Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Reagan, Edwards, and Lessons Not Learned

It's been a rocky few days. Hillary and Obama are squabbling like third graders on the jungle gym about one of the most critical policy questions of our day. I don't know about you, but I can't possibly get a good night's rest until we finally and forever settle the question of whether Ronald Reagan was the most visionary leader of our time. And really, this revisionist history lesson and/or game of gotcha -- depending on your perspective -- is ever so much more productive than debating issues such as the health insurance crisis, Iraq, our sagging economy, the subprime mortgage crisis, the education achievement gap, AIDS in Africa, etc.

Phew! It's so reassuring to know our candidates have their priorities straight -- cuz what Democrats nationwide really wanna do is spend more time knee deep in the Reagan era. Oh, and Barack Obama finally acknowledged, out loud and in public, what the rest of us have known all along: when you're running against a Clinton, it's a formidable package deal -- and when you're a Clinton running for president, you really can be two places at once -- which means the war (uh, I mean, primary) is always going to be fought on two fronts at all times.

John Edwards not only stayed pretty well above the mud slinging in Monday's debate -- in fact he came out looking like the grown-up -- but he's also managed to drive his party’s policy agenda from the back seat, at least on the question of an economic stimulus package. Yep, this is the latest candy that everybody wants. Take note, readers, that it was Edwards who -- a month ago, before the world stock markets took a collective nosedive and the experts starting signing the word "r-e-c-e-s-s-i-o-n" -- first proposed a stimulus package. Hillary and Obama followed Edwards' lead last week -- wonder if they thanked him for the tip.

In other news, the Republicans lost two from their presidential contest -- former Sen. and Law and Order alum Fred Thompson (R-TN) and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) both called it quits. Thompson is a longtime ally of John McCain, and may throw his weight -- well, what there is left of it -- behind the Straight Talk Express. However, for such an endorsement to do any good Fred needs to make a move before Super Duper Nuclear Tuesday. No one was surprised when Fred pulled out after his lackluster showing in South Carolina -- he was supposed to be the candidate of the South, the Republicans' saviour, the heir to Reagan (there's that name again), but voters seemed to think Thompson was walking -- not running. In fact, Thompson's announcement that he was withdrawing from the race inspired a similar reaction to that of the death of President Calvin Coolidge -- "how can you tell?" Sad, but true. As for Rep. Hunter, who is retiring from the House, he threw his support to Mike Huckabee -- he threw it, but I'm not sure if Mike thought it was all that good a catch.

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