Thursday, November 19, 2009

Iron Laws of Politics

I'd toot my own horn on this one, but it was so obvious I don't think I deserve much credit: Rudy Giuliani isn't running for Governor, after all.

Repeat after me: Mayor of New York City is a dead-end job. The two things that can be counted on are the NYC Mayors will not go on to higher office, and that the press (where are many of them located?) will spend way too much time speculating on the future plans of NYC Mayors. Lindsay, Koch, Giuliani...the ones who are foolish enough to believe the hype just wind up making fools of themselves. Having already achieved that distinction in the 2008 Republican primary in Florida, it didn't seem in the cards for Giuliani to try again. Especially since, as the Times says, he'd be losing money on the deal -- and since it's obvious that his national megaphone on terrorism is undamaged by his years out of office or the presidential campaign debacle.

Granted, I should be careful here -- he apparently hasn't ruled out a Senate bid -- but I'll be surprised if he does that, either.

I don't know that the New York Mayor iron law is as firm as the one that Larry Sabato touts about VA Governor elections (the party of the White House gets punished; credit to Sabato for a good call this time around), or the impossibility of winning a presidential nomination from a House seat, but I'm willing to trust in it until proven wrong. And, alas, I'm equally willing to trust that reporters will continue to ignore that law and spend way too much time on implausible stories such as the Bloomberg-for-President boomlet from the last cycle.

UPDATE: Not so fast! Apparently he's least for now, at least according to one story...for the Senate race. Can't win 'em all; of course, the Iron Law is intact until and unless he actually wins something. We'll see, including whether he actually makes the Senate contest.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: I should have known better; first update above only shows that the last sentence of the original post was correct. My fault for paying any attention to it.


  1. Just a sidenote on the House seat rule:

    There's never a politician so talented or so absolutely sure of themselves that they think they have a better chance of becoming President than becoming governor or senator, and being governor or senator is always, ALWAYS, better than being a Congressperson.

    Therefore, the only ones who run for President are the ones who have no chance of becoming governor or senator, and are therefore unable to be elected anyway. Gephardt and Udall are the only exceptions in recent history; Udall was aided by a famous family and a very poor field for liberals, and Gephardt...well, I don't understand why Gephardt did so well in 1988, but it's illustrative that he never came particularly close.

    So the moral is: if you're a congressperson, you can blow it all on a tiny chance to be President or you can make the rational decision and become a senator.

    Yes, all this is perfectly obvious.

  2. The above comment might have been me, posting as anonymous (it was nearly a year ago, I don't remember), but something I've been thinking about lately:

    35 of America's presidents have served as Vice President, Governor, or Senator.
    4 were significant Army generals renowned as national heroes.
    3 were extraordinary Cabinet Secretaries (the most significant and prominent figures in their administrations).
    1 was the House Majority Leader, and a Senator-elect, who ALSO doubled as a general of some renown.
    And 1 was Lincoln, a former Congressman, who I think gets a sui generis pass.

    The pattern of nominees, save a few odd exceptions (Greeley, Davis, Willkie), follows much the same pattern.

    In considering the claims of future aspirants to the job, therefore, we have to consider how extraordinarily unlikely it would be for someone who doesn't fit the above categories to overcome the immense hurdles in terms of campaign experience, fundraising, media coverage, political nous and political connections involved in a presidential race.

    I mention this because my particular field of intellectual interest is that one week in 1996 when it was conventional wisdom that Pat Buchanan was the likely next nominee, which serves as a useful check on taking the press seriously ever again.


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