Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Democratic dream team melts down

This first published March 6, 2008 in the Henderson Home News, a Community Newspapers of Nevada publication.

When it comes to presidential primaries and caucuses, few Americans begin to think about a key element of presidential campaigning this early in the game: the running mate or vice president.

I've been thinking about it from Day One. Before anyone announced, I was pondering the “Democratic Dream Team.” As the announcements were made, I speculated with my friends on whether Hillary Clinton could win or possibly Barack Obama. In one of these little banters, Chris Venable, a friend and co-worker, suggested a Clinton-Obama ticket. The only question left was who would be president, and that one quickly clouded the thought process.

Unable to part with the idea, I've closely monitored the campaigns and the attitudes of Sens. Clinton and Obama. For a while, I was sure a deal could be struck between the two, especially because they were being so cordial, handling each other with kid gloves.

Well, as you know things have heated up between the two, Obama coming from behind, not quite tasting blood but certainly smelling it. While Clinton is certainly feeling his hot breath on her neck, she has turned up the rhetorical thermostat to outrun him. This is sure to end in a Democratic meltdown.

The verbal assaults have begun to ratchet up the tension between them, making any amends appear out of reach. The entire fiasco continues to strengthen what I would consider a nonthreatening Sen. John McCain. A month ago, I would have bet either Clinton or Obama could have beat him hands down. However, today I'm not so sure and, if he picks the right running mate to balance his moderate ideology, it could be a slam dunk.

Don't discount the damage to be inflicted by the Johnny Come Lately and spoiler Ralph Nader. At this point, however, if a real independent surfaced, it could make things very interesting.

— — —

While on the topic of presidential politics, I was scanning the AM band one morning last week for the Heidi Harris tease on KDWN 720-AM, and I happened across KXNT 840-AM morning host Alan Stock hitting rock bottom, which is lower than the gutter. He was posing the question of whether or not Barack Obama should have to use his middle name, Hussein, to be identified. Stock suggested that 90 percent of presidents have been identified by their full names.

In certain terms he was correct by saying presidents. In my lifetime I don't recall candidates using their middle name until after being elected and presented to the country as president. Stock's example of Ronald Wilson Reagan was a farce, because, if my memory serves me correctly, his middle name wasn't widely used until he left office.

So what has my shirt collar in a tangle? The idea that Stock would use whatever credibility he might have to inflame public opinion over Obama's middle name, which Obama did not choose, because it happens to be the last name of America's former top enemy.

I found it even more disturbing when Stock tried to take cover under the guise of "The Messenger" — as in don't shoot the messenger. I guess that might work if he were actually a messenger and not a Talk Radio Host trying to push listeners buttons and sell Toyotas, beds and dog food.

Not to take away props from Alan Stock — I know how tough it is to put together a radio program that has any substance — but there is a fine line between messenger and entertainer. It’s probably tough being the opening gig for the best-known talk radio entertainer, “Crush Limp Jaw,” every morning. By the way, Rush Limbaugh is the master of creating derogatory nicknames for politicians and celebrities.

You can always find some relief from all the name-calling by listening to Mark and Mercedes on the FM dial.

— — —

A few parting thoughts about the marital woes of Gov. Jim Gibbons and first lady Dawn Gibbons. It should be no surprise to anyone in the state of Nevada. The first clue was while he was running for the governor's mansion in Carson City, she was running for the House of Representatives, which would have sent her 3,000 miles away. No matter what happens, it shouldn't change how he's been running the state.

Whether or not it could affect his re-electability is another thing if his lackluster performance hasn't done it already. No matter, whatever happens in their married life should remain in their married life unless it inhibits his ability to govern.

Tim O'Callaghan, co-publisher of the Home News, can be reached at 990-2656 or tim.oc@vegas.com.

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