War is swell.

War is swell.

War is swell.

Notes from the political sidelines.
Aug. 8 2005 12:30 PM

War Is Swell

A vacation guide to the war on terror.

80_thehasbeen

Monday, Aug. 8, 2005

Winners and Losers: Next Monday marks the 60th anniversary of America's victory in World War II. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, America and its allies needed just three years and nine months to win the bloodiest war and defeat the gravest threat to freedom in human history.

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What of our time? Nearly four years have passed since the Sept. 11 attacks – and we've not only yet to win the war on terror; we can't even decide what to call it.

What happened? In the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, every American felt the same surge of patriotic anger their grandparents had felt 60 years earlier on Dec. 7. We were ready for four years of Liberty Bonds and Victory Gardens. Instead, over the past four years, our biggest collective sacrifice has been watching reality shows on television.

Sixty years ago, FDR summoned all Americans to do their part for the war effort. This year, the Bush White House summoned a Duke expert on wartime public opinion. The administration concluded that the way to maintain public support for a war is to keep telling the people we're winning. So much for that theory.

FDR and Harry Truman had a better way to maintain popular support for a war: actually winning it. That's a novel concept for Americans under the age of 50, who've been conditioned to believe that wars are won in an instant (like Grenada and the Gulf War), or drag on until the American people lose interest (like Vietnam and Iraq).

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Thirty Days: Democrats sometimes criticize President Bush for being obsessed with the war on terror. His real problem is just the opposite: he's not obsessed enough. Bush is making history in August 2005 exactly the same way he did in August 2001: by taking a month off for vacation.

Unfortunately, the enemy is not on holiday. You won't see Osama bin Laden clearing brush outside his cave on the Pakistan border.

FDR worked himself to death during World War II. Woodrow Wilson did the same in World War I. George Bush is in no such danger.

If winning the war against radical totalitarianism were Bush's single-minded obsession, he'd listen to John McCain: stop Washington from spending like drunken sailors, ask every American to give something back, and hire a defense secretary who stands up for his troops instead of blaming them.

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It's no surprise that a national tragedy like September 11 would make the President feel a divine calling. It's harder to understand why, when the moment cries out for another FDR, Bush thought God was calling him to be Calvin Coolidge. ...  9:19 A.M. (link)

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Friday, Aug. 5, 2005

Extra Special: Even Newt Gingrich agrees that Paul Hackett's strong showing in Ohio's 2nd District special election is a shot across the bow to the Republican Congressional leadership and the White House. Republicans defied the odds by gaining seats in the 2002 midterm election, but in 2006, they may discover that in the absence of national progress, you can't keep making political progress forever.

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Ironically, the best news for Democrats in the race is the excuse Republicans give for its photo finish: that it was just about Ohio. Republicans were quick to blame low GOP turnout on the unpopularity of the state's Republican governor, Bob Taft. So much the better: The Ohio's governor race is the most important contest in America in 2006.

Over the past decade, one of Democrats' biggest trouble spots has been the inability to win statewide in Ohio. Republican senators have replaced the old Democratic lions, John Glenn and Howard Metzenbaum. The governorship has been in Republican hands for the last 15 years.

As 2004 demonstrated, Ohio is the pivotal swing state in presidential elections. Clinton carried it narrowly in 1992 and 1996; Bush did the same in 2000 and 2004. Ohio has always been important—birthplace to more presidents than any state except Virginia. But for Democrats, who have lost every southern state twice in a row, Ohio's 20 electoral votes are now especially crucial.

Governors Matter Most: Senators and House members of the same party can help presidents succeed in office; governors are the ones who help them get there. Congressmen are unknown beyond their districts; senators run too seldom to keep a political organization in fighting trim.

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By contrast, governors have the power to appoint a network of political allies to jobs across the state and the proximity to maintain it. Clinton and Bush both depended heavily on a strong network of governors to win the primaries and the general election.

Thirty-eight governorships are up for grabs in 2005 and 2006, including other open seats in the critical swing states of Florida and Colorado. In Ohio, Democrats have two strong, centrist candidates to choose from next year: Rep. Ted Strickland, from a Republican-leaning district in eastern Ohio, and Mayor Michael Coleman of Columbus, the state's largest city. Winning the Ohio governorship would vault either of them straight to the next Democratic nominee's vice-presidential shortlist.

This week's news offered another reminder of governors' power to make or break presidential elections, as Senate candidate Katherine Harris whined that in 2000, the media doctored her makeup. Winning the Ohio governorship next year would give Democrats the chance to forget Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris and show the country what a Democrat is made of. ... 11:12 A.M. (link)

Closer Than You Think: The House Committee on Steroids doesn't believe Rafael Palmeiro after all. According to the Post, Rep. Tom Davis' committee will take 2 months to 3 months to determine whether to ask the Justice Dept. to prosecute Palmeiro for perjury.

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Most unfortunate soundbite by a congressman asking for drug tests: "We're nowhere near the 'p-word.' " ... 7:27 A.M.

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The Plot Thickens, Part I: Under perhaps the best Washington Post headline of the summer—"Bush Backs Rove, Palmeiro, 'Intelligent Design'  "—Dan Froomkin reports that the president goes along with the ex-Ranger's story: "Rafael Palmeiro is a friend. He testified in public and I believe him."

But which Palmeiro does Bush believe? The one who said, "I have never used steroids. Period," in March—or the one who said Monday, "I have never intentionally used steroids. Never. Ever. Period."?

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More Bush: "He's the kind of person that's going to stand up in front of the klieg lights and say he didn't use steroids, and I believe him. Still do." Even though Bush hasn't been a baseball owner in more than a decade, he hasn't forgotten how to look the other way. Somehow he still finds time to practice.

Fool Us Once: Meanwhile, the ever-vigilant Congress wants Palmeiro to cheer up. While he may have blown his chance to join the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, he earned the next best thing: a chance to testify again before the House Government Reform Committee.

Palmeiro spoke yesterday with the committee chairman, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA). Committee staffers told the New York Times that Palmeiro wouldn't face perjury charges because the steroid test he failed was "some weeks" after he denied he'd ever used them. In other words, they "believe him."

The committee plans to ask Major League Baseball for "all of the specifics on the Palmeiro testing." That can mean only one thing: random drug testing for future congressional witnesses. Raising your right hand just isn't good enough anymore.

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The Plot Thickens, Part 2: Can Livin' La Vida Lo-Carb be right that Bush is "leading by example," when the rest of America isn't following? The Post says that in January 2004, more than 9 percent of Americans were on low-carb diets. Now that number had shrunk to 2.2 percent. The same weekend Bush took his physical, Atkins Nutritionals Inc., the premier producer of low-carb foods, declared bankruptcy. The reason: The dogs don't like it.

So, if Bush has lost weight by giving up donuts, he's the only one. Moreover, he tested positive for carbohydrates. The Has-Been's new theory: Bush didn't use steroids intentionally.

Hard Workout: Not everyone in the Washington area is taking steroids. With a flurry of legislation last week, the all-you-can-eat Congress showed how to put on weight the old-fashioned way: all fat, no muscle. In the old days, Republicans like Ronald Reagan used to veto bloated highway bills. Bush and Congress agreed on one that costs $286 billion, including a $2.3 million earmark for landscaping on the Ronald Reagan Freeway. As a candidate, Bush used to say, "It's your money." Now he just spends it.

Why does a man who cares so much about getting thinner let the government get fatter? Bush is addicted to big-government, interest-group conservatism, which offers one of the most irresistible diet pitches of all time: Eat all you want—you'll grow your way out of it.

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The president believes in individual responsibility. It's not government's job to keep him fit; that's his job. It's not his job to trim government; that's government's job. ... 9:01 A.M. (link)

Moore Is Less: On his blog "Livin' La Vida Lo-Carb," which sets out "to combat the daily lies" by opponents of the Atkins Diet, half-the-man-he-used-to-be Jimmy Moore offers his own theory of how the president lost eight pounds. "I thought my heart rate was low until I discovered that President Bush's resting heart rate is 47 beats per minute," says Moore, who puts his own "bpm" at 45. "You can't blame Bush for our nation's poor health!"

Moore goes on to gush that Bush "limits his caffeine intake to coffee and diet sodas." Apparently, the president's renowned willpower enables him to forgo Dexatrim and No-Doz. … 2:38 A.M.

Monday, Aug. 1, 2005

Jake and the Fat Man: President Bush got back the two sets of numbers he cares most about this weekend. On Friday, his approval ratings hit an all-time low. On Saturday, Bush's doctors said his weight is at its lowest point since 2001.

The president probably looks at these numbers and decides that on balance, it was a pretty good week. For the rest of us, it's like an old good-news, bad-news joke. The good news is, your doctors say you're "fit for duty"; the bad news is, you're worse at it than ever.

Reaction to the president's good health split along predictable partisan lines. One skeptic cast doubt on Bush's impressive 15.79 percent body fat: "They don't include head fat." Happily, Wonkette and Rush Limbaugh have yet to comment. But give the president credit: He's no William Howard Taft.

The Has-Been applauds the president's good health and urges all Americans to follow his example. But given how much time Bush devotes to fitness, it's time to ask: Has Bush's war on fat been worth it? A Has-Been investigation reached some startling conclusions:

Fit as a Fillmore: If Bush thinks muscle tone is his ticket to Rushmore, he's sadly mistaken. According to historical data compiled by the Body Fat Lab, there is little correlation between fitness and greatness.

Bush's body fat has ranged from 14.5 percent in 2003 to 18.25 percent last December to 15.79 percent today. According to BFL, nine of the previous 42 presidents had body fat in the 11-21 percent range. That list includes three great presidents (Jackson, Lincoln, FDR), one who died too early to judge (JFK), and five whose time in office was less than stellar (Madison, Tyler, Grant, Nixon, and Carter).

The man with the least body fat in presidential history—under 11 percent—was James Madison, a great American but unexceptional president. By contrast, some of the greatest presidents (Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt) fall in the softer 22-27 percent range.

Bush might be especially disappointed with another measure— body-mass index. Bush's BMI is 26—almost indistinguishable from Bill Clinton's BMI of 27.

However, Bush can take some small comfort in knowing that the fattest presidents have not done well. BFL lists four with body fat of more than 28 percent: Taft, McKinley, Cleveland, and Taylor. Taylor had the highest body fat (over 30 percent); Taft, whose girth forced the White House to install a specially designed tub, had the largest body-mass index (45).

The Cream and the Clear: The dean of presidential health stories, Dr. Lawrence Altman, led his New York Timesstory exactly as the White House hoped: "President Bush has purposely lost eight pounds since his last medical checkup." I'm no doctor, but "purposely" is a hack term, not a medical one. We know the president weighs less than he did in December—who among us does not?—but on the question of why he weighs less, we have to take the White House's word for it.

In December, Bush tipped the scales at 199.6 pounds, a number too close to the dreaded 200 mark to inspire much trust. High-school wrestlers have spent entire weekends sweating in garbage bags to achieve similar results. Bush blamed his bulge on politics, saying he had eaten too many donuts during the campaign.

It's not impossible that Bush won re-election because he looked like "a pile of donuts." But Bush's sharp, sudden weight loss since the election raises a far more disturbing paranoid theory: Was the president using steroids?

Mark McGwire's congressional testimony showed the world what someone who allegedly used steroids looks like after they allegedly stop—a lot thinner. Bush bulked up during a campaign that was based entirely on showing voters he was stronger than his opponent. This season, like many baseball players afraid of baseball's new random steroid testing, he shows up suddenly looking a lot thinner.

As a devoted fan of the institution of the presidency, The Has-Been hopes against hope that these allegations are false. Like his weight loss, the other evidence on Bush's steroid use is purely circumstantial: Bush values muscle, owes his pivotal victory in Ohio to Arnold Schwarzenegger, and as a longtime baseball man would know where to get steroids if he wanted. Bush used his 2004 State of the Union Address to denounce steroids, and what kind of president would mislead the country in a State of the Union?

Little Blue Pills: But as Arnold might say, the history of steroid allegations has been where there's smoke, there's fire. Alas, the evidence against Bush keeps mounting. Today, Major League Baseball suspended longtime Bush pal Rafael Palmeiro because he tested positive for steroids.

In March, Palmeiro told Congress, "I have never used steroids. Period. I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never." Now, in a spin that won't fool Dr. Lawrence Altman, he says steroids didn't enter his body "intentionally."

As the Washington Post reported in July, "Palmeiro and Bush have been friends since the 1990s." Bush called Palmeiro after his 500th home run in 2003 and again after his 3,000th hit last month, this time inviting him to dinner at the White House.

Palmeiro was averaging just eight home runs a season in four years in the big leagues when he joined Bush's Texas Rangers in 1989. With the Rangers, his output exploded. In 1993, his last season under Bush, he hit 37 homers. Accused steroid user Sammy Sosa and confessed steroid addict Jose Canseco played for Bush as well.

Until now, Bush had a seemingly bullet-proof defense: If he were involved with steroids, Canseco would have used that to sell books. Now what Canseco wrote about Bush looks more like a cover-up: "He didn't talk to us Latinos much." Tell that to Karl Rove or Rafael Palmeiro.

Sluggers accused of steroids often quote Bob Costas: "You still have to hit the ball." Given the president's current approval ratings, he might not want to use that defense. ... 2:49 P.M. (link)

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Friday, July 29, 2005

Ask Not: Since 9/11, many of us have criticized President Bush for asking nothing more of the American people than to fly and shop. At last, the administration has responded. As the Washington Post reported earlier this week, Chief of Staff Andrew Card challenged 2,000 interns at a public service job fair to do more:

I don't think that everyone who is looking for a job should expect or even want a job with the federal government or one of our agencies. In fact, our economy would not do very well if people just worked for the government.

We can't afford to waste the best and the brightest in keeping America safe, finding cures to chronic diseases, or winning the war on terror. Youth of America, if you love your country, set aside your selfish desire to enter public service and heed the private sector's call!

Card's career is a testament to that noble sense of duty. All his life, this son of Massachusetts has longed to be a bureaucrat. He studied at the Kennedy School. He spent a decade in the federal government under Reagan and Bush, eventually reaching the bureaucratic pinnacle with a brief Cabinet stint as secretary of transportation.

With Card's résumé, he could have qualified for any career job in the federal government. But in 1993, at great personal sacrifice, he left government to serve his country as head of the automakers' trade association. Later, he volunteered to become chief lobbyist at General Motors, where he hoped his inside knowledge of government could help save the nation's ailing auto giant. Card believed deeply in what another generation's role model, former GM CEO Charles E. Wilson, said at his confirmation hearing to become Eisenhower's defense secretary: "What was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa."

Card has returned to government, so his own years of sacrifice for his country are over. Now he wants to pass the torch of private sector service to the next generation.

Small-minded cynics have criticized Card for championing the interests of an industry that used to pay him $600,000 a year. As Card showed again this week, he's just looking for a way to give something back.

Pay Any Price, Bear Any Burden: All of us honor Andy Card's patriotic sacrifice as an advocate for America's auto industry. But as we take up his call to private-sector service, we have to ask: Is lobbying really part of the private sector?

Corporate lobbyists advocate for private interests, and arguably create jobs—the more lobbyists one interest hires, the more lobbyists other opposing interests have to hire. On the other hand, a lobbyist's entire job is to influence the federal government—and as Card told the interns, "our economy would not do very well" if everybody worked here in Washington. Yet at $600,000 a year, we can't lump business lobbyists in with non-profit lobbyists for causes like protecting the environment or opposing immigration.

You owe it to your country to come up with a name for this booming sector of corporate lobbyists in the seam between private and public. Send your suggestions to thehasbeen@gmail.com. ... 11:45 A.M. (link)

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Firm:John Roberts may soon become a Supreme Court justice, but he isn't a lawyer. He's "a lawyer's lawyer." Editorialists say so. The Christian right says so. People who should know say so.

As a "lawyer's son" and "lawyer's husband," I've spent enough time around lawyers to know that "lawyer's lawyer" is like "congressman's congressman": not always the compliment that it might seem. When firms can tout themselves as "lawyer's lawyers," such words become cheaper than the hourly rates might suggest. One congressional floor speech went so far as to praise "a lawyer's lawyer's lawyer."

Law students learn early on that "a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client." But a "lawyer's lawyer" isn't a lawyer who represents another lawyer. It means a lawyer so devoted to the profession that he or she can argue either side of any question, and take on any fool for a client.

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In other professions, even lesser ones like politics, such moral flexibility would be dismissed as an abject lack of principle. In the law, the ability to argue for it before arguing against it is sometimes lionized as the highest form of principle.

The phrase "lawyer's lawyer" has the ring of money, and a rich, ironic history to go with it. In 1930, when Herbert Hoover returned Charles Evan Hughes to the Supreme Court as Chief Justice, Time's cover profile dubbed him "Lawyer's Lawyer." Like Roberts, Hughes had spent his younger days in Republican politics: in 1916, he actually resigned as an associate Supreme Court justice to become the GOP's presidential nominee against Wilson.

Lawyer's Lawyer is also the title of a biography about John W. Davis, the Democratic nominee who lost to Coolidge in 1924. He earned the label by going on to oppose the New Deal on behalf of big corporate clients and to represent the losing, segregationist side in Brown v. Board of Education.

Echo's Echoes: The phrase isn't new to John Roberts. In 2003, Senator Orrin Hatch praised Roberts's record at Hogan & Hartson: "He has argued on different sides of a variety of different issues, firmly establishing his reputation as a lawyer's lawyer." By that point, thanks to such nimble minds, Hogan had passed the half-billion-dollar mark in annual revenues – just behind the firm John W. Davis founded: Davis, Polk & Wardwell.

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Ironically, the phrase is the subtitle of a 2003 treatise from the right-wing Committee for Justice extolling the virtues of one of the most conservative ideologues Bush has put on the bench: "Jeffrey Sutton: A Lawyer's Lawyer." Before his narrow, party-line confirmation to the 6th Circuit, Sutton took on several cases to weaken federal civil rights and disability laws. The Committee for Justice insisted that "Sutton does what all good lawyers do: subordinate his interests to those of the client, and do everything possible, within the bounds of the law, to win."

Moral Dodge: By that standard, calling someone a "lawyer's lawyer" is just a high-minded way of saying "don't judge a lawyer by his clients." But if we can't judge a man by his works, and he won't tell us his views, we don't have much to go on.

There's no point denying that John Roberts is "a lawyer's lawyer." The question for nimble minds to ponder is whether that's really the highest praise the profession has to offer. ...  3:40 P.M. (link

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Player-Coach: From the start, John Roberts and his supporters have sought to portray him as a modern-day Oliver Wendell Holmes, too smitten with justice to dirty his hands with political calculation. "I always got a lump in my throat whenever I walked up those marble steps," he said when Bush announced his Supreme Court nomination. Harvard pal Larry Tribe called him "someone quite deeply immersed in the law, and he loves it. He believes in it as a discipline and pursues it in principle and not by way of politics."

Now it turns out Roberts sought to be a political force in his Reagan years. Judge Roberts didn't just help pick judges for the Reagan White House, as The Has-Been pointed out last week. Earlier, as a special assistant to Attorney General William French Smith, he actually helped coach Sandra Day O'Connor for her Supreme Court confirmation.

That means that apart from clerkships, which were essentially paid internships for the aspiring justice, Roberts's first job was providing political advice on how to get the Supreme job he's now after.

Duck and Cover: At his 2003 confirmation, Roberts said, "I would not hew to a particular 'school' of interpretation, but would follow the approach or approaches that seemed most suited in the particular case to correctly discerning the meaning of the provision at issue." He'd given O'Connor the same advice 22 years earlier: "Avoid giving specific responses to any direct questions on legal issues likely to come before the court."

O'Connor not only followed Roberts's advice at her 1981 hearing – you can make a good case that she continued to avoid giving specific responses to legal issues before the Court for a quarter century once she got there. Here's one question John Roberts's sure not to answer: How can we tell the difference between a lawyer's lawyer and a hack's hack? ... 10:34 A.M. (link)

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Reality Bites: Even with thousands still standing in line to vote in Ohio,  Diebold  can project the winner of yesterday's ideas-or-donuts referendum. The results are in: the donuts have it.

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With eerie echoes from the 2004 presidential race, the campaign came down to a simple question: should we pick a president based on ideas, or on who looks most like a pile of donuts? Despite a late surge by Bob "The Thinker" DeLay, Dan "The Homer" Johnson cruised to victory with an estimated 93% of the vote.

Our panel of election analysts, The Has-Been Gang, gave Bob credit for running a positive campaign about ideas, but said that in the end, voters couldn't pull the lever for anyone named DeLay. Dan's carefully orchestrated image as "just a guy who likes donuts" played well with every major demographic group, especially those who voted around breakfast. Voters praised him as "brilliant," "pure genius," and "a man of integrity." Voters who have met Dan personally used different terms (such as "crowbar" and "Scott Baio"), but supported him anyway.

Reached for comment, Dan tried to claim a mandate: "Ideas will always lose a head to head battle with fat-laden pastry." But the electorate was sending a different message. Dan's plan to replace the nominating process with a donut sculpture viewing contest marked him as a true reformer – in the words of one voter, "clearly the only candidate with new ideas." As Bill Clinton might say, voters believe it's time to move beyond the false choice between donuts and ideas, and build a cause larger than ourselves.

Homer's Odyssey: It remains to be seen whether the Democratic National Committee will adopt the Homer Plan. A 40-member DNC commission on the nominating calendar, chaired by Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) and former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, has until the end of this year to recommend changes for 2008.

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The commission is almost certain to keep the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary first in the queue. With luck, it also will scrap the ill-fated changes from the last cycle, when a frontloaded calendar made primaries fall like dominoes for the early frontrunner, John Kerry. Former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe thought frontloading would protect the nominee from finishing the primaries bloodied and penniless. Instead, thanks to the Internet, Kerry had more money than he could spend – while frontloading gave the GOP three extra months to destroy him before he had time to catch his breath and figure out how to spend it.

The Commission can keep the race going longer by putting a two- or three-week window between major primaries, so the contest is about more than momentum. It could also give some prominence to a red-state primary in the Eastern time zone, such as Ohio, Florida, and South Carolina.

While Dan Johnson didn't win over Slate readers in time to present it at the Price-Herman Commission's recent meeting, the Homer Plan may still have the inside track. Secretary Herman once received a prestigious award from Sara Lee, a leading producer of fat-laden breakfast pastries. David Price, one of the smartest members of Congress, is no Homer Simpson. But guess where many of his North Carolina constituents work: the world headquarters of Krispy Kreme donuts.

Geese Love Ganders: Senator Rick Santorum  announced on washingtonpost.com that he won't run for president in 2008 because he wants to spend more time with his children. The Has-Been applauds the Senator's commitment to family, but wonders if the Homer Plan has claimed its first victim. ... 6:18 P.M. (link)

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Monday, July 25, 2005

Often Running: Three weeks ago, The Has-Been asked the question on every Democrat's mind: Is it 2008 yet?

With an open seat in both parties for the first time since 1952, the race could get crowded.  Today, my organization holds its annual National Conversation in Columbus, Ohio – epicenter of the 2004 race – where more than 300 Democratic elected officials from 40 states will hear from four rising stars: Senators Hillary Clinton and Evan Bayh and Governors Tom Vilsack and Mark Warner. The AFL-CIO meeting in Chicago will hear from two others: Senator Barack Obama and former Senator John Edwards. 

What's a retread-in-waiting to do? Luckily, The Has-Been has even more readers than the Democratic party has presidential candidates. Their emails prove Shrum got out just in time: Why pay millions for consultants when people will fill your inbox with better, fresher ideas for free?

Last week, The Hotline and True Entertainment (from the same corporate family as "Big Brother" and "Fear Factor") announced a new political reality show called RED/BLUE. Hotline says the series will "exhibit the best that politics has to offer": 12 contestants drawn from a nationwide search who will set up camp in a Georgetown townhouse, design attack ads against each other, and perhaps fall in love along the way. In other words, just another Sunday brunch with Carville and Matalin at Stephanopoulos's place.

The prize: the chance to run a $1-million 527. It will take more than a cool million to drag The Has-Been to Georgetown – how about a place to park? But for a modest finder's fee, I can recommend three finalists:

The Climber: First, meet Scott Josephson, fresh out of law school at Villanova, whose advice for 2008 is simple: either pick a candidate and make sure you never say anything so bad about the others they won't hire you if you guess wrong, or "join a Democratic think tank, offer vague platitudes to all the candidates, and wait to see who wins." Scott says, "The best way to stay loyal is to completely hedge your bets."

A master has-been, and he's only 26. It brings tears to my eyes to think that Holbrooke, Sperling, and I have been such an inspiration to America's idealistic youth. But Scott, you're off the show for revealing our trade secrets. That leaves two:

The Thinker: Bob DeLay ("no relation to Tom") is a law student who plans to run for local office and perhaps one day Congress. He says personal ambition should have nothing to do with political affiliation: "The 2008 race must be about the good of the party and the nation. … Push your candidate to speak to America about the big ideas in the legacy of the great Democrats – FDR, Kennedy, and Clinton." Hear, hear.

The Homer: Dan Johnson is a young Chicago lawyer who once told Joe Biden that the Judiciary Committee should approve judges based on a Founders trivia quiz, a Rubiks Cube competition, and a staring contest. (There's more to life than getting 100s, Judge Roberts.) Instead of taking the expedient path by picking "the candidate that will most dramatically increase your station in life," Dan says go with your gut: "Make a sculpture out of donuts, and whomever the sculpture ends up resembling, well, that's your candidate."

Dan explains, "I'm just a guy who likes politics and donuts, and I don't see why the two can't work together." The last guy to think that way: Bill Clinton.

Cast your vote for Bob or Dan at thehasbeen@gmail.com. The winner will receive an '88 Gore campaign button, and the chance to raise $1 million for their own 527.

The choice is yours: ideas or donuts? You might not find either one at brunch in Georgetown, but out here in Columbus, they're hungry for both. ...  6:06 A.M. (link)