I'm Howard and I'm a Maverick Addict


Look, I understand why Howard Fineman would write a column speculating on "the third force" in politics and possible third party bids by Michael Bloomberg or Al Gore, backed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. They're easy stories to churn out and they get beaucoups web hits. Fineman can't drum up a column like last week's "Obama's staff used the wrong fax machine" scoop because, this week, no one is slipping documents into his hotel room. This week he noticed that Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't do much glad-handling at the GOP debate. Thus:

If I were a GOP strategist – or a Democratic one – I would be worried by Arnold's body language. He and other major independent actors on the political scene – New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Vice President Al Gore, chief among them – comprise a Third Force that could upset two-party politics as we know it in the 2008 presidential race.

Indeed, although there is no formal alliance, Schwarzenegger, Bloomberg and Gore have formed a mutual admiration society that has huge potential implications for 2008. They have come to share similar visions on the urgency of the global warming and health care crises, and a similar impatience with politics as usual.

Yes, and their visions are… the mainstream views of the Democratic party, which one of them belongs to and another (Bloomberg) used to belong to. More Fineman:

Since the days of George Wallace in the 1960s and John Anderson in 1980, it's gotten easier and easier to get on the ballot as a minor party or independent candidate. At this point, the trail is well-blazed, and an easy one to walk for someone with the will and the wallet of the New York media mogul.

OK, this is completely untrue. It has gotten harder to make the ballot in all 50 states, as some states—Florida, Maine—made it easier and some—Texas—have made it much, much harder. Ask any LP organizer about this, or ask a Green who tried to get Nader on the ballot in 2000 then tried to get him or the official Green candidate on in 2004. This isn't even the silliest thing Fineman writes:

If you hear that Lieberman and Hagel are getting together to hash out a common position on Iraq – not an easy thing to achieve, to be sure – then you know something is up.

That sounded familiar. And sure enough, after a little digging in my archives I found a May 1967 column by Fineman's father, Proinsias Fineman*:

If you hear that Gene McCarthy and George Wallace are getting together to hash out a common position on school busing – not an easy thing to achieve, to be sure – then you know something is up.

Get it? McCarthy and Wallace had nothing in common on this issue, just as Lieberman/Hagel have nothing whatsoever in common on Iraq. All they have in common is that they're mavericks in their own parties. And campaign reporters who are (rightfully) bored by the campaign thus far love mavericks, and they want them to "shake up" the election, so they staple together every maverick politician to create a story that isn't actually happening.

*This is a joke, by the way.

NEXT: The New Jersey Six

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  1. A May 1967 article by his father?! Well done!

  2. The media’s idea of a “maverick” is someone who sounds grouchy. Like McCain. A real maverick who votes all by his little lonesome on principle doesn’t count.

  3. So is Fineman plagarizing his father?

  4. Aside from his pathetic laziness, Fineman’s application of a gratuitous tongue-bath to Lieberman’s rectal sphincter was…how to put this delicately?…not so appetizing.

  5. You caught a guy plagiarizing his own father?

    David Weigel, all is forgiven.

  6. If it’s a joke, why am I not laughing? Now Zephaniah Fineman, or Ezekiel Fineman, or maybe Prosimian Fineman, that might have been funny.

  7. ProGLib –

    don’t forget that he’s also dangerous and unsafe. The rest of the boys don’t want to fly with him, because he is unsafe.

    But he’s the one. He’s larger than life. He saw the MiG. Inverted. And he’s vulnerable. We’ll never know what happened to his old man over Nacho Grande, but he’s not over Nacho Grande.

    Was his motorcycle mentioned?

  8. VM,

    Stupid movie. The former, not the latter. Iceman was much cooler and a better pilot in real life 🙂 I forgive Kilmer anything for giving us Real Genius and Top Secret.

  9. “Real Genius and Top Secret.”

    Two all-time favorites.

  10. Whew! For a minute I thought you wrote “I forgive Kilmer for giving us…”

    Good call, boys, good call.

  11. I saw the headline and thought this was about the Mavs big choke in the NBA playoffs.

  12. David Weigel,

    A joke? Don’t I feel gullible.

    You have broken my heart for the last time, Mr. Weigel.

  13. All they have in common is that they’re mavericks in their own parties.

    Joe Lieberman is a maverick in the Connecticut for Lieberman party? Who knew.

    One would imagine that in order to be a maverick in a party, there must be more than just you in that party, no?

  14. I forgive Kilmer anything for giving us Real Genius and Top Secret.

    Hear Hear!

  15. *This is a joke, by the way.

    Really? Wow, too subtle for me. I tend to go for the dead pan stuff too. Is it sarcasm? Absurdity? I can’t find the tip-off. Maybe some Democrat-shill-insider joke on the name “Proinsias”

  16. (deep sigh) I just think Proinsias is a funny name. Maybe because I associate it with Cassidy in the Preacher comics.

  17. I appreciate the effort, Dave, but I think sticking an obscure joke at the end kind of distracts readers from the point of the piece, rather than making that point.


  18. Did Proinsias Fineman hang out with Leopold Bloom, Robert Briscoe and Moses Ri-tooral-i-ay?


  19. “Joe Lieberman is a maverick in the Connecticut for Lieberman party? Who knew.”

    It could happen – there’s a pro-Lieberman and an anti-Lieberman faction within the party, each claiming to be the true leaders of the Connecticut for Lieberman party. If the anti-Lieberman faction is right, then Lieberman will, indeed, be a maverick in his own party. See


  20. If you like mavericks, you should like Mike Gravel. Check out the Draft Bloomberg Committee at http://www.draftmichael.com

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