That headline certainly does promise a large amount of schadenfreude over the misfortunes of a certain former vice presidential nominee (and half-term governor of Alaska), doesn't it? Well, that'll all have to wait for the end of this column, where we will be supplanting our normal talking points section with a few choice conservative reviews of Sarah Palin's recent speech in Iowa. But before we dive into this snarktastic dessert of vicious quips, we've first got to get through the meat and potatoes of the politics of the week.
Archive of Articles for January, 2015
Today's news headlines included an interesting item: "U.S. Air Force To Replace Air Force One." My immediate reaction: Does this mean the future presidential library in honor of Barack Obama will have a plane in it? After all, the last time we upgraded Air Force One, the old one wound up in Reagan's library, so it seems only fair for Obama to get one too.
The 2016 presidential election cycle is already underway. Whether you are delighted or horrified at the prospect, the race is indeed now on. While it might seem impossibly far in the future, consider that the Iowa caucuses are only a year away. So we're going to take a very early look at the Republican field, which seems to be getting larger every week.
I referenced the following article in passing last Friday (in relation to another outbreak of corruption in the halls of Albany), after which I was ceremoniously awarded a Commemorative Silver Edition Kickback by the Albany Museum of Political Corruption -- so I thought it'd be nice to return the favor and re-run the full interview I conducted a while ago with Bruce Roter.
Marijuana just keeps growing. That's a weak attempt at a punny metaphor for which I apologize (hey, I could have used some variation such as "growing like a weed," so I did exercise a little restraint...), but its deeper meaning is that marijuana is actually outgrowing such cheap jokes and entering the realm where it demands to be taken seriously -- especially by politicians. Marijuana is now the nation's fastest-growing industry. The legal marijuana industry brought in $2.4 billion last year, so it's certainly no longer any sort of laughing matter. That figure represents an increase of a whopping 74 percent in one year's time, and it is estimated that the total legal market could be worth $11 billion as soon as 2019.
I have to apologize right here at the start, because that headline is not original. Credit should go to Chuck Todd of NBC, who stated during the State Of The Union coverage this week that President Obama had stolen the traditional post-election "honeymoon" period with the public right out from under the Republican Party's feet. We found this such an apt metaphor that we decided to run with it, so: "Thanks, Chuck!"
Sammy Hagar, famously, couldn't drive 55. The double-nickel Hagar sang about was the national speed limit, in miles per hour. The Republican Party is about to find out that there's a new 55 limit in Washington, and it's going to cause some Hagar-level rage on its own. Because 55 senators is not the same as 60, or 67. This simple mathematical statement is about to confound the GOP's entire strategy for the next two years.
Because it is both playoff season in the football world and State Of The Union season in the political world, I felt it was high time to mix a metaphor or two. Because even though we're at the very earliest stage of the 2016 presidential race, it seems like the Democrats are pretty close to locking in "home-field advantage" on the subject of wages and inequality in America. By which I mean Democrats will be debating Republicans on very familiar territory for the Democratic Party, and very foreign soil for the Republicans. As in sports, this in no way guarantees a victory in "The Big Game," but it certainly does help the Democrats' chances.
Listening to President Barack Obama's State Of The Union speech tonight, I couldn't help but think that he's been waiting a long time to give such a speech, and he was happy to finally be giving it. Finally he could speak of the economy without having to hedge his language. Finally, he could unleash his inner optimism once again.
Trying to predict what the next presidential election will "be all about" is usually a fool's game, especially when it's still so far in the future. The main theme of a national election can turn on a dime, due to a major world event or even due to the public's fascination with one unforeseen minor topic. But, at least for the time being, the 2016 election seems to be shaping up as a race centered on economic populism. This may change at any point, as I said, but I couldn't have been the only one who was utterly astonished to hear that Mitt Romney recently told a group of conservatives he might just run on a platform of helping the middle class and attempting to eradicate poverty in America. If even Mitt Romney (of all people) is now expressing Republican concern for the poor, then something has indeed radically shifted in our political debate. Up is now down, topsy is getting downright turvy, and Mitt Romney is now a populist!