Engaging in politics is like embarking on an oceangoing voyage. The journey is fluid. At one moment you find yourself buoyed by calm waters and favorable winds. The next you are struggling to stay afloat as a sudden storm front crashes forty foot swells across your bow.
For the past several days the political spotlight has been on the Democrats as they chart their course toward the next election. By all accounts the voyage is going well.
Democrats staged their first presidential debate. Unlike the sophomoric food fight produced by the Republicans; the Democrats came off as serious people discussing serious issues. The frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, righted her heretofore rocky ship and came across as a very polished and knowledgeable candidate. Bernie Sanders also did well demonstrating that he can hang with Clinton over the long haul. Sanders authored the highlight of the debate when he came to Clinton’s defense over the endless inquiries about her emails: “The American people have heard enough about your damn emails.” A bit of humanity and camaraderie not often found in the murky sea of politics. The evening’s festivities may not have been as entertaining as the Republican comedy hour but it clearly showed that Democrats were ready to govern. The optics drew a stark contrast to the Republican crew of not yet ready for prime time players.
Next port of call…the Benghazi hearings. Clinton was not subpoenaed to appear…she did so voluntarily. Committee Chairman Gowdy offered her the option of a closed door private testimony or a public hearing. She chose the latter. Now we know why. The results speak for themselves. By all accounts…both liberal and conservative…she schooled the Republicans in the art of politics. She navigated the rocky shores of Benghazi with little if any damage. Thanks to the Republicans she emerged from the eleven hour inquisition an even stronger presidential candidate than before.
And then then came Joe Biden. Biden had been struggling over the prospects of embarking on another presidential voyage. Last week he came to the conclusion that another campaign just wasn’t in the cards. As Biden announced his decision from the White House Rose Garden, he exhibited all the class and humanity that have made him one of the most beloved politicians in our nation’s history.
Now the spotlight shifts to the Republicans.
Just a few days ago there was a mutiny within the GOP ranks. They threw their captain overboard. Their first mate as well. Now it appears that Seaman Paul Ryan is prepared to take the helm. But Ryan’s ascension to the captaincy is no sure thing. A faction called the Freedom Caucus favors another. They will undoubtedly demand further concessions if they are to throw their full support behind Ryan. A rancorous vote for the captaincy is scheduled for this week. Should consensus prove illusive there will be a price to pay. Just ahead lies yet another vote to raise the debt ceiling. Difficult waters to navigate from a rudderless ship.
Meanwhile there is a GOP presidential campaign to be waged. The Party will stage another debate this week. By all accounts the entertainment value will far exceed the substance.
Donald Trump is on a rampage. For the first time in 100 days Trump is not leading in all the polls. Carson has overtaken Trump in Iowa. Trump is killing all comers in every other state. But Carson leads in Iowa essentially because the soft spoken Carson appeals to evangelicals. Naturally Trump weighed in on Carson’s “extremely low energy” and questioned Carson’s Seventh Day Adventist religion.
Jeb Bush is in the news. The once presumptive nominee is hemorrhaging money while plummeting in the polls. Forced to announce cutbacks in staffing and events; a clearly frustrated candidate took his anger out on the voters. Sounding more like a petulant child than a presidential candidate; Bush said he was fed up with the divisiveness of the campaign: “If this election is about how we are going to fight to get nothing done, then I don’t want anything, I don’t want any part of it. I don’t want to be elected president to sit around and see gridlock become so dominate that people are literally in decline in their lives. That is not my motivation. I’ve got a lot of really cool things that I could do other than sit around being miserable, listening to people demonize me and feeling compelled to demonize them. That’s a joke. Elect Trump if you want that.” Jeb then retreated to Houston where he met with Bush 41, Bush 43, Barbara Bush and a number of major donors. Naturally Trump weighed in…taunting Bush for “meeting with mommy and daddy.”
Then there is Marco Rubio. Rubio has decided that he hates serving in the senate. So he has given up on it in the middle of his first term. Rubio announced that he will not seek re-election. It’s the White House or bust. Perhaps that explains why Rubio has missed more votes than any other senator. 59 votes to be exact. Rubio has been questioned before on his blatant absenteeism. He said the votes don’t matter because: “A lot of these votes don’t mean anything. They’re not going to pass, and even if they did the president would veto them.” If Rubio is so disenchanted he could resign. But why give up $175,000 in taxpayer paid salary…plus benefits…when you can collect it for doing nothing.
Smooth sailing for the Democrats. Troubled waters for the GOP