By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE – Put away your wallets.
No need for an annual triple crown here in my Soul Town of Gordonville.
It’s always the same coming down the homestretch. Sports and music are neck-and-neck in a photo finish.
For the purposes of this drill, we will go with a sports analogy to put a political issue to rest.
If you have watched as many football games as I have – high school, college and pro – you come to learn that a loss can’t be laid on the doorstep of any one player.
Sure, the kicker may shank the chip-shot field goal at games end or the receiver who is “paid millions to catch the ball” drops the go-ahead pass in the end zone, but the hard facts remain. If team X (usually a Philadelphia team) was at the point where it came down to a missed field goal by a soccer player dressed up in football gear for Halloween or a receiver who caught everything else thrown his way all game, there is a laundry list of reasons why they were trailing in the first place.
Cut and paste this analogy, and apply to politics.
And let’s use it to put one falsehood to bed, if only for the sake of breathing life back into a moribund Democratic party.
Hillary Clinton did not lose the 2016 election because of Russia.
And I’m not saying Putin’s long reach didn’t allow his fingers to dip into our Fourth of July apple pies, because he clearly did.
It didn’t help, and it probably hurt.
A fatal blow?
Nyet (“no” in Russian).
Russia was guilty the same way our nation committed nefarious acts to influence elections elsewhere, particularly since two World Wars left us as a world power.
But Clinton didn’t lose because of Russia.
Clinton lost because of Clinton.
And the sooner we cross that bridge into the land of reality, however bitter the taste, the better.
Why? Because we have issues that affect all of us that are simply more important.
And if you make yourself sick over this, you may wake up to learn you do not have the health care to get well.
Catch my drift?
We have critical mid-term elections coming up, and taking back the House and Senate will be the first step in rendering President Twitter-thumbs as powerless as possible.
Yes, I understand that Clinton had a tough task, trying to extend a run of one party in the White House beyond two terms.
Beginning with Dwight D. Eisenhower, it has only happened once – when George H.W. Bush went from Ronald Reagan’s second banana to first for a four-year stint (before falling after one term to Hillary’s husband, Bill) – and not at all with a non-VP (let alone someone daring to be the first female president).
But her path to the Promised Land was strewn with penalty flags (see what I did there, sneaking in another sports reference?).
Many, myself included, resented the RFS (Royal Family Syndrome) that was being quietly perpetrated. We had two Bushes, and now the Democratic leadership was trying to prematurely send a queen to the throne while pushing all challengers to the fringes.
And here comes Bernie Sanders – for the record, my candidate – blowing up their early touchdown dance (Why stop with the analogies now?).
He was supposed to go away – with the likes of Jim Webb, Lincoln Chaffee and Martin O’Malley – after being humored for one debate and a few primaries.
But if it were not for O’Malley, and his phony-baloney grin, Sanders would have won Iowa instead of finishing a close second. Come New Hampshire, Sanders crushed Hillary – and her team seemed curiously stunned, even though it was a neighboring state to Sanders’ own Vermont.
Sanders’ progressive message appealed to the under-30 crowd and he was filling college arenas (not that you would ever see it on CNN) while cameras had to pan it tight to make crowds at Clinton’s appearances seems larger than they were.
She was being out-flanked on the left, and badly, so she played her Obama card in debates and on the stump for the swath of Southern (i.e. Red State) primaries for the sole purpose of drumming up the black vote.
It was a smart short-term strategy that hurt her in the long-term. Attaching herself to Obama’s hip, and with Obamacare, was a Scarlett letter she then had to wear as she needed PAC money and party backing to barely edge Sanders’ campaign of $27 dollar donations (I gave several) at the finish line.
Sanders exposed her weaknesses, especially in states like Wisconsin and Michigan, but her campaign arrogantly felt they need not campaign hard there – or in Pennsylvania, since the coronation was held in Philadelphia.
Did Russia seize the weaknesses in these swing states? Yes, more than likely.
Could and should she have still won them? Uh, yes.
Just pick Bernie Sanders as the running mate.
Too much eating crow, with a side dish of bad blood?
How about Cory Booker, the standout star of the convention?
How about Elizabeth Warren?
How about anyone but Tim Caine, who not only added nothing to the campaign but detracted from it?
When I say anyone, I mean anyone.
Or anything — up to and including a Cigar Store Native American.
I see Cain now and I immediately think of Mike Michel, the Eagles’ emergency “kicker” who missed not only game-winning field goal in a 14-13 playoff loss to the Falcons in 1978, but also an extra point (hence, 13 points instead of 14) and a field goal that would have made it 16-0 before Atlanta scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
I don’t know how to say that all in Spanish – the way Caine would – but you get the point.
Michel was not qualified to be a NFL kicker. He was, by trade, a marginal punter. Coach Dick Vermeil figured he was “good enough” but he wasn’t.
Maybe someone should have read this parable from the Philadelphia Fan Book of Horrors to Clinton before tabbing Caine.
And yet, while a key reason for the loss, he was not the only.
There was Hillary herself. While her opponent gained steam all summer – in the full glare of the cameras from the networks he now loathes for not giving unconditional adoration due only Greek Gods and rock stars – leading “lock her up” chants, Hillary locked herself up by not finding a way to counter punch.
Personally, I don’t believe one needs to be inspiring — or likeable — to be qualified for most jobs, including president. In a prior life, I interviewed people for jobs and often went with the most qualified person, even if they were neither likeable nor inspiring.
But the reality is that, in today’s political world, you need to be both. And she was neither.
Maybe a fiery running mate would have helped to offset that issue, but she went the milquetoast route with Caine.
Maybe it was her campaign more than Clinton. Whatever it was, she went into the general election sounding a little disingenuous by touting more of Sanders’ issues than the disjointed talking points she started off with out of the gate.
And this well-oiled Clinton political machine, the one Sanders himself seemed to blame his noble second-place finish on, was a bit of a mirage.
At the least, it was overdue for an oil and lube change and never got one.
Deferring to the better half, a Clinton backer who punched me in the arm a lot during the primary season, we went to the closest office for a lawn sign 2-3 weeks before the election. The overwhelmed twentysomethings there couldn’t help us.
We eventually got one from a few towns over by calling in a favor from a politically connected friend.
Meanwhile, the opponent had phallic symbol messages all over. And yes, considering she lost the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania, it seems that signs matter. They matter so much that we still see them – erections lasting more than four months – often next to Confederate flags (just from finished a 10-day Pennsylvania road trip, and I know what my eyes saw).
And then there were the debates. While SNL had a grand time mocking the other guy, the satire only skirted the deeper concern that had me screaming at the television as much as when my beloved Eagles or Flyers or Sixers are locked in mortal combat.
She missed chance after chance after chance to land the knockout punches he was leaving himself open to receiving, perhaps figuring she didn’t want to come across as a bully.
Instead, the guy on the bully pulpit bullied her out of making history and shattering the glass ceiling.
He may have had some help, and the thought of being a foreign government is abhorent, but she likely had some tools up her sleeve, too. It is how the game is played.
And she still lost.
Some say she should come back and try again.
I say stay away. Please.
You don’t move ahead by looking back.
The next time Hillary Clinton smiles and waves, let’s hope it is goodbye.