The summer of our discontent

The summer of our discontent

By Hastings Wyman –

The massacres in Bangladesh, Turkey and Orlando, the latest in a series of violent assaults on innocents here and abroad, brought a series of swift responses from the Obama Administration. The Defense Department announced that transgendered persons can now serve in the military. President Obama announced steps to curtail civilian deaths associated with our use of drones. And Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that Justice Department lawyers and agents will be required to take “implicit bias” training (Brave New World, anyone?).

Hillary Clinton, the current favorite to win the presidency in November, is preoccupied with the FBI’s investigation of her use of a private server while she was secretary of state, a controversy with little or no bearing on the problems facing our nation and the world. What she would, or wouldn’t, do to deal with terrorism, here and abroad, is not at the top of her agenda. Moreover, given her close association with the Obama Administration and her need to appease her party’s left wing, she isn’t likely to propose anything that might be risky, or even bold.

Moreover, there are even rumors – unfounded, to be sure – that there’s a switcheroo in the making, with Hillary stepping down and the ever-more visible Vice President Joe Biden stepping in as the Democratic nominee.

The Republican Party, which should be in good shape to retake the White House this fall, is in chaotic disarray. The party’s presumptive nominee, billionaire Donald Trump, has shown almost no ability to unite the GOP or gear up for a national campaign. Staff changes continue to hinder his campaign organization. Although he has given several scripted speeches attacking Clinton, he continues to lash out at former Republican foes. Moreover, he shows no awareness that his own behavior has made it very difficult for the GOP leadership to unite behind him.

As for Trump’s approach to the war on terrorism, he has proposed few specifics, beyond a vague, walked-back ban on Muslim immigration. Would he commit US troops abroad? He indicates not. However, his hawkish language suggests otherwise. On this and other policy questions, Trump continues to display an appalling ignorance of the facts and the background. To say that by electing him president, the American people would be buying a pig in a poke is an understatement.

The vice-presidential prospects in both parties don’t give much comfort. For the Democrats, US Sen. Tim Kaine (VA) would add a centrist presence to her increasingly leftwing tilt, but Elizabeth Warren would merely reinforce Hillary’s Obama-inherited uber-dovish approach to ISIS and its allies.

(Trump, by the way, is getting a bad rap from the media for calling Warren “Pocahontas.” He says that not to make fun of Native Americans, but to make fun of Warren for

claiming – even on professional documents – to be part Indian in order to advance her academic career. He is also taking a swipe at the politically-correct identity politics which has taken over the “progressive” movement.)

And Trump appears to have ruled out an exciting or stabilizing addition to his ticket, leaning – say media reports – towards the shop-worn Newt Gingrich, who has little or no appeal to independents. While Gingrich is experienced and knows how government works, his penchant for shutting down the federal government won’t help him win votes for Trump. And New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is very much underwater in his own state, has lost the bloom a fresh face would bring to the ticket.

Perhaps out of this slough of despair a positive path forward will emerge. So far, however, the prospects are dim. Stay tuned, if you can stand it.