The second biggest story of this weekend (behind Barack Obama beating Hillary Clinton in the South Carolina, which yielded an almost Saddam Hussein-style landslide) seemed to be the flurry of endorsements granted in the last couple ofÂ days.Â Desperate for anything newsworthy, national news outletsÂ stopped just short of cutting into “To Catch a Predator”Â to announce news that (gasp!) Dick Cheney’s daughter had endorsed Mitt Romney.
I’m not a big believer that endorsements mean anything.Â I mean, who really cares if Caroline Kennedy is voting for Barack Obama?Â Who says to themself, “well, someone who shares Dick Cheney’s genetic material likes Romney, that should pretty muchÂ counteract the fact that he’s switched his position on every issue that means anything to me.”Â Â And what’s the deal with presidential daughters that makes themÂ qualified to tell me who to vote for?Â Â Should we get Jenna Bush on record?Â (Breaking news: Jenna Bush endorses Beefeater gin to get your buzz on!)
They keep telling me what a big deal it is that Florida Governor Charlie Crist endorsed John McCain (Crist had previously endorsed spray-on tanning bronzer.)Â All that really tells me is that McCain sent enough Facebook messages to Crist begging for his endorsement.Â (Charlie Crist – You’ve been SuperPoked!)Â Honestly, who knows what kinds of deals are swung behind the scenes to garner endorsements – rarely do they have anything to do with philosophy or ideology. Let’s just say if elected President, McCain probably won’t have to wait long for a call from Crist asking if there might be any cabinet appointments available.
The biggest endorsement of all came when Senator Ted Kennedy endorsed Obama.Â Kennedy might actually be a big enough name to move some votes in Massachusetts – but I pity anyone who decides their vote based on the recommendation of anyone else, even if they are a Kennedy.Â Also, imagine the conceit involved in offering up an endorsement – thinking that somehow you have the expertise and moral authority to tell other people how to vote.Â I value the opinion of the guy who makes my sandwiches at Quizno’s more than I do any elected official.Â
This election cycle is bizarre in that campaign “strategy” seems to be deciding who will be the nominees.Â One thing I don’t understand is how voters tend to make up their minds on who to support based on a candidate’s physical proximity to where they live.
Take, for example, Rudy Giuliani, whose strategy has been to focus mainly on Florida, while campaigning lightly in New Hampshire, Michigan, Iowa, and South Carolina.Â Who are these voters that say, “Boy, I really like Rudy’s leadership and conservative economic values, but I just wish he had spent a little more time near my house?”Â What does where a candidate campaigns have to do with what kind of president he (or she) will be?Â In the internet age, you can get as much or as little information about candidates as you want.Â It’s not like people in South Carolina had never heard of Giuliani because he didn’t show up there very often.Â People weren’t saying “who is this bald man from the north coming to offer us prosperity?”Â They rejected him because he committed the sin of not kissing their behinds for a week straight.
I’m wondering how the “presidential proximity principle” will be applied in the future.Â For instance, Mitt Romney spent a ridiculous amount of time campaigning in Iowa.Â And Iowa is only a couple hours away from where I live in Madison.Â All that separates Iowa from Wisconsin is an imaginary line that makes some of us “Iowans” and some of us “Wisconsinites.”Â By that standard, should I vote for Romney because he spent more time closest to where I live?Â Or do I have to wait for the week of the Wisconsin primary to see who spends the most time in Wisconsin?Â Is John McCain’s stance on campaign finance reform suddenly going to become more palatable to me when he’s waving at me driving down West Washington Avenue?
It does appear that the GOP race is narrowing to a two-man race: McCain versus Romney.Â Naturally, both have significant downsides with traditional conservatives.Â McCain has taken unspeakably bad positions on important issues, but he’s most right on the issue that matters the most: the war in Iraq.Â Romney has flip flopped on so many issues, it’s hard to believe he’s the same person that held office in Massachusetts.
The bottom line with Romney is that it’s clear he had to take some of the liberal positions he held in order to be elected governor in a blue state.Â In the end, was Massachusetts better off with Romney as governor?Â Probably.Â He could have remained ideologically pure, but it would have cost him his election.Â For instance, I believe Romney has always been pro-life.Â But he had to support abortion rights to get elected, where he could then have the power to shape policy.
Yet some of these flip-flops look terrible during the current campaign, and they could cost Romney dearly in a general election.Â For conservative voters in the late-primary states, voting for Romney is like crawling back to an old girlfriend who cheated on you.Â But your pathetic life has become defined by Playstation, pizza boxes, and Victoria’s secret catalogues.Â So you cross your fingers, make the call, and hope she doesn’t do it again.
On the Democratic side, all sides involved want to make the race about things that matter the least – race and gender.Â Obama loyalists are decrying the Clintons’ use of “racial code words” to denigrate their candidate.
Personally, I think all the charges of racial manipulation byÂ Team Clinton are overblown.Â Basically, the media had the script to this campaign written well before it even started.Â It was RACE VERSUS SEX!Â And now that Bill Clinton has opened up his assault on Obama, it has to be about RACE!Â Somehow, Clinton calling Obama’s position on the war a “fairy tale” is a RACIAL CODEWORD!Â (If you don’t find anything racially insensitive about Hillary Clinton giving LBJ credit for his work on the Civil Rights Act, then you haven’t been properly trained in the fine art of perpetual grievance.)
Granted, Bill Clinton made the point that “Jesse Jackson won South Carolina” in an attempt to downplay theÂ primary’s significance.Â But comparing Obama to Jesse Jackson isn’t an insult because Jesse Jackson is black – it’s an insult because Jesse Jackson is a clown.
Barack Obama’s speech after his victory Saturday night gave me chills. He doesn’t say anything philosphically that hasn’t already been said, but he is a rhetorical mastermind. He uses wonderful examples, and his cadence and command of his audience are stunning.
How ironic is it that Hillary Clinton is now the victim of the same traits that her husband used to vault himself into the presidency? Obama’s charm, good looks, and forceful speaking are the very tools Bill Clinton used to separate himself from more practical candidates like Paul Tsongas. Effectively, Obama has turned the script around on the Clintons – ironic, since nobody actually believes Hillary would be in this position without that very strategy in the first place.
One of the ironies on Obama’s side is how he has to go out of his way to proclaim his love of Christianity and of Jesus Christ. These moments in debates seem to get lost, but they are fascinating. Obviously, the rumors of Obama’s religious leanings are out there, so he has to make a point of giving some love to “JC” when he speaks. And it seems completely out of place. It’s as if he took some time in the middle of a debate to discuss his love of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. On the other hand, when Republican candidates express their love of Jesus during debates, they are roundly mocked.
As a final word, anyone who utters the term “Barack Hussein Obama” is an idiot. There are no exceptions to this rule. You all know why.
(That being said, after the events of 9/11, I would have put $1,000 on the fact that someone named “Murderer Pedophile Terrorist” woud be elected president before someone named “Barack Hussein Obama.”)