Earlier this year, I posted here about how the presidential primaries were much like a reality show. That seems like a lifetime ago, and now that the race is down to the two main parties and a few others that may get more votes this time around than ever before, the 2016 presidential election is much more like a soap opera than a reality show.
Like all good soap operas—if there really is such a thing—certain characters and story lines always show up. Two adversaries who used to be friends (apparently) are battling it out for the highest office in the nation. On the one hand, is Hillary Clinton. From the media’s point of view and her own, she’s the eternal victim. A poor struggling female who, as a young woman, attached herself to a slick but charismatic hillbilly from Arkansas that ended up being the President of the United States.
As she is portrayed in the daily series given by the mainstream media, Hillary is much put-upon and deserves to be president. The Democrat party owes this to her for sticking by her lecherous husband while he was the Arkansas governor, and then after that when he was the philandering president caught having an improper relationship with a White House intern not much older than his own daughter. Hillary, always calculating her own political future, blamed her husband’s troubles on a “vast right-wing conspiracy”, and stuck around, enabling him in his philandering and even being the one to personally denigrate the women he used for his personal playgrounds. In all of this, Hillary championed herself as a defender of women.
After leaving the White House, she and her husband set up residence in New York City in order for her to run for a senate seat there. She chose New York for its ultra-liberal constituents (the city, not the state), and she knew she would need those electoral votes to win the presidency someday.
The soap opera took an unexpected turn as they so often do back in 2008, when Hillary, poised to be the first woman president, lost her opportunity when a young whippersnapper named Obama swooped in and legions of voters who were supposed to vote for her made him the first African-American president. In Obama’s early years as president, he made Hillary his Secretary of State, at least for a time. That was all she agreed to do, knowing that she would need time to run for president again once 2016 rolled around.
When it finally did, the soap opera continued as Hillary battled it out for her party’s nomination with a full-out admitted socialist played by Bernie Sanders (as opposed to a closet socialist like herself). In spite of many years of scandals that were more than just tabloid rumors—her mediocre record as a senator, her many severe lapses in judgement as Secretary of State, and her frivolous lack of care of classified emails—she became the Democrat nominee for president.
Her worst fear was to be running against a Republican from a different generation than herself. Fresh faces with new ideas and more Millennial appeal such as Rand Paul, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio had her campaign shaking in its shoes, as was proven by more October surprises from the now-ever-present WikiLeaks.
Right on cue, however, the Republicans relieved her fears by nominating the candidate she most wanted to go up against: the boisterous real estate mogul-turned-reality show star named Donald Trump. Once a strong supporter of Hillary’s previous political campaigns, Trump appealed to those Republican voters in the primaries who have felt ignored by everyone in Washington for years. Portraying himself as the Every Man Candidate who “tells it like it is”, and helped along by an over-zealous media anxious to see a Clinton-Trump race—millions flocked to his rallies.
The voters, in their understandable anger, turned out in droves for the primaries to vote for the orange guy with weird hair. Others, such as Cruz and Rubio, put up a good fight but were unable—even with some of the most conservative voters—to overcome the adolescent name-calling (“Lyin’ Ted”, “Little Marco”), the media that pushed hard for Trump, and the voters who saw them as Washington insiders and therefore part of the problem.
As was written in that post from months ago, I said that whoever won the Republican nomination would then be taken down by the media when it came to the race against Hillary. The mainstream media is a major character in this drama because they are like the “bad girl” who does whatever she has to in order to get a man, only to drop him for the man (or in this case, woman) she really wants at the first opportunity. The guy who got dumped never seems to realize that she never wanted him all along.
Added to the chaos of the story have been Hillary’s health problems (even some rumors of a Healthy Hillary twin–an interesting twist to the soap opera staple of the Evil Twin); and more October surprises for Trump in the form of his alleged bawdy shenanigans with several women who just happened to come forward at this time to talk about his mistreatment of them. (This is where a good soap opera writer would throw ominous background music into the script and leave the audience hanging).
Much of the audience—the American voters—are hanging. With less than two weeks until Election Day, millions of people have already cast their ballots, and others are just putting off the inevitability of “picking our poison” for as long as possible. They’re scratching their heads wondering where all those women and convenient videotapes of Trump were during the primary, wondering why Hillary isn’t in jail…wondering how we ended up here. Out of more than 300 million people, is this the best we could do?
The thing is, whether you pick the poisonous berry over the poisonous mushroom, you’re still going to get very, very sick.
If you were growing up in the 70’s or 80’s, you might remember the ABC After-School Specials that were shown a couple of times each month. These mini-movies addressed issues relevant to kids and teens–some were rather corny, but others pretty hard-hitting for the day. An example of the latter was called “The Wave”, and it aired in 1981. It was based on a real-life experiment that was done at a California high school back in 1967.
High school teacher Ben Ross is teaching his students about the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. After watching some old films showing the victims of Hitler’s Holocaust, the students ask him how the German people could have fallen for such a leader. They wonder how they couldn’t see what was going on in their own country.
With no real answer to give them, Ross decides to try similar leadership tactics in his classroom as Hitler used on Germany. He begins to use a similar cadence in his speech. He says they will call their new movement “The Wave”. He speaks to them of “Strength through discipline. Strength through community. Strength through action.” He insists they stand and sit at their desks in a stiff posture…and he is amazed to find the students doing it on their own, day after day. He even marvels at the whole experiment in a conversation with his wife. When she asks him how far he thinks he can go with it, he tells her, “I don’t know. But I intend to find out.”
Within two short weeks, the whole school is caught up in The Wave, with very few exceptions. One boy in particular— Bobby, the class loner, bullied by all—is finally a part of the group. He’s now finally a leader.
On the other hand, Lori, the girl who once was the leader of her peers, finds herself an outcast when this new movement sweeping the school starts to bother her. She takes to the school paper and begins writing articles against it, promoting the idea of individuality and thinking for oneself. She finds herself the target of harassment, threats, and is nearly physically assaulted by her own boyfriend. After nearly hitting her, he comes to his senses and they decide they have to try to do something about The Wave.
This little after-school special from 35 years ago tells us all we need to know about the potential dangers of populism in less than an hour. Of falling for slogans and cheap one-liners from those who wish to lead us without digging deeper to find out what it is this person is really about. Of following anyone who says what they’ve been wanting someone to say for years…of allowing anger and frustration to cloud judgment, even to the point of abandoning your own core principles and individuality.
That boy Bobby is like lots of Americans who are sick and tired of no one in Washington listening to them. They feel bullied and kicked around by the people who are supposed to serve them. They are easy prey for anyone who comes along and makes them believe, “I’ve got your back.”—when really, they couldn’t care less. It was Bobby who was the most devastated to find out that The Wave was really just an experiment…there was nothing real about it. And he was just a lonely outsider once again.
Such is the way of many populist movements. The Little Guy will still be the one left out in the end. If you disagree, think back to the woman who, back in Election 2008 became known as “Peggy the Mooch”. Peggy Joseph was the one who gushed at an Obama campaign rally. “I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car; I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage…if I help him, he’s gonna help me.” When documentary filmmaker Joel Gilbert interviewed Joseph for his film,“There’s No Place Like Utopia” in 2014, she had realized she’d been duped. No longer an Obama supporter, Joseph told him, “He lied about everything.”
I feel compassion for that woman, just as I felt compassion for her fictional counterpart Bobby…for all of the Bobbys and Peggys out there who, time and again, keep looking for leadership in all the wrong places. Even Jesus came upon these types of people—He called them “harassed and helpless”.
In this election, both the Democrats and Republicans have a candidate that many in the media are calling “populists”. Or possibly “faux populists” as National Review refers to them. One promises the debt-laden millennials a free ride for life; the other says all the things his supporters want to hear, but has no detailed plans on how to make them happen…or how we’ll pay for all of it. No one cares. They just want change.
That sounds eerily familiar. “The Wave” is worth watching because it’s very timely. Even compared to other after-school specials of the day, it was exceptional and won many awards, including an Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program. Without giving too much away (in case you decide to watch it in full on You Tube), teacher Ben Ross shocks and grieves his students when he reveals truth to them, asking, “What causes people to deny their own history?”
What’s more, he warns them against blindly following a leader: “You accepted the group’s will over your own convictions, no matter who you hurt. Oh, you thought you were just going along for the ride- that you could walk away at any moment, but where were you heading? How far would you have gone?”
America…how far will you go?
There’s a comical TV and radio commercial that recently started playing for a bank that’s meant to appeal to the current crop of new college graduates now entering the “real world’. It has a commencement speaker giving the new grads his words of encouragement for their futures. But even as he tells them what bright futures they have, he slams them with the cold hard truth. He tells them they face a future “where student debt crushes your dreams and you’re forced to clean your neighbors’ gutters for gas money…where you move back home and share a bathroom with your younger sister…and the only lasting impression you make is on the cushions of your couch.” Unfortunately, that’s too often true, but that speaker sounds like a graduate of the Barack and Michelle Obama School of Commencement Speaking.
Traditionally, graduation speeches are meant to uplift, encourage and challenge the young people as they begin a new chapter of their lives. It’s supposed to be about them, and the parents and families that helped them make it to their big day. But never underestimate the ability of an Obama to turn a commencement speech into a political rally, saying more about themselves and their pet projects than about the graduates.
Last week, Michelle ranted about race and how unfair her life has been in America when she spoke to graduates at Tuskegee University: “The road ahead is not going to be easy,” said Michelle, “It never is, especially for folks like you and me.” Apparently forgetting she’s married to the most powerful man in the world, she went on to “inspire” the Class of 2015 by listing off all the “slights” she’s had to deal with in her life: “…the clerks who kept a close eye on us in all those department stores. The people at formal events who assumed we were the help.” Michelle wants to party like it’s 1964.
Not to be out-done by the missus, BHO spoke to the graduates of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy about an “immediate national security threat.” Did he enlighten them about the horror stories of ISIS beheadings and how that group now has a training camp just 8 miles south of the Texas border? Did he talk about China or Iran and the Middle East? No…in the world according to Obama, the biggest threat that will come to us is from climate change. He goes through the all the old, tired reasons climate alarmists give such as the breaking up of Antarctic sea ice and last year being the warmest ever…blah, blah, blah. Another wasted opportunity.
In contrast, two other famous African Americans were much more uplifting and less self-centered when called upon to address the Class of 2015:
Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice spoke to the graduates at the College of William and Mary in Virginia last weekend. She said as educated people, they have a responsibility to pursue their passions and to be optimistic, telling them, “I know that cynicism sometimes comes with education, but we have reached a level of prosperity and freedom never seen before and although there are still problems, educated people should be hopeful of solving them.”
…And at Dillard University in New Orleans, actor Denzel Washington took an unabashed spiritual approach by telling the graduates to “put God first in everything you do.” He said, “True desire in the heart for anything good is God’s proof to you sent beforehand that it’s already yours. … When you get it, reach back, pull someone else up…Don’t just aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference.”
Now those are words you can build a life upon.
Unfortunately, the Obamas have squandered every opportunity they’ve ever been given to really inspire and bring people of all backgrounds together. They could have told their stories from the point of view that less than 50 years ago, it wouldn’t have been possible for a half white/ half black man to be president, but look how far we’ve come. They could have encouraged the students by letting them know that when they put their minds to it, they can achieve great things in America.
The only consolation is that few, if anyone, ever remembers what a commencement speaker says on Graduation Day…when the Obamas speak, that’s probably for the best.
There’s an old Chinese proverb that goes, “May you live in interesting times.” Well really, it’s more of a curse that one might speak to an enemy.
Yesterday, progressive Republicans joined their fellow progressives on the other side of the aisle and voted to confirm a far-left radical as Attorney General. Loretta Lynch has promised to continue the same utter contempt for the Rule of Law (The Constitution) that her predecessor practiced. She didn’t say that in those words, but that’s what she has to offer…more of the same lawlessness. In voting for her, those senators are condoning the current business-as-usual, where laws the president doesn’t like are ignored. They agreed to not reign in a president gone wild, so the next year and a half should be interesting to say the least.
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz didn’t stick around for the actual vote (mostly because he rejected the idea of this person being considered at all given her radical views on issues like amnesty and border control). He did vote against her when they were deciding whether to bring the issue to the floor, which he considered to be the more important vote. He had a few words to say before votes were cast however: “We have a nominee who has told the United States Senate she is unwilling to impose any limits whatsoever on the authority of the president of the United States,” Cruz said. “In the next 20 months, we are sadly going to see more and more lawlessness, more recklessness, more abuse of power, more executive lawlessness.”
As usual, the vote to proceed to the vote that confirmed Lynch came about after weeks of back-and-forth: then Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell made a deal. The Republicans in charge would vote to continue with her confirmation if the Democrats would stop stalling on another bill involving human trafficking. Apparently, Democrats were holding out on some wording in that bill involving abortion funding with taxpayer money. Also as always works for Democrats, they claimed Republicans were being racist and sexist in holding up the Lynch confirmation (she’s the first Black woman in the AG role).
So even now that Republicans hold both the House and Senate, they still can’t seem to agree to do anything but agree with Democrats, who they want us to believe are the Spawns of Satan during election seasons…but really they are not any different. The result is still the same: President Obama will continue to shun The Constitution and insinuate himself into more and more areas that our Founders never meant to be controlled by one person who’s totally out of control. Congress, for whatever reason, doesn’t want the responsibility demanded of them under the Constitution. They just want to get ready for their next elections.
Hillary Clinton has been out plugging her new book for the past couple of weeks. It doesn’t seem to be helping much, as she is continually appearing to have a serious case of foot-in-mouth-disease. Sales for her book are not what was expected, and at one point, a book about a green smoothie cleanse was beating it on Amazon.
Clearly, American book lovers prefer regularity to more Clinton…stuff.
The interviews Clinton has been giving are an exercise in futility for anyone expecting to get to the truth about such pesky business as the terrorist attack in Benghazi or what exactly she did accomplish as a senator or the Secretary of State that makes her ready for the presidency. But they haven’t been without their belly-laughs either. She told ABC’s Diane Sawyer: “We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt. We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education.”
Cue the world’s smallest violin. It must be really hard to “piece together” your life after living for 8 years, rent free, in a mansion owned by millions of people who will never get to live there. The truth is, the Clintons left office having to scrape by on Hillary’s $8 million advance for one of her other books, and both her husband and she make 6-figure speaking fees. They own an apartment in New York City, as well upscale homes in upstate New York and Washington, D.C. An article in the UK’s Daily Mail says that makes the Clintons the wealthiest former first family in American history.
But she kept up this “Working Everywoman” façade and stepped in it again over the weekend during an interview with The Guardian. In another awkward attempt to connect to the average American (who makes about $40,000 a year), she defends herself as not being “truly well off”. When asked if her previous comments about being broke will hurt her with most Americans—because most Americans (even her fans) know she’s not had money problems for quite some time—she responded: “But they don’t see me as part of the problem. We pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names; and we’ve done it through dint of hard work.”
I wonder whose names she would be naming if she did name names? Mitt Romney? Perhaps Harry Reid’s favorite obsession, the “nefarious” Koch Brothers? During the 2012 Presidential Election, Reid did, in fact accuse Romney of not paying his taxes with no proof whatsoever to make such a claim. Hillary also infers that she and Bill worked so hard for their money- as if those who are “truly well off” don’t come by their money through hard work. She and other prominent democrats—most of whom are millionaires—are constantly trying to make us believe that rich folks (but not them) get rich by lying, cheating and oppressing everyone else…and taking “loopholes” in tax laws of course.
Proving that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, Chelsea Clinton did an interview with another UK paper, The Telegraph. She talks about why she made so many career transitions before finally deciding to take a position with her parents’ foundation. She claims she tried to do something separate from her parents, but she just had to go where her passions led her, even pulling her own “poor girl from Arkansas” spiel: “I was curious if I could care about [money] on some fundamental level, and I couldn’t.”
Of course it’s very easy not to care about money when you’ve always had plenty of it. Her words would carry more weight if she didn’t live in a $10.5 million New York apartment, and took a train to work in Manhattan every day. Or even if she had continued working apart from her parents. But she knows what side her bread is buttered on. She’s seen her parents’ skills in becoming a fundraising political machine, and she wants to go into the family business. Even now, people are talking about Chelsea running for the senate, and one day, just maybe…
The Clintons will always claim to “feel your pain”, but all they really feel is entitled.