By Tony Palmeri
From the March 2007 issue of The Valley Scene
As I write this rant in mid February, thirteen establishment party candidates (8 Democrats and 5 Republicans) have officially announced they are running for President. The list will undoubtedly grow larger, as likely Republican candidates John McCain and Newt Gingrich have yet to announce. Democrats Bill Richardson and Wesley Clark have hinted at running, but have yet to take the official plunge.
To get some insight as to what the 13 early birds are all about, I thought I’d allow them each a fictional opportunity to introduce themselves to Scene readers. If you can’t recognize or appreciate the tongue-in-cheek nature of this rant, then you deserve another term of George W. Bush.
So Mr. and Ms. Establishment Candidate, tell us about yourself:
Joe Biden: “Too often in America, we elect to office those who convince us they are intelligent persons of integrity, only to find out later that they are ignorant buffoons. On the day I announced my campaign the press caught me referring to Senator Obama as the kind of ‘clean’ African-American that people can accept. So you don’t have to worry about me turning out to be an ignorant buffoon—you know that I already am one.”
Sam Brownback: “I’m a Republican Senator from Kansas. Social conservatives and Christian activists find me appealing, but not as much as corporate executives. In fact I’m probably the kind of politician Thomas Frank had in mind when he wrote What’s The Matter With Kansas?”
Hillary Rodham Clinton: “Someone has got to be the first woman President. Why not me? Some still believe a woman is not tough enough to be President. I pledge to you that if elected I am willing and ready to bomb any country, intimidate any population, and drain billions of dollars from the treasury on unnecessary military spending with the same gusto as all of my male predecessors.”
John Cox: “I’m past President of the Cook County, Illinois Republican Party. I could not win a Republican primary for US House in 2000, or US Senate in 2002, but I think I’ll have better luck in the presidential primaries.”
Chris Dodd: “When people hear ‘Senator from Connecticut,’ they too often have a vision of Joe Lieberman. Well dammit, if I have to run for President to remind people that there’s another Connecticut Senator, so be it. Heck, Joe isn’t really even a Democrat.”
John Edwards: “The only two Democrats elected President in the last 30 years came from red states, spoke with slow southern drawls, and had great smiles. That by itself should be enough to give me the nod, but I also have a serious health care plan on the table. Paul Krugman in the New York Times called it a ‘smart, serious proposal’ and he challenged Barack and Hillary to come up with something comparable.”
Rudy Giuliani: “Nancy Pelosi is the first Italian Speaker of the House of Representatives. Now we need an Italian President. How could a Palmeri not support a Giuliani, especially when I’m a social liberal ostracized by the right wing of the Republican Party?”
Mike Gravel: “The national media does not want you to know that as a United States Senator from Alaska in 1971, I led the fight to end the draft. They don’t want you to know that I stand for eliminating the income tax, creating a national initiative process so that the people can make laws, and a single-payer health care system. I’ve heard that Wisconsinites are hard workers, which is good because you’re going to have to work hard to learn about my candidacy.”
Duncan Hunter: I’m a Republican California congressman whose presidential aspirations George Will has called a “long shot conservative bid.” On my website you’ll see that I would amend the US Constitution and provide blanket protection to all unborn children from the moment of conception by prohibiting any state or federal law that denies the personhood of the unborn.”
Dennis Kucinich: “I’m going to give eloquent speeches lamenting the move of the Democratic Party to the right, but then at the convention I’ll give a speech urging everyone to support the nominee no matter who it is. If you want a progressive not enslaved to the tyranny of lesser evilism, I’m afraid you’re going to have to support Ralph Nader or the Green Party candidate.”
Barack Obama: “Thank you for having the audacity to read my words. Soon I will have the audacity to take some concrete positions on the issues. Trust me, my platform will be audacious.”
Mitt Romney: “I’m from Massachusetts, where many recognize me as a moderate Republican. But since moderate Republicans don’t make it through the Republican primaries, here’s what I’ve been telling conservative audiences: ‘Now, I wasn't always a Ronald Reagan conservative. Neither was Ronald Reagan, by the way. And perhaps some in this room have had the opportunity to listen, learn, and benefit from life's experience and to grow in wisdom, as I have.’ I also raised $6.5 million at my first fundraiser, a feat that one of President Bush’s top fundraisers called ‘a strong message to McCain as well as Giuliani.”
Tom Vilsack: “I’m a former two-term governor of Iowa. I’m boring. After two terms of George W. Bush we could use a little boredom.”
Tony Palmeri (www.tonypalmeri.com) is an associate professor of communication at UW Oshkosh.