Monday, July 25, 2016

Finding the Gooey Center

Maybe this election wasn't meant for liberals. The announcement Friday night of Sen. Tim Kaine as Hillary Clinton's running mate was notably not a surprise and admittedly a slight letdown. In a contested primary season where self-admitted "Democratic Socialist" Bernie Sanders went toe-to-toe with the embattled former Secretary of State, what mattered more was appealing to centrists and jaded moderates. Kaine's supporters will attest that he has more liberal credentials than what appears at face value, but anyone expecting Sanders or Liz Warren or anything further left will have to bite the bullet. Kaine is very compatible with Clinton politically, only slightly left-leaning but pragmatic and malleable, almost as if Hillary had chosen a second husband. (Yes, go ahead and put your Clinton sex joke here.) The only thing for certain here is that a Pence-Kaine Vice Presidential debate will be a partisan snooze-fest.

Arguably the most grotesque presidential race in recent memory is circling third and heading home. Some polls would indicate that Donald Trump holds an advantage over Clinton in the polls, but the Kaine pick likely throws it back to 50/50. Secretary Clinton, for all of her flaws, is the only viable alternative to Trump's insult-throwing circus act. (I can only hope Gary Johnson will eat away at the conservative core.) Trump's acceptance speech this past Thursday may have looked and felt more presidential that what we've seen in the previous 13 months of his campaign, but I saw through the veneer.

Speaking of which, from a satirical perspective, the Republican National Convention was almost like manna. It was a mass menagerie of easy targets, some you saw coming (Chris Christie) and others you didn't quite expect (Melania Trump). The fringe loonies have taken over the GOP, the sane Republicans stayed home, and inexplicably Ted Cruz was the sole voice of reason.

If there is any condolence to what may happen in November, keep in mind that in 2012 we reelected a third consecutive president; that has only happened once before in American history (Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe). The possibility of a fourth straight president getting a second term, regardless of how speculative that would be at this point, is unlikely. Both of these candidates look and feel like one-term presidents at this point, potential placeholders for something better.


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