Handicapping the Presidential Aspirants

 

by Edwin D. Reilly, Jr.

for the Sunday Gazette

                                           

 

     Although there are some interesting local elections in a month or so, I can’t help but be enthralled by the cast of characters running for President in 2008. Most have rather interesting full names that I thought you’d like to know. First the Republicans:

 

Rudolph William Louis "Rudy" Giuliani, a former mayor of New York City, is the current Republican front runner and likely to remain so because he is the best politician of the bunch. He doesn’t look like a president at first glance, but I have now seen several pictures of him where, when I imagine the right hat on his head and a jaunty cigarette cum filter in his mouth, he looks just like FDR. Rudy has even been made a Knight of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth, but, unlike Sir Paul McCartney of Macca, he is an American citizen and hence could not be dubbed Sir something. But he got a nice medal for his alleged heroics on 9/11, though the New York City firemen want him to give it back.

 

Willard Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts,  despite being a Mormon, is, by his own pronouncement, the only one of the first-tier Republican candidates who has had only one wife. With regard to impeccable dress and appearance, he looks like central casting sent him forth to run for President. Because he has so much of his own, he is more likely than Fred Thompson to give Rudy a run for his money.

 

Freddie Dalton “Fred” Thompson represented Tennessee in the U.S. Senate from 1994 through 2003. In 1974, Thompson was appointed minority counsel for the Watergate hearings at which he asked former White House aide Alexander Butterfield  whether there had been any listening devices in the White House. Over a 20-year acting career, Thompson has played in 24 movies, the best known, perhaps, being “The Hunt for Red October.” And in addition to his many TV appearances on “Law and Order,” he has appeared in one episode each of “Matlock,” “Roseanne,” and “Sex and the City.” (Washington?)

 

Thomas Gerard Tancredo represents the 6th Congressional District of Colorado. Like Rudy, both of his grandparents were legal Italian immigrants, but like Lou Dobbs, he is obsessed with illegal immigration. He is close to zero in the polls.

Ronald Ernest Paul, a physician, is a 10th-term Congressman from Texas. Paul ran for president in 1998 as the nominee for the Libertarian Party. He is pro-life, supports free trade, sharply lower taxes, smaller government, and a non-interventionist foreign policy. He advocates withdrawal from NATO and the United Nations. He has called for the abolition of the federal income tax. Paul also opposes illegal immigration, gun control, and the existence of many federal agencies. But he voted against the Iraq War Resolution and the Patriot Act and hence has no chance of gaining the Republican nomination.

Michael Dale "Mike" Huckabee is a former governor of Arkansas, having served from 1996 to 2007. He is an ordained Southern Baptist minister who was born in Hope, Arkansas, the birthplace of  the somewhat better known William Jefferson Clinton. He has proven very popular on the stump and, because he might have a chance of holding Arkansas against Hillary, has a good chance to be selected as the running mate of either Rudy or Mitt. But his national appeal to independents and Democrats would be close to nil because he doesn’t believe that either one of those people or himself evolved from anything simpler.

Samuel Dale Brownback, Senator from the Kansas, doesn’t believe in evolution either, favoring the teaching of intelligent design in public schools. But he does support adult stem cell research. He has questioned the current use of the death penalty as potentially incongruent with the notion of a “culture of life,” suggesting that it be used in a much more limited fashion. Brownback opposes both the troop surge in Iraq and the Democratic Party's strategy of timed withdrawal.

John Sidney McCain III, despite his birth in the Panama Canal Zone, is eligible to be President because it was a U.S. possession at the time. Both his father and grandfather were U.S. Navy  admirals. A prisoner of war during Vietnam, he is now the senior Senator from Arizona. In 1980, McCain married Cindy Hensley, moved to Phoenix, and went to work for her father's Anheuser-Busch beer distributorship. When he ran for President in 2000, he was well ahead among primary voters until South Carolina where, before the term was coined in 2004, he was swift-boated by the Bush forces.

Now for the Democrats:

Hillary Rodham Clinton? There is nothing that I can tell you about our former first lady that you do not already know, except, perhaps, that on September 23 she set a record by appearing on five national news talk shows. President Bush has said that she is certain to be nominated, and who am I to argue.

William Blaine "Bill" Richardson III is the current Governor of New Mexico and of all candidates for either party, has by far the most experience in foreign affairs. He has served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and as Secretary of Energy. Hillary should pick him as her running mate, but is more likely to choose Evan Bayh or General Wesley Clark, both of whom have now endorsed her.

Johnny Reid "John" Edwards was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2004 and a former Senator from North Carolina. After leaving Washington, DC, the Edwards family sold their Raleigh house and moved to a 28,200 square foot home with an estimated value of $6 million, somewhat blunting his stance as the strongest advocate for the poor. (He should have built it from Lincoln Logs.) Nevertheless, because of charisma and a southern accent, he has the best chance, though not a good one, to be the consensus alternative to Hillary.

Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr. is the incumbent senior Senator from Delaware and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Because of his sensible plan to segment Iraq, he should be higher in the polls but just isn’t.

Christopher John Dodd is senior Senator from the state of Connecticut. Despite serving as the sitting chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, he just can’t seem to raise the money needed for a serious run. And among the Democratic base, he suffers from having supported pro-war Joe Lieberman in his primary of 2006. And despite the similar last names,  Dodd is no known relation to the famous Elwood P. Doud, and hence is unlikely to pull a (large) rabbit out of the hat.

Barack Hussein Obama is the junior Senator from Illinois.  He is the only African American currently serving in the U.S. Senate and only the fifth in U.S. history. Despite his being the most exciting candidate in either party; the only major candidate to have voted against the Iraq War; my latent endorsement in these pages a few months ago; and the strong support of Oprah, he is running well behind Hillary, the wife of our first black President.

Dennis John Kucinich, is a former mayor of Cleveland and current Ohio Congressman. In 2003, Kucinich was the recipient of the Gandhi Peace Award. Like Rudy, Kucinich was baptized a Catholic and has been married three times. In 2004, he was the second best debater to Al Sharpton in the Democratic presidential debates, and this time he is the best. But he must know he can’t be nominated because he tells the truth too often.

There are two more Republican candidates, Duncan Lee Hunter and Alan Keyes, and another Democrat, Mike Gravel, but neither I nor their parties have room for them.

Edwin D. Reilly, Jr. lives in Niskayuna and is a regular contributor to the Sunday opinion pages.