CHARLOTTE, N.C., June 12, 2014 — Political junkies got a trifecta this week with the Eric Cantor upset in Virginia, the Chuck Hagel hearing on Capitol Hill, and the release of Hillary Clinton’s new book.
While pundit pandemonium raged through Washington, there were some gut reactions away from the Beltway that might have as much credibility as all the “talking head” analysis.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s surprise defeat at the hands of Dave Brat, a virtually unknown economics professor at Randolph-Macon University, received the most attention as broadcasters spent the day speculating about its ramifications. The bulk of the analysis centered around Cantor’s stand on immigration, but few, if any, commentators addressed other elements of his loss that will be important to incumbents in both parties come November.
The results in Virginia demonstrate just how deeply the anger with the “business-as-usual” attitude in Washington is being felt throughout the nation. Cantor is a Republican, but do not be surprised to discover that much of the vote points to anger over Washington-Wall Street coziness, dissatisfaction with government in general, and dissatisfaction with Barack Obama in particular.
Immigration is a major issue, but it is not the most important issue to much of the country. Recent scandals including the Veterans Administration and the release of Bowe Bergdahl, combined with perpetual spin and dishonesty from the White House, have reached epidemic levels that penetrate deep into the psyche of the American people.
Ronald Reagan made us proud to be Americans. Bill Clinton “felt our pain.” Barack Obama created more pain and wants to shame us. Six years of “hope and change” have taken their toll — dramatically.
This is nothing more than a gut feeling, but neither party should gloat. If they understand nothing else, they should realize from micro-analyzing the reasons for Cantor’s defeat that a large part of it was simply a nation weary of being abused by government elitists.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was on Capitol Hill for congressional hearings regarding the Bowe Bergdahl/Taliban swap. Unlike his confirmation hearing, during which Hagel was woefully inept, he gave a strong opening statement and a far better account of the reasoning behind Bergdahl’s release than Obama did nearly two weeks ago.
The current disarray in Washington is so bad that if Obama yawns after he wakes up in the morning, there is an immediate call for a hearing. Congressional hearings are the new national pastime.
READ ALSO: Eric Cantor’s immigration capitulation
Even more disheartening is the format of the hearings, which allows virtually no meaningful questioning and frequently turns into a love-fest among partisan politicians. Such was the case with Hagel as his statement seemed to quiet most of the immediate controversy surrounding the Bergdahl release. Only in a few instances was there any depth to the questions put before Hagel who, it should be noted, had roughly two weeks to hone his remarks before presenting them to the committee. In the end it was, as usual, all for show with few or no results.
Thus the Defense Secretary served his purpose by temporarily taking the heat off the Obama administration at least long enough for the spin cycle to reset itself.
Hagel did admit that Obama was responsible for the final decision regarding Bergdahl. Though Obama rarely takes the heat for anything, it was obvious in this case that even he could not deny his way out of the convoluted series of excuses that have already cocooned their way around the story.
Finally, Hillary Clinton went on the road to promote her book and tell the world that she was poverty stricken at the end of her tenure as First Lady.
Reviews of her $15-million memoir of her time as a lackluster secretary of state were less than rave, and the most revealing aspect of Clinton’s interviews were how much she sounds like Barack Obama.
When Hillary wants to stay out of the spotlight, no one is more adept, but whenever the glare of publicity finds her again, you can count on controversy to be the first order of the day. After eight years of the Obama soap opera, one would think the American people would want a break, but if Mrs. Clinton takes charge, there will only be more of the same.
Had the book “Hard Choices” been written by anyone else, its release would have barely been noticed, but Hillary Clinton is a bigger lightning rod than Benjamin Franklin could ever hope to be. In truth, the book is the same old Washington rhetoric, which basically makes it a non-story until you put Hillary’s name on it.
As the merry-go-round keeps spinning. so, too, do the politicians. They can keep on believing that immigration was the reason for Eric Cantor’s defeat, but come November there may be many more similar “surprises.”
As Ricky Riccardo used to tell Lucy, then there will be some “‘splainin’ to do.”
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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