Friday, December 16, 2005

Sore Loserman, an aside

Sore Loserman, an aside

The main point of my second Sore Loserman post wasn't simply to pick on Al Gore or even blame him for losing in 2000, although obviously I did both.

The point was to remember that Joe Lieberman entered upon the national stage in the role of quisling. It appears to be a part he was born to play. At any rate, he's embraced it enthusiastically and acts the stuffing out of it, and he seems determined to go on playing it well past the point of embarrassment, like those old Shakespearean hams who continued to star as Hamlet or Romeo into their 60s.

My other point was that choosing a Vice-Presidential candidate is a crucial decision for a Presidential nominee.

I think the conventional wisdom these days is that the VP candidate himself has a negligible effect at the polls. Maybe so. But I think the choice of a running mate is very important. It dominates the news cycle for a week, after all. The choice tells voters---and the Media---something significant about the Presidential candidate. Painful as it is to remember, Bush's choice of Cheney was played up by his campaign and played back by the Media as a sign that Bush was aware of his shortcomings as a potential President and was savvy enough, and courageous enough, to choose a Veep who was smarter and more experienced than he was to make up for what he lacked.

The message was that George Bush may not be a Clinton-esque intellectual and policy wonk, but he was smart enough to surround himself with smart aides and advisors like Cheney. This somehow got woven into the overall campaign narrative that George Bush was a regular guy.

Bush would leave all the pointy-headed stuff to his flunkys while he'd make the big decisions relying on his gut, his heart, his common sense, and Jesus.

In a comment, Jim Madden raised the objection that in judging Gore I underestimated the effect of a hostile Media on his campaign. Jim's right, of course.

I didn't mean to downplay it to the point of its not mattering, which is why I linked to that old post of mine, It's always been about Whitewater. There's no question that a large, powerful, and determined claque of Media Insiders set out to beat up on Al. They started in on him during the primaries when Bill Bradley was their darling, and they continued right up until the Scalia and company ripped up the Constitution.

(If George Bush really does think the Constitution is just a god-damned piece of paper, it's not an idea he came up with all on his own.)

But I think that the candidate and his campaign managers should try their hardest to direct the Media's attention and focus. At the time it appeared that Gore's people allowed their own focus and attention to be directed by the Media, leaping like startled rabbits at every criticism and then rushing off to change things to please the critics.

Whether or not that's true or that's a perception I picked up from the Media finding yet another way to attack Gore for something he didn't do, choosing Lieberman was a blunder because it fit right in with the story the Media were beginning to tell about Gore, that he was a smug Liberal elitist and Washington insider, out of touch with Real America---in contrast to that man of the people, George W. Bush.

Water under the bridge, except that John Kerry went on to make the same mistake.

I was glad when Kerry picked John Edwards for his running mate and at the time the choice earned Kerry a lot of positive press coverage.

But Edwards quickly sank into irrelevancy. And this wasn't because Vice-Presidential candidates don't matter. And it wasn't Edwards' fault. The fact was that out on the campaign trail Edwards turned out to be John Kerry's mini-me.

Edwards was another Liberal. Another Senator. Another lawyer. Another pointy-headed intellectual type. Edwards is able to do the man of the people part on his own, but put next to Kerry that aspect of his character was overshadowed by all his similarities to Kerry.

Even his authentic Southernness seemed to melt away.

What this means is the next time out the Democrats have to do a much better job of casting their VP.

Which brings up another question. Suppose Hillary is the nominee.

Among those in the know this isn't so much a supposition as it's a given. I don't see how it will happen since so many Democrats everywhere seem either terrified of the prospect or determinedly hostile, but here's Craig Crawford of working from the thesis that Hillary's the front runner who it'll be hard to beat. (Link via Political Wire via Shakespeare's Sister.) So let's say it is Hillary.

Who on God's green earth could she possibly choose as her running mate?

Who could she get to complement her strengths and counterbalance her shortcomings?

Presumably, her choice would be a man, just because she would probably be choosing from her main rivals for the nomination (although this has always struck me as being of doubtful wisdom. Why put on your ticket someone whose main claim to fame at the moment is being a loser?). But even if she were to go for someone who hadn't had a hat in the ring, choosing another woman would probably be too risky in her mind and in the minds of party movers and shakers. A candidate already despised and feared as a castrating shrew battleax fishwife and closeted lesbian---and don't think we won't hear those rumors a lot come 2008---wouldn't dare put another castratrating shrew battleax fishwife on her ticket---and don't think that any woman who ran with her wouldn't be seen as one.

But what man could she pick? We know how just about any man who runs with her will be perceived.

No, not as being secure in his masculinity and having a strong, healthy ego.

Yeah, I know, we live in a dumb, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic country.

We're not going to change it by losing elections.

An aside to the aside: Gore's choice of Lieberman and Kerry's of Edwards were self-defeating in another way. A President Gore or a President Kerry would have faced the prospect of dealing with a Republican majority in the Senate. Taking away a Democratic Senator was not the most foresightful move either man could have made then, especially since it was probable both would have been replaced by Republicans.

Lieberman's successor would have been appointed by a Republican governor. (Remember this guy?) In fact, an early sign of Lieberman's essential quisling nature was that, knowing this, he held onto his seat anyway, running for re-election to the Senate instead of stepping aside to let another Democrat have a shot. I don't know why Gore didn't make that a condition of his being the VP candidate. By running for two jobs at once, Lieberman was either admitting that he didn't think Gore would win or that he didn't care if a Republican took over for him in the Senate.

Edwards did give up his seat, and a Republican won it handily, although the results were close enough, 52 per cent to 47 per cent, that it's probable that Edwards running as the incumbant would have been re-elected.

Think of it. If Gore had made Lieberman give up his seat and Kerry had found a governor to run with him, Connecticut would be probably be represented by a real Democrat and John Edwards would still be in the Senate.


"For all sad words of tongue or pen,/the saddest are these: 'It might have been!'"


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