Sunday, February 14, 2016

Replays in American politics

Of the 20 or so presidential candidates this year, quite a few remind me of bygone candidates. And I don't mean Sanders's  claim to be another FDR.

The bygone candidates I am thinking of were, for the most part, embarrassments.

Clinton is the reincarnation of Victoria Woodhull, right down to the Wall Street sponsors.

Sanders is Henry Wallace when he's not Gene McCarthy.

The Republican comparisons are all far worse.

Carson, who always seems to have just awakened from a deep sleep, is Coolidge, who slept 18 hours a day.

Cruz is Joe McCarthy. I have already had a deal to say about Cruz as McCarthy (Restating the Obvious, review of "McCarthyism," Oct. 20, 2013) and many others have noticed the same thing.

Huckabee is Pat Robertson, and to a somewhat lesser extent, so is Santorum. Or perhaps Santorum is Harold Stassen.

Jeb Bush is George Bush.

The other Republicans either have no obvious predecessors (Fiorina cannot be Wendell Willkie because Willkie was both a successful business manager and a decent human being) or not enough personality to distinguish them in a crowd (Pataki, Graham).

But the one candidate who most closely parallels a famous candidate of the past is Trump. Trump is Huey Long.

It seems the Kingfish is forgotten now. Everyone interested in politics should read Harnett Kane's "Louisiana Hayride." Long's slogan was "Every man a king," and Roosevelt, who had the most perfectly attuned political cat's whiskers of any 20th century American politician, was worried that Long could run away with the 1936 election.

At least, so Robert Sherwood and Rex Tugwell reported. Sherwood in particular was in a position to know.

The stock market is down around 13% this year and some big-time money managers are predicting it will go down that much more by the end of the year. If the market is down a quarter in 2016, with all the results that would attend such a slide, then no Democrat wins.

My Democratic friends who are flailing away at Clinton will not end up with Sanders.

Unless, perhaps, the Republican vote is split between the standard-bearer Trump and some Bull Mooser. It is hard to picture Bush in the role of Teddy Roosevelt, but we have already seen strange things this year.

Trump wins the nomination. He speaks for the frightened, racist failures who vote in the primaries. These do not make up a majority of Republicans but they do make up a majority of primary Republicans. So far, this vote represents two-thirds or more of primary Republicans. Cruz and Rubio get some of them, but Trump keeps getting most of them.

It will not be the first time that powerbrokers have thought it expedient to unleash an irresponsible popular leader, thinking they could control or eliminate him and keep the reins in their own hands.  It often backfires.

Of course, in this case, the party bosses did not unleash Trump. But they did encourage the Teadiots and the stew of resentments they represented. Trump saw the chance and took it. Cruz saw it, too, but is not quite taking it.

What the party bosses got was a divided majority in the Congress that they have been unable to do anything with. So far the people eliminated have not been the rough beasts used to whip the Dems but Boehner and Cantor, with cloakholder McCarthy (Kevin not Joe) also 86'd.

Some leaders. 

Long was shot by the son-in-law of a man he tried to ruin. So far, the GOP establishment has no idea even that good for halting Trump.


  1. Cruz is Joe McCarthy. I have already had a deal to say about Cruz as McCarthy (Restating the Obvious, review of "McCarthyism," Oct. 20, 2013) ...


    You said absolutely nothing about Cruz that wasn't simply an accusation.

    So, by all means, using specific examples, please demonstrate that your accusation isn't bunk.

    Which pretty much characterizes the rest of this post. Unfortunately, there's only so much time in a day.

  2. There are many parallels, but the most obvious is that from the Senate both men attempted to stage a coup to take over the party apparatus to become caudillo.

  3. Also, neither shows any interest in legislation;

    both are ritualistic christians who count on support from churches without showing any concern for religious teaching;

    both whip up the rubes with phony subversives.