One of the qualities Americans seek in a potential President is a connection to the “average Joe”. The other is the ability to deal with complex international affairs beyond the comprehension of the above average Joe. It’s a tough gig.
Take the current occupant. A mixed race man from a broken family is about as average as you can get. Smoked marijuana in college, still smokes cigarettes, overbearing moose of a wife, sounds like Mr. Middle America. Winning the Nobel Prize for international diplomacy while still a first term Senator from Illinois looks awfully good on paper, as do most of his credits. As with most hype, it’s been just enough of a balloon to fly him to reelection before deflating.
That’s a hard act to follow. Americans tend to be clever enough to only get fooled twice in a row. And then twice in a row by the other party, and then again. So 2016 doesn’t look great for the Democrats, it’s the Republicans turn.
The party in power tends to start trying out new candidates as soon as their office holder starts flailing, kind of a “Thanks for voting for us, we’ll do better next time” thing. The opposing party floats its collection of losers, the “Even this idiot is better than who is in office, and we’ll come up with someone better by the election” play.
The intelligent way to operate, the “Let congress do its job and see who actually accomplishes something” approach would have a negative outcome for both parties. Close observation would make it known that not only are there no appropriate candidates for President in Washington, there are very few strong candidates for janitor.
There are perennial candidates, most of whom acknowledge their lack of seriousness. Pat Paulsen was my favorite, Ralph Nader never realized that he was a joke, which was a joke in itself, and Joe Walsh has done everything to get through to his fans that he is only running for Vice President, but they’re…well, they’re Joe Walsh fans.
Joining the list of perennial candidates is another comedian who is grossly underrated for her work, largely because satire is often mistaken for reality.
Hillary Clinton, often jokingly referred to by her stage name “the smartest woman in the world”, is being trotted out to divert attention from the continuing failures of the current administration. She has a following, Henny Youngman kept his career going for seven decades based on one joke, she’s on her fifth decade, and is still getting mileage from “Take my husband, please”.
Her early work has largely been forgotten, getting fired from the committee to impeach Richard Nixon was an early masterpiece, but she really hit her stride in her involvement of covering her husband’s affairs when he was governor of Arkansas. Her brilliant investments in Cattle Futures and Real Estate cemented her reputation as a comedian, so much that Vince Foster and James McDougal allegedly died laughing. Her healthcare proposals certainly had everyone chuckling.
The story about dodging sniper fire was funny enough to get her appointed Secretary of State, but the laughter was waning when she lost it on stage when heckled over Benghazi. Apparently some people felt it did make a difference whether the Department of State abandoned a diplomat and his bodyguards when they called for help. Personally, I think it was because she thought “Sniper fire” meant “Paparazzi” as she had defined it in Bosnia. Some jokes just bomb, what can you say, widows and orphans can be a tough crowd.
Her latest joke is that she hasn’t driven a car since 1996 (although in her 2008 campaign she did say she was driving a hybrid SUV). When it was suggested that someone who had not driven a car in seventeen years might be a little out of touch with the average American, the knee jerk response was “Well, living in New York you don’t need to drive”.
Two thoughts jump to mind. One is “Oh, so that’s why there’s no traffic in New York, no one drives”. The second was “How does being from New York make anyone normal?”.
I guess if you see living in New York as “normal”, you would yourself be a little insulated, unable to see a lifelong history of deceit as being a negative quality. Meanwhile, the other ninety five percent of America is wondering why such people are speaking on national trends, as they clearly don’t understand or speak for the nation.
Over the next few years, as this question gets spun through the political cycle, try to remember the essential point.
Not driving does not mean you are insulated from society. Thinking you are normal when you are clearly not is what insulates you from society.