Saturday, June 26, 2004

Veepstakes Bore Me

Let’s get one thing out on the table up-front: veepstakes bore me.

So, naturally, I’m going to discuss the musical chairs of running mate selection. Just not from the angle you may have been expecting.

Of course, these days the punditocracy is in its quadrennial flutterfest over whom the challenger in this election cycle (still rumored to be John “Presumptive” Kerry as of press time) will select as his crash-test dummy co-pilot. And for all the vehemently proclaimed “unity” on the Democratic side, there appears to be yet another intra-party slugfest on the way over who that person is going to be, with congressional Dems demanding John Edwards (you know, the Ken-dollish Clinton wannabe who didn’t win a single primary outside the Carolinas) and Big Labor making ominous threats that it had better be cornbelt commissar Dick Les Gephardt (aka the Man Who Never Got The Gavel). Small state guvs like Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Tom Vilsack of Iowa have been thrown into the mix only to see how long it took them to flee for the tall grass (neither took very long).

As usual whenever this kind of thing comes ‘round again, I look at it and cannot see how, or that, it matters. Edwards is an empty suit, his face and hair more or less sprayed out of an aerosol can, and nobody would get much of a chance of evaluating a Kerry-Gephardt ticket because nobody would stay awake long enough to catch much of what they had to say. Besides, as we all know but a great many of us are loathe to admit, people don’t base their vote on the bottom of the ticket, but the top. How else, for all the vicious ridicule directed at Dan Quayle, did George H.W. Bush ever attain the presidency?

No veep ever dragged his boss across the finish line in first place. That’s why the choice of a running mate is an entirely negative one, in the sense that the point is to not hurt the presidential nominee. If the veep’s home state is up for grabs and can be tipped, that’s pure gravy.

As such, it is doubtful that Kerry will make the 2004 election close enough to where a state like Missouri (11 Electoral Votes) would make the difference, even assuming Gephardt’s presence on the ticket could tip it into the Dem column (forget Edwards tipping North Carolina). And, of course, Little Dick never tested his viability outside his narrow congressional district in any case.

But this blog segment isn’t about the Dem veepstakes; it’s about the Republican merry-go-round.

What, you didn’t know there was one? Well, you’re almost certainly right; so far as I know, there ISN’T one. But Kirby Wilbur tossed out the topic this morning on KVI, and the ensuing discussion got me to thinking….

There are those (none of whom seem to actually be Republicans, oddly enough…) who to this day suggest that Dick Cheney should be dumped…ur, that is, “eased into retirement” on the ostensible grounds that he’s a “drag on the ticket” and President Bush would be better off without him. Which is a remarkable assertion, given that many of these same people have spent the past three-plus years claiming that Mr. Cheney has been the “power behind the throne,” a Wizard of Oz-like figure pulling Dubya’s strings from behind the metaphorical green curtain. And this following his being largely credited with giving Bush43 the critically-needed “gravitas” in 2000 that nudged him (barely) over the top.

Remember, boys and girls, it’s the top of the ticket that matters. And if recent polling is trend-worthy, the President is inexorably pulling away from his Ichabod Crane-like pretender.

But then a caller this morning had an interesting suggestion.

George Tenet recently stepped down from CIA, right? And CIA hasn’t done the Bush White House many favors over the past few years, correct? The consistent theme swirling around Langley is that the President needs “his guy” at CIA, someone he can implicitly trust to serve him and the national interest rather than its own penchant for reflexive ass-covering.

Who would be better for this assignment, as a former SecDef and Vice President, than Dick Cheney? Not to mention that it would be a delicious counter-haymaker to the inevitable “Bush is frantically reshuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic” reporting in that a man libs despise almost as much as the President would be moving over to the last post on Earth they want to see someone like him take. Mr. “Secret Halliburton Man” as the new chief spook. And he’d be damned good at it, too.

Just doesn’t get any better than that.

This would leave the GOP veep spot open. And callers tossed out several names.

Rudy Giuliani – one caller actually claimed that putting “America’s Mayor” on the ticket would tip New Jersey, New York, AND Connecticut into the Republican Electoral column. This caused me to snort a rather impressive loogie through my bedroom window as I was sitting on the edge of my bed trying to de-grog myself. Dubya could run unopposed in Connecticut and New York and still lose. If these states were dog pounds, he could douse himself in Heinz-57 sauce, put on a pork chop costume, and shuffle through with all the cage doors open and not pull a majority. Well, New Jersey would be an outside possibility, given its new status as a battleground state, and fifteen Electoral Votes is nothing to, well, sneeze at. But there’s the matter of Rudy’s social ultra-liberalism to contend with, as well as the assumption that he’s planning on challenging Mrs. Clinton for the Senate in ’06. This cycle is no time to risk splitting the Republican base, and making a cherished Democrat pipedream come true.

Alan Keyes – God bless the caller who suggested him, and God bless Ambassador Keyes for that matter, but this one ain’t going down with a jar of Vasoline and a toilet plunger.

Condoleezza Rice – An intriguing possibility. Dr. Rice is brilliant, articulate, conservative, and has proven her mettle under partisan fire with her 9/11 commission testimony. And in this race/gender-happy age, her possession of an abundance of epidermal pigmentation and estrogen would not be disadvantages by a long shot. Indeed, I can think of no strikes against the incumbent National Security Advisor, other than that she’s not….

Colin Powell – Bingo. If the President is going to make this change, the reigning SecState is the logical choice to move over to veep.

Why, you ask? Let us count the ways.

-He’s already announced that he’s stepping down as SecState at the end of Bush’s first term;

-He’s probably the only social lib in the Republican Party, aside perhaps from the aforementioned Giuliani, that could be sold as Mr. Cheney’s replacement (provided Cheney was moving over to CIA) and not generate a measurable base backlash.

-As Vice President General Powell would become the instant heir apparent, something in which he may or may not have an interest but Mr. Cheney definitely doesn’t. And looking ahead to 2008, given the certainty of a Hillary candidacy on the other side (assuming she doesn’t usurp John Kerry this time), Powell would be the only Republican with the stature and star power to take on Mrs. Clinton and beat her into submission.

-And, by the Hippocratic criterion of any veep selection, General Powell would unquestionably “do no harm” in the campaign at hand.

It’s the best of all worlds, really – Bush gets a CIA director he can trust, a veep that can only help him in his re-election bid, and the GOP gets an ’08 candidate that can snuff a Clinton restoration. Plus, Dr. Rice could scoot over and succeed General Powell at State. A veritable political hat-trick.

Yeah, the above is most likely just the kind of five-knuckle-shuffling I dropped a load on way up top. But somebody once told me (or, rather, someone a lot like whom I once was) that every time I think, I “coin money for this joint.”

I’m willing to send Karl Rove a modest bill, if he’s interested.

Grand Opening (or "The Same Great Stuff at a Better Location")

Welcome to a blog that at long last matches software capability with long-held intent!

And let the record also show that that's my obligatory use of the exclamation point. Not really my style.

I've blogged off and on for years (long before it was actually called "blogging"), most recently picking it up again this past spring, which was conveniently in time for when there was going to be a ton of material on which to blog. This coincided with the announcement by AOL-owned CompuServe, where I've been a sysop for the past five years, of a change in forum software platforms, which was long suspected by us old-timers and did not bode well for the future of that particular communications medium.

Oh, I'm still there. But I also set up my own site, and loaded it with my old blogs and essays, as well as TV and movie reviews. There was just one problem: my blog did not have actual blog software. So I was limited to posting a week's worth of commentary at a time, and finding any one particular morsel, while unquestionably worth the effort, was nonetheless a lot more difficult.

And, of course, without promotion, any such personal site is what they used to (and still might, for all I know) call a "vanity" site.

So, while there are still five months left in the 2004 campaign, and before Dan Rather is tracked down by an angry mob with hissing torches and sharpened pitchforks - and at the beginning of a new week - I finally made the move to full-fledged blogdom.

And thanks to the niftiness of hyperlinks, you can click on my profile and get to my personal site to explore that wonderful world of waggery, and my blog page there is linked back to here.

Now that the housekeeping is dispensed with, the fur can resume flying...