Aspen Times Weekly: Hit & Run with John Colson
It’s dynasty time in America, again.
Following eight years of outgoing President Barack Obama’s rather tepid populism, we are once again poised to face a choice between a Clinton and a Bush, just as in 1992 when then-President George Herbert Walker Bush was knocked out of the saddle by then-Arkansas Gov. William Jefferson Clinton.
This time, the pairing seems destined to be a battle between Hillary Rodham Clinton, wife of the former president, and Jeb Bush, who has the dubious distinction of being the only Republican ever to serve two consecutive terms as governor of Florida (1999 – 2007), as well as being the son of former President George H.W. Bush (1988 – 1992) and the brother of former President George W. Bush (2000 – 2008), otherwise known as The Shrub (thanks to the late, great political gadfly Molly Ivins).
Hence, my use of the term “dynasty.” How else can you describe this phenomenon, where two political families have been at the pinnacle of national politics since the late 1970s, and appear more than ready to hang onto power well into the next century?
As columnist Maureen Dowd noted in the March 2 New York Times, “Before these two families release their death grip on the American electoral system, we’re going to have to watch Chelsea’s (that’s Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Bill and Hill) granddaughter try to knock off George P.’s (that’s George P. Bush, eldest son of Jeb) grandson, Prescott Walker Bush II.”
Do the generational math, following Dowd’s lead, and you begin to suspect that the Bush-Clinton blood feud could go on for another century, at least.
If that’s not a portrait of dynastic competition, in red-white-and-blue American terms, I don’t know what is.
The fact that this match-up has been talked about since the 2012 election went to Obama, instead of that silver-spoon munching paragon of elitism, Mitt Romney, does not make it any more palatable.
Actually, the staying power of the Hillary-Jeb prospect is right up there with other indications that American electoral politics is in deep, deep ca-ca. If we haven’t been able to come up with better candidates in the intervening two years, I guess we deserve what we get?
I realize that Hillary is viewed by many as having earned the right to make another run at the presidential ring, if only because she did a pretty good job as U.S. Secretary of State.
And I realize that I will be receiving hate mail by the bushel if I dare to say anything against her candidacy.
But the plain, unvarnished truth of my political nature is, I do not like dynasties. And I do not believe that anyone who has ever come close to winning the White House automatically deserves a second swing at the ball.
There are a couple of realities I should address, such as my belief that Hillary is a very smart woman, is possessed of some admirable ideas and might make a very good president. The fact is, if the choice is as I have outlined it, I likely will vote for her.
I also should note that she at one time tried to steer this country down the road to single-payer health care, using the bully pulpit of the First Ladyship in her hubby’s first term in the White House. Had she succeeded, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in now, with a health care system that is part public mandate, part private-insurance hucksterism, and all screwed up.
No, by now we would have joined the family of nations who have realized the health care is one of the policy areas that must not be left in the hands of the private sector, must not be viewed as a for-profit piggybank for the insurance industry, which some say is the largest industry in the entire world.
But, in my eyes, Hillary is too hooked into the power politics that have brought us to the brink of fiscal and social ruin, and would not be my choice for a leader able to think outside the established framework and come up with radical new proposals.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
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Perhaps it’s because we are in the abbreviated days of winter and I instinctively know that the sun is shining down-under. But every January I go through a nostalgic period where Australian wine dominates my mind.