"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, March 10, 2024

The Presidential Campaign Circus Of 2024 - Old Guys Fighting To Get It Up One More Time

Old guys fighting is not a pleasant sight.  They should be shuffling around the house in their PJ's and slippers and not trying to get it up in public.  Florida, the chaise lounge, bed tea, and a few crumbs on the sheets is about all one should expect of Joe Biden; and yet here he is, coming out swinging, feisty and throttling, showing his Presidential mettle but really a wind-up toy that is wound far too tight to last the eight months until November.

In fact in his first campaign appearance after his State of the Union address, the President looked as though his springs had already come loose.  He was back to Poor Old Joe, stumbling and bumbling his way through prepared speeches, looking adrift, but trying to gin up the gumption to go on. 

My Uncle Harry was a bit like Biden, active way past his prime, sagging into his soup until Aunt Betty set him back upright in his chair, adjusted his bib, and retrieved his spoon now sticky with cat fur from the shag carpet still under the table after fifty years. 

"We have to get rid of that thing", Betty muttered, realizing that anyone within earshot might confuse the rug with Uncle Harry; so she smiled, gave him a peck on the cheek and went back to carving the roast.

That had been Harry's job until last year when he first made a mess of it, hacking it to pieces before he got one good slice of breast meat on the platter. When Betty tried to get the knife away from him, he threatened her with it, and it was at that moment that she knew that her husband had gone around the bend. 

Harry's decline was not a pretty sight.  Many old folks go gently into their dotage, spilling things, forgetting things, and rambling; but Harry who had always been cantankerous, became a caricature of his old self, bitching, moaning, and shouting so loud Betty had to shut the windows so the neighbors wouldn't hear.  Harry was becoming a pain in the ass, and although he was still loved by his children and grandchildren, he had become as scary as a demented patient in the loony bin. 

Now, the President has not come to this yet.  True, his wife does have to prop him up at inconvenient times, and the job of his White House staff is to do all the heavy lifting, but his batteries are still charged, and until his lights dim, he will soldier on. 

The State of the Union speech took quite an effort, for it not only required resolve, energy, and attention, but will; and lately he was becoming more interested in a chaise lounge in Florida than the Jefferson Chair at the Lincoln Desk in the Oval Office.  He felt dissipated, drained of his 'stuff' as he called it, that indefinable something that kept him upright and moving through God knows how many years in public service; so many in fact that they all began to run together and fade into dreamy images of childhood on a Delaware beach. 

'Keep it up', Mr. President said his chief campaign advisor, immediately regretting the slip - the President had been musing recently about his sexual desuetude and the sweet young things that were dancing around the West Wing like so many sylphs and fairies.  He looked longingly at them, hungrily if he was honest with himself; and for his own equanimity he should have heeded Jill's advice and hired ugly older women, but there he was, just like every other man playing out God's supreme irony of having created men with lifelong sexual desire and only a few short years to do something about it. 


'Mr. President', said LaShonda Evans, his campaign women's liaison, 'time for the...blah, blah... group from...blah, blah...'. The President led the words drift over him and down the Hamilton corridor, joining the light breeze from the French doors to the portico that the butler had opened to let in the scent of the first flowers from the Rose Garden.  

Philadelphia was his next campaign stop, and his campaign staff knew that it would be trouble.  Anyone who had ever attended a Phillies game knew how liquored up fans could get - all diesel smoke, greasy cheese steaks, and cheap beer - and this was MAGA country, as hostile a place that ever could be.  

Biden's staff had tried to persuade him to speak on the Main Line, the more sensible, tolerant, Democratic wing of the city; but he refused.  This had been his old stomping ground, Irish pubs, Mickey Finn, and barroom brawls, and dark-haired, blue-eyed colleens.  In his mind nothing had changed and he would be welcomed as one of the community's own. 

'Courageous', wrote the New York Times, 'Daniel in the lion's den...a show of strength...indomitable presidential fiber...' but in fact it started off with heckling and ended up with so many catcalls and jeers that the President's handlers gave him the hook and pulled him to the wings of the Knights of Columbus hall. 

Now, at the same time Donald Trump was standing in front of a crowd ten times the size of Joe's, the same raucous, drunken crowd of pipe-fitters and plumbers that Joe had tried to address, but was applauded and cheered like a returning Roman hero.  Here was an old man, full of vim and vigor, as pissy as he had ever been, in his element, fearless, dismissive of 'Little Fanny Farmer', the Georgia DA who was getting schtupped in the anteroom of her courtroom chambers and the Democratic plant in New York who was accusing him of 'the high treason of doing business'.  

When the former President got warmed up, he started in on his opponent, 'a doddering old fool who wets his pants and walks like a three-legged dog'.  The Squad - that specialized Congressional group of women of color and ethnicity - was nothing more than a bunch of bitchy, ugly women. At that moment he held his hand out to his beautiful wife, Melania to which the crowd whooped and hollered, stood up and shouted Me-la-ni-a over and over again until the rafters shook. 

Biden's aides thought they could hear the cheering and wanted to jump ship.  Their man could be wound up only so many times and before long he would be just a deflated lawn ornament Santa Claus, flattened, creased, and airless.  'Too fucking old' was heard far too often on the campaign bus. 

Of course it wasn't age alone.  Trump was just a few years younger, headed for 80, but full of himself, confident, out front, and as bullying and loud as he had ever been.  Far smarter than Biden whose public career was one of goofy sinecure, Trump was a billionaire real estate mogul, investor, Hollywood superstar, and a brilliant orator. He was one part Southern preacher, one part showman, and many parts canny politician. 

It was only the beginning of the campaign but the dice had been cast.  The President came out swinging but had lost his mojo after the first round.  Every attempt to reignite the fire his aides had set under him, every angry gesture of commitment and purpose, every Mussolini sneer flipped and flopped right after the State of the Union.  Old Joe was back to being Old Joe, a man of tired ideas trotted out and banged around every election year, then put back in the sack leaving him to smile, and go home. 


By the time November rolls around, Joe will no longer know what's what, the thought of Florida and the chaise lounge will be the only things on his mind, and his bags filled with floral shirts and Bermudas will be ready to go.  

Meanwhile the Donald, as full of it as he was in March will sound the trumpets one last time and wait for the convincing results on November 5th. 

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