Since I have a PhD in politics, one of the most popular questions people ask me in election season is “Who’s going to win?” (The most popular question, in all seasons is “Are you running for something?” Answer: No, but I will accept your gift.)
This year, the answer is not just elusive, it’s complicated. Who’s going to win, however, is a less interesting question now than who’s going to lose.
Let me explain.
Before we had amassed more than 20 total candidates, the conventional wisdom was that the two top contenders would be Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush (this was before Hillary had become the Butcher of Benghazi and Jeb had acquired his somewhat incongruous exclamation point). “Everyone knew” that Bush would easily monopolize all the donors, no one could possibly mount a viable challenge (nor would they dare), and his love for Hispanics (genuine and quite literal—his wife is from Mexico) would solve the GOP “Hispanic problem” that the Republican post-2012 “autopsy” report insisted was the existential crisis of our time.
Moreover, “everyone knew” that the Clinton machine could not be beaten. The media kept telling us Hillary Clinton was the smartest woman in the world, no matter how many stupid things she did (which makes me wonder just how dumb they must think the average woman is). The name of Clinton is beloved throughout the world, we were told, and she’s been the best Secretary of State ever ever ever. So shut up about Benghazi.
But then a few things happened. On the Democratic side, a buzzsaw of a prosecutor named Trey Gowdy got the reins of the Benghazi investigation, and suddenly things started to look serious. Hillary herself made a series of mistakes, ranging from her hilarious “this way to the hospital—backwards!” logo to her incomprehensibly transparently false claims about everything from Benghazi to what was in the emails that the State Department had all of, except for the ones she destroyed completely, which were absolutely, positively, 100% personal notes about yoga and baby showers.
Suddenly, Hillary was employing the old Rose Garden strategy, except it wasn’t her Rose Garden to hide in. (You remember that strategy, right? That brilliant move whereby Carter (who was a President once, believe it or not, Millennials) limited his campaigning to speeches from the Rose Garden of the White House, so as to avoid public appearances that might cause ordinary citizens or journalists to ask him embarrassing questions about the hostages in Iran. (Millennials: the nation your president—and thanks for voting for that, by the way. It really helped out—just made a deal with so that they can end up with nuclear weapons to use on Israel (and us) once held 52 American citizens hostage for 444 days. Just think about that. PS: they’re still not sorry.)
This strategy worked so well Ronald Reagan was able to beat Carter in a landslide election, never to be repeated—until Reagan was re-elected four years later by even more.
At any rate, while Clinton doesn’t have a Rose Garden, she creates her own zone of silence wherever she goes, refusing to answer questions, hiding from reporters, and evading the aggressive inquisitive advances of the Benghazi Committee.
It’s almost like she has something to hide.
If Democrats have any sense at all, Hillary will not win the nomination. The youth, for some inexplicable reason, are throwing themselves at Bernie Sanders, despite the fact that his intellectual development obviously stopped in 1968. Perhaps they haven’t noticed how much he sounds like Donald Trump when he talks about Mexico and China stealing American jobs. Or perhaps he just reminds them of their grandfather.
The less Woodstock-y Democrats are starting to get nervous and wonder aloud whether Biden might be available. He may be goofy, but at least he isn’t an obvious Communist or likely to implode in scandal (not counting plagiarism). As for Martin O’Malley, he’ll dissolve in a puff of smoke as soon as someone has the courage to point at him and bellow “BAAAAAALTIMOOOOOOOOOORE!” a la (spoiler alert) Donald Sutherland at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the second one, not the good one). And I’m sorry, but Jim Webb is basically the Democrat equivalent of Jim Gilmore on the Republican side—we know they did something or they are somebody, but we just can’t remember what or who, even five minutes after we’re told.
As for Bush, while out of power he become known as a fan of amnesty, an architect of Common Core and a member of a governing dynasty we’ve already had enough of. He still has lots of donors, backers, and establishment friends—all of which add up to no actual votes from rank-and-file Republicans. He also managed to get himself linked in the conservative mind with Chris Christie, as tightly as Laurel is linked with Hardy (look it up, youth)—and no conservative would give Christie the time of day once he linked arms with President PenPhone scant days before the MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION IN OUR LIFETIMES, just because Superstorm help was in the offing.
So, drop about nine candidates vying for the base vote, and Bush is beat, either by the surviving conservative, or by Trump picking up the leftovers.
It’s not going to be pretty, watching the inevitable become eminently “evitable”—but it’s going to be fun.
Image: Modified from https://www.flickr.com/photos/kazvorpal/14183832282/