There can be but one winner, but losers abound.
Jeb Bush could be the Theodore White of this election campaign, writingg a book and calling it "The Unmaking of the President," subtitled "How I Blew $120 Million to Make It to Sixth Place."
Like all the Bushes, father and sons, Jeb is a nice guy. Leo Durocher, the manager of the old Brooklyn Dodgers, famously put nice guys in a context all their own. "Nice guys!" he said, one day in the summer of 1946, talking with sportswriters before a game with the Dodgers' hated crosstown rivals, the New York Giants.
"Look over there. Do you know a nicer guy than [Giants Manager] Mel Ott? Or any of the other Giants? Why, they're the nicest guys in the world. And where are they? In seventh place. Nice guys. I'm not a nice guy - and I'm in first place. The nice guys are all over there, in seventh place." A headline in the old New York Journal-American put it in the words everybody remembers: "Nice guys finish last."
Donald Trump is this year's Leo Durocher. He called Jeb! "low-energy Jeb." There was nothing low-energy in the way Jeb! ran for governor of Florida, and how he left office as a popular incumbent. But like several others in the original 16-member Republican field, he was the wrong man at the wrong time in the wrong place. He sealed his doom early on when he called immigrating to the United States illegally as "an act of love."
He forgot that nearly everybody else in America thinks illegal immigration is the No. 1 national headache, and the only way they can agree that it's an "act of love" is as a vulgar synonym for what mass, wild, uncontrolled trampling of the border is doing to the country. It ain't love, and it ain't good.
Besides, this is not the year to say nice things about anybody. The only thing everybody agrees on is that Democrat and Republican alike wish there was someone else to vote for, which brings the conversation around to another loser.
Democrats early recognized that Hillary was not the girl anyone wanted to take home to meet the folks. She was long past her sell-by date and political dynasties are hard to sell in America. The Clintons were shoddy goods to begin with, and Hillary was the shoddiest of all - dishonest, untrustworthy and deceitful. Like Barack Obama as the first black president, she as the first woman president would be doomed to be a spectacular disappointment. Why couldn't the party find someone who would be a credit to her sex?
Or why not one last white man to the White House? There was Joe Biden, the eccentric uncle upstairs, if not exactly in the attic. Everybody liked old Joe, if not necessarily his politics, and his frequent malapropisms and mangled speech made us laugh because his were the goofs and bungles we're all heir to. Speaking at one rally, he demanded a certain man stand up and take a bow. When the man kept his seat, Joe demanded in louder voice: "Stand up, man. Stand up." Then someone whispered in Joe's ear: "He's a paraplegic. He can't stand."
Or the time he wanted to make his props with guys with guns, and said the proper way to deal with intruders is to take a shotgun to the back porch and bang away into the dark. Not a good idea, but unlike Dick Cheney, he hasn't hit anyone yet. Joe would have eaten Hillary's lunch, even getting in late. He told friends he regards not running late as his greatest mistake.
But the loser of the year is James Comey, the on-again, off-again and on-again director the FBI. He managed to mismanage the investigation into Hillary's misbegotten emails, inviting anger and contempt of left and right. He might think he saved his job with his humiliating march up the hill, down the hill and up the hill again. But all he demonstrated was that he was never the man of courage and righteous probity that everybody thought he was only a month or so again.
Who, and particularly Hillary who cuts old friends loose with practiced ease, would trust him now? He may be remembered as the man who destroyed himself and took the FBI with him.
Rarely has a Washington player caved to pressure with such fear and funk. He was not even able to give himself transparent cover. He invites only pity. But now it's time to vote.