#491, Feb. 24, 2008

Weekly Comments: Presidential primaries reach pinnacle

COLUMBUS: Just when you thought the Presidential race had narrowed to three Senators, why up steps Ralph Nader for another crack at it. Senator Obama and Senator Clinton were not too thrilled at the news, but Senator McCain seemed excited that he is no longer the “old man” in the race. I guess neither McCain or Nader got the word this is no country for old men.

Nader announced his platform today. He wants to pull out of Iraq in six months, raise taxes on the rich, and require that General Motors recall all the Corvairs.

I’m not forgetting Ron Paul or Mike Huckabee. They’re still campaigning. In fact Gov. Huckabee appeared on Saturday Night Live and drew a bigger audience than the CNN Obama-Clinton debate. In fact Huckabee was funnier than Jon Stewart on the Academy Awards. Now Jon is a fine comedian, but his writers were on strike so long they’re rusty.

Congressman Paul, with his 16 committed delegates, continues his run on the internet. If only he could get the voting done by e-mail, and not just fund raising, he might get in there.

All these candidates are swarming over Ohio, with a few side trips to Texas and Rhode Island. Television reporters are saying these primaries on March 4 will decide the election. Of course the same reporters said February 5 would decide the election.

Ohio knows it may be the deciding state on November 4, so the Secretary of State is spending millions to get the latest, fastest, foolproof, and one hundred percent accurate voting method in place for the election. Know what it is? Don’t laugh, it’s paper ballots.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“Here was Jimmy Cox, a fine man, and Governor of (Ohio). He had never been in the Senate, but that should have been an asset instead of a liability. The Senate has furnished more officeholders and less Presidents than any industry we have.” Saturday Evening Post, May 1, 1926

“If all these various third parties would just look at their history (it) shows that none of them ever did get in (the White House).” Radio broadcast, April 21, 1935

#490, Feb. 18, 2008

Presidential politics: 1932 vs. 2008

COLUMBUS: For the past few months Ohio has been kinda laughing at you folks in other states with all the Presidential campaigning. Well, now that the candidates, what’s left of ’em, have landed full force on Buckeye soil it ain’t so funny. The entire Clinton clan, Hillary, Bill and Chelsea, was here, just not at the same time; Senator Obama, Michelle Obama and Ted Kennedy (but not Oprah) stopped in.

We haven’t reached Washington’s birthday yet, and the field has been whittled down to 3 candidates. Yes, I know Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul are hanging on by a thread. But really it’s down to three with six more months to go until the conventions.

With these early primaries I decided to look back at another election year, 1932. We hear about a likely recession in 2008, but it’s nothing compared to the economy in 1932.

In February 1932, there was hardly any news about presidential candidates. Two New Yorkers, Al Smith and Franklin Roosevelt, had skirmished a little. New Hampshire held the first primary, March 6, won by Roosevelt. But not until late April did anything substantial happen: “I bet Al Smith threw a scare into some of these wise politicians that they won’t forget for some time. Whoever advised Roosevelt to enter that (Massachusetts) primary anyhow? Running against Smith in Massachusetts is like trying to win a debate with Sister Aimee on her grounds.” (April 27, 1932)

Then, in the middle of the worst Depression in history, Congress raised the income tax. Can you imagine that happening today? “The big writers are hollering now that Congress “soaked the rich” by raising the rate after it passed $1,000,000 to 45 per cent. Why the holler?… You can’t legitimately kick on income tax, for it’s on what you have made.” (April 28) [Actually by the time the bill passed Congress, the top rate was 55%.]

The next week California held a primary. “Tomorrow is primary day out here in California. Course, it’s all cut and dried with the Republicans, but the old Democrats out here in Orangejuiceville have got a chance to name the next Democratic nominee. Al Smith’s big spurt in the East has shown that Governor Roosevelt can’t possibly go to the convention with enough to nominate. Give (John Nance) Garner California and Texas and he will be sitting prettier than any of the three.” (May 2) [FDR finished second to Garner in Cal.]

“About all these primaries prove around the country is that the Democrats have got three good men and the Republicans only one. It looks to me like any man that wants to be President in times like these lacks something.” (May 4)

In mid-June the Republicans nominated Hoover for a second term. Then the Democratic convention started June 26, less than four months after the first primary. Because so many states had “favorite son” candidates no one received the required number of votes on the first ballot. During the third ballot, Roosevelt essentially offered Garner the Vice-Presidency in return for the Texas delegates, and that gave him the nomination over Al Smith. Considering the horrible state of the economy Roosevelt was assured a landslide victory in November.

That was 1932. In 2008, will the offer of the Vice-Presidency determine the nomination, and the election?

Historic quote from Will Rogers: (in addition to several above)

“There is one thing you can bet on this year. No voter is going to do anything that a politician thinks he will do. The way most people feel they would like to vote against all of ’em if it was possible.” DT #1797, April 27, 1932

#489, Feb. 10, 2008

Presidential political field narrows

COLUMBUS: This week Mitt Romney dropped out. He decided to keep his remaining millions invested in something with a better return than politics. That leaves the Republicans with Senator McCain leading, and Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul kinda nipping at his heels. Their biggest argument will be over who gets to run for Vice-President. Ohio will get into the V-P sweepstakes, maybe by offering up former Congressman John Kasich. He’s a businessman and he knows economics.

The Democrats have a nail-biter of a race. Senator Clinton wins the big primaries, but Senator Obama wins all the small states. Now, two of the big states don’t count because Michigan and Florida jumped the gun. See, in football that’s a 5-yard penalty, but in politics you forfeit the game.

Then we have the so-called super delegates, who are mostly just office holders. They put themselves in a precarious position. If this race ends in a tie, those birds will play the same role at the Convention as the Supreme Court did in the 2000 election. Democrats have had some dandy conventions, but this one may go down in history as the Donnybrook in Denver. By August ticket scalpers will be getting $2000 a seat.

I was surprised to read that Senator Clinton loaned her own campaign $5 million. In all her talks about her 35 years experience preparing her to be President, why didn’t she tell us about this lucrative work that let her stash away an extra $5 million? And can she use those same skills to raise enough cash to balance the federal budget?

You know that tornadoes are common place in Oklahoma and Kansas. But when one hit last Tuesday in Tennessee the damage was just as devastating. Macon County had 14 deaths and lost about 300 homes, 3 churches, plus a lot damage to farms and businesses. Later a Methodist preacher, his wife and two children died in a traffic collision related to the tornado. The local newspaper, the Macon County Times, often carries my non-syndicated column so I feel a kinship with those folks. ( http://www.maconcountytimes.com)

In California, Gov. Schwarzenegger, in a cost cutting move, has proposed to close the Will Rogers State Park and about 40 other parks. I may be prejudiced, but does that seem smart? If you asked the legal residents of California, I bet they can think of better ways to rid the state of millions in expenses that’s draining the treasury. Besides, California just spent $5 million to fix it all up. Why turn around and shut it down a few months later?

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“It sure is a bad time for a man to get ambitious and want to go into politics. There never was a time when respect for public office was at such a low ebb.” December 28, 1930

#488, Feb. 3, 2008

Big Upset on Super Sunday; what awaits on Super Tuesday?

COLUMBUS: The New England Patriots could not quite hold on. Thirty seconds from a perfect season, they crumbled in the face of a final onslaught by the New York Giants. Some will blame the “Curse of Babe Ruth”, but really, it was a super defense. [Score: 17-14]

We shouldn’t be surprised. College football started the “year of upsets”, and in the NFL half the playoff games were upsets. The only surprise would have been if the Patriots had won.

On a night when a team with six losses knocked off the undefeated and prohibitive favorite, Dennis Kucinich was home in Cleveland, muttering to himself, “Why did I drop out so soon?”

Now that football season has ended, it’s time to start the political season. Up to now it’s been more like a pre-season with just a few early scrimmages. They were expensive scrimmages, and plenty of players have been lost to the sidelines, but Tuesday, finally, is Opening Day.

Among the dropouts since we chatted last (in addition to Congressman Kucinich), was Rudy Giuliani. He spent $50 million in Florida, and all he got for it was one delegate. Best example I’ve seen yet of this pronouncement: “Politics has got so expensive that it takes lots of money to even get beat with nowadays.” (DT #1538, June 28, 1931). Of course a New Yorker losing $50 million in Florida is nothing new, but it was usually lost on swampland.

If you live in one of those states voting Tuesday, you are being reminded over and over (and over) who to vote for. Nobody has enough delegates so far to matter, regardless of what they tell you.

Let me remind you of the results of the one early primary that counted for something, the National No-Till Farmer Primary. Barack Obama edged Hillary Clinton in the Democratic vote, and Mike Huckabee barely beat John McCain among Republicans. So if you want to follow the trend, vote for one of these folks. Otherwise vote your conscience, or however your wife tells you. “Besides who cares nowadays who is elected to anything, they are not in office three days till we realize our mistake and wish the other one had got in?” (Saturday Evening Post, May 20, 1926)

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“This country has gotten where it is in spite of politics, not by the aid of it. That we have carried as much political bunk as we have and still survived shows we are a Super Nation.” DT #1948, Nov. 1, 1932