Presidential Campaign

Presidential Campaign

Partisanship At Its Purest

In our paper today Sam Youngman reports that Bob Bauer, the Democratic lawyer whose services are retained by none other than Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), argued in a blog that liberals should want President Bush to pardon I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. With the news that Libby must appeal his conviction from prison, the drumbeat from conservatives will become noisier — and Bauer thinks progressives should join the chorus. Why, you might ask? Because then Bush will finally own the story. "Presidential fingerprints, so far nowhere to be found in this case, will surface at last, indelibly, on the pardon," Bauer wrote on The Huffington Post yesterday. 

Rudy Beats Hillary

I was watching Fox News at 10 last night, when they presented an interesting Fox Dynamics Poll. If the election were held today, the poll concluded, Rudy Giuliani would beat Hillary Clinton 47-45, with 13 percent undecided.

Talk about campaign themes. "Rudy Beats Hillary" should be on bumper stickers all across the country.

I can’t think of any other national Republican beating a leading Democratic candidate in any poll.

Given the state of the Republican Party brand, this is great news for Republican stalwarts.

Fred Thompson Will Drain All But Rudy

Polls show that a big part of the vote that John McCain and Mitt Romney are getting in the Republican primaries, to say nothing of the vote that Newt Gingrich could get if he runs, comes from people who are turned off by Giuliani's social liberalism rather than turned on by any specific attraction to one of the candidates. This vote is now split four ways — among McCain, Romney, Fred Thompson, and Gingrich. If Fred Thompson gets into the race next month, it will drift to him and concentrate in his corner.

McCain is not a good place for social conservatives to hang out because of his support for the immigration bill, among other liberal legislation. Romney's flip-flop-flips on abortion and gay rights make him highly suspect. And Newt isn't running yet. So if a true believer with no history of flip-flops and no offsetting liberal positions on other issues gets into the race, as Fred may, he will pick up a lot of these votes now parked among the other candidates.

The Dancers and the Jesters

First of all: I don’t know why everyone is so excited. Joe Scarborough wasn’t wising off about pole dancing on his program. He’s a politician ... a recovering congressman. Joe was talking about POLL dancing. All the candidates do it.

Speaking of Fred Thompson: He’s not the only one playing on the sidelines. Let’s not forget Newt Gingrich, who is hanging back, polishing his lecture about the book he’s reading this year.

Nor should we overlook Al Gore, Mr. Charisma, and his lectures about the book he’s written. Now Gore is advocating global cooling — reason in public debate, which, when you think about it, is totally unreasonable. Right now, he’s on his “I’m no running but please keep asking me” tour.

The Politics of America’s Post-Sept. 11 Safety

Are swarms of Democratic primary voters suddenly turning against Sen. Hillary Clinton this week? Did her response at the debate about the United States being safer, but not safe enough, since September 11th finally confirm for wavering voters that she is too right-wing for the left of her party?

Sen. Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards sure hope so. Obama released a statement the following day aimed at Clinton, titled “America Is Not Safer Since 9/11,” that included data on the increasing terrorist threat. He is familiar with how threatening the subject is since Clinton’s more macho response at the first debate in South Carolina left Obama struggling to restore his terrorism credentials. Unlike her response, Obama’s did not start by mentioning a retaliatory attack.

Edwards was out yesterday saying that yes, he too once said in 2003 we were safer since September 11th, but as the Iraq war has dragged on — just like he did on the war itself — he has changed his mind. Obama said in 2004 that improved airline security had made us safer. And of course Sen. John Kerry said in 2004 that the response to this question was an “easy one,” and replied yes. But he added that the president’s foreign policy had made the country less safe overall.

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.