The din of the U.S. presidential campaign has put a song in my head that I can’t shake loose:
I been Norman Mailered, Maxwell Taylored.
I been John O’Hara’d, McNamara’d.
I been Rolling Stoned and Beatled till I’m blind.
I been Ayn Randed, nearly branded
Communist, ’cause I’m left-handed.
That’s the hand I use, well, never mind.
Paul Simon belted out A Simple Desultory Philippic in the ’60s.
Nothing desultory in 2016.
And, sorry, Demosthenes, philippics ain’t what they used to be.
With Jon Stewart gone, one of his protégés, Samantha Bee, is the sharpest comic observer of the campaign on television. Recently, on her Monday night show Full Frontal, after airing a clip from a Republican debate, Bee said: “I don’t mean to sound sexist, but I think men are too emotional to be president.”
For all you Bernie Babies, an old tweet from Cicero: “Not to know what happened before you were born is to be forever a child.”
Even if he’s elected, fat chance of a President Sanders paying your tuition and health care any time soon – or hijacking a Brinks truck on Wall Street and unloading it at your door.
I keep hearing about an angry electorate. Is it just the shitkickers and holy rollers riled up by years of Fox News and right-wing radio demonizing the black family in the White House?
Or is Trump tapping a new vein of “Reagan Democrats,” who were first “Nixon Democrats” – the Archie Bunker vote:
And you knew who you were then,
Girls were girls and men were men.
Mister, we could use a man
Like Herbert Hoover again.
Didn’t need no welfare state,
Everybody pulled his weight.
Gee, our old LaSalle ran great.
Those were the days.
Archie: “I’m not racist. I’ll be the first to say it – it’s not their fault they’re colored.”
You want an angry electorate? Try 1860, when the only issue was slavery versus the threat of civil war.
Lincoln won, the slave states soon seceded, and the war followed.
Republicans like to call themselves “the party of Lincoln,” but they’re really the party of Thurmond – the Democrat turned Dixiecrat turned Republican. Old Strom, lover of Jim Crow and the 16-year-old black maid he knocked up, began the bloodletting that turned the south Republican red.
Now, when the disloyal opposition fails to get its way, it doesn’t plot insurrection – as far as I know – it goes on strike for eight years.
You want another angry electorate? Try 1968, the first year I was eligible to vote.
The election came after a year that saw MLK and RFK murdered, black neighborhoods burning in cities across the county, and millions marching against the war in Vietnam as the body bags kept coming home.
A whole lot of hate was blowin’ in the wind: old versus young, black versus white, hawks versus doves, cops versus kids, cops versus blacks and Chicanos.
After the Republicans nominated Tricky Dick in Miami and the Hump emerged from the blood and teargas in Chicago, I cast my first presidential ballot for Eldridge Cleaver of the Black Panthers, running on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket in California.
One of its founding documents read: “The racist imperialist butchers will no longer be allowed to usurp the electoral process to camouflage their illegitimate exercise of power, maintained through treachery, terror and genocide.”
Those were the days.
The election of the racist imperialist butcher Nixon in 1968 was the last time more than 60 percent of eligible Americans bothered to vote.
The turnout for Lincoln’s win in 1860 was, at the time, a record 81 percent.
Fitting for a man with the prescience to divine his GOP descendants and warn: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
“I could be more presidential than anybody. I can be more presidential, if I want to be, I can be more presidential than anybody,” Trump said after winning Michigan. “I would say more presidential – and I’ve said this a couple of times – more presidential than anybody other than the great Abe Lincoln. He was very presidential, right?”
Not even Ted Cruz’s kids can stand him. His seven-year-old daughter recoiled when he tried to kiss her and, another time, walked off the stage when he was making a speech.
Cruz and his ilk advocate the “freedom” to carry guns anywhere – movie theaters, elementary schools, churches, bars.
Brave talk for those who work in places with guarded gates and travel with security details.
Trump recently said it was a “great honor” to be endorsed by a Florida preacher and gun nut who has repeatedly said the Sandy Hook school massacre never happened and that some of the grieving parents were actors.
Cruz does look like Grandpa Munster.
And, to me, Sanders sounds like Jackie Mason – and my Cousin Shlomo.