Saturday, June 18, 2016

Political Potpourri: Wedge Issues, Romney, Bridgegate, Trump as Candy Man, Couturiers

In the wake of the Orlando massacre, another wedge issue has moved to the forefront in defining the race for the presidency as well as campaigns for control of the House and Senate: gun control, specifically, the ability to deny the legal sale of firearms to those on the Do Not Fly and Terrorist Watch lists or to those with mental health issues. A subsidiary issue is the availability of assault rifles such as the AR-15 to the general public. The Orlando shooter, as well as the San Bernadino shooter and other mass killers, used an AR-15 rifle.

Wedge issues this year include abortion rights, Planned Parenthood, the Supreme Court, immigration, income inequality, same-sex marriage, the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Islamic terrorism, campaign finance, and the minimum wage. 

The essence of each wedge issue can be summed up as the forces of fear and bigotry vs. the forces of hope and tolerance.  . . .

The Democrats’ best friend in this election might be Mitt Romney. The 2012 Republican standard bearer has been vocal in his antipathy, even animosity, toward Donald Trump. If he can sway fellow Mormons to withhold their votes for Trump, Hillary Clinton could win some Mountain States that are a challenge to any Democrat (

But Trump’s negative coat tails might not paint the Senate blue as Mormons and other anti-Trump voters might prefer to keep the Senate red as a counter-balance to a liberal president.  . . .

Just when you think this election season can’t get any weirder two reports this week evoked Watergate memories. First came word that Democratic Party files had been breached, not physically as in Watergate but electronically. Not by Republicans but by Russians who wanted to gather data on Trump.

Second, the spirit of Rosemary Woods lives on.  The 18-1/2 minute gap in Richard Nixon’s White House tapes, allegedly created by an inadvertent contortion Woods performed at her secretarial desk while transcribing them, possibly has been matched by lost or erased emails and texts from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, communications linked to the investigation into Bridegate, the allegedly illegal disruption of traffic across the George Washington Bridge to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Christie’s reelection bid.  . . . 

Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans want to reduce tax rates, especially for the wealthy. They also profess a desire to return to simpler times, as life was in the 1950s. They lambast Democrats for wanting to impose higher taxes on the rich. Elizabeth Warren, says Trump, wants to impose a 95% income tax rate. 

Sounds Draconian, until you realize that back in the 1950s under President Eisenhower, when unions were strong and  the middle class grew, the top effective tax rate was 91%.  . . . 

Trump is not alone in issuing damning statements about Hillary Clinton. The other week on NPR I heard U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.—one of the three female House members who prefer to be called “congressman”) attack Clinton, saying she lies and cheats while “Trump is a candy man” who gives people what they want.

I seriously doubt Blackburn knows that “candy man” is street talk for drug dealer. It would be an appropriate description for a candidate who is trying to dupe the electorate. . . 

Should Hillary Clinton win the presidency, the most negatively impacted group would be couturiers. After eight years of stunning gowns, dresses and ensembles showcased by first lady Michelle Obama, fashionistas would no longer have a White House muse to clothe. There are, after all, just so many variations on the tuxedo Bill Clinton can be expected to wear.

Your election witticism of the day, courtesy of

Don’t buy a single vote more than necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide. —Joseph P. Kennedy