With all of these politicians announcing their candidacy in the past week, we should all get mentally ready for the TWO YEARS of the 2008 presidential contest that pretty much has just started. And I'll be honest, I'm not looking forward to it. Why? Not because I'm politically apathetic or cynical about the process (actually, I guess I am cynical about the process), but because this is going to be like a two-year-long movie where I've already guessed the ending.
I'm going on record, right now, in January 2007. It will be Hillary, with Obama as VP, versus either Giuliani or McCain, probably Giuliani, and Hillary will win.
There, I said it. I almost feel bad saying it, like I'm spoiling the ending of the Sixth Sense or something. And lord knows, I'm not happy about that outcome. I'd much prefer Giuliani. But in my own mind, a Hillary presidency has been inevitable for some time now. The day she announced she was running for the Senate, back in what, 2000? - was the day I knew she'd be impossible to beat in a presidential contest.
But we're going to have to listen to two years worth of reporting on meaningless BS in the meantime. "Judy, tell us what kind of organization Bill Richardson is putting together. Where is he getting his braintrust?" And "Shep, I'm here in Mitt Romney's campaign headquarters, where it's fair to say they are VERY excited about the upcoming Iowa straw poll."
Why? Why? Do you have any idea how much airtime is about to be wasted on these candidates who have no chance? Now, a year or so back, I complained about the Vanity candidates. These were the guys like Al Sharpton and Alan Keyes and Gary Bauer who must surely have known that their candidacy was hopeless, yet they pressed on anyway with the intention of furthering a personal agenda that had nothing to do with becoming president. With Bauer, he wanted a platform for his nutty ideas. With Sharpton, he just wanted to feed his appetite for publicity and keep his personal profile high. Keyes I think just wanted a TV show.
This time around, with the new crop of hopeless candidates, I don't sense the vanity candidacy as much as I do the delusional candidacy, more in the tradition of Dennis Kucinich than Jesse Jackson. The delusional candidacy is when your candidacy is utterly hopeless, yet you're incapable of recognizing it. Take John Edwards for example. He's the guy who couldn't beat Kerry in the primary. And Kerry is the guy who couldn't beat the loathed, reviled, hated George W. Bush. Democrat primary voters have already formed this thought with regards to Edwards: "We had an unbelievable chance to take the presidency in 2004, cause Bush was so unpopular, and Kerry somehow managed to botch it. And we're supposed to vote for the guy who couldn't even beat Kerry?"
So Edwards has no chance. When Quayle mounted a candidacy in 1996 (or was it 2000?) that was also a delusional candidacy. Didn't he know that his Q score or whatever was in the toilet? Didn't he know he was a national laughingstock? Did no one tell him?
How about Mitt Romney? He's in the low single digits. He's Mormon. He won't be able to carry his own state. He's far to the right of everyone else. And yet my friends on the right are doing everything they can to build his buzz. Friends, the Romney candidacy is so utterly hopeless that I'd have a better chance of bluffing my way into the Mormons' big, exclusive Disney-esque temple for my own wedding than Romney does in capturing the white house.
Someone, please, give me a modern example of a guy who started out in the low single digits at this point in the campaign versus two powerhouses in the 30 digits each who somehow came back to win it. It just can't happen. And yes, the Mormonism is an issue. Don't be fooled by the spin. "We're just as Christian as anyone else." Nope. Uh-uh. "Worrying that Romney will take orders from Salt Lake City is just as foolish as worrying that John Kennedy would take orders from the Vatican." True. But that's not the issue. It's not that Romney might be taking orders from high-priest whoever, it's that he's stupid enough to actually believe in that unbelievable pile of horseshit called LDS. Why LDS is horseshit is beyond the scope of my little rant here, but I encourage you to do the most cursory research and find out for yourself.
Moving on to the two republican contenders. Giuliani and McCain. Here is where I feel least sure, but I give the edge to Giuliani for a couple of reasons. First McCain is old. If he's elected, he'll be older than Reagan was when he was sworn in. Second, McCain is a known quantity. There's nothing new or exciting about him. His signature issue still seems to be campaign finance refzzzzzzz....(snore)
Third, there's the Edwards problem. McCain is the guy who couldn't beat Bush in 2000. The hated, loathsome, reviled George W. Bush. Who's going to give McCain a shot now when his opponent this time (Hillary) will be much more formidable than Gore was back then? He couldn't beat Bush! On the Giuliani side of the equation, there's more to like. Sure he's not as conservative as many republicans would want, but primary voters are more savvy than that. They value electability. They will elect whichever republican has the best chance of beating Hillary. And that's Giuliani. Why? Here's my theory. Voters gravitate toward the candidate who best makes up for the specific shortcomings of the previous president. We have short memories. Bush was the anti-Clinton in 2000. He was a straight-talker, a straight shooter. He'd never betray his wife. Lying and being verbally slippery were against his nature. He promised to exercise moderance and temperance in his presidency. Now without getting into a debate about how Bush turned out, we can all agree that this was his persona in the 2000 campaign. He ran as the un-Clinton. The winner of the 2008 race will be the guy (or gal) who is the anti-Bush. This favors Giuliani. Giuliani projects raw, determined competence. He thinks. He acts. He takes no BS. He gets things done. He's smart. He motivates and can lead. He inspires. He's like the Joe Pesci of politicians. Whereas Bush is verbally clumsy, and articulates everything he says with that folksy smile and swagger that drives liberals insane, Giuliani has that no nonsense tone of voice. Giuliani's reputation, deserved or not, of competence and a record of results could propel him to the nomination. So at this point, I think he has the best chance.
Moving to the democrats, this one's a no brainer. I will start by observing that it appears that I am the only one in the universe who sees that Barak Obama is clearly running to become Hillary's VP, and not to become president himself. Just like I was the only one who was willing to say that Bill and Hillary's marriage was 100% about mutual political ambition, and that when Bill cheated, it enraged Hillary only in the sense that it damaged their careers. Who besides me ever said that, and who will dispute it? And now, in 2007, it is equally obvious. McCain or Giuliani would slaughter Obama. But he'd be mighty attractive in the VP slot. He's making a show at a run to demonstrate his chops, but that's it. His place is at Hillary's side, holding up her arm and smiling for the cameras.
So Hillary. Why will she win. And full disclosure here - I hate her guts. I think the only thing that motivates her is a lust for power, and I've never seen anything to dissuade me in the slightest. Sure, I don't like liberals, but observe how far to the right she's moved in the last 4 years. Do you think, my liberal readers, that this represents a genuine change of heart on her part, or that it's all a calculated move to make her more electable? Say what you will about any other candidate, I can't imagine anyone else in either party having such flexibility with their basic values and principles. It's disgusting, frankly. I prefer a passionate and sincere liberal to someone whose core values are for sale. But anyway, why will she win?
Simple. And again, this is a point no one will make. There are tens or hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of women, who know nothing about the candidates or the issues, who will vote for the woman because, hey, a woman is running for president. And with Obama as the VP you simply seal the deal with the African American vote. Are there white males who will have the opposite impulse? Guys who won't vote for her because she's a woman? Yes, but not nearly as many.
And yes, there are plenty of women who will say "Hey, I'm not that simple or stupid, and I don't like Hillary.". Sure, but there aren't enough of you. Candidacies these days boil down to a few simple things like name recognition and reputation and basic characteristics. Somebody like Bill Evans or Sam Brownback has zero chance because we don't know who they are, and there's no amount of money that can change that.
Well that's it. I'm on the record, 2 years in advance. We'll see how things shake out. And if I turn out to be utterly wrong, I will admit it. But barring some completely unexpected development that changes the game, some event of 9/11 power or significance, I see this playing out very predictably. Anyone disagree?