Presidential Campaign

Presidential Campaign

Delay Does Not Help Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson was the missing figure at the Republican debate in New Hampshire. The race is happening without him. I think that his delay in running will hurt him in two ways: First, he looks weak and disinterested and his delay just fuels speculation that he lacks the fire in the belly.  The longer he stays out, the more people will question his work ethic and his heart for the race. Second, the more he lets suspense build, the more he will disappoint when he actually runs. He raises expectations and he will probably fall short of them when he has to appear, unscripted and without the stage makeup and flattering camera angles he gets on “Law & Order.”

Jeri Thompson is a Hottie. Deal With It.

Va-va-va-voom! Fred Thompson’s wife is a hottie.

Do a Google image search for the name “Jeri Thompson” and check out the photo of her in the blue dress standing in front of a purple backdrop with her husband. If that woman doesn’t strike a note with red-blooded American men, I don’t know who would. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of. At least, it didn’t used to be.

The GOP is in deep, deep trouble. From political correctness to greed to power lust, politicians and pundits alike have been trapped by a nonsensical swirl of blather that confuses sensational distractions for meaningful issues. The latest — and most salacious — example is a comment made by Joe Scarborough as he wondered aloud about Mrs. Thompson’s aerobic exercise habits.

In a nutshell, Scarborough engages Tracy Burgess, a very attractive, physically fit news anchor, in a conversation about the new fitness fad, pole dancing. Craig Crawford, a guest on the show, gets drawn into the conversation and admits to seeing an episode of “Oprah” where pole dancing as exercise was demonstrated and we learn that Teri Hatcher, according to Crawford, does it to stay fit. All this tedious conversation leads to the following exchange, which has conservatives caught up in the latest nonsensical swirl of blather:

Republican Presidential Candidates Threaten Nuclear Bombing of Iran

The Republican presidential candidates have a big problem, which is why they spent the last debate criticizing George Bush.

Consider what these presidential candidates said about the incompetence, mismanagement and negligence of George Bush’s failures for the first four years of the Iraq war.

The core problem for Republican presidential candidates is this: They are forced to continue to support the escalation of the war, while they are forced to appeal to a hard-core, right-wing base that is far out of touch with American opinion.

What do they do? They start talking about the option of dropping nuclear bombs on Iran.

Everybody who believes this is what Americans want, a new war in the Middle East and our country dropping nuclear bombs, raise your hands.

The Eddie Haskell of the Presidential Race

Eddie Haskell is alive and well and running for president. You remember him, the fellow with the big smile and crew cut on “Leave it to Beaver” — always there with a solicitous comment, sucking up to the Cleavers. “What a nice dress, Mrs. Cleaver; gosh, your dinner smells so good, Mrs. Cleaver; where did you get that handsome tie, Mr. Cleaver?”

Every time I see Mitt Romney now, I can’t help but visualize Eddie Haskell. The perfect dresser, the slick hair, the smile, the tilt of the head. He just wants to please sooooo bad. Now, with Mike Huckabee there is something genuine — honest, passionate, likeable. McCain is tough as nails and in your face, but he’s someone you would want watching your back. Rudy, well, he is Rudy — all New York, all 9/11, all the time.

Buy What You’re Selling

Watching the Republicans meet again last night to straddle the Iraq war question, straddle the Bush question, rip the immigration bill to shreds and attempt, politely, to rip into their rivals, I was struck by how much Rudy Giuliani genuinely appears to enjoy himself. The others squirm — natural, of course, in a debate setting — but the mayor seems ready for every question. No matter what you think of Rudy, he buys what he is selling, and he received consistent applause from the New Hampshire crowd for his confident, unambiguous answers.

At the opening Mitt Romney was asked the proverbial looking-back-now-should-we-have-attacked-Iraq question, which he termed "a non sequitur" before providing a tortured non-answer. A giddy Giuliani pounced on it, saying it was "absolutely" the right thing to do, that the United States could never have left Saddam Hussein in charge of Iraq and fought the war on terror and that it is a mistake to consider Iraq in a vacuum since it is part of the overall threat.

Thunder on the Right Night

I'll tell you what: If John McCain says "My friends" one more time, he won't have any friends left. But then, there he was at the debate trying to gain popularity by taking the UNpopular position on the immigration legislation that is such a bugaboo to most of his fellow Republicans.

And he's not the only one. For so many in his party, Rudy Giuliani's abortion stand is such heresy that when he talked about it last night he was stopped by thunder.

In fact, two of the three GOP leaders have set themselves out as mavericks. As for the third, Mitt Romney — well, who knows where he stands? What day is this?  

The Anti-Bush Debate

Think about this. You are George Bush, you are in Europe, you have jet lag, you are having trouble sleeping. You wake up and turn on the television in the middle of the night and watch the Republican debate on CNN.

What a shock. All 10 of these country-club Republicans, nice elderly white males, are turning their howitzers on you. They are killing you on immigration, they are killing you on earmarks and profligate spending, they are killing you on running as a conservative and governing as some wild-eyed liberal. They are accusing you of mismanagement of Iraq, lack of leadership, and ruining the country.

Wait a minute. Am I dreaming? Is this the Democratic debate being replayed? They are all quoting Ronald Reagan again — it must be the Republicans. Remember their first debate, when they mentioned Reagan 19 times and Bush once? As Reagan used to say, “There you go again!”


Romney, Rudy Win Debate; McCain Loses

Mitt Romney looked good and sounded good in the debate last night. Image is a key part of politics, and Romney did very well at projecting a very good image. His answers were articulate and on target. I haven’t thought very highly of Romney in this contest, but he did very well last night. He exuded charisma.

Giuliani also did very well. While looking older than Romney, he did a very good job of addressing the issue of terrorism and showing his toughness and good sense. His answers were sharp and to the point. He embarrassed CNN’s Wolf Blitzer by asking whether the media would cover good news in Iraq with as much relish as it covers bad news. Rudy entered the debate as the front-runner and left it in the same condition.


Ruminations on Romney

I was wrong about Mitt Romney.

Before the first debate hosted by MSNBC, I predicted the forums would benefit the handsome Massachusetts Republican who’s been described as “slick” in the media  because A) they would give him the national exposure he wasn’t getting (indeed, he’s getting attention, though to little avail nationally); and B) because I thought he was a better communicator than the other candidates.

Tonight, however, I admit I was wrong. In fact, I would judge tonight’s performance as Romney’s worst of the three debates held to date. On the matter of his Spanish-language ads, the governor proved incapable of thinking on his feet. He failed to answer a fairly innocuous question posed by a member of the audience, who asked Romney why he is airing campaign ads in Spanish if he believes English should be the nation’s official language.

Romney, caught off guard by the alleged “flip-flop” (I would argue it’s not a contradiction, though Romney didn’t even challenge the premise of the question), went into sound-bite mode with a prefabricated answer to a question that wasn’t asked. It came off as confusing.


Scandals Fade As Issue in 2008

Voters were galvanized by the corruption issue in 2006, and their anger led them to expel the Republicans from control in Congress. But that was then and this is now. The limited ethics reforms of the new Democratic Congress — and the very fact that the Democrats threw the Republicans out — have largely appeased the electorate, and congressional corruption does not loom large as an issue with 2008 approaching.

But that is not to say that corruption will not become a factor in the presidential race. House and Senate Democrats, warming to the investigative powers their committee chairmanships confer upon them, are likely to leave a trail of blood through hearings and investigations that may make corruption in the executive branch a big issue by the time 2008 comes around. The close relationship between lobbyists and regulators throughout the Bush administration will make red meat for a new round of corruption scandals.