November 6, 2016 | 4:36am
Photo: Getty Images
So this is how Hope & Change ends. With the FBI in turmoil, with surging anti-police violence, with fears of voter fraud and foreign hacking, with a sluggish economy, with a terror warning and with two unpopular presidential candidates tearing at each other like wolves.
Heckuva job, Barack Obama!
The 44th president made history by being elected, but leaves behind a nation on the verge of a crack-up. He flatters himself by insisting his tenure has been a roaring success, but the public mood tells a different story.
Obama promised to unite America, but exits amid far greater divisions. It is telling that he has stopped portraying himself as a uniter and, like Jimmy Carter, blames the public.
Carter saw malaise, Obama sees bitter clingers, racists and xenophobes. While Obama’s lectures convey disappointment in his fellow Americans, it never occurs to him that he is a disappointment to them.
His failure to come to grips with the polarization, combined with an aggressively liberal agenda spearheaded by executive orders and a politicized bureaucracy, means his successor will inherit a country broken along every fault line imaginable. Voices of discontent and even estrangement are rising among Americans of all stripes and persuasions.
So much so that the one universal point of agreement is that the next occupant of the Oval Office must forge a fundamental consensus before the country can begin to address its critical problems.
But forging that consensus could prove to be the most difficult problem of all, especially with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both better at exploiting polarization than ending it.
Indeed, polls showing a close outcome suggest the winner will take office on a wave of bitterness. Legal challenges remain a possibility, both to the legitimacy of the vote and to the candidates’ past actions.
Still, the near-universal clamor for change offers a potential opening. Grievances from across the political spectrum demonstrate that most of the country agrees our public servants are only serving themselves, and that Washington is disconnected from most Americans’ daily lives.
The necessary consensus, then, won’t be found in a new program conceived in a winner-take-all environment. While there are some areas of basic agreement — infrastructure development, tax reform, and the need to more fully confront Islamic terror — they are not the sort of things that get to the root problem.
Building trust can begin with small steps of transparency conveyed in plain English — no parsing or government mumbo-jumbo allowed.
That root, I believe, is a fundamental distrust of government. It can’t be fixed by bigger government, or even by just a smaller one.
Instead, the only solution is a more honest government, a goal that must be addressed as a distinct issue from Day One. Building trust can begin with small steps of transparency conveyed in plain English — no parsing or government mumbo-jumbo allowed.
Tragically, neither candidate is equipped for the challenge. Clinton, because of her long trail of dishonesty in public life, will never be able to summon broad national support for anything.
In fact, the campaign has undermined her claims to be ready for the presidency, and she still offers no rationale other than ambition. Her contempt for everyday Americans, expressed through the use of a private server and in words like “deplorables” and “irredeemable” directed at Trump supporters, has created a new ceiling of her own making.
If Republicans hold either house of Congress, Clinton will face hobbling probes from the start. Her arrogant resolve to keep the family foundation open guarantees an endless stream of pay-to-play suspicions. Making gender history would come at too high a price.
That leaves Trump. His defects of temperament and instinct are enormous, and it is certain he is guilty of despicable abuse of some women. Also, there are reasons why the New York business and philanthropic communities hold him in low regard.
But we are where we are, and Trump has one advantage over Clinton — a clean slate in exercising governmental power. He is a genuine outsider whose promise of change is more credible, and better matches the nation’s mood.
Unlike Clinton, he would be free to break with Obama’s failed policies on immigration, health care and Iran. Moreover, Trump’s improvement as a candidate suggests he has more potential for upside surprises. A few good Cabinet picks would reassure millions of Americans and create a valuable honeymoon for his administration.
All that said, Trump remains a long shot to be a good president. But after eight years of Hope & Change, a long shot is the only shot we have.t
With many Americans believing the presidential election will be a referendum on the conduct of liberal news organizations, the jury finding that Rolling Stone defamed a former dean is a warning shot to the fact-free, agenda-driven culture common in American journalism.
Up and down the media food chain, pushing a narrative is taking precedence over an honest reporting of facts.
Social consciousness is being sold as the new journalism, but it’s actually discredited sensationalism in liberal wrapping. Advancing a political agenda without facts is no more honorable than spinning melodramatic tales with concocted quotes and scenes. Both distort the truth to serve an ulterior purpose.
That’s the beauty of the truth — it doesn’t need to be embellished.
The two faces of Blas
Bill de Blasio records a dubious hat trick.
New York’s mayor has proven himself a double threat, showing big talents for being incompetent and corrupt. Now we can add dishonest to his résumé.
Asked in a March TV appearance whether he thought Clinton should release the transcripts of paid speeches she gave to banks, de Blasio claimed, “I don’t care about those speeches.”
Yet that same day he sent an email to John Podesta, chair of Clinton’s campaign, saying of the speeches, “I’m trying, brother, but this one is hard to defend.”
“Hard to defend,” but you can if you’re willing to lie. That’s politics, brother.
Donald dodges Bridgegate bullet
Somebody on Donald Trump’s team deserves a raise. Trump initially offered his running-mate slot to Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, then an unnamed adviser warned it was a mistake, arguing that, among other reasons, Christie could be damaged by the Bridgegate trial.
So he was, but he is not the running mate, making Mike Pence look better than ever.