2008-01-10 / View From the Middle

View From The Middle

Weeding Out The Candidates: Not A Tough Job
By Charles Rogers

By Charles Rogers

I've always been nuts about politics. Besides religion, sports and female anatomy (not necessarily in that order) - it has always been the most interesting subject about which we talk at the corner bar and elsewhere, I have always looked upon it as, at worst, fascinating and, at best, uh, fascinating.

In a political year such as we have now, where it's

wide open because there is no incumbent who might have an edge on whomever his opponent may be, it seems to have become more than just a subject to induce a great deal of yawning, for the most part. There aren't just a few guys running for the respective nominations from two parties here. We now have a bunch of white guys running for the Republican nomination and a bunch of white guys, a black guy and a white gal running for the Democratic nomination. And it's still not a sure thing that we won't have a white, very, very rich guy

running for the Independent Party's nomination (he

would be a shoo-in for the party since he would be the only candidate). Fascinating!

After having started this political mayhem prior to the 2008 elections early, early, early in 2007 (Ohmigosh! Election Day is only a little over ten months away!), we all knew it would be a long time

before we got into the nitty-gritty of it, like the caucuses and primaries we've been having last week and this week and coming up faster than anyone realized. It seemed that, before we said "Happy New Year" to people, the Iowa caucuses were upon us, and less than a week later came the New Hampshire primaries. Very soon, we'll have Nevada and Michigan and Whateverville, USA and February 5 - known as Super Tuesday - will be upon us, featuring no fewer than 19 states with primaries and caucuses, just to keep the names of these guys and a gal in our minds.

Of course, by that time, the field will be narrowed.

Who knows who will fall by the wayside in the meantime?

If you watched closely last Saturday's double debate on ABC, where the Democratic Party candidates debated and talked for a couple of hours and then the Republican candidates did the same for a couple of more hours, that "fascinating" word becomes appropriate, I think.

Watching the various polls taken just after the debates, you would have noticed that Barack Obama, who just came off a win in Iowa, was still riding on a high note. Oh, yes, he seemed tired by comparison to just after the announcement that he'd won, but he did all right; and the post-debate polls agreed that he beat out Hilary Clinton, John Edwards and William Richardson on the ABC program.

And y'know what? The fact that Obama is black didn't mean a thing in Iowa or New Hampshire. Nor will it mean a thing in the long run. There is no question that those who have been advocating for an African American president for years - if only for the reason that he or she is black - will be happy if that is the outcome. But Mr. Obama is indeed impressive and he's running NOT as a candidate for black president, but as a candidate for president. Period. Whereas Mrs. Clinton has admitted that she would like to be the first woman president, but that has no bearing on her candidacy, at no time did Obama even suggest that he would like to be the first African American leader of the country.

The GOP side brought John McCain, Ron Paul, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee - coming off that tremendous win in Iowa - and Rudy Giuliani (you remember him...) on the same stage Saturday.

Right away, it's actually easy to see who's going to be dropping out soonest, unless a bad case of stubbornness takes over: Ron Paul, who shouldn't have

wasted money on this horse race in the first place, since it is, after all, for thoroughbreds only.

Next to drop out would be Fred Thompson. He made a good accounting of himself Saturday, the first time he has done that. But I'm afraid it's too late for him to do anything more of substance. It's too late for him. Up 'til now, the former actor has treated the primaries as if they're auditions for a part he doesn't really want to fight for.

As to who would be next to drop: Although he's got a lot of grit - and a heluva lot of money - I'm afraid Romney will see the writing on the wall after he loses in Michigan. Then it will be down to Giuliani, Huckabee and McCain, with Huckabee falling by the wayside before autumn. The line will be drawn and these two contenders will have to duke it out.

Eventually (fill in blank here) will come out the Republican winner who will try to grab the championship from the Democratic nominee, (fill in blank here).

I'll let you know the outcome in October!

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