Get ready, we may indeed see another Clinton – Bush election. This time, Hillary Clinton, former First Lady and former Secretary of State pitted against Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida. It’s like being Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day. Ever get the feeling you’ve been here before?
Both candidates have something to prove. Clinton wants to scrub her husband’s impeachment off the books and this would do it. In a hundred years when some ten year old boy scans through the list and sees that Bill Clinton was impeached but his wife was elected president shortly thereafter he will make the ready conclusion, “The impeachment must have been political or else the country would never have turned so quickly to his wife.” And Jeb Bush is running to prove, well, that not all Bushes should be judged by the last one.
How did it come to this? There are three dynamics at work.
1.) Political dynasties are active in both parties simultaneously.
Normally, one can count on the opposition to raise a fuss. If there was a Democrat dynasty the Republicans would howl. If there was a Republican dynasty the Democrats would be outraged. But now two have appeared at the same time. No Democrat will raise the issue of corruption and attack the idea of the Bush family dynasty and risk alienating the powerful Clinton’s. And no Republican will attack the Clinton’s and risk alienating the Bushes? Even if the latter prove weak and Jeb Bush fails to show well in the primaries, the GOP nominee will have to have that powerful, fundraising machine supportive in the general election.
Now, in a very rare moment of history, the two dynasties have cancelled each other out. As a result? There are dynasties gone wild. The electric fence is down and the cows are roaming all over. The Cuomo’s, the Paul’s, the Kennedy’s, the Carter’s don’t get me started.
2.) Journalism is dead.
Normally, one can count on a vigorous Fourth Estate. No less than Joseph Pulitzer railed against the idea of Robert Todd Lincoln running for president. Throughout American history the media has been vigilant. Attempts at family dynasties were always shot down. This was America, not a monarchy. After the Revolutionary War, when George Washington was presented a massive family genealogy by the English government he rejected it, pointing out that in these United States success or failure was determined by the choices of the individual not the bloodline.
This is not the Philippines. This is not Indonesia. This is not Panama, where fifteen families rule the country.
But in case you haven’t noticed, journalism is dead. If a reporter can’t even pronounce Sevastopol what hope do we have that they are telling us anything accurate about Russia and the Ukraine? We now live behind our own iron curtain. News has become entertainment and the Clinton’s, Bushes, Kennedy’s all sell well. Don’t expect any help from the media.
3.) Obama has failed.
Finally there is Barack Obama. His election has been a great historic milestone but by just about any measure, including his own, his presidency is ending in disaster. For example, the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer at a rate that would make an Eastern establishment Republican blush. The Nixon administration spied on its enemies but the Obama administration spies on its friends too and on its own political allies in the U.S. Senate. Having tried an “outsider” like Obama, the American electorate is now more likely to turn to an “insider,” a Bush or a Clinton. Better to have someone who doesn’t have to learn on the job.
While a Clinton – Bush rematch might just happen, almost any historian will warn that the idea of multiple presidencies in the same family is a recipe for abuse and disaster. Having been in power and then spending time out of power, a family can muse about what might have been. Who was loyal and who was not? What should be done if given another chance? How could the office have been better monetized? Who should have been an Ambassador? Whose corporate jet would be better appreciated and useful, added to the fleet of corporate jets loaned out to a former president? What government contracts could legitimately go to whom and why? How can the next family power contender be groomed?
America, already beginning to experience the corruption of a Third World nation, doesn’t need to grease the skids to fall any deeper into the abyss. Clinton – Bush? It may happen. But if it does, expect America’s post constitutional drift to gain full sail. The abuses won’t be pretty.