Love is in the air.
It’s time for romance and sweet talk, for making vows and commitments and starry-eyed promises, for trying hard to win hearts and minds. It’s that time of year again . . . the time of a presidential election.
Love is breaking out all over. New Yorkers are gazing longingly at the affair from afar, hoping to be pursued someday. But the candidates are pitching woo in many parts of the country, and they’re laying it on thick.
Now that the suitors still standing have moved on from holding hands in Iowa and the Yankee courtship rituals of New Hampshire to notoriously rough-and-tumble South Carolina, Ted Cruz is being accused of honoring that state’s traditions by mixing in devious tricks with his public advances. But, hey, as the proverb says, all is fair in love and war. Or, as Jeb Bush likes to note, politics ain’t beanbag. Love indeed can be tough.
Then again, poor stick-in-the-mud Jeb is living proof of what everyone from Jane Austen to Elie Wiesel knows. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
And the enemy of love is clearly time. At least it is for Hillary Clinton, who’s been learning what Stevie Wonder knew all along — that love’s a crazy game:
But all is changed with time
The future no one can see
The road you leave behind
Ahead lies mystery
And that mystery (to Clinton, anyway) has so many facets.
Why are so many women who always cherished her now opting for Bernie Sanders? Why are so many young women who should admire her enthralled with Sanders? Why are some black voters expected to dote on her feeling some warm stirrings for the Vermont senator? And why does Nevada — whose caucuses this week were supposed to serve as a potent potion fending off anyone seeking to steal her betrothed, since she won the popular vote there in 2008 — suddenly seem ready to split its affections? We all know the answer: Love stinks.
We also know there’s a thin line between love and hate, as The Persuaders sang to us almost a half-century ago. Now it describes former bromancers Cruz and Donald Trump. Once buddies, now mutually spurned, they’re engaged in a civil war in the South, as Trump threatens to make the breakup formal with a lawsuit over Cruz’ citizenship.
Meanwhile, everyone’s best man, John Kasich, continues to spread good cheer, waxing optimistically and refusing to speak ill of his competitors. Love conquers all
Ben Carson wants to be the crush of evangelicals, but is polling around 7 percent in South Carolina. Still, this helps Trump by hurting Cruz, because there’s only so much love to go around.
Speaking of evangelicals, for all the candidates’ sincere professions to be faithful, few seem infused with the biblical sense of love — you know, the one that declares that love “is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
Which is from, as Trump would say, One Corinthians.
And what about our relationships, dear voters? We keep playing this crazy game, too. We search for that special someone who really speaks to us, who thinks what we think and makes our hearts flutter with the promise of possibility. Maybe we all are Marilyn Monroe.
Lovers come and go, said Monroe, who knew a couple things about love and politicians. “And baby, I hate to say it, most of them — actually pretty much all of them are going to break your heart,” she said, “but you can’t give up because if you give up, you’ll never find your soul mate.”
So here’s to love, wherever you find it.
Michael Dobie is a member of Newsday’s editorial board.