Here in New Hampshire, we call this “Mud Season.” It is, in short, the phase between when the snowpack melts and the ground un-freezes, and then firms up again until the next thaw after the next winter. The streams run roaring over the rocks as the meltwater feeds their fury, the wind makes the leafless trees dance, and the yard whose green grass you’ll enjoy in a month will sink you to the ankle if you step on it, boots or otherwise.
If you live on a paved road, with sidewalks and streetlights and all the comforts of town living, you’re fine and dandy. For those of us who live on dirt roads, however, Mud Season is decidedly sporty. See, mud is far more dangerous than ice or snow. In winter, the snowpack – combined with the concerted efforts of the town’s plowmen – make safe the road. So long as you don’t stomp the brakes and know the contours, you can fly at a hot clip beneath the eaves of snow-bound boughs.
Not so in Mud Season, entirely because of warm days and cold nights. The warm days lead to snowmelt, which happily delivers an ocean of water into the ground, but disintegrates the hard-packed road into goo. This brown, graveled mush gets deeply rutted by passing vehicles, and those ruts freeze into proud arches during the still-cold nights, slowly becoming pudding as the sun grows broad on the pine-shaded road in the mornings. Once melted, that pudding is slick as oil, while the ruts remain.
When you traverse an expanse of Mud Season road, the ruts have a way of snaring your front wheels and setting you askew. Thanks to the slickness of the route, when the ruts choose to flick you into the woods – at any speed, mind you – the slippery surface will help you directly into the most available tree. Here in New Hampshire, people look forward to Mud Season the way the rest of the planet looks forward to radical root canal.
Which brings me to the Republican Leadership Summit that took place in Nashua over the weekend. Among the luminaries present were Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, Rand Paul and Jeb Bush.
One would think any sane and fair-minded culture would gift some form of award to a state required to tolerate so many human catastrophes in one swallow. A tax break, a sports stadium, a bottle of whiskey to every person of woman born. The state motto is “Live Free Or Die.” If this kind of mayhem confluence forms again, town councils from Lake Francis to Keene will be fielding heated requests from all and sundry to change the state motto to “Live Free And Kill Me Now.”
It will happen again, and again, and again, because of course it will, because this is Mud Season, and the birds are flocking back to the barn. The Iowa caucus is one thing, its own thing, but the New Hampshire primary is an entirely different ball of wax.
Channel 9 notwithstanding, virtually all of New Hampshire’s news media emanates from Boston, and Boston’s news media reaches not only the Granite State, but Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, and even tickles the toes of outer New York. That’s 33 Electoral College votes – 62 if you count New York into the matter – which makes New England entire a prize near equal to California in any election calculation.
Amazingly, this parade of idiots – Cruz and Carly and Donald, oh my! – managed to avoid delivering any hilariously messy rhetorical fodder for the masses during their New Hampshire confab. What they did do – over and over again – was try to take bites out of Hillary Clinton and her newly-born presidential campaign … except their bites were stupid, and petty, and a sad charade. “Benghazi!” basically, with some heartfelt harkens back to the glorious old Clinton-conspiracy days that got a fair budget of these goons elected to begin with.
You want to hit Hillary? She voted for The PATRIOT Act, voted for the Iraq War, is the world’s biggest fan of fracking and tar sands oil, and is snuggled up tight as a tick with the worst Wall Street thieves on the skin of the Earth. Remind her of that. Ask her how her wrong choices – on personal freedom, unjust war, climate catastrophe and economic injustice – qualify her for the tallest office in the land. That’s how you attack the Clinton campaign. These guys brought a knife to a gunfight, again.
As for the GOP clown car, patience is all. The shark will bite, the dog will bark, the baby will poop, and the sun will rise, because the Earth turns, and all things come in time, so stay tuned to the 2016 GOP field. They will not disappoint, because they never do.
Mud season indeed.