Thursday, May 7, 2015

What we need is MORE REPUBLICANS!


BABiesMore Republicans Anyone?

By Charlie Madigan

How many Republicans are running for president?
I think at last count, there were 456 at least or maybe it was a dozen or 16 or so. No, word from a big Republican hoedown in New Hampshire has it at something like 24! Doesn't matter. There are too many Republicans chasing after primary campaign voters. You have never heard of most of them and, like moths to the flame, their careers will be dispatched by the sheer heat of the process.
This is such a complicated business it took the New York Times just about a whole page to deconstruct the process and tell us why we should be paying attention. 
It was a noble effort that did not work for me.
The Republican pileup! 
Lets look at some characters on the "may be running" list: Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, John Kasich, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum and Carly Fiorina.
This is a list packed full of losers and I can prove it.
Certainly only one character will win the Republican nomination, then that person has to face the Democrats in November of 2016.
That’s right, November of 2016.
By that time,  everyone else will have been forgotten, but the campaign trail will be littered with their very worst ideas.
Crikes, we will have been through another bitter winter before that happens! A Christmas and an Easter for those of you who are observant. Lots of greeting card holidays.
Because of the abundance of candidates on the Republican side, prudence calls for a monthly assessment. And that's what this will be, a monthly assessment. There is absolutely no point in pretending to cover these people in one place. It would be like reviewing all the acts in a Ringling Brothers circus. Sometimes, clowns are best and sometimes lions or jugglers with operating chain saws.
They don't all carry equal weight. So let it be with the Republicans.
An example?
Carly who?
Carly Fiorina, a woman who has as a key claim to fame rising higher than any other woman (at the time) in corporate America to the top post at Hewlett-Packard. You know, HP, printers and the like.
She is said to be planning to capitalize on that history and boost herself into the political firmament!
But she tried that once before.
She ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in California a while back and that wasn't enough of a lesson to chase her away from politics forever.
Her big achievement at HP, depending on which version of history you read, was getting the job. Once she was in there, the gig unraveled in a determined way that left her on the bad sides of the Hewletts and the Packards, who cut her off at the knees after a couple of years.
She is condemned as a candidate to explaining why she wasn't a failure. That's not going to sell. She is pitching herself as "woman not Hillary." That's not going to sell either. 
Who you are is good. Who you aren't is not.
At this point, polling has her way down on the list with exactly no identifiable support, just behind Rick Santorum's 1 percent. 
"Someone else" gets 4 percent in that poll from CNN/ORC.
Still, it's a free country.
How can there be so many Republicans thinking about hopping in? Ted Cruz has been telegraphing his plans for months so that's no surprise. Marco Rubio, too.
But face it, of this whole batch of names, the likelihood that someone will emerge to defeat Woman of the People Hillary Clinton is not strong. Oh sure, they will smear her so ardently you won't be able to see her under all that poop and after all, she is rich as a Republican. 
But that probably won't matter.
Here is what will matter.
Each of these candidates drags along the ideology of the people who brung 'em.
Fire breathing conservatives like Cruz, governors (No one likes governors for long, I have found.) like Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Rand Paul and his libertarian slant. On and on it goes.
Media mutates into a strange channeling instrument in presidential election years, opening the pathway to people everywhere by taking even the looniest of the batch quite seriously.
I think that's where the idea of building a wall to keep Mexicans out came from. 
It's nuts, but it had traction, especially among folks who hate Mexicans!
Start shouting at the electorate about all that stuff and it will make people nervous.
By the time we are finished with this process, I suspect everything from conspiracy theories to thoughts about just not having any government at all will be wildly and loudly vetted. 
Just now, the looniness has settled on a conspiracy by the U.S. Government, sneaking in behind the mask of a military exercise, to take guns and liberty away from Texans. I'm not sure why because we already have plenty of guns and liberty, but President Obama is said to be behind it.
This is why most Americans like their Republicans to stay wrapped in mystery.
That way, their presidencies are always surprising. You can have wars. Economic collapse. Scandals. Hanging out a lot of the laundry-of-looniness in a primary battle won't help anyone by that measure. But it will give us all a close look at some troubling laundry!
The other side has its own problems.
Democrats are always pushing a populist agenda (which is NEVER implemented to much of a degree, you  may have noticed) because it's what people like to hear. 
Democrats get to be noble and eternally frustrated.
Now that my favorite socialist in disguise, Bernie Sanders, is in the game, well, it could get interesting.
Anyhow, Hillary Clinton wants to be your champ. The way she is running makes her seem warm, cuddly.
That's going to seem immensely reasonable once these Republicans begin hacking away at one another.

Screaming Babies is the label for Charlie Madigan's political blog, which appears when it has to. My brother, Mike Madigan, had these nifty baby heads, lit them with Christmas lights and we photographed them during a family vacation at the Delaware beach. It could have been worse (better)  but we could not find a single dead rat.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Another Brand New Way to Run for President



         If this Hillary thing works, everyone who wants to be president from this time onward will have to have an announcement that is like a mini-documentary on the inherent goodness, diligence, kindness and determination of the average American citizen.
         It took me 45 seconds of watching Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign announcement, which was no surprise after all, before I understood it wasn’t actually one of those ads that pop up before you get to what you want to get to on the internet.
          I was expecting a motivational speaker to show up at the end.
         Which is exactly what I got.
         There she stands, somewhere in suburbia, saying she’s getting ready for something, too, just like the other folks who showed up in her 2 minute and 18 second campaign announcement.
         “I’m running for president,” she says.
         “I’m hitting the road to earn your vote because it’s your time, and I hope you will join me on this journey.”
         What an engaging group the Clinton campaign presents in the film.
         A woman with the best tomatoes in the neighborhood. A couple of guys who are getting married this summer. A family that wants to teach its dog to stop eating trash (Good luck with that.) A business guy. A woman working on a drill press. And many more.
         I know these people because I run into them all the time, and you do too, unless you live in a castle with a moat around it and its own cappuccino maker so you simply never have to leave.
         They are a lot like many of us (assuming your aspirations are solidly middle class).
         They are not a lot like many of the people who are at the heart of the conservative wing of the Republican Party, angry people who hate President Obama, believe all that old Whitewater stuff about the Clintons and still see a Clinton conspiracy behind the suicide of Vince Foster.
         That doesn’t matter, because that’s not who she is talking to.
         “Americans need a champion,” Clinton says. “I want to be that champion.”
         You could hear Republican teeth grinding all over the place. They can’t wait to get a whack at her, a chance to bring up Benghazi, a whole array of stale, unproved allegations from Bill’s presidency, her email account, her wealth, her…
         Well, that probably won’t be how this is going to play out.
         It took just one more click of the button to find myself donating $10 to the effort, just to see what would happen. (Don’t read too much into this. I paid $25 to join the National Rifle Association a few years back just to see what they were pitching.) My suspicion is that they won’t leave me alone for the next year or so.
         Clinton has set a high bar with her announcement. She is trying to be a presidential candidate who goes straight to the people, just as Barack Obama uses media to talk to people, but not news media.
          Forget about her eight years as First Lady, her term in the U.S. Senate and her important job as secretary of state for the man who defeated her in 2008.
         It’s a new Hillary!
         That’s because it has to be. Washington now has the popularity of one of those giant, smelly pig farms. Still, you need those people in Washington like you need pigs, because who doesn’t love bacon?
         But you don’t want to be thought of as one of them.
         Even if you hate the woman, it’s kind of difficult not to get a little teary with all those cheery people working on their new beginnings in her announcement film.
         As warm and cuddly as all this feels (a garbage can raiding dog simply can’t lose in an ad. Why no cats?) the challenge will be for her supporters to accept this kind of a pitch from a woman who was up to her eyes in Washington process not so long ago.
         She is political right to her core. Her husband is an influence peddler of the highest order and has the bank accounts to prove it. There are lots of foreign entanglements there.
         That’s obviously why Hillary Clinton’s road show isn’t going to be typical, either. She will head to Iowa to talk to normal families, to New Hampshire to embrace the flintiness and crisp air.
         She can do that as a candidate for the same reason she can launch her campaign with a video on the web.
         Reporters will try to chase her, but most of her story will be told, just as her announcement was told, on her own terms, on her own media, in her own way.
         If you want something to get ready for, get ready for that.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Baaaad Baaaad Bosses! One of Journalism's Tiny Imperfections



Why Bosses Tend To Be So Miserable, Difficult and Troubling in Journalism. A Memoir.

I am certain you have now concluded the New York Times is among the worst run places in the world of business, but I am here to assure you that is not the case, and to argue that many news organizations are run by perhaps the worst managers of all, that would be, in some cases...

Former Reporters!

First, a review of the particulars. To those of us who live outside the sanctum, word arrived this week that Jill Abramson was being bounced as executive editor of The New York Times. Her allies got to the news blower first and suggested it was because she was upset at her pay, said to be less than that of her predecessor, Bill Keller. That explanation had just enough time to firm up when it was blown clean out of the water by publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. who started a quick step aimed first at the staff and then at the rest of us.

No, he said, Jill was NOT paid less than her predecessor. The New York Times believes in equal pay for equal work, and so on. In fact, she was paid MORE than her predecessor.  Arthur suggests the problem was really about management style, how she was just a great journalist (true!) and a fine editor (maybe!) but just could not get the staff on her side, for some reason.

The mental word association "bitch," which is cruel, unfair and sexist, seems to pop up any time I read these things. I would never say or think that about her. Toughness and bitchiness are not the same things. Bitchy is someone who nags you like an unhappy spouse until you jump off the nearest ledge. Toughness is jumping off the nearest ledge because, goddamn it, you know SHE would do the same thing in that circumstance and you owed it to her.

My boss at The Chicago Tribune, Ann Marie Lipinski, was tough and the kind of editor I would leap off of the ledge for, but I would respond with a determined "fuck yourself" if anyone suggested she was a "bitch." She knew how to win people to her side with reasoned argument, set high standards and serve up nice big ladles of warmth when that was necessary. Jim Squires, her predecessor, was much the same, but a completely different kind of animal. Nuts in an engaging way for some of us, but just nuts for others. He was bold, pushy and affectionate. In both cases Squires and Lipinski, this worked for me.

Of course they both played favorites. They all have played favorites. It reminds me of one of old Mayor Daley's responses when someone asked him if he had given a contract to a city hall friend. He said something like, "You would expect me to give it to an enemy?" They were called Friends of Ann Marie (FOAMS) in her case, and I could never figure out how you got to be one until I heard from someone that I actually was one! I was immensely surprised and flattered because I avoided her as much as I could. I trusted her, but I didn't want to be seen as a suck up, especially when I was running the Sunday Perspective section, which I took over in 2001 on the grounds I would not have to meet with anybody very much and would pay attention only to the special voices in my head. (That 'nuts' thing works both ways. It worked for about five years, a good run.)

What I learned in 27 years at The Tribune and ten years at UPI before that and a couple of years at little papers even before that is an enduring lesson that plays right into the New York Times story. The fact that you are a great reporter and great handler of copy doesn't mean you will be a great boss. In fact the things that make you valuable in those areas, independence, diligence, drive and so on, may work against you when you slip into the unusual world of managing people.

The problem with bossing is that it shines a bright light on all of our weaknesses, amplifies them, and makes them defining characteristics that slip into the narratives of our careers. You actually get to hear people suggest you were a gaping asshole, something you were not aware of at all.  I think I know why.

First, there is no point in working for a newspaper that isn't pushy, so that's part of the formula. Second, pushy newspapers need to achieve great things. They do that with their staff, which is motivated by its editors, if everything works well. What you want is enough respect so if you say, "please go through this wall for me," your colleagues will say, "Yes Charles, because we know you would do it for us." That doesn't happen much. Most of the time you have to default to authority, which is the worst tool to use with people who are smart, creative and aggressive.

Defaulting to authority. That's what being pushy is about.

I had a great piece of advice from John Crewdson, a reporter without equal and a man with both Sherlock and Mycroft wrapped mysteriously inside, and a very hard boss. "Don't ever tell people you are asking them to do something because I want it. It has to be because YOU want it. You need that authority." That's pretty hard to build without training or experience, so you fall back on what seemed to work for people in your career, bullying and pushing people around.

I was a ghastly boss, I think, because I didn't like the idea of it. Even though I kept getting promoted no matter where I worked (mystified to this day about that!) I would usually revert to doing everyone's work myself and then spreading lots of praise to spackle over the damaged egos. The work would be well done, because I was good at it, but that wasn't the point. I became the person no one wanted to work with, the black hole that stared at copy and sucked in everything around me, emerging a bit later with, admittedly, a pretty good story.

That was all a mistake. I don't keep a list of people who dislike me because of how I was as a boss, but it would be pretty long, I think. I really regret that, not being the kind of leader I wanted to be.

That is why I have some feeling for Jill and her difficulties at the New York Times. She was given control of a whole room of very spirited horses, and apparently thought the whip was the best way to get them to jump through hoops. The took every crack personally and obviously whinnied right up the power chain so everyone knew how unhappy they were. In her defense, a long line of predecessors back many years were equally pushy and difficult. But they were men. In men, that is viewed as strength, although it is not.

All of these stories about failed management are individual, I know that. But somehow, at newspapers, they are not surprising. Being pushy can get you up the ladder, but it won't work unless you understand the people behind you have knives.

At least that's how it seems.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Inside the New York Times!



What, exactly, is going on at the New York Times and why we'll never know and why the real problem is everywhere else!

Let's assume your every waking hour is not occupied with thoughts about The New York Times and what just happened to its editor, Jill Abramson, who was unceremoniously dumped by the head capo. 

The first round of scuttlebutt from the paper obviously came from Jill supporters who let it be known she boldly challenged upper management because she was being paid less than her predecessors in the job. It was a very convenient and dependable way to grab the high ground because everyone knows equal work demands equal pay everywhere. In light of all that, we got this on Huffington Post. It makes Jill's situation seem pretty unfair. One might argue she didn't have to take those jobs at those salaries at all, but that is thinking in retrospect. If one is committed to equal pay for equal work, and the New York Times and the liberal establishment certainly is, then all you can think is that the situation had a really bad smell to it.

The New York Times fired back with its own Sulzberger-level broadside cum explainer in which the boss did everything but hang Jill's knickers on the front of the building for everyone to see. The not so hidden message is that Jill was crabby and pushy in the newsroom and maybe just too cranky to be in charge.  If this was aimed at calming the furies, probably not. She went from being an underpaid, tough, diligent leader to pushy bitch in just a few hours.

Everyone knows that the last genuinely pushy bitch at the New York Times was Abe Rosenthal and that everyone else everywhere else in journalism was a cheap imitator. If it was okay for Abe to be so pushy, why wasn't it okay for Jill to be pushy? Maybe she just wanted to make certain she didn't get trapped by some Jayson Blair incarnate, the liar reporter who ruined his own career and the careers of a whole brace of Times heavyweights.

All of which takes the focus away from a big and troubling issue in journalism, the fact that women are paid lots less than men for the same work all over the place. Having now educated seven years worth of journalism classes, I can say with absolute certainly that there's no difference between men and women except that women tend to be more dependable in turning in their class work.

So I was surprised by an amazing coincidence that landed in the mail just as the Times was stumbling through its latest problem. Straight from Ernie Pyle Hall at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind. came the summary of the 2013 American Journalist survey. There's lots of dark stuff about the news business in the survey, including the fact that job satisfaction is withering.

But this is more important than that. The median salary for women in journalism in 2012 was 83 percent of the median salary for men in the same positions. Even the veterans, those with 20 years or more on the job, earned 6.6 percent less than the men. The income gap among journalists with a dozen years or so on the job is even worse, 21.4 percent.

So don't make the mistake of thinking The Times response to Jill's dismissal reflects any kind of real progress in the field. After all, gap or not, she was making a huge pot of money as editor at The Times, no matter what her predecessors collected.

I don't know what Dean Baquet, the new editor, will make as he tries to fix the mess. Whatever it is, he is worth it. Anyone who has ever worked with him knows his value and his values. The Times is lucky to have him and should have tapped him earlier.


The median salary for everyone else in journalism was $50,028, according to the university.

Man or woman, that was a great salary when I was making it in about 1981.

Pretty sad for now.

Saturday, May 10, 2014



Is that a bud on the Chicago Hearty Fig Or Are You Just Happy To See Me? An Ode to Spring!

Because we are survivors, we survived this winter that just would not end.

It was the worst on record, the worst for everything,
for too much snow, for ice, for wind, for bitter temperatures
for dry skin, for watery eyes and dizziness that would not yield even to

I came to despise the perky weather women with their dire weather warnings and their
charts and their breathy rants on covering up and staying inside and hiding and turning
away from the outdoors of life.

If it was so bad, why were they pursing an eternal quest for backdrop? Highway overpasses, a lot. Downtown streets. Anywhere snow looked bad and people looked
miserable. What do they know? I stopped watching. Just as easy to follow it all on an iPhone.

I been some places, you know?

Red Square, 1977

In a Russia so cold the snow evaporated after it fell and formed fog that became
a dust-like ice that covered everything and sucked every drop of humidity from the
apartment to the frigid window where it caked thick as a frozen pond, but vertical.

So cold that it became hard to breathe, hard to walk, hard to think, hard to write.
Teletype keys so gooey and slow cables could not be sent. Frozen tea in a cup on
a windowsill that framed an endless, unyielding gray, frightening, depressing,
heart-breaking winter.

In Siberia I saw pike hard as baseball bats resting on the frozen rivers just a few
minutes after they were snared by ageless, wrinkled old men with grand fishing skills and blood that pumped on at 50 below.  A friend cooked a pike for me. She thawed it in the bathtub and snapped its guts out like they were made of plastic then, using its needle teeth,  clamped the big fish into a circle. Onions, white potatoes in the center.

I don't remember her.

I don't remember how it tasted, only how it looked.

A pike donut.

Moscow was exciting, with its Communists and its spies and its long-legged ballerinas with promise in their eyes and deceit in their hearts. I loved the place almost as much as I hated it. Not like winter here, because of the unique first shot of vodka feeling caused by being watched all the time. Dangerous.  Exothermic. I miss that fear. I miss that place. I miss that time.

Here? Just cold beyond patience in the land where you can always get anything you want, but not a change in the weather. You have to get into a plane and chase it.

For a while, I was sick. I was afraid it would not stop. My knees hurt. My back hurt. I felt so old, such a betrayal delivered by the simple passing of time. Fear of steps. What the hell happened to the bold me that used to be?

These were my racing thoughts as I wandered out into the back yard on this perfect May afternoon, feeling healthy with my dog scampering around in the yard and my wife working her diligent, patient ways with plants.

My father's day fig. A great gift from my son.

Did it make it through the winter?

It was so robust last year. A dozen fresh figs, delicious beyond description.

Was that dead, too?

My wife called me.

She pointed to tiny green buds on the beaten brown limbs.

What was buried by winter was coming back to life.

We are all like that.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

When Winning Might Be Losing

Charlie Madigan's Screaming Baby Faux News Blog:

Congress, Is Winning Worth It?

Did you ever have a moment in a conversation where something so counterintuitive pops up you just can't get it out of your head? I had one of those with my friend Dennis the other night. We talk a lot when he is around, but he is a musician and spends a lot of time on the road, so what we get is compressed, fast conversations about big things that kind of leave you feeling, WHAT? We have been talking about politics for the better part of 20 years. He is well read, clearly opinionated but not at all bone headed about it like some people.
Testifying like a Girl Scout before Congress

So we're talking about someone I haven't much thought about just yet, Hillary Clinton,  and we moved into one of those non-sequiturs that just seems to need to fit into the flow. Dennis said something about the Republicans and if they took the Senate and I had a dark moment and then thought, "Sure, why not?" Sometimes winning may not be winning in the traditional sense. In fact, this might be perfect for folks who are Democratically minded.


You have to go visit, my most favorite aggregator of all polling stuff, to understand why. Should the Republicans pick up the seats necessary to take control of the U.S. Senate in the fall and retain control of the U.S. House they will then be in full control of one part of government just about everyone loves to hate! I have the numbers to prove it. Go back to 1998 or so and look at approval ratings and you will note that just about as many people despise the institution as like it, to put it somewhat hyperbolically. It's 40 to 40 with the rest in the "Duh!" zone.

As of late March, here's how those numbers looked:

"Congress makes me feel like a happy puppy"....18 percent
"Eat flop pies and die............................................76 percent
"Duh!".....................................................................6 percent
                 Note: Categories completely fabricated

And that's not all. The Republicans are by some measure the most disliked of the political parties, perhaps because no one questions anymore how people feel about Whigs or Know Nothings and the like. Just look at these numbers:

"Oooo Republicans. I could just hug them".......18 percent
"Oooo Democrats. They make me so hot".........30 percent
                  Note: Categories completely fabricated

Okay, so I made up the descriptions. The numbers are basically real, if not the sentiment. It's not so good to be a Republican unless you are in a room full of Republicans. Same holds for the Democrats, but in a little more comfy way. When you take them out of their rooms and stick them in the middle of society, people start throwing things, but less things at Democrats than Republicans.

So, where's the great benefit in winning control over all of that if you are a Republican? The House has spent the past six years struggling desperately not to give President Obama anything at all, which may not be so much about his lack of "play along skills" as it is about the bitterness of a party that is still upset about having its butt kicked by a community organizer from Kenya, for chrissake!

Where did it get them? They are having a bladder battle over who is more authentic. They can't get through ten sentences without having much of the rest of the country sit up and say, "Said WHA?" The only thing that keeps the nation from making "obstructionist" their middle name is that people don't spell well. And they are always, always, always bitching about something. If it's not health care its taxes or something else.

Not a happy picture, I think. So, let them win.

Yes, that means some Democrats are going to lose. Just go off somewhere and collect money for the coming conflict, which is really all about 2016, not 2014.

Now, finally, we get to the thought.

Because they could dent a steel ball with a rubber hammer, the Republicans in control of the House and the Senate will just make things all that much worse. They will try and fail to repeal Obamacare, a move the President will VETO, but that will just make all of those moms and dads whose kids are now covered, all those unfortunate people with "preexisting conditions" and a host of others who are now covered, hate them all the more.

They can blabber all they want about being tough on Russia (someone is bound to say Communism never really died. My bet would be someone from the southwest.) There will be a push to do something about more Jesus-ey things in public spaces, all the ridiculous things the party has tried in the past couple of decades.

Then it will be time to elect a president. People will be running AWAY from the Republican Party as quickly as they can. They will have a bunch of primaries that draw all the strangest characters out of their gated communities. They won't be able to settle on anything even though they tweak the primary process to make it more fleet and get it out of the hands of the people as quickly as they can.

Then along comes Hillary, smart and experienced and a little dented up but then who isn't? Maybe Sarah Palin will make more noise to try to counter Ms. Clinton. But that will just make her seem even more like a shrill, nutty quitter from Alaska.

The Democrats will be rolling in money, just as the Republicans will be rolling in money. But somehow, the Republicans always make that process seem a tad perverse. It may well be as evil an addiction for the Democrats, but they pull it off better.

Thank God Dennis had to go to Europe. I can't imagine where this would have gone next.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Screaming Baby Lineup

Charlie Madigan's Screaming Baby

Faux News Blog: Obama-Hating Fools

I simply don't understand why so many Republicans have decided their opponent in next November's midterm election is President Obama. Oh, it might just work because the man's numbers are sliding and people have always either loved or hated him. But one has to wonder what it means to present yourself as "anti-everything-Obama" when he's never running again and really isn't the issue. 

What is the issue?

Take a look at some polling results from my respected friends at, the collector of all the numbers the numbers collectors collect (simple, huh?). What you see in there when you look at Congress is that the Democrats and the Republicans are about flat even on the sample ballot question, which is one of those "If the election were held today..." things, about 45 percent in the U.S. Senate for each group in the last Quinnipiac University Poll, and a two point edge for Democrats (which doesn't mean anything at all) in the House contests.

The folks over at Gallup might have a handy explanation for why Obama hatred may be on the rise on the Republican side. That, too, is explained by some numbers. The president's approval rating sucks, at 42 percent (with disproval at 53 percent). That puts him just about where his predecessor, George Bush, not a favorite of many at the end of his two terms, was standing at just about this time.

It might just be that all two term presidents in this picky, unforgiving era trip over that polling bump in their last years in office. But I don't believe it's accurate to point to Obama's perceived failures, personality flaws, race, failure to unleash his armies against Russia over Crimea, or anything else as deciding what happens in November.

It actually could be people like this guy, Sheldon Adelson, will have more to do with it than what people think about President Obama.


Sheldon Adelson

As the Supremes said just a couple of days ago in an opinion that had many a right thinking Democrat and liberal barfing in the vitreous china, money is just like talking!

The Constitution is very picky about protecting language, and if money is just like talking, you can't put many limits at all on what people say with their dollars in the political process.

And Lordy, Sheldon Adelson knows how to spread money around. The Las Vegas mogul (I won't call him an oligarch because we don't live in an oligarchy...yet) pumped over $90 million in the process in 2012 and lost and lost and lost just like the eager fools who toss their hard earned cash at his slots in Vegas (He is a casino mogul, which somehow makes him seem seamy, a description I know is not fair, but there you are! Journalists are starting to be viewed that way, too. But they have neither the influence nor the money any more.)

But look, he is a passionate conservative and he has $40 billion in his pocket by one recent measure. That's big. Big enough to bankroll the whole Republican Party, which he may well be able to do now that the lid on what you can pile up in the pot has been removed.

You might think his influence would be minimal in a Congressional election because, well, 435 is a lot of seats to compete for (and a third of the Senate, too). But that's not what it's about.

Almost everyone who is running again, and that is almost everyone, will be handily reelected because of a strange algorithm that allows people to despise Congress as an entity (and even each party) but keep on supporting their own local character. Some of that is good, because there are some solid members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. But not all of them. Most of them are surfing on their incumbency, which is like owning a cash register that fills itself, magically, every couple of years if you beg enough.

And there's no shortage of begging. Just look at how the Republican Presidential wanna-bes flocked to the desert a couple of weeks back to solicit Adelson's support. It's like somehow, the "man of the people" ambition that used to define even staunch Republicans has been transformed into a "man of a really rich man" ambition.

There's nothing like being embraced by someone who has $40 billion. Admittedly, it makes the candidates look like street walkers, but they have shed their shyness about that already.

Do candidates seem like this to you?

What can he do with it?

I don't know because that is up to him. He can give huge wads to the Republican Party and the party can then use it in November to buy cars for everyone who can haul at least five other voters to the polls. I know that's extreme, but we are living in extreme times. He can sponsor lots of ads suggesting Democrats are Marxists in masquerade who are eager to take all the money from everyone (him, too!) and redistribute it.

He can do what he wants, in fact. It's why we have a great and awful country. Money continues to speak loudly, you know?

As with every Midterm election, this one will be all about turnout. Remember 2010? Turnout of the Obama haters gave the Republicans huge advances. Also, money translates into turnout. Very mechanical, not at all ideological and central to deciding who will win.

Don't blame it on the president. Blame it on the process.