Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been thinking about a post about the primaries and what is going on in the US Presidential race. All in all it is quite interesting, and fluid. The most amazing aspect of it is just how myopic the media is being in covering the races. Your Maximum Leader hasn’t heard any of the reporters or talking heads trying to take a look at the proverbial big picture. Perhaps it is worth taking a look at the forest…
The day after (or more accuarately the night of) the Iowa caucuses it seemed as though Barack Obama was now annoited on the Democratic side and Mike Huckabee was going to march at the head of a Christian army to take the Republican nomination (and presumably then work on America herself) back for Christ. Mitt Romney was toasted. Rudy Guiliani was not even a blip on the radar.
Now the day after New Hampshire the stories have changed. McCain is solidering on and the “front runner” on the Republican side. Hillary is back in the driver seat on the Democratic side. What will happen in Nevada? What will happen in Michigan? What about South Carolina?
Gadzooks! What does anyone know about anything?
Well… Your Maximum Leader thinks that the compressed primary season is going to have to be seriously rethought by both parties. He imagines that Hillary and Barack will keep going hammer and tongs at each other well past February. And as it stands, he can’t imagine a single Republican “locking up” the nomination before the Republican Convention.
Yes, you read that right. Republicans might not have a nominiee until their Convention. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t consider himself a “typical Republican.” He strongly tends to vote Republican. His conservative disposition and outlook causes him to gravitate towards Republicans. But on the balance he doesn’t believe he is a straight “party man.” This said, in one way he might be more like Republicans than one might think. He isn’t excited about any of the Republican candidates. He was (and frankly still is) ideologically inclinded to like Fred Thompson. But Thompson really doesn’t seem to want the job enough to campaign for it. (Excursus: Fred is running for president 200 years too late. Circa 1808 his refusal to seek the office would have been seen as a strength. Sad how we have gone in a century or two.) Your Maximum Leader has officially given up on Fred Thompson.
If not Fred who? Well… Your Maximum Leader thinks the following:
1) Rudy is a self-centered arsehole and bad judge of people. He would likely be something remarkably close to a third term of George W. Bush.
2) Mike Huckabee is a pleasant fellow who might be nice to have as your pastor. He strikes me as a man who, outside of social/religious issues, is really lost when it comes to planning to govern in all the arenas outside of his narrow baliwick.
3) Mitt Romney looks presidential, is damned smart, and ambitious. But your Maximum Leader looks at him and thinks, “What would have happened if Robert McNamara had been President? Would the nation be better off?” Mitt Romney really strikes your Maximum Leader as a Robert McNamara type. The incredibly smart and self-confident businessman who believes that with enough data and the right minds in the right room any problem can be solved. For Robert McNamara at the Pentagon it didn’t turn out too good. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t believe that it would be better for Mitt Romney.
4) Ron Paul is wacky.
5) John McCain is a Senator of long standing. Being a Senator of long standing is a bad thing. You are on the record for so many different issues. You have to explain procedural votes on issues as political issues. (That worked out well for John Kerry if we all remember.) He has a bad temper. He has been on the wrong side of many issues for many Republicans (the issue he is on the wrong side of for your Maximum Leader is campaign finance reform). And he is old.
Of these your Maximum Leader chooses… None of the above. If put up against a wall and his family threatened and forced to choose one, he would likely choose McCain. But, lucky for your Maximum Leader he doesn’t have to choose. So for now he isn’t choosing a Republican.
On the Democratic side it is so much more interesting. Indeed, from almost any perspective the Democratic race is more exciting. You have the ambitous woman, the breath of fresh air, and the Breck girl. (Excurus: It upsets your Maximum Leader that John Edwards has become the Breck Girl of American politics. In your Maximum Leader’s mind the Breck girl of American politics will be Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX). Although the humour of the put-down of John Edwards does give your Maximum Leader some pleasure; you could have chosen another shampoo. How about Pert?)
Your Maximum Leader can’t add anything to what countless others have already written about Hillary. Let it suffice to say that to your Maximum Leader Hillary Clinton is just a Democratic Richard Nixon. By that he means that Clinton is Nixon without the years of anti-communism, without Henry Kissinger, without the wingtips on the beach, without the love of baseball and boxing, and without Pat and Checkers. She is Nixon with the conniving, with the enemies list, with the plumbers, with the fear and loathing of all things out of her control, and with the burning desire to prove herself worthy of everything in life. Of course, she has a vagina and Nixon didn’t. They both also have saggy jowls.
If Hillary Clinton wasn’t a woman your Maximum Leader isn’t sure she’d have made it this far in politics. That is to say that if Hillary Clinton were Harry Clinton she would just be a Democratic party hack. She had the good fortune to be married to one of the greatest politicians ever produced by this great republic. She parleyed that connection to her advantage. Good for her says your Maximum Leader. He doesn’t begrudge her anything she’s accomplished. But he doesn’t think that by virtue of her being a woman she should be president. Indeed, as he just said, to him Hillary Clinton is Richard Nixon - only without all the traits that made Nixon a worthwhile person and president.
John Edwards… Heh… Your Maximum Leader can’t help but smile whenever you mention the name of John Edwards. The man is so remarkably fake. He is an angry everyman who lives in a mansion with his millions in the bank. He is a blue collar worker in tailored suits with a $400 haircut. He is one of the toiling masses with polished teeth and soft fleshy hands that would recoil at the grit of dirt. He comes out of the long tradition of the angry privledged that, as best your Maximum Leader can tell, has heretofore only produced bloody revolutionaries (in other nations) and broken burned-out old men (in our own nation).
The most interesting Democrats, in your Maximum Leader’s opinion are Bill Richardson and Barack Obama. Richardson is just too obscure in the field to amount to anything except a fine VP choice. That is too bad because his combination of experiences in politics would in most other years propel him to a front-runner status. Does anyone remember how George H.W. Bush many experiences in government (legislative, executive, diplomatic) was parleyed in 1988 as a great strength? Bill Richardson could be the George H.W. Bush on paper. He doesn’t excite the masses (but men of his calibre rarely do). While your Maximum Leader doesn’t agree with Governor Richardson on a whole host of policy matters, he does think that Americans could do much worse than electing him their President.
That leaves Barack Obama.
Your Maximum Leader waivers in his thoughts on Obama. His thoughts actually can be summarized in two names. Abraham Lincoln and Jimmy Carter. Now before we all go jumping to conclusions about the sanity of your Maximum Leader, give him a moment. Obama, like Lincoln, is a fairly junior guy without much experience as he is running for President. (Excursus; they are both from Illinois too.) Obama, like Lincoln - in a very broad sense, has the ability to make Americans think about the angels of their better natures. Obama, unlike Lincoln actually, projects (and for all your Maximum Leader knows actually is filled with) a sense of hope and optimism. Obama has a lot of potential.
Unfortunately, in 1976 James Earl Carter had lots of potential.
(Excursus: Did you know that there was a day when your Maximum Leader actually thought that Jimmy Carter was a pretty good ex-President? As best your Maximum Leader could tell, that day was March 17, 1984. Around that time your Maximum Leader read that Jimmy Carter was spending his time building houses with Habitat for Humanity and teaching Sunday school. Your Maximum Leader thought that those were two worthwhile activities for an ex-President. Of course, shortly afterwards your Maximum Leader matured mentally and resolved that the best ex-President EVAR! (as well as one of the best Presidents EVAR!) was James K. Polk.)
Does your Maximum Leader actually have to detail why Jimmy Carter wasn’t a good President? He didn’t think so. Unfortunately, Jimmy Carter had more experience (at least more experience governing) than does Barack Obama.
Your Maximum Leader doesn’t know what to think of Barack Obama. Unfortunately, the only way to know which way he’ll turn out is to elect him. And your Maximum Leader isn’t ready to do that…
(Update: Your Maximum Leader reads on the news wires that Bill Richardson is dropping out of the race. Pity. But understandable.)
So back to the primaries… They were, afterall, where your Maximum Leader began this screed…
This compressed primary schedule, combined with the general discontent among voters with all their choices, is actually prolonging the time it will take to pick a candidate. It is entirely possible that a fragmented primary electorate coupled with a schizophrenic reporting mentality (Today the frontrunner is:________!) will result in two (or three) candidates in each party duking it out all across the nation for far longer than anyone thought. It is not outside the realm of possibility that one (probably the Republican) or both of the party conventions could really have to do some work! Great Jeezey Chreezy! The thought of that makes your Maximum Leader shudder.
As it stands now, your Maximum Leader isn’t sure that anything will be decided by “Super Tuesday” on February 5th. If that is the case (and at many levels your Maximum Leader hopes it is) we are in for a more exciting election year than we had ever thought.