Colson: The race begins, but the turf is muddy and slippery | AspenTimes.com
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Colson: The race begins, but the turf is muddy and slippery

John Colson
Hit & Run

The U.S. presidential race is getting down to it. Now that both major parties have had their conventions, the candidates have heard the starting gun and already are galloping away from the starting line with a ravenous hunger shining from their eyes.

The question is: Which vision of our nation’s present and future are we going to believe?

Republican Party nominee Donald Trump, an insecure billionaire with dainty hands and a skyscraper-sized ego, would have us believe that we are all swirling toward the bottom of a toilet bowl and he is the only one who can stop the whirlpool in its tracks and “make America great again.”

His running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, appears to have been picked so he can pull in the evangelical voters that Trump has alienated beyond all redemption, although there remain big questions about whether we want this guy to be the one who is a heartbeat away from the Oval Office.

Not that there is a lot to choose when you are considering the Republican ticket and looking to figure out which one is more reality-based and trustworthy (the answer to that puzzle is, of course, neither).

Trump, in what is likely to be a repetitive dance of delusion with the media in the coming months, made one of his more puzzling foreign-policy pronouncements over the weekend, telling CNN’s George Stephanopoulos that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin would not be invading the sovereign nation of Ukraine, presumably meaning it would not happen if Trump were president. The fact that Putin already did just that two years ago, and effectively has annexed the Crimean peninsula that formerly was part of Ukraine, seems to have slipped by Trump in his briefings with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

But Trump, true to form, blamed the Ukrainian conflict on President Barack Obama while at the same time declining to refute the implication that Trump was ready to cede Crimea to Russia, thanks to Trump’s belief that the Crimean people really want to be part of Russia anyway (a dubious claim, at best).

Then there is Hillary Clinton, a dyed-in-the-wool political wonk who, according to her boosters at the Democratic National Convention, was born to be president someday — the implication being that her time has come at last.

The flip-side implication, of course, is that her time will never come, despite Obama’s determined effort in his DNC speech to ignore all of his deeply etched criticisms of Clinton a mere eight years ago, when he swiped the nomination from her in a historically amazing political rout.

Her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, already is making negatory waves in the campaign after revealing that he disagrees with Clinton’s pledge to rescind the 40-year-old Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of federal funds for abortions.

Granted, Kaine also says he will “support” Clinton in this issue, which I guess means he won’t be coming out with public repudiations of anything she says on the topic.

This development, which surfaced Sunday when Kaine was interviewed on a talk show, already has sent shock waves through the pro-choice movement, although the waves apparently settled down quickly, presumably after the campaign made it clear that Clinton will be the one in charge and Kaine will be providing backup.

Right out of the gate, then, we have two presidential candidates who seem to be slipping and sliding their way toward the White House, leaving us in a state of mounting suspense over which one is going to slip and fall on his or her keister first, which might thereby give us a little help in making up our electoral minds in November.

Not that I have any doubt about my vote, I should point out right here. I will be voting for Hillary despite some serious misgivings about her commitment to achieving everything she promised in her acceptance speech at the DNC.

I am disinclined to buy into the caricature of Clinton that the Republican Party has cobbled together over the past 20 years, doing their best to convince us that she is somehow satanic (as declared by that famously brain-dead retired neurosurgeon and erstwhile presidential candidate Ben Carson) and that she is dishonest or criminally crooked (chants of “Lock her up” dutifully parroted by the Republican convention crowd).

I mean, she is a career politician, which by its nature seems to require a certain moral flexibility of all but the most determinedly honest practitioners (see Bernie Sanders), so I have never expected to trust her completely.

But I do trust her to keep the country on a somewhat even keel while those of us who want systemic political and economic change figure out how we can get it.

Now, if you want to talk about the need for periodic revolution, watering the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants, we can do that.

But I don’t think any one of us is ready to embark on that course right now, since Bernie’s “political revolution” fell a little short of the mark.

And Trump is not about to bring about revolutionary change — unless it is in the direction of a return to the robber-baron era.

Email at jbcolson51@gmail.com.


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