The LuLac Edition #482, May 21st, 2008
PHOTO INDEX: SENATOR TED KENNEDY IN WILKES BARRE DURING THE 1980 PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY, AN AUTOGRAPHED PHOTO OF KENNEDY AND "JOHN JOHN'S" KENNEDY FOR PRESIDENT BANNER COURTESY OF LAHR'S PRINTERY.
Last night’s primary results in Kentucky and Oregon were again indicative of this year’s Presidential campaign. Strengths and weaknesses is the mantra much like the one in the movie “Something About Mary”. “Franks and Beans”, “Strengths and Weaknesses”. The same phrase over and over. Senator Clinton smashes Obama in Kentucky by an impressive 40 points. She is strong in those working class states. Obama’s weakness among white voters is exposed in this route with speculation that the Clinton voters will go elsewhere come November or stay home. After a short lived victory speech, the results come in from Oregon. Obama blasts Clinton out of the water with those new age voters who live up to the ultra liberal legacy of this state. (Oregon it should be noted even thought the late Bobby Kennedy was too conservative in 1968 and gave Eugene McCarthy a resounding victory). Even though Obama is close to the nomination and it is mathematically impossible for Clinton to win, the drum keeps beating for the former First Lady.
As Obama has built a daunting lead among convention delegates, his own supporters in Kentucky and Oregon were nearly unanimous in thinking he will secure the Democratic nomination. Many Clinton voters maintained hope for their candidate, but substantial numbers acknowledged Obama as the likely nominee - half of Clinton voters in Oregon and a third in Kentucky said Obama will win the nomination.
All balloting was by mail in Oregon's primary, and the phone poll asked when people voted or planned to. The survey found Clinton ran stronger among those who voted earlier, while Obama ran better among those who mailed or delivered their ballots closer to Election Day. In Kentucky, 3 in 4 voters said they made up their minds more than a month ago. As usual for this Democratic primary season, Clinton tended to run better in both states among older voters, those with lower incomes and less education, and those in rural areas, while Obama's strengths included the young, urban, wealthier and better-educated voters.
All that said, here are a few scenarios running through my mind:
The Vice Presidency: While there may not be a brokered convention for the Presidency, what is an ardent Clinton supporter nominates her from the convention floor? Could there be an old fashioned stampede that might force Obama to take Clinton on the ticket? And if Obama has already picked someone other than Clinton, would this be a repudiation of his own choice by his party?
The Supreme Court: Putting Senator Clinton on the Supreme Court doesn’t make much sense to me. She is more politician than jurist and is all about “firsts”. There have been two women already on the Court.
A Senate Leadership Role: Might appeal to Senator Clinton, especially now since the U.S. Senate is now aging. Consider this: The constitutional framers set the minimum age requirement for the Senate at 30 and for the House at 25. In the late 18th century, that was late middle age. The average life expectancy even a century later was around 40 years. Back then, second-term senators were considered veterans and Senate membership was known to completely turn over every 12 years.
Since the first session of Congress, in 1789, the average age of members of the Senate has risen from 47 to an all-time high today of 61.8, according to Senate records. With Senator Byrd at 90, and both Kennedy and Specter ailing, a leadership role for the Senator might be an attractive fit.
What will be interesting in the weeks to come will be seeing why Senator Clinton (which is her right) is staying so long at the party. As far as I’m concerned, let her take it to Denver. Finding out there is just as good a place as any.
With the news this week that Senator Edward Kennedy is suffering from a malignant brain tumor, memories of his career came flooding back. Kennedy was thrust into a role he did not expect 40 years ago when his brother Robert was assassinated in California shortly after winning the California primary. Kennedy became the father figure to his children, Ethel and Robert’s as well as JFK’s offspring. He also was courted that fateful summer of ’68 to be Hubert Humphrey’s running mate. A few days before the convention open in Chicago, former Ohio Governor Mike LaSalle wanted to put his name in nomination for the Presidency. He was all of 36.
In 1969, the Senate Democratic Leadership made him Majority Whip, a highly coveted post that he quickly kicked away due to lack of attention to detail and a focus on other things. Also in the summer of ’69 was the Mary Jo Kopechne incident that still haunts him to this day. Some of the internet posts, in reaction to his illness are pretty nasty.
Kennedy stayed out of the ’72 and ’76 races for the top job but challenged President Carter in 1980. Carter made the statement that “he’d kick Teddy’s ass”. He did. It seemed like Kennedy had no rationale for running for President except that he was a Kennedy and this was what he was supposed to do. There was a telling interview on CBS with Roger Mudd where Kennedy literally stumbled over the simple question, “Why do you want to be President?” For years the Kennedy clan irrationally shut out Mudd, a family friend for daring to ask the question. He and Carter ran close and Kennedy even defeated Carter by a close margin in the 1980 Pennsylvania primary. On a cold spring day in that year, he gave an address to thousands on Public Square. His voice was loud, exuberant and played to the crowd that remembered his brother on the same Square twenty years earlier.
At the convention he fought to the second to the last day and withdrew with his “dream did not die” speech. He later went through another wild womanizing streak in the 80s until settling down with his second wife Victoria. In 1994, Kennedy almost was beaten for his Senate seat by an upstart named Mitt Romney. He survived and has been unbeatable ever since. As patriarch of the family, he also presided over typical Kennedy triumphs and tragedies. When he was felled by a seizure last weekend, it was telling how quickly his family rallied around him. The prognosis is not good some say but you can be sure he will given every opportunity to get the best care as well as the best wishes of some segments of the America he has served.
JOHN JOHN’S SIGN
When Kennedy’s campaign came to Wilkes Barre in 1980, the advance staff needed a huge banner to place on the bandshell on the Square. For years, the United Way always had a huge banner placed strategically in the center of the big shell. The Kennedy camp wanted no less for their rally. Local printer Chick Lahr was dispatched to do the banner. The late Lahr was a man generous with his time as a volunteer for his church as well as a big booster of Walt Disney World. But he was a hardcore businessman who knew the value of a buck. When the banner was finished, the Kennedy staffers stopped by and picked it up. They asked Chick to bill them. Violating all political principles where you get your money up front from politicos, Chick let them have the banner. The banner stayed up but then the Kennedy people told Chick they weren’t going to pay him since it started to show the ravages of weather. No less a Kennedy than John F. Kennedy Junior, “John John” himself came to complain. Chick asked for his money, “John John” refused. Chick threatened a collection agency call. “John John” says to Chick, “Don’t you know who I am?” Chick reportedly said, “Yes, but apparently you have no idea who I am!”. The bill was paid, “John John” hit the Hazle Street pavement and judging from the photo in the index, the thing looked okay to me and was worth the money.