The primaries are at last over, except for one final burp in the District of Columbia, and not a day too soon. Now Democrats and the Republicans can turn to dismantling each other in pursuit of the presidency. This should be a campaign to remember.
Bernie Sanders talked to President Obama Thursday. Nobody got a transcript of the remarks but when he emerged from the White House the senator from Vermont sounded more like a valedictorian than the roughhouse pursuer of Hillary Clinton.
He repeated the usual applause lines – “a Trump presidency would be a disaster” and “I’ll work as hard as I can to make sure Donald Trump does not become president of the United States” – and seemed pleased to bask in the shade of President Obama. But like a defeated candidate who can’t quite give up the ghost, he promised to monitor “a full accounting of the votes in California,” though it’s not clear why. He said he’s sure the full accounting will show the results will show “a much closer vote” than the licking by 400,000 votes he took Tuesday, though to what purpose he did not say. There won’t be a recount.
Thursday was a Democratic day in Washington, and Hillary could for once keep the noise level down as she did her own basking in the shade of her pants suit. The White House released a video of the president supplying the feminist noise – “she’s woman and hear her roar” – and promised to join her on the hustings next week in Wisconsin.
Mr. Obama sounded as if auditioning for carnival shill, saying that he doesn’t think “there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.” More qualified than George Washington? John Adams? Thomas Jefferson? Abraham Lincoln? Franklin D. Roosevelt?
Well, that’s what the man said. Mr. Obama, in all fairness, is not a student of American history, and he might not have heard of all the presidents on an honor roll of the nation’s greatest chiefs. He’s the president who once spoke of the nation’s “57 states.” The America he does not know well obviously bores him.
His endorsement of Hillary was inevitable, but it’s not at all clear how much, if at all, endorsements, whether by a president, a governor or even a newspaper, have ever actually determined the winner in an election.
This week a columnist for The Washington Post, ever attentive to the interests of Republicans, speculated how Paul Ryan might “withdraw” his endorsement of Donald Trump. This is surely not worrying the Donald because Americans are a perverse and stubborn race and imagine themselves fully qualified to make up their own minds. Besides, congressmen don’t pack much weight with anybody this season.
Both Hillary and the Donald are well advised, as the pitcher Satchell Paige famously said, to never look back, “because something might be gaining on you.” What’s gaining on Hillary is the outlaw media, so called because it is not restrained by the conventional wisdom, and what several filmmakers have made ready for her. The Hollywood Reporter reports that up to eight “right-leaning” films are due in theaters and on television screens between now and the November election.
The first one, “Deposition,” on youtube.com now, is a re-enactment of testimony taken from Hillary aides about what she did, and more important, what she didn’t do about the seizure of the American consulate in Benghazi, where four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, died as the result of official mis- and malfeasance. The testimony is re-enacted because a judge suppressed the video of the real deposition.
In it, Hillary’s close adviser Cheryl Mills uses some version of “I don’t recall” or “I don’t remember” in answer to 189 questions. This is the device frequently prescribed by defense lawyers because not remembering, even if everyone in the courtroom knows the witness is lying, can’t be prosecuted as perjury.
The Hillary film with the biggest budget is “Hillary’s America” by Dinesh D’Souza, produced for $5 million with another $5 million for prints and advertising. The producer, Gerald Molen, who won an Oscar for “Schindler’s List,” describes “Hillary’s America” as a primer on racism in the Democratic Party. “Students know nothing about history, nothing about America,” he says. “They don’t know that 600,000 people died in the Civil War, most of them trying to protect black Americans from Democrats who supported slavery.”
That’s a somewhat fanciful reading of Civil War history – it would be news to many Union soldiers that they were fighting to protect slaves or end slavery – but it’s likely to find a big audience when it opens in Los Angeles and again in Cleveland on the eve of the conventions.
No one’s counting on Hillary to give two thumbs up. She’s more likely to use another finger.