Tuesday, August 02, 2011 :::
Click Your Heels Together Three Times And Repeat:
I Have No Idea What I Am Talking About.
A Mind That Suits is finally free to turn his mind to the 2024 Presidential race.
All the ones between 2012 and then have received their full complements of pundits, prognosticators, and know-it-alls, so he thought he would get his two cents in now before 2024 is sold out.
Billy, who was just elected to the city council of 2 ½ Corners, West Dakota, after serving all four year in the Tumbleweed-on-the-Road-to-Nowhere High School student government, looks good, even though it will be necessary to amend the Constitution because he won’t be 35 by 2024.
Hey, it worked for Michael Bloomberg.
Seriously, it is time to stop making "serious" predictions about what will happen in 2012. Mitch Daniels went from ideal candidate to flawed-candidate-with-family-baggage to the dream-that-slipped-away, all while his national name recognition was still below 10 percent. Not favorable ratings; name recognition.
Many have run the numbers from corresponding points in previous cycles to see who the received wisdom had picked as winners. Remember the epic battle between Mitt Romney and Hilary Clinton in 2008? This is all silliness.
That doesn’t stop folks.
No, A Mind That Suits wants to make rather deeper point.
One really needs to keep 1992 in mind. Memories of Bill Clinton center almost exclusively on what are remembered (falsely) as uniformly good economic times and what are now considered (correctly) Bill Clinton’s amazing survival skills.
Focus on that for a moment: survival skills.
When you look back at the list of candidates for the Democratic nomination in 1992, the first thing you notice is that everyone you think of as a serious rival to Clinton is not on the list. Babbitt, Gephardt, Cuomo---nowhere to be found. They had presumably been dissuaded by the overwhelming popularity of the incumbent, George H.W. Bush.
So Clinton was smart enough to see an opening and romped, right? Well, no.
Bill Clinton gave himself the nickname “the Comeback Kid” because he had done so spectacularly badly in the first couple of primaries. He swept Super Tuesday, but had to continue to slug it out—with Jerry Brown and former Sen. Paul Tsongas of Massachusett????
Governor Moonbean and a one term senator of no consequence whatsoever.
When A Mind That Suits was a wee slip of a lad working in the U.S. Senate, Tsongas was held in such low esteem by his fellow Democratic Senators that they wouldn’t talk to him even if they were on the same elevator with him.
Brown was churning ahead in New York until he broached the idea of naming Jesse Jackson as his running mate, thus losing the Jewish vote, which, in NY Democratic circles, is rather a big deal.
Bill Clinton still did not have a smooth ride, primarily because of so many self-inflicted problems. George Stephanopoulos even admitted that he thought any other person would have dropped out.
But he did not, and the rest is history.
People close to him in his first term, such as Stephanopoulos and Leno Panetta, made it very clear later: for the first three years Bill Clinton had no idea what he was doing. Right after he was elected, he held a pointless televised seminar on the economy to try and figure out what do do. He kept holding seminars after he was sworn in.
More precisely, he held endless meetings where no decision was made. One time, according to Bob Woodward (not, A Mind That Suits is well aware, the most reliable source), when Bill Clinton turned to Al Gore and asked what he should do, Gore blurted out, “Get with G—D-----d program, Bill.”
It was not until the Oklahoma City Bombing in April, 1995, according to those same aides, that Clinton found his connection with the American people, that quivering lower lip and reassuring fist pump, the "Mr. I-feel-your-pain” who became so familiar.
Then the Republicans foolishly broke off negotiations over the budget when they had hardly started, precipitating a government shutdown.
Bill Clinton had found his stride.
So, tell A Mind That Suits, tell us all: how can you judge the prospects of say, a governor from a small southern state with a middling record who hasn’t done well in preliminary heats?
Jimmy Carter said exactly two things worth remembering. One was that the main difference between his life as president and his life before was that he no longer met anyone who hadn’t bathed recently.
He also said that the only preparation for being President was running for President.
That’s the lesson for the day.
An added thought:
No one who was the creature of his staff has been elected President in the modern era. Anyone who says that simply does not understand what it takes to become President.
Ronald Reagan read his cue cards when the subject was of no special importance to him. When his staff got into an argument over taxes in front of him and forgot he was there, he ripped a pen so hard that the holder went flying across the Oval Office. Speechless with rage, he wrote “no new taxes” on a piece of paper and handed it to a humbled and astounded James Baker. It takes a lot to humble and astound Jim Baker, by the way.
Panicked State Department cables followed Air Force One across the Atlantic to make sure that Reagan never said, “Tear down this wall, Mr. Gorbachev.” He said it.
Two stories from very different Presidents.
Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., is now primarily known as the father of lots of consequential children, but he himself was a piece of work.
It’s probably not unfair to say that he was something of a war profiteer in World War I. As General Manager of Bethlehem Steel, he got mighty chummy with the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, one Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Nope, no chance for snagging juicy government contracts there.
He then wreaked havoc Hollywood, forging the legendary RKO studios through mergers and racking up another fortune. He used as a slush fund the bank account of his mistress, mega-star screen siren Gloria Swanson. When he left town, he left her penniless. She should never have been carrying on with a married man, and she was still big enough to make some of it back, but still…
During Prohibition, he tied up seemingly worthless contracts with British distillers for imports to the US, thus ensuring himself another fortune when Prohibition was lifted. No one has ever been able to disprove rumors that he had been profiting from liquore imports before that, by bootlegging, of course.
When it came time to create a Securities and Exchange Commission to try and keep Wall Street under control, his old friend Franklin Roosevelt tapped Papa Joe, on the grounds that such an accomplished crook would know how to regulate other crooks.
Seeking the ultimate sign that the grandson of refugees form the Potato Famine had made it, he sought to be and was appointed Ambassador to the Court of St. James. He did a singularly awful job. Displaying personal cowardice and a publicly defeatist attitude in the face of Nazi aggression, he became a serious liability to nearly everyone.
When he was back in the States to take a vacation, Roosevelt asked him to postpone joining his family because he wanted his advice.
Kennedy rearranged his plans.
Then Roosevelt fired him.
And Karl Rove, the man who “created” George W. Bush?
Rove had left an open invitation for the President to join him at his church. One day, Bush went.
At the end of the service, he pulled Rove aside, told him “You’ve gotten too hot,” and fired him.
That’s the kind of man who becomes President.
That's the kind of man who will be elected in 2012.
::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 2:35 PM