What a week. The forces of the mighty establishment Empire appeared to be striking back, quashing the rebellious outsiders in a series of skirmishes across the land. It was hard not to see presidential politics this past week through the prism of the new Star Wars trailer, which premiered during last week’s Monday Night Football game.
Darth Vader’s “Imperial March” echoed in my head as Hillary Clinton solidified her control over the disparate elements of the Democratic party, and fended off attacks by the Republican House. A wise and composed John Kasich appeared on television, like an aged and Dagobah-sequestered Yoda, to shower his wisdom on a town hall at Dartmouth.
The new cast members in electoral politics—Carson, Trump, and Sanders—also continued to hog the spotlight from most of the original players. Clinton stands alone as the Han Solo of the current race—the lone returning cast member with a major role.
Here are the week’s major developments.
Biden stands down
In what can only be described as a letdown, accompanied by an exasperated sigh from those of us who wanted to see an actual contest on the Democratic side of the race, Vice President Joe Biden opted out of the 2016 presidential election this week. This author was frankly surprised that Biden decided not to run, but the man made his reasons known, and I suppose it is hard to argue with him. His heart is just not in it. Hillary Clinton’s path to the Democratic nomination just got a little easier.
Clinton withstands Benghazi grilling
Not content with scaring off a potential rival to her increasingly inevitable Democratic nomination, Mrs. Clinton also stepped into the arena, and deftly fended off the Republican lions in front of the media and a watching world. She showed poise and verve in answering questions for eleven hours, and it was hard for even the most biased observers to find any major lapses in her performance. This will no doubt not prevent conservatives from continuing their assault on her over the Benghazi tragedy, but Clinton seems more immune to those attacks now than she was two weeks ago.
Paul Ryan tries to herd the conservative cats
Though not exactly directly related to the 2016 presidential race, Paul Ryan’s reluctant acquiescence to run for Speaker of the House will surely play into the contest. If Mrs. Clinton does win the presidency, Mr. Ryan will no doubt be the major opposition figure to her administration, should he win his race for the speakership. Ryan must first rally a fissiparous House membership to his cause, and appears to be doing so through a push for consensus behind his run.
It looks like Mr. Ryan might just pull it off, which can only be described as a victory for Republican establishment forces. His are a pair of seemingly safe hands into which to place the power of lead opponent to a potential Democratic executive. One can almost hear the necessarily-muted exhalations of relief in the chambers of Republican elders and statesmen, and the shrieks of anger from the Right’s radio brigade.
Carson challenges Trump
Despite the seemingly across-the-board political victories of establishment figures in both parties this past week, one should not ignore the continued dominance of so-called “outsiders” in the Republican primary race. While Donald Trump’s lead in Iowa is fading somewhat, it is being eroded in favor of another outsider, Ben Carson, whose support there is growing. Carson appears to be, to date, the only true challenger for Trump, illustrating the continued support in this election for rebellious and unconventional candidates. The Empire has not quite won, yet.
Where are you, John Kasich?
Finally, in our recurring segment, we ask the question, “Where the hell was John Kasich this week?” Probably having heard our pleas last week, Mr. Kasich showed up on the “Morning Joe” program, and put on a shockingly competent and reasonable-sounding performance. He answered questions thoughtfully, he demonstrated a willingness to work through contentious issues with Democrats, and he related his experiences as a former congressman and sitting governor to how he would govern the country.
In the old days, we would call that “admirable.” Nowadays, however, he is ridiculed for being a “go along, get along” guy, a RINO, or a “squish.” Regardless, it was good to see you, Mr. Kasich, and we look forward to your next appearance in the national narrative.