The recent Democrat blink first in the GOP's game of Iraq war funding chicken was inevitable and pivotal. Perhaps the Democrats capitulation may have finally awakened them to the big flaw in their Iraq exit plan, that ironically being having no plan. But then again, probably not. The GOP approach, call it Plan A, aka the Surge, is failing as most expected. Yet the Democrats alternative and for the sake of argument, call it Plan B, a legislated arbitrary withdrawal date with no underlying plan, has now understandably proven to be not acceptable to the American public and therefore veto prone, even against a dysfunctional surge. A sensible Iraq exit strategy and withdrawal plan, consistent with a liberation intervention theme, does however exist, one that marries a functional and honorable withdrawal to a legitimate timeline. And with both parties taking firm positions on their losing plan offerings, the public acceptance door is now wide open to embrace a new and winning plan. All that is needed is a credible torch bearer.
That solution, Plan C, is ready to be championed by the next President, who will be neither Republican nor Democrat. In fact, for the first time ever in our history, the time is ripe for a third party candidate or an independent with money, political credibility and one big idea, to win. Enter Michael Bloomberg. He is the one candidate who needs not a party, yet can play either side of the party and public aisles, a true non-partisan, middle ground candidate. That too is precisely why he would never be embraced by either, as the extreme constituencies of both parties, where unfortunately the real power still resides, would never stand for it. The bell curve bulge in the American voting public is now middle, an area vacated by both parties. Bloomberg’s effective bi-party disaffiliation announcement yesterday confirms where he stands – independent, and the new leader for that silent majority middle. With more money than the Fed, and but for walking on the moon, has achieved everything in life but President, Bloomberg won’t be needing to kao tao to either party’s extremist decision makers either, who represent what America is not. He has the to die for luxury of time, money and unprecedented historical positioning to play it his way and appeal to the bulge middle when the time is right. However, while Bloomberg represents the first ever financially, politically credible and as important winnable Presidential independent, he still needs one big idea that sets him apart from either party too. That idea must be on the 2008 election-centric issue – Iraq.
Some may say Ross Perot was a credible independent? He most certainly wasn’t. Perot had the money, but he lacked political credibility with 80% of the populace, and therefore could never win. Having served no significant public office, a ticket Americans may not vocally espouse but deep down require a Presidential candidate have, he became just a viable nuisance or spoiler candidate, not a serious contender. As respects Teddy Roosevelt's bid, his mistake probably was running as a third party candidate (Progressive), when he should have instead ran as an Independent. Even then, winning would have been highly doubtful. Unlike now, the country really wasn't ready to embrace a non-mainstream party candidate, even a prior President, feeling if Roosevelt could not win his former party's nomination, he'd not get the nod with a start-up party. And besides, Roosevelt had already served his two terms and the country wanted change and fresh new leadership, not a revisit to the past.
Hillary Clinton to her credit, embraced the Perot lesson. Having great name recognition, she knew she lacked a major political office in her resume to be a serious contender. With NY State Senator now comfortably under her belt, and certainly it was not a lifelong if not even middle age aspiration, she’s had that necessary credibility ticket punched. So here we have Michael Bloomberg, in the enviable position of not having to officially enter the race early or even mid stream like the others who must do so for one defining reason – to raise money to campaign. Instead, he has the luxury to sit back on his limitless war chest, until such time both parties have respectively wiped out 80% of their current candidate pool through cannibalistic debates. Only then does he begin to get seriously engaged in the proceedings, and even then only as a skilled observer as he carefully monitors the remaining two or three survivors of each party in their final, mud slinging primary phase. Without getting into the fray, then letting the intra and inter party competitors commit political fratricide on each other and in doing so spoon feeding him the exact reasons why the two ultimate bloodied major party winners should not lead this nation.
Whether his official entry comes before or just after the two Conventions, remains to be seen. One thing is certain however. When he does enter, Iraq will be a great deal worse, and neither party will have budged off it's respective current plan, exposing their fragile underbellies on Iraq. The Democrats will blame the GOP and vice versa, with both sides anything but immune from the ever growing voter wrath for not doing the right thing, particularly when the voters gave each party the opportunity to do so, and each failed miserably.
The Democratic Congressional victory in Nov. 2006 will go down as the biggest "be careful what you wish for" win in American political history in that that victory immediately set the stage for losing the real prize in 2008. Intoxicated with it's 2006 success, the Democratic party made one huge fatal error. It failed to realize that in the mind of the American voting public, the Democrats at that moment became as or even more responsible and accountable than the GOP for ending the Iraq debacle. Failing that duty will now come back to haunt when voters turn their eyes to who gets the final nod in the 2008 Presidential election. In playing this campaign scenario out, with the political carnage exacted on the individual candidates and their parties complete, only then does Mike Bloomberg step in and unleash a campaign this country has heretofore never witnessed, contemplated, nor comprehended. In fact, a certifiable political D-Day. Not Overlord with ships and tanks, but rather uniquely with Plan C, money and the voting majority middle.
Bottom line, election day 2008 will feature Hillary Clinton, Fred Thompson and Mike Bloomberg. For the Republicans, Guiliani, McCain and Romney and at some point Gingrich and maybe even Jeb Bush in an Alamo-like last stand for the far right, served their purpose as straw man. Unlike the others however, Thompson with no evident noteworthy legacy, surge, flip-flop, marriage or family pedigree baggage, etc. and a Reagan-like command presence enhanced by an acting career, narrowly takes the nomination from a sincerity challenged Romney.
As for the Democrats, just as Bob Dole was un-winnable yet due his GOP turn in 1996, Hillary Clinton, to the chagrin of party centrists, will demand her spot in the limelight. With the unparalleled support vis a vis the arm twisting power of party favorite son and husband Bill Clinton makes her nomination a done deal, no matter how charismatic Barack Obama may be, nor annoying John Edwards will get. Edwards proved he’s not a draw in 2004 and accordingly won’t get another chance. Obama must wait to 2016, and perhaps a blessing in disguise for his own political future given the need to become more seasoned as respects developing a substantive Presidential contender resume and learning from novice campaign mistakes like the Hillary India memo fiasco for example.
For those that clamor for Al Gore, it’s fantasizing about the past, not what can be achieved in the present. An Al Gore candidacy won’t win. Why? For the same core reason the others won’t - Bill Clinton. There is a substantial part of the populace, even those that did not vote for him in 2000 that think Gore and the country were wronged in his loss. However, that sympathy factor (vote) is uniquely outweighed in 2008 by the Hillary (and Bill) factor. Gore's running would only achieve what the party faithful fear most, further fragmentation, as he would need to take on a powerful Bill Clinton and his extensive network of party loyalists in a self defeating, no win Democratic party civil war. Of course Mike Bloomberg supporters would welcome such a bid. Without factoring in a Gore candidacy which only hurts the Democrat chances, Hillary Clinton as some polls have indicated before, will struggle to muster any more than 45% voter support in a two party race, making her virtually non-winnable from the get-go. Thompson still appeals to much to the far right to win the bulge middle, comprising the legions of disenfranchised Republicans and Democrats.
Compound these inadequacies and roadblocks with the "Iraq debacle factor" which each party and its nominee gets firmly tagged with, and that leaves Bloomberg baggage free and money galore to seize the forgotten majority middle and the election – but only if he solves Iraq. On a related note, if Bloomberg can have better polling numbers than Giuliani without a horrific terrorist episode to hang his hat on, think of what he’d achieve if God forbid we had another. And maybe, just maybe, he’s so good a leader, that we won’t have to ever find out. It's a good assumption every American would prefer a leader championing what he'll do proactively to “prevent” terrorism as with Plan C and leading the global re-engineering effort in the battle against terror, rather then pontificating what he or she would do to "react” after the fact, to another 9/11 spectacular. The desired goal is no more 9/11’s - period.
The only question and surprise remaining for Bloomberg then is who his VP select will be. A few possibilities come to mind. One might suggest from both the viewpoint of maximizing his appeal to the bulge voting middle, coupled with capturing California electoral votes, it be Schwarzenegger. Unfortunately, time is not on the governor’s side as respects further amending Article 2 of the Constitution, specifically the 12th Amendment to same regarding being a natural born citizen. So if not Arnold, then why not Joe. Lieberman has political credibility, knows and proved how to win as an (underdog) Independent, appeals to the middle, and too can garnish some or perhaps alot of the sympathy vote from 2000. Other candidate names, including key member of Bloomberg’s own current bullpen team (Dan Doctoroff?), will surely surface too as the months go by.
The VP issue aside for the moment, the gotta' have bumper sticker about the time the 2009 car models arrive in July/August 2008 will be “Mike B and Plan C”, a sound bite on par with everyone's ingrained winning rhythmic favorite, "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too".
Look for the Plan C Iraq exit strategy and withdrawal framework in Part 2.