As I said in a recent post, there really are only four to six people who have any shot at being the next president. The rest might as well quit and go home now. I allowed for the possibility of Michael Bloomberg being a wild-card candidate with his money, but I think his chances are about nil. Flip Flopney, I doubt really has a chance, but I’m going to leave him in, if only for the sake of discussion. But briefly, here’s why all the others are just taking up space:
John McCain – He’s a patriot, and he’d be high on my list of choices for Mike Huckabee’s running mate, because he’d nicely balance Huck. But his candidacy has always seemed to appeal more to the media than to Republicans. For starters, it’s hard to look past the bill that bears his name: “McCain-Feingold”. Many a conservative sees this bill as a sellout of core free speech principles, a seriously-flawed approach to a “problem” that doesn’t even register as much of a problem with a lot of Republicans. His spirit of bipartisanship might be admirable, and in fact is, but in this poisoned political atmosphere, only a “trust but verify” approach makes sense when trying to deal with the bulk of the Democrats these days, and McCain seems long on “trust” but short on “verify”. He supported the president’s flawed approach to illegal immigration; he’s a maverick; he speaks his mind, which is refreshing, but he’s unpredictable, and it’s hard to trust where he might take us. He’s a solid prolife vote, but it doesn’t seem to matter much to him. But the reason he can’t be president is that he’s obviously getting no traction. He’s been out there forever; people have seen him, know him, and are not lining up behind him. John McCain will never be president of the United States of America.
Fred Thompson – Thompsonmania gripped the Republican party for much of the summer, given the fact that no real conservative was getting traction against Rudy. Breathlessly we awaited ole Fred throwing his hat into the ring, and finally he did. The energy required to do this, though, apparently sapped his strength, and he’s been taking the political equivalent of a siesta since. He’s nice; he’s got good ideas; I could vote for him. But he’s not generating enthusiasm now that he’s more than a tantalizing possibility. We come to see him as a good guy who could give us, if nominated, a nice Dole-style trouncing at the hands of a more energetic Mrs. Bill Clinton. If he were running for America’s Uncle, he’d be a shoo-in. But he’s running for President, which is only a pipe dream.
All the other Republican candidates – Need I discuss them? Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo are afterthoughts, each making some good points but not mustering enough energy to make it apparent why they’ve not already tossed in the towel. Ron Paul adds a little pizzazz to the campaign, and says some good things (along with a nutty thing or two), but he could raise a gazillion dollars and never be elected president. He’s got what he’s going to get, which is to say the 3-4 percent of Republicans ticked off enough at this war and this president that they want to shake things up (along with a handful of libertarians—if he had a reasonable chance, my libertarian impulses might kick in and support him). But he has no chance, of course, and his “he’s got no chance” is not like some of my friends’ words “Mike Huckabee’s got no chance” of a few months back (hey, friends who posted a lot about Huck back then but have been strangely silent recently: ready to “clarify” your comments?). Mike Huckabee only needed solid exposure. Ron Paul’s got exposure, but he needs help that isn’t going to be forthcoming.
On the Democrat side, thankfully, John Edwards will not be president. He has exactly one redeeming quality, so far as I can see: he’s real pretty. Other than that, he lacks experience; he is filled with bad ideas, loves to play the class warfare card, is a trial lawyer (responsible for creating a lot of the conditions he decries); I could go on. He’s close enough in some state races to make his people think he’s got a chance, but he really doesn’t. The fluctuation of the polls between Mrs. Bill and Barack the Wonder Boy haven’t filtered down to him, and they won’t. Most people, I think, see through this pretty boy, and thankfully, he’ll not lead this country.
Nobody else polls above four percent on the Democrat side. Next in line, with about that four percent, is Bill Richardson, who is unquestionably the best-qualified Democrat candidate. He has some utterly awful ideas as well (checking out how he’d “fix” education in America sounds like the NEA playbook, a surefire recipe for making a horrible situation even more disastrous than it is). He is a pretty nice guy; seems to be pretty clean as to his record, far as I can tell. He’s been a governor and served in the Clinton cabinet. But his voice is getting drowned out by the top three, and he won’t make a Huckabee-style surge. Other Dems, such as Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, make us wonder if they’re just gluttons for punishment, and Biden particularly, since he’s been soundly rejected for the nomination before. Maybe he just likes to hear himself talk…
Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel are nice comic relief.
And thus, that leaves us with five or six, one of which will be our next president. More on these folks later…