Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Richie Rich, Baby Boomers and, Look Out, 2018 Looming


The baby boom generation has suffered a number of ignominies, especially in the fellow boomer presidents who have been elected as the cohort has grown and matured. The first of the generation to take office, Bill Clinton, ended the meritocracy those born post-1945 had enjoyed. After his total lack of common sense, given the settings of his interactions with Monica Lewinsky (the Oval Office), he was impeached, which prevented the other baby boomer, Al Gore, from advancing, handing over the election, barely, to George W. Bush. Clinton’s legacy is the Bush II administration and all the calamities it wrought, most of which are still on-going in 2017.

The Bubba cost his wife the recent election because even Democrats were tired of both Clintons in 2008 and Clinton fatigue had barely dissipated by 2016. The less said about George W the better, as he wiles away his late years doing old-age-home arts and crafts. But, one presumes, the greatest affront to boomers is Donald Trump, currently president of the United States. We have gone from the smartest guy in the room – Bill Clinton – to the incarnation of baby-boom- era comic character Richie Rich, minus Rich’s purported kindness and impulse to charity. This final insult is hard for the generation to absorb.

Presidential elections have been swinging the last couple of decades from the boot-strap candidates, Clinton and Barack Obama, to the entitled, George W. Bush and now, The Donald. Seemingly, the American public is riding on a pendulum, favoring the self-made office-seeker and then the rich. Political success in the country now seem to be the real estate of the very wealthy, those who buy their offices outright.

The next national election of consequence is the one where the presidency is not involved. 2018 rises in importance, given the chaos of the Trump administration and the GOP’s lock on governing the party now holds. Here in Indiana, Sen. Joe Donnelly’s prospects for reelection in 2018 are seen by many political observers as a test case of the strength of the Democratic Party. 2018 will reveal whether or not the Democrats are actually the basket-case they seem.

Donnelly may have profited in the 2012 Senate race in Indiana from two things: An astoundingly inept Republican opponent (Richard Mourdock of the “gift from God” fertilization by a rapist) and a presidential election year that helped boost turnout. Donnelly had chosen not to run for his Congressional seat, given the state’s GOP gerrymandering of the 2nd district. Donnelly, unfortunately, left us with the elusive Jackie Walorski, a state-level politician, one of the many Republicans who finds open town halls toxic. Donnelly opted for the high-risk-high-reward Senate contest and it paid off.

Donnelly is one of the most vulnerable Democratic Senators of a red state. Indiana went for Donald Trump by 17 points, showing more Hoosier pride – Mike! Pence! – than enthusiasm for Trump, helped by a by a woeful overall turnout – Indiana ranked 40th out of 50 states. Hillary Clinton won St. Joseph county, a Democratic stronghold, by less than a point.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like our wunderkind South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg will be a candidate for Congress in 2018. Given his sterling performance running for chair of the Democratic National Committee, the fund-raising window for him would be wide-open and, certainly, he would have helped improve turnout in the 2nd district, thereby aiding Donnelly state-wide.

Walorski is ripe for defeat. The all-male leadership of the D.C. Republicans have kept her on a very tight leash. They may have improved her visual presentation since 2013, restricted her to a few sentences to say, over and over, and put her in any number of photo-ops, even with Donald Trump, since there are so few GOP women (62 Dems, 21 GOP), but she continues to be the same old lovable “Wackie Jackie” of yore, applauding the president’s one-page-joke tax plan and swooning over the Senate and the House’s reverse-Robin-Hood decimation of Obamacare, and whatever other craziness Donald Trump indulges in.

Donnelly has been, and will be, attacked by both the right and the left. Various purity tests have been engaged by some Democrats, including Donnelly’s vote for Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch. The three non-Republican votes for Gorsuch came from red-state Democrats. Their re-election contests will be mud-fests, especially Donnelly’s.

That the Democratic leadership took the hardest line against Gorsuch, knowing that the Republicans would invoke the misnamed and hyperbolic “nuclear option,” was ill-advised. Gorsuch was laureled with what are considered the most reputable credentials, though, at heart, he seems to be just another Republican party hack. Democrat opposition turned out to be yet another futile political gesture.

An all-out fight against the second Supreme Court nominee – if Trump gets one, which is likely – would have been more useful. Since only a bare majority vote is now needed in the Senate to confirm, Trump can serve up even a Liberty University zealot and the Democrats will be hamstrung. Better they had contested a less-credentialed person than Gorsuch, one that even some sensible Republicans would balk at.

In addition, the anti-abortion lobby is second only to the NRA in its focused, single issue, get-out-the-vote capabilities. Democrats are now sparring over making a pro-choice stance for candidates mandatory, which is absurd, given the party’s ethnic and religious history, though what most Democrats would agree on is that pro-life Democratic office holders resist limiting the reproductive rights women already possess.

Some diehards these days think Bernie Sanders could have won the presidency, if he had been the nominee. Isn’t it pretty to think so?, as Hemingway would have said. The Republican Money Machine didn’t bother to lay a glove on Bernie during the primary season. Picture the garbage that would have been heaped on him had he been the nominee. Recall that along with Trump it was Sanders who didn’t release his most current taxes during the primaries – it was Jane who was doing them, he’d cry. What were they hiding? Now Jane and Bernie are under investigation for the usual kind of money shenanigans. Yet Democrats remain divided today because Sanders was essentially a third-party candidate. And he is too old to be a baby boomer.

What motivates Democrat voters who sat out the election, or voted for Jill Stein, or the fairly crazy Libertarian candidate, in 2016 was well put by David Hoppe in the Indianapolis weekly Nuvo. The were folks ”...who think of voting not in terms of collective self-interest, but as a hermetically personal form of self-expression.”

If Joe Donnelly loses in 2018, self-expression – and Trump and the Republicans – again will have won the day, to say nothing of the House, the Senate, etc.

The HuffPost version ran on 6/26/2017 and can be found here.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Trump Rising

It’s hard to keep up with The Donald’s buffoonery, so I haven’t been trying, but it was hard to miss that he finally got a chance to play Zeus hurling thunderbolts, in Trump’s case 59 Tomahawks, getting rid of inventory, lobbing them at the Syrian airfield. Not Iraq, as he told Maria Bartiromo on Fox. Thankfully, he lets his generals decide where to drop the bombs, like the MOAB, supposedly never used since created in 2003, that they let loose over Afghanistan. More inventory reduction.

Trump’s popularity went up, though only a point or two, not a surprise, though there does appear to be a gold-plated ceiling where The Donald is concerned. The Trump method, doctrine, if you will, is distraction, and it is quite successful. Trump himself is the chief distraction, while the House and Senate Republicans knit away, Madame Defarge like, only backwards, undoing the fabric of the Obama state, canceling protections right and right.

Neil Gorsuch sits on the High Court, Gorsuch, like Mike Pense, was raised Catholic, but now seems to be a fashionable Episcopalian, thereby finally adding a Protestant to the Court. Paul Ryan, the Speaker, remains busy dreaming his apocalyptic dreams – no taxes! No entitlements! – Mitch McConnell continues his haughty hypocrisies, do not as I have done, but do as I say.

Democrats are resisting, though it would have been better if they had been voting in 2016.Those shouting “You lie!” to Joe Wilson at his South Carolina Town Hall should have been yelling it back in 2009 when he shouted out in Congress to President Obama.

I have written quite a bit on elections since 1996 and it still seems credible that outcomes rely on the so-called low information, late deciding, undecideds. In Trump’s case, he had direct access to the same crowd that George W. Bush profited from, those voters who most identified with him.

Not the self-identification of bogus billionaires, but which person they wanted to be next to, have a beer with, etc. W had more than a leg up on that constituency, compared with Al Gore. Even though Gore won the popular vote – England has its Royals and we have the Electoral College – Gore would have won even that, had the whole state of Florida been counted correctly, yet not many voters wanted to have a beer with him. Trump, of course, doesn’t drink alcohol, but his coarse bonhomie, similar to the younger Bush’s, struck a chord with the common voter.

Hillary, poor Hillary, had more in common with Al Gore than her titular husband. And, though the usual suspects – email server, Ruskies, Wikileaks, Comey, etc. – did their dark work, Hillary’s losing ground was well prepared by Bernie Sanders. Sanders’ largest success in public office likely will turn out to be his assistance in helping Donald Trump become the 45th president of the United States.

Nonetheless, Trump is rising, given the begrudged acknowledgment by most of the media that he is the president. No one with a sense of self importance wants to believe a clown is presiding over the Oval Office. Oh, no, it flies in the face of self regard. So, Trump may not be presidential himself, but he is being treated as the president. With respect, of a sort.

And, if the presumed shake-up in Trump’s administration is coming and The Donald is throwing the more picturesque clown car occupants under the bigger bus, more of this incipient fawning will continue. Trump may not be acting more presidential, but the people around him are, and that will likely be enough for the permanent establishment, in both the media and in Washington.

Steve Bannon does stick out as a sore thumb. Even when he wears a suit and tie he just doesn’t look the part. He looks like the alt-right zealot he is, disheveled, unhealthy, and though he might have millions he doesn’t look well cared for. Compare him to the typical Senator. Those folks know how to look the part. They all look like a million dollars.

And poor Sean Spicer. How can he stay? His latest pratfall about Hitler doesn’t gas his people (other Austrians?) contained the priceless coinage “Holocaust centers,” a phrase that can only be the product of a Cuisinart brain, chopping into tiny bits vocabulary and ideas that are swirling around the plastic bowl of his mind.

If Ivanka and Jared are really running things Sean will be gone soon. It is alarming to look at the people Trump has been discarding: Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Roger Stone, Gen. Flynn, and, possibly Bannon and Spicer, all true believers, each helping in their own twisted way Trump become leader of the free world.

The Huffington Post version, which ran on April 14, 2017, can be found here.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Trump Monkeys

The Trump administration puts to the test the “infinite monkey theorem,” since so many journalists are typing away chronicling the daily saga of the new president. Very little Shakespearean prose has yet resulted, but we have to consider the source. Trump’s address to the “joint session” of Congress produced amazement at the new Trumpian focus, his ability to read – and stick to – the Teleprompter for an hour or so. Two times, though, he did deviate, letting the inner Trump ooze out: claiming some sort of record for applause had been reached and the soul-churning idea that the deceased Seal, William “Ryan” Owens, was looking down at the assembly and smiling. Perhaps Trump was channeling the apostate Mike Pence sitting smiling behind him.

This brings me to the chief spectacle of that night, the sight of the Seal’s widow, sitting, standing, crying, mumbling, suffering. It is cheering that the earliest critics of that display were other military people calling this for what it was: exploitation. Trump, understanding television if nothing else, along with his obsession with ratings, knew he had a winner: Who can not be riveted by the sight of a good-looking woman in extremis?

I tried to imagine which American actress (or British, French, etc.) could have done what the widow was doing so convincingly. What the viewer got to witness was, seemingly, minutes of high-quality grief porn. Always a big draw, though only if the woman involved is attractive. In this case, a willowy blonde in a black dress.

Why did she consent to be used this way? Evidently, she has a military background herself and when the commander in chief asks, she responds. But, she was obviously still traumatized by the recent death of her husband, but Trump knew she would be a good show.

Trump’s treatment of women was already well broadcast during his campaign, but since he assumed the presidency he still is treating women badly. On his inauguration day, pictures showed him neglecting his wife repeatedly, and the largely absent first lady was hauled out finally in Florida on Feb. 18th , ten days post the news of her libel lawsuit against the British tabloid The Daily Mail broke, detailing how it would cut into her future income, to give her brief I-am-not-a-hooker speech. Her remarks began with a recitation of the Lord’s prayer (aka, the Our Father), the protestant version, which no one could accuse her of plagiarizing. Yet another weird spectacle.

(Though it needs to be said that Michelle Obama took a while to get her footing. Back during her first year as FLOTUS, she was stuck hoeing that godforsaken garden built at great cost on the White House lawn. Even I wrote a column back then claiming I would lose my mind if I saw another picture of her holding a yam in her fist.)

But the prize this past week goes to Trump’s tweets on Saturday morning, calling President Obama “sick”, a bad guy, for ”tapp”-ing his phone in Trump Tower. As they say, these tweets dominated the news over the weekend and into this week (below is the last):

“How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy! 7:02 AM - 4 Mar 2017.”

How low can he go? Good question. We’re now back to Trump the unhinged, rather than Trump the presidential, according to the rounded-up usual suspects among commentators. I did like the continuation of Trump’s new evangelical rhetorical streak, given his “very sacred election process” characterization. In the same vein as the dead Seal smiling down at us. See, Mike Pence is exerting influence.

Speaking, as did Trump, of the former president, contrary to the gushing coverage, Obama’s “last” speech as president in Chicago was completely delusional – it can be summed up in this paraphrase: We’re doing swell and the rest of you are screwed. And given his vacation photos and the family’s alleged $65 million book deal, it appears that he is. Obama, ironically, is enjoying the traditional honeymoon period, not Trump the nut.

One reason Trump was apparently comfortable during his speech to Congress was that he was speaking largely to an audience of millionaires. Consult the statistics of the average wealth of the typical Senator or Congress person. It’s somewhat like the crowd at Mar-a-Lago.

But as the news cycle speeds up, the attention span of the audience slows down. Trump monkeys have to keep feeding the beast and can barely stick to a story beyond twenty-four hours. (On to The American Health Care Act! – Trump, I expect, will want to tweet that Obamacare should be renamed The Kenyan Health Care Act.)

We have all lived with “false equivalency” for a few years now and Trump’s “Obama bad” tweets seem to have worked their dark magic and Republicans are already to drag Trump’s wiretapping accusations into their investigations into the Russian campaign hacks. False equivalency rises in committee hearings, costing money, time, and attention. The Swamp needs more muddy waters. It wasn’t enough for Trump’s drained swamp to end up in his cabinet.


The Huffington Post version appeared on March 8, 2017, and can be found here.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Trump, Trumped, Trumpery



Trump’s executive orders are most assuredly public relations stunts first and foremost. Secondarily, they echo his campaign promises and that is the point, wanting to claim at a later date he fulfilled all his promises pronto. How else to explain the haste, shoddiness, and their language, a mixture of simplemindedness and obscurity?

I can’t recall previous presidents holding up such signed documents to the assembled cameras, as if they were large glossies of Miss Universe candidates. All that was visible was Trump’s EKG-inspired signature, an alarming sight. The executive orders haven’t been coordinated with the applicable agencies and one reason floated for that is Trump’s fear that bad guys in the bureaucracy would bollix up his good intentions. The travel ban has become the most notorious, but the others are future poison pills.

It’s government by spectacle, not a surprise, given the previous campaign. Trump continues to tweet his semi-literate bon mots, contradicting himself anytime he feels like it, subletting his responsibilities as quickly as possible to his underlings, such as giving over the decision on “torture” to his Defense Secretary.

Trump continues to say he believes in the efficacy of torture and that doubtless comes from his self-knowledge that if he was pinched on the arm he would give up all his secrets. It’s been clear for decades that those who are deterred from wrongdoing by the thought of going to prison are only those who never imagined themselves in one.

It appears Trump himself finds it hard to believe he’s actually president. Why else go on so long about the size of the crowd at his inauguration? And claiming he would have won the popular vote except for the 3 - 5 million illegals who voted, thereby showing more civic engagement than regular Americans who couldn’t be bothered. Unfortunately, such complaints are catnip to television news, which loves to compare pictures. No visuals, no story, in our age of looking, caught in a culture of seeing. This was especially true during the campaign, so many fixated on the size of his fingers, the size of his whatever.

Worse, of course, is to come. The Gorsuch selection for the high court is a Trojan horse for the second pick Trump expects to get. The Republican-controlled Congress won’t be a rubber stamp for Trump, Trump will be a rubber stamp for Congress. Former Indiana governor Mike Pence, who thought he would lose his reelection and hitched his wagon to the Trump campaign, is all over the early policy changes, and the Breitbart creature, Steve Bannon, who seems as aggrieved by the so-called elites – actually people who are culture celebrities – as his master Trump. Regardless of both Bannon’s and Trump’s own Ivy League credentials, they look at the world as an internal, eternal, high school Darwinian experiment, jousting with the in-crowd and the out.

They want to beat what they can’t join and they have. Thanks to the disgruntled blue-state voters who put Trump over the top, individuals Trump and Bannon would be appalled to spend any real time with, they now have the power to beat and pulverize all the adherents of the former in-crowd, especially the arugula-loving Obama followers.

Where will it end? I have no faith Democrats will rise up in less than two years and capture either the Senate or the House. The Republicans have gerrymandered their way to semi-permanence in state-houses and in Congress. Trump’s America will be gaudy and crazy on the outside, but mean and punishing on the inside, thanks to the Pence/Bannon/McConnell/McCarthy/Ryan view of America.

The Huffington Post version appeared on Feb. 1, 2017. It can be found here.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Similarities

A small number of commentators have pointed out some similarities between Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. The actor, Chuck Norris, provided “Top 8 Similarities between Trump and Reagan,” and, at the other end of the pundit perspective, Josh Zeitz, attempted to answer the question, “Is Donald Trump Like Ronald Reagan?” Zeitz has taught at Cambridge University and Princeton and Chuck Norris is, well, Chuck Norris. Both published their pieces during the past campaign, Zeitz in March and Norris in July.

One similarity that Norris leaves out is all the race baiting, dog-whistle tactics, that both successful candidates employed, the fact that Reagan held one of his first large campaign events at the Neshoba County Fair, some seven miles from Philadelphia, Mississippi, a town notorious for the killing of three civil rights workers. But race-baiting long has been a staple in American elections and both Trump and Reagan weren’t pioneers in that muddy field.

But what interests me is the flip-side similarities between Reagan and Trump, the 180 degree comparisons. Similar but different. Reagan the optimist, Trump the pessimist, Reagan the civilized, Trump the barbarian, that sort of thing. Ronald Reagan strove to be a picture of decorum, the modest superstar, humble with his successes as well as his failures. His televised apology for lying to Americans during the Iran-Contra scandal is a model of the latter.

Indeed, when Reagan began his campaign in 1980, as I have written before, most of the coverage treated him, if not as a clown, as an amusement. It was only during the summer of that year that reporters realized that he might actually win, given all of Jimmy Carter’s accumulating troubles. Ditto Trump. It wasn’t necessarily Obama’s troubles, but Hillary Clinton’s, that were piling up, thanks to the usual suspects, the Russians, the head of the FBI, etc. But, earlier on, it was the fecklessness of Trump’s primary competitors that let him emerge, and then Hillary became the likely villain and victim. Crooked Hillary.

I had heard from a reliable source in early 2016 that the CIA would not let Trump become president. I wasn’t necessarily picturing drones over the Trump Tower (which, ironically, may now happen, military drones that is), and didn’t take the prediction seriously till the former head of the KGB entered the fray. Putin must have heard the same thing and it became a stimulus, a challenge, to his institutional pride. Hence, all the email hacks.

Some observers wonder why the emails interested journalists so much, whereas all of the Trump scandals - Trump University, charities, foreign entanglements, etc. - didn’t seem to hold the same allure, or promote the same daily coverage. Well, unfortunately, journalists read and send emails all the time, whereas very few, almost none, attend bogus universities, or fly around the world to luxurious hotels and golf resorts. They write what they know.

But, as the old Ted Kennedy joke goes, they’ll drive off that bridge when they come to it.

Two other presidents have the same, numerically, assortment of similarities: Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. I still can’t get over the fact that the last two Democratic presidents who served two terms didn’t have their biological fathers in their lives. That grandparents played a role in their early upbringing. That both are left handed and both made very strategic marriage choices, breaking their earlier - and in Bill Clinton’s case, continuous - dating patterns and history.

And, of course, both saw their two terms as president almost go for naught. Clinton being replaced by his opposite, George W. Bush, the scion of an entitled family, a man reckless and oblivious to the responsibilities of the job. And now Obama, leaving everything at risk to another heir, a ludicrous choice foisted on the American public by less than a hundred thousand disgruntled voters distributed in three states, a man who seems more devoted to his twitter account than the presidency.

Both Clinton and Obama were children of the meritocracy. Bush and Trump not so much. But both Democrats failed, leaving office with their annulled presidencies, insofar as they had eight years to encourage successors and neither seemed to find that important, crucial, to everything they stood for. And it’s small comfort that in both elections that followed their terms the popular vote went to the losers. Another bothersome similarity that could have been predicted.

The Huffington Post version, which ran on December 31, 2016 (uncorrected version), can be found here: Huffington Post version

Friday, November 18, 2016

It's the voter suppression, stupid!

Voter suppression is the big, somewhat neglected, story of the 2016 election, insofar as that phenomenon is what caused Hillary Clinton to lose and Donald Trump to win. And it wasn’t just the well-planned and rigorous voter suppression being carried out by Republican-controlled states throughout the nation, photo-IDs, exaggerated myths of the fraudulent individual voters, fewer places and days to vote, etc., but a more insidious sort, a by-product of negative ads and the atmospherics of disenfranchisement.

What the Republicans succeeded doing was to trumpet Hillary Clinton’s shortcomings and, more cunningly, they helped raise Donald Trump’s negative ratings, too.

Indiana was a test-case for this, given all the attack television advertising aimed at the senate and governor race. Hard to count all the faults of both the Republican and Democrat candidates viewers were exposed to: Whoever was to be elected was already branded a crook, a criminal, or worse. Unfortunately, most of these ads were accurate, though less so the NRA’s.

In the presidential race, the statistic the media most often repeated, either wittingly or unwittingly becoming co-conspirators to suppress the vote, was both Trump’s and Clinton’s “unfavorable” ratings, higher than any other candidates in history commentators crowed.

The general distaste for both Trump and Clinton was promoted relentlessly over the course of the campaign and had its effects, both intended and accidental. Hillary Clinton’s own weaknesses played into this version of events, as did the outstanding boorishness of Donald Trump. Weirdly, the “high-road” behavior of President Obama and the First Lady drove up the contrast between themselves and those vying for the office.

The result of the 2016 election had a variety of causes, but voter suppression proved crucial. The distribution of the votes echoed the 2000 contested election: It’s cities vs. country, college towns vs. rural towns. Hillary Clinton, like Al Gore, won the popular vote. The enthusiasm gap between the contenders reared its head. A lot of people tried to deny it existed. This election may, or may not, be the last hurrah for a couple of generations of white folk. What do I think? As Jesus purportedly said on the cross while soldiers cast lots and divided up his garments: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

Yes, we live in a divided America. But, as Bernie Sanders showed in the primaries, dividing garments and casting lots was in vogue.
But, unlike the Bush vs. Gore contest, the 2016 campaign itself suppressed the vote. The statistics are now just starting to come out that prove the point. Donald Trump barely received more votes winning than Mitt Romney received losing. That could only happen in an election where the chief attribute was voter suppression.

Americans tend to suppress the vote in any case, since barely half even bother to vote. But, in addition to those tendencies, this time there was a certain sort of not voting that led to the outcome. In Michigan, Michael Moore pointed out on MSNBC after the election, some twenty thousand voters who did vote skipped voting for any candidate for president.

This sort of thing has happened before and I wrote about it in my book on the 1996 presidential campaign. In the race for the senate in New York State in Bill Clinton’s first win in 1992 tens of thousands of voters did not vote for anyone for senator in that election. The reason was the Democratic primary had been so cantankerous and ugly that voters, mainly women – that primary was full of women candidates (Geraldine Ferraro, Liz Holtzman) and the eventual winner, Robert Abrams, was wounded by winning – voted for neither candidate. Alfonse D’Amato, the Republican incumbent, won narrowly. Republicans retained the seat because some Democrats felt aggrieved. Sound familiar? See Bernie’s boosters.

After that contest, in an autobiography, D’Amato wrote, “A significant number of liberals were so turned off by Abrams that they voted for Clinton and then did not vote in the Senate race at all. I may not have won liberal Ferraro voters, but Abrams lost many of them. As I learned...in a close election every vote and every non-vote counts.”

I am sure the non-vote count in the 2016 presidential category will be the largest in modern history. Voter suppression takes all forms and we have just witnessed the pernicious result of its success.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Hillary's Voice

Hillary Clinton's speaking voice when addressing large crowds is something of a disaster. I know I am not alone in this opinion. Early on in the primaries there were a number of articles. Just last weekend on MSNBC both Chuck Todd and Jonathan Alter referred to her troubles, yelling at crowds as if she wasn't holding a microphone in her hand. No "modulation", etc. I've wondered about this particular voice she uses and how it plays into the ears of even the micro-misogynists who hear it, much less the full-bore sexists. They, doubtless, as I do, associate it with the voice she used in the past to yell at Bill.

Voices get a lot of play in presidential campaigns, especially this one, where Donald Trump declared at the GOP convention, "I am your voice." Though superficial, voice problems have crippled careers. The once rising great non-white hope of the Republican party, Bobby Jindal, for instance: His Waterloo took place at the site of his great triumph, selected to give the GOP reply following the first Barack Obama State of the Union address in 2009. It was universally panned.

But, I had always presumed, since some of the criticism focused on the speech's "delivery", that the problem was that Jindal was likely having some cosmetic work done on his voice, in an attempt to rid himself of the traces of his pronounced ethnic accent. In other words, I speculated he was undergoing some voice lessons that hadn't yet concluded. He was in a mid-voice-change moment and, boy, did it seem odd. Now, Jindal speaks with the American equivalent of BBC English. You can hear the difference over the years on You Tube, not that it matters anymore.

Part of the problem is the continuing degradation of journalism, especially television's version. Take the more or less universal praise of the Trump children, each shilling for their father at the GOP convention. Many commentators were handing out participation trophies to them, since it was all about public speaking. We've gone from a literate world to an oral one. No reporting about the kids' histories marred the surface presentation. And, as Joe Biden would say, they were all certainly "clean".

In Hillary's case it seems to be a matter of audience. Also on the web you can listen to her speech at Wellesley in 1969. That voice she used then, though not to a crowd in the thousands, only in the low three figures, is certainly modulated. Wellesley put out an edited recording of that speech, often referred to in biographies, leaving out her mild criticism of Edward Brooke, the first black Senator, a Republican, elected by popular vote, who was on stage with her. Hillary Rodham knew her audience, took them as equals, her fellow students and their parents.

When she talks to large crowds, the masses more or less, I don't think she sees them as equals. They are not intimates, folk she necessarily respects. They are the ones she shouts at. Bill Clinton, of course, as a public speaker, has intimacy in his voice in spades. It's his philanderer voice, as if each person in the crowd is important, because he is trolling the audience for a conquest. All that biting of his lip business. Rodham Clinton doesn't have such remarked-upon mannerisms. Hillary isn't looking for conquests. But she should.

To throngs at rallies her high-pitched delivery is a louder version of her exasperation voice, highlighted during the Benghazi hearings, when she exclaimed, "What difference does it make?", now a favorite attack line employed by the Republican right smear machine.

Unfortunately, when it comes to making history as the first woman major party nominee to the presidency, it's not quite pure, unadulterated history. It's in the Lurleen Wallace mode, George Wallace's wife, who became the governor of Alabama in 1967, after George was term-limited out. Other American political wives have gained office in this manner. We'll all have to wait for a woman to become president whose husband hasn't been there before.

Nonetheless, it surprises me, even at this point, that Hillary's speaking voice hasn't been addressed by anyone in her circle. She, too, could have used some voice lessons. But a chilling fact is that it is possible no one around her is brave enough to tell the candidate she should do something about it.