Joe Biden

Democratic Bio

Joe BidenI think we can all agree that we should just make Joe Biden Vice President for life, and if there is any justice in this world Hillary will keep him on the ticket in 2016. He’s like the uncle that makes Thanksgiving just entertaining enough to make it worth the drive home. Scratch that, I’ve never had a thanksgiving this entertaining: .

The Vice President’s Closet: Part 1

Nano Fiction

Old FriendsThis wasn’t the first time he’d found himself in this position, which made it all the worse. The last time, he’d been looking for a dropped Bugs Bunny cuff link (it had been a gift from his granddaughter and he knew she’d notice its absence when he saw her at Christmas)  when he found a box of old photos in the back corner, sat down to flip through them, and at some point, dozed off. The cleaners had closed the door (which had no inside doorknob) and it wasn’t until the next morning that his assistant (swore to silence) discovered him, since he’d long since misplaced his cell phone (desk drawer? bathroom? He didn’t know). Besides, frankly, he liked the quiet.

The closet was like him in many ways: gracefully aged and dignified with its dark wood shelves and molding, yet full of surprises. Here he kept his orange plaid sport coat, which he frequently wore as a joke to meetings with the President, and which he kept threatening–with the ever-present twinkle in his eye–to bring out for public speaking engagements. Here he kept the many desktop tchotchkes that had decorated his previous office but that he was strongly urged to relinquish upon arriving at the White House. The marble bust on his grand desk surely made the right impression on visitors, but it failed to bring him joy the way his bobblehead collection did. In fact, a lot of what brought him joy was here in this closet. His golf clubs, his fan mail, his thick wool and cashmere-blend coats that, when he finally had the money to buy them for himself, had marked a level of success that many thought he’d never attain.

Which is why this second occasion of being locked in his own office closet was no accident. It had been a long week–racial and judicial injustice, personal attacks being thrown his way preemptively by pundits who feared he might make a run for the presidency (he wouldn’t–hadn’t the entire persona he’d crafted proven to them that he was no threat?)–and the approaching anniversary of the death of his wife and baby girl. He was a cheerful person by disposition–something many actually faulted him for–but the state of the world weighed so heavy that even he couldn’t shake it off. And he didn’t want to. He just wanted to escape for a few small hours the drudgery of being a happy person in an increasingly unhappy world. Sure, he worried about how this would be later construed–his assistant could keep one incident to herself, but two?–still the closet called to him, glinting its shiny hardware at him through weeks of phone calls and meetings, beckoning. Besides, most people would just write it off as “daffy old Biden,” which is how many preferred to think of him, and others would see it as a sign of his age and pity him (he was 72 years old, after all). But other than the odd punchline, no one would give it a second thought by the end of the week.

And so he waited until late afternoon, when the office began to clear out for various public engagements, coffee dates, and commutes, on a day when Jill was out of town and so, wouldn’t worry about him (he took his cell this time, just in case), said something noncommittal to his assistant about grabbing a snack before sending her on an errand, sneaking back into his office, strolling up to the closet, and opening it slowly, so as not to disturb the peaceful darkness it contained. Then he crossed the threshold in to the welcoming arms of his many jackets and scarves, and, using a bent paperclip he’d spent the afternoon fashioning for that very purpose, pulled the door closed behind him.

Half of Republicans have no impression of Rick Santorum

Manmouth Poll Dec14In a recent Manmouth University poll, Republican voters were asked whom they would prefer to see as the Republican nominee without being given a list of names. As you can see, Mitt Romney is currently tied for the lead with “No one.”

What’s incredible here, other than the fact that “Undecided”, “No one”, and someone who’s not running make up the top three, is that Rick Santorum only gets 1% support. 20% of Republican primary voters (~ 4 million people) made their way to the polling booth to vote for Santorum less than two years ago. He won 11 states! Santorum, who already acts like he has a chip on his shoulder over everything, has got to be madder than a Baptist at a jazz concert. This compared to 48% support for Clinton among Democratic voters, who also finished second in the last competitive primary.

If you dive into the numbers it only gets worse for Santorum. 28% view him favorably and a whopping 51% have “no opinion” whatsoever. These are worse numbers than those for Ben Carson, a guy who has never won a statewide office and has only done a handful of TV interviews. One would have thought Santorum would be the guy to beat, since there’s a long tradition of Republicans rallying behind the “next in line.” In fact, since the second world war the GOP was been quite predictable as to whom they will eventually nominate at the convention. I put together a little flowchart that predicts the outcomes of those 17 races, and includes the candidates it predicts to be strong in 2016.

GOP nominationThe line of succession argument favors blood over performance and ideology and predicts Jeb Bush as the 2016 nominee. But it also highlights the potential of Rick Santorum, whom many primary voters have already supported, and Rand Paul, who will have strong libertarian pull with a Democrat in the White House. But should Rick Santorum really be counted as one of the top three contenders if he can’t even muster an opinion from half of Republicans? Luckily for him the race starts with Iowa, a state with many religious conservatives and one he carried in 2012. However, this time he’ll need to run a national campaign, and given the last thing Santorum wants the GOP electorate to do is Google his name, it’s going to be an uphill fight for the supposed next in line.

Or Death and December

by George Garrett

The Roman Catholic bells of Princeton, New Jersey,
wake me from rousing dreams into a resounding hangover.
Sweet Jesus, my life is hateful to me.
Seven a.m. and time to walk my dog on a leash.

Ice on the sidewalk and in the gutters,
and the wind comes down our one-way street
like a deuce-and-a-half, a six-by, a semi,
huge with a cold load of growls.

There’s not one leaf left to bear witness,
with twitch and scuttle, rattle and rasp,
against the blatant roaring of the wrongway wind.
Only my nose running and my face frozen

into a kind of a grin which has nothing to do
with the ice and the wind or death and December,
but joy pure and simple when my black and tan puppy,
for the first time ever, lifts his hind leg to pee.

“Or Death and December” by George Garrett, from Days of Our Lives Lie in Fragments. Copyright © 1998 Louisiana State University Press.  Reprinted with permission.

Chris Christie

Republican Bio

ChristieChris Christie runs the risk of getting his New Jersey all over everything. It will be hard for him to remake the infectious image he has crafted for himself, but he must.  Voters don’t mind the governor of New Jersey call people jerks and idiots, because most Americans assume New Jersey is full of them, but they don’t want their President to act that way. Christie will be incredibly strong in the northeast, but if he fails to win New Hampshire convincingly and to do it nicely, his run will be short. .

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Democratic Bio

HRCThe truly ironic storyline of 2016 is that the fate of President Obama’s legacy may now be in the hands of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Great Presidents yield electoral victory to their Party after their tenure is complete. Think of the popular 20th century Presidents or consider those we have cut into granite, each have safely delivered the Presidency to a political friend. This is as much causal as it is a self-fulfilling prophecy, since a successor can cement gains (Obamacare) the other party strives to undo. Hillary Clinton is not simply in the best position to do this; she may be only one who can keep the White House in Democratic hands. .