The Preacher Primary

The Republicans’ first primary contest is this week, and it’s not in New Hampshire. It is in Orlando, at the annual meeting of the National Religious Broadcasters.

With George Bush and Karl Rove out of the way, the gathered congregation is split all over the place about whom they will support for 2008.

The word is that the three big names – Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Frank Dobson (of Focus on the Family) are themselves each leaning towards different Candidates.

Falwell favors McCain. Robertson, who hates Falwell in the worst possible (but totally Christian) way, is likely to back Romney – guess age will do that to your brain. And Dobson, who loves himself above all others (again, in a wholly healthy and Christian fashion), will probably plump for former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee – come on, you gotta love faith!

The problem is that these rattlesnake-charmers are suffering from the same blinkered mind-set that plagued the Democrats before 1994 – they’ve been kingmakers for so long in the corridors of Washington that they don’t pay any attention to election results.

Brothers! Brothers! Hello! Your flock went independent on you in 2006. More than half of Christian voters did not follow your lead. Get with the program. Or the service. Or the missal. Whatever.

My prediction about what the Christian Right will do in 2008 goes something like this:

But first, some advice for the Democrats: don’t get too cozy about the results from 2006. Last year, Christian voters suddenly got all righteous and touchy-feely. They wanted to give George a bloody nose. And they felt bad about Iraq, Katrina, and particularly the struggling families left behind by many working-class military personnel.

The problem with people shifting their political position is that it’s like cheating on your partner – if you do it once, you can do it again.

Frankly, the Democrats face a conundrum with their new majorities on the Hill. First off, they are not naturally liberal Democrat majorities. They are made up of a lot of conservative Democrats, who won in normally Republican areas.

Secondly, those Democrat majorities are pretty much buggered if they do and buggered if they don’t. If they do well, those Christians, who shifted over to the Democrats in 2006, may well think “mission accomplished,” and go back to supporting perhaps a liberal Republican for President in 2008.

On the other hand, if the Democrats screw up, those same Christians may feel they did wrong by the Lord, and vote once again for a socially conservative disciple of Jesus, rejoining their brethren on the solid and rabid Christian Right.

Now, here’s the thing about that psycho Christian Right. I think that they, like their moderate and more left-wing Christian friends, have begun to enjoy the sinful taste of independence.
It is not just that they are sick and tired of Republican Presidents who promise them Armageddon, but then refuse to let rip the fire and brimstone. It’s that they are totally fed up with the plump and aging preachers who keep telling them to support those false idols.

And thus it is, yeah verily, that the likes of Huckabee (a former conservative preacher himself), Kansas Senator Sam Brownback (a favorite son of the religious right), California Representative Duncan Hunter and Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo all think they have a real chance with the Christian Right this time round.

But I have to say this – fellas, get real. Wacko, the Christian Right may be. But stupid, they ain’t. They know minnows when they see minnows. And you boys be tiddlers. You don’t have a prayer.

The exemplary pro-life (but also pro-death penalty, pro-killing in Iraq) evangelists of the Christian Right may well decide not to listen to their earth-bound masters in 2008, but the Holy Spirit is still going to make them plump for one or other of the Republican fat cats. So, which one is it going to be?

Romney? I’m getting bored even typing his name.

Giuliani? Even he knows he’s wasting his time courting these voters. He’s not intending to speak at the National Religious Broadcasters’ meeting at all.

McCain? Hmmaybe. There may be some nose-holding, though. Memories still go back to Mac’s talk of “agents of intolerance” in 2000.

So? Yup. You got it. The Dark Horse. The guy all the pundits just love to overlook – Newt Gingrich.

That’s my prediction. Look for The Newt to pick up heavily – and unexpectedly – among Christian Right voters, once the caucus and primary season begins in 2008.

In particular, look for a strong showing in South Carolina, which I think Newt will win. Pretty much bringing to a close the campaigns of the minnows. Dealing a death blow to Romney, and seriously denting McCain.

There’s even a chance that South Carolina will do for McCain what I predict it will do to Hillary – show that they’re both losers in the South. After S.C, Mac may hobble through some more primaries in the North and Mid-West. But The Newt could then seal the deal when the circus tracks back South later in 2008.

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Published in: on February 15, 2007 at 6:53 am  Leave a Comment  

"I’m Real. Really!"


Have a certain ring to it…?

It ought to. Much of the article about John in this week’s Newsweek reflects the points I’ve been making – and the way I’ve been making them – on this blog for some time now. All of them in a bid to help make John the ‘real’ Candidate he says he wants to be.

Indeed, the parallel between the Newsweek article and OneJohn: Courage, Conviction and Calculation is uncanny.

Well, the good news, John, is that you seem to be accepting the fact that ordinary people are beginning to see the credibility disconnect between the TwoJohns – the ‘real’ John you say you want them to see, and the carefully-protected John they are actually being allowed to see.

The bad news is that you think regular folk will buy that they are seeing the ‘real’ you just because you tell Newsweek you’re trying harder. Real people will know they are finally getting to see the ‘real’ you when you actually let them do just that.

The funny thing is that, without any prodding from me (or maybe it was because of that prodding – who knows?), you set out both the problem and its solution in this same article. They are there, for all to see, in the following excerpt:

Still, Edwards’ new commitment to authenticity may have real roots: in 2004, the candidate learned the hard way that too much caution can be fatal.

When the Kerry campaign faltered, Edwards and his wife were convinced that a broad swath of competing consultants, offering conflicting advice, were largely to blame.

“Consultants can make it hard to tell the truth,” Edwards says. “They want you to be so cautious it makes it hard to say anything.”

Aides, who didn’t want to be named discussing their boss’s internal thinking, say he walked away from 2004 convinced that only strong, centralized decision making works in presidential campaigns.

I agree there should be strong, central control of your campaign organization. The Great Blogging Scandal underlines that very point. But not by you – at least, not any more.
You say it yourself: if there’s going to be control of the campaign, and you’re at the center of the campaign, it follows that you have to be subject to that control, too. And that’s the very thing we are both agreed gets in the way of real people seeing the ‘real’ you.

If ordinary folk are going to believe that they are seeing the ‘real’ you, then they have to see something uncontrolled. And you can only do that by separating yourself from your own hugely-choreographed campaign.

I can’t help but feel there should have been an ergo in there somewhere…

So John, one more time. Leave the controlling to Dave. Get away from your campaign. Lose a little control. Go and meet some real people. In real settings. Without too much advance work.

And when you really feel ready to reveal the ‘real’ you, as opposed to hiding it in Newsweek, I’ll be here, waiting to help you do just that in a real, genuinely-revealing, grass-roots, radio interview.

Real questions. Real feelings. Real credibility.

Really.

Published in: on February 14, 2007 at 3:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Meet The Boss

Ok. We got way too serious there for a while. Time for some levity…

A few weeks ago, John interviewed with Tim Russert of NBC’s “Meet The Press.’

Let’s rewind. And replay the interview. But this time, imagine Tim as the boss of the company where John is applying for a job…

Tim: Good morning, Mr…ah…Edwards.

John: Hi.

Tim: Now I see your last job was as Director of the Center for Poverty. Did you finish the job…’cos we still seem to have lots of poverty…?

John: Er. Well. No.

Tim: Why not?

John: I wanted this job.

Tim: Can we get a reference from the University of North Carolina?

John: Lemme see. I left the job early… I sued their hospital for malpractice… Er. Probably not.

Tim: And before that, you were a Vice Presidential nominee. How did that go?

John: I lost.

Tim: Ah. Can we get a reference there?

John: Uh…John Kerry… Probably not.

Tim: Hmm. And prior to that, you were a Senator. For just one term. Why did you stop?

John: I was going to lose.

Tim: And…reference…?

John: Er. Probably not.

Tim: So. To summarize. You’re not too good at finishing the job. You have little experience. And you can’t give us any references.

John: That’s about it.

Tim: And you want to be President of the company…?

[Oh come on, John. It’s worth a small grin!]

Published in: on February 14, 2007 at 2:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Biden His Time?

Mind you, on the subject of tough causes, there are still some out there who believe that Joe Biden has a chance, notwithstanding his ‘open-mouth-insert-foot’ comments about Barack’s washing habits.

This from The Politico’s Roger Simon:

Best Corridor Conversation [at DNC Winter Meeting]: I chatted with Don Fowler, a former chairman of the DNC from South Carolina, and a guy who has forgotten more about Southern politics than most people have ever learned.

The Democratic presidential ticket did not carry a single Southern state last time and I asked Fowler which candidate could carry Southern states this time.

Obama could carry Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina,” said Fowler, who has not endorsed anybody yet. “That is based solely on black voter registration. And [Joe] Biden could carry Florida and Virginia.”

Hmm. Any truth to the rumor that Joe is now going for broke in the fund-raising stakes by filing a paternity suit in respect of Anna Nicole’s child…?

[Graphic courtesy of Dustin Ingalls of UNC-CH. I take the view he’ll be grateful for any profile anyone gives to Joe…]
Published in: on February 14, 2007 at 2:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Straight-Talker -v- Tightrope-Walker?

John has been getting good news from Newsweek for a couple of months now.

Their December polls showed John as the only Democrat able to beat John McCain. And their January polls confirmed that only John could beat both Mac and Rudy.

The bad news is that it won’t be Newsweek deciding the next President. It will probably be Jonny Nascar and Wynette Walmart.

It was they who tipped 2004 in George Bush’s favor. And they’ll still be around to deal a potential blow to John’s chances in 2008.

The issue that may make the difference is Iraq – which is why John has been trying to muddy the waters with “The McCain Doctrine.”

Here’s the deal. I’m betting Mac’s advisers have already said to him: Mac, if it’s Edwards (or, indeed, Obama), forget a podium debate. Get up close and personal. Like the ‘conversation’ between Edwards and Cheney, in 2004.

And then keep hitting Edwards with Iraq.

The line will be: forget how we got here; what we need to do now is end it – and what do you know, sonny, about ending a war?

Mac will continue: look, this is a mess. But it was a frat boy that got us into it. And it won’t be another frat boy that gets us out of it. Why don’t you leave this to a grown-up – a grown-up who truly knows about war.

That will play strong with Jonny and Wynnette. And all their friends down at the VFW. The ones who still wave the Confederate Flag, have bumper stickers that boast “We’re Real Patriots,” and who sing that God-awful Toby Keith song every Friday night at the karaoke.

There’s not much else John will be able to do but come back with the line: but…but…Mac, you got us into this, too.

Which will lead to an entertaining spat about blame, and mind-changing, and posturing. But none of that will truly count with Jonny and Wynette. What they will be waiting to hear is what these guys intend to do next.

And that may be the cruncher for John.

The Presidential Election may well come down to John’s perceived credibility on any plan to end the war in Iraq. Not Mac’s.
It won’t matter whether Mac’s plan is good, bad or indifferent. He has all the credibility the VFW crowd need – he was a Prisoner of War.
The only thing that will make the difference is John’s credibility. And even that may have little to do with any war plan.
Rather it may depend on the extent to which John has managed to convince Jonny and Wynette that he is Real. Really.
And, of course, whether he looks as good as George (Bush) and Mac in a Stetson…
[I swiped the ‘Rifle Jesus’ pic from Jeff Fecke’s blog. Only peripheral relevance – God-fearing Jonny, the righteous crusade in Iraq, and all that. But I liked it. So, sue me.]
Published in: on February 14, 2007 at 9:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Mitt-ens

What can I say about Mitt-ens (“The Face-Lift”) that is short and incisive, yet fair and comprehensive, while still thoughtful and interesting?
Hmm? Ah yes.

Fluff.

Period.

No wait. I think I can do better than that. I was just having trouble breathing, while picking myself up from the floor, and wiping away the tears of mirth.

I mean, Sweet Mother Mary and Joseph. Why does anyone take this dandy seriously? Fer chrissakes, he’s had more re-invents than he’s had face-lifts.

I’d be more ready to vote for The Penguin as Mayor of Gotham City than for this guy to be President of anything other than the Aspen Apres-Ski Ladies’ Knit ‘n Bridge Club.
But hang on. This just in. Pat Robertson takes him seriously. Oh well. Why didn’t someone mention that earlier? That’s a lock on the White House then.
Guess Mitt ’n Ann won’t be inviting me to their Deer Valley skiing soiree this year…
Published in: on February 14, 2007 at 8:59 am  Leave a Comment  

The Newt

Do not underestimate Newt Gingrich.

In many ways, he is the ‘John Edwards’ of the Republican Challenge – just not as good-looking.

He has been quietly putting together an organization these past few years, “Winning the Future” one supporter at a time.

Like John, he has a web-site which has all the all the bells and whistles that go with a modern political campaign, centered around the use of social media and web-networking.

Newt has a brain that is every bit as organized as John’s, and is possibly more nimble, on both a strategic and tactical level.

This is the guy who stole the House of Representatives from the Democrats back in 1994, with “Contract with America,” and then dictated Bill Clinton’s political agenda for the next six years.

It was Newt’s Republican House that balanced the federal budget, as much as Bill and Robert Rubin.

And don’t be thinking Newt is just an ivory-tower policy wonk. Who can forget the unscripted Town Hall meeting between Bill the President and Newt the Speaker?

When two of the cleverest populists of their time went toe-to-toe for an hour, treating those watching to one of the finest debates of political fundamentals that this country has seen in several generations.
Newt’s aura amongst rank-and-file Republicans may well have increased in potency with the loss by his Republican colleagues of their control of Congress. Control which those same grassroots Republicans remember, all too well, was engineered by Newt in the first place.
They may take the view that, as a born-again Washington outsider, Newt can work that same magic all over again, in the face of the current Democratic groundswell.

What may tip things Newt’s way is the social conservative vote in the Republican Primaries. For all his posturing, Mac is still seen as a social liberal. Rudy is way beyond hiding the fact that he’s always been one. And Mitt…oh please!

It may come down to New Hampshire. I’m guessing Newt will have to get at least 15% of the vote there to be taken seriously. And if he fails to achieve that benchmark, then I believe he will have to win heavily-religious South Carolina to stay in the race.

Thing is, he’s actually leading polls in several states at the moment – including North Carolina…

Published in: on February 14, 2007 at 8:54 am  Leave a Comment  

America’s Security Blanket

In the week that saw The Dixie Chicks cleaning up at The Grammy’s with their song, “Not Ready to Make Nice,” it’s probably a good a time as any to look at the likely Republican Challenge to John Edwards and the rest of the Democratic Presidential field.

Forget what anyone else says, John McCain is clearly the man to beat. He’s the one with the organization. And that counts for a whole lot more than what 1,000 people say in a poll conducted by a bunch of bored interns on a slow Friday afternoon.

Both Rudy Giuliani and Mac know that Rudy’s current lead in the polls is all ‘smoke ’n mirrors.’ It exists solely because no-one in the media has had the balls to say that “America’s Mayor” was actually something of a failure until 9/11 happened to put him in the wrong place at the right time.

As soon as Rudy hits the Presidential Trail, folks will see that his wooden campaigning style makes John McCain look positively charismatic. And once that happens, the media will feel more comfortable reminding voters that, before 9/11, Rudy was downright unpopular in New York.

True the crime rate fell with Rudy as Mayor. But he’d had an embarrassing divorce from his wife. And he backed off a one-on-one Senate contest with Hillary because he knew he was going to lose.

Once the press and the electorate think of Rudy as a potential President, they will realize that their over-hyped assessment was based on fuzzy memory rather than reality, and the candy floss poll figures will plummet.

The problem is that Mac can’t pick someone as his Veep who’s suffered a complete loss of credibility. Thus, the main purpose of Rudy’s Presidential Campaign will be to get him loads of national exposure, so as to offset the negative effect of his campaigning style and the info coming out of New York.

Don’t get too sidetracked by talk of “The McCain Doctrine,” either. It’s clever lawyer-speak, but it won’t run with Jonny Nascar and Wynette Walmart.

Remember, it was Jonny and Wynette who voted for Bush in 2004, because George wore cowboy boots and brought the oil home. They made the difference then (well…they and the Diebold machines), and they’ll still be the demographic of choice in 2008.

Jonny and Wynette, and their friends down at the VFW, like Mac because he’s ‘real’ military. They know there’s no-one going to come out of the woodwork and suggest that Mac was actually a stooge at the Hanoi Hilton. They know he did ‘real’ time at the hands of his North Vietnamese captors.

And so, Mac and Rudy will form the Republican Ticket in 2008, and together they will counter “The Dreamy Team” (Edwards/Obama) by portraying themselves as “America’s Security Blanket.”

Unless…

Published in: on February 13, 2007 at 12:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Valentine John!

Of course, there are those who say that the sight of a man’s pecs does more for women than the smell of his sweat.

Which gets me thinking of the lady who said that all John needed to do to win the Democratic nomination hands down was to put out a swimsuit calendar…

So. Edwards. John Edwards. What about it? Take your shirt off, for Valentine’s Day!

Show us what you’ve been up to in that new gymnasium on your ‘plantation.’ Grab a few cheap votes while you can.
Happy Valentine’s Day, one and all!
Published in: on February 11, 2007 at 12:49 am  Leave a Comment  

Don’t Sweat It!

For women, apparently there’s nothing like the smell of a man’s sweat.

Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley said women who sniffed a chemical found in male sweat experienced elevated levels of an important hormone, along with higher sexual arousal, faster heart rate and other effects.

So John, that’s why you were getting yourself so worked up at the DNC Winter Meeting a week ago? And that’s why you have both a gymnasium and a basketball court at your new ‘plantation’ outside of Chapel Hill, North Carolina?

You son of a gun, John. You really are a calculating genius, after all!

Published in: on February 11, 2007 at 12:38 am  Leave a Comment