Sunday, September 26, 2021
Sept. 26, 2021

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Press Talk: Everyone gets a massage!

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Did you connect the dots?

Forget all those polls, professional prognosticators and political pundits trying to figure out who was going to win the presidential race. The answer was simple and certain — and if the nation had bothered to look at Clark County’s past, they would have seen the future.

No kidding.

Think about it. Clark County had its own rich guy. He had no political experience. He was a successful businessman. And he vowed to shake up the same ol’, same ol’ political landscape.

Just like Trump, our Clark County guy won. And just like Trump, he lost his reelection bid four years later.

Many of you remember him as former County Commissioner David Madore.

No need to rehash the details as to why Madore had his dramatic fall. But it’s fair to say — just like Trump — the people test-drove this shiny new car and decided after four years the ride was far bumpier than they ever could have imagined.

To be fair, there are many differences between Madore and Trump. Although I disagreed with much of what Madore did in his four years, I found him to be honorable, stable and bright. Trump — as anyone knows who is paying attention — is the opposite.

He’s back?

Of all the decisions Madore made as commissioner, the one that probably did him in was maneuvering then-state Sen. Don Benton into the county’s environmental services director position. Let’s say Benton’s environmental resume was just a bit lacking.

One thing led to another. Benton opted not to run for reelection as state senator, was sort of booted from his county job and landed on Trump’s 2016 campaign in an attempt to deliver Washington’s Electoral College votes to the red team. Benton didn’t deliver Washington, but politics being politics, Trump still awarded Benton a sweet D.C. job.

At first Benton was appointed a senior White House adviser to lead the transition team at the Environmental Protection Agency. That didn’t work out either, so Benton ended up as the director of the Selective Service System.

Now I could go on about the uselessness of this $27 million per year agency — it prepares us all for a national military draft that will never happen — but we’ll leave useless government spending for another column.

So Benton spent the last four years sitting up in D.C. doing whatever one does while running a useless agency, but guess what? His time is almost certainly running out. Why? Because President-elect Joe Biden will fill that useless slot as a political favor to one of his own. (Yes, Democrats play the same silly game.)

What’s next for Benton? He’s lived off the government for most of his life, so I suspect he is set financially. Does he just retire and do Thursday night karaoke? I suspect not. Politics is in his blood. And love him or hate him, he’s got moves like Jagger. (Hey, that’s a song and a compliment.) Word on the street is he dabbled in our latest local election in a behind-the-scenes way. And I expect him to stay “involved.”

Now, I emailed Benton at his D.C. office, and a very nice person by the name of Jennifer Burke whose title is — in part — “reasonable accommodations officer” got back to me.

She said she would forward my request to Benton’s chief of staff.

If you are wondering, no, I didn’t hear back from Mr. Benton.

All that being said, there are some local Democrats and Republicans who are not thrilled about the idea that Benton might be coming back. Me? I kinda like the idea. Didn’t agree with him much, but I enjoyed sparring with him.

Consequences

I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this point, but I’ve heard from more than a few Trump supporters who appear confused as to why their presidential preference would impact their social standing and friendships with the Biden crowd.

It’s pretty simple, really. Supporting a chooch like Trump is not like supporting any other conservative. Trump is a bad, bad, human being.

And here’s where his supporters — his enablers — come into play. There are plenty of bad actors in this world. Think of a snake oil salesman. He’s got some bad juju he’s trying to sell you. If he can’t find any suckers, he just fades away. But Trump has found plenty of suckers. So people paying attention can’t quite figure out how their friends have fallen for this guy. And that’s disturbing.

Yes, I get that some folks will argue that all politicians are bad actors and the alternative the Democrats put up wasn’t any good. I argue that Trump plays so fast and loose with the facts that a bag of prunes would be a better president. (See what I did there?) Indeed, there are consequences when voters make terrible decisions.

Massage needed

Finally, I’m certain I wasn’t the only one who knew Trump was going down in this election, but I got a kick out of texting a politically connected Vancouver friend five hours before the polls closed on the East Coast.

“I’m freaking out,” he told me, because although he felt Biden would win the popular vote he would lose enough swing states to lose the Electoral College and the election.

“No way,” I responded. Biden would win the election.

At the time we were texting, he was getting a massage.

“Relax and enjoy the massage,” I told him.

• • •

Frankly I think it’s important to end this column hoping we can put this dark past behind us. We really need to make a real effort to come together. If Republicans decide to block progress for the next four years, we’re all in for a world of hurt.

My hope is that when Biden is president, we make some meaningful changes in how we do things. He should lessen the power a president has, force limits on pardons and create a path for meaningful term limits for all politicians. Image how different the country would be if no one had to worry about getting reelected. If term limits were in place today, you wouldn’t see Republicans cowering in the corner wondering what the master might do to them if they don’t behave.

And would anybody — anybody — ever again want to go through the garbage Trump is putting us through challenging the election results? Let’s drastically shorten the time between Election Day and the president taking office.

Let’s clean it all up. And in the meantime, the entire USA could use a massage.

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