Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Haven't you sat around some afternoon and re-cast the WH 2012 Republicans as...the WH 1988 Democrats? Sure you have. But if not, here's what I've got. OK, it's mainly the first two, but as long as I'm at it...

NEWT GINGRICH as Gary Hart -- revived campaign phase. Gary Hart was drummed out of the campaign in Spring 1987 after a sex scandal, but then jumped back in late in 1987 and actually led the polls...before fading out rapidly. Both are disliked and not trusted by Washingtonians, but seem more presidential to many voters than the rest of a disappointing field. Not to say that Newt will fizzle as rapidly as Hart did (but he could!).

JON HUNTSMAN as Bruce Babbitt. This is actually the one that got me started. Both are loved by the press. Both are liked and respected by a lot of party actors, but not actually supported by them. In both cases, voters have zero interest. Both tried the same Big Campaign Strategy of packing their debate prep with one-liners. Babbitt's comedy writers were better than Huntsman's, but neither revealed any sense of comic timing whatsoever. I'm waiting for Hunstman to Stand Up! for, oh, I don't know, the scientific consensus on climate change? But I guess he's abandoned it.

MITT ROMNEY as, obviously, Michael Dukakis. Technocrat Massachusetts Governor that everyone figures will get the nomination despite the disadvantage of no one actually having any strong feelings about him one way or another.

RON PAUL as Jesse Jackson. Repeat fringe candidate doing better this time. Only candidate with actual enthusiastic supporters, but support capped thanks to qualification/mainstream deviation problem. Many party actors sort of like the idea of the candidate and his platform, but not the actual candidate and his platform.

HERMAN CAIN as Joe Biden. Says crazy things. Wacky campaign gurus are part of the story. Dropped out of the race after a scandal. Will become VP twenty years later. OK, maybe not that last part.

These are getting to be more of a stretch at this point...

TIM PAWLENTY as Dick Gephardt. Perfectly respectable and successful pol; very, very, very boring as a presidential candidate.

RICK PERRY as Al Gore. Well, Perry supported him, right? Candidates who appeared better on paper than
in real life. Southern. Actually, Perry's more of a John Glenn 1984, at least so far.

MICHELE BACHMANN as Paul Simon. Improbable candidate, ideological, briefly relevant.


SARAH PALIN as Mario Cuomo. The one who makes everyone else look like small, albeit in totally different ways.

Also: you may be thinking that I should have Buddy Roemer as James Traficant. Blasphemy! No one can ever take the place of Traficant. Have I mentioned that I own a genuine 1988 Traficant For President button? Don't you wish you had one?


  1. I own a genuine 1988 Traficant For President button? Don't you wish you had one?
    Absolutely! In fact, I think it would be worth violating "plain blog" asceticism for you to exhibit a picture of it! Or, at least, put up a link to the image...

  2. I'd have to hunt it down...but I'm pretty sure it's this one

  3. Just a quick word to the commenters on this site, explaining why it is I'll no longer be visiting here. The blogger, after repeated threats of censorship, has finally carried out a threat and censored my posts. There was and is nothing in my posts worthy of censorship, but it appears only select lines of thinking are to be allowed on this site, and after multiple threats, that thought selection has been enforced.

    Again, there is and has been nothing censor worthy in any of my posts, but unfortunately, on this site, censorship and thought control is the norm. Good luck with that.

  4. These are the Seven Dwarfs:

    Santorum: Grumpy
    Perry: Dopey
    Mitt: Bashful
    Cain: Happy
    Paul: Doc
    T-Paw: Sleepy
    Newt: Sneezy

    Palin: Snow White

    Huntsman: The Huntsman

  5. Just in case anyone cares about the comments policy episode, please
    see here.

  6. Very good analogies, although they also point up the big difference between these two parties and campaigns. In terms of serious governing experience and real policy knowledge, comparing Cain to Biden and Bachmann to Simon is like comparing a couple of T-ball players to the 1988 National League All Stars -- not Sandberg and Strawberry, maybe, just Parrish and Palmeiro, but still.

    For '88 nostalgics, here's a transcript of Saturday Night Live's version of these Democrats debating each other pre-primary:

    I remember it being pretty funny, but I can't seem to locate an online video.

  7. What happened to our ex governor from N.M. Gary Johnson?

  8. Anon 4:42, he has all but dropped out. He was banking on a heavy retail operation in New Hampshire, but it hasn't worked and he has abandoned the state. He is publicly considering a third party run for the Libertarians. We should consider his campaign dead.

  9. I actually think the Cuomo-Palin comparison is the most interesting, I've not heard it before (or mentally made it before).

    I find the 1988 dwarfs primary an object of fascination. It was before my time, and hindsight is 20/20, but it seems some of the dwarfs would have been better nominees than The Duke. (I have heard from people who know him he is an A+ human being, but that doesn't mean he should have sought the Presidency).

    Could any of them have gotten over the top against George HW? Or is that, as I suspect, a revisionist pipe dream?

  10. Haha great post! I would point out that anyone of the “Dwarfs” in 88’ had more political skill and knowledge than most of these clowns put together. But riffing of the whole 88’ theme can we bring back some of Richard Ben Kramer’s funny terms? (He described GHWB’s campaign team simply as “the white men” Gephardt’s as “the killers” and Biden’s problem as either “excessive consultantitis” or “guru madness.”) Also who is Clinton (he said he almost ran in 88 but decided against it at the last moment) I’m going with Barbour, a likeable good ole boy who like’s junk food too!

    @ tapirboy1 Probably not. GHWB was the VP for a popular incumbent running in good economic times, that’s a pretty tough mountain to climb. At the very least I best a Gore or Gephardt or even Jackson wouldn’t have taken a bunch of time off in the summer of a presidential campaign to go home and deal with the daily grind of running the commonwealth of Massachusetts or dealing with its state legislature.

  11. @longwalk: yeah, that basically seems right. But Dukakis was way up in the national general election polls early in the campaign, right? Could have just been weakly expressed Reagan fatigue that dissipated by November 1988.

  12. Tybalt -- Johnson's biggest obstacle has been that he wasn't included in the debates, which is the lowest bar for credibility.

    The result? Herman Cain, a fill-in talk show host for Neal Boortz, had a better springboard to the Presidency than Gary Johnson, a two-term Governor of New Mexico. Thank you GOP. Thank you Fourth Estate.

  13. Anon 1:58, if you spent any time actually reading the blogger's posts, you wouldn't misinterpret over half of them, and you would understand his relatively high standards for commentary compared to others, which he occasionally discusses from time to time.

    But you never read the posts. Good luck to you.

  14. I vote for Mitch Daniels as Clinton. Maybe Jeb Bush for Cuomo? Though Palin might be more apt. As a person with a soft spot for Gary Hart, I instinctively recoiled from the comparison with Gingrich. But it makes sense.

  15. This is a bit off-topic but...assuming an Obama win (admittedly not something to be taken for granted) but does anyone think any of these pols would qualify as a "next-in-line" presumptive nominee in 2016. With so many GOP governors who could jump in next time around(Rick Scott, John Kasich, Scott Walker, Daniels?), not to mention Marco Rubio, it seems like a GOP nomination race in 2016 would be wide open. Just like the Democratic one (Cuomo, Clinton?, O'Malley, Warner, Schweitzer...)

  16. "GHWB was the VP for a popular incumbent running in good economic times, that’s a pretty tough mountain to climb."

    You would think being an incumbent vice president would be a big advantage, but they don't get elected very often. John Adams (1796), Martin Van Buren (1836), and George H. W. Bush (1988) is the entire list.

  17. Scott,

    A lot of that is because there was a long period in which VPs weren't typically presidential candidates. And of course another chunk of it is VPs who either became president or were defeated for re-election (such as Quayle, Mondale).

  18. Thomas said...

    Anon 1:58, if you spent any time actually reading the blogger's posts, you wouldn't misinterpret over half of them, and you would understand his relatively high standards for commentary compared to others, which he occasionally discusses from time to time.



    Actually, this blogger threatened me with censorship immediately following the first post I made to this site. Obviously, this blogger's standards include thought and speech control, which are the norm, even at first sight.

    Following that first threat, and my response that the blogger's censorship would result in my departure, the blogger made additional threats to censor me. This has been a repeated mode of this blogger, to threaten censorship of thought that is not "acceptable".

    Now it appears that the blogger has finally decided to act, and destroy my commentary that doesn't comport with the thought and speech control demanded of commenters on this site.

    Good luck with that, on this, another fetid internet fever swam, where only the "correct" thought and speech is permitted.

    And to repeat, NOTHING I've ever posted, ever, in any comment, is worthy of censorship.... except among reactionary zealots, determined to remain in an impenetrable bubble.

    Good luck with that.

  19. Well technically, the Russians dubbed her, the
    transliteration of 'Huntress' the Okhanitsa, some
    might say Huntsman is closer to Pete Dupont, another industrial scion, who wasn't going anywhere.


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