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The International Writers Magazine
Politics: Democrats v Republicans

Part I & Part 11
James Campion

First The Democrats
I tried to avoid this. I really did.
We're 11 months from a primary and 20 months from the actual 2008 Election Day, and yet almost every news source, annoying blog, damnable 24-hour news channel, and political media outlet is hemming and hawing about the candidates.

There must be 40 of these people, of which about five have the cash, balls, or the will to endure the nearly two-years of repeated and vicious beatings from the press and each other. In some cases it has already begun. And in a current media climate wherein a Britney Spears haircut and the death of an airhead spawn front pages and 'round-the-clock coverage, it's as juicy as juicy gets.

    Granted, this time it will be as different as any of us have ever seen much less covered: No incumbent. Hopefully Dick Cheney will be dead by then, but if not, pretty much as useless as he is now. He's a doddering old maniac as it is; can you imagine if he had to sell himself as a legitimate candidate? Wow. Many smart constitutional historians are on record as stating if a monster like Cheney even considered running for president the very concept of democracy would fold in its wake. He is the sole reason Captain Shoo-In will never be impeached.

    So assuming cat litter would torch the vice president in an election, the field is wide open. The parties are currently in flux. Republicans are still licking their wounds from this past November's disaster and will be straddled with a lame duck Frat Boy in the Oval Office who, if track record is any indication, will likely be in the low teens in approval ratings by summer's end. The Democrats, wild with enthusiasm now, seem on a collision course for populist fall-out, and must make a better stand against the Iraq occupation or face a hiccup in their momentum.

    This is the real reason I was reluctant to cover the candidates so early in this thing in the first place. Sixty days is a long time in Washington. In 600 days there might not even be a Washington.

    But the pull is strong. We do not make the news here, we comment on it. And far be it for me to turn my back on the pomp and bull that has already begun on the campaign trail. And so, for our first commentary on the 2008 presidential race, we give you the early tale of the tape:
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Key Word: Ambition
The most dangerous of all candidates because she thinks she deserves this. Years of eating her husband's shit for this opportunity has made Clinton angry and determined. She has more money behind her than any candidate in history already.
Key Strength: Mean
Senator Rodham has the worst kind of humans running her campaign, not the least of which is her morally bankrupt husband and the demon Terry McAuliffe. Both men have no souls and are as wicked as homo sapiens get during campaigns. This will serve her well dismantling all comers.
Key Weakness: Calculating
The former first lady is the most hated among front-runners. She rubs people the wrong way because she is disingenuous at the least and a flat-out lying machine at her worst. Her shifty move to the center on the Iraq occupation has alienated a good many Democrats and will make securing the primary against anti-war sentiment tougher.
Creepiest Moment Thus Far: Internet Launch
Anyone not getting the willies watching that "Let's have a chat" announcement of her candidacy on the nifty web site evidently enjoys watching kittens strangled.
Outlook: Although she is manlier than Dennis Kucinich, she does have a vagina. This is extremely troubling to a majority of this backwards, puritanical nation of goobers. Good luck.
Barack Obama
Key Word: Untainted
Obama has been in Washington for 15 minutes, and he will remind you of this repeatedly because the bellow for change in '06 and backlash over bipartisan bickering has reached new heights in the supposed "fragile national psyche". This also makes him the media darling, for now. Remember so was Howard Dean weeks before the primaries, and in a mere hundred hours was road kill.
Key Strength: No Record
The new kid on the block means having no nasty, binding voting record, or even the kind of vacillating, flip-flop debate-addled nonsense that killed the Kerry '04 campaign. No one knows what the hell this guy stands for, really. He can make it up as he goes, which, for a while, keeps him fresh and desirable. But, again, time has a way of marching on, or in the case of Teflon candidates, marching over them.
Key Weakness: Lofty Expectations
Right now Obama is perfect: Young, optimistic, handsome, a completely new hybrid of race, personal metal, and enthusiasm. In other words: Completely impossible to live up to over the long haul. The littlest sheen is removed and the sharks come a-courtin'. Check out the whole David Geffen fall-out. Insiders are already questioning his silly; "I will not play politics of personal destruction" craziness. And well they should.
Creepiest Moment Thus Far: Lincoln Reference
Obama standing on the steps of the Illinois Courthouse invoking the name of Lincoln makes even the most starry-eyed of his worshipers cringe. It's not bad enough this guy is compared to a young JFK, we have to start the Lincoln parralells now?
Outlook: Okay, someone needs to point out that a preponderance of the national voting public finds it impossible even considering liberal Democrats, a black guy named Obama with the middle name Hussein is asking a lot. Good luck.
John Edwards
Key Word: Populist
Edwards is the perfect presidential candidate: A white lawyer from the South who promises roads paved with gold. They may as well just have picked him from central casting. He has more experience (on the national stump and in congress) than any other front-runner, and has, thanks to disasters like Katrina and many of the middleclass not benefiting from a steadying economy, captured the populist "Two America's" concept well.
Key Strength:
Not black or a woman.
Key Weakness:
Already a loser as VP candidate once. This is a tough comeback for anyone not named Nixon.
Creepiest Moment Thus Far: No one could forget those kissy-face sessions masquerading as debates between Edwards and Cheney.
Outlook: Least exciting candidate for primaries, but history and voter trends put him as the most electable. I'll believe change when I see it.
Dark Horse: Bill Richardson -- Most qualified, great record as governor (governors normally get elected) and sits in the weeds during these vacuous, almost meaningless early months. But can he raise enough money to combat the big boys and girl?
Long Shot: Al Gore -- I have spent an adulthood comparing him to Nixon. If he comes back and people naively recall his 2000 near-win as something of an omen and there is a logjam at the top, he could (gulp!) make a run.
No Shot: Joe Biden, Wesley Clarke, et al.

PART TWO:Republicans

Time for the Conservative/Religious Right movement to step aside and allow the mavericks a crack. Prepare for the Year of the Republican Social Liberal trying to act more button-down and holier-than-thou. This is especially key for the two frontrunners, both of whom have suddenly found old-time religion and scramble to-and-fro to allay the fears of the GOP's Big Money. They needn't bother. With a wounded lame-duck commander-in-chief and a possible recession on the horizon, pretty soon anyone who has the charisma and guts to take on the surging opposition party will be embraced like the Prodigal Son when the bell tolls. And it's tolling, son. It's tolling.

The following is the tale of the tape for the more-or-less legitimate hopefuls 18 months from pay dirt. Take from it what you will. We only aim to serve.
Rudolf Giuliani
Key Word: Perception
The image of the Country's Mayor is clear in the minds of every American. Giuliani's rock-solid response to and inspired leadership during his city's nightmare of 9/11 matters now more than ever. Apart from any candidate in the race, Democrat or Republican, Uncle Rudy actually inspires thoughts of victory during these troubled times. It is not a rare breed this Perception Candidate. You will find them in all previous winners: Bush 2 -- Righteous. Clinton -- Caring. Bush 1 -- Reagan Monkey. Reagan -- Optimistic. Carter -- Squeaky Clean. Nixon -- Tough. Etc.
Key Strength: Ruthless
A real arrogant toughness (not the country goon type we currently endure) is especially welcomed in these times, and Giuliani flaunts it with a weird kind of pride. As NYC's mayor, he took on special interests and the mob, state judges and the Republican Party, and unlike most all-talk politicians he succeeded in nearly all of these battles. Dogfights normally call for big dogs. Here's your pit bull.
Key Weakness: Loose Canon
Divorced three times, a long record of civil rights abuses, and first amendment pogroms litter Uncle Rudy's resume. He is a political enigma: a GOP darling that happens to be pro-choice, pro-gay rights, and pro-gun control, and as mentioned above took on his own party in 1996 by backing Democrat and Uber-Liberal, Mario Cuomo for governor over George Pataki.
Creepiest Moment Thus Far: Roe vs. Wade Dance
When confronted recently on his pro-choice stance and its stigma entering a Republican primary, Giuliani bristled and made some off-hand remark about appointing the proper conservative judges.
Outlook: Right now he is The Man, but a closet full of personal skeletons and a shoot-from-the-hip style that served him well running the worlds' greatest city may wound him on the national stump. But with the entire field faltering around him, could prove the perfect celebrity to fend off an expected Obama or Clinton rush.
John McCain
Key Word: Desperate
The darling of the Independents in 2000 is now the lone hawk in a coop of cooing doves, which has moved him as far right as he could possibly go -- including sucking up to every religious nutcase across the fruited plain. He's been a party lackey for too long and taken back seats to enough thrill-seekers. It's his turn and he is not apologizing for anything he has to do to grab the brass ring.
Key Strength: Loyalist
McCain's unwavering support of the troop-surge and manic campaigning for two Bush victories has basically labeled him the incumbent by default here. Therefore he has the odor of the Bush Administration about him, for good or ill. This will garner him much support with Republican insiders and help him in a primary run, (assuming things stabilize in Iraq -- a huge assumption) but in the same breath will render him a punching bag for the Democrats in the national race. But it does get him direct access to Karl Rove and other brilliant vipers like him.
Key Weakness: Retread
Fair or not, with the heavy air of "change for change sake" still in the air, McCain is old news. Almost every other candidate beyond Democratic John Edwards is brand spanking new to the arena, and in 2007, new is in. But with a river of time to pass, he may be seen as a steady influence. Again, however, something good has to happen in Iraq and nothing bad could possibly befall the economy, or, again, by default, he will bear the brunt.
Creepiest Moment Thus Far: Letterman "Wasted" Gaff
Announcing his candidacy on a talk show was hokey enough without the slip of the tongue about troops lives being "wasted". Followed up by the predictable backtracking and qualifying of "wasted" as "sacrificed". But the message is clear -- Mixed. How does the one candidate who defends every crazy war decision the White House sends down make a public Freudian slip about their victims?
Outlook: Time will tell, but for now McCain must continue to move right and force Giuliani to defend every social ideology he espouses.
Mitt Romney
Key Word: Paradox
Romney is a Mormon who used to support gay-marriage and was pro-choice. Now he is openly anti-gay and vehemently pro-life. Some of the weaker sorts might call this flip-flopping, but we won't lower ourselves to such cheap name-calling.
Key Strength: Zealot
Romney has transformed himself into the Religious Right's poster boy in the midst of all this wacky social liberalism. It will be extremely interesting if voters will choose his lack of "electability" over his more appealing ideology like the supposed anti-war crowd choosing pro-war Kerry over less attractive true anti-war candidates in '04.
Key Weakness: Boring.
If Uncle Rudy is the wild man and Papa McCain is old school, then it only leaves Romney with the scraps. A rare candidate can muscle his/her way into a comfortable niche. Bad news is he does not appear to be one of those.
Creepiest Moment Thus Far: "Meet The Press" Squirming
Tim Russert read every bigoted quote attributed to Romney on gays in the past six months and Romney refuted none of them. Instead, he predictably hid behind the Bible.
Outlook: Romney will have a place in the party's emerging platform, but if he is to be a serious threat, the frontrunners first need to crash and burn, which is not out of the realm of possibility.

Dark Horse: Chuck Hagel -- Slyly waiting in the wings to let the early nonsense recede, Hagel is the rarest of breeds, an anti-war Republican candidate. This sets him apart from the pack and gives voice to a growing angst in the party against the doomed Iraq occupation.
Long Shot: Duncan Hunter -- Arguably the one true fiscal conservative in the bunch, Duncan could wreck things by screaming about NAFTA and the WTO (jobs), Illegal Immigration (jobs) and insane government spending (money). The Money/Jobs card always win the day.
No Shot: Newt Gingrich, Sam Brownback, et al.

© James Campion March 17th 2007

Bush 1 - Democrats - 0
James Campion
"The president needs a check and a balance. This president hasn't had one, hasn't listened to others, including his top military commanders, and it's about time he did..."



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