Prez-Wannabe Silly Season

When viewing the political scene, one longs for the days prior to the 70s when presidential candidates were chosen during the party conventions and not as the result of campaigns that literally wear out the voters for up to four years with both the propaganda and the foppery attendant upon the primary endeavors and lead-pipe-cinch candidate lock-ins created therein. The trade-offs in the “smoke-filled rooms” were far superior to the popularity contests generally won by those with the most money to throw away, whether or not they have walking-around sense or are free of moral turpitude.

Consider the latest entry into the presidential sweepstakes – Senator Dodd of Connecticut. Even though the first primary is a year away and the changing of the guard a full two years away, Dodd is not even the first democrat to officially announce, merely the fifth, with a host of others, apparently, soon to either install “exploratory committees” (same as announcing but offering a bit of titillation) or officially “offer” themselves for the good of the country.

Some candidates appear too silly to be seriously considered by just the way they pull off their announcement. Dodd has represented Connecticut in Congress for some 31 years, the last 26 in the Senate. So, one would expect the senator to announce his candidacy in Connecticut, also the state of his birth, or in Willimantic, where he was born, or in East Haddam, where he lives, or in Hartford, the state capital, or at his office in Washington. So…he announced his candidacy to be president on “Imus in the Morning,” a television variety program of sorts purveyed by MSNBC, arguably a propaganda arm of the Democrat Party (think of the frenetic Chris Matthews). Go figure. At least he indicated that he was jumping into the fray without benefit of an “exploratory committee,” his own man, in other words. Imus – the I-Man – is considered cool, so maybe Dodd thought this method would endear him to the hip, sophisticated crowd.

The announcement gimmick can be even hokier. Millionaire lawyer John Edwards, former North Carolina senator and veep candidate in 2004, managed to find (maybe rent) a backyard somewhere in New Orleans to officially announce his candidacy the other day. New Orleans? What possible connection has John Edwards ever had with New Orleans, except maybe a class-action suit of some kind? Born in South Carolina and raised in North Carolina and living in the Raleigh (North Carolina capital) area, Edwards made his sports-shirt announcement from the mud of New Orleans – a sort of back-handed slap at his own state. Does he think the great unwashed throughout the land can’t see through that insult to one’s intelligence…just plain silliness? All Edwards needed to make the announcement sillier would have been the presence of NO Mayor Ray Nagin, whose incompetence caused practically all of the Katrina disaster, the trigger for Edwards’ childish attempt to somehow make capital of FEMA…at least one supposes. Who knows?

"My intention is to seek the nomination," [Senator Joe] Biden said on CBS's "Face the Nation." That quote was made in June 2005. June 2005? “Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware on Sunday became the fourth Democrat to formally announce plans to run for president next year. ‘I am running for president,’ Mr. Biden said toward the end of an appearance on ‘Meet the Press’ [Jan. 7] on NBC.” This quote is from the New York Times of 08 January 2007. So, rather than make his announcement from either Washington or Delaware, which he has represented since 1972, or even from Scranton, PA, where he was born, Senator Biden formally announced on a TV show.

There was a time when a candidate called a press conference in some official-looking place such as a state-house to announce his intention to save the country, but TV and talk-radio have changed all that. Maybe it’s the ratings-thing. Politicians’ press-conferences for any reason surely rate among the highest opportunities for boredom in the communications industry and therefore the lowest in audience participation. Senator Obama was caught on TV the other day wearing a Chicago Bears cap, so it seems perfectly reasonable for him to announce his candidacy at half-time this weekend when Chicago meets the New Orleans Saints in yet another NFL playoff game. Senator Edwards may be there, wearing a Saints cap and pulling for the Mississippi River Mudcats. He certainly didn’t do anything to help the Carolina Panthers, who merely broke even for the season.

Yeah…one longs for the days when the prima donnas and their supporters fought it out in the convention hallways or the nearest bars, not with sound bites and chartered jets to keep them constantly rousting the voters years in advance. But, of course, that beats working and senatoring [sic] and representing, not to mention the free food and appearing at those inane “town-halls” and “breakfast-bars” to be hugged and lionized as the best thing since chunks were put into peanut butter.