Shadows and Light

Shadows And Light: 2020 Gets Clearer


Leonard Zwelling

         It is the best live album ever released in my opinion. It’s Shadows and Light by Joni Mitchell. It’s a recording of a 1980 concert in Santa Barbara that was part of her Mingus Tour. I was lucky. I saw this concert in 1983 at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. It was great.

         The 2020 political year is emerging from the shadows with the stumbling end of the Iowa caucuses and the true end of the Trump Impeachment, Part One. I am assuming that there will be a Part Two if the Democrats hold the House and Mr. Trump continues to act like a spoiled child who got all the candy at Halloween and is going to pitch a fit if there’s even one unwrapped piece left for anyone else. No matter, he will win again, after he fires everyone still in the government who testified under subpoena before Congress.

         Let’s start with the biggest news emerging from Iowa and New Hampshire. Joe Biden may have finally demonstrated that he is no longer a viable candidate for President, if he ever was. He can’t raise the money. He cannot put together the organization and he also can’t put together a cogent English sentence on a good day. The people of Iowa were not fooled and neither were the voters of the Granite State. They are moving beyond the Obama Era.

         The second big story out of Iowa and New Hampshire is Pete Buttigieg. He has to be taken seriously, even if he is no Barack Obama–yet. He is appealing to some Democratic voters and the only real question is can he catch the lightning in a bottle a la Kennedy or Obama and then face a much older Trump on a field that favors the incumbent. Lloyd Benson told Dan Quayle he was “no Jack Kennedy.” Is Mayor Pete?

         Elizabeth Warren is clearly the second choice of the liberals. Bernie is still their man. Should Bernie get the nomination, he will be trounced by Trump. The United States will not put a socialist, even a democratic one, into the Oval Office. Never. Nominating Bernie is like picking the Houston Texans to win the Super Bowl. It’s not going to happen as long as the policy playbook stays the same. And Warren couldn’t even mount a challenge in a neighboring state to her own.

         At the end of the evening on Monday last week, when the caucus results were not arriving, the picture for 2020 had not gotten any clearer. The shadows prevailed. I don’t think that is true any longer. The Biden organization is just inadequate. He started too late. He doesn’t have enough money. He’s too old and he’s not given anyone a reason to vote for him other than he thinks he can beat Trump. He can’t even beat Warren. And Klobuchar is on the rise.

         But is there any light as the shadows recede?

         Not yet.

         Watching the Trump gloat today, February 6, makes me realize that we have too many parties in America. There is the vanishing Republican Party of 2012 where a legitimate contender then, Mitt Romney, feels able to vote his conscious on the floor of the Senate. This may be a party of one person. The rest of the Republicans have fallen into line behind a president who is vindictive, mean, coarse and ignorant. I understand that many of you out there think you like his policies. Which ones? Oh, I know. He has kept his hands off your 401k. But so did his predecessor. His foreign policy is uninterpretable. So was that of his predecessor. Who the heck are our allies now? Russia? Israel? Not too many others. Trump’s trade policy is also a mess although his identification of China as an economic foe is commendable.

         Of course, what’s our choice?

         It looks like it’s Trump or a democratic socialist (no thanks) or a very, very young former mayor who was never elected to anything larger. Maybe there’s Amy. That’s the choice? As Lewis Black would say, I need a nap.

         If, as I expect, Bernie takes New Hampshire and Biden sticks around long enough to win South Carolina and Nevada splits like Iowa, there is one opening. That’s Mike Bloomberg. But frankly, I think his baggage is as large as Biden’s and he’s too old to pick it up also.

         The light that is shining in my crystal ball tells me Trump is a shoo-in for re-election unless events transpire or conspire against him. Of course, the best parts of the Joni Mitchell concert were the huge number of surprises from the fact that she took jazz musicians and melded them into the best rock and roll band I ever heard, to the penultimate rendition of Why Do Fools Fall In Love with the Persuasions as her back-up singers, to her finishing with a hushed rendition of Woodstock. There will be more shadows than light, I suspect until we get to clarity in November.

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