Political Wisdom (circa 1952) Tuesday, Feb 22 2011 

“That’s not enough. I’m going to need a majority.”

— Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, on seeing a placard reading, “You have the support of all thinking Americans.”

Fantasy Politics Tuesday, Aug 17 2010 

Fantasize, if you will, Meg Whitman’s winning the governorship of California come November. It’s a stretch, but should it happen you can also imagine that in the wake of the election the airwaves and op-ed pages would be filled with comment about the millions Whitman spent and how the democratic process was headed for hell on a fast-track of money-in-politics.

But back to reality: Whitman loses to Jerry Brown, despite the fortune she threw into the race. Any chance the True Believers in McCain-Feingold and campaign finance reform would have second thoughts about whether money dictates the outcome of elections?  Don’t bet me on it. Though they hold themselves out as believers in democracy, you have to wonder about people whose argument for reform is based on a vision of voters as mindless robots manipulated by whichever candidate runs the most TV spots, has the best-paid staff, and operates the biggest campaign organization in the field.

It can happen, of course. Voters often do get carried away. But if big money — even big corporate money — is all there is to it, Nelson Rockefeller would have served two terms as President and, after her then-husband Michael invested tens of millions to win office, Arianna Huffington would have reached the apex of her political career sharing finger sandwiches-and-gossip with Cindy McCain as a member of the Senate Wives Club.

Whatever happened to Wesley Clark? Wednesday, Jul 21 2010 

Any  week now we’re going to see David Petraeus’ spartan  visage on the cover of  Time or  Newsweek   — certainly The Weekly Standard — with a cut-line proclaiming him  the GOP’s Great White Hope for 2012.  That  Petraeus  has done nothing to discourage this sort of  speculation is a given.  The General didn’t show  up  for  accolades  and applause from a fawning AEI  audience a few weeks ago because  he doesn’t like the Washington spotlight.  But before the start of a lemming rush to launch a Draft Dave movement in the Republican heartland, a few questions are in order.  For instance:

What will Candidate Petraeus have to say when asked by inquiring reporters or town-hallers,   “How do you stand on the Value Added Tax?”   or “Do you favor repeal of the Jones Act?”  or  “Are you for a constitutional  amendment  to ban abortion or should it be left to the states?”

Then there’s the matter of  the uniform coming off,  along with the aura that goes with it.  Gripping stories about  the Surge in Iraq are likely to wear thin after the first week in New Hampshire , and as far as Afghanistan is concerned, history tells us that an Army General’s best shot at getting elected President is to win a war.   Sorry, “The Washington  politicians tied my hands and wouldn’t let me win” excuse won’t cut it.   (Reference:  Douglas MacArthur.)

Murphy’s million Thursday, Jul 15 2010 

The 7/12/2010 edition of the N.Y. Times featured a front-page story about Meg Whitman’s putting $1 million into a production company owned by Mike Murphy in order to get Murphy to handle her campaign for governor rather than that of a Republican  primary  rival.  In  the story Murphy is described as the GOP campaign genius who got Arnold  Schwarzenegger  elected governor.  (A confession:  I’d mistakenly thought Schwarzenegger had something to do with it.)    Left unnoted in the Times’ story (and obviously by Whitman’s crack human-resource team)  were such Murphy triumphs as Oliver North’s brilliant Virginia campaign  for the U.S. Senate, Lamar Alexander’s awe-inspiring campaign for president, and Nick Lazio’s dazzling  New York campaign for the U.S. Senate,  in which Lazio succeeded in making Hillary Clinton a sympathetic figure by following Murphy’s instructions to stalk across the debate stage and demand that Hillary sign a phony anti-tax  pledge.  (Lazio, incidentally, also lost.)   All of which leads me to ask, since Meg never tires of telling California voters what a shrewd businesswoman she is:  If the lady’s so rich, why ain’t she smart?