Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Pivot To The Center

A Pivot To The CenterEvery time a voter contemplates the prospect of another President Clinton, it may be enough to make the prospect of a President Trump palatable. And vice versa.

Swirling between the Scylla and Charybdis of this weird presidential race, the poor voter may find himself caught up in a whirlpool of second, third and fourth thoughts, with still more to come before November. It's not just presidential politics this year that may be spinning wildly, but his head.

At least The Donald picked a running mate to give the GOP ticket some balance. Instead of an attack dog, he's chosen a solid, conventional conservative in Gov. Mike Pence of solid, conservative Indiana. Call it a kangaroo ticket: stronger in the hind legs. The Donald's choice of a prospective veep may be the only responsible decision he's made as a presidential candidate to date.

True to bad form, the Clinton camp immediately denounced Donald Trump's choice of a moderate, centrist candidate for veep as "the most extreme pick in a generation." Why? For any number of reasons. Gov. Pence, it seems, had moved to defund Planned Parenthood starting in 2007. The governor also has done his best to discourage abortions on his watch. And he moved to protect the rights of those citizens who have conscientious objections to celebrating marriages other than those between one man and one woman. Tell us more, since all those sound less like reasons to denounce Gov. Pence than to applaud him.

What's more, Gov. Pence's defense of freedom of religion applies to Muslims, too, which is why he's differed with Donald Trump's call for banning Muslim immigrants. As he put it in a tweet: "Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional." As if our Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion, which it does. Of course, now that he's on the ticket, he has decided to help the boss. By helpfully explaining that The Donald meant only banning immigrants from countries where terrorists had taken over the government. And The Donald seemed to agree.

Anybody who can moderate his message has got to be a welcome addition to the Republican ticket this year.

Let's note, too, that Gov. Pence has been a longtime advocate of free trade. Which is why he supported NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which joined Mexico, the United States and Canada in a common market, benefiting all. Unlike the party's rampaging standard-bearer this year.

No doubt, other differences between these two Republicans will be mined for all they're worth and more as this strange presidential campaign gets even stranger, proceeding from the surreal to the ridiculous. It's embarrassing, but what isn't about this year's presidential contest?

American presidential elections long have been contests between an old America fading away and a new one a-borning. The classic example may have been William Jennings Bryan's campaign against William McKinley in 1896. An accomplished orator, Mr. Bryan mesmerized the Democratic convention that year and went on to run not just once but three times as the party's standard-bearer. That he lost every time gave him a reputation not so much as a loser but martyr.

Some of our best candidates for president were never elected (think Adlai Stevenson) while others were unlikely choices who went on to prove great presidents (like James K. Polk and Abraham Lincoln). Or as Joaquin Andujar, a relief pitcher as erratic as they come once put it, there's one word to describe America: You never know. This crazy year only the unexpected can be expected.

Meanwhile, the Democrats' search for a vice presidential candidate proceeds from left to lefter. For example, Queen Hillary has interviewed Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts firebrand, for the job.

With her on the ticket, immoderation will be assured. Yet her camp calls solid Mike Pence an extremist. Stay tuned, confused American. You ain't seen nothin' yet. Surprises await. And, just as assuredly, so do disappointments.

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