Gypsies, I’m told, use tea leaves to peer into the future. Here, in the Southwest Oregon woods where logging is king, we’re short on tea but long on sawdust. If you have any gift for prescience at all, you can get just about as good with sawdust as soggy tea leaves. Herein, what this scribe sees on the sawmill floor.

With the more important – and reliable – polling numbers not moving more than a point or two from week to week, the presidential campaign appears to be over. It’s certainly devolved into mud wrestling. Everybody’s getting caked. But even with Mr. Ryan on the ticket – maybe especially with Mr. Ryan on the ticket – the Romney team can probably get ready to close the offices and buy the hard drives on the computers. Again. And from this point on, the billionaires on both sides could do better financially in cotton futures.

The debut of Ryan on the GOP ticket got almost no bounce at all in polling. Now, a guy who’s led all his sheltered adult life at the public trough, is finding out the national media is a more curious animal than the Wisconsin branch of the family he’s been used to. Skeletons are coming out of closets not opened previously and thorough examinations of his voting record in Congress are uncovering his Vlad-The-Impaler political philosophy.

His “bold political leadership” has also taken a hard hit upon close scrutiny. Seems in a dozen years of “service,” his total accomplishment getting bills passed is two: one naming a post office in his district for his predecessor in office and one getting rid of excise taxes on bow hunting equipment. Mr. Ryan, it seems, is an ardent bow hunter but certainly no personal parallels should be drawn there. Not that we need a bunch of new laws. But if someone is proclaimed a leader, it would follow he would “lead” by using his legislative tools and prowess to make a better world. Not so Mr. Ryan.

In a few days, the blood bath formerly called the Republican National Convention will take place in Tampa. Expect a slight polling bump there, too, though not as much as if Ms. Palin made a speech in the parking lot next door or did something else to steal the spotlight. Her numbers would be higher. Bet on it.

Inside the hall, it’ll likely be mayhem. Republicans currently have more splits than a chorus line and a slate of speakers guaranteed to ignore a lot of those present while boring the rest of us. The Ron Paul folks – few as there may be – will likely be on their best disruptive behavior. And others in the Party base, unhappy with the Romney-Ryan eventual nomination, seem poised to raise Hell. Sounds more like Democrats than the trusty old GOP.

Speaking of the donkeys, look for lots of love and attempts at inclusion in a few weeks. No challenges to the ticket and lots of Kumbaya. I’d prefer to see a little kicking and scratching but nothing on the schedule portends that.

For the rest of the electorate, the mud wrestling is not likely to have a positive effect and many will probably tune out most of it until November. By then, the four major contenders will be unrecognizable.

Already, the talking heads are using Ouija boards to pick the winner. And they’re looking ahead to 2016 with more top-of-the-head projections trying to be the first to name the next candidates for president. In your scribe’s ever-humble opinion, that’s a useless exercise. Until November 7th – the day after the election. Then the sawdust may reveal a hint of the future.

If Obama wins, he and Joe can go back to the office, Romney can go back to making more millions and Ryan can go back to – whatever. If Romney wins, he and Paul move into the White House, Obama joins Clinton as an elder statesman and Joe can build that model railroad he’s always wanted.

To project the 2016 presidential race, you’ve got to look to the other end of Constitution Avenue. If the dam of obstructionism in the House and the filibuster barrier in the Senate are broken by new majorities of sufficient size, then 2016 may be a lot clearer. If one party gets all-out control of both houses, the entire national political scene is a new ball game. If not, it’s four more years of the same and I seriously question if our national political system can sustain itself in that case.

If the current congressional splits aren’t eliminated November 6th, the do-nothingness will continue. In that case, only the Bachman’s, Paul’s and Gingrich’s of the world will want to run again. Republicans of more mental substance will likely do the same as they did this time – steer clear of the whole thing. Same for talented Democrats.

But if voters get rid of most of the ideological riffraff and the stage is set for some action to solve our national ills, better talent in both parties might come to the surface. Could be – as the Democrats are wont to sing – “Happy days are here again.”

So the outlook for 2016 will likely stay hidden in the sawdust until we’ve all trooped to the polls. It’s in our hands now.

And November 7th? Well, keep an eye on those Romney hard drives.

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