Friday, April 9, 2010

Hillary Clinton or Tiger Woods for SCOTUS?

Call me crazy but I think the President might pick Hillary Clinton as our next nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

A site called Above the Law has some interesting speculation on the candidates Obama might pick. They suggest Clinton's name and noted that "having a penis is a bit of a disadvantage for potential nominees right now." I guess if we take ATL literally that means we can surely rule out Tiger Woods.

But in all seriousness, Clinton might want to take on a new challenge. Besides the fact that I think Clinton is bored at the State Department, what really makes me think Clinton might want this position is that she is hyper-political and is unwilling pass up the opportunity. She is hyper-political because she moved to New York to run for US Senate. She wanted a name in history. She even ran for president and threw everything she had at Obama. But her time in politics is numbered and she knows it. Remember when Clinton's name was being thrown around for the New York Governor's race -- maybe it was because she knew there would be a few openings on the Supreme Court?

Liberal commentators suggest Clinton would be the perfect nominee for Obama for a number of reasons. Primarily, she is a known quantity that has been vetted by the public because of her presidential run, her role as a US Senator and first lady. How could any Senator reasonably beat up on one of their former colleagues? She was confirmed by the Senate for her position as Secretary of State with a vote of 94-2. Obama would effectively be neutralizing the polarizing Supreme Court battle we are traditionally used to, while buying himself some political capital and breathing room.

Second, by nominating Clinton to the Supreme Court Obama could effectively cross her off the list as a potential opponent for 2012, which seems unlikely anyways (but better safe then sorry). Third, it would allow Obama to take new control over his foreign policy agenda and replace Clinton with someone he more closely aligns with politically. If Clinton were nominated and passed the Senate she would be the first woman to serve in all three branches of government. What a place in history! The one major drawback to Obama would be Clinton's age, but she is in good health.

One could also make a case that with Obama's low approval numbers he doesn't want to start a fight with the Republicans over a controversial nominee right before the 2010 elections. And while Obama could use some greater outreach to female voters, I'm not sure he is looking to do it the Tiger Woods way. And besides, Hillary Clinton better represents the "empathy standard" Obama proposes for his judges even if Tiger Woods does win another Master Tournament this weekend.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

NY-23 GOP Primary Race Starts Today

Paul Maroun has made it public that he is out of the race for NY-23. That leaves two candidates for the GOP primary in NY-23. Doug Hoffman and Matt Doheny, who today is "officially announcing" his entrance into the race. His campaign website,, is still under construction, but I am sure it will be up in no time.

Mayor Graham says he is hoping for a William Jennings Bryan pitchfork speech where Doheny will promise not to "crucify us upon a cross of gold," a reference to the July 9, 1896 speech at the Democratic National Convention where Bryan essentially promised "free Obama bucks" (in those days silver coins) to artificially increase inflation so that freeloaders could pay back their mortgages on rocky farm land. Believe it or not, the Democrats thought it was trendy to be populist and down with Big Government back in the late 19th Century, too.

Forgetting for a moment that the silver-to-gold ratio policy was a Big Government precursor to today's bailouts and Pelosi stimulus dollars, I still don't believe that Doheny has the rhetorical repertoire or the policy knowledge to make a populist case for the Republican nomination. The mayor is right though in his assessment that Doheny needs to catch lightening in a bottle and gin up the grassroots. But if I had to guess the jabs of red meat the Mayor will hear will be directed mainly at Owens for his vote on health care and card check.

But herein lies the problem: Doheny is not capable of making the populist case for supply-side economics or defeating the old establishment guard, which is what he would need to do if he wants to win. That's Hoffman's conservative turf and its an unfamiliar arena for a Wall-Street Banker-Lawyer like Doheny to seriously contend in. If Doheny attacks Hoffman it will likely be on the issue of Hoffman not promising to commit to the winner of the GOP primary in September. But there is an easy and reasonable response to that line of attack which I am surprised nobody has been talking about. The response is simple -- the winner needs to win the respect of the voters, not the other candidates.

There was an interesting quote I read in a recent article on the Republican primary for the Iowa Governor race that compares similarly to Hoffman's strategic decision to not commit to supporting the Republican nominee in NY-23 race. For background, Bob Vander Platts, a Hoffman conservative, is running in the GOP primary for Governor against former Governor Terry Branstad, an establishment Republican. Vander Platts, like Doug Hoffman, has been noncommittal about supporting whoever wins the GOP nod in Iowa. Vander Platts says, "Whoever wins the nomination needs to authentically earn the support of his peers... blind allegiances [to party] really play out in taking another candidate's base of support for granted, and I don't think any one of us can afford that."

That statement is very true and is something the Republican party in NY-23 should seriously reflect upon in the coming weeks ahead. Blind allegiances, smoke and mirror politics, and back room deals are no longer accepted practice in politics today. Voters want humility, transparency, a candidate who sides with the people instead of with the media, a fresh candidate like Hoffman.

Candidates like Doheny and establishment Republican guru's have no business making threats, or taking entire blocks supporter for granted, whether they be ideological groups of people, geographic regions or counties, or otherwise. And if you thought 2009 was the year of the grassroots insurgency in NY-23 just wait until the fall. 2010 is the year of the Tea Party and the grassroots Republican-Conservative majority. May the best candidate of the people win, and may the winning campaign not bury the voters under fragile stones encrypted with broken promises.