The political three-ring circus is still playing in Washington. In the center ring is election politics. One outer ring features a creeping legislation agenda in Congress and the contemplation and speculation of what will happen after the election and into 2017. In the final ring the Obama Administration is performing for its last show.
The Presidential race on all side of the political spectrum is not only perplexing but also has broken almost every rule of conventional political thought and analysis. It is not only topic de jure; it is a topic for the ages.
On the Republican side, a non-traditional politician and celebrity has vanquished a slate of what was thought to be very competent rivals. No matter how Mr. Trump is sized up or categorized, he won the nomination by winning elections. The odds-on favorite-Mrs. Clinton-on the Democrat side has been more than challenged by an aged Senator who is not even a Democrat. But Mrs. Clinton will eventually receive the nomination due to a swath of the party regular super delegates in her corner, in spite of losing more than 20 states to Senator Sanders, a socialist from Vermont.
While most of the public attention has been focused whether the Republicans will unite behind Mr. Trump, Democrats are faced with their own problems of party unity. In many ways, the entire core philosophy of each party has been turned on it head and spun around.
Normal political wisdom, electoral demographics and the Electoral College system would seem to favor the election of Mrs. Clinton. Even with her high unfavorable rating, she has the luxury of running again an opponent who has even higher unfavorable ratings. The Trump camp is placing success on the ability of the candidate to break the mold and appeal to the disgruntled part of the electorate. It remains to be seen if there are more of this motivated group that will vote than the traditional Democrat coalition. In any event, this is not an election like any other in recent memory. This will be an election campaign that will be personal, nasty and full of shenanigans. Wait until September to place your wagers.
Lost in the all-Presidential campaign entertainment is the upcoming Congressional election, an equally important facet that has profound impact. Democrats are increasingly bullish with Trump atop the Republican ticket about their ability to take back the Senate, where Republicans now hold 54-46 margin. There are a number of vulnerable Republicans in swing states so this is a distinct possibility. The challenges for Democrats in the lower chamber, however, where Republicans outnumber them 246 to 188, are much steeper. Democrats hope a landslide win by Hillary Clinton would lead to significant gains in the House, but retaking the chamber is a bit of a long shot.
In spite of it being the end of May, there is not much time left in this Congress to make meaningful progress on a number of issues due to the extended break for the political conventions in July, the mandatory August recess and the target date of October 1 to break for the election.
The Executive Branch continues to spin out regulations at a record pace, everything from methane gas emissions to bathroom rules to overtime pay. This will continue to the very end.
The President when not traveling abroad will be hard on the campaign trail but his impact is marginal as the focus is on the candidates. No one really listens to him.
Finally, there continues to be little engagement by the White House with Congress. Politics-like the confrontations on the Supreme Court nominee-are center stage, much like the last 7 years.
In any event, Mr. Obama will continue to exert his authority where and whenever he can even, if in a limited fashion, towards the exit sign