In politics, the gut has to be satisfied and that has been the job of Fox News these past few years. In a recent interview with Mike Huckabee, the Fox staff got a big kick out of it when Huckabee made a joke out of Fred Thompson, calling him constipated; telling Fox that Fred forgot to take his Metamucil in the last debate. Great for a laugh; great for bonding; satisfying to the gut. It is standard Huckabee charm; more than charm; it is a burgeoning new political genre – Ozark political shtick.
Bush is a gut President: The gut has been telling the Republicans since 1992 to git Saddam. In my old neighborhood of
This bonding they are doing here with Huckabee will however finally destroy the Republican Party because the gut cannot lead and when it tries it will only lead to disaster as it has is Iraq: It is or should be axiomatic in war and management in general that the head leads and the heart and gut follow.
We had such a moment in the early fifties as we settled into post-war complacency but with an out-of-control state department and an economy which threatened to spiral back into recession. Truman had already nuked the Japanese and State was panting to nuke
Back then, a very decent old
It was a moment when the entire world threatened to spiral out-of control. We may be there again but this time Mike Bloomberg is watching. Talk of Bloomberg entering the Presidential race has reached the daily main stream after he appeared with Sam Nunn, David Boren, President of the
But maybe what Bloomberg is planning is not so much a third party as a replacement party. There is really nothing left of the traditional Republican Party, at least as we came to understand it through men like Sherman Adams and even Nelson Rockefeller up here in the cold parts. And the Democrats had lost their purpose and perspective even before
Much of the commentary on Bloomberg has centered on Ross Perot’s third party run against Bush Sr. and Clinton, and on Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose effort. I think both these comparisons misread the times, the Perot comparison in particular. Perot was a trickster who is said to have disliked the Bush family. The country was in a fairly healthy balance rising to that day. The only surprising thing about the Perot effort was that at one point he led with 39% in the polls and in 1992 he received almost 19% of the popular vote.
I was taken to the third party idea several years ago when Unity 08, led by former Independent Maine Governor Angus King and Jimmy Carter Chief Ham Jordan got together to try to find the middle in a political realm which was rapidly polarizing. Unity 08 is recently defunct, but rumor has it that part of it has morphed into a Draft Bloomberg group. I felt it was a good suggestion because the conditions in
North/South contention arose again in our time and turned the states Red and Blue during the
The Republicans of the 1860s restored the purpose and identity of a good part of the country and sent it back to the dynamics of governing. The Whigs had become effete, abstract, self absorbed and ineffective. Organic decline can be seen in both parties today; they have become the politics of families rather than political ideas and strategies; the politics of personality cults.
But at the same time in 1985 we also had a new movement going on in this country. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. writes that in the American tradition local governance has always been suspect and weak, and beholding to local interests. Federal politicians were always better. That may or may not have been so in an earlier day when Presidents would draw their staff and Cabinets from an elite WASP establishment, but by the 1990s we began seeing better governance in states than we were seeing in the federal government.
Suddenly, we were getting great local people including independent-minded Governors with advanced management instincts; Christie Whitman in New Jersey, Angus King in Maine, William Weld in Massachusetts and others in the South and Middle States, while the feds were descending into a culture of incompetence. That condition of regional excellence is advancing to new strides today with Mike Bloomberg in
Under the Bush administration it has become a maxim that when the feds try to do something big and important as they tried to do in
Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell and Schwarzenegger have made the point that the federal government now holds the states back and retards their progress on environmental issues and in other areas. This is the sign of the times and the path of the American future.
The new vitality of the states and these new Governors brings us possibly to a turning point in our history. Perhaps we are becoming regionalized; perhaps we are outgrowing “one-size-fits-all-federalism”; perhaps we are becoming more Jeffersonian and less Hamiltonian. Whatever the reason, the good governors who started this movement were self-reliant and independent and Bloomberg as Mayor of New York and Schwarzenegger as Governor of California have advanced this same independence and set the model for other states and regions.
It is a good contrast experience to listen (posted on his site) to the California Governor’s State of the State the other day and compare the strength and discipline and positive charge of the “post partisan” California Governor to the tired rhetoric we have been hearing on the campaign trail and the tried-and-failed strategies of both parties hoping to repeat the past.
Bloomberg is an ace in the hole. The government cannot go another eight years with random, unresponsive and irresponsible management. Bloomberg, Whitman, Nunn and Schwarzenegger have the vitality and élan to reawaken us and to awaken the new generation which will bring us with character and fidelity into the new millennium.