This was probably the biggest political week for Montanans in recent memory. The dust won’t settle around here for quite a spell. The primary is still a couple of months down the road, on June 3rd, and regardless of who wins the Democratic Party nomination, the recent visits here should generate additional interest in the presidential race in Montana.
Hillary Clinton brought her program to Butte for the Mansfield-Metcalf dinner and then over to Missoula for a small fund-raiser at the Hilton and a “town hall” meeting and greeting that brought roughly 1800 local supporters to a local aviation hanger out at the airport. Obama also addressed the enthusiastic crowd of Democrats at the party’s dinner function in Butte and he raised the roof on the University of Montana Adams Center with 8,000 folks inside and a small overflow crowd watching in the football stadium on the big screen. The two candidates did not share the stage in Butte, however, as they spoke at different times. Also notably absent were mentions of their opponents, other than the GOP presumptive nominee, who is a common target for both.
The previous week, Bill Clinton flew through the State, with always-tardy appearances in Havre, Great Falls, Helena and Butte. Four speeches, all pretty much the same. Four crowds, all pretty much more enthusiastic about Bill than about what he had to say about Hillary’s political campaign.
I noted that Obama’s reception was pretty boisterous; reporters referred to it as “rock star” charisma. I also noticed that he pretty much says the same thing in every speech. I guess that’s to be expected. He promises everything to everyone and says what everyone wants to hear. Nobody really pays any attention to the words after awhile. It’s all the same. As a matter of fact, if you only read the text of Clinton and Obama’s speeches you would note that they really don’t differ from each other that much; might be hard to tell which one you were reading.
I wonder what the chances are that the “dream team” ticket of Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama might yet materialize at the Convention. The last time I recall the two top contenders sharing the ticket was when Ronald Reagan offered George H. W. Bush the second spot. That turned out to be a good move. The last time I recall a young Democrat outlasting his far more experienced competition and then offering him the Vice-Presidency was in 1960 when John F. Kennedy, the young upstart Senator, asked Lyndon B. Johnson, the much older, and senior Senator who served as the Senate Majority Leader, to accept the ticket’s second spot. That pairing, though elected as a politically convenient team, with one from Massachusetts and one from Texas, never really gelled. Neither trusted the other, and each had their own staffs, who also did not work well together. Would that be the picture if Clinton and Obama paired up? I guess the bigger, more obvious question is who would be willing to accept the second spot?
I get a kick out of how the Democratic Party “super-delegates” are quietly campaigning for Al Gore to accept the Nomination if there is a deadlock at the convention. So who then is the logical choice for VP? Well, the Party cannot afford to ignore the voters who put Obama in first place. If they deny Obama the top spot and don’t place him on the ticket, the massive black vote may simply disappear; and staying away from the polls is just as effective as voting for McCain.
Which brings up another question for me. Why not Bill Clinton for Vice-President? Presiding over the Senate and cutting ribbons would suit him perfectly. And we would have a president-in-waiting who would be “ready on day one” as the saying goes. Would he attract voters to the polls? I would say, yes, definitely. But no one can be certain they would be Clinton voters. This mess could all work to McCain’s benefit in the end.
Speaking of the retired Admiral, I watched and listened recently as he was interviewed and noticed that he really sounded trite and old-school, if you know what I mean. When he used a quotation to make a point, it was always an old and overworked quote. He appears old and tired too. So if he would be a caretaker President, his advisers and cabinet members would look a lot like Bush’s own, or even Reagan’s cabinet. But aren’t they ALL getting to be just a little too old? Like re-treads. And McCain really needs a bright, hip, articulate and moderate running mate. But if the GOP could muster such a person it seems like he would be running for the top spot right now. (I would like to say he or SHE, but let’s face it, the only Republican Party woman of national standing is Condoleezza Rice and she will carry the burden of the Bush Administration with her for the next twenty years. I am eager to see who McCain can muster up as a running mate. If he can’t find one, then good old Mike Huckabee will be waiting in the wings.
There may be big trouble ahead, folks. This will all get a lot nastier before anyone is ready to play nice.