News-driven election notes on leaders, leadership, and power:
-Powell for president! The leak of Colin Powell’s emails yesterday is surely embarrassing to him and some of his correspondents, notably his successor, Condoleezza Rice, but it could make him an unexpected hero to millions of Americans. Turns out he loathes Donald Trump, whom he calls “a national disgrace and an international pariah,” and he’s majorly ticked at Hillary Clinton, though “she’s a friend I respect.” His concise summary of her: “unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational.”
In short, he’s the dream candidate of the plurality of voters (about 35%) who view both Trump and Clinton unfavorably. Plus he’s a proven outstanding leader who rose to the highest position in the U.S. military, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, before becoming secretary of state. Of course he won’t run for president this year or ever, though many Americans yearned for him to run in 1996 and 2000. But this latest reminder of the candidates-who-weren’t will prompt the more literate voters to recall W.B. Yeats’s famous lines: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity.”
Weld for president? When Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson embarrassed himself by asking Joe Scarborough “What is Aleppo?” on live TV last week, many viewers must have realized that his running mate, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, wouldn’t have made that blunder. A suspicion that the ticket should have been cast the other way has been brewing since Johnson and Weld were nominated in May, and in June Mitt Romney said he wished Weld had been on top. This could be one of those very rare cases where the veep nominee adds noticeable strength to the ticket.
-Trump is getting better. It’s now clear that Trump’s latest campaign team is making a positive difference. Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway have got him speaking in complete sentences that some skilled professional has written for him, not just on TV but also at his raucous rallies. He isn’t letting the crowds’ enthusiasm excite him into explosive ad libs that derail his managers’ intended message for days or weeks. In a carefully staged appearance with his daughter Ivanka on Tuesday, he proposed six weeks of government-funded paid maternity leave for working mothers whose employers don’t provide it, plus other subsidies for child care – making him appear more caring and more appealing to women, and never mind that this expansion of entitlements at a time of ballooning federal debt is egregiously un-Republican. Evidence that the strategy is working: In new polls released yesterday, Trump leads Clinton in three key battleground states, Ohio, Florida, and Nevada.
The campaign roller coaster is getting more fun or more terrifying, depending on your perspective – and the election is still 54 long days away.
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