It’s so early in the 2016 presidential race - with no official “official” candidates yet though about a dozen unofficial ones - I’m not sure it makes sense to call this the silly season.
The biggest “scandal” concerns Emailgate, which began because Hillary Clinton, when she was Secretary of State, used private email and had a personal server in her home instead of going through official State Department channels. It was a dumb, tin-eared decision by the person (to date) most likely to be the next president of the United States of America. She has to answer for it, and her GOP buddies in the House of Representatives will make sure that she has to continue answering well into 2016.
The rest of the noise we hear is the usual everyday political churn, most of which will be forgotten by the time the first round of debates occur later this year. Given that reality, a ton of smart people are trying to discern just which of those issues will break through in a way most of us can’t imagine right now. And some other smart folks have taken a different route, essentially trying to cultivate a new conversation altogether.
That’s what Ezra Klein, formerly of the Washington Post and one of the founding editors of Vox.com, is doing. Over the weekend, he wrote about all the reasons why Al Gore - yes, Al Gore - needs to run for president. Klein doesn’t believe Gore would actually beat Clinton, but that his presence would help define what the Democratic Party needs to be going forward. Seriously.
Here’s a taste:
Hillary Clinton is crushing her rivals in the invisible primary . The result will be a lopsided race once the campaign turns visible: her likely challengers don't have the name recognition, party support, campaign organization, or funding necessary to force a real contest.
Gore does. He begins with a powerful asset in presidential politics: credibility. As a long-serving senator and a two-term vice president, Gore has more direct political experience, and at least as much claim to the triumphs of the 1990s, as Clinton. He's also won more elections than Clinton — including the popular vote in a presidential campaign. There are few Americans who don't at least know his name. There is no one in the Democratic Party who won't at least take his call.
But Gore's experience and contacts now reach beyond politics — and into venues that would be enormously helpful to him if he wanted to fund an expensive race. He serves on the board of Apple, as a senior adviser to Google, and at the mega-venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers. He's also carved a path through finance, becoming fabulously wealthy — richer, even, than Mitt Romney — as an investor. And then there's his centrality in the environmental community which is, itself, quite rich — it's easy to imagine, say, billionaire Tom Steyer gathering some friends and putting some massive superPAC money behind Gore.
It’s a cute idea, but also insane.
But is that idea crazier than an Atlanta-area pastor, reportedly worth $27 million, asking for 200,000 “love gifts” of $300 (or more) to replace is aging private jet with a brand new one that will cost about $65 million? Or is it crazier still that many people might feel obligated and/or honored to help him buy it?
The good reverend’s name? Creflo Dollar. Yes, as in, “Dollar bills, ya’ll.”
Besides the aging private jet, Dollar and his wife, Taffi Dollar, have two Rolls Royce’s and multiple multi-million-dollar homes (they sold one New York City apartment for $3.75 million in 2012.) Mr. Dollar wears gaudy pinstripe suits and crocodile shoes, and Mrs. Dollar has a side-career as a record label CEO and gospel singer .
“Money by itself cannot define prosperity,” Dollar told The New York Times in 2006 . “When you say, ‘prosperity,’ people think money. they are not incorrect, but they are incomplete.” Dollar explained to the publication that what he was really preaching was “total life prosperity,” which extends to physical well-being and a successful family life.
Many of us maybe getting a chuckle out of this, but I suspect Dollar will have the last laugh when his followers get angry at us and, to defy us and “honor a man of God,” they’ll help Dollar purchase the jet, probably by the end of the year.
Religion has a way of convincing people to do profoundly wonderful and courageous things - but goofy and illogical ones as well.
Which brings me to the final Crazy News segment of the day.
Republicans in Washington seem to be in love with those delicious Chick-fil-a sandwiches and nuggets and aren’t afraid to admit it - but Democrats either don’t love it or feel the need to hide their affection for the iconic Southern-based restaurant:
Tea-party members in the House nosh on original chicken sandwiches and waffle fries at the Heritage Foundation's monthly "Conversations with Conservatives." Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a longtime Chick-fil-A aficionado, has the chain cater his birthday lunch party every year. During late-night GOP strategy sessions in the Senate ahead of a potential government shutdown in December, Chick-fil-A was the hunger-reliever of choice. And while Speaker John Boehner prefers a glass of red wine and Italian dishes served alfresco at Trattoria Alberto, his office has dropped hundreds on Chick-fil-A fare in the last few years—though Boehner spokesman Michael Steel says he's never seen the speaker himself indulge. (Steel would not comment further.)
"They kinda got abused," says Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, "and I guess some would like to support 'em." Evidently so: Since Cathy made his controversial comments, House Republicans have spent nearly $13,000 in taxpayer money ordering Chick-fil-A, according to expenditure reports filed through July 2014 (the latest available). That's the equivalent of 3,900 original chicken sandwiches, and it represents a 37-fold increase over the paltry $345 the House GOP had spent on Chick-fil-A the previous three years. (It also may be an undercount, since some receipts say only "food and beverage" without specifying a source.) Figures for the Senate were not available, but the GOP's campaign arms have been eating "mor chikin" as well: The Republican National Committee has doubled its Chick-fil-A spending, while the National Republican Congressional Committee spends more than 10 times as much as it used to.
Democrats, on the other hand, have dialed back their Chick-fil-A spending significantly. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hasn't spent a dime on Chick-fil-A since May 2012—and even then, it was for a single $6 meal. In a sign that Chick-fil-A remains a sensitive political topic, the offices of the two Democratic representatives who've placed an order since the gay-marriage flap—Reps. John Conyers of Michigan and Terri Sewell of Alabama—both declined multiple requests to comment for this story.