I met Ralph Reed this morning. He's the little evangelical who ran something called the Christian Coalition a few years back. He ran for the Georgia Lieutenant Governor seat during the last election cycle, but lost, after some negative ethics publicity came back to haunt him. I'm a little fuzzy on the details, but I think it involved him with Indian (the American kind) gambling and the recently jailed Jack "The Ripper" Abramoff.
But there he was at a weekly breakfast meeting I attend. He's taller than he looks on tv. I always thought he was a tiny fellow, but he's really just thin. Better looking, too. In photos of Ralph, I was always vaguely reminded of Lee Harvey Oswald, but face to face Ralph is actually rather handsome. He's a good speaker, too, and shared his thoughts on the presidential elections. While he made no bones about his position as an evangelical conservative, his analysis was pretty insightful and largely free of advocacy. So, I'll share some of it, imperfectly remembered, here.
Ralph thinks that John McCain has got the red nomination all locked up, pointing out that Mike Huckabee would need to garner 93% of the remaining available Republican delegates to win. Sounds sensible. Unlike many conservatives these days, Ralph is not anti-McCain. He believes that McCain is the only Republican with a real chance to unite the Republicnas and to beat the Democrats. He obviously likes that prospect. Plus, President Bush has recently semi-endorsed him as a true conservative.
Looking across the aisle, Ralph thinks Hillary will probably win the blue nomination, and that she will be forced to ask Barack Obama to be her running mate or risk the outrage of black voters. Ralph says that the Democrats cannot win without at least 80% of the black vote. Interesting. He speaks like someone who has actually crunched the numbers. I'd like to see those numbers myself.
But Ralph also thinks that John McCain, running against Hillary, who's name might as well be "Satan" to conservatives, could reignite some passion in the party. Maybe. Maybe indeed. Since the surge, we seem to be winning the war in Iraq. That could also be stimulus for Republican spirits.
A lot can change in the nine months between today and the election in November. The economy for instance. My own prediction is that the credit mess caused by MBS-CDO defaults will have largely flushed itself out of the economy by November, and the economy will be back on an upswing. (BTW, the credit mess can all be traced back to Traveler's Sandy Weil wanting to buy Citibank. I'll do a post on that separately.) So, with an improving economy and a winning war a distinct possibility, I think it's far too early to count the reds out of this election.
But counting on Hillary Hate is not a good path either. People get tired of hating. People are also get tired of Hillary, and I'm talking about Democrats now. Personally, I think that the reds are indulging in a little wishful thinking by counting on a fight against Hillary. They are not acknowledging that Obama has got some serious momentum working now. He's tied with Hillary for delegates, has 200,000 more popular votes than she does, and is on a 5 state winning streak. Hanging onto the idea that Hillary is the front runner has the whiff of beltway tunnel vision. While the DC pundits cling to her, the rest of the country is lining up behind the Yes We Can Man. Why? So that we can march fearlessly into the future and keep on being a great country.
And that's really what we want. What a welcome change from arguing about gay marriage and school vouchers.
But to finish up on Ralph's thoughts, he's assuming a Hillary-Obama ticket. He goes on to say that McCain will have to have a minority running mate to compete. Ralph suggests that Condi Rice as McCain's vp running mate would siphon some black voters away from the Democrats, or at least enough black voters to win. I don't think so. I think adding a pinch of Condi would be a recipe for electoral disaster. No pun intended, but Condoleeza is one weak sister.
Condi has a tendency to whine when things don't go her way, and she was a terrible National Security Adviser. Remember when she said that "no one could have possibly imagined" that terrorists would use airliners to fly into buildings? How dim must one be not to imagine that? It was her job to imagine such things. And to prevent them. Why this goes largely unremarked upon by our fourth estate, giving her a free pass on her ultimate responsibility, is unknown and unfathomable to me. Was she unaware of the Bojinka Plot, just five years earlier, showing our Arab friends' fascination with the idea of hijacking planes and flying them into buildings? How could she not be?
Another reason Condi would be a bad choice for a running mate is that she is no politico. She's never been in an election. She's a terribly boring public speaker. Aside from being secretly in love with the President, and having a penchant for go-go boots, there is little interesting about her. No sizzle. Condi is basically a misplaced college professor. I'm not trying to imply anything, but on the dirty tricks side of things, her spinsterism will also spark rumors.
Apparently there has been a falling out between Colin Powell and the Republican establishment. It seems that many conservatives blame Colin for not standing up more firmly to Donald "Henny Penny" Rumsfeld, and preventing Rummy and the neocons from totally screwing up Iraq War II. Also, Colin has now publicly indicated that he has not decided whether he will support the Republican or Democratic candidate this election. Wow! The bottom line is that Colin has become something of a black sheep (oops!) in the Republican family.
Curiously, I think that McCain may have stumbled right into the formula for the success of his candidacy through a seeming faux pas. The 100 years military occupation in Iraq. Nobody really liked the sound of that. But . . . let's stop and think about what just happened.
John McCain has voiced a vision for America's future. A stretch, I know. But I've been pondering what I'm really looking for in my next President. Why am I drawn to Obama (Troops home now) and McCain (Empire forever) when they are so far apart on the issues? I'm looking for a leader. A leader with a vision. A vision of where America should be going, and the will to drive us there. Not some poll driven, vote counting politico who wants to sit in the driver's seat but really just be along for the ride. Let's have a dream! See the future! Let's go there! We're going there anyway, so let's bend it to our national will!
100 years. Where do we want America to be in 100 years? What do we need to do now to get there? Build trains that can run on electicity generated by anything. Clean energy. Plenty of healthy food. Great medical care for all. Shared values. Nice homes. No pollution. Everyone is educated. Drug abuse is rare. Hatred is socially unacceptable. The whole world speaks English and America is admired as a pioneering example of human dignity, peace, and freedom.
Or we just go along from year to year and see what happens. We run out of gas. All high paid labor is exported, so we have 2 classes of people, capitalists and servants. China and India are the world's two superpowers. In high school, kids learn how much U.S. history imitated England's rise and fall.
I'm looking for a man with a plan. Or a woman with a plan. The vision thing. Remember that? Who has it? I'm still not sure. But whoever shows it to me will get my vote.
Bottom Line: Barack looks like the man as of today. But who is a good number 2 for the blues? We need someone with international and defense cred. Too bad John Glenn is a hundred years old. Wesley Clark maybe? On the red side, John McCain with Colin Powell is the key to Republican victory. My liberal distaste for the Bush years could be assuaged by the prospect of these two battle proven war heros leading our country in uncertain times. And the retch inducing stench of the Clintons will certainly make me look for an alternative if Hillary is the nominee, even with Barack on the ticket. If the conservative wing of the Republican party can get onboard, the reds have a real chance. I'll vote for Obama if I can, but not as Hillary's Veep.
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