August 11, 2006

Candidates? We Gotcher Candidates Right Here!

Hatched by Dafydd

Two interesting president/running mate teams have been floating around for a while, but I don't think either has a prayer.

Derailing the Straight-Talk Express

First, of course, is the perennial fantasy-teaming of John McCain and Joe Lieberman. The problems with this suggestion are myriad, however:

  1. It would have to function as a "third party" candidacy, naturally, since the Republicans wouldn't support a Democrat as their nominee for vice president any more than the Democrats would nominate a Republican for president... and third-party candidacies are doomed.

None has ever been elected in the history of the American presidency.

People sometimes point to Abraham Lincoln as a successful "third-party candidate;" but that's simply wrong. He was not a "third-party candidate," since the Whig Party had already died out: the last Whig presidential nominee (Winfield Scott) ran in 1852; in the next presidential election of 1856, John C. Fremont ran as a Republican, losing to Democrat James Buchanan. So by the time Lincoln ran in 1860, the only two viable political parties were the Republicans and the Democrats.

The Republicans, and the Whigs, Democrats, National Republicans, and Democratic-Republicans before them -- were not "third parties," they were supplanting parties: each took the place of a party that had died out earlier. Thus, each of these became part of the two party system when one of the previous two parties disappeared.

George Washington had no party; presidential parties began with John Adams, who was a Federalist, running against Thomas Jefferson, a Democratic-Republican... and for the next seven elections, those were the only two parties which ran for the presidency.

But then, the Federalists completely died out. Not a single Federalist is listed in the World Almanac and Book of Facts as having run after Rufus King in 1816.

Between 1824, when all four candidates were Democratic-Republicans, and 1828, the Democratic-Republicans split into two parties: the Democrats and the National Republicans. Since the Federalists had already disappeared, this made only two parties.

The National Republicans were short lived; they ran only twice -- incumbent President John Quincy Adams in 1828 and Henry Clay in 1832 -- and lost both times. They disappear by 1836, replaced by the Whigs (still only two parties); it's not until 1848 that the first true "third party" emerges in a presidential election: in that election, former President Martin Van Buren -- previously a Democrat in 1836 and 1840 -- ran under the Free Soil Party... and was waxed, taking only 10% of the vote.

The Whigs died out and were replaced by the Republicans, as previously noted; and since 1852, nobody but a Republican or Democratic nominee has ever won the presidency.

There have been eleven elections in which a third party ran (one in 1948 when two third parties ran... or is that a third and a fourth party?) The closest any came to winning was in 1912, when former President Teddy Roosevelt split from the Republican Party and ran on the Progressive Party ticket (also called the Bull Moose Party, after Roosevelt retorted to some reporter who had questioned his fitness for office that he was "as fit as a bull moose"); he did so well that he outpolled sitting President William H. Taft, his hand-picked successor and the Republican in the race. However, Democrat Woodrow Wilson beat them both: 45% to 30% for Teddy and 25% for Taft.

In no other election has any third party come anywhere near that mark of 30%; Perot in 1992 got 19% of the vote, Wallace in '68 got only 13%, Anderson in '80 got less than 7%, and so forth. Our political system is set up to discourage third parties... and not without good reason. Look at Israel's Knesset or Iraq's new parliament for a good idea of how destructive such factions can be.

  1. Republicans by and large intensely dislike John McCain, while 80% of Democrats (if you can believe John Zogby) are cheering that Joe Lieberman lost to Ned Lamont. No ticket can win with a candidate who is so disliked unless the alternative candidates are equally hated.

Unpopularity and hatred are bigger motivators to the polls than are popularity and love; so you need either a very large like to dislike ratio -- or else you need to balance one dislike with another equally large to win.

In 1972, Richard Nixon was heavily disliked; but his opponent, either by luck or design (take your pick), was feared even more than Nixon was disliked: George McGovern was feared as a peacenik who would sacrifice American security for his idealistic agenda of world peace.

Had Nixon run against Hubert Humphrey again, or against Edmund Muskie or Henry "Scoop" Jackson, Nixon would very likely have lost.

So if McCain and Lieberman run as a presidential ticket, their only hope would be if both the Republican and the Democratic nominees were so despised and hated that the dislike people hold (for McCain especially) paled by comparison. While there is a Democrat who fits that bill -- Hillary -- she is unlikely to be the nominee for that very reason; and in any event, none of the other likely nominees for the Republican presidency fit that bill.

  1. And in any event, I doubt that Joe Lieberman has any interest in running for vice-president again; and as for McCain... he's aggravated that the presidency is the highest office he can run for ("God" not being an elective office). Neither man would be willing to take the VP slot.

Thus, for three reasons, McCain-Lieberman (or Lieberman-McCain) not only would not win; it would not likely draw more than 10% of the vote... and that almost equally from both sides -- Republican "reformers" for McCain and Democratic "hawks" for Lieberman. Which means it would no effect whatsoever on the election (the opposite of 1912, when TR's defection from the Republicans threw the election to the Democrats). And it couldn't even be formed in the first place!

The Grump and His Gal Friday

This would be the Republican so-called "dream ticket" of Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld, in either order; or in fact, Condi with any running mate.

Aside from the obvious:

  1. Both have repeatedly and forcefully disclaimed any interest in ever holding elective office now or in the future; and
  2. Neither is in a position where he or she could drop everything and start running in early 2007; they're needed where they are.

There is another problem that is insurmountable, in my opinion:

  1. Donald Rumsfeld's only previous elective office is as a member of the House (from 1963 to 1971, four terms), while Condi has never been elected to anything. And the American people do not consider the presidency to be an entry-level position.

Since 1900, only two presidents have been elected without having first served as vice presidents, governors of a state, or US senators: Herbert Hoover in 1928, elected after only having served in the cabinet of Warren G. Harding; and Dwight D. Eisenhower, elected in 1952 with no electoral experience... but he had of course served as the Supreme Allied Commander of all the Allied forces -- millions upon millions of them -- in World War II; and he was likely the most beloved man in America in '52.

I do not believe that either Rumsfeld or Dr. Rice fit into the Eisenhower mold; and 1928 was such a different time that a socialist technocrat (save humanity with science and sanity!) could actually get elected having been nothing more than a utopian Commerce Secretary.

And while we're on the subject, there were only two presidents elected in the 20th century whose main claim to fame was a stint in the Senate: Warren G. Harding in 1920 and John F. Kennedy in 1960. And the last man elected to the office from the House of Representatives was James A. Garfield -- in 1880; he had risen as high as Minority Leader before being (a) offered the Senate seat of retiring Sen. Allan Thurmen, which Garfield declined because (b) he was also offered the Republican nomination for president.

After being sworn in, he was shot less than four months later; he lingered on for a few months, then died of his wounds. And since then, nobody has gone directly from the House to the presidency -- don't tell me there's no connection!

So again for three reasons, I cannot see either Dr. Secretary Condoleezza Rice or Secretary Donald I. Rumsfeld being elected president in 2008. If, however, Rice successfully runs for the governorship of Alabama, California, or Colorado in 2010 (the three states where she has spent most of her life), then she might be a viable presidential candidate for the 2016 election; at that time, she would be 62 years old, which is still a perfectly reasonable age to become president, though not as young as recent successful nominees.

One more half-point to make:

  1. At 74, Rumsfeld is almost certainly too old to be first elected president.

Reagan was 69 when he was elected in 1980, and even he was considered on the trailing edge; since then, we had George H.W. Bush winning at age 64, Bill Clinton at 46, and George W. Bush at 54; Blob Dole ran (and lost) at age 73 and was considered too old; "Rummy" would be even a year older than that.

I'm pretty sure he has no interest in the job; but even if he did, he would have far too many hurdles to overcome... not least of which is having served as Secretary of Defense during a war that is deeply unpopular among both Left and Right, however vital and necessary I think it is.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 11, 2006, at the time of 3:33 PM

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» Candidates? We Gotcher Candidates Right Here! from Risky Scheme, about as conservative as DailyKos is liberal, has floated the idea of a possible John McCain - Joe Leiberman ticket in 2008. Article highlights: Lieberman increasingly has made appearances with Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who... [Read More]

Tracked on January 8, 2007 1:48 PM


The following hissed in response by: FredTownWard

I think you are being a bit unfair not to count the election of 1860 as the one and only third party victory. It is true that the Whigs were all but disintegrated by this time, but their rump members formed the Constitutional Union Party, while the Democrats split over slavery and nominated separate candidates. To deny the Republicans their rightful claim as the first (and only) victorious third party, you have to refuse to count the Constitutional Party as what it truly was, the dying gasp of the Whig Party.

Of course even if we count 1860 as a third party victory, it doesn't offer much hope for the future because it is obvious that the Republicans WERE in the process of supplanting the Whigs as the Second Party. Interestingly the popular vote split didn't affect the outcome because Republicans won enough electoral votes to have won even if ALL of the other 60% of voters had united behind a single candidate.

The above hissed in response by: FredTownWard [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 11, 2006 4:15 PM

The following hissed in response by: Big D

The thing that cracks me up about McCain/Lieberman is that Lieberman would be on the ballot mainly to appeal to Republicans, while McCain would be on the ballot mainly to appeal to Democrats.

No current House or Senate member will be elected president in 2008. The stink of service in the legislature must first fade.

Has anyone from the Judiciary ever run for the presidency? Just wondering. I thought there was a draft John Marshall movement at one time...

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 11, 2006 4:31 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

With America and Israel lying down like prison punks, humble me is converting to Islam, and will wait for a One Party president/running mate ticket of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah...before i Vote again.

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 11, 2006 6:42 PM

The following hissed in response by: Robert Schwartz

McCain turns 70 this month, he will be 72 in 2008.

I don't think McCain and Liberman can be on the same ticket. Not enough room for the egos.

The above hissed in response by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 11, 2006 7:13 PM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

I think we're looking for a current or recent Republican governor to be the candidate, unless Condi decides she wants to be President (unless she catches State Department cooties). Frist and the other Senate candidates are pretty lackluster.

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 11, 2006 7:36 PM

The following hissed in response by: Smitty

Tis a perfect time to bring back the Free Soil Party!

Make an appeal to the potheads uhm sorry "hemp" growers.


The above hissed in response by: Smitty [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 11, 2006 8:47 PM

The following hissed in response by: yetanotherjohn

Depending on the candidate, I see a real strong possibility of Condi getting tapped as a VP. She's popular with the base, can rally th GOP base behind the presidential candidate, has great international assests to bring to bear and the whole Black + Woman can't be discounted.

The real question is if she wants the job. I can imagine her wanting it and not wanting it. She is also young enough that in 4 or 8 years, she could run in her own right.

The VP slot would also allow her to continue her current job until mid-2007 (when she would only have 6 months left in office). If she is picked as VP, look for Bolton to be bumped up to hold the sec state slot for the final 6 months.

The above hissed in response by: yetanotherjohn [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 12, 2006 1:39 PM

The following hissed in response by: Papa Ray

A couple of years ago I would have voted for Colin Powell for president. He has a good background IMHO and knows the dangers we face.

But, now I'm not so sure after watching a couple of interviews he had.

We could use someone as president that has served honorably in our Military during the next several years. Of course, no one knows our Military leaders anymore, or for that matter, few would agree with me that one was now needed.

Whoever wins, I hope is for strong borders and a strong military and has strong feelings about protecting this Republic.

We are going to need a strong President that is not afraid of the dangers without or within.

Papa Ray
West Texas

The above hissed in response by: Papa Ray [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 12, 2006 7:17 PM

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