Between The Lines: Running for President is Like Herding Cats

Tim Kelly
Tim Kelly

Hi, everyone, and thanks for coming. There are plenty of seats up front so don’t be shy.

Now the reason I’ve asked you all here is…What? No, we’re not at the point where we have to take attendance. No, we don’t need to determine if we have a quorum for the Friends of Kelly 2020 Campaign Committee. We’ve yet to file any paperwork with the FEC.

Say again? No, Gerry. That’s the Federal Elections Commission, not, as you so delicately put it, “that fec’in government agency.” We haven’t even created an exploratory committee, at least not officially. That’s why we’re here.

No, it’s not for Happy Hour, Tommy. Although since you’re here and your wife’s at home, she may consider it a happy hour.

Dammit, here we go again. You two screwed around during my presidential campaign kickoff five months ago and you’re doing it again. I mean, how is the press going to take this seriously if you continue to…

Right, the press didn’t cover it. Thanks for reminding me, Gerry. Considering how you two acted, I guess that was a blessing in disguise. Which raises the issue, why are you guys here?

You’re two of my oldest friends, who I thought supported my candidacy, even if it is “tilting at windmills,” as one guy described it. Still, I thought you were in my corner and actually believed that an average Joe can make a difference. And yet, every time we meet, you clown around like we’re back in school.

Oh, boy, do I wish there was a nun here to rap you guys on the knuckles.

Listen, there’s at least a dozen other people here interested in what I’m trying to do, but when you guys get going…

Ok, fine. Apology accepted.

I’ll dispense with the financial committee report because, well, we don’t have a committee and our finances are such that maybe I could buy you all a Coke.

No, Gerry, not “score some coke.” Dammit, you promised! Am I gonna hafta ask you to leave?

Yes, I know we don’t have a “sergeant at arms.” And, no, you’re not getting that position. You know the “sergeant at arms” isn’t armed, right?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Look, I asked you all to come tonight to see where we stand. Not just we here, but the entire nation. You know, to try to get a handle on the actual state of the union, particularly from a political perspective. I welcome your thoughts, comments, observations, what have you.

And before we get going, why don’t you two, Gerry and Tommy, yield to the new folks. OK?

Great.

Yes, you, sir, in the back. Why don’t I start at the state legislative level? Good question.

Have you ever spent a winter in Albany?

Yes, of course, Tommy, that was a joke. No, I’m not breaking my own rule. Maybe a little. But if and when you stand where I am, you can do that every now and again.

No, I don’t want to change places with you. I want you to sit there and observe, quietly, OK?

OK.

Now, about the state legislature. I guess it does some important work, but other than passing a budget and setting school aid figures, for the life of me I can’t think of any other examples. Personally, I have absolutely no interest in trying to figure out how to fund the MTA or whatever.

Along those lines, here’s a pop quiz. Who here can name their Assembly representative?

Yes, Tommy? Huh? Say again?

Dick Hertz.

Wait, who’s… Oh, for the love of God! Seriously? What are you, still in the fifth grade?

You know, if you and Gerry put your heads together, I’m sure one of you might be able to get his GED.

No, that doesn’t stand for gas emitting dinosaur. Oy. Maybe an armed sergeant at arms isn’t such a bad idea after all.

To get back to business, as I said last summer, few, if any, in the White House or on Capitol Hill seem to have the slightest idea of what’s important to average folk like you and me.

On the Hill, everybody’s going bat crap crazy over this year’s midterm elections, when every member of the House and a third of the Senate will be on the ballot. What’s the big deal? Are you kidding? The stakes are freakin – I mean, absolutely enormous.

With President Trump’s popularity tanking, Democrats smell blood in the water and will be going after him hammer and tongs as the poster boy for all things Republican in a quest to wrest the majorities of the House or Senate or both away from the GOP. If they succeed, the president might as well stay on the fairways for the rest of his term.

Forget about his legislative agenda. If the Democrats gain control of either House, Trump will be the subject of so many investigations that he won’t want to get out of bed in the morning.

What? Yes, you, sir, on the left. Huh? If you were married to Melina Trump you wouldn’t want to get out of the bed in the morning either?

You know, just because we’re at a bar doesn’t mean that…Ok, OK, we’re getting waaaay off base here.

The question is what does all the stuff going on now mean for 2020?

Do I think Trump will seek reelection? Actually, I don’t. And not just because of his gaffes, like calling African nations “shitholes.” The people disgusted by the comment didn’t and wouldn’t vote for him anyway. Meanwhile, many of his supporters probably think, “Well, they are shitholes.”

Last time out, he got the ABH – Anybody but Hillary – vote, but that’s a one-time deal. In 2020, he’d have to defend his own record, and if the Democrats bounce back in the House or Senate he’d be the lamest of the lame ducks, at least for the two following years.

Yes, miss, right here in the front row. What if Oprah runs? That would scare the… um, stuffing out of the Repubs. She’s smart, personable and one hell of a communicator.

Hey, can you imagine? “My Supreme Court nominee is FAB-U-LOUS!”

And to the Republicans, “YOU get a veto! And YOU get a veto! And YOU get a veto!”

Yes, miss, you’re right. I’m sorry. She is a very accomplished woman. Just having a bit of fun, is all. Plus, I’d be shocked if she ran. That’s just a gut reaction.

Unless there’s some dark horse out there waiting to jump in, like Bill Clinton did in 1992 – don’t go there, you two! – my money’s on our own Gov. Andrew Cuomo leading the Dem presidential ticket. Like his father, the late Gov. Mario Cuomo, he doesn’t take crap from anyone and he’s nobody’s fool. Plus, he’s known nationally.

Thing is, though, he sounds just like his old man, which is kinda creepy. That’s just one man’s opinion.

To be clear, I don’t care who else is running. My hat’s in the ring. That said, you can’t run a campaign in a vacuum. In essence it comes down to two tasks.  Along with drawing voters to your side, you’ve got to convince them not to support the other guy. Um, right. Or gal.

What? You’d like to stand up for Gal Gadot? Wait, didn’t she play “Wonder Woman?”

Excuse me? Yeah, OK, she’d have a “leg up” on other candidates. Sheesh.

You know what? I think it’s time to call it a night. Hopefully next time we can focus on what I really hoped we’d focus on this time, but didn’t. Check your emails for further info. Take care, everyone.

Sorry? Well, maybe I’ve got time for a short one.

Hey, Jimmy. No, it didn’t go so well. What would I like… How about… a bottle of Jack Daniels and a straw? Yeah, I’m kidding. Let me have a tonic water with lime. Know what? Never mind. I better run. Got some serious thinking to do.

Yeah, you too.

Um, Siri? What’s the average salary for a New York State assemblyman?


Tim Kelly is a former congressional press secretary and award-winning reporter, editor, columnist and photographer. He has lived on the North Fork for 30 years. For his mid-life crisis, he became a bagpiper.

East End Beacon

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