Thursday, February 11, 2016

Round Two: Hillary vs the Man from LaMancha

One talking head, after the last Bernie/Hillary debate said it was Ali/Frazier, meaning it was a great fight and both fighters were at their best and each took some jarring shots: Bernie painted Hillary as a cynical politico who dances with the boys at Goldman Sachs even if she never allows herself to be seduced, she looks the worse for it. Hillary pictured Bernie as self righteous who thinks of himself as the only pure soul in the room.

Tonight's show will likely be as good or better, now that they've had a chance to take the measure of each other.

Of course, now Bernie does not look like such a long shot. As Barney Frank remarked, what Bernie really had going for him was that even he didn't really think he had much of a chance to win the nomination; he didn't really take himself seriously, which gave him a certain freedom. It's okay to tilt at windmills as long as nobody is really depending on you to actually save them from real threats.

Hillary must be frustrated beyond tears to think that she has to deal with someone, who is, in his own way, as divorced from reality as Trump. He acknowledges if he were elected he would be in no better position to accomplish anything than President Obama, and his "revolution" would likely be as frozen and stymied by a Republican Congress as was Mr. Obama.  
But his impossible dream is so intoxicating, he can get some people to sing along with him, at least for now.

His positions are so extreme, he would be trying to fly the airplane sitting at the far end of one wing;  most pilots have enough on their hands when they are sitting in the cockpit.

His only answer has been that well, we will need more than simply a new President, we'll need a "revolution" which means send me a new progressive Congress.

But, as every political scientist now extant says, the Congress is frozen in concrete. Ninety percent of all Congressional seats are nearly uncontested. Nothing's going to change in the legislature until and unless Gerrymandering ends, campaign financing laws change and Hell freezes over. 

We wanted revolution in the 60's, too, but that didn't make it happen.  Oh, we got premarital, extra martial, elder sex, but we didn't change the world all that much, politically. The war in Vietnam ended, which seemed pretty amazing at the time, but what we got was eternal war, more smaller Vietnams which didn't matter to you personally unless you lived in the wrong zip code and were one of those unfortunates who had no better financial option than joining the Army.

What Bernie is selling is, in some ways, pie in the sky. He's a political version of Timothy Leary, selling a new high. Until you can show how you are going to revolutionize Congress, how you are going to sweep out all the Mitch McConnell's, the Trey Gowdy's, the knuckle draggers who were on display during the Benghazi hearings, you are selling a fantasy.  

Even if only a third of the country is Trump country, that's still enough to block up the hall and prevent any forward movement. The country has as many inbred banjo players in West Virginia and Kentucky as it has independent, forward thinking Yankees in Vermont and New Hampshire.  For every free thinking resident of Massachusetts and New York, there are Bible thumping evangelists in Iowa and Alabama.

President Obama told the Illinois legislature yesterday that the whole system of government in this country was and is designed to create gridlock and the art of government is to figure out ways to clear out some intersections so some traffic can get through.

Ms. Clinton's task tonight is to hammer home the portrait of Bernie Sanders as the Don Quixote of our generation, the man who rides into combat on an ass and tries to knock over that windmill.  But the Impossible Dream is just that, impossible.

If she can sing Man from La Mancha tonight, she might just bring a lot of dreamers to their senses. 

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