The Big Democrat Show
Though it far outshined the GOP debate in the areas of decorum and substance, the mid-October "Big Democrat Show" -- aka, the Democratic Party debate on CNN -- still left itself open to mockery.
Hillary Clinton further demonstrated, for example, that you can deliver a message in an off-pitch "cackle" that's every bit as irritating as Sarah Palin's and still manage to present as the most "presidential" of any candidate from either Party.
Lincoln Chaffee -- who at times during the debate seemed a mite "tipsy" -- certainly looks and sounds way too much like loathsome Fox News Channel host Steve Doocey to resemble anything close to a legit presidential candidate. On October 23, this reality finally dawned on Chaffee, who announced that day that he would drop out of the race.
Meanwhile, tipping a bit lower than Chaffee on the "not presidential" scale was Jim Webb. The view here is that the ever-stern, ex-Marine's best shot at becoming president might have been the year John Kerry ran against George W. Bush. Webb, who also in late October announced plans to quit the Democratic Party and possibly run as an independent, has a Putin-sinister look about him, especially when talking -- as he did during the debate -- about people he's killed in wars. It would have been considerably more difficult to "Swift Boat" Webb, in part because he probably scared the sh*t out of many of those Swift Boat geezers in a way Kerry, despite his legitimate war hero status, never could.
Likewise, in terms of ill-timing for a presidential run, Martin O'Malley seems to be the Democrat's 2016 version of hapless 2012 GOP hopeful Jon Huntsman. Take Hillary Clinton off the debate stage and it's likely that a prolonged Sanders-O'Malley slugfest might have emerged. If, at the process's end, Bernie's Democratic Socialist philosophy turned out to be the deal-breaker for the overall Democratic base, it may have helped the "traditionally-presidential-looking" O'Malley to capture the nomination.
Turning back again to Hillary -- who actually did duke it out with Sanders and by most accounts ended up the last one standing -- well, let's put it this way: Carly Fiorina is no Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Which is fine because right now for Hillary Clinton, Fiorina isn't an obstacle; Bernie Sanders is. Meanwhile, Reince Preibus might say that the biggest problem his party faces right now is not Hillary Clinton -- it's Donald Trump, whose unabashed xenophobia threatens the Party's future demographic viability.
A Different Flavor
Indeed, the somewhat inexplicable rise of both Trump and Sanders has spiked the degree of unpredictability about how political silliness might play out in this strangest of political seasons. This is a silly season of a different flavor; one in which many reliable, traditionally predictive political trends and indicators are apparently no longer valid. But to the degree at which the traditional political establishments of both parties have been complicit in fomenting their own current vulnerabilities cannot be downplayed.
It's that complicity that has resulted in the sudden prominence and surprising political viability of outsiders like Sanders and Trump, whose rise has exposed the weaknesses that threaten the immediate political aspirations of a front-running political insider like Hillary Clinton, and the long-term political future of the traditional Republican Party as a whole.
The entire scenario seems analogous to a reference about the federal debt made in 1992 by billionaire businessman H. Ross Perot of Texas, whose presence as an outsider candidate for the presidency shook up that year's race,.
"The debt is like a crazy aunt we keep down in the basement," Perot stated. "All the neighbors know she's down there, but nobody wants to talk about her."
In this case, the "debt" -- or perhaps more appropriately "payback" -- happens to be Trump and Sanders. The difference is that now they are no longer locked in the basement. And surely to the chagrin of both Hillary Clinton, and the GOP's Reince Preibus, everybody seems to be talking about them.
The silly season's in full swing.
Yet there's still quite a ways to go.
(Article changed on October 26, 2015 at 12:39)