Bill Richardson: The Snowball and the Infernal Regions...
Bill Richardson is the latest democrat (small 'd' intentional) to throw his beret (they all wear them, ya know) into the ring for the race to the Presidency in 2008. The current Governor of New Mexico has a stellar resume: Former cabinet-level post (Secretary of Energy), former U.N. Ambassador, former National Security Advisor (I think), spent a term or two in the Congress. All-in-all, being fair, the best-qualified (in terms of actual work) of all the candidates of both parties, to be a nominee.
Unfortunately, he'll never make it.
Because qualifications no longer matter. What matters is that you are able to vilify your political opponents in a way which "energizes your base" while avoiding the pitfall of making people so disgusted that they tune you out. In other words: what really counts in American politics today is which candidate can walk the tightrope between being sort-of-offensive and being too- obviously-offensive.
In the offensive department, we have a whole string of democratic party second-stringers, most of whom (with the exception of Dennis Kucinich and Joe Biden) most people have never heard of, nor care about.
In the too-obviously-offensive category we have the democratic superstars; Edwards and Clinton. Barack Obama, despite the fact that he's an obvious pandering, lying sack of you-know-what, at least comes across as a genuinely nice man. Edwards and Clinton can lie to your face, pretend to be whatever you want them to be, say whatever you need them to say, and it's perfectly obvious that they're lying and pandering, but it doesn't matter; the hand-picked crowds love it. They love it even more when they're in full-throttle attack mode, and it never gets more full-throttle then when it comes to Bush-hatred, which goes beyond politics and ideology and is evolving into a mental disorder.
And here is where a guy like Bill Richardson has the proverbial snowball's chance: The political left has become so unbalanced, so infected by pathological-hatred on individual personalities (Bush, Cheney, Gonzoles, Libby, etc), that there is no longer a point at which a candidate can become too-obviously-offensive. The worse picture you can paint, the better.
Bill Richardson is not that kind of guy. He doesn't have that sort of mean in him. He's not programmed to spew venom 24/7 and then claim victim-hood afterwards. He's not constructed for the ad nauseum repetition of absolute lies. He's a decent man.
And that's what will end his run. He can't keep up with the slime machines of Clinton and Edwards. He can't compete with the media-made-sexiness of Obama.
And it's a crying shame, because while he might be a democrat, I can recognize a pretty good guy when I see one, and Bill Richardson seems to be one. As far as government service goes, he's got the pedigree. The only person I can think of who's had that sort of resume in recent times has been Bush pere, and in retrospect, he seems damn-near regal, never mind presidential.
We are about to set a dangerous precedent in this country; this country will probably, in all eventuality, will have been presided over by either a Bush or a Clinton for the last two decades, depending on the outcome of the dimwit's beauty contest. Which is what makes a man like Richardson all the more valuable (and attractive as a candidate), because there's more Bush's and Clinton's in the pipeline, and Edwards and Gore won't go away until someone gives them a final death befitting the undead (a stake through the heart and immersal in holy water).
There's an opportunity here that I'm afraid we just might miss; the opportunity to re-inject civility and intelligence back into our politics, and the chance to avoid the dynastic rule of two incredibly incompetent families.
Unfortunately for you,Bill, we'll probably never get the chance to see you in action.