Campaigns/Elections

"Mike Huckabee has a four-word slogan and a YouTube link"

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That's heavyweight political columnist Michael Barone's summarization of the formerly fat, formerly gubernatorial Arkansan who is now running for president of these United States.

(If you're that interested in the 2nd Man from Hope to be eyeing the White House, don't miss the disturbingly named website exploremikehuckabee.com, which promises to do for politics what The Opening of Misty Beethoven did for porn).

Barone isn't simply shooting razorbacks in a barrel–he surveys the current crop of both A-List and Z-List candidates and asks, mustering all the righteous anger of Norwegian charismatic Walter Mondale and Wendy's pitchgal Clara Peller, Where's the Beef?:

Presidential candidates have the opportunity to set the national agenda by bringing forward new proposals and innovative policies.

Some do this: Bill Clinton in 1992, George W. Bush in 2000. Others don't. Like most or all of the 2008 candidates.

Click through their Web sites. You find pretty thin gruel. Especially so from the two leading in the polls. Hillary Rodham Clinton's home page links to her recent Senate speech on Iran, but not her 2002 speech backing the Iraq war resolution. She calls for putting "some of the oil industry's windfall profits into a fund that would help develop practical new sources of renewable energy," but with no details. You might find out more by clicking on her "Let the Conversation Begin" Web casts.

Rudy Giuliani tells you even less….

Barone concedes that "it's early yet" and "the candidates haven't had time to get issue shops up and running" (his whole column is here). You might be excused for wondering why pols who have no idea what they think about major policies feel that nonetheless they should crowned god-emperor of Dune. But leaving that aside, Barone's larger point, I think, is a sound one that will hold true the entire excrutiating length of Campaign 2008: None of the current candidates, even or especially the top tier, is likely to come up with any sort of wide-ranging vision of what America (much less the world) needs right now and why he or she alone can deliver the goods. (Other than that old political standby, megalomania.)

Maybe that's a hopeful sign that politics is continuing its decline as a major factor in everyday life, that politics has retreated from significance because the real action in American life is decidedly (and blessedly) elsewhere.

Or maybe it's just a sign that current pols are midgets standing on the kneecaps of dwarves.

Or maybe it's a combination of both.

NEXT: Traffic Camera Shenanigans

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  1. Bubba set the national agenda? From what I recall, Bubba was simply in the right place at the right time, battling the man who broke his “Read My Lips” pledge and a crazy midget.

    As far as GWB setting a national agenda…too bad he didn’t implement any of it.

    Barone appears to be engaging in myth-making…trying to make days of yore seem like the glory years. When in fact, it is simply same sh*t, different day.

  2. “(If you’re that interested in the 2nd Man from Hope to be eyeing the White House, don’t miss the disturbingly named website exploremikehuckabee.com, which promises to do for politics what The Opening of Misty Beethoven did for porn).

    Barone isn’t simply shooting razorbacks in a barrel–he surveys the current crop of both A-List and Z-List candidates and asks, mustering all the righteous anger of Norwegian charismatic Walter Mondale and Wendy’s pitchgal Clara Peller, Where’s the Beef?”

    Best. Post. Evar.

    Nick – that’s fantastic. The ghost of John Anderson’s 1980 run is moonwalking in the memories of 84… 🙂

  3. Thanks Nick! I have so many nerdy Dune comments, parallels, and contradictions now, I can hardly contain myself.

    ok, ok, just one.

    You can’t be God Emperor of Dune unless you slowly turn into a sandworm and destroy all those who oppose you. These are presidential candidates after all, so I guess the analogy isn’t too far off.

  4. None of the current candidates, even or especially the top tier, is likely to come up with any sort of wide-ranging vision of what America

    Well of course not. That’s not what gets people’s vote. Who believes that the American people want vision and policy talk from a candidate??

    They want someone who they would sit and have a beer with, they want catchy slogans and easy to remember clap-trap. They want simpletons who don’t come off as too intelligent and is seems to be an average joe. Why would anyone running for pres. waste time on talking vision and wonky policy to the electorate at large? Policy and vision talk is only good for when you’re addressing think tanks.

  5. […] current pols are midgets standing on the kneecaps of dwarves.

    Glorious! I fully intend to use this turn of phrase in conversation whenever it’s even tangentially appropriate.

  6. Two words: Wayne Dumond.

  7. Nice Golden Age Porn reference there.

    Is America really looking for the unshaven and unaugmented truth? Along with a nice mustache?

  8. Just to show that there is nothing new under the sun, the “Clara Peller spots’ that Mondale cribbed from in 1984 were presaged by those of the Suburpia Submarine Sandwich chain, located in Milwaukee. Circa 1980 they had TV ads featuring an angry guy who ordered a burger at a fast food joint, only to scream into the clown’s nose, “Where’s my meat!”

    In the 1970s, the same outfit had a great jingle, featuring the then-alive but not yet famous John Belushi doing his Joe Cocker imitation. Get two friends….. to join you in a san’wich.

    Methinks that the dreaded “election cycle” starting as early as it does, some of these clods won’t be asking any actual positions until their pollsters tell them what people say they want to hear.

    Kevin

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