Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Crying a River

Thirty years after Ed Muskie, crying is now in vogue.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Hope Springs Eternal!!

Appears to be happening much sooner than I might have imagined. This image sure does remind one of the good ole days at 1600. And here's another beeautiful (if jaded) look at our favorite Agent of Change:

Friday, January 04, 2008


The day after the Iowa Caucus is a marvelous day to read political commentary.

Up until the first contest is over, commentary on candidates is chiefly prognostic. It analyzes the current day events in terms of what they will bring the next day. Polls predict future election. Advertisements are scrutinized for their potential effect on voters.

Today, we are treated to the first wave of retrospection -- analysis on why Huckabee won or Romney lost.

Two such pieces this morning have affirmed what I have come to believe about Mitt Romney: he lacks the genuineness in his political persona that is so apparent in his business persona. And I think this is why Huckabee, McCain and Giuliani all represent a serious threat to his (remaining) viability.

Byron York writes this morning in National Reviewon the nature of Huckabee's win, and contrasts Huckabee's style to Romney's:

...On the day of the caucuses, I checked Romney’s schedule and noticed that he was set to appear at a Kum & Go — a popular convenience store — in West Des Moines. The convenience store backdrop seemed a bit Huckabee-esque, until I arrived to discover that the event was being held not at a Kum & Go, but at the corporate headquarters of Kum & Go, a company called Krause-Gentle, which also owns a variety of other businesses. The CEO of Krause-Gentle is a Romney fan and invited him to speak there....

...Fehrnstrom, like the rest of Romney’s team, was unfailingly professional. But his analysis pointed to a blind spot in the Romney campaign, a blind spot most likely shared by the candidate himself. For all his money, and all his energy, and all his organizational skills, Romney could not put to rest the doubts many Iowa Republicans felt about his genuineness, or lack of genuineness. As they paid more attention to politics in the days leading up to the caucuses, some of those voters came to believe that Huckabee had more of that indefinable something that they want in a candidate. In the end, the race wasn’t about infrastructure at all — something Romney never figured out but Huckabee knew all along.

This is the contrast between the candidate who has an instinct for connecting with people and one who has an instinct for analyzing the objective, devising a plan to achieve the objective, assembling a team of highly talented professionals, amassing the financing required to implement a plan, and executing on it. In short, it is the difference between a politician and a businessman.

John Ellis makes a similar point in Real Clear Politics.

It's one thing to lose as you are. What you lose is an election, but there's always another election and in the case of presidential primary politics, a new electorate that awaits you in the next state. It's another thing to lose as you aren't. Mitt Romney was never the 700 Club right-winger his campaign managers conceived. He was and is a man of business and a very capable one at that...

...Romney's only real choice was to run as a Republican Gary Hart, the candidate of "new ideas" for a party in desperate need of same. That would have at least given him the flexibility to play to his strengths; his intellectual prowess, his business acumen, his demonstrable executive skills and his admirable personal qualities. And it would have enabled him to attract a wide array of advisors and intellectuals to help him think through innovative policy positions on what appear to be intractable issues....

...Instead, his handlers framed Romney's candidacy in a fallacy. We were asked to believe that he was something that he was not. Iowa didn't buy it and neither will anyone else. What people are looking for is leadership. What the Romney campaign offered was obeisance.

Perhaps it is that the professional campaign business has become singularly compulsive about the dog-eared tactic of "packaging" the candidate. I certainly get that sense from Romney's campaign now, and in hindsight, it has always been that way with him. But Huckabee's victory in Iowa, and I think as well McCain's formidable resurgence in New Hampshire and elsewhere, suggest that voters are more adept at stripping off the packaging and examining not just the product, but the list of ingredients.

If that is so, it is a welcome change. How many more elections can our Democracy survive where the two party candidates frenetically cavort with those at the edges of their parties and then engage in the unseemly race to the middle, where they are greeted by ambivalent, nose-pinching skeptics?

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