By Gene Lyons, NEA Columnist
Quite a few people make noises about leaving the country if the wrong person gets elected president. I've been making discreet inquiries in the vicinity of Kinsale, County Cork, myself -- from whence my people emigrated after 1880. Picturesque, 18th-century harbor untouched by modern commerce -- the British made sure that the industrial revolution never happened in what's now the Irish Republic -- great walks, terrific restaurants, friendly, talkative people, and regular ferry service from nearby Cork City to Normandy.
But, alas, no baseball, no Arkansas Razorbacks, and chilly, rainy weather. My wife would get lonely without her small army of girlfriends and their complicated problems to sort. Also, what would become of the dozens of animals that wait expectantly for me to feed them every afternoon? Properly vaccinated cats are welcome in Ireland, but cows?
Anyway, like the dread specter of President Trump, it's only a fantasy. I'm too old to start a new life in the Old Country. Sufficiently aged to run for president in the current cycle, although younger than Bernie Sanders.
So am I the only observer who suspects the whole thing could be settled by a sudden medical crisis? How surprising would it be to learn that one geriatric aspirant or another had been felled by a stroke?
Garrison Keillor advises voters to "check out that 25th Amendment about presidential disability and how, if the boss' brain turns to tapioca and he crouches behind bushes in the Rose Garden talking to Grover Cleveland, the vice president must conspire with the Cabinet to bounce him out of office."
I go back so far that during the recent Democratic debate, I couldn't quit chuckling about Bernie's close resemblance to Phineas T. Bluster, the grouchy marionette from the "Howdy Doody" show (1947-60). Perpetually indignant and waving his finger in the air, Mr. Bluster would stamp his little feet and make faces whenever Buffalo Bob tried to get a word in edgewise.
Even so, to me the most telling moment of the Democratic campaign was one night when MSNBC's Chris Hayes asked Bernie if he'd ever been wrong.
"Are there things that you had a conversion or thought to yourself, 'you know, I was wrong about that' in your time as a politician?" Hayes asked.
Sanders clumsily ducked the question.
"Well, let me say this, you know, to be honest with you, I almost, what I fervently wish is we had more time."
See, if Bernie had to do it all over again, he'd have "put more emphasis on bringing working class people together to fight for a government that works for all of us, not just wealthy campaign contributors."
Yada, yada, yada.
Not one mistake, ever? Not even voting for the 1994 Crime Bill? Voting against the Brady gun control bill? Hayes lobbed him a slow pitch right down the middle and Bernie took a called third strike.
Actually, make that Dr. Bluster, Ph.D. The man's a caricature of every left-wing faculty lounge lizard one encountered during the '60s -- doctrinaire, humorless, and incapable of admitting error.
Temperamentally, he'd be a disaster in the Oval Office.
And then there's Hillary Clinton, a woman seemingly so persuaded of her own moral rectitude that she still can't see how her actions can be misconstrued, not even after being dragged unwilling through one make-believe scandal after another, from Whitewater to Benghazi.
The inimitable Charlie Pierce on Hillary's Goldman Sachs speeches:
"Why any politician with presidential ambitions would get within five miles of the people who wrecked most of the economy and stole the rest of it in the 2000s is its own answer," he wrote in Esquire. "The reason is that politics is money now, and that's where the easy money is. For myself, I think there isn't a damned thing in any of those speeches that should cause HRC a millisecond of agita, but also that going on 30 years of pestiferous (dirty tricks) has made her jump at shadows. So she digs in, and the debate becomes about her digging in."
Exactly. Even allowing for Pierce's characteristic hyperbole -- "Wall Street" has become an all-purpose epithet -- the man has a point. A $275,000 honorarium for a politician is downright preposterous, regardless of the content of Hillary's remarks. It's amazing and somewhat worrying that she didn't see that.
But then if it's a working definition of chutzpah you want, how about the curious adventures of Stage Door Bernie?
Imagine the uproar if Hillary Clinton had flown to the Vatican, and after having been denied an audience with the Pope because His Holiness sensibly avoids partisan politics, stationed herself at his door for an ambush interview, which her campaign tried to spin into a quasi-endorsement.
She'd be caricatured as a power-mad shrew, or worse.
Bernie gets a pass essentially because a.) He's her opponent, and b.) His time in the in the spotlight is almost done.
Please, please let it soon be over.