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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer. katherine molé mfa ... art director
Saturday, March 7, 2020
Democrats’ Hunt for Trump SLAYER May Lead to HILLARY Comeback
Hillary Clinton attends the New York premiere of "Hillary." Photo Image Press/Splash News Michael Goodwin
Now that the once-sprawling field of Democrats seeking the presidency has become a two-man race, many in the party are breathing a sigh of relief. All the more so because Joe Biden is the clear front-runner and the dreaded Bernie Sanders looks to be fading.
So it’s all set. Biden will be the nominee and give the party a solid chance of scoring a November trifecta: beating President Trump, taking the Senate and holding the House.
Count me as skeptical. Instead of a smooth ride, it’s more likely that the Dems’ desperate search for a Trump slayer will hit more turbulence and an alternative to Biden still could be necessary.
Guess what — one just happens to be waiting in the wings, hoping for an invitation. Before you laugh at the prospect of a Hillary Clinton comeback, consider the too-weird twists and turns of Biden’s campaign.
The widespread belief that the former veep is ready and able to go the distance strikes me as wishful thinking at best. It is suspect because it is so sudden and reflects a complete reversal of the sentiment about him less than two weeks ago.
After he finished fourth in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire and a distant second in Nevada, the consensus was that unless Biden won big in the Feb. 29 South Carolina primary, he was toast.
The political obituaries were already written and blamed his demise largely on the notion that his party had left him behind. Then there were his brain freezes and frequent bouts of oddball references, as in “make sure you have the record player on at night.” The kindest commentaries held that old Joe had lost a step.
He beat six rivals and the all-important expectations of a more narrow win. This was manna from heaven for a party frightened by the prospect of a Sanders nomination and instantly the word went out for the also-rans to circle the wagons around Biden. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg obeyed while Tom Steyer simply withdrew.
Three days later, Biden again beat expectations by winning 10 of 14 Super Tuesday states against Sanders, Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren.
Now the pressure to unite led Bloomberg to quit after just one day on the ballot and turn his lavishly funded campaign into a Biden super PAC. When Warren quit without making an endorsement, Sanders was a weakened, lone opponent. The cranky commie sympathizer probably can’t stage a comeback, but Biden is capable of blowing his chances all by himself.
His revival can’t erase the memory of the sad failure he was just two weeks ago, nor are the cognitive issues suddenly resolved by a winning streak.
Put it this way: Which Joe Biden will we see from now on? Does the new, improved version have the stamina and mental health to go all the way? Or will the long summer and the attacks from Trump on him and his family break him?
It is noteworthy that his wife, Jill Biden, seems to be by his side far more often. The image is that of a nurse or mediator between him and the world.
Questions about whether he is capable of being president can’t be avoided. That should force the party to quietly consider others who could be called upon at the July convention to take the nomination if Biden reverts.
Otherwise, Sanders would get the crown, and I don’t believe Dem leaders will let that happen. They realize he would be an Electoral College disaster and cost them their gravy train of power, patronage and donors.
But who are the alternatives? All the supposed moderates — Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Bloomberg — were thoroughly rejected by primary voters. The prickly Warren finished third in her home state.
All of which leaves Clinton as the best backup plan. She’s hardly my cup of tea but for all her problems, including doubts about her physical stamina, she is a fundraising machine, has a true following and could hit the ground running.
And, in case you hadn’t noticed, she’s advertising her availability.
It’s surely no coincidence that “Hillary” was released Friday, during the height of the primary season. The sweetheart documentary, complete with broad promotion, stories, reviews and interviews with her, is a massive and slick selling job.
Once again and always, she is selling herself. The fact that she and Bill Clinton cooperated make it certain the streaming Hulu project will add nothing new that would damage her. The four-hour biopic seems to be just another of her airbrushed memoirs, albeit one you can watch.
This makeover, according to reviews, tries to inject dashes of glamour and cultural gravitas about feminism into what is essentially a loser’s story.
While it’s impossible to miss the rollout and her glee in using the film and interviews to stick knives into Trump and Sanders, it’s also impossible to miss the timing.
Indeed, Clinton would have to be dead not to dream of a miracle, one that would give her the victory fate has twice denied her. Her platform writes itself.All the party has to do is call. Her bag is packed.
She didn’t really lose the 2016 election. Trump colluded with the Russians to deprive her of her civil right to be president. Anything else is just a Republican talking point and part of the vast right-wing conspiracy.
Or maybe you’re a deplorable?
You’re with her, or a misogynist.
Oh, what fun. Merely to imagine doing all that again leads me to wish the very best of health to Joe Biden.
Fallout from FBI’s ‘political’ problem
With the coronavirus panic and the roller-coaster stock market grabbing headlines, other important news gets little attention. A prime example is yet another report detailing breakdowns in the FBI.
This one, from the Justice Department’s inspector general, focuses on “lapses” in cases involving domestic terrorism.
The report cited at least six attacks where the FBI had investigated those involved beforehand but dropped the ball. They included the Boston Marathon bombers and the shooter in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
Just a hunch, but perhaps the FBI would do a better job of protecting Americans from the real bad guys if it kept its nose out of politics.
Sanders’ ‘3rd’ option
Reader Scott McLaughlin suggests the Democratic sweepstakes could have taken a different turn if Bernie Sanders had been a street fighter. He writes: “Sanders blew it. Seeing what was happening, he just accepted it. All he had to do was put out a story saying he might launch a third-party effort. It would have stopped the movement to Biden in its tracks.”