Presidential Popularity Contest

I was at a luncheon the other day where the “ying and yang” of political punditry, Mary Matalin and James Carvelle, were in agreement about the selection of candidates for the 2008 presidential race. They basically said it was going to be a popularity contest and the front runners today will be the nominees tomorrow. Their matching short lists had McCain and Giuliani as the choices for Republicans, and Hillary and Barak Obama for the Democrat choices.

Their reasoning sounded like a pitch for an American Idol show for wanna-be presidents. Who polls best, looks best, is known by more people, greater name ID, can rally their base and appeal to moderates at the same time. Ideology and position on issues were not considered as being relevant to the choice, and they were all described as appealing to “middle America,” whatever that is. What they were describing was the kind of race you saw in high school where the popular jock beat the egghead even though the egghead would be a far superior class president and could articulate his views on a variety of issues, but couldn’t get two people to vote for him because he wasn’t “popular.”

So by these standards, the two most “popular” candidates, who should run in 2008, would be Rush Limbaugh for the Republicans and Oprah Winfrey for the Democrats. They both are pure ideologues, but have an appeal to certain segments of “middle America.” They both are household names with their negatives and positives set in concrete. They wouldn’t need to raise the billions of dollars it takes to run a campaign because they each already have a built in, daily, platform from which to espouse their political views, gain even greater exposure, motivate their base and move to convince the undecided that they are the best choice for America, yes, even middle America.

They have both proven that they can successfully administer, control, direct and lead multi-million dollar operations with the same skill and intellect it would take to lead a nation. They talk daily on a variety of issues, have instant access to just about anyone and anything, and are not in the habit of taking “no” for an answer. They know what they want, they pursue it, and by all accounts, achieve their very lofty and admirable goals.

What has John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, and even Rudy Giuliani done? They have all been government employees and three are members of the same club of 100. Hillary earned her box of senate-shaped candy from a fadiliating spouse who knew that it would take more than roses to put the smile back on the little woman’s face.

And that giant chocking sound you hear across the nation is conservatives gagging on the idea of McCain as their nominee while it is being crammed down their throats by an all-too-gleeful chorus of moderates, liberals, and Machiavellian democrats.

Barak has served two years in that club of 100 and is naïve enough to think that if John Edwards can do it . . . then so can he. And Rudy hasn’t even begun to earn the right to run as president. When he refused to run against Hillary in his own state, it sent a huge message to the Republicans in other states that if he doesn’t even think he can beat a carpetbagging light-weight who only has the job because she married into it, then why do we think he can beat her nationally? How does he think being a mayor of a city that thinks Hillary should be president, qualifies him for even having a clue as to what the rest of the country believes?

None of them have shown exemplary skill or the ability to govern. None of them are particularly attractive and articulate, except maybe Barak. But Serial killer, Ted Bundy was attractive, intelligent and incredibly articulate according to the judge who presided over his murder trial. By the “Barak standard”, he would have been a perfect presidential candidate. But when you unravel Barak’s words, tie them to his voting record and line up the rhetoric, you see that he is just another politician who craves power and will do anything to get it . . . except serve a full term in the Senate. He will even dutifully go into West Virginia and raise money for an ex-KKK leader if that is what it takes to be president.

It was a little ironic to hear James Carvelle insist that only a known quantity, like these four, will get elected when he is responsible for an unknown Governor in the 50th ranked state on a variety of levels, throwing his hat in the ring against an incumbent president with a 92% approval rating . . . and winning. Bill Clinton won in spite of Gennifer Flowers, loathing the military and dodging the draft. Oddly . . . just a few years later, suddenly service in the military is of utmost importance in getting elected and should be a requirement of any serious candidate. Will they readjust that assessment and give Hillary a pass because she is a girl? What about Barak and Giuliani?

Americans deserve more choices than the field of hand-picked moderate/liberals that have been determined to be the only ones that can possibly be elected President of the United States. There are tens of thousands of Americans who would be better in that position but would never consider facing the abuse they know would wait them if they attempted such a dangerous fete. And there are many others who are far more qualified, who are exploring a run but are being discounted as unelectable because well-paid and positioned pundits have said so.

But conservatives especially, have the uncanny ability of upsetting political apple carts because they are constantly misunderestimated. (love that word). The RNC thought they would hold their noses and vote for Viagra Bob. But all the polling showed that while they didn’t pull the lever for him on election day, they did support the other Republican candidates running for the house and senate. They saw it this year with huge numbers, for example, in Virginia, supporting the bill that identifies marriage as between one man and one woman, but rejecting George Allen, who stupidly distanced himself from the issue.

I have said for years that every election cycle is a new experience for conservatives and candidates have to court and win every single vote. Conservatives are not lock step, they don’t vote straight party line and they not only look at issues but at candidates individually. Liberals are just the opposite. It is all about the party and the power for them. If Rush Limbaugh switched parties tomorrow, and they thought he could win the presidency, he would be the darling of the left and Hillary would be yesterday’s news. But if Hillary moves to the right to give Rush a run for his money, while still running as a Democrat, they will sing her open-minded praises and know in their hearts it is just an act to dupe . . . “middle America.”

So let’s quit fooling around, quit getting jerked around, quit hiding behind “middle America”, call their bi-annual bluff, and nominate two people who best represent the views of the two major camps in America . . .the left and the right. It would be a close, fun race and what you see, is what you would most definitely get with either Rush or Oprah. Think of the money we could save and the painful campaign commercials that we would not be forced to sit through, night after night, month after month.

If it is a popularity contest the pundits want . . . bring it on!!