Saturday, March 24, 2007

March 2007 update for 2008 Presidential campaign


Why is there so much buzz this week about Bill Richardson? This buzzing keeps saying, yeah, he should be the guy, but he can’t win. This is the most likely VP candidate, whoever wins, because he brings so much to the ticket --Hispanic vote, Southwest vote, foreign and administrative experience. He also has the only reasonable outside chance for the nomination win if the front runners blow up. The usual qualifications about it being way too early to tell apply here, of course, but what fun would it be not to make predictions.

The forecast here is that Richardson will be the only nominee left running with more than a nominal share of the pledged electors after the February 5th primaries next year excluding, of course, Obama and Clinton. He will be perfectly positioned to throw his support to either of the front runners, locking in his own VP selection. This makes him very important. And yet, I can’t shake this weird feeling that if there is any Bill Clinton/Jimmy Carter-small-state-governor-comes-from-nowhere-to-win-it-all story, he is it.

That also means that John Edwards will no longer be in it after the first big primary (which will include California and probably New York), if he even gets that far. His campaign is already spinning wheels despite the emotional uptick he probably expects from the emotional news conference this week involving his wife’s cancer. Everyone thinks that Edwards is a nice guy, a smart guy (even if they disagree with his policies) and there is not a whiff of scandal about him. Nevertheless, visceral reactions are so important in presidential politics. The image the youthful looking and handsome Edwards gives casts is an inexperienced but pretty deer caught in the headlights. Bambi is probably the right image.

Edwards is too Southern for the North and too liberal for the South. The taint of failure, although more Kerry’s fault than his own, still sticks to him and won’t be forgotten quickly. If he were my opponent I would be thankful for the hysterical video of him combing his hair and making up his face, to the West Side Story, I Feel Pretty. If you haven’t seen it, Google it now.

Besides, do you know one likely voter, who says they are for Edwards.

As for Al Gore and the rumors that he is going to use his Oscar to vault into the race -- oh, c’mon. If you had watched him testify to the Congress this week, you’d know why he can’t win. Even when he is on HIS topic, global warming, he speaks in such a so slow, drawn out fashion, it is just too painful to think about listening to him for four years. More wooden than he used to be. And I voted for him in 2000.

However, he clearly slimmed down quite a bit since his appearance on the Oscars a few weeks ago. Some say that is because he is going to run. Maybe its just because he is going to run, or he got a good look at himself in the mirror.


Someone who has gone under the radar yet deserves at least a small how do you do, is Congressman Duncan Hunter, Republican representative from San Diego. His campaign will not go anywhere fast with heavyweights like McCain and Giuliani in the field, but his presidential sounding name (it’s the one a novelist would pick), his long resume in Congress and his conservative credentials, suggest he is another likely VP candidate, as it would go a long way to succoring the social conservatives who are a little queasy about Giuliani and McCain. Here’s a mini-bio if you have never heard of him:

Vietnam veteran
Elected to House of Representatives in 1980 (San Diego)
House Armed Services Committee from the get go.
4 years as chairman until the Democrats took over the house this year

A few words about Newt Gingrich. He spoke in public recently along with Mario Cuomo at Cooper Union (celebrating the hall where Lincoln started his campaign in 1860) and also once with Senator Chuck Schumer (I suspect they have the same publisher as Gingrich has been plugging Schumer’s book, and that’s just weird). Gingrich’s observation that Democrats and Republicans should campaign on the same stage to help take the poison out of the system was shown to be true, as these were both civil and fascinating discussions.

Gingrich is, in my humble opinion, whether or not you agree with his politics, simply the most ingenious and articulate of all the potential or actual candidates. He brims with new ideas about national security, technology, healthcare, education, fund raising and the ridiculous length of the campaign season. So, it’s a shame that . . .

. . . he is just far too partisan. His actions leading the House while Clinton was in office were politically successful and severely damaged both the president and the Democratic party, as well as the country. That degree of aggression towards political adversaries comes with a big price. It is why he is no longer Speaker or even in the Congress at all. Besides that, his interest in bringing MORE religion into politics almost certainly rules him out for those of us who want a secular government. If Gingrich runs at all, he says he will not announce until the Fall. In the meantime, if you get a chance, listen to him talk. He is his own think tank.

Republican Representative Ron Paul from Texas, really a small “l” libertarian, has announced his candidacy on C-Span last week. He is one of the few Republicans running who is against the war. Paul is a physician who has been in and out of Congress for a while now. Libertarians often attract and repel people from both parties. Paul would attract Democrats with his anti-war position, but repel them with his strong pro-life stance. Visa versa for the Republicans. Personally, he is hard not to like, but lacks anything one might mistake for charisma. Look for him to go nowhere in a hurry.

As for the big boys, Rudy and McCain (which sounds like a good title for a tv show), my early prejudice towards McCain looks wobbly because Giuliani has been literally doubling his numbers in polls. Despite the odds against him, I’m sticking with my tentative pick for the meantime. If McCain can stay focused and calm, I believe that Giuliani’s negatives will start to be noticed, particularly his tyrannical ways and his first amendment debacles (see my post from a few weeks ago). Also, although it should not matter at all, the video of him in drag flirting with Donald Trump is going to be played over and over again. I appreciate politicians who dress in drag. But, it is really creepy to see. If the Democrats are smart, they will not mention it and let the video play on people’s mind.

However, McCain’s strategy of sidling up to Social Conservatives hasn’t worked because they will not forgive him for bucking the Bush administration on too many issues, which they don’t believe Giuliani will do, despite his socially liberal views (they are wrong about that). At the same time, McCain is alienating moderates and independents with his pro-War position. He should take a note from Gingrich and fire every consultant he has. No one believes the Straight Talk Express is anything but a name this time.

What’s next?

The debates next month. This may be the first time we all get to hear the candidates practice the canned speeches that pose as authentic answers to questions which they will then repeat over and over again for the next 19 months or so until we want to scream. Get ready for hypocrisy, which is usually overwhelming, but try and have a sense of humor about it.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:22 PM

    Hey Neil Simon,
    "I feel Pretty" was From "West Side Story"-not "My Fair Lady"
    Your faithful reader-


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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .