In our regularly scheduled attempt to keep the average reader up to date on the 2008 White House Race, here is the first in an installment of columns to introduce, analyze, and predict the various points of fortune to the candidates running for office, even though at this point it is impossible to predict anything with any amount of accuracy outside of “Someone will win the election” and “That someone will be beholden to either one set of corporations or another, depending on whether we count votes multiple times per voter or count dollar amounts instead of votes.”
Rudy Giuliani: Currently one of the more popular figures in the general population, though not necessarily for GOP primary voters, Giuliani appears to be in the first tier of candidates. His qualifications involve his handling of New York City after 9/11, the post-9/11 effects of New York City, and dealing with the reaction of New York City to the events on 9/11. Given his experience after 9/11, the post-9/11 New York environment is one of Giuliani’s most significant achievements, not counting the time he spent in office during the aftermath of 9/11. His platform so far is to proclaim that it is America’s duty to “repeatedly shove the broomstick handle of liberty into the anus of fanatical terrorism.”
Barack Obama: Barack Obama is currently the appointed messiah of the Democratic party: a charismatic, reasonably well-respected politician from a big, electorally rich state. Alas, Obama has one obvious socially historical handicap that may prevent him from getting elected to the most powerful position in the world: he is a Senator. Senators are notoriously bad at getting elected President; the last person to do so was John F. Kennedy, who was elected shortly after birth. He also has to overcome his reputation as the inexperienced anointed, which, given the track record of Democrats nominating congressional pages as running mates, should not be difficult to handle. Also, he’s black.
John Edwards: The former Vice Presidential candidate has much the same going for him than he did in 2004: good looks, charisma, and not being John Kerry. After the failed 2004 campaign, he helped organized the One America Committee, whose sole accomplishment in the past to years appears to be burning down a Wal-mart in Providence to the ground. As a Southerner, he can be expected to help crack the Republicans’ hold in that area, though he may also need to work to earn the votes of those suspicious of voting for someone of the age of 12.
Hillary Clinton: One of contemporary politics’ most divisive figures, Hillary Clinton is running for President, though for the sake of accuracy it should be noted that her campaign for the Presidency started approximately thirty-five years ago. Hillary’s handicaps are also her greatest assets: her years treating the First Ladyship as a cabinet position. Some people, known as the “South,” resent the fact that she usurped an otherwise ceremonial duty into a policy-making position. Other people, namely “Hollywood and George Soros,” note that this as an asset rather than a liability. Ultimately, the Democrats’ chances of winning in 2008 hinge on whether Hillary is the Democratic nominee. On the other side, the Republicans’ chances of winning in 2008 hinge on whether Hillary is the Democratic nominee. Also, she’s a woman.
John McCain: The Senator from Arizona, long the media darling of the right, recently announced his intentions to run for President. While he made an impressive showing in the 2000 campaign and has been a intermittently loyal commandant in the GOP since then, he hopes to differentiate himself this time around with the fact that he is about 1,000 years old and, with only a slight provocation such as drawing on an inside straight, could still beat the living bloody piss out of Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Wesley Clark all at once. (John Edwards, too, but being able to defeat John Edwards in a fistfight is not exactly a differentiator.)
Mitt Romney: The former governor of Massachusetts and, more notably, chairman of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, is fast becoming the social conservatives’ choice for the nomination. On the plus side, he was handily elected in one of the most liberal states in the nation, ushered in one of the first state-mandated health care systems, balanced a bloated budget, and took control of the increasingly mismanaged “Big Dig” program. On the minus side, his first name is the same as an article of clothing grandmothers make as a confirmation gift. Also, he’s Mormon.
Al Gore: Al Gore has been very Nixonesque in his time outside of office. Like Nixon, he lost a bitterly close election, then chose to sit out the next election, positioning himself for a savior candidate when the front runners in the subsequent election eat each other alive. Unlike Nixon, though, Gore didn’t grill puppies for sport or buy a Chinese girl for 50 camels from Nassar back in the early 70’s. While he gained an unwarranted reputation as a stiff media bore as Vice President, then sealed an unwarranted reputation as a chronic prevaricator as a presidential candidate, he now runs the risk of gaining an unwarranted reputation as intellectual Hamlet forever disappointing his followers, a rather unfortunate hybrid of Adlai Stevenson, Mario Cuomo, and Eddie Murphy.
Newt Gingrich: Like Al Gore, Newt Gingrich has sat safely in the sidelines waiting for a golden opportunity. His recent admission of having an affair while administering the impeachment process against Bill Clinton has harmed his chances of being a credible candidate. (Though, to be fair, he has asked for divine forgiveness on this front. Or, rather confessed his sins publicly on nationwide radio to James Dobson, which is apparently the functional equivalent for Republicans.) However, while Gore has been making emotionally effective documentaries, education people about environmental issues, and becoming a master policy wonk, Gingrich has been out making fistloads of cash. It is left as an exercise to the student which one means more in politics.