Have you ever seen the Rolling Stones perform live? If you have, you probably can’t forget the sight of Mick Jagger strutting and prancing around the stage with one hand waving free. In one of their many amazing songs he sings, “Ti-ii-ime is on my side, yes it is/Ti-ii-ime is on my side/You’ll come running back /You’ll come running back to me-ee-ee.”
The classics of the sixties are classics because they remain relevant, even in this new millennium, and I offer you “Time Is On My Side” as Barack Obama’s theme song for the next two years.
While it may be true that time heals all wounds in the long run, in the short run time is going to exacerbate the deep, raw divisions within the Republican Party, which are on display for all to see. Christine O’Donnell has gone on Good Morning America to criticize the RNC for refusing to fund her campaign in Delaware. George W. Bush, no less, has said openly that Sarah Palin was the reason McCain lost to Obama in 2008. And, speaking of McCain, yesterday Huffington Post brought the news that he has attacked Rand Paul on earmarks. And then there’s the train wreck that is Michael Steele.
And this is just the beginning. History tells us that any political group that is committed to maintaining the purity of their vision eventually, and often sooner rather than later, falls apart because it keeps turning out that no one is pure enough to satisfy everybody. This is why the Republican presidential primaries are going to turn very ugly very fast. “Squabbling” is too kind a word for what’s going to happen. Attacking is what they know how to do, so they’ll do it
And then there’s this: If Mitch McConnell’s wet dream is to come true, and Obama is to be a one-term president, who’s going to beat him?
Jeb Bush? His entire campaign would have to be a defense of his big brother’s presidency, and over 50% of Americans think that the economic crisis is Dubya’s fault. I can just imagine the grin that would come over Obama’s face at the thought of running against Jeb Bush.
Sarah Palin? Think for a moment about the reality of Sarah Palin’s life, and you’ll realize that she has experienced extraordinary social mobility in the last ten years. Back then she wasn’t rich and famous, and now she is. Moreover, her reality show on Alaska is a hit. She is living the American dream! Why on earth would she want the aggravation and extreme physical exertion of making a serious run at the presidency? She’d have to give up her speaking fees! She said one time, “I’ll run for president if no one else will.” And that sums up her lukewarm attitude. She’s so narcissistic that she’ll enjoy the attention that comes with being a potential candidate for president, and she’ll milk every last dime out of it that she can get, but she won’t take it any further.
Mitt Romney? He looks good on TV, but Americans are not ready to elect a Mormon. No way, no how.
I suspect that the Republican nominee will be either Newt Gingrich or Mike Huckabee. And hardly anyone is wild about either of them. The greatest advantage that they have over Obama is that they’re white, which brings me to the second reason why time is on Obama’s side.
The people in the commentariat talk about voter anger, but they give it the usual, obvious interpretation, namely that people are mad about losing their homes and being unemployed. Well, yes, they are, but those serious, real issues don’t make the Tea Partiers mad. There’s one issue that animates the Tea Partiers and many Republicans in general, and it’s the Issue That Dares Not Speak Its Name. Republicans, so many of whom are white and middle-aged, are mad because they’re losing their privileged place in society, as America becomes more and more diverse every day.
To use an image from the Bible, the Republicans have built their house on sand. They have no chance at the African-American vote when Obama is running, and they have alienated the Hispanic vote with their stand on immigration, which remains a divisive issue within the Republican Party. The big bomb has yet to blow up, but blow up it will. This is going to be the result of the Republican attack on Social Security. I cannot imagine a better way to alienate senior citizens than to threaten Social Security.
So here’s what it comes to: Whatever Republican candidate survives a vicious primary season will have to rally a badly divided party and face an electorate that his party has alienated. Does that sound like a winning campaign strategy to you?