Thursday, June 19, 2014

Early Thoughts on 2016 - Looking at Hillary Rodham Clinton

Okay, okay, I know its early, but unless something major happens, the general outline of the 2016 Presidential campaign are basically set.  If she decides the run, Hillary Clinton could be the Democratic nominee for 2016. . . .yeah, I can't really pretend that she won't run, or that she won't be the nominee. Clinton had most of her bonafides set in 2008 - and that was BEFORE SHE WAS SECRETARY OF STATE. There isn't a crop of candidates out there from the last Presidential go around to contend with, unlike 2008, and if there is a potential Obama out there (there isn't), Clinton will be smart enough to deal with that person early on.

That said, here are a couple of points that concern me about Clinton's candidacy:

Campaigning: One of the things I heard a lot about Romney was that in person, he was a likable, personable guy who loved his family and all that.  Then we saw the 47% video, and we all learned that Romney is actually a dick.  With Clinton, I hear a lot of the same.  People who meet Clinton like her personally. At this point, she's kind of a tough grandma who'll do shots with you (or send texts while looking totally badass). In fact, I remember when Clinton teared up during a campaign stop in 2008 and talked about wanting what's best for America. Going into that moment, Clinton was pretty well going to lose, and in large part based on that moment, she made it close.

However, once you get Clinton on stage, she's meh. Now, I know its tough to compare Clinton to her husband (who oozes charisma in the way no one else possibly can), but Clinton actually gets worse as a campaigner as time goes on because she's so afraid to make a mistake.  It comes off as fake. Throw in the totally insane amount of misogyny and conservative hate that will be thrown her way, and it's concerning.  She is going to have to go completely against her instincts and get out of her comfort zone. If she can let herself be herself, Clinton will roll over everyone - she's fucking Godzilla. If not. . .

BenghaziWhitewaterMonicaBullshitGate: Here's a fun fact, Maureen Down HATES Hillary Clinton. And a fair number of other media types feel the same way. After Monica, the mainstream media went crazy looking for the woman who would bring down Bill Clinton. It seemed like every week or so the media would pull out some sort of bullshit to hit the Clintons with. And now we have Benghazi. An affair where most of the questions have been asked, and answered, and asked, and answered, and asked, and answered, and asked again. Two years from now, there will still be people who insist that there are still questions about Benghazi (though, what they mean is they don't like the answers). But, I do like Clinton's testimony on the matter:

Flanking: Clinton, like her husband, started her career on the conservative side of the Democratic Party. Like her husband, she supported DOMA, and other anti-gay legislation, as part of the triangulation strategy favored in 1996. Now, while she could and should argue that a lot of the anti-gay legislation was designed short-circuit even worse legislation (DOMA was used to kill an anti-gay marriage amendment), she still has some bonafides with the LGBTQ community to work on.

What's more, Clinton is much more of a hawk than Obama on foreign policy.  She voted to go into Iraq, she supports Israeli settlements, etc.  And that could be a problem depending on who the Republican nominee is.  If Rand Paul is the nominee, I could see him running to Clinton's right on social and economic issues, and then running to her left on foreign policy and maybe drug policy.  He certainly seems to be positioning himself that way. Clinton has to shore up her support on the left. That said, I don't see any other Republican outflanking Clinton.

So, all in all, Clinton is going to face virulent opposition, quite a bit of it will be completely unfair. If she can move past the bullshit, and be herself, Clinton will roll.  If not, she's not going to have a good time.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Rest In Peace Mr. Gwynn

This morning came word that Tony Gwynn, who played for the San Diego Padres for 20 years, passed away.  Right now, the internet is full of accolades of Mr. Gwynn, who was not just one of the best hitters ever, but the face of San Diego sports for two decades. As a Padres fan, I had to give my two cents.

The thing about San Diego is that for an older city (founded 1776), it is a relatively young city.  The Native Americans in our fair city were far too hostile for much more than token Spanish presence (they burned Mission San Diego de Alcala, and the Spanish never really rebuilt it; also, good for the Native Americans), the land was too arid for agriculture, and the hills of Julian never held that much gold. Until the 70's, the biggest industry in town was tuna fishing. Then it was the defense industry.  As a result, San Diego really didn't grow into a city until the 1970's and 1980's.  Even then, most of the people living here had come from someplace else.

So, to break through sports-wise in a town where virtually every adult grew up rooting for a non-San Diego team is tough.  Heck, San Diego teams still have problems with that.  But Tony Gwynn did not. He was the face of San Diego sports for two decades. Growing up in the 1980's, virtually every kid had their holy trinity of sports - Tony Gwynn, Dan Fouts, and Magic Johnson. As time went on, some of the trinity members changed - Dan Fouts' popularity got eclipsed by Junior Seau, and Kobe Bryant took over Magic Johnson's spot - but Tony Gwynn remained beloved. 

In my opinion, there are only two Padres that ever came close to taking Tony's place in the trinity - Ken Caminetti and Trevor Hoffman.  Of course, Caminetti's rise was fueled by steroids, something which could never be attributed to Gwynn.  Hoffman came close, but never could eclipse what Tony meant to the Padres. Of the players on the current Padres' roster, sadly, none come close.  

So what does it mean to be in the Trinity? Those were three players who's brilliance was unquestioned. For two solid decades, every kid wanted to be like Tony Gwynn. When Jack Clark badmouthed Tony Gwynn, we all wanted to run him out of town on a rail (and that's why he was traded away). If you wanted to start a fight in San Diego, the best way would be to say "Tony Gwynn sucks!"  Heck, I want to punch myself in the face for even writing that.  Add to his playing greatness that Mr. Gwynn was one of the most humble, honest, and decent human beings in baseball, and well, you can see how he was loved even after his retirement.  He was one of the few people who earned the right to use the f-word as a middle name - as in, "Do you know who I am, I'm Tony Fucking Gwynn!!!" and sound completely justified.* 

All in all, Mr. Gwynn's passing has hit me harder than Jerry Coleman's.  Jerry was an old guy even when I was a young, but Tony. . .he went too soon.  To his family, my condolences.  

*Greg Maddux, one of the best pitchers in his generation, who got everyone out but Tony Gwynn (who owned him completely), referred to Mr. Gwynn as "that fucking Tony Gwynn."  As in, "I did x, and it works on every batter in the game. . .except for the fucking Tony Gwynn."  Don't know where that fits in this post, but its an awesome story.