THE BLOG
05/27/2016 02:14 pm ET Updated May 28, 2017

Clinton Exhaustion

Many recall "Clinton Fatigue," one of the reasons Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign faltered and fell. Now people are tired of even bringing up that old fatigue excuse, though, of course, it still pertains. I am not a fan of counter-factual examples, but one that seems pertinent is what this primary season would look like if Bernie Sanders didn't exist, or, almost as fantastical, if he played the role most people expected before the primaries started. That is, he appeared and then quietly disappeared, like that other fellow, what's his name? O'Malley?

Without Bernie I wonder if Hillary would be getting any daily coverage whatsoever from the networks and cable. Imagine her campaign coverage if the Democratic primary season had been seen as a coronation? With no real opposition. Donald Trump, as many have observed, has been getting the lion's share of coverage as it is. If Hillary had no real competition, Trump would be gathering not just the lion's share, but the whole pride's share, the entire veldt's share. Hillary would be an afterthought.

The social circle of the press would doubtless have to nod in her direction (emails!), but Clinton fatigue would generate a general soporific. Trump's attempts to slime Bill Clinton, and by inference, Hillary, actually serves to create history lessons for all those young Bernie supporters, most barely born in the 1990s.

Without Bernie giving Hillary a real run, who would be taking any interest in the Democrat primaries? Bernie has served as an engine of interest for the Hillary campaign. And now Bernie wants to debate The Donald. And, who knows, it might happen, since Trump loves spectacle. Now, there's some virtual counter-factual television to come. But don't hold your breath.

Donald Trump running for President fits his business model, especially his model used the last couple of decades. He's now leasing his brand to the GOP and is willing, it appears, to lease it to the country at large: THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY! We already have Trump Tower and, in Chicago, on a once quite compelling-looking skyscraper perched on the site of the old Chicago Sun-Times building, recently defaced with just the name TRUMP in garish letters.

We'll have to wait and see if we eventually get to see the 18th green below the North Face of Yosemite's Half Dome, the future final hole of the Trump Presidential Course. And why not? There's already an airport at the Grand Tetons National Park, so the rich of Jackson Hole can fly in private jets.

See, it's hard to stay on the subject of Hillary, since she has been so much a part of our country's national lassitude, brought on and bringing to mind all the things that have been haunting us for decades. Do I need to name them? Starting with the largely created story of Whitewater, the sorriest low-rent land deal of the last century.

Remember the name of the guy who was at the center of it? Poor Jim McDougal. What would he have done back in the day when he tried to rope the Clintons into buying some bug-infested lots along Arkansas's White River if someone had said to him, "Jim, you know your friend Bill Clinton, the governor, will be President of the United States and you will die of a heart attack in solitary confinement because of him." Hard to believe. But The Donald is bringing up yet another sacrifice to journalists with nothing better to do, Vince Foster.

Fishy, indeed, Foster's suicide. There are arguably more books about Bill and Hillary Clinton published during (and before and afterwards) Bill Clinton's two terms than any other president in American history. Of course, ninety percent of them were attack books. There was a vast right wing conspiracy, except, despite Hillary's popularizing of the term, it wasn't a conspiracy - it was quite out in the open.

Bernie claims over and over he trounces Trump in the polls. I doubt if the Hillary's right wing conspiracy crowd has spent a dime on Sanders, but, if the unexpected happened and Sanders became the nominee, they would drop more than a dime on him.

Regarding the Republican right's focused attention, as Madonna would say, Bernie's Like a Virgin. So far, he's gotten more or less a free ride from the vast attack machine so critical and instrumental to the country's quarter-century of Clinton fatigue. So, Hillary owes Bernie a thank you for succeeding as well as he has. He keeps both the spotlight on her and, more importantly, off of her.