So, the most frequent refrain since Election Day is that “no one saw this coming.” Not the pollsters, not the media, not the Democrats’ machine.
We might also note that the Cleveland Indians didn’t see what was coming after the rain delay in Game Seven.
But unlike the Indians, we saw plenty, and we saw it early on. More than a year before the election we saw how a reality-TV star could dominate a debate stage and, with total disregard for truth, slice and dice 16 other candidates.
We saw the power of controlling the message through social media. The world’s first Twitter Candidate spewed middle-of-the-night vitriol that by noon the next day was often the lead story among mainstream media.
We watched as the powerful forces of skewed news--------led by Fox News Channel, Breitbart and Drudge--------invented some stories and distorted others for a vast audience that was fearful, hateful, vengeful and eager for political and emotional reinforcement.
We looked on, often entertained, by the spectacle of rallies that attracted tens of thousands of people, without much regard for the fact that these rally-goers and their friends might actually cast votes.
We saw qualified Democrats like Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren step aside so that the Candidate of Destiny could brush away Martin O’Malley and--------with alarming difficulty--------socialist Bernie Sanders.
We noted that the Democratic National Committee can be every bit as reckless with the rules as its Republican counterpart.
We watched as a litany of poor judgments came back to haunt the Democrats’ nominee. It wasn’t about legality, it was about optics. It was how a suspicious electorate would view outrageously high speaking fees, stonewalling over emails, and a murky relationship with a multi-billion dollar family charity.
Following the conventions, we observed one candidate working harder on the trail and making many more campaign stops than his opponent.
We read between the lines that several outrageous threats and promises from early in the campaign were fading away in calculation for the home stretch. For instance, there wouldn’t really be “mass deportations” of undocumented immigrants, only a roundup of violent criminals. There wouldn’t actually be a ban on Muslims entering the country, only a more serious “vetting” of people coming from the world’s hot spots. Et cetera.
In the final days we looked at poll results that seemed comforting, even though state figures were far less reliable than national numbers.
We saw the apparent arrogance of a candidate who took states like Wisconsin and Michigan for granted, and who trotted out Hollywood big shots like Lady Gaga and Cher, who many Americans find so easy to resent.
On Election Day, we saw some long lines at polling places and didn’t bother to vote. We saw the elaborate post-election celebratory set-up at the Javits Center in New York and figured the contest was in the bag.
It was there to see all along. Alas, in our new and confusing political world, seeing isn’t always believing.
Peter Funt can be reached at www.CandidCamera.com.