Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Un-Conventional Wisdom?

Originally conceived back in April, composed last week, polished off on Sunday, June 17.

The Conventional Wisdom is that moving the primaries earlier in the year, what Meet the Press refers to as Tsunami Tuesday on February 5, will result in the Presidential nomination being locked up less than halfway between now and the election next November. This was articulated in an April 16, 2007, Comment in The New Yorker by Hendrik Hertzberg, but similar thoughts are behind most of the ranting on the evening cable "news" shows.

I think they are wrong. They are arguing from a false premise.

In the past, the nomination was locked up by the fourth round or so because of attrition. People who won an early round (such as Iowa or New Hampshire) and then slipped in a later round (such as South Carolina) ran into trouble fund raising or lost "momentum", and the bottom half of the pack never even made it into the ones that became definitive. That is less likely to happen this time because there won't be time for that to happen.

What happens if there are 9 or 10 names on each ballot when February rolls around? Someone will win here, someone else will win there, and yet another will win over there. Its not like the leader in nationwide polls will take all of the delegates. It will play out state by state. I predict that February will bring us a hung convention (probably a pair of them) like the nation has not seen since 1960.

Want to know what might happen? Read "The Making of the President, 1960", the book that made me into a political junkie.

People arguing that Gore needs to decide now, or forget it, are idiots. His best chance is to sit it out and wait for the party to turn to him. Unlike others who might have best used this strategy (such as Fred Thompson, whose strength is that his politics are poorly unknown), he is a proven Presidential candidate. Rove's attack dogs already took their best shot at him, and even then had to win it in the courts.

He will be paired up with whichever Dem comes out with the least negatives. One might lead to a nostalgic Gore-Clinton bumper sticker, where 20% of the voters would think that Bill was back on the ticket.

On the Republican side, Bloomberg should keep quiet about a third party and work for a spot on a post-Iraq unity ticket with Hagel, unless Romney goes that way. There will be a lot of blood spilled before the Republicans are done, and that convention could be as crazy as the 1960 Democratic one was.

Why did I say post-Iraq? Because I am convinced that Bush's surge-and-run past has one more cycle in it, leaving McCain (and the other pro-W-war candidates) as screwed as McCain was when Rove got done with him in South Carolina.