Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Great Endorsement Game

I THINK IT STARTED WITH OPRAH. Then it was Shawn endorsing Rudy, though Rudy has endorsed McCain and so has the Governator, but Rush isn’t endorsing anyone. Teddy is supporting Obama and so is John’s girl, but Bobby’s kids are for Hillary. Edwards is out and not saying, and nobody is for poor Romney.

Got it? Well, in case you missed it, those weren’t the biggest endorsements of the year. What were? None other than Sylvester Stallone for McCain and Chuck Norris for Huckabee.

Now as the tea leaves start to point to a possible McCain-Huckabee ticket (Mac and Mike – how’s that for a bumper sticker?) I can just picture the closing session of the Republican National Convention. You know the shot, as the balloons and confetti drop the presidential and vice presidential nominees clench their hands in the air in a victory pose for their partisan supporters.

But this year, behind the candidates, not quite out of their shadows might be Sly and Chuck, also clenching their hands and posing for the crowd. Think of it: Rambo and Texas Ranger, together at last!

All you al Qaeda guys and border jumpers, you have been warned!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A New Look at General Custer

THERE IS, OF COURSE, A LOT OF MYTH about the life of George Armstrong Custer. He is chiefly remembered for his “last stand” at the Little Big Horn. But there is much more about the man that transcends the Indian Wars of the 1870s.

Custer, promoted from captain to brevet brigadier and later major general, was a brilliant Civil War commander whose troops were fearlessly loyal to him. He had the confidence of Generals Grant and Sherman and has been regarded as perhaps the most talented cavalry officer in the Union Army.

But life was different for Custer, now a captain again, after the war. Obtaining a commission as Lt. Colonel, he headed for the Plains and a new kind of soldering – leading troops known for their disrespect of him. There he found himself on the wrong end of a court-martial in a place where there were long lulls in the fighting and where he increasingly turned his attention to his beloved wife, Libbie.

All this becomes a well-told story in Custer; The Controversial Life of George Armstrong Custer, by Jeffry D. Wert. If you are a history buff, pick this one up.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Was Hillary the Big Winner in South Carolina?

WHEN BARACK OBAMA WON THE CAUCUSES here in lily-white Iowa it was because he was a presidential candidate who only happened to be black. Now, thanks to the Clinton “win at any cost” political machine, Obama is the black candidate for president; this despite his huge win in the South Carolina primary.

After years playing the race card to demonize Republicans, Democrats are now playing the race card on each other; or perhaps to put it more fairly, the Clintons have now used the race card to tag Obama in a sorry attempt to diminish the importance of his victory. I have to admit my bias: I have never liked Hillary Clinton, that said, her racial smear of Obama has to be the low point of an already very low career.

Simply put, Bill and Hillary have shown to their fellow Democrats what many of us on the other side of the aisle knew all along: That they are only out for themselves and will do anything to win; ethics and morality be dammed!

In the short run it might work, delivering the white primary vote to Hillary. But in the long run it could cost the Democrats. How many new, excited faces that are joining the Obama campaign will sit out the general election if Hillary’s racial pitch carries her to the Democratic nomination?

I teach political science. Last year I told my students that 2008 was colored blue and riding in on a donkey. But, I warned them to never underestimate the ability of Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. How ironic it would be if that defeat came because of a racial backlash