Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Long, Tough Road to the White House

Fred Thompson has dropped out of the race. And despite whatever qualifications he might have brought to the job- I really like him- it's probably best he did. How can I say that? Easy, because he didn't want it enough.

An examination of our political history in the last 3 or 4 decades supports this view. How in the world, you want to ask yourself, did Jimmy Carter get to the presidency? Well, those of us who were around at the time can answer that he began campaigning long before the traditional starting date. There were other factors to be sure, but he built his name recognition one small Southern town at a time. And the man who eventually defeated him? It seems that every convention of my childhood Reagan was running for the nomination. A supporter of Papa Bush, I remember thinking when he was edged out by Reagan that all you had to do was keep running. Of course, I soon learned that I was very wrong about the Gipper, but my theory has some merit.

Take John McCain's victory in South Carolina. Turns out that he's been visiting, read campaigning, for the past few years. When it came time for the actual primary, he had all his ducks(Reverends) in a row. And if he never makes it to the White House, that victory had to be sweet, since it was his bitter defeat there that effectively put the kibosh on his 2000 run. Giuliani seems to have squandered his front-runner status by essentially sitting out the first few contests. His only chance now is to get in the fight like he means it. Obama has learned that lesson, showing that he has the stomach to take on the Bilary.

In the end, it's not necessarily bad that Americans reward persistence and determination. And this crazy system of ours might actually work as a Darwinian process of selection so that only the strongest make it to that last match up.

And this year, I'm afraid the-wants-it-bad award has to go Hillary. Heck, even I would love to reward her singe-minded determination. Runners up, though, have to be McCain, Obama, and Romney in that order with the last two tied. Let's see how this leading indicator holds up.

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