Monday, April 02, 2007


By Ivan G. Goldman

You have to wonder about the judgment and sanity of some of these no-hope presidential candidates. I don’t mean fringe players like Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who runs, apparently, without expectation of victory, but whose primary purpose is to direct attention to a cause (in his case, the cause of an aggressively liberal agenda that pays no heed to the demands of mega-corporate players).

What’s startling and almost inexplicable are the truly weird candidates out there expecting to win – Rudy Giuliani and John McCain being the most extreme examples. How could these two possibly have any expectation of success? Carrying baggage that positively reeks, they face two successive, towering hurdles – getting past the hard-core Republican zealots who vote in the primaries and then taking a sharp left turn to pick up the independents they must win over to prevail in the general election while still hanging on to the fringe-weirdo Republican vote.

Giuliani is so vulnerable to the facts of his history that in a national election he’d be in trouble against Porky Pig. Not just the fact that he married his cousin, was forced to admit marital infidelity during an ugly divorce proceeding, and is a serial cross-dresser. Not just the ugly history of his daffy, dog-torturing present wife, either. First, Giuliani put a particularly odious fix in to slide under the Vietnam-era draft (the facts, as I said, are there; one need only look). That bit of his past was overlooked in the run for NYC mayor, but it won't play in Peoria. As mayor, he got lots of publicity for the sharp reduction in New York City crime, but the real mover there was Police Commissioner William Bratton, who, using computer-mapping techniques to pinpoint crime, reduced serious offenses by more than one-third and murder by almost half in just two years. When reporters sniffed out Bratton, Giuliani got rid of him. Not the mark of a leader.

Then Rudy showed oddly wild enthusiasm for unaccomplished Detective Bernard Kerik, pulling him way up into the city bureaucracy and later getting dim-witted George Bush to nominate him to run Homeland Security. Kerik is about to be indicted for a trail of sleaze that followed him up the ladder of success, and Giuliani is stuck to him as Laurel was to Hardy.

McCain took his eye off the ball long ago. It’s nearly impossible to name an issue on which he hasn’t listed mightily from one side to the other, all in his mad pursuit of acclamation, approval, and the presidency. Now he’s unabashed leader of the wildly demented Iraq war hawks, who never saw an irrational U.S. escalation they didn’t love.

McCain is old, and like Giuliani, he’s suffered from both cancer and irrational exuberance for his blighted personal cause. Their unelectable national status is firm as the carvings on Mount Rushmore. Some other Republican will win the nomination.

The real question is whether hated, untrusted, eerie Hillary Clinton is just as crazy as Giuliani and McCain. Whereas McCain has taken every possible position on every possible issue, Hillary takes no clear position on anything. If you asked her whether she preferred cherry or apple pie she'd have to run it through a focus group before replying, and you'd still get no definitive answer. She's a phantom candidate with the beliefs of a snail. But like Giuliani and McCain, she believes in her right to prevail and to rule.
All three of those candidates have access to serious money from their elite paymasters. That won’t be enough to help Rudy and John. The story on Hillary has yet to clarify itself. Of late she's turned more and more to Bill to shore up her absence of charisma or clearcut policy. The strategy is to go after the nostalgia vote -- promising the same old dynasty with the same old Clintonite Klingons in the entourage, and a shared presidency -- a 21st century William and Mary, Ferdinand & Isabella setup. Can't America do better than this?

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