Thursday, July 12, 2007

Memo to RNC: Beg Sarah to Run

Partly in response to the comments by Section 9, who works (has worked?) for the Republican Party, I'd like to review Republican selections for the vice-presidency, going back to Dwight D. Eisenhower. Without understanding the dismal choices made over the years, it's hard to understand the depth of my passion (and that of many others) for ensuring that Sarah Palin makes it onto the ticket in 2008. Section 9 talks about the Republican National Committee's (RNC's) "A-list" of vice-presidential candidates, which presumably includes: Jeb Bush, Condi Rice, and (perhaps?) Fred Thompson. I've said that my own "A-list" is much different, consisting of Sarah Palin, Michael Steele (former lieutenant governor of Maryland), and Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and currently a presidential candidate.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, elected 1952 and 1956, choose Richard M. Nixon twice as V-P. Nixon later lost to John F. Kennedy in 1960, but was elected in 1968 (against Hubert Humphrey) and in 1972 (against George McGovern). Nixon resigned after being impeached in 1974.

Richard M. Nixon in 1960 choose Henry Cabot Lodge of Massaschusetts as his running mate. Lodge quickly faded from the scene after the Kennedy-Johnson victory in the general election.

Barry Goldwater, the party's 1964 nominee, chose an obscure conservative congressman, William Miller, who had represented the Lockport area (nearly Buffalo). Goldwater suffered a loss of historic proportions to Lyndon Johnson, and Miller apparently went back to Lockport to do something or other.

Richard M. Nixon ran in 1968 against Johnson's V-P Hubert Humphrey (in a campaign where George Wallace of Alabama won four Southern states) and won a very narrow victory. Nixon's V-P choice in 1968 and 1972 was the former governor of Maryland, Spiro T. Agnew, a darling of conservatives (and someone for whom Pat Buchanan wrote speeches). After the 1972 election, it became clear Agnew had accepted bribes from various contractors, and he resigned in disgrace. Nixon then appointed Gerald Ford as his V-P and Ford assumed office when Nixon resigned in August, 1974.

Ford named Nelson Rockefeller as a short-term V-P.

Ford ran with V-P nominee Senator Robert Dole in 1976 and lost to the Jimmy Carter-Walter Mondale team. One of Ford's notable accomplishments was naming John Paul Stevens, the most liberal justice, to the Supreme Court.

Ronald Reagan named George H. W. Bush as his V-P in both 1980 (when they defeated the Carter-Mondale team) and in 1984, when they defeated Mondale & Ferraro.

George H. W. Bush picked Dan Quayle, an Indiana Senator, as his running mate in the campaign against the Dukakis-Bentsen team. A remarkably inarticulate man, Quayle was an embarrassment almost from day 1 but Bush named him again as his V-P choice in 1992. The most memorable moment of the debates in 1988 occurred when Senator Lloyd Bentsen told Quayle, who had compared himself to JFK, "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy." At the behest of New Hampshire advisor John Sununu, Bush named fanatical leftist David Souter to the Supreme Court.

William Jefferson Clinton, running with Al Gore, defeated the Bush-Quayle team in 1992.

Robert Dole, then age 73, and former congressman Jack Kemp lost badly to Clinton-Gore in 1996.

George W. Bush has run successfully twice with former congressman and former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. In my previous column, I said that the rarely visible Cheny has been something of a Beltway version of the "Phantom of the Opera."

Going back through a generation's worth of V-P nominees reminds us just what an undistinguished group it is. It looks less like an "A-list" than a "D-list."

Nixon and Agnew were forced to resign. Minor figures like Miller, Lodge, and Quayle quickly dropped off the radar screen. Cheney, a good man in very ill health and extreme political disfavor, has become fodder for late-night comedians. George H. W. Bush turned a 90% approval rating into an electoral loss. Gerald Ford was one-unelected half-term and done. Bob Dole ran as the Ghost of Politics Past ("The American people know ole Bob Dole"). They knew him just well enough to reject him handily.

Sarah Palin would be a much better choice than any of the individuals I've mentioned, going back to Goldwater's strange choice of William Miller. She's honest, competent, a ferocious campaigner, and extremely popular -- none of which should be held against her.

With all due respect, the RNC should be on its knees asking a rising star -- the most popular political figure in the nation -- like Sarah Palin to run. When they get tired of looking at various geriatrics ("What's Don Rumsfeld doing these days?"), maybe they will.

Let's nominate someone not notable for being a character but rather for having character. I ask the RNC and the presidential candidates to re-read the Fred Barnes article. Then, they should ask themselves: what Republican vice--presidential nominee in the past 50 years would have merited such a piece?

Stephen R. Maloney


section9 said...

By the way, don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against Sarah Palin. Good governor. She's got a way to go before she's in Jeb's league, but she's gotten a good start. Most folks are screaming about Pawlenty or Steele if they aren't talking about Condi or Jeb. However, Palin has potential in the next decade.

Part of the problem is that during the first six years of the Bush Administration, there was poor recruiting for gubernatorial and Senate offices. Candidates like Palin were the exception, rather than the rule. The result, of course, was that Emmanuel and Schumer had a deep bench to run with in 2006, as opposed to our side. I'm surprised they only won 33 seats in the house and have a one seat majority in the senate.

Palin is good people. Never stole a freight train. The problem with Palin is that she only brings a few electoral votes to the table and no demographic mojo. Condi brings Alabama, Jeb brings Florida. Rudy as a moderate Republican gives us a fighting chance in California. Rudy, btw, puts NJ in play, something Fred can't do, I don't think.

BTW, my mom met Bill Miller at the Sarasota airport once. She was one of the three Republican ladies who showed up to greet poor Bill during that disastrous '64 effort at Sarasota National. I was there with her, but was too young to remember anything other than Miller went on to get his butt kicked.

Lastly, I don't work for the RNC. I know people who do. I work here in Florida, and am extremely proud that I do not work for as incompetent an organization as the RNC. Local Republican politicians and activists nationwide are very angry with the National Party and the Congress. Appealing to the common sense of the National Party is like herding cats. Both parties are so out of touch with the needs and desires of average Americans that a critical mass of voters is ready to move to the party that will produce a candidate who, like FDR, correctly identifies the popular mood and captures it.

I just hope it's us. I don't think it's Hillary or Obama. I think they are missing some "X" factor that the American people are picking up on that, for instance, explains Hillary's extremely durable high negatives. Rudy's enduring popularity is astonishing, viewed from this perspective.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

I really do appreciate your comments, and I'm not as uncompromising as I sometimes seem. The Republican Party sometimes operates as if it has a mandate that says, "Wait your turn!" Thus, we end up with 73-year-old Bob Dole running for President, and Fred Thompson (who will be 67) on Inauguration Day. The Democrats don't wait their turn, and they win elections. There was no way John Kennedy (much too young) . . . or unknown Jimmy Carter . . . or Bill Clinton (from Arkansas?!) could win, right? In 2004, John Edwards, with experience mainly as a trial lawyer, was a serious contender. Now, Barack Obama, with no executive experience and a year-or-so in the Senate, is the leading money-raiser and in second place to Hillary. We Republicans back outselves into these corners, and we end up with the depressing list of candidates I had in yesterday's column -- the aged, the corrupt, and the unelectable. I truly hope Sarah and Mike Steele don't have to wait their turns, at which point they'll be too old, tired, and baggage-laden to have much effect on the country. I apologize for saying you worked for the RNC! I get very irritated by the Party's (and the pundit's) assumption that the next election is not winnable. At the same time, I do not underestimate Hillary Clinton, who won big in two elections in NY state. In the last election, GWB's approval rating never went above 49% but he won by 3 million votes. I agree that Giuliani could win FL, PA, and probably NJ.

Chip Wood said...

Gov Palin would add a much needed punch to the GOP Ticket. Want young people involved? This would do it. Also conservatives couldn't find a problem. When is the last time that happened? Sorry AK, we need to steal her on a national level.