Friday, August 7, 2015


The first debate among Republican presidential contenders was a "sleeper".  The "junior league" was handily won by Carly Fiorina, fired up by her proxy catfight with Mrs. Clinton, while the first tier showed a group of  tired looking men dressed for a funeral and arguing ... for what?  Trump was predictable, loud but short on substance, while the others looked as if they would have done almost anything not to be there.  The audience reminded me of Panem et circenses.

The winners were actually the Democrats.  Like them or not, but candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton tower over their Republican rivals. Sanders has an ideologically solid persona.  Hillary has the agility of an Indian contortionist. Conviction and arrogance speak louder than the touting of shady resumes and reciprocal animosity.  We are only at the beginning and the hot pursuit for all things Hillary has not even begun.  Be ready for an overdose of Benghazi, server, Iran...  Everything remains possible and it is likely that a deteriorating political climate after the summer recess will further poison the well. This might create an opportunity for Trump, who has made perfectly clear how much he despises the classical political class.  He does not belong to the many frustrated members of various committees in Congress which will chase Mrs.Clinton in Nuremberg-fashion. He will keep his distance both regarding his Republican rivals and his moves. If he were to consider becoming a Third party candidate, the Republicans might as well throw in the towel.  Mrs. Clinton had better take control of her story, otherwise she might have a humiliating awakening. There are too many curves in her road!

Campaigns come and go, the fatigued candidates look already like salesmen at the end of a long day. The stump speeches are banal, the proposals are anti-intellectual. Most contenders are alarmed by the goings on in the world and promise to make America great again. How they intend to tackle this challenge remains a mystery.  Republicans gather around the old banners of religion, pro-life, aversion to climate change, and traditional values. Democrats veer to the left, to some remix of Obama and chili sauce. A conversation about a comprehensive world view or restructuring of what does not work in America is hardly possible.

The last months of the Obama presidency might be lonely.  Accordingly, the President may choose to be more aloof and rule over the head of Congress.  Obama is a most intelligent man, he is also the worst deal maker with whom he disagrees.  If the Iran deal fails,  the consequences might be serious. The question is no longer if there was an imperative to get to this deal now. The deal is here and the aftermath is equally blurred.   Either the President sticks with it, alienating a majority of critics on both sides of the aisle, or he tries to review it, risking to lose the 5+1 support at a time where he needs more than ever Putin's lukewarm cooperation in Syria. Obama's assessment that war is the only alternative to the agreement is flawed and shows disregard for diplomatic savoir faire .

At the end of this first Republican obstacle course, only banality crossed the finish line.

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