Thursday, May 7, 2015

What we need is MORE REPUBLICANS!


BABiesMore Republicans Anyone?

By Charlie Madigan

How many Republicans are running for president?
I think at last count, there were 456 at least or maybe it was a dozen or 16 or so. No, word from a big Republican hoedown in New Hampshire has it at something like 24! Doesn't matter. There are too many Republicans chasing after primary campaign voters. You have never heard of most of them and, like moths to the flame, their careers will be dispatched by the sheer heat of the process.
This is such a complicated business it took the New York Times just about a whole page to deconstruct the process and tell us why we should be paying attention. 
It was a noble effort that did not work for me.
The Republican pileup! 
Lets look at some characters on the "may be running" list: Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, John Kasich, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum and Carly Fiorina.
This is a list packed full of losers and I can prove it.
Certainly only one character will win the Republican nomination, then that person has to face the Democrats in November of 2016.
That’s right, November of 2016.
By that time,  everyone else will have been forgotten, but the campaign trail will be littered with their very worst ideas.
Crikes, we will have been through another bitter winter before that happens! A Christmas and an Easter for those of you who are observant. Lots of greeting card holidays.
Because of the abundance of candidates on the Republican side, prudence calls for a monthly assessment. And that's what this will be, a monthly assessment. There is absolutely no point in pretending to cover these people in one place. It would be like reviewing all the acts in a Ringling Brothers circus. Sometimes, clowns are best and sometimes lions or jugglers with operating chain saws.
They don't all carry equal weight. So let it be with the Republicans.
An example?
Carly who?
Carly Fiorina, a woman who has as a key claim to fame rising higher than any other woman (at the time) in corporate America to the top post at Hewlett-Packard. You know, HP, printers and the like.
She is said to be planning to capitalize on that history and boost herself into the political firmament!
But she tried that once before.
She ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in California a while back and that wasn't enough of a lesson to chase her away from politics forever.
Her big achievement at HP, depending on which version of history you read, was getting the job. Once she was in there, the gig unraveled in a determined way that left her on the bad sides of the Hewletts and the Packards, who cut her off at the knees after a couple of years.
She is condemned as a candidate to explaining why she wasn't a failure. That's not going to sell. She is pitching herself as "woman not Hillary." That's not going to sell either. 
Who you are is good. Who you aren't is not.
At this point, polling has her way down on the list with exactly no identifiable support, just behind Rick Santorum's 1 percent. 
"Someone else" gets 4 percent in that poll from CNN/ORC.
Still, it's a free country.
How can there be so many Republicans thinking about hopping in? Ted Cruz has been telegraphing his plans for months so that's no surprise. Marco Rubio, too.
But face it, of this whole batch of names, the likelihood that someone will emerge to defeat Woman of the People Hillary Clinton is not strong. Oh sure, they will smear her so ardently you won't be able to see her under all that poop and after all, she is rich as a Republican. 
But that probably won't matter.
Here is what will matter.
Each of these candidates drags along the ideology of the people who brung 'em.
Fire breathing conservatives like Cruz, governors (No one likes governors for long, I have found.) like Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Rand Paul and his libertarian slant. On and on it goes.
Media mutates into a strange channeling instrument in presidential election years, opening the pathway to people everywhere by taking even the looniest of the batch quite seriously.
I think that's where the idea of building a wall to keep Mexicans out came from. 
It's nuts, but it had traction, especially among folks who hate Mexicans!
Start shouting at the electorate about all that stuff and it will make people nervous.
By the time we are finished with this process, I suspect everything from conspiracy theories to thoughts about just not having any government at all will be wildly and loudly vetted. 
Just now, the looniness has settled on a conspiracy by the U.S. Government, sneaking in behind the mask of a military exercise, to take guns and liberty away from Texans. I'm not sure why because we already have plenty of guns and liberty, but President Obama is said to be behind it.
This is why most Americans like their Republicans to stay wrapped in mystery.
That way, their presidencies are always surprising. You can have wars. Economic collapse. Scandals. Hanging out a lot of the laundry-of-looniness in a primary battle won't help anyone by that measure. But it will give us all a close look at some troubling laundry!
The other side has its own problems.
Democrats are always pushing a populist agenda (which is NEVER implemented to much of a degree, you  may have noticed) because it's what people like to hear. 
Democrats get to be noble and eternally frustrated.
Now that my favorite socialist in disguise, Bernie Sanders, is in the game, well, it could get interesting.
Anyhow, Hillary Clinton wants to be your champ. The way she is running makes her seem warm, cuddly.
That's going to seem immensely reasonable once these Republicans begin hacking away at one another.

Screaming Babies is the label for Charlie Madigan's political blog, which appears when it has to. My brother, Mike Madigan, had these nifty baby heads, lit them with Christmas lights and we photographed them during a family vacation at the Delaware beach. It could have been worse (better)  but we could not find a single dead rat.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Another Brand New Way to Run for President



         If this Hillary thing works, everyone who wants to be president from this time onward will have to have an announcement that is like a mini-documentary on the inherent goodness, diligence, kindness and determination of the average American citizen.
         It took me 45 seconds of watching Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign announcement, which was no surprise after all, before I understood it wasn’t actually one of those ads that pop up before you get to what you want to get to on the internet.
          I was expecting a motivational speaker to show up at the end.
         Which is exactly what I got.
         There she stands, somewhere in suburbia, saying she’s getting ready for something, too, just like the other folks who showed up in her 2 minute and 18 second campaign announcement.
         “I’m running for president,” she says.
         “I’m hitting the road to earn your vote because it’s your time, and I hope you will join me on this journey.”
         What an engaging group the Clinton campaign presents in the film.
         A woman with the best tomatoes in the neighborhood. A couple of guys who are getting married this summer. A family that wants to teach its dog to stop eating trash (Good luck with that.) A business guy. A woman working on a drill press. And many more.
         I know these people because I run into them all the time, and you do too, unless you live in a castle with a moat around it and its own cappuccino maker so you simply never have to leave.
         They are a lot like many of us (assuming your aspirations are solidly middle class).
         They are not a lot like many of the people who are at the heart of the conservative wing of the Republican Party, angry people who hate President Obama, believe all that old Whitewater stuff about the Clintons and still see a Clinton conspiracy behind the suicide of Vince Foster.
         That doesn’t matter, because that’s not who she is talking to.
         “Americans need a champion,” Clinton says. “I want to be that champion.”
         You could hear Republican teeth grinding all over the place. They can’t wait to get a whack at her, a chance to bring up Benghazi, a whole array of stale, unproved allegations from Bill’s presidency, her email account, her wealth, her…
         Well, that probably won’t be how this is going to play out.
         It took just one more click of the button to find myself donating $10 to the effort, just to see what would happen. (Don’t read too much into this. I paid $25 to join the National Rifle Association a few years back just to see what they were pitching.) My suspicion is that they won’t leave me alone for the next year or so.
         Clinton has set a high bar with her announcement. She is trying to be a presidential candidate who goes straight to the people, just as Barack Obama uses media to talk to people, but not news media.
          Forget about her eight years as First Lady, her term in the U.S. Senate and her important job as secretary of state for the man who defeated her in 2008.
         It’s a new Hillary!
         That’s because it has to be. Washington now has the popularity of one of those giant, smelly pig farms. Still, you need those people in Washington like you need pigs, because who doesn’t love bacon?
         But you don’t want to be thought of as one of them.
         Even if you hate the woman, it’s kind of difficult not to get a little teary with all those cheery people working on their new beginnings in her announcement film.
         As warm and cuddly as all this feels (a garbage can raiding dog simply can’t lose in an ad. Why no cats?) the challenge will be for her supporters to accept this kind of a pitch from a woman who was up to her eyes in Washington process not so long ago.
         She is political right to her core. Her husband is an influence peddler of the highest order and has the bank accounts to prove it. There are lots of foreign entanglements there.
         That’s obviously why Hillary Clinton’s road show isn’t going to be typical, either. She will head to Iowa to talk to normal families, to New Hampshire to embrace the flintiness and crisp air.
         She can do that as a candidate for the same reason she can launch her campaign with a video on the web.
         Reporters will try to chase her, but most of her story will be told, just as her announcement was told, on her own terms, on her own media, in her own way.
         If you want something to get ready for, get ready for that.