As we approach the end of August — whatever happened to the summer doldrums? In the political world, there was no recess this summer — it has been more chaotic than quiet.
In both parties, the race to the party nominations is increasingly unpredictable. The Republican race was always expected to be complex and dynamic with 17 candidates vying for the nomination just under eleven months from now, but the Trump phenomenon has dramatically increased the turmoil.
The conventional wisdom peddled by the antique media was that Jeb Bush was the prohibitive front-runner whose enormous $50 million war chest would ensure that he would be the last man standing in the GOP. While a $50 million dollar war chest is indeed a formidable force, I never bought the notion of near inevitability of Jeb as the eventual winner, in part because even among those who supported Jeb, there was a notable lack of passion behind their assertion of inevitability — and in part because the conservative base of the party, while deeply divided over which candidate was the preferred alternative to Bush -- was nearly united in expressing a preference for anyone but him. Only among wealthy party donors in New York City have I ever detected anything approaching enthusiasm.
But then along comes Trump, and he upsets and confounds every single scenario. I still expect him to burn out like a Roman candle fireworks that bursts upon the scene, rises fast while burning brightly, but soon is spent and falls to the ground. But I'll be quick to admit that I didn't expect him to rise this high or burn this brightly or this long. Even some of his more honest supporters will admit that his style is that of a demagogue, not a principled leader, but it's worth remembering that demagoguery is a very effective technique when it preys upon real fears and deep suspicions.
I doubt that Donald Trump would be the poll leader that he is now if there were not so many candidates in the Republican field, but that's mere conjecture. There's also a big difference between the kind of candidate that people enjoy watching a year before an election and the kind of candidate whom people want to be their President. Yet until he does himself in with his mouth and his ego, he's the biggest and baddest candidate on the stage.
While chaos and uncertainty are in full flower on the Republican side, they are mere seedlings on the Democrat side, but growing. Just one week ago, there were quite a few opinion columns in major metropolitan newspapers to the effect that it was already too late for any Democrat to gather the resources necessary to mount a successful challenge to Hillary Clinton. That's no longer the case.
After Monday's broadly publicized lunch between President Obama and Vice President Biden, the prospect of a Biden candidacy is suddenly very real.
What's behind it? Is it just a product of a long-simmering antipathy between the Obamas and Clintons, going back to their 2008 Primary race? Or is that Hillary's poll numbers are softening and raising fresh doubts about her electability? Or that she's showing troubling ineptitude in dealing with her email controversy? Or that she wouldn't be as effective an advocate for the Obama administration's policy legacy.
That's what we hear from the scribes and pundits of the ancient media, but my instincts tell me something different. I think that the Obama Justice Department, FBI and maybe the CIA have found evidence of serious criminal liability in the way classified information was mishandled by Clinton in office and beyond, including classified information that was given to her lawyer David Kendall without proper security clearance. There may also be genuine concerns about intentional destruction of evidence. Maybe some information was recovered from the server that was believed to have been wiped clean. I think that so-far undisclosed revelations like these are the more likely explanation for why Joe Biden is being encouraged to reevaluate the race — and to consider Elizabeth Warren as his potential Vice Presidential running mate.
One day last week, I drove former Congressman Lt. Colonel Allen West from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia. That gave us more than five hours in the car, during which time we talked about a whole range of issues. One of the most startling and memorable was his warning that there was one potential 2016 ticket that should concern Republicans, conservatives and patriots in general: a Biden-Warren ticket. Was the Congressman truly prophetic? Yes, I think he was.
Colin Hanna is President of Let Freedom Ring, USA