Thursday, June 15, 2006

Peggy (Hearts) Rudy?

The early markers are being laid down for the run-up to the 2008 presidential elections. This promises to be an very interesting contest--the best since 2000, perhaps since 1980. Neither side has an heir-apparent. Let the tournament begin!

Hillary Rodham Clinton (I am never sure whether to use her maiden name, so she ends up with the assasin's three-name moniker*) has oodles of cash, which she has not been hoarding, Midas-like. She has built up a reputation as a hard-working senator and a good and generous campaigner. When the day comes, she will have I.O.U.s from all over the country to collect.

That old comedy team of Kerry and Edwards have broken up and are going solo. Edwards is the Tab Hunter of the Democratic party--a pretty face, but eventually he'll wind up opposite Devine in some John Waters production.

In modern times Vice Presidents are often an Administration's heir-apparent, but Dick Cheney has said that he won't run; and his behavior as Vice President hasn't been the behavior of someone looking to a future election. He has fiercely loyal partisans, but among the general electorate he has very high negatives.

I see Newt Gingrich on the Sunday talk shows very regularly now. He's showing a little ankle to his supporters, but hasn't declared his intentions. With the failure of the congress to contains spending and the growth of government, his Contract With America looks better and better.

But the big boys on the Republican side as of today are John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. And Peggy Noonan seems quite taken:
Let me close with something that I thought had the sound of the future in it. I was at a Manhattan Institute lunch this week at which Rudy Giuliani spoke. He impressed the audience of 200 or so, which was not surprising as it was his kind of group, urban-oriented thinkers drawn not to ideology but to what works and will help in the world. (I am a longtime supporter.) At one point he was asked about national education policy. Mr. Giuliani said he wanted more national emphasis on choice. He spoke of it as a civil rights issue, and told stories to illustrate the point.

Then--this is the part with the sound of the future in it--he laid out the reasons both parties have failed to push the ball forward. The Democrats fear the teachers unions and the educational establishment. The Republicans are heavily represented in and by suburban and country areas, which tend to have good schools, tend to be happy with them, and are wary of a movement they fear might take something from them. And so the students who need the most help, city kids who would benefit the most from creativity, are held captive to a failed public-education monopoly.

His candor was refreshing. Mr. Giuliani's approach was nonpartisan in the best sense--i.e., not fuzzy but frank. It wasn't Public schools want to be free; it was This is what will help, this is why it isn't happening, this is why we have to make it happen. That didn't sound like the same old same old. It didn't sound like the past.

Peggy Noonan was a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan. She's a devout Catholic from an urban, working-class Irish background--the very people that the Democrats drove off in 1973 and need desperately to woo back.

If she can live with Rudy's checkered personal life, he may have a bigger chance in 2008 that I had first suspected.

* From the movie Conspiracy Theory:
Jerry: David Berkowitz, Ted Bundy, Richard Speck...

Alice: What about them?

Jerry: Serial killers. Serial killers only have two names. You ever notice that? But lone gunmen assassins, they always have three names. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, Mark David Chapman...

Alice: John Hinckley. He shot Reagan. He only has two names.

Jerry: Yeah, but he only just shot Reagan. Reagan didn't die. If Reagan had died, I'm pretty sure we probably would all know what John Hinckley's middle name was.
Jerry: I just thought of another one: James Earl Ray, the guy who got Luther King. Then of course, there's Sirhan Sirhan. I still haven't figured that one out. Maybe it's Sirhan Sirhan Sirhan, I don't know.

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