Monday, February 25, 2008

And on the Seventh Day, the Blogger Rested

Fine, a slowdown in the campaign, at least in terms of contests, equals a slowdown in blog output. Well, it's either that or fatigue. To quote Grandpa Simpson (see below), "a little from column A, a little from column B." Regardless, there has been some action worth noting on the trail and beyond over the last couple of days.

McCain continues to battle the FEC over the issue of the loan he took out last fall to keep his campaign afloat. The kicker is that now the DNC is involved; writing letters to the FEC calling for action. Good luck to the DNC on that one. Aren't Senate Democrats holding up those FEC commissioners' confirmations in a standoff with the White House? The "all bark and no bite" FEC is even more toothless now that it is stuck in limbo, biding its time until a full slate of commissioners can actually do the work of upholding the very law John McCain helped to create. Funny business, this politics.

In other McCain news, he's old, but not any older than Bob Dole would have been had the former Senate majority leader won in 1996. [Of course McCain is trying to avoid bottoming out financially during the summer months like Dole did. Repeating the summer of 2007 would be bad enough for the presumptive Republican nominee.] The age issue is working its way into the VP discussions surrounding McCain though. Regional balance has been a longstanding consideration in the running mate calculus, but age balance is an altogether different factor. Dole's choice of Kemp in 1996 is an obvious example and Bush's decision to go with Quayle in 1988 is similar in some ways. One could potentially argue that Eisenhower choosing a younger Richard Nixon fits this category as well.

The reverse scenario, where a relatively young candidate choses someone with more experience, has also popped up historically. Kennedy tapping Johnson in 1960 comes to mind. Age though wasn't the main consideration there. The Austin to Boston axis, usually a balance among the Democratic leadership in Congress during the period, was at play with this tandem as well. The two also finished one-two in the primaries (non-binding) and in the convention brokering that year. So age may not have been the top concern in 1960. George W. Bush selecting Dick Cheney could also fit into this category. A failed run for Congress and a long period outside of the public sector followed by six years as Texas governor, left the younger Bush vulnerable to the inexperience label. Cheney's time in Congress as well as his stints in the Ford and (first)Bush administrations helped Bush shed that label. And of course, if Obama is to become the Democratic nominee then age may again be a factor.

Speaking of VP speculation, here's the latest from The Fix. And here's the view from a political science perspective.

On the Democratic side, the race is still on and getting somewhat petty/nasty in the lead up to the Ohio-Rhode Island-Texas-Vermont round of contests on March 4. The Clinton folks are fighting Obama's momentum and the perception that it's over (Of course, that's the media killing Clinton and lauding Obama or so goes the charge.). Tightening poll numbers in the largest of those states (Texas and Ohio) are not helping that effort. The head-to-head match ups against McCain aren't either (Clinton and Obama). The Clinton anger has turned to sarcasm has turned to negative photos of Obama in a whirling dervish of ploys for votes in the two March 4 prizes (Sorry Rhode Island and Vermont. Bigger is better. Just ask North Dakota how Super Tuesday went with California hogging the late night spotlight.). All this before tomorrow night's debate in Cleveland. That should make for an interesting last tussle before the contests next week.

Meanwhile, Ralph Nader has thrown his hat in the presidential ring once more
. His appearance on the Meet the Press was an interesting one. He shrugged off worries that he would siphon off votes from the Democrats in November countering the 2000 election argument by citing research by Solon Simmons (see citation below). [The main finding there is that Nader forced Gore to take more progressive stands, actually gaining votes in Florida as a result.] Nader also mentioned that if the Democrats can't landslide this cycle, then they should pack it up as party. That sentiment has made the rounds and there is a grain of truth to it. One thing I'd like to add is that with enthusiasm so high on the Democratic side, is Nader's potential impact not muted anyway. [Here's the transcript of that MTP interview.]

Simmons, Solon. 2004. “One Man in Ten Thousand: Ralph Nader takes on the Presidency.” Wisconsin Political Scientist, Vol.10, No.2


Anonymous said...

Much as I would like to take credit for my son's work, I won't. The co-authored work doesn't cover the issue Nader raised on Meet the Press.

The correct citation is:

Simmons, Solon. 2004. “One Man in Ten Thousand: Ralph Nader takes on the Presidency.” Wisconsin Political Scientist, Vol.10, No.2

You can find this article on my Political Science department's web site at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

Jim Simmons

Josh Putnam said...

Excellent. Thanks for the correction. I'll make that change immediately.