Who remembers The Mario Scenario?

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Okay, so I projected there would have been a new President Clinton in the Oval Office by now.

Oops.

However, I was right when I said in my last post about the US election that I might be ‘totally, utterly and completely wrong….’ when I predicted Hillary would win the US Presidential race.

Alas it was about the only prediction I got right (okay, apart from saying Trump’s support would be wider than expected…)

Myself and lots of others were well off the mark.

Why?

Well in my case I admit I wanted to marginalise the worst aspects of the US I have seen close down the decades I’ve visited, reported and lived there. Also admittedly I’d estimated the progressive politics of Obama had inched a victory. That said I tend to live in liberal bubble when I visit the US regularly for vacation. But I always sensed the existence of nasty underbelly, even in the NE states usually solidly Democrat. I am talking about the bigotry against a black president in the White House and indeed directed against other minorities; Also the need for some poor-whites to blame someone for their predicament; Finally, the rise of single-issue politics amongst, for example, the Christian Right who jumped on the abortion cause to claim Clinton would allow late-term abortions etc using grim and graphic language to support their cause.

As a journalist I shouldn’t ignore or block out anything but as a human being – with a horse in the race in the form of a wife, sons and in-laws who are all US citizens – I concede I’d hoped for a President other than Trump.

That said, I know the two sides of the US well and I I have spent time trying to understand both. At times, I have also sympathised and certainly understood both. I know fine citizens and nice people who voted both ways.

So I wasn’t that surprised Trump had support in large numbers in some blue-collar states since, after all, the polls always said one in two voters were with him. So when some reporters said they were shocked at meeting actual Trump supporters in the flesh and from different walks of life, I was bewildered since there was always the chance they’d find themselves with two Trump supporters on either side on any sidewalk. The same could have been said in the Gore-Bush race of 2000 when the rational arguments were with the former but genuine anger existed supporting the latter. And in 1992, when I first witnessed an election up-close, there were many supporters for Bush Sr. to be found in any given state I visited. Remember that Clinton was the long-shot of long-shots back then and yet he won. Many journalists were wise after that event too.

Nor was I taken aback by the vicious nature of the support for Trump and it would be naive to think otherwise… I have stood on street corners watching those right wingers voting against gay marriage over a decade ago and witnessed their raw anger. Both sides are capable of brittle, angry and downright scary displays of support for their side in large and deep numbers. It’s always the ones that don’t campaign or comment that intrigue men. Hence my Tweet on Nov 3rd:

The US polls still show Hillary winning in all the right places. But what they might not reflect are many people secretly supporting Trump.

Anyway… apart from such wobbles, truth be told, in the final analysis I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

I simply misjudged Trump’s numbers and strategic location, as did the majority of pollsters working for the media and, I might add, Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Trump won in relatively small numbers in places in States where Hillary had abandoned them and thus won the Electoral College race. That was clever and audacious of his campaign. Maybe Bill Clinton should have been deployed in the places he used to win handily amongst the same people. I read that there is now a heated post-election-defeat debate going on in Camp Hillary along those lines. Who knows… But I do hope the Clinton Circus has finally left town. And yet, as I write this, rumours abound of Chelsea running for office one day. The mind boggles.

It reminds me of the anecdote I read somewhere about Bill being told back in the early-mid 1990s by staffers and pollsters that voters simply didn’t take to his wife. He looked at the charts, data and polls and sighed, ‘I get it… I get it…. They don’t like her hair.’

‘There is none so blind than those who don’t want to see’… etc etc…

Anyway, Trump’s the new President-Elect and now, like every other person in that position, he has to deliver on his campaign promises and be subject to the terms and conditions of his post.

This is going to be a bumpy ride. And, for us in the press, an interesting one.

As the late-great Mario Cuomo – formerly a mystical Democratic Party hope and creator of the famed ‘Mario Scenario’  – once uttered in a moment of dark brilliance: ‘You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose….’

Then again Cuomo was always the ‘nearly’ candidate: Something of a hopeful but ultimately frustrating albatross around the Democratic Party’s collective neck – for a period the obvious candidate but never the declared one for the Oval Office. He led with his heart but finally decided not to run with his head.

Maybe Clinton should have done the same?

Forgive me for comparing candidates down the decades and also for mixing my ornithological terminology, but this may in time be seen as the Presidential era when the wisdom of a forgotten Democratic albatross proved terminally prophetic for the GOP President-Elect duck.

 

Then again, I could be totally, utterly and completely wrong…