Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Making of the Nominee, 2008*

* = Republican-side

As the conservative side of this duo, I feel compelled to cover the GOP race for president. We have a motley crew of candidates, none of whom really excite anyone. Here is the path that each can take to become the 44th President of the United States or the path to joining the ranks of Harold Stassen, Pete DuPont, Bob Dornan and Gary Bauer. And with the help of Blugold Matt, we have thought of a campaign theme song for each.

Rudy Guiliani
Best case: A top-3 finish in Iowa (with Huckabee doing well and cutting into any Romney momentum) is followed with a win in New Hampshire. The momentum carries over into S.C. and the rest of the dominoes fall. Hillary wins in Iowa, so conservatives stick with Rudy as their best chance to taking down their most feared candidate. Bernie Kerik takes a plea deal in April or so, ensuring that he stays out of the headlines during the general election. Rudy personally beheads Osama on live television before the first debate.

Worst case: Romney cruises (7+ point victory) in Iowa. Hillary finishes behind a surging Barack Obama and no longer looks like a shoo-in for the nomination. McCain rises up for one last stand in N.H., cutting into some voters who would go for Rudy. With Romney, Huckabee and McCain fighting it out, Rudy's momentum and national lead dwindle away. Pat Robertson doesn't offer him a job as a 700 Club correspondent.

You May Be Right by Billy Joel
You may be right. I might be crazy. But it just may be a lunatic that you're looking for.

Mitt Romney
Best case: Very similiar to Rudy's worst case. Huckabee's momentum gets dented and ends up sharing votes with Fred, ensuring that neither get off the ground. An easier than expected win in Iowa, combined with Hillary winning Iowa with relative ease, ensures that Romney gets the Time/Newsweek covers and the media attention and the ensuing boomlet rachets up the NH numbers. McCain gets second in NH, removing Rudy as a serious contender and McCain's lack of money means that he can't seriously compete across the country.

Worst case: A loss in Iowa. Anything less than first in Iowa makes the rest of his strategy meaningless. Whoever beat him would have all of the momentum. If it's Rudy, it means he is invincible. Anyone else probably becomes the defacto choice of the base, leaving Romney in the cold.

The New American Way by the Dropkick Murphys
Do you know what we're fighting for? I know in an instant I could lose everything I'm working toward.

Fred Thompson
Best case: Press turns on Huckabee, digging up dirt from his gubernatorial days, sending him to the back of the pack and Thompson picks up that support. Romney ends up feuding with either McCain or Rudy, turning off voters. A perfect folksy moment in a late debate -- the kind of clip that gets played ad inifintum -- vaults him to a top-3 Iowa finish and establishes him as the conservative favorite. America gets its best looking First Lady since Dolley Madison. Even though he is considered a top tier candidate, I really think his chances depend almost entirely on other candidates faltering. He doesn't control his own destiny as much as he is relying on being everyone's second-favorite candidate. And he's done nothing to dispel the notion that he wants to be president, but he isn't really willing to do the work -- he wants a coronation instead of a nomination.

Worst case: Huckabee continues to shine and Fred muddles his way to several fourth and fifth place finishes before agreeing to return to Law and Order.

Beautiful Loser by Bob Seger
He'll never make any enemies, enemies, no. He won't complain if he's caught in a freeze. He'll always ask, he'll always say please. (Stacy's Mom was the runner-up pick).

John McCain
Best case: A replay of John Kerry, circa 2004. He keeps climbing in Iowa with several strong performances. Pat Robertson : Rudy Guiliani :: Al Gore : Howard Dean (the endorsement that marked the high-water point of a doomed campaign). Rudy and Romney turn on each other as McCain escapes unscathed because the other campaigns have still left him for dead. A top-2 Iowa finish is followed by a re-creation of the 2000 magic in NH. Fred, who has always liked McCain, takes one for the team and goes nuclear on Romney in a last ditch effort to become relevant again in the race. The ensuing slime only helps McCain, who cruises the rest of the way.

Worst case: A replay of Joe Lieberman, circa 2004. No money equals bad Iowa finish and he has no momentum to succeed in NH and is out of the race before Jan. 10. Full disclosure: I am supporting McCain for the nomination. Even though I think the case for McCain is even stronger than it was in 2000, it is impossible to deny that the mojo has not carried over. So my song choice is less reflective of what I think of the man than the reality of his struggling campaign.

After The Thrill is Gone by the Eagles
Time passes and you must move on, Half the distance takes you twice as long. So you keep on singing for the sake of the song.

Mike Huckabee
Best case: Continues to peel voters away from Fred, allowing himself to take the mantle as the charismatic Southern conservative in the race. McCain, Rudy and Romney train fire on each other in Iowa, allowing Huckabee's optimistic outlook to appeal to weary voters. A stunning upset win in Iowa gets him the Time/Newsweek cover/60 Minutes profile/evening news interviews and money starts pouring in. He has a top 3 finish in NH and SC comes out for the southern favorite.

Worst case: Basically the same as Fred. Thompson rises back up (stealing away Chuck Norris' endorsement), Huckabee finishes no better than 4th in Iowa and NH and goes on the lecture circuit. Not being selected as vice president causes him to seek into a deep depression, which he attempts to cure with biscuits and gravy, fried egg sammiches with bacon and a pint of Ben and Jerry's for dessert.

Hold on Hope by Guided by Voices
Everybody's got a hold on hope. It's the last thing holding me.

Ron Paul
Best case: His money and poll numbers continue to rise. He pulls off a stunning top-3 finish in iconoclastic New Hampshire and even wins a few primaries after the nominee has all but been decided. Is given a primetime speaking slot at the convention in the hopes he won't run on a 3rd party ticket.

Worst case: He makes a major gaffe that causes his rational supporters (i.e. not 9/11 Truthers or black helicopter-ites) to abandon him and becomes a minor footnote. The United States does not return to the gold standard, giving William Jennings Bryan a small smirk from beyond the grave.

Song: Crashing Your Party by Phantom Planet
I've come to crash your party. And no, you can't decline. I've come to crash your party, girl. Cause you ruined mine.

Duncan Hunter
Best case: Finishes 5th or so in a few primaries, makes a name for himself and becomes the defacto Secretary of Defense nominee if a Republican wins.

Worst case: No one knows who he is after finishing 6th or so in a few primaries and he becomes a lobbyist for some defense contractors.

: Who Are You? by the Who.
Who are you, I really wanna know.

Tom Tancredo
Best case: All of the other candidates are killed in the 24 hours leading up to the Iowa primary and Tancredo wins by default. The same happens in the general election, giving us President Tancredo. Americans cross the Mexican border in droves, hoping to live and work illegally in a better nation than the one they came from.

Worst case: For everyone other than Tom Tancredo and Pat Buchanan, the best case scenario is the worst case scenario.

: America by Neil Diamond
On the boats and on the planes, they're coming to America.