Friends and colleagues on both sides of the political aisle always ask me why a particular candidate, usually running for president, ever thought he or she had a prayer of winning. "They convince people to give them millions of dollars, talk about doing something ridiculous, end up out of the race, and the only thing they've done is waste good money that could have gone to __________." Then they clarify by stating a name, filling in the blank with their own "cause celeb," and close with some regional interpretation of the immortal question, "What's wrong with these people?"
In 2008, I personally had no trouble justifying the campaign of Congressman Dennis Kucinich. He was the 2nd most honest person I had ever met in politics. As an aside, two different Vice Presidents gave commencement addresses both times I earned law degrees, I've met five Presidents of the United States, advised one candidate for president, wrote speeches for another, played golf regularly with a governor and had a former congressman as a business partner...and none of them are #1 on that list.
Even Kucinich lost both his way, and his status, when he campaigned against the Obama healthcare plan and pledged to vote"no". In the end, Dennis voted for the bill, and was arguably "the vote" that secured passage. On the Bill the congressman had stated would "set healthcare reform back twenty-five years," Dennis towed the party line and suggested "it was the best we were going to get". I would have been much happier if he had said, "I'm in the process of being re-districted out of my job, or forced to run against another incumbent democrat in a primary I might lose. Are you nuts? I can't buck the brand new sitting President."
Even sadder, yet...the #1, most honest person I ever met in the political game not only died a tragic death, but afterwards, a whole bunch of guys who weren't half the human being that Paul Wellstone had been, embarrassed even those of us who truly loved the man, by using his public memorial to do all it could to thoroughly destroy his legacy.
Not only do I digress...but with purpose.
Sure, every presidential race for even farther back than I can remember, has had at least one "wacky neighbor"...borrowing a concept from the most successful modern day situation comedy format ever employed by the Wizards of Hollywood. Hell, Barry Goldwater got the nomination. Ronald Reagan was the consummate Wacky Neighbor, despised by the majority of his party for eight years. It's taken Ron Paul what, about ten election cycles and two different parties to even remotely resemble relevance. (He was running for president when JFK was shot, wasn't he?) And, for those who might be thinking that I only recognize the Wack Factor in one flavor...please note that I interviewed Senator Mike Gravel twice in 2008. I sure hope I'm not the only guy who ever felt sorry enough for him to call his grandchildren and ask them to please come and take him home.
So, what is so different, today? Why are even the most hard core republican friends of mine wondering in these times, with this economy, a sitting democratic president best described six months ago as a dead man walking...shaking their heads hard enough to generate a migraine and first on my "Friend's List" to be asking the question that started this posting? How can it be, that the same president that the right took two years attempting to brand as "another Jimmy Carter" could end up with a second term which really would embolden him to make more significant change than did Ronald Reagan?
The short answer, I guess is that the really smart republicans who would actually have a chance at winning a presidential race, realize that the economy that they thought would be Mr. Obama's downfall, might still be far enough down the old Thomas Crapper four years from now, so as to rain on their own parade, as well. The longer answer will be the subject of its own in depth posting later in the campaign, as the republican nominee truly does emerge and be recognized.
I guess I'm having trouble answering the question presented today because I had promised myself, and one very good friend, that I would go an entire presidential election campaign and not use so much as a single off-color word in even one blog posting. In 2008, despite the fact that some of my work was picked up by news or entertainment programming on six networks, by both real news people and comedians and satirists whose names we all recognize...and, notwithstanding the fact that even Politico, Drudge and Huff Post will occasionally agree that nothing adds a little much needed emphasis like a properly positioned off-color word or phrase...I really wanted to go at least two days into this election coverage without "going blue". (And, I don't mean "Democratic".)
But alas, the best laid plans of mice and mean...yada, yada, yada.
As I was sitting with that friend recently...a friend who I would not at all have expected to find blue humor funny, or appropriate under any circumstances...we watched a replay of a comedy routine performed by an incredible comedian and writer named Louis C. K.. I've worked on the same stage in New York City with Louie, on maybe as many as 100 or more occasions. On this occasion, he recounted a story where while driving, he was a victim of a road rage incident and, where after being cut off by another driver, the other driver proceeded to stop his car, roll down his window and admonish Louie to, "Suck a whole bag of dicks". As Louie tells the story, his first reaction was, "Wow, this guy is REALLY pissed. I could see maybe one dick," he says..."But, a whole BAG of dicks. Talk about over reacting."
Right after that, I watched a replay of the last republican presidential debate. Midway through what only seemed like nine hours, there was a two minute segment where Rick Perry was so upset about something he could hardly...well, to be honest, Rick Perry can hardly speak after a restful night's ambien-induced REM-sleep session, but...let's just say he was on the verge of suggesting that Rick Santorum follow in the footsteps of Louis C.K. during the road rage experience.
And, Santorum didn't back down. He stuck his passive-aggressive meely-mouth right into the fray and probably would have returned a similar suggestion to Governor Perry...But, given Santorum's previous suggestion that "gay marriage leads to bestiality" and a driving desire for a man to "marry an inanimate object, such as the Eiffel Tower"...I think Santorum thought better of going all-in by dropping the "whole bag of dicks card" so early in the World Series of Politics. But...he was pretty pissed, too.
That's when I realized why no one candidate can last more than one week, or three sexual scandals, at the top of the list. Regardless of what Obama has done in office, he ran for office because he probably believed he could make legitimate change. George W. Bush was, okay, I'll be kind...a lunatic, Yale legacy who, though either oxygen deprived at birth, or pharmceutically enhanced a little more than the average bear...he was a man on a mission...and at least the first time he ran, he wasn't pissed. Bush, Sr. and Jimmy Carter were intellectually gifted guys, who were not only decent, honorable human beings...they also ran for president to do good. And, of course, these do-gooders are the only two elected one term presidents in the last fifty years. The last president to be elected while he was pissed off, in a first term election...was Ronald Reagan.
And, why was Ronald Reagan pissed? Partly, because for eight years, mainstream republicans called him, "another Barry Goldwater". And, mainly...because a smart group of guys told RWR that he wasn't the only one who was pissed..."The whole country is just as pissed as you are, Ron. We can make that work. You don't even have to be pissed about the same stuff. Trust us, Governor...You tap into being pissed, and we'll have fifty million people telling thirty million people to suck a whole bag of dicks on their way into and out of the voting booth".
So...why won't Rick Santarium quit the race and spend time with his dying 4 year old daughter? Why won't Michele Botchmann acknowledge that even the State of Minnesota would secede before Rick Perry's Texas, if she simply became the nominee? Why did Herman Cain think that 40 years of serial adultery wouldn't stand in the way of his ascension to Bill Clinton status? What could possibly possess Jon Huntsman to believe that a moderate could be nominated by a party who would like to see him suck a whole bag of dicks? Why would the only deposed former Speaker of the House, who was fined $300,000 on his way out the door after he resigned, who has played the role of Bill Clinton and Herman Cain, also for decades...who divorced a cancer-riddled wife while she was hospitalized, in order to marry his mistress who he later cheated on in his congressional office while he was slamming Clinton for the same conduct (pause for deep breath here)...think the 70,000,000 people he will need to have forget all of this...will? Why does Ron Paul want to bang his tiny head against the wall of death one, more, time...at an age older than John McCain, who everyone said was already too old to win? Most importantly, why is anyone paying any attention to Donald J. Trump?
Because these guys are pissed. And, because this country hasn't been so pissed off generally that it was willing to tell anyone to suck a whole bag of dicks...since 1980. And, a whole bag of "republican strategists" have put two and two together for absolutely no one who should even be permitted to have their name on a ballot.
Are you taking notes Mitt?