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September 6, 2012
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Instead of commenting again on the ability of the Democratic House and Senate to ignore pay-as-you-go when they feel like it (i.e., passing unemployment benefits without paying for them), I have decided this week to indulge in a bit of folderol. In thinking through the following possible scenarios, just imagine what could be:

Sept. 6, 2012

After an 18-month roller coaster ride that has left most of the nation exhausted and confused, the final players have been determined for the last two months of the presidential campaign.

After former House Speaker Newt Gingrich received the Republican nomination last month, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton formally received the nomination last night. President Barack Obama interrupted the official roll call, delivered a short panegyric to Clinton, and moved that she be unanimously selected as the Democratic nominee.

So end eight months of drama and excitement for the Democrats.

No one could have imagined the 2008 match-up that some in the media had dreamed of, Clinton vs. Gingrich, would come true four years later.

But America is the land of opportunity.

The journey to this point has been tumultuous and unanticipated. Many believe this outcome to be risible and shake their heads in bewilderment.

How did we end up here?

After the Republicans won back the House in 2010, the assumption was that they would provide the necessary balance to Obama. Many pundits thought this would allow him to move from running against the ghost of George W. Bush to running against the House Republicans.

After two years of watching Obama campaign against Bush and two more years of listening to him blame Bush, the electorate was totally bushed about Bush.

But instead of smoothly transitioning to a new opposition, Obama received three flank attacks simultaneously: one from those who really believed his campaign slogan of 2008 (remember change we can believe in?), the second from Democratic moderates in his party and the third from the far left.

Those who believed in and voted for change became increasingly disillusioned over the continued passage of unfunded bills, as well as the Obama administration’s rude treatment of the electorate. The tipping point appears to have been Eric Lichtblau’s article "Across From White House, Coffee With Lobbyists" (New York Times, June 24, 2010), which reported offsite meetings between White house officials and lobbyists.

"But because the discussions are not taking place at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., they are not subject to disclosure on the visitors’ log that the White House releases as part of its pledge to be the ‘most transparent presidential administration in history,’" wrote Lichtblau.

For moderate Democrats, the tipping point appears to be the continued unpopularity of the Obama administration’s policy push to the far left. While his words were moderate, his agenda was liberal. The juxtaposition became too evident to ignore.

Those on the far left were almost happy with the policy and progress, but grew tired of Obama placating the moderates. Couldn’t he just be proud of being a radical liberal? They were.

While trying to make everyone happy, Obama made no one happy. The factions broke apart eight months ago and turned to the only high-profile party-uniter on the horizon, Hillary Clinton.

Obama bowed out of the race at the last minute, citing the need to spend time with his family.

Clinton has been cheerful and gracious on the campaign trail.

The Republican run-up has been no less exciting. It began with a wide-open field. By early this year, a dozen candidates were vying for the nomination. Gingrich was in the middle of the pack, with great name identification but strong feelings for and against him on both sides.

Known as a visionary, Gingrich ran a campaign of ideas and solutions. Ironically, Gingrich has taken a page from the campaign plan used by former President Jimmy Carter (often dubbed by Gingrich as one of the worst presidents in modern history). Gingrich, an Army brat that served as a congressman from Georgia for 20 years, quickly and quietly knocked out the other Republican contenders. (Disclosure: Newt’s my dad.)

For those of us who write about politics, we can only assume that this lineup is the result of many prayers. For two months, we will have a campaign full of big personalities and even bigger ideas.

Hold on, the fun has just begun.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman founded and is chairman of the board of the Learning Makes a Difference Foundation.