(Rich Galen, Mullings) – After every election activity – caucuses, state conventions, primaries – the press corps and cable nets have assured us they knew what happened, what it means, and what it will lead to.
That they (ok, I’ll include myself), have been off-target week after week after week makes no difference. We sit on studio sets, behind see-through tables, and confidently predict the effects of something someone did (or didn’t to) or said (or didn’t say) or where they went (or didn’t go) and so on.
Among the many pronouncements that have generated knowing glances among the Washington political cognoscenti is how this election proves that the electorate is angry and is taking it out on the two major parties.
Donald Trump’s entire campaign has been based on making fun of the dopes in Washington. On the other side, Bernie Sanders has not used humor, but has stoked the fires of discontent against 21st-century capitalism.
Trump will likely be the GOP nominee, who will probably get beaten in the general election. Ted Cruz will probably not get to see a second ballot in Cleveland and, if so, will have no leverage against Trump.
Sanders will likely not be the Democratic nominee but he remains, like Pat Buchanan in 1992, a barbed hook aimed at the side of the Hillary Clinton campaign.
In 1992, Buchanan demanded a primetime speaking slot in return for convention floor peace. Many in the GOP – Reagan Republicans – had fallen out of love with Bush 41 and there was a real danger that Buchanan would whip them up and embarrass the Bush re-election campaign.
In 2008, Hillary Clinton was closer to Sen. Barack Obama going into the convention than Bernie Sanders is to her now.
I have no reason to believe this is true, but I like the way it sounds and besides it appeals to my sense of conspiracy when it comes to the Clintons. I suspect the Obama and Clinton teams made a deal. In return for no problems at the convention, Hillary would be nominated for the post of Secretary of State.
That’s likely illegal, so no one on either side will admit to it. And, as I said, I have no reason to think it’s true, but the effects fit the theory.
So, now you have Bernie Sanders without enough delegates but with plenty of supporters, plenty of money, and plenty of moral superiority. That’s plenty of ammunition to bring to the convention floor.
What will he demand? Likely a primetime spot on the podium, but he might also be in a position to demand language in the party platform that won’t panic Sec. Clinton, but that she would rather not have to defend.
Like language involving the big New York financial institutions and income disparity.
Here’s the dirty little secret that no one wants to talk about: None of this will matter.
If Clinton wins, the big story will not be out, outsiders will now have a seat at the table. The big story will be how long it takes the Obama people to put their stuff into cardboard boxes and clear out for a return to the Clinton people.
Even if Donald Trump were to win and he made good on his promise to put business leaders into Cabinet posts it wouldn’t make history. John F. Kennedy, for instance, put Robert McNamara, president of the Ford Motor Company, in as Secretary of Defense.
No less than T.E. Lawrence, known to us as Lawrence of Arabia, learned a hard lesson after World War I. He thought he and his Arab allies had created a new order in the Middle East. But, he wrote in Seven Pillars of Wisdom:
When we achieved, and the new world dawned, the old men came out again and took our victory to re-make in the likeness of the former world they knew. We stammered that we had worked for a new heaven and a new earth, and they thanked us kindly and made their peace.
The reality is, it takes people who know how to operate the levers of government to operate the levers of government.
Official Washington may blink a couple of times, but it will quickly recover, thank Republican and Democrat primary voters kindly, and return things to status quo ante.
Mr. Galen is a veteran political strategist and communications consultant. He blogs at www.Mullings.com.