Monday, February 18, 2008



Why, our pick of presidents, of course!

In yesterday's New York Times, Frank Rich wrote about how the GOP has specialized and marginalized its base and its appeal. This morning, on the homepage of most news websites, we see graphic evidence of this: 83 year old former President George H. W. Bush endorsing 71 year old Senator John McCain for president.

The GOP has become the TOG, the party of Tired Old Guys.

But then, isn't that the way it has often been? It's just never seemed THIS old because it has never BEEN this old. John McCain is the oldest candidate ever, and he looks it, even when standing beside an ex-president pushing 84.

Mike Huckabee is out there dancing around, playing guitar, and in Wisconsin yesterday, bowling for kicks, with reporters, having a blast, and saying this election is "about the future of the Republican Party." The guy's got some suave flair and even some really good things to say. Too bad he's a fan of Noah's Ark.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the old gray-haired men are speaking to the gathered klieg lights and microphones, but they still look as if they're uncomfortable unless they're sitting in the back room smoking cigars.

And this actually does matter. Old, rich and/or Republican men don't run for office to dish out freedom. They run for office to aggregate power, to pool and protect their profits.

Frank Rich says the party is of course in stark contrast this round to Barack Obama. Hillary can be seen as one of the GOB (Good Ol' Boys) and perhaps even wants to be seen as such. But Obama has really never used the insiders' cloak, not even rhetorically. He's into crossing the aisle but not making tithing, tethers and secrecy his modus operandi. (That's Clinton. That's McCain. Indeed, in this, I bet Huckabee is closer to Obama than to the other two.)

Post-Bush, circa 1992 (when the ex-president already seemed out of touch and even addled), and post-Bush II, circa this year, 2008, the writing was and is on the wall. The Republicans are entrenched in a narrow, fear-mongering, power hoarding past that will rack up millions of votes but just won't sell very well.

The senior Bush was 64 when he took office. McCain would be 72. Eight years is considerable. In just the last eight years the senior Bush's son has been in office, McCain has gone from feisty renegade to would-be retiree, past his prime, past his time. McCain is aging rapidly, and as the months go by, we may find that the old fire in McCain's belly has indeed turned to embers if not ash -- and that he campaigns about as well as he sings.


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