One year from now we will be voting for President. I'm reluctant to write another word.
There may have been a time that I looked forward to national races, but I can't recall when. We have a full year of punditry and predictions to look forward to, together with equivocations, clarifications, and gaffes--and all done in deadly earnest.
We'll no doubt witness a blizzard of attacks and allegations, and quite possibly an October surprise or two. It will fall to the vice-presidential candidates to cast the biggest and sharpest stones. The heads of the tickets will try to defend themselves, and defame their opponents, while still looking presidential. Absent a quick wit, it won't be a pretty sight.
And when all is said and done, very little of it will matter. Regardless of the winner, Washington will return to its horse trading over half measures.
In the past month, we've seen two Republican frontrunners rise and fall due to their vanity and ineptitude. Rick Perry wasn't prepared to debate the issues or defend his record, and Herman Cain wasn't up to scrutiny of either his policies or his character. Neither has exhibited any grasp of how complicated the world is or how far reaching a chief executive's curiosity ought to be. Perry announced a hastily conceived flat tax proposal that even conservative economists denounced as nonsense. Cain, losing his sense of humor and bonhomie, has resorted to barking at reporters, inventing strange facts about China, deriding the importance of foreign policy, and blaming Perry for spilling the beans about his harassment of female former employees.
Obama got in trouble last week when he made a joke at President Sarkozy's expense, so we may not be hearing anything funny from him again. Mitt Romney has never gotten a laugh in his life. Will no one save us from this impending gloom?
James Madison by Gilbert Stuart, 1804. Stuart painted the first six Presidents, including the Washington on our dollar bill, plus a thousand other American faces. The statesmen all appear formal and cerebral, reminding us that the United States did not begin as a populist democracy, but as a republic in the hands of an intellectual elite. Stuart himself was said to be an engaging personality who amused those who sat for him. What a waste that he didn't paint the smiles that he had evoked. Click on the picture for a closer look.