The Friday Political Thread: Nobel-Winning Editon


The week in brief…

– Nine Republicans, including Fred Thompson, met in Dearborn, Michigan to ostensibly debate economics. But hosts couldn't resist themselves and fielded a few questions about foreign policy, which tripped up Mitt Romney in a classic non-gaffe gaffe.

– Barack Obama, tired of being taunted for not attacking Hillary Clinton by name, attacked Hillary Clinton by name.

– Google might have banned a GOP senator's campaign from buyings ads.

– Al Gore edged past Gen. David Petraeus and nabbed the Nobel Peace Prize. You might have heard about this.

National Journal (relucantly) bumped Ron Paul up to 5th place in their race rankings, above Mike Huckabee and below John McCain.

Larger issues…

Siren's Tsongas.
On Tuesday voters in Massachusetts' 5th Congressional district will elect a replacement for Democratic Rep. Marty Meehan. The Democrat is Nicola "Nikki" Tsongas, wife of the late Sen. Paul Tsongas, who represented this district in the 1970s. The Republican is Jim Ogonowski, a farmer and retired air force colonel. Lost the endorsements of the Boston Herald and the Lowell Sun, both of which endorsed George W. Bush in 2004. Meehan easily won this district by better than 25-point margins, but public polls show Tsongas only leading by nine or 10 points. So Democrats are sweating it and Republicans are cautiously optimistic about an upset.

Most of what needs to be said about the race is said here by Domenico Montarano: Ogonowski has run as an anti-Washington candidate, never mentioning his party affiliation. (Nice display of the Feiler Faster Thesis here—11 months after people kick the GOP out to "fix" Congress, they think it's broken again.) If it's working with voters, it's failing with newspapers. The Lowell Sun and Boston Herald, both papers that endorsed Bush over Kerry, endorsed Tsongas. (The only actual issue Ogonowski is running on is opposition to illegal immigration; if he loses, there's another data point against that issue doing a lick of good for the GOP.)

Will Al Gore Run for President?
No, Al Gore won't run for president.

Will Ron Paul Run for President if the GOP Doesn't Nominate Him? Ah, that's a more interesting question. According to Paul, every time he's been asked, the answer is no. But it's the question among libertarians in DC right now. Some want him to fight on assuming he loses the GOP primary, letting his House seat go and becoming probably the most successful independent libertarian candidate in histroy. Some want him to stay in the House, imbued with new fame, fans and clout. Downsides to scenario one: If, as would seem likely, Republicans lose the White House and the Democratic candidate doesn't break 50 percent, many will blame Paul for bringing back the Clinton dynasty (or creating an Obama one). You can look at Ralph Nader's post-2000 career to see what would happen after that. Downsides to scenario two: Paul's fame will fade after the election and most reporters will blow off his speeches about fiat money and ask him whether he'll run in 2012. If that second scenario's more likely it's because Paul cares less about his own fame and personality cult than Nader ever did.

Below the fold…

– Leslie Wayne profiles Bill Richardson, who's going to surge past John Edwards… any day now.

– Ron Paul does the Washington Post's live chat.

– PBS and Fox News are both doing Dick Cheney specials this weekend. One is titled Dick Cheney: No Retreat. The other is The Dark Side. Guess which network is doing which special.

It wasn't a slow news week, per se, but in case we're getting restless about this I give you: Politics 'n' Prog.