So Crikey is free all this week? OK, new readers start here (experienced readers can jump down to the big #). The national affairs desk at the Best Value SupaLodge has ceased to function as sheer despair and tedium lies thick. Every available surface is covered with Bud Light beer cans, the worst beer of all, the beer that does not change its form on its way through your body, save for the imprint left on the king-size left by Chardonnay, the black stripper who works out at Deelites, the joint near the airport off-ramp, whom I got talking to about the musical stylings of waiting in line at Fatburger. She’s gone now and nothing happened, as far as I recall — she just needed a place to hide from the loan shark her daughter, who also works at Deelites, owes money to. I was too busy with the delegate maths, and besides there was a Mike and Molly marathon on the CW (8000 words omitted here) …

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Aaaaaaaaaaaand we’re back. It’s the day of the New York primary here, with 95 delegates up for grabs on the Republican side, and some ludicrous number, two hundred and something, on the Democratic side. This primary, dormant for decades, because so late in the calendar, has come alive this time around, as some sort of last stand for Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders. Or so their opponents would wish. Hillary Clinton insisted that if she won NY by more than double digits, Sanders should get out of the race. Trump was aiming to get a 50%-plus vote in each of the state’s 27 congressional districts (getting all three delegates of each, if you get 50%-plus) and 50% overall in the state. That would give him all 95 delegates and put him back within reach of the 1237 he needs before the convention to snag the nomination. The kicker is that none of it will happen. There will be no decisive event. Sanders will roll on, win, lose or draw, as will Cruz and Kasich. The event has become a grueling slugathon with wistful thoughts of something going kazam.

Mind you, just because nothing is happening doesn’t mean nothing is happening. In the Democratic competition, the contest became as bitter as it has ever become, as Sanders sought to attack Clinton strongly from the left. After much argy-bargy, the two held a televised debate in Brooklyn. Hillary attacked Bernie for his alleged vagueness on how exactly the banks would be broken up — later, Bill, ever helpful, said that Bernie wanted to shoot every third person on Wall Street — while Bernie continued to lay into Hillary on her refusal to release transcripts of her speeches to Wall Street, yadayadayada. Sanders racked up huge crowds, heading towards 30,000 — but he is hamstrung by the fact that this primary (and four of the next five) is closed, and many of Sanders’ supporters can’t vote for him.

Later, Bernie went to Rome for a couple of days to attend a social justice conference, while Hillary went to LA to have a fundraiser with George Clooney, with a top table fee of $350,000. Many people said this was obscene, including, confusingly, George Clooney. Protesters along the way to the dinner threw dollar bills at Hillary’s motorcade, a sign of how bitter the intra-party fight is becoming. Numbers vary as to how many Sanders supporters say they won’t vote for Clinton, but it has gone as high as 33% in some polls. For the Democrats, it is getting very, very dangerous.

Trump has spent the last week bitching about the “rules” that ensure that he won’t necessarily get the delegates he wants (they still have to vote for him on the first ballot, but not on subsequent ones). He just lost a slew of delegates in the Wyoming caucus. The whining is strategic, but it’s also unfaked; the whining petulant badger-coiffed orange man-baby is the real deal, this giant bawling id is the man you see. The campaign, as it gets into the nitty-gritty of building a convention majority, has been so laughably and genuinely incompetent as to be a bit frightening. These guys really did just decide to see if they could get to the presidency at a steak restaurant one afternoon, and went for it. There’s a theory that Trump never wanted to be president and is now looking for an out, faced with the four-year tedium of actually being president. There is ample evidence to suggest such.

There’s also evidence to suggest the contrary. In the last fortnight, Trump has become, well, boring. The rallies are still like watching red meat being thrown to fighting dogs, but it’s been a fortnight or so since he has said anything really outrageous. His campaign has been reorganised to emphasise actual internal structure (leading to a series of leaks about campaign infighting), with a focus on delegate getting. That a lack of fireworks — save for the sustained “we wuz robbed” thing — has not reduced his support tells you something about the basis of his support. By and large it’s not just the Dada anti-politics that attracts people; it’s the position on trade, immigration and the “businessman” schtick that give him broad support. Still, I miss those happy days when he assured us that his penis was large enough and used a victory speech to sell steaks and mineral water. I do not think we will see their like again. We may be settling in for the longest of slogs …

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… and so it’s back to Deelites to see if Chardonnay will sell me that gun I need. Do subscribe.

Stop press: With early results coming in, New York has been called for Hillary, 60%-40%, though that may narrow as upstate results come in. The Donald is caning it at 62%, with Kasich second on about 20% and Cruz at 12%.

Peter Fray

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