Campaign Freight Train Bound for Excess!

Doreen Cloud

Greetings fellow jet setters! The dog days of summer are behind us at last. I don’t know about you but I was positively decomposing watching our dear Hillary joylessly slog her way through the obese throngs of middle America. Disgusting! I went to Dairy Queen twice while on the trail. Can you imagine?

But dry your eyes because all that has passed now. There’s nothing like the homestretch of a presidential election to get your priorities straight! Gone are the hollow town halls and the begs for applause. No more kowtows to the lowbrows! No more diners, drive-ins and dives. Who the hell wants to discuss the state of our affairs at a state fair anyways? We’re through debasing ourselves in church basements! 

Finally Hillary can drop the charade of concern for the underpaid and get back to the important business of boot licking the well heeled. All aboard the gravy train! You can practically hear her staff roar:

Out of the way you blue collared slobs! We have a date with a casino magnate! Step to the side you hillbilly trash! We have consecutive meetings with leading executives! Big hugs for the blue bloods! What a privilege to meet with the privileged! The movers and shakers! The upper crust! These people actually know how to throw a fundraiser!” 

And guess what? It’s music to my ears. The only thing worse than running a campaign during the summer months - is covering one! If I saw one more corndog or Cowboys jersey I was going to puke! High society will handle it from here. Is it cruel to shut out the unwashed masses from participating in our democracy? Of course. But it’s necessary. We need to see our candidates as they see themselves. Rich, successful, and powerful! And there’s no better way to do that than to let them romp through America’s gilded enclaves unfettered and free from the ravenous eyes of the 99%. Get a job you bums!

Oh the fundraising we’ll have! Hillary will have to raise half a billion dollars to catch the prize this year. Half a billion! She’ll criss cross the continent as fast as her private jet and convoy of SUV’s can carry her - Hamptons! Miami Beach! Greenwich CT! Beverly Hills! Only a chosen few will get past the wrought iron gates. It’s a blur of marble columns, Spanish villas, shaded galleries, koi ponds and illegal gardeners. The Amazing Race moves at a snail’s pace compared to this mad dash for cash. But it makes sense. Do you know how many millions of dollars it takes to raise millions of more dollars? Millions! Fundraisers pay for fundraisers which beget more fundraisers! 

It all works to ensure no work gets done. A hyper-loop in hyper-drive! Snakes don’t need to hunt when they can just eat their own tails!

But lest you think these are frivolous affairs - think again! I’ve been to all the best fundraisers over the years. This is how the people who matter get to know the people they’re going to manipulate. There’s nothing like a game of badminton with Bon Jovi to help you open up. Discussions of Dodd Frank over a glass of Mont Blanc? Check. Talks of poverty over caviar? Hot. Some foreign policy on the balcony? Give it to me. My expression says riveted, and my dress says MAN EATER! 

This promises to be an election season for the ages. No one raises the funds like Bill and Hillary Clinton. They are the King and Queen of contributions. The high lords of handouts. The premier prima donnas to the prosperous and propertied. Care to ask them a question? $10,000. Snap a photo? $80,000. Give her a hug? Your kidney bitch! There’s no one they won’t take from - AIPAC, Saudi Arabia, Blackwater, Cruella De Ville. Is it for charity or her campaign? No one knows, no one cares. What matters is talking about what matters, while expressing concern about your concerns. 

Thank God for the Clintons. We need them. After 8 years of the no-drama-Obamas leaving early to tuck in their daughters, the Baron and Baroness of embarrassment are back with a vengeance! No one blurs the line between class and crass, principle and criminal, wholesome and loathsome, more than our dear Clinton clan. They’re a columnist’s dream! They’re like a pair of machiavellian chameleons that manage to dart their way out of mayhem before our very eyes. I am done taking them for granted!

Of course Bill is not the dynamo he used to be - what with his shaky hands and the resting face of a slack-jawed bumpkin staring into the abyss, but who cares? Every time I hear that slow roasted Arkansas drawl my rosebud pokes into my panties and I get instant slippy clam. I knew vegan diets could be healthy but who knew they could reanimate a corpse! And then there’s our Hillary. A creature so devoid of sex that she makes an amoeba splitting look like hardcore porn. She is our own iron lady. A stale muffin in pantsuits. Such tenacity! Such resolve! Such calculation! Imagine sitting at the desk your husband’s mistress used to kneel under? #Courageous. 

And therein lies the Clinton fundraising genius. They understand we only want the appearance of respectability, and behind closed doors we crave the scandal. Money shots on ball gowns!  Cigars dipped in honeypots! Snapchats of classified documents! Wars on distant shores! Private speeches to wealthy leeches! The nineties are back baby! It’s a veritable baby boomer boomerang - coming to a private estate near you! Such a dreary eight years of competence! I want the Tabloid Tornado! The Duke and Duchess of Deception! The government’s greatest glad-handers! For only $125K per plate, you can feel the heat up close. Bask in the charm, toss your softball queries, and prepare for the most sultry ego stroking of your life. They are the Clinton Machine - and they are unstoppable. See you at the next fundraiser!


Oh Man Oman! What Follows a Qaboos?

Dom Sneedman


Salalah, Oman - The sumptuous smell of grilled swordfish hangs languidly in the air. A golden sunset sparkles off the sea and blankets the cafés. My companion, Grabbir Boubi, a 15-year-old savante organist in the Royal Opera House of Muscat, orders a black coffee, despite the 106 degree heat. 

“This place has wonderful Halawa”, he whispers in perfectly crisp English, “but you still have to shit in a hole in the back.” And so another window opens into the mindset of the Omani youth. Content in the present, jittery about the future.

“So it seems with your Sultan,” I reply. “A man of great character, having trouble exiting the stage.” The comment lands with a thud on the table. I cooly slosh down my lemonade and lean back in my chair. “You swallowed that fly in your lemonade.” he shoots back. He’s evading, but I don’t push. 

Muscat, Oman - the capital city. I pop dates into my mouth as I stroll the Sultan’s palace, waiting patiently for my chaperon Shaif Hirboush. My immaculately white dishdasha billows around my thighs in the high powered air conditioning, sending chills up my leg. Shaif arrives out of breath and waving his bamboo camel stick. “The dishdasha! You wore it! You look amazing!” We shake hands and begin walking arm in arm. “It feels amazing!” I reply. “Conservative on the outside, party on the inside!” “Ah! You are learning the Omani way.” Shaif bellows. “Come Come! We have much to see!”

We tour the palace and royal court buildings. Shaif bubbles with enthusiasm as he describes the many places Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said has stood, sat, and leaned. “The palace today is largely used for ceremonial purposes,” Shaif admits. “The Sultan now prefers his quiter seaside residence near Seeb. But you can still feel his warmth in the hallways no?” “I can.” I agree. “But for how much longer? The Sultan has been ill no?” Shaif chafes at the question. “Sultan Qaboos is fit as a violin! Such nonsense you hear in the streets!” He leans close to my ear. “Meet me back at your hotel in one hour.” With a flap of the robe he is gone. Where is my hotel?

I meet Shaif in the lobby and we climb into his idling Suburu. Shaif remains silent as we drive down Sultan Qaboos road, past Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Sultan Qaboos University, on our way through Medinat Sultan Qaboos. We’re soon in the middle of the Gulf of Oman desert. The sun blazes overhead as heat waves dance on the horizon. Shaif pulls off the road and we careen through the sand, bouncing over dunes like waves. Finally Shaif kills the engine and hands me a shovel. “Dig.” he commands. After an hour of back breaking labor, we find ourselves at the bottom of a deep hole in the sand. “Now we can talk.” he declares.

It’s cool and dark in the pit. I nibble on a piece of bundt cake I discovered under my car seat. Shaif lays it all out for me. “It’s true Sultan Qaboos has been sick. He is now an old man, and with no children or chosen successor we are nervous. He has been a wise and benevolent ruler, so his replacement must be these things also.” “That’s it?” I ask. “That doesn’t seem so bad.” “Yes, I guess not.” responds Shaif. “Perhaps we should not have dug the pit.”

Back in Muscat I’m finishing my room service dinner of curried beef kabobs, when there’s a knock at the door. Grabbir Boubi stands timidly in the hallway, tracing the carpet with his sandal. “I was wondering if you were coming to the opera house tonight. I have an organ solo.” “Of course.” I reply. “You couldn't keep me away.” Grabbir relaxes. “It is rumored Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said may attend as well.” he whispers. “Well you tell Said al Said that I said I said he’d be a fool to miss it.” I respond smiling. “You have sauce all over your dishdasha.” Grabbir replies, and he turns down the hall. I stand plaintively in the hallway. For Oman’s sake, I pray Sultan Qaboos chooses his successor before it’s too late. There’s still time for this autocrat, to auto-correct.