Sunday, April 15, 2007

2008 Part One

I just can't start without repeating a story I just read regarding my least favorite public servant, Dick Cheney. Answering a question about his former chief of staff Scooter Libby, Old Cuddly Dick revealed that he hadn't so much as phoned Libby to offer sympathy for his legal woes in the six months Libby's been gone from the Cheney staff. Why not? "I haven't had occasion to." said the Big Guy. Guess he doesn't want a new reputation as some kind of sob sister.

Just for fun, lets take a look at the next presidential election, first from the Republican side. They don't suffer from a shortage of guys (all of them guys) who think they're up to the job, and they have a variety of backgrounds. You can get a who's who anywhere, but what seems odd is that the rank and file seem to be asking for even more would-be Deciders because all the candidates on the stump now seem a little....flawed.
There's John McCain, for instance. He's trying to make this tricky move from Party Maverick to Middle Right Regular Party Guy. In the process he's seen making nice with certain types he couldn't stand back in 2000 like Jerry Falwell and James Dobson, unelected GOP kingmakers whose day job is supposed to be serving the King of Kings. McCain got outmaneuvered by the Bush folks in what was meant to be anti-torture legislation, then meekly voted for the version that guaranteed he'd been ignored on the whole subject. Big John also tied his wagon to the Bush Iraq "surge" and can only hope it bears some fruit while innocent folks keep getting blown up. His campaign is so far an underachiever, lagging behind his competitors in money raising and organization. The senator is also on his second wife, which is a problem unless you're Reagan.
There's Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor. Rudy's a doer and a natural Boss, but he's not the most likable fellow, nor the type of speaker people flock to follow. His views on certain issues like abortion don't coincide with that all-important Party base, and his marital history is even worse than McCain's. His Mrs. is number three. As the closest thing to a 9/11 victim in the race, he's also bound to favor any "tough-guy" approach to Terror, whether it's workable or not.
Anyone for Mitt Romney, recent governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts? He has no ties to the Bush folks, lives near New Hampshire and has proven he can get votes in a Democratic area. What's not to like? He flipped his views on a couple of those "red blood" issues the Party has no tolerance for, and though he's happily married to his first wife, he has the misfortune of being a Mormon, which evidently people confuse with "Muslim". There's another quality about him I don't like. Whenever he proposes something, you get the feeling he's fitting the idea to the target audience, GOP primary voters, rather than really getting behind something that's original. His latest proposal? Spend more on defense. How totally unique! He looked bad last week trying to claim he's a hunter when it turns out he's not even a gun owner.
And we could go on and on. Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor, is the smiling conservative in the race, but he's not well known except for having lost a hundred pounds and run a marathon. Colorado's Ton Tancredo is against illegal immigrants, but that's about it. Sam Brownback of Kansas is a younger Bob Dole. Tommy Thompson used to be something, but no one remembers what. Fred Thompson is thinking about running even though he has a history of cancer and has steady work acting on "Law and Order" every week. And there are others.
Here's this week's bottom line. No Republican gets nominated without being somewhere on the pro-war scale. Trouble is, that war now enjoys about 30% popularity. So while any number of these guys could be good enough to make us forget Roosevelt, it's hard to move up in the polls while wearing that dopey blunder around your neck like an albatross. Historians will soon note (but you heard it here first) that the situation for Republicans resembles the Democrats' dilemma in 1968. Support the war to be nominated, then lose the election, OR oppose the war and get shredded in the primaries by members of the President's pro-war Party.
Next week, the Democratic side.


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