Two starkly different sets of images emerged in recent days of the state of politics in 2016. Both claim to reflect reality, and, to an extent, both do.
While Americans are transfixed by one of the most bizarre presidential election races in memory, an event that could likely have a much greater impact upon public policy in the United States is the disposition of the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Such vacancies are always attended by great moment as the tenure of the appointees can extend for many decades, long beyond the term of the president nominating. Scalia for example, was appointed by President Ronald Reagan some 30 years ago.
Despite the close, three-way race for the Republican Iowa caucus on Monday, one is reminded that to a large extent, this is a game of expectations, and by that standard, third-place finisher Marco Rubio might have emerged as the real winner.
However, Donald Trump leading in polls in almost every other state is still a force to reckon with, and Ted Cruz actually finished first. A conclusion that can be drawn from this result is that the nomination contest won't be a cakewalk for anyone, and will continue on longer than some expected just a few days ago.
As U.S. President Barack Obama enters the final year of his presidency his popular support level has slipped below the 50 per cent mark overall, but in the area of foreign policy it is significantly lower, and has regularly registered below 40 per cent in public approval for some months.
Much of the problem seems to stem from international events and the ubiquity of terrorism pursued by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), among others, that do not comport with the kind of world that the president aspires to.
BY GEOFFREY STEVENS
There was something profoundly sad, almost pathetic, about the performance of President Barack Obama in his nationally televised town hall meeting on gun control last week.