RICHARD L. HERSHATTER
The crystal ball grows dimmer;
The contest has been fun;
But don’t predict the winner,
Too much damage has been done.
“And the days dwindle down…to a precious few… September…November…”
So the song goes. Twenty-one Republican debates ago, with nine or 10 feisty candidates in contention, most observers would have postulated that Obama’s days were numbered, that his failure to carry through on many of his “change” promises would doom him to an incumbency record equal to the unlamented tenure of Jimmy Carter.
In short, it would take a record of utter stupidity for the Grand Old Party to lose.
Months ago, this writer predicted that the ultimate winner would be former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum — a young, personable, religiously moral, squeaky clean family man with none of the baggage of the older contestants.
That was before the gentleman’s zealousness revealed an attitude more analogous to a “Supreme Leader”-type Ayatollah seeking to drag the nation back to the nineteen fifties than to a forward looking American president.
It was also before the candidates tore each other down to such an extent that the Democrats will not need to scrounge for issues. All they need do is rerun the clips so generously provided by the feckless opposition.
It is now a certainty that Mitt Romney, the wealthy businessman-politician, will be the ultimate standard bearer.
Time was when the American voter would happily welcome a rich man as a candidate for office.
Back then, the prevailing wisdom was that rich politicians already had their fortunes — they could be trusted not to steal.
The machinations of Wall Street’s denizens have shown that there is really no limit to the greed evidenced by today’s moguls — that there is no longer such a concept as “enough is enough” — even if it wrecks the national economy and bankrupts millions.
This is not to suggest that Gov. Romney is dishonest. It is more likely than not, however, that if elected, the gentleman would be more likely to look after the desires of the so-called 1 percent, rather than the needs of the poor or the middle class.
As a matter of fact, Romney, in one of his notable gaffes, admitted as much. And even if he hadn’t, today’s voter is somewhat more sophisticated than was the previous generation.
In a head to head contest between an incumbent who has lost some of the young and vibrant support that propelled him into office in 2008 and a candidate whose support from his party’s conservative wing is less than tepid, a majority of the electorate is apt to follow the old principle that “the devil we know is better than the devil we don’t know.”
Whatever the outcome on Nov. 6, it can only be hoped that whoever is elected as president of the United States will see a working majority of his own party elected alongside him, so as to avoid the calamitous gridlock that has paralyzed governmental action in Washington for the past several years.
In these pages last week, my esteemed colleague and friend, Tom Burgum, in a heavily researched and knowledgeable column, presented facts, figures and histories on the senatorial contests in each of the states in contention, in an effort to determine whether the Democrats could maintain their control of that august body.
He ultimately concluded that it was “too close to call.”
Although my own record as a prognosticator is now somewhat tarnished, I must respectively disagree with Tom.
He based his analyses on the individual records and backgrounds of the individual candidates.
Each senatorial candidate, however, is running as part of a national ticket, and voters are notorious for running down the ticket line in the choice of winners. If Obama does reasonably well, and in light of the poor record of the current Congress, the Presidential “coat-tails” may well carry many of his supporters in with him.
Whatever the future holds, however, the reader may rest assured that Burgum and I are not betting $40,000 on the outcome.
Last week’s issue of this paper contained a column by the editor and publisher, Steve Reid, urging the Town Commission and manager to hire outside consultants (presumably the Washington outfit that quotes $125,000) to revamp our zoning.
The commission (historically — not just the current one) has been criticized for spending millions on outside consultants. I would suggest that the town retain former Planning, Zoning, Building Director Monica Simpson to do the job. She has the knowledge and the background and knows from experience that citizens will neither require nor tolerate a McDonald’s on Gulf of Mexico Drive.
Richard L. Hershatter is a retired Connecticut lawyer and novelist who writes an occasional column of interest to Floridians. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.