Presidential Campaign

Presidential Campaign

A Tale of Two Biographies

The biography of Hillary by Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta, Her Way, is really worth reading. It contains lots of new insights, the product of diligent investigative reporting by two of the best. The chapters on her positions on Iraq and how they respond not to military facts but to poll data are very good and their tracking of her Senate ethical improprieties, while not surprising, are still riveting. The Clintons have tried to spin this book as about their marriage. They wish it were. Instead it is about a politician addicted to lying and misrepresenting herself.

Carl Bernstein's book, A Woman in Charge, by the same publisher who put out Bill's memoirs, is a far more friendly treatment of the senator and, while well written, has nothing really important and new to say.  Unfortunately, it ends its narrative in 2001 just when Hillary started her Senate career and her presidential run.

One even is given to suspect that the Bernstein book is part of an effort to tone down coverage of the truly interesting stuff in the Gerth volume.

Fred Thompson to the Rescue?

He hears a cry of distress. He steps into a phone booth. He dons his red cape. He leaps into action … It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Fred Thompson!

Yes, in what many Republicans hope will be a repeat of 1980, another actor is flying to the rescue of the beleaguered GOP. According to, Fred Thompson will file papers forming a campaign committee in early June, and officially announce his candidacy for president over the July 4 holiday.

Granted, it doesn’t take much to excite members of the Washington punditocracy. Nevertheless, Fred Thompson’s belated entry into the race has left even veteran reporters positively orgasmic — with little apparent reason.

No one can deny that, with the exception of Ron Paul, the current Republican field is decidedly unimpressive. Neither the Mayor nor the Senator nor the Used Car Salesman is setting the world on fire. But what makes Fred Thompson better than the other 10 candidates already in the race? And what does Thompson stand for? Does anybody really know?

A Squeaky-Clean GOP Contender

Yes, it had been a good week for Mitt Romney, and that poll showing social conservatives choosing to stick with Rudy Giuliani despite his rejection of their principles must have had America's Mayor bouncing all over the Big Apple.

But that was then, and this is now. Now that Big Fred is here, the whole game has changed. And if you're a Republican running for president and you're not Fred Thompson, you're running scared. No, he is not the second coming of Ronald Reagan. But beyond his star power, his Southern drawl, his commanding 6-foot-6 frame, is Thompson's ace in the hole: there is nothing wrong with him. Big Fred sprints virtually clean onto a field of negatives — Romney's a Mormon flip-flopper, Rudy's a social liberal protested by 9/11 firefighters and their families wherever he goes with ethically challenged associates like Bernard Kerik, and after six years of courting them, the base just doesn't like poor John McCain. So Thompson may have had an active bachelor career? It hardly stacks up.

What's more, it sounds like Team Thompson is a force to be reckoned with, given their shrewd plan to come out strong from the starting gate — time the dropping of the bomb to ruin the next GOP debate and plot the collection of a boffo war chest before a formal announcement.

Mr. Nice Guy and More

Mitt Romney is finally having a good week. A new Des Moines Register poll has found him ahead of Sen. John McCain and Rudy Giuliani in the key state of Iowa, where Romney is diligently plotting for victory at the Aug. 11 straw poll in Ames to pave his way for victory in the caucuses. By the way, he is ahead by a LOT — he is at 30 percent to McCain’s 18 percent and Rudy’s 17 percent.

With this momentum Romney should probably stop attacking McCain and set his sights on the solid lead Giuliani still holds. Even after the drama at the debates, sparked because Rudy dared to state his real position on abortion, he remains the frontrunner and a new Pew research poll shows social conservatives willing to abide Giuliani’s heretic social views because they think he is a winner.

A Shelf-ful of Hillary

Nobody knows what impact Hillary Rodham Clinton may have on the economy as a whole, but it looks like she’s going to, single-handedly, save the publishing industry.

I already have a shelf full of Hillary books: by Dick Morris, David Brock, Gail Sheehy, Susan Estrich and Laura Ingraham, among others. And now there are three — count ’em, THREE! — new books on Hillary: one by Watergate legend Carl Bernstein; one by New York Times reporters Jeff Gerth and Don van Natta; and one by Bay Buchanan.

From what I’ve seen so far, not one of them contains anything new. And not one of them is worth reading. Among their exciting “tidbits:”

A Week She’d Rather Forget

This is a week Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is looking forward to putting behind her. First it was the leaked memo on her weak standing in Iowa and whether or not she should potentially decide to skip the caucuses rather than risk losing them. Needless to say, the break-in at the Fort Knox of Clinton campaign discipline was quite newsworthy and managed to completely overshadow a healthcare speech she gave Wednesday. Then yesterday Clinton had to bow to the anti-war left and vote against the supplemental war-funding bill, a sacrifice to her general election strategy she will not be rewarded for. Today The Washington Post is carrying a story about two new Hillary books by credible reporters — one by Carl Bernstein and another by Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta — that drag back all the dirt Clinton’s voracious scrubbing has kept at bay all these years.

The authors write about Clinton’s refusal to allow Bill to leave her for a longtime girlfriend and that in spite she considered running for governor of Arkansas to succeed him. The plan didn’t last long, according to Bernstein’s book, because The Hill columnist and blogger Dick Morris polled the voters and found Arkansans weren’t interested. They also write that Clinton decided on a run for president two decades ago.

Get Ready

One of the finalists for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) campaign theme song is The Temptations’ “Get Ready.” That’s the winner, in my book.

We should all “Get Ready” for a Hillary administration.

She has said that when she is president, she will cut healthcare spending by $120 billion. So we should all get ready by stockpiling all of the life-saving drugs we can get our hands on. With Hillary in charge, healthcare will get a good deal worse for the average American.

Hillary has done a masterful job in positioning herself at the center-right of her party (which is still much further left than most Americans are willing to go). But let’s not kid ourselves, Hillary’s heart is still at the far left of the political spectrum.

Mike Henry’s misadventure

Someone named Mike Henry is having a horrible day. I even wonder if he is still employed by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, having dared to do the unthinkable and break her perfect record for campaign discipline. Henry either leaked his memo about her skipping Iowa in the ’08 primaries or he let that memo float into the hands of a leaker. It is hard to believe he got sloppy; all Clinton employees know better.

The idea to ditch the caucuses, according to breathless and categorical statements from Howard Wolfson and other top campaign staff, was Henry’s and Henry’s alone and was soundly rejected by everyone in HillaryWorld, including Sen. Clinton herself. She denounced the idea and said she is “unalterably” committed to competing in Iowa, while spokesman Phil Singer said they are “unequivocally committed” to competing in Iowa. Sounds like they are going!

Ron Who??!

Just who is Ron Paul? Ask anyone on the Hill and they’ll tell you he’s a quirky House back-bencher often heralded for his “libertarian” views on issues. That’s not how I see it. For years, I’ve witnessed Congressman Paul (R-Texas) trot to the well of the House, only to vote no on seemingly every issue critical to this country. I’m not kidding — he’s voted against entire defense bills and the war in Iraq. “Well, he opposes the war,” you retort. OK, but why vote against farm bills? Water-quality bills? Anti-terrorism legislation? Education bills? Bills where he is the only Republican to vote no? To hear Congressman Paul tell his story, he doesn’t think the federal government should be involved in those issues. So why, then, is Ron Paul in Congress?!? Isn’t that his job — to ensure the taxpayer’s dollars are spent wisely and on the services that are necessary to run the Commonwealth? And now this guy wants to run for president??! Give me a break! There are far more qualified individuals who deserve a slot on that stage, and Ron Paul isn’t one of ’em.

Romney is ultimate flip-flopper

Flip-flops. John Kerry must be mad as hell. This crowd of Republicans is making his much publicized comment, “I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it” look like a simple statement of fact.

What I wonder is, has the flood of flip-flops from the Republicans made it safe to change positions at will? Does anybody in the Republican Party care about the about-faces that these candidates are engaging in on a daily basis? These aren’t evolving positions, these aren’t candidates getting wiser or processing new information — these are all about integrity and core beliefs versus putting your finger up to the political winds and going whichever way the wind is blowing that day.

Romney is the ultimate weathervane in a hurricane. More pro-gay rights than Ted Kennedy, now gay bashing. Pro-gun control, pro-Brady bill, pro-assault weapons ban, now a “hunter” (twice) and a lifetime member of the NRA (since last August). Pro-choice, now pro-life. For immigration reform, now against it.