Considering Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been busy pushing a state healthcare proposal that is pretty much a carbon copy of the reforms Mitt Romney instituted in Massachusetts… Considering that the good old “Terminator” is vocally pro-abortion, a position identical to the one Mitt Romney faithfully held before his recent run for president… Considering they both are kinda hunky guys that entered politics after making their millions in the action-packed private sector… I was a little surprised to see Arnold backing John McCain and not good ol’ Mitt. But, then again, there are some shared points of view between the former POW and the former Barbarian. McCain’s immigration position is much closer to Gov. Schwarzeneggar than the typical Republican’s tough-talking, “round them up and send them back” attitude. And both the Mackster and Schwazzie speak the language of “global warming” like a couple of Al Gore wannabes, instead of the odd, non-committal “climate change” language that most of the GOP uses. You know, sort of like water-boarding not being actual torture, more like a water sport, I suppose. And of course, McCain is against torture (including waterboarding, if waterboarding is actually torture, which it may well be, but he’s not saying that it is.) And here, I’m pretty sure Arnold concurs. But most of all, they have both honorably and bravely served their country ––one in Vietnam, the other in the movie Predator. Which is pretty much what this endorsement signifies: more theater in the greatest show on earth. American politics.
Giuliani’s gamble came up bust. John Edwards is packing it in. And Hillary gets more votes in Florida––a contest that the DNC said they were not going to count––than the Republican victor, John McCain. All of which makes Super Tuesday a bit more super. Not Super Bowl super, you understand, but pretty darn super. The two-person Democratic race will be all the more defining without Edwards siphoning off voters and delegates. We will discover whether the two Clintons can go a straight week without race-baiting and––with their combined “experience”–– whether they are capable of behaving more…oh, I don’t know…presidential? We’ll see if the endorsement of Barack Obama by three living Kennedys gives him more street cred with Democrats or just frightens off the independents and the alleged Obama Republicans. And we’ll see if McCain really has this thing in the bag. And if Ron Paul can find another hobby.
Okay. I say we give it to her. I mean, she wants this thing. So much so, she was a pouting little no-show for her South Carolina concession speech. So much that she is allegedly planning to sweep into Florida Tuesday night and proclaim her latest victory. Wait just a second! That can’t be right! Can it? The Democratic National Committee has declared Florida off limits to Democratic candidates. No exceptions. Oh, but that surely couldn’t apply to a Clinton. They are a political dynasty. You know, like those Bushes. America’s very own royal family, as it were. And by the way, Hillary is also contesting the delegates from Michigan and Florida who the DNC has said will not be counted at the convention. You know, for the sake of democracy and what not. I mean, this chick really means business. So I say we give it to her. She’s the candidate. Mr. Obama, stand down. Wait your turn. I mean, she’s been wanting this since…okay, I ‘ll say it…day one.
Pitting the “people” against the “powerful” is as old as American politics itself. But, for whatever reason, populism hasn’t been getting a lot of traction this year. Populist candidate, John Edwards, came in third out of three in his own home state. And while Mike Huckabee has been the biggest of oxymorons: a populist Republican, his campaign has steadily been losing steam. Apparently, the “little guy” no longer thinks he needs a champion. Or maybe the “little guy” just realizes that it’s the powerful that have all the…um…power? Perhaps, in a bad economy we are less interested in punishing the fat cats, and more interested in them doing well. You know, so the rest of us can be gainfully employed. Perhaps, that’s what people in Florida like about Romney. He is a filthy-rich captain of industry with more money than God. He might be able to fix this economy thing. Maybe the “little guy” has subconsciously embraced supply-side economics. Maybe the unemployed and the under-employed have an easier time demonizing the illegal immigrant than the Man. Maybe today’s “little guy” isn’t really a Democrat after all. Maybe he is more of a Republican than Mike Huckabee. Just maybe.
Conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan has eloquently posited: “We may in fact have finally found that bridge to the 21st century that Bill Clinton told us about. Its name is Obama.” Sullivan’s point is that Obama’s candidacy marks a break with the vitriolic baby boomer cultural debate that has informed and infected politics for the last 40 years. Senator Obama has not simply re-framed the argument, Sullivan maintains, he has moved beyond it. Well, all that is about to change as soon as the heavy-hitter endorsements begin to roll in. Take Ted Kennedy’s forthcoming endorsement of the Illinois senator. There has probably been no more effective icon of the evil left wing than Mr. Kennedy. As you will recall in the last election, John Kerry was villified by the Republican machine for having a voting record that was “more liberal than Ted Kennedy.” That is, when the Massachuetts Senator wasn’t busy flip-flopping. With friends like Teddy Kennedy, who needs enemies? So as Obama seeks to change the political narrative––as pundits liken him to a breath of fresh air––that entrenched Me generation with its Vietnam and sexual revolution hang-ups just keeps showing up. And all of a sudden, the fresh face of new tomorrows starts to look conspicuously the gin-blossomed face of bygone Irish Liberalism.
Barack Obama has won South Carolina. But Hillary Clinton has won the race. You see, a week ago, Obama was the idealistic, insurgent Democratic candidate who happened to be black. But thanks to the Clinton campaign, he has emerged as the black presidential candidate. We’ll ignore all those affluent, college-educated Democrats and independents who chose Obama over Hillary Clinton. We’ll gloss over those young white students that this hopeful hopeful has energized. The new narrative is the black guy got out the black vote in that predominantly black primary state. You know, like Jesse Jackson did on two separate occasions. How quaint! It conveniently makes Clinton’s second place win look inevitable, and frankly, inconsequential. Jesse Jackson won seven primary states in his day. No cause for alarm. We big-hearted Clintons like to see it when black folks do well. Just not too well. It’s Hillary turn, and don’t you forget it.
After 7 years of a mangled foreign policy that plays like a bad Michael Bay movie––an action-packed extravaganza full of mustachioed villains, exploding Humvees and Clint Eastwood catch phrases: “Wanted dead or alive;” “Bring it on;” “Mission accomplished”––it is little wonder that the emerging GOP front runner is a decorated Vietnam war hero. Or that his wartime heroics consisted chiefly of doing hard time in a Viet Cong POW camp. He’s also a bit of a hot head. Which you’ve gotta love. Our very own Rambo. Maybe that’s why Senator McCain is Sylvester Stallone’s pick for Commander-in-chief. Maybe, that’s why TV action hero Chuck Norris is Huckabee’s Hollywood sidekick. Or why, actor Fred Thompson treated his run for the oval office like it was just another casting call. Look tough. Talk tough. Be tough. Cue the explosives. Bring up the music. Fade to black.
Well, the New York Times has spoken. The newspaper still read by many Floridian New Yorkers has made its decision. And Rudolph Giuliani is not their candidate. In fact, while giving McCain the thumbs up, they went out of their way to give Rudy the shaft. They summarize Mr. 9/11 as “a narrow, obsessively secretive, vindictive man.” Ouch! For the Democrats, they confess that an Obama presidency is “enticing” but feel Senator Clinton is the more equipped to fill those big, presidential heels. So at least one New York-based candidate has received a New York nod from the paper. As for Giuliani, his lead in Florida has been all but obliterated. It looks like it will be a shootout between McCain and Romney. And in the recent Republican debate, it was the economy, not terrorism, that got all of the attention. Which, all in all, is a bit of a disappointment. For the last 7 years, narrowness, secretiveness, and vindictiveness have been some of the President’s most endearing qualities. Oh, well.
Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has removed himself from the running. This, only days after Republican hopeful Fred Thompson has stepped aside. One man, a committed Liberal; the other man, a dedicated Conservative. So different, yet so much the same. Good family men who have decided to step away from the ballyhoo of presidential politicking to spend time with their families. The two men, pictured above with their lovely daughters, have yet to endorse… um…sorry…their lovely wives…have yet to endorse a candidate. Really? Those sweet young things are their wives? No friggin’ way! These dudes are old enough to be…Right! Chicks dig power…Got it… But I digress. My apologies. So let us thank both men for their years of public…Daaang, Momma…Um…public service and dedication…Heck, these dudes have my vote.
A candidate’s spouse has always played a significant role in presidential politics. They are expected to smile, look devoted, exchange adoring glances and hold hands in public. That was then, this is now. Bill Clinton has hardly played the shrinking violet. He has been an attack dog, a crowd-pleaser and, more importantly, the most formidable potential First La…Husband? in American history. And the Clintons’ unflagging tag-team attacks have definitely worn down Barack Obama. So it is time for him to unveil his secret weapon: Michelle Obama. Accomplished, articulate and fetching, she is everything that a First Husb…ur…Lady should be. But this week in South Carolina, she is something else: Black. Not the bright-skinned, mocha latte black of her bi-racial husband. Nope. A complexion that is wonderfully and gloriously black as the ace of spades. A clear signal to wary African-Americans in the south. It says that Obama is not only young and gifted. He is black. A black man who embraces his race. A black man who doesn’t think he is above marrying a woman who is a few shades darker. A black man who is totally authentic. It’s a message that white folks may never notice. But for black voters, it’s a message that speaks volumes.
Fred Thompson, we hardly knew ye. Senator Thompson’s lackluster performance in the primaries was a disappointment to many a Reagan-loving, abortion-hating, God-fearing conservative. He started out this campaign season on the sidelines, toying with our affections, chomping on his cigar and talking tough about cracking down on the borders, ridding our country of brown-skinned freeloading illegals. He tantalized us with coy suggestions that he might throw his hat into the ring. He excited us with the imminent possibility of a run for Ronald Reagan’s old job. He would blow these two-faced Massachusetts rich boy politicians out of the water. He would pulverize these gun-controlling, gay-marrying, pro-choice pantywaists. He would trounce these maverick, amnesty-granting Arizonan moderates. He would singlehandedly bring the party of Reagan back to the policies of Reagan. Hoo-ya! Then he got in the game at what seemed like the eleventh hour––and did zip. And today, this would-be messiah leaves the race with neither a bang nor whimper. Just a thud and a thunk. And with his departure it has finally dawned on us that the party of Reagan is truly a thing of the past. The abortion issue has lost its pull, smaller government is out of vogue and there is yet to be a consensus on what to do about this maddening immigration conundrum. The fact is: It’s a new GOP. The Grand Old Party has become the party of imperialism, growing deficits and federalized solutions to localized problems. Clearly, this is the end of Fred. But more importantly this is the end of an era.
Hillary and Bill are starting to get under Obama’s skin. The two-headed Clinton is more than one man can handle. But in last night’s debate he managed to come off like a James Bond martini: Shaken, not stirred. Heck, he might even looked tough in the presidential sense of the word. Perhaps, he even showed that he is strong enough to go toe-to-toe with the GOP smear-machine. Senator Clinton, by contrast, reminded us what shrill looks like. That’s the hard thing about being a woman candidate walking that very thin line between hard-nosed and harsh. Unfortunately, Hillary always walks this line like a Saturday night DWI. Of course, John Edwards was the calm, reasonable southern gentleman. A role that South Carolinians have got to eat up. He deported himself as the one above the fray. Why? Because he is. John Edwards is the third wheel in these debates. No one is attacking him. Not because he is above reproach, but because he is beneath relevance. Oh, well. Last night the gloves finally came off and I don’t think I am alone when I ask this. Put them back on. This is a debate, not a South Carolinian ass whuppin’.
Remember Martin Luther King? The guy that didn’t do much for the Civil Rights Movement but give little speeches and organize little marches. At least, that was Hillary Clinton’s assessment a week ago. Well, he’s suddenly important again. That’s why Senator Clinton put in an appearance Saturday at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church. That’s why today––MLK day–– she’s all about the transformative achievements of the martyred Dr. King. It is also the reason that both Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee recently showed up at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. (I think Dr. King had a dream about this.) And apparently Obama’s own “fairytale” dream about being America’s first black president is also very much alive. It seems Hillary’s narrow victory in Nevada actually yielded her fewer delegates than Senator Obama. So let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! And please Lord, let freedom ring in South Carolina. Can I get an “Amen”?
He’s already King of 9/11. And Giuliani has been working hard to run for President of Florida. It was a bold gamble. But already McCain’s momentum is quickly eroding Giuliani’s lead in the Sunshine State. Of course, this is all based on polling information and we know how predictive that has been in this primary season. However, if you are looking for a fiscal conservative and a man with bold ideas, Rudy may be your man. If his strategy works it not only will show a lot of grit, it will show that while other candidates prattle on about “change” and “experience,” one guy has turn the primary process on its head. One guy knows how to stretch a buck. Romney, on the other hand has proven he can spend money like a drunken sailor. Yup, Giuliani may show himself to be the real agent of change in this election. But of course, he would have to win in Florida. Not to mention, the nomination. And I’m not so sure that’s going to happen. Which has always been the knock on bold, innovative thinking. It generally backfires.