Friday, September 28, 2007

New Hampshire Primary Season

Written in May 2007...

I moved to New Hampshire almost five years ago, and I followed the 2004 primary online and on TV. While having a significant interest in political issues I also have a significant distaste for politics itself. However, after the Iowa caucuses and Howard Dean’s ‘I Have A Scream’ speech, and shortly before the New Hampshire Primary I talked to my sister. She volunteered for the Kerry campaign and we talked about events surrounding the primary. I mentioned that I felt for Dean who was falling in the polls apparently due to a silly gaffe. I mentioned that his speech is type of event that I feel would take me out if I were a politician. It wouldn’t be corruption or scandal, I would simply do something so silly and ridiculous that no one would ever take me seriously again.

My sister described a news clip she had just seen of a lady who fainted when meeting John Kerry. The video showed Kerry standing above a pair of feet like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz after the house falls on the witch. She also witnessed part of a shouting match and/or scuffle between Al Franken and someone else not as liberal at a Democratic event. I mentioned that in the last day or two I had seen reports of numerous celebrities in New Hampshire stumping for their favorite candidate, some of whom I thought probably couldn’t have located New Hampshire on a map prior to their visit. It was with this call that I realized that while I followed the issues, the debates, and the politicians, I had missed quite the show.

So this time around I thought I would make more of an attempt to attend events and follow the race itself. I still have a distaste for politics. It bothers me that the bucolic back roads of New Hampshire become littered with political name placards, and it bothers me more that this appears to be effective in determining some people’s vote.

As an independent the two parties get on my nerves. Some of the petty back and forth reminds me of both junior high and kindergarten. The ‘I know you are but what am I,’ style fights, and the ‘Eew, a Republican touched me, he gave me cooties,’ type of disgust one side seems to have for the other is both sad and upsetting. However, I do believe in our overall system. I also think it’s smart that there are a few small states first in line to vote before the larger election blocks so that candidates actually have to meet and introduce themselves to individual Americans in order to have a successful campaign. Since I’m privileged to have a front row seat, I thought I’d pull up my chair and write about what I see.

1 comment:

Brad Marston said...

Yabba Dabba Doo - Fred Joins the Debate

This is a long post so bear with me.

Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson doesn’t need to have a good debate performance Tuesday night. He needs to KNOCK THE COVER OFF THE BALL. He needs to beat the rest of the field BY TEN TOUCHDOWNS.

The Thompson campaign is wisely playing the expectations game.

"We think that we'll hold our own, but obviously every other candidate on the stage has been going to these debates all year long. They've already gone through their preseason. This is our first scrimmage," said Todd Harris, a Thompson spokesman. "The most important thing for us is for Fred's message and answers to connect with Republican voters and that has been our focus."

With all due respect, this is not the preseason and it is not a scrimmage. If you want to stay with sports metaphors, Thompson was a contract holdout and missed the entire training camp and pre-season. But this is the pros and it is time to put up or shut up or perhaps more appropriately, win or go home.

Thompson was going to announce in July, then August and then in time for the New Hampshire debate. He missed all those self-imposed deadlines because of campaign staff shake-ups and fundraising that while respectable, fell far short of expectations. His stump speeches and other media appearances have fallen short of expectations as well. This is Thompson’s first exposure on the national stage that isn’t scripted by writers for Law and Order.

Based on my reading of background questions from various polls, I get the sense that, to use an old political phrase, his support is a mile wide but only an inch deep. Without a great debate performance, I believe a lot of that pond is going to dry up.

”All his missteps and his laid-back style of campaigning is taking a toll on the early enthusiasm with which his candidacy was received.”

According to Dick Morris writing for The Hill that Fred is Fading, Thompson’s numbers among likely Republican voters are falling. Not precipitously but falling none the less and that is not a good sign. It is especially not a good sign when it coincides with the calendar which indicated that more and more voters are actually focusing on the race.

Thompson also needs a great debate performance to mollify hard-line conservatives over his support of McCain-Feingold. Given the vitriol aimed at Senator McCain on pro Fred blogs and other political sites over McCain-Feingold it will be interesting to see how Thompson’s full throated support will play out with his supporters. As John Gizzi writes in a recent article in Human Events…

Fred Thompson finally made clear his position on the statist campaign finance restrictions embodied in the McCain-Feingold bill. And conservatives are clearly not going to be pleased.

When the former star of TV's "Law and Order" series and newly-minted presidential candidate spoke to reporters on the porch of the Grand Hotel here, I asked Thompson whether he was proud of his role in enacting the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation in '01.

"Yes," replied the former Tennessee senator without hesitation. "You will recall that the central part of the legislation was getting rid of soft money [from the political process]."

Fred Thompson either needs to win the Michigan Debate and win it big or he needs to hope that there are no rotund operatic sopranos warming up their vocal chords