On a train bound for Chicago and, ultimately, New Orleans, I conversed with a great many people over the course of several days. The conversations all started out formulaic. “Where ya from” “Where ya headin’?” – You know the drill.
Invariably, someone would ask what I do. Upon discovering that I was a political analyst, the conversation would go quiet as they would consider whether or not to pick my brain or to allow me to ride, drink, read and eat in peace.
Almost always, they gingerly questioned, “Okay… So…. So who’s going to be our next president?”
I would explain that I’m not psychic, but that I could break-down the landscape.
“Rubio has a conservative credential problem with those who oppose amnesty. Jeb has the establishment backing but is uninspired and his messaging falls flat. Ted Cruz is a sleeper- a brilliant strategist slowly tucking-away money and skillfully drafting off bomb-throwers who are moving the conversation to the right (see Donald Trump) and Walker is everybody’s fallback. Trends indicate that America is ready for a change-up and historical trends show that we’re likely to favor a Washington outsider or an executive over a lawmaker; but it’s not written in stone.”
They would contemplate for a moment and soon ask, “What about Hillary?”
I would sigh.
“It’s a gamble. Americans are too focused on identity politics and people might be more fascinated with having a woman president than they are with having a competent one. Still, she’s damaged goods and, unlike Barack, she has zero charisma and a detailed, sordid history that can be picked apart. She has no professional accomplishments to note and, if a picture’s worth 1000 words, a video clip of her questioning, ‘What difference, at this point, does it make?’ is worth a million.”
Still, even I knew that the stupidity of the American voter could trump all these facts.
Dick Morris, a political analyst and bestselling author, offers another factor to consider: Democrats don’t have a backup plan.
“It’s approaching panic,” Morris says. “It’s not like they have a large bench waiting to step in and take over. If Hillary falters, they have a 70-something-year-old Bernie Sanders, then they have an old worn out Joe Biden, and an Elizabeth Warren that won’t get into the race and probably is too liberal if she does.”
“What do they have? This lack of a bench is very bad when your starter has arm trouble and back trouble and leg trouble and looks like they’re headed for the DL.”
When asked if they can tap another, younger candidate, Morris offered a bleak outlook for Democrats:
“They’re not on the on deck circle. If you use the metaphor, they’re not even on the dugout. In fact, they’re not even in the town where the game is being played. It would be a large stretch. Deval Patrick, the former governor of Massachusetts, Sherrod Brown, a relatively young senator from Ohio, a very radical one. You have a few that are on the wings. Claire McCaskill might, who knows but they’re very far from frontline and it would take a real surgeon to bring them forth.”
Democrats ought to panic. Hillary’s campaign is alive by the grace of a compliant and dogmatic mainstream media who works hard to downplay unfavorable narratives and play-up whatever small victories the scandal-plagued candidate might have.
With her testiness, her potentially criminal actions and the lingering, unanswered questions concerning her emails, Benghazi and campaign war-chest, it’s entirely possible that Clinton, even with mainstream media support, will implode. When that happens, there is no good second-stringer.