Thursday, September 13, 2018

Branchings, and Alt-History

I’d like to continue that alt-history from the previous post, not for any important lesson, just for amusement. If Trent Lott doesn’t squelch the impeachment and Bill Clinton is removed or is convinced to resign, what next? The claim at the time that most Americans did not want Clinton removed was technically true, but misleading. About 60% thought that, but almost a third of those were only “somewhat opposed,” and another 10% were “moderately opposed.” The numbers varied depending on the wording of the polling. That was also true in the other direction that some who favored removing him were pretty mild about it. In an alt-history replay, there would be a motivated core of Democrats who would have been unhinged about it, with wild accusations of fascism. Oh wait. That happened anyway, so that doesn’t much matter. But some of the moderates or not-paying-attentions or emotion-based voters would have felt a bit sorry for Gore, and want to give him a chance, or whatever. I suspect he would have won in 2000, because it wouldn't take much of a swing. 9-11 happens on his watch, as does the recession. As his term is seen as something as a continuation of the Clinton terms, more blame goes toward the Democrats, and especially the Clintons because of that. OTOH, there was popular sentiment for the US to do something strong in response to 9-11, and Gore would have likely done something. Even Tom Friedman was saying we had to hit somebody. Whether it was wise or foolish, Americans rally around their president at such times, and Gore might have gained more support than he lost. If he didn’t “hit someone,” he might be resented for that. Hard to say; and without knowing exactly what he would have done, harder to project forward.

But the Republicans would be more likely to nominate McCain in 2004 if anything military was either happening or people thought should be happening (Sarah Palin was then ex-mayor of Wasilla, chairing the commission that watched over the oil and gas fields; not a VP possibility), and the Clintons might be dead in the water for good. Or maybe not. If Gore botched things, or was even perceived to have done so, the Clinton true believers could have put out the platform that these terrible responses would never have happened under Clinton, and we’d better elect Hillary right away. I think McCain wins either way.

The reader is welcome to propose alternate scenarios. No penalty. Except I will find you completely unconvincing, of course.


Christopher B said...
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Christopher B said...

I'm not convinced Bill Clinton would have either resigned or been convicted, Lott or not. 67 of 100 is a pretty high bar, at least one Republican didn't vote to convict, and the subject was esoteric enough to be eye glazing. Nixon was on tape discussing the Watergate deeds and other campaign dirty tricks, often with profane language. Those revelations were earthshaking at that time, I think. Clinton's escapades were somewhat a known quantity from the ‘bimbo eruptions’ in his 1992 campaign.

Still, assuming he goes, several other things do, too. Hillary doesn't get the NY senate seat, though she probably at least tries for one from IL after divorcing Bill. She might get beat out by Obama, again. There’s no Clinton Foundation to drive her Presidential ambitions, and I think she somewhat fades to a Donna Bazile like existence.

I think Gore, like W, would hang on in 2004, beating McCain. I agree he’s next in line for the GOP. The mortgage crisis would likely still occur but on Gore’s watch. I'm betting 2008 would be Kerry v Bush – Jeb, not W - with Jeb coming out on top. We’d still get TARP but no Obamacare.

We'd probably still be bogged down in Afghanistan. Since it started under Gore it would still be the 'good war' for Democrats so there wouldn’t be much pressure to end it. We'd probably be stuck with a low-scale but occasionally hot conflict with both Iraq and Iran. I don't know if Jeb would have the stomach for an attack on Iraq but Saddam might force his hand, if he lasted that long. We might even see more intra-Islamic conflict between Sunni and Shia factions, likely spreading from Iran-Iraq into Egypt, Syria, and Libya, as it has to a certain degree.

North Korea is a wild card. It depends on how useful they would be to China. Probably not much change from what actually happened.

Figure Jeb gets two terms but I'm about out of guesses at this point. As a total SWAG I'll say Trump runs for the nomination in 2016 .. as a Democrat :).

HMS Defiant said...

You know, as one takes a look back the focus changes with the depth of the view. McCain showed his real self to his peers to the point that none would run as his running mat and he had to go all the way to Alaska to find a true blue Republican to run as his vice.

As one looks back from here, from this point of view, his running mate was the real McCoy and McCain was a true fraud and shameful human being.

And yeah, I meant to type 'mat' above. McCain was his real self in his treatment of the Governor of Alaska. Petty and small-minded were his code right up to the last breath he took on this earth.