Monday, January 21, 2008

Back to politics


Now that midnight has struck for my beloved Packers, it's time to turn back to politics for a while. Let's look at the candidates:

Democrats:

John Edwards: It's difficult to see the rationale for his campaign at this point. He might be running for Veep now, although he's taken some hard shots at both of the front runners. Still a cheap demagogue and a phony. His last stand is South Carolina - if he doesn't win it outright, he's gone. And good riddance.

Barack Obama: He's still in it but his campaign is taking on water now. We've discussed the matter here before, but he is starting to understand how formidable the Clinton machine really is. Still full of balloon juice on all the issues, but Obama demonstrates an active intelligence that is rare among Democratic candidates, who tend to be wedded to the usual litany of programs. He's still well short of 50, so he'll have another chance, unless the Clintons destroy him, which just might happen as things get more acrimonious.

Hillary Clinton: She's looking like the nominee at this point. All of her problems remain intact: her sanctimony, her plasticity, her lack of warmth. Her organization is now effectively taking down Obama but it could be a Pyrrhic victory, given the amount of bad feeling she's generating among a lot of African-Americans, who remain the most loyal Democratic constituency. Her husband has had to do a lot of heavy lifting on the trail, too, which may end up hurting her later on. Still, if you were to lay odds on who will be the 44th president, she would be the favorite at this time.

Dennis Kucinich/Mike Gravel/etc.: Dead but too dumb to lie down.

Republicans:

John McCain: Trumpeted as the favorite by many in the media. I don't see it, though. For many reasons he remains anathema with the conservative base. He also doesn't have a lot of money and isn't likely to get much more any time soon. He has won a few contests early but he's going to be running on fumes soon. Unless he wins about half the states on Super Tuesday, he's toast. If he does survive the process, he runs as Bob Dole redux. And we know how that one ends.

Mike Huckabee: Remember Richard Gephardt? I know, I barely do either. He won the Iowa caucus, too. Huckabee hasn't won anything since that unrepresentative opening caucus. Probably running for Vice President now but he won't get the job, especially if Romney wins the nomination.

Fred Thompson: Thompson has run perhaps the most casual campaign I've ever seen. He probably is the most reliable conservative in the race, but to me it seems he's been looking for a casting director to give him the job more than he's been willing to actively campaign for the job. Since he hasn't made the effort to make the case for his candidacy, he isn't going to win.

Rudy Giuliani: You may have heard of Rudy - America's Mayor, crusading U.S. Attorney, Mr. 9-11, channeler of Uncle Miltie*. He's been hiding in the Everglades, waiting for the race to come to him. Did he wait too long? We're about to find out. My guess is that he has.

Ron Paul: Revealed as a crank. Anyone who subcontracts anything to Lew Rockwell gets what he deserves. He has no chance to be president, but will likely be a regular on the chat show circuit going forward because, like his progenitor Pat Buchanan, he is useful to the Left wearing the mantel of "conservative commentator." Paul's commitment to limited government is principled, compelling and noble. But he's still a crank.

Mitt Romney: My concerns with Romney are simple enough. He's protean, he's quick to attack, his positions on issues tend to be modular. Having said that, my guess is that he will eventually be the nominee. He has two things going for him: his executive experience and his great personal wealth. He could, if he chose, essentially self-fund his campaign. That alone may make the difference. I also suspect that whatever ill feeling his campaign has generated up to this point, he's been careful enough not to burn all the bridges. The problem is this; just as McCain reminds me of Bob Dole, Romney reminds me of John Kerry. Yes, I know that it's a facile, superficial comparison, but Romney can be attacked in much the same way Kerry was. And unlike Kerry, Romney won't get any help from the mainstream media.

* I know, the link comes from my friend Strolling Amok's blog and isn't very nice to Republicans, but that picture of Rudy - oy.

14 comments:

Dan S. said...

(Disclaimer: I'm a Romney supporter.)

Good, thoughtful post, Mark. I will, however, challenge the Romney comparison to Kerry.

You're right about Romney getting no love from the MSM. You think they hate Bush -- you ain't seen nothin' yet!

You're also right about the plastic appearance, and his opponents will try to exploit his proteanism?, proteanicity? -- er, they'll call him a flip-flopper.

Here's the difference, though, as I see it. In 2004, Kerry was the beneficiary of Howard Dean's demise and was annointed the nominee before people really got a chance to know him. Had the election been held in April of '04, Kerry would have won in a landslide. His problem was that the more people got to know about Kerry, the less they liked him.

I would argue that the opposite is true for Romney. People are saying now that he's unelectable, citing as evidence polls that show either Hillary or B. O. beating him by 20 points, but what they are forgetting is that most of the national electorate has not been introduced to Romney yet (he's that Mormon guy, right?).

The reason that Romney has done well in the states where he's campaigned, I believe, is that the more people get to know Romney, the more they like him (3 golds + 2 silvers in 6 states). So yes, he's still behind in the national polls, but there is a clear trajectory upward.

Call it wishful thinking typical of a Cubs fan if you will, but I really believe Mitt Romney can win in November.

Mark said...

Dan,

Thanks for the response. I hope you are right about Romney; on balance I think you will be right. Romney seems like a decent sort and he'd be a lot easier for me to support than McCain. It's going to be tough no matter who emerges. At least Romney will have the financial wherewithal to get his own message out. That's crucial.

Right Hook said...

Nice analysis.

I'm afraid you're correct in your conclusion of who will be the nominees. Although I'm not as wary of Romney as I once was I can't honestly say his candidacy really inspires me either. I'm still rooting for Fred, but his laid-back campaign may have been a fatal miscalculation. It's a shame that candidates are picked more on style than substance, but that's the way it seems to be.

I think Romney will weather media criticism better than Kerry because he actually has some real accomplishments (Olympics, business successes, Governorship) and is not (badly) trying to pass himself off as something he's not like Kerry did.

McCain has gotten to where he is largely with the help of independents and cross-over voters. I'm guessing (and hoping) he will falter in upcoming primaries where only Republicans are voting.

Once the GOP and Dem nominees are set there may also be the third party factor (e.g. Nader and/or Bloomberg) to consider...

Regarding your Packers...it's refreshing to see a true fan as yourself (as opposed to a lot of the contrarian just to be anti-Viking types around town) keep the perspective that it's just a game, no matter how disappointing the outcome. I have some friends and co-workers who almost warrant a suicide watch when the Pack loses a regular season game, let alone a chance to go to the big one. I listened to the Milwaukee sports talk on the internet before Rush came on and the seriousness in which some of callers take the loss of a game is nothing short of incredible. Your attitude sets a good life example for your kids over the difference between disappointment and true loss.

Mark said...

Thanks, RH. I agree with everything you said, especially about Bloomberg. He won't be able to resist.

And thanks also for the kind words about the role of fandom with the Packers or any other team. Sports are a diversion and I enjoy them greatly, but professional athletes are Hessians. You have to stay rational about it and it's a sad reality that too many of my Packer fan brethren don't get that.

Strolling Amok said...

Don't be so quick to give Hillary the crown yet. A lot of Democrats have been disgusted by the Clinton's recent behavior - and not just African-Americans. I know I have. Before this latest round I ugliness I would have been ok with either of the front runners - now I'm an Obama guy all the way. I'd still vote for her in the general election but I can't say I'd be all that upset if Romney or McCain got it instead. I sure won't be out there knocking on doors for her.
I won't pretend to have any deep insight into what motivates Republican voters but your arguments on Romney getting it sound credible to me. I can live with that. If we do get a Republican in the Whitehouse at least it would be one who has absolutely no commitment to Republican issues.

Daria said...

That was Rudy???

I thought it was Hillary's latest makeover!

- D

Mark said...

Understandable you'd think that, Daria - I'm reasonably certain that HRC wore something like that at one of the inaugural balls in Little Rock circa 1982 or thereabouts.

Mark said...

SA,

I know, Democrats like you are really angry about Hillary's conduct. Two questions:

1) Are there enough of you to make a difference? I'm guessing not.

2) Tell the truth - was it really worth it for your party to save Bill's butt back in 1999?

Gino said...

i'm rooting for Nat "Obama" Turner to over run the plantation and take the machete to "Whitey" Hillary.

just like the real Nat Turner (whom i have admiration for), i fear the worse for him.

i cant help it. I Like Obama. on a personal level as one would a celebrity.
(i could never vote for him,though)

Strolling Amok said...

Mark - response to your questions:

1) Are there enough of us? Maybe there will be if Obama can learn to counter-punch without getting dragged down in the mud himself. He's obviously learning on the job. So I'll get back to you on that one.

2) 1999? Yeah, whatever the political consequences I'm still pleased that the Repuglicans weren't allowed to dump that particular load on the constitution.
And what about you? Given what the Beloved Leader has done to your party are you still glad about Rehnquist electing him back in 2000?

Mark said...

SA,

A couple of quick points, then an answer to your question.

1) What load did the Republicans "dump on the Constitution?" They followed the rules for impeachment to the letter. What they did was entirely constitutional.

2) Rehnquist didn't decide the election, either. All he and six of his colleagues said was that the Florida Supreme Court could not proceed as they were proceeding. And, as I'm sure you know, the various recounts that were done after the fact were unanimous that Bush won the state anyway.

Now that we've dispensed of that, let's get to your question. First, Bush is not my "Beloved Leader." He's the president, duly elected twice by the rules set forth in the Constitution. So the notion that you could have a do-over is ludicrous on its face. And as for what he's supposedly done to the Republican Party, well, let's think about that for a minute. I know you remember 1986; Reagan was mired in scandal and the Democrats roared back and took the Senate. Everyone was talking then about how the coalition that Reagan had assembled was dead and how it was inevitable that the Democrats would return to power in 1988. Do you remember President Dukakis?

I've been hearing that the Republican coalition is in ruins for my entire life. I heard that it was 1964 all over again in 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and now 2008. Sometimes Democrats win elections. More often than not in my lifetime, they haven't. And when they have, they've done it by blurring the edges of their ideology, cf. "born again" Carter and DLC majordomo Clinton running on a "middle-class tax cut" that, darn the luck, never materialized. This time HRC and your guy aren't even pretending they aren't liberals. Let's see what happens.

And as for Bush's performance in office, which you've termed a disaster; he's had some troubles, but he's going to look a lot better in 20 years. Don't believe me? Compare how Reagan was viewed in 1988 and how he's viewed now. Watch and see.

Strolling Amok said...

Thanks for the response Mark. I won't drop anymore Democratic bile on you today. I'll just quote Peggy Noonan from today's WSJ - you're a fan of hers if i recall correctly:
"George W. Bush destroyed the Republican Party, by which I mean he sundered it, broke its constituent pieces apart and set them against each other. He did this on spending, the size of government, war, the ability to prosecute war, immigration and other issues. Were there other causes? Yes, of course. But there was an immediate and essential cause. And this needs saying, because if you don't know what broke the elephant you can't put it together again. The party cannot re-find itself if it can't trace back the moment at which it became lost. It cannot heal an illness whose origin is kept obscure."

Mark said...

Thanks, SA - I just read Peggy's column and while I like her immensely, I think she's greatly overstating the case. But there's probably a post in there somewhere. Do I dare to fisk the great Peggy Noonan?

Gino said...

peggy is right.
spot on.

after yrs as an activist and operative, i left the GOP in 97, with a hope to return if they got it together.
as a result of bush v gore election: i refused to go to the polls on 2000.
i saw what the GOP had in bush, and i wasnt surprised things happened the way they did.

used to be, somebody with my views was welcome in GOP debate. now, they wont debate these ideas, and instead label Ron Paul as crazy,or worse. the GOP of 21st century has become the DNC of the 20th century.

when was the last time you saw a GOP nominee talk about expanding freedom in america? how bout 1984.