Typhoid Mike…

I see that Vice President Pence is out, about, and on the campaign trail… despite being directly exposed to COVID-19 and nominally being subject to a 14-day quarantine period. 

His team has said the ongoing campaign makes the vice president an “essential worker.” Aside from essential workers (think doctors, EMTs, etc.) not being exempt from quarantine or isolation procedures, let me explain why running for vice president wouldn’t qualify as “essential” even if such an exemption existed.

The following are quotes about the nature of the vice presidency, some from men who have occupied that high and illustrious office themselves:

A spare tire on the automobile of government.  John Nance Garner

The Vice-Presidency isn’t worth a pitcher of warm spit. — John Nance Garner

The vice presidency is the sand trap of American politics.  It’s near the prize, and designed to be limiting. Howard Fineman

There were once two brothers.  One ran away to sea, the other was elected Vice President, and neither was ever heard of again. Thomas R. Marshall

The man with the best job in the country is the Vice President. All he has to do is get up every morning and say, “How’s the president?” Will Rogers

My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived. John Adams

If you are very active as vice-president, everyone in America knows your name.  But that is your only property.  It is not the same as real power—more like being a movie star.  Norman Mailer

There cannot be a great vice president.  A great man may occupy the office, but there is no way for him to become a great vice president because the office in itself is almost wholly unimportant. John Nance Garner

I have serious doubts that any job described in such ringing terms could ever, really, be defined as anything approaching essential… especially not when there’s a significantly greater than zero percent chance the incumbent could be the administration’s very own Typhoid Mike, crisscrossing the country spewing contagion at every stop.

Not the first, nor the last…

Politics is one of those wonderful lands where how it looks is far, far more important than what it really is. As much as we like to think of our presidents as paragons of health and virtue, our history is filled with examples of dire medical conditions that were kept from the public because admitting the seriousness of their various conditions would have been an admission of weakness. 

President Trump’s forging ahead to return to the White House despite ongoing treatment for COVID-19 is hardly an exception to the age-old rules of American politics. Wilson’s debilitating stroke was hidden from the public through the last year of his presidency. While campaigning for a 3rd term, Theodore Roosevelt was literally shot in the chest, but refused to surrender the podium. Jack Kennedy was regularly jammed full of painkillers to relieve a chronic backache. Franklin Roosevelt was dying of heart disease when he was elected to his 4th term. 

There’s nothing new going on here, with the obvious exception of 24-hour professional and social media coverage that the American president receives day in and day out. Donald Trump might like to sell himself as the businessman president, but in the end he’s as much just another professional politician as the rest of them now… and in the last 30 days of an election, in a tight race, you’d be hard pressed to find a professional politician who wouldn’t rather die on the trail than stay in the hospital.

This isn’t the first time a president has pushed their health way past the breaking point in pursuit of their brass ring and I dare say it won’t be the last.

Campaign outreach for the hermit in your life…

I have to give a word of congratulations to Danielle Hornberger’s campaign team. They were canvassing the neighborhood on Saturday and instead of traditional door knocking and trying physically talk to someone, the guy who came to my door just slipped a piece of literature under the handle and moved on. The only reason I’d have known he was there at all was Jorah’s hackles raised and his quizzical look towards the door.

Seriously, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate not being disturbed by politics on a Saturday afternoon.

Danielle is running in the primary against a Republican incumbent county executive who raised property taxes and put that money to work doing no one is completely sure what. I can guarantee I won’t be voting for the incumbent.

I don’t know enough yet about the primary candidates to know who l’ll vote for, but Team Hornberger is on my radar now and has a gold star for no other reason than they didn’t ring the bell and try to jam a flyer into my hand.

Admitting when you’re wrong…

Last night I put my money on effectively seeing “no change” in the power dynamic in Washington. I called for a Clinton win, Democratic Senate, and maintaining a Republican-led House. It was a conventional prediction based on conventional, if basic, analysis of the news over the few days prior to the election. It was conventional and I was absolutely wrong in reading this most unconventional of elections. In light of the banner headlines on every news site I’ve seen today, I feel like I needed to call myself out.

The Washington Post, not a Republican mouthpiece or cheerleader for conservative ideas, confessed sheepishly that “Republicans have achieved the almost-unachievable: Near-absolute victory.” As an occasional member of the Republican Party (yes, I’ve left and come back more often than I care to think about), it’s the kind of story that makes me happy on this day after. It also fills me with a special kind of dread, because elections have consequences… and the major consequence of this election is that Republicans are going to have to get their act together and figure out how to govern again, versus just being obstructionist douchecanoes.

Mario Cuomo, the one time Governor of New York, said “You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.” I can’t speak for the quality of the poetry we’ve seen in 2016, but I hope that our prose somehow manages to move the bubble on our state of political dysfunction in this country. Yesterday we saw the resurrection of a political party that was all but written off as dead due to shifting demographics. If we don’t mangle the job too badly, maybe, just maybe, the election of 2016 can be something more than a last gasp of an angry electorate.

Coke or Pepsi…

As a one-time member of the Republican Party, I still identify more closely with them on most positions than I do the more liberal opposition. Though my membership has lapsed, I do follow Republican party politics more or less the same way a casual baseball fan in the 50s might have followed the box scores in the newspaper every morning. I like to have a sense of who’s up, who’s down, and what’s happening over in the big tent while I lurk out among the fringes.

This weekend has been all about Ted Cruz – not surprising since he’s the first Republican to get out in front of the election. Until someone else formally throws their hat into the conservative ring, that mean’s Ted is going to command the news cycle. He’s going to be the (most likely) temporary face of the Republican Party…

If anyone needs anything, I’ll be over here just wondering how a group of reasonably educated, mostly employed, and politically savvy people have decided to give Ted a chance to carry the standard forward. Seriously? If that’s the face of the future of conservatism in America I’m not sure there is a lesser of two evils to pick from any more.

Coke. Pepsi. Either way it’s just over-sugared water that ends up being bad for you. Campaign