and a realist. I also know that, just as there is some degree of vestigial racism remaining in this country, there is also just enough sexism in America to tip the scales where close elections are concerned.  In truth, Hillary dropped in voter percentage from every male group—Latino men, black men, and white independents—just enough to cost her a several hundred thousands votes. And that made all the difference.

            In a pivotal point of irony it wasn’t the Alpha-male black men or Latino men who cost Hillary the election, it was white independent women voters who carried the day for Donald Trump (49% to 41% for Clinton). Combine that with the exodus of Millennials and you have the perfect storm, especially when one takes into consideration the fact that “independents” at 42% are now the largest voting block in America. Ultimately, Hillary lost across the board. Her numbers were down anywhere from 5% to 12% among the same voting blocks carried by Obama in 2008. Despite 17 million more people voting in 2016 than voted in 2012, Hillary simply lost all contact with the groups she needed most.
           
            Somehow Hillary had to recognize this too little too late. Despite poll numbers tilting in her favor, she was forced in the final two weeks to hold free rock concerts featuring everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Beyoncé and was still only getting 3,000 people with room to spare. Trump on his own was drawing crowds of 20,000 with people waiting to get in. Top that off by the POTUS himself stumping day and night for the last two weeks, begging people to come to their senses, and one got the distinct impression that the real numbers had finally shaken the DNC to the core. So it turned out they were right. And we now have President Trump.


            Fast forward to present time, and the endless cycle of international shockwaves. At this point, I almost find myself enjoying the post election hysteria pouring out of the media, trying to rationalize the most alarming election for POTUS in US history.

            Just before the Thanksgiving holiday I’m watching “Anderson Cooper 360.” And as usual CNN has adopted its new strategy of tossing up talking heads in contrapuntal gang-speak, as if having 8 people screaming out their on screen biases at the same time will actually help to lift its sagging ratings. To my surprise but not my delight, I don’t even recognize these people any more. The news networks seem to dredge them up out of some central casting pundit pool where they arrive pre-scripted to rail at the low hanging fruit of “old white guys” now returned to power. On this show all the “experts” save one were elbowing one another out of the way with epithets such as “new white supremacist nation,” the all-too familiar pap that the “alt right” has taken over the government, and the final dart to the heart by denouncing the new Trump administration as being one of “intolerance and hatred.”
             
            There they were in high dudgeon—everyone from Van Jones to Bob Beckel and Anna Navarro—leading a lynch mob of news nonentities with a verbal fusillade of insults that, had they been directed at any other group, would have been labeled hate speech. All the while, their hysterical prattle was being calmly moderated by Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer with none of them willing to acknowledge that the invective they were spewing out was the very narrative of ridicule that helped get Trump elected in the first place.

            Even I, being on record as no fan of The Donald found myself barking at the TV, “Give the guy a chance!” That very phrase coming out of my mouth strikes me both as evidence and symptom—that, even for a moment, I thought he needed defending.

            Of course, Donald Trump doesn’t need defending. And in a matter of hours he responded to all manner of insult by negative tweets, counterpunching and sticking up for himself. In so doing, in his rude, crude bodacious pugnacity, he appeared ruthlessly pure, candid, and a real breath of fresh air. Just as Bernie Sanders who had been kicked to the curb by the DNC, Trump has now become the Crown Prince of American Populist Outrage—the one who railed against dishonesty, the stacked deck and media manipulation.

            With his impending coronation and what I think will be an imperial presidency, I alone remain convinced that Donald Trump is a man who never really wanted the job in the first place. Rumor has it that Trump started this out as a lark—and that his outrageous behavior was part of his own attempt to take himself out of the game. In so doing, he abandoned tact, humanity, civility and all semblance of civilized behavior. Sounding more like the Mad Hatter than any rational human being, the Donald insulted, railed, abused and tweeted his pettiness to the world. In the process he seems to have tapped into some perverse chamber of human delusion I never thought possible in a modern democracy. As a final stroke of cognitive dissonance, the more the media has railed against Donald Trump, the more the public seems to have rallied around him. While holding Hillary to much higher standards and vilifying her failures to maintain them, we have all managed to lower the bar for Trump, dismissing every depredation as just a personality quirk.

            In some folie du monde the likes of which I have never seen in my lifetime, the electoral majority of America has convinced itself that this man’s inflammatory rhetoric and bad behavior will somehow transubstantiate into honest good intention and excellent result.

            Already President Elect Trump, the man who promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington, is filling it back up with more alligators than it ever had before. One can only hope that his next set of appointments will be more thoughtful and less controversial. But from what I have seen, American politics in the last twenty years have proven to be more like Honóre de Balzac’s description of second marriages: “A triumph of hope over experience.”
           
            On her way out, Hillary Clinton announced her disappointment in defeat by confiding, “I have to admit. This is something I will not get over for a very long time.”


            Madame Secretary, speaking for my country, I don’t think we will either. The good news is that elections come often. And we are all still at choice.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Requiem for a Sold Out Nation

Requiem for a Sold Out Nation

Donald v. Hillary, Ben Rhodes
And the Myth of Media Integrity.

Spoiler Alert: This is not an endorsement of Donald Trump. Although I have to admit that if Donald had any class at all, he could have waltzed into the White House. He doesn’t.
This is also not an endorsement of Hillary Clinton. Although I have to admit that if Hillary had any integrity at all, she could have waltzed into the White House. She doesn’t.
            At this point, I also have to underscore the Paradox: Trump is the only Republican that Hillary would ever have a chance of beating. Clinton is the only Democrat that Donald would ever have a chance of beating. They are two sides of the same coin: The Coin of US. Start there.

            So…as a prelude to what is turning about to be the political version of Alien versus Predator, I would like to continue my tale by pointing to a dream I had a few nights ago.

            In my dream, my nightmare really, America had just become a one party country—and our future President of the United States had just allowed himself to get dragged down into a petty pissing contest with an American Muslim Gold Star father of a fallen hero—tweeting and whining and doing interviews—and constantly getting his butt kicked!

            Oh, wait a minute! I wasn’t dreaming. It actually happened because it was just another day in the life of Donald Trump. And thanks to “The Donald” we now have a one party system—the Democratic Party—because Trump just finished obliterating the GOP and turning it into a feckless, disjointed amalgam of rabble and political cannibals, thumping their bibles, waving the flag and basically living in the past. This was more than evident in Cleveland just two weeks ago, when any Republican with any class—including two ex-Presidents and the Governor of Ohio—stayed away from this wreckage of lost souls that looked more like the deck of the Titanic than any kind of convention. And they did so for several very good reasons. Because, if the Republican Party is to survive at all (and it might not!) reasonable people are going to have to salvage something from the political carnage that will be left behind on November 8, 2016.
           
            The irony of all this is that by getting into an unwinnable argument with Pakistani American Khizr Kahn, Trump and his paper-thin ego and petty genetic matrix fell right into the clever Machiavellian trap the DNC had cleverly laid for him. Anyone with any sense at all could see it coming: A Pakistani Muslim with an Army Captain son martyred in the cause of freedom bitch slaps The Donald with a copy of the Constitution and then utters that unforgettable phrase…”You have sacrificed nothing!” And of course the Nominee of the GOP just couldn’t resist the taunt.
           
            Frankly, if one dares to step inside Donald Trump’s demented perspectives of privilege, why should he? He seems able to dive down into a bottomless pit of rude, crude banalities and slough off the debris as if it had all been a misunderstanding. And he pulls it off every single time.

            An entire field of 16 Republican candidates couldn’t take him down. Even from the first debate, Trump lured some very talented people over into a name-calling, nasty series of mindless exchanges that soon became the political equivalent of mudwrestling. And he did it without saying one intelligible thing, while candidates who tried to have message and purpose and some kind of game plan went ignored and eventually fell by the wayside. Mitt Romney—with the most cogent, classy 10-minute, line-item denunciation ever delivered to a listening audience—couldn’t do it. John Oliver with a year’s worth of case building satire couldn’t do it. Bill Maher couldn’t dis him away. Neither could Ted Cruz, Colin Powell, George Will or the best efforts of the entire RNC.

            It is certainly not lost on me that people are frustrated. I get the fact that all of us have been betrayed by the political party hacks on the left and right so long that we no longer trust any of them. Our institutions are being destroyed. Our schools have eviscerated American History. Common Core has middle class whites taking "Apology Courses." Christian symbols have been removed from some schools while Muslim prayer rugs are introduced into others. Black Lives Matter gets non-profit status for turning protests into riots. And our financially gutted military are cranking out “girlie men.”

            I also understand why those on the Right have looked to outsiders like Trump to fix this broken system, because Trump somehow symbolizes our lost national backbone. I completely understand why The Donald’s millions of followers respond to his Billionaire Tourette’s Syndrome as if his semi-coherent fulminations had been etched into stone tablets on Mount Sinai. I have even gotten used to the fact that his public demeanor is a mashup of Don King, Mussolini and Biff Tannen… and that he won’t be able to follow through on a single thing he promises to do. Trump is a classic example of what we used to describe in Texas as “Big Hat. No Cattle.” And it’s not that Trump is outrageous that bothers me. It is that he’s just not very bright.

            But he is bright enough to manipulate the media and feed their greed for ratings, making them de-facto accomplices in his fractious rise to power.
           
            I’m also convinced that, deep inside his soul of souls, candidate Trump doesn’t really want to be POTUS and is trying in every Freudian context to take himself out of the race. Either that, or he has an undiagnosed case of hypomania, which might medically disqualify him out of the gate…and would certainly be enough to deny him any access to the nuclear football.  

            On his reckless run at the White House (and some bizarre courtship with political martyrdom), The Donald has already thrown South Korea under the bus while encouraging North Korea’s Kim Jung Un (the 21st century Ramsey Bolton) with offers of a summit. He offers torture as a military alternative, wiping out families of terrorists, and using nuclear warheads. He has praised Putin and Saddam Hussein and dumped on JFK. We already have his laundry list of insults to women, the physically impaired, Muslims and the entire nation of Mexico. Now, almost on a daily basis, The Donald has added “stupid” to his list of disqualifiers, noting that Russia will not go into Ukraine (even though they took the Crimea back in 2014). Meanwhile he somehow proposes the use of “nukes” without the slightest understanding of the Nuclear Triad…or even what it is.

            In fact, in the wake of the Khizr Khan fiasco last week, Trump had such a catastrophic five days in a row that the press ended up calling it “the worst week in anyone’s run for President ever.” There’s only one thing wrong with their critique. They said the same thing about The Donald at the end of March—and the end of April, the end of May…and the middle of June. In fact, get used to it: this guy is the Terminator. He just keeps coming back, and he stays within the margin of error because mainstream America is scared to death when faced with the alternative.

            The alternative is Hillary Clinton. And I finally understand that she is a serial prevaricator who has lied about virtually every issue ever put in front of her. We have her on tape. We have her on film. We have her on daily news—repeating her lies on continuous loop without one iota of shame—and it doesn’t matter! It doesn't matter in the least because the public has become inured to them, because the term “lying politician,” has become a pleonasm in the daily discourse of running our dysfunctional government. And HRC’s notorious flip-flops are now being looked upon simply as business as usual for the political scumbags inside the Beltway. So, We the People rationalize that Hillary is no different…and therefore not that much worse than anyone else. (That’s how far we have lowered the bar.)

            I also get the fact that her Kool-aid brigade are willing to dismiss Hillary’s Brian Williams Category 1 pathological “dodging sniper fire” lies with the same kind of numb vestigial shrug we often witness from Wildebeests in the Serengeti when hyenas devour their young…which goes a long way toward explaining the former Secretary of State’s bizarre Benghazi “Video” McGuffin and her disappeared 30,000 emails. Because as history has taught us: “Nothing succeeds quite as well as a big lie.”

            Aware of this, Hillary pulled it off, just as she pulled off all her deleted connections to the Clinton Foundation, because she knew that neither the FBI Director James Comey nor anyone in the press would challenge her on it. In fact they enabled her felonies right before our eyes, and we all accepted it. We accepted it because we have been numbed to the congenital dishonesty of our press and our government officials—all of them—including and especially our Security Agencies.

            Somehow, I’ve almost gotten over the fact that I shudder every time Hillary opens her mouth, not just because she reminds me of the Bride of Chucky (which she does), but also because she is more like Richard Nixon than any other politician before or since. Like Nixon, Hillary doesn’t like people very much. And like Nixon, she is the only candidate in either party who possesses the political genetics to walk into the Oval Office on day one, sit down at her desk and be ready to run the country. And like Nixon (a closet liberal BTW), HRC would be able to do it with the same ruthless efficiency and marginal ethics that will be just enough to allow the fractured engine of Democracy to continue on its troubled course, chronically ill but not yet ready to die. She is in fact the recruitment Poster Marine for the Corrupt Continuum. And that seems enough for some…

            It’s a continuation of corruption that “We the People” are embracing because—like the battered wife or the kidnap victim— we have become the enablers of all that we detest…because at our core we’re terrified of what we might lose if we opt for change.

            As it is, I witness this pandemic Stockholm Syndrome that has infused the American mindset in the last 12 months, and I am haunted by the words of French counterrevolutionary Joseph de Maistre who said: “In a Democracy people get exactly the leaders they deserve.” De Maistre knew this only too well. Flourishing from 1751 to 1821, he survived that bloody orgy of anarchy called the French Revolution, witnessed the career arc of Napoleon and lived to become part of France’s eventual return to sanity.

            The question is, will we? (Return to sanity, that is.) And let’s face it: This presidential race that has left us with the two most deplorable choices for POTUS in modern history is purely an extension of our consciousness as a nation—nothing more, nothing less. As Americans, We the People have become narcissistic, overfed, undereducated and uninformed, overloaded with technology, manipulated by media, radicalized by extremists on both sides and turned into mindless “World War Z” fodder for the demagogue. We’ve been drugged and doped and media saturated out of most of our national initiative. And we cannot get our head out of our apps long enough to recognize it. We know something is wrong, but we’re in denial about the fact that “we” are what is wrong.

            With 340 million inhabitants (4.9% of the global population) we consume 18% of the world’s food (and throw away 40% of it). We use 24% of the world’s energy, own 68% of the world’s cars and trucks, and 40% of its TVs, smart phones, and electronics. 58% of the US food chain is GMO, 69% of the country is overweight, and 120 million of us are now defined as morbidly obese. What we have become is a monster of consumption that is truly devouring the world. And yet we are convinced that somehow we need more.

            Bernie Sanders fed into that need. And for a year, he transplanted his Socialist roots deep down into the Democratic brand, using that platform to convince legions of the disenfranchised that they weren’t getting theirs while barking the standard Socialist mantra to rail against the low-hanging fruit of that “elite” 1%. (Of course, the 1% includes anyone who makes over $320 K a year, who usually work their butts off to get there and who pay 19% of all income tax and employ 24% of the workforce.) Very little of this mattered to Bernie who applied his “more free sh*t for everyone” game plan, until the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Shultz threw him under the bus …but not before his legion of angry faithful rose such a stink at the Philadelphia Convention Center that the Democrats had to build a six mile wall around the complex to prevent Bernie’s “Brownshirts” from storming the doors.

            None of this showed up on camera because the media conspired to scrub down the Democratic Convention into a Norman Rockwell mural of patriotic harmony and Big Umbrella brotherhood—with eloquent speeches from shiny people and Hillary appearing on stage like Lady-Bountiful/Grandmother of the Year, locking arms with celebrities, singing Kumbaya and simply pleading to be allowed to serve her country “one more time.”

            Meanwhile, the DNC allowed Bernie Sanders to push the Democratic party platform so far to the left that the America we know will never appear on the horizon again. Instead, it will die of a strain of economic HIV that will take us down generation by generation until nothing of the Capitalistic matrix will be left.

            That’s not what troubles me most about Hillary Clinton (although there is much there to dislike). What haunts me to this moment and will forever is her opening statement when announcing her run for the highest office in the land: “To continue the great work begun by Barack Obama.”

            And OMG!! I remember thinking at the time. I personally couldn’t imagine a scarier thing in the world! Forget the fact that in just the last ten days, this guy signed the Monsanto Protection Act and got nailed for indirectly selling helicopters to ISIS—just on foreign policy alone, the Obama legacy has become the political equivalent of a live grenade.

            When recently asked on PBS about his greatest foreign policy achievements, Barack Obama immediately answered without pause: “Our restored relations with Cuba…and the Nuclear Arms Deal with Iran.” When I heard him say this, I went into a kind of retro-shock that after 7 years in office our Nobel Laureate POTUS had those two things in the realm of foreign policy for which he was proud.

            The rapprochement with Cuba was OK, I guess. We already do business with our fair share of sleazy dictators with deplorable human rights records, so why not Cuba? Time to bury the hatchet, I suppose. But Iran?! The Iran Nuclear Arms Treaty summarizes just how sold out we are as a nation and how little any of us can do about it.

              I need merely refer to the fall out from a May 6 New York Times interview with White House Deputy Foreign Policy Advisor Ben Rhodes. In the article Rhodes arrogantly proclaimed that the Obama Administration had in fact “deliberately deceived” the American people by creating a false narrative surrounding its negotiations with Iran.

            This, coming from the White House operative referred to by many as “Obama’s alter-ego where foreign policy is concerned," pointed to the fact that not only was the deal apparently negotiated in bad faith but also undertaken by intentionally ventriloquizing the Washington media into becoming an “Echo Chamber” for the Obama Administration’s policies—something, Rhodes bragged, that The White House has repeatedly done for years.

            For those of us who weren’t paying much attention, the Iran Nuclear talks were based on the premise that the US would be dealing with “moderate” Iranian politicos, when everyone knew the radicals were front and center from the beginning. What followed during the next two weeks was what had to be the worst diplomatic pocket-picking since Neville Chamberlain’s “Peace in Our Time” negotiations with Hitler—an international collapse of resolve that not only sent $150 Billion to the fountainhead of terrorism in the Middle East, but also one so replete with toxic spillover that even Israel and Saudi Arabia aligned against it.

            As it turns out, Ben Rhodes defiantly implicated Obama, Kerry, Valerie Jarrett and company in a conspiracy of lies about the nature of the negotiations from the beginning. Rhodes further denounced the administration’s previous foreign policy scout team as a “bungling bunch of morons,” singling out former CIA Chief Leon Panetta and then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for their incompetence.

              All the while, all teams were dealing not with moderates but with Iran’s most vociferous radicals, including the Ayatollah Khamenei himself who showed up inbetween his daily “Death to America” rallies to make sure the US knuckled under and, once the negotiations were completed, immediately went out to a fully packed street crowd in Tehran to announce that, “We got everything we wanted!”           

            This is a continuum if not the nadir of the same foreign policy disaster in the Middle East instigated by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton who proudly helped to orchestrate the disastrous Arab Spring (of 2012)—the same Arab Spring that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi in Libya only to see—four years later—ISIS establish its largest base of operation in that country, spawning the largest diaspora North Africa has ever known.

            This is the same “Arab Spring” that left our US Embassy team twisting in the wind—despite 5 different pleas for rescue—including Ambassador Christopher Stevens… and including Navy Seal Tyrone Woods and Service Officer Sean Smith, all of whom were captured tortured and killed…and then lied about ad nauseam.   

             There is little doubt that the State Department knew the real cause of the attack on our Benghazi Embassy from the outset—that it was an Al Qaeda orchestrated raid planned in advance—because they were outed two days after the fact by (then) Libyan Prime Minister Mustafa Aubshagur who went on ABC Sunday Morning to declare that the Obama Administration knew exactly who had done it and why, and then defied them to take action, threatening repercussions if they did so.

            The fact that they continued to lie about it and that Hillary somehow agreed to become the point person for this is still murky in its source but confirmed in several books, including Ben Stein’s Blood Feud. But the bottom line is that she did lie. She lied to the families and to the American people and (as part of her dark contract with Obama), agreed to take the fall for it in return for his endorsement in 2016.

            That brings us nearly full circle and underscores the hypocrisy of both political conventions and how the media dealt with them. And I focus here on the GOP convention speech by mother of slain Benghazi Staff Officer Sean Smith. In her impassioned Tuesday night speech in Cleveland, Gold Star Mother Patricia Smith cried out in anguish to Hillary Clinton for lying to her about the (bogus video) cause of her son’s death. And for her troubles over her martyred son she was savaged en masse by the Press, denounced for exploiting her son’s death and even threatened a time or two. When Charles Woods, Gold Star father of Navy Seal Sean Woods (also slain in Benghazi), came to Patricia Smith’s defense and reiterated that Hillary had lied to him as well about the attack (either that or she was suffering from dementia), he was subsequently ignored for having a faulty memory and for being pressured by the Trump camp to step up.

            This actually brings us 360 degrees to Donald Trump’s little piss-up with Khizr Khan and the ridiculous double standard being thrust upon both candidates.   Here we have Hillary Clinton who had direct impact on the deaths of Benghazi’s victims not needing to defend herself because the press was doing it for her.  And here is the Donald being raked over the coals by Khizr Khan and being too stupid to just shut up.

            Of course, Trump is a knee-jerk retaliator who counterpunches in every direction like a drunk losing a barroom brawl. And now, rather than engage in any meaningful dialogue about how to fix this nations problems, he is rattling off so many inanities daily that he’s shaken his own campaign organization to the roots. There is little doubt at this point that The Donald will self-immolate, and the press will be the instrument to take him down.  

            It is the same media, mind you, that made candidate Trump, that enabled him to suck all the air out of the Republican primary by giving him 90% of their air time for months, while some very gifted people were afforded no voice at all and were finally left to die of benign neglect. Now, however, it is time for The Donald to go home, because after all the man has fulfilled his purpose.

            In case we ever doubt our media’s bias for a moment I must add a footnote to the Ben Rhodes debacle that summarizes the spirit of our national consciousness. According to a later report by The Wall Street Journal, when Ben Rhodes went off on everyone including the Obama Administration and essentially spat in the face of the public in the process, he was absolutely vilified by the Washington Press Corps—not for his arrogance, not for being part of a conspiracy to deceive the American people, and not even for his expressed contempt for the press and his associates…but for his disloyalty to his Commander in Chief, for outing the President and his team.

             Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels once famously said: “We regard the press as an instrument upon which the government may play.” Nothing has underscored that truism more than the last seven years.

            During that time, the press has covered up so many depredations by the Obama administration it has been difficult to vet because there are now media filters that sieve out unfavorable information from public view. In truth, America has been under a virtual news blackout so insidious that one has had go to the foreign media to find out what is actually happening in the world.

            Those backing Trump are those who have summoned enough grit to fight back. They are outraged by the daily government assaults on our institutions; and they’re right to do so. But by choosing Donald Trump as their standard bearer, they have anointed a shallow political poseur who has done nothing more than master the Art of Complaint—and who has absolutely nothing constructive to offer to replace what now exists.  In doing so, they have abandoned reason, logic and all the tools of democracy that deny good men and women the ability to invoke legitimate change. Along the way, they’ve completely obliterated a political party in the bargain. 

            That seems to have been the plan all along. So what we are left with is some perverse inversion of the Manchurian Candidate—the only GOP candidate that Hillary could beat—the nominee who still chooses to attack his fellow Republicans and can’t seem to concentrate on the real issues at hand.

            Eleven months ago, I wrote a blog: “Will Trump Trash the GOP?” http://robertahola.com/blog-posts/will-trump-trash-the-gop/ I hate to say, “I told you so,” but he has done exactly that. And by doing so, The Donald has become the perfect conjuration of the Clinton political machine. And they have to be high-fiving behind closed doors, because now it’s hers to lose.
           
            The press helped Trump do it. The public bought it. And all the Democrats had to do was wait.  Of course, there will be some backsliding. And Hillary’s daily conduct is always a target rich environment. But she is the Devil we know, and now her ranks are filled with defectors from the Republican ranks.

            Barring a miracle or a midnight revelation, in November the Democrats will win the White House and both Houses of Congress. And for the next four years at least, they will have tricked the nation into the one party system for which they’ve been conniving all along. Well as the proverb prophesies: “Be careful what you wish for.” One party “democracies” have always failed in the end and taken down the countries that embrace them.

            President Ronald Reagan once prophetically noted a phrase that now haunts us all: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”

 

            By allowing Trump to self-destruct in geometric progressions, the Democrats are having their way with it all the way into November. “We the People” have been the ultimate enablers, and we have let the media help us pave the way. We have finally demolished the GOP, severely crippled the two party system and shot ourselves in the foot. Let’s just be sure that the next round doesn’t go straight into the brain.