Thursday, June 12, 2008
A Triumvirate to Keep the Presidency in GOP Hands Until 2012?
Anyone who knows the Clintons understands that the game is not over with Hillarys concession. If Obama wins the presidency and serves two terms she will be 68 and likely out of contention forever.
Anyone who knows Bill Clinton knows that he is white-knuckled with fury at Hillarys losing to a man he has already declared unqualifiedand wants to justify himself by seeing Hillary gets another chance at the brass ring.
Anyone who knows George W. Bush understands that he wants to leave a legacy of victory in Iraq to justify his treatment by future historians..
Anyone who knows John McCain understands that he wants to win the war in Iraq; not conditioned to surrender, he is a man of infinite flexibility but with one iron-clad absolute: victory.
To imagine that these immensely beady-eyed politicians who have applied Machiavelli often in their lives will treat the likely Obama victory with the words of the old Cole Porter song, too bad, so sadit was great fun it was just one of those things does not understand them.
Its my contention that these three will inevitably understand that their interests coincide.
The key player, Bill Clinton understands that if Obama loses his bid the next Democratic presidential nomination will be in Hillarys grasp. In fact, she is immensely stronger now than she was when she began since figures increasingly show Democratic buyers remorse from the white working class and white women.
She will be 64 which is not too old to run. The great probability almost a certainty will be that her Republican opponent will not be John McCain at all. He is in fact a very senior appearing 71. The TV photo op the other day of his wife helping him down the steps is revelatory. The age issue can be surmounted for McCain if the voters perceive him as the only choice available to handle a crisis but lets face it, a McCain at 76 if he survives and we must pray God he does will be very-very long in the tooth.
If he does not, all bets will be off for a new president will be favored but if he survives, as the life expectancy insurance tables justify for active men, odds will enormously favor his not running or having great influence to pass the baton to his successor. In fact, McCain has said for the record that he will govern without concern for reelectiona sure tip-off that he means to accomplish much in four years with James K. Polk as his model.
Since Republicans inevitably choose presidential candidates by the seniority system (its your turn now as was used with Ronald Reagan in 1980, George H. W. Bush in 1988, Bob Dole in 1996, George W. Bush in 2000 and now McCain in 2008, its a lead pipe cinch that McCains vice president would get the nod in 2012. The urge for change would be so strong by then that it would be easy for Hillary to beat that personand Bill Clinton knows it.
The irrepressible self-interest of all three Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and John McCain and the Machiavellian nature of the political game they play is to suppose that they will form a triumvirate. It will obviously not be a formal one but each members vital concern depends on the interaction of the triumvirate. It is all but certain there will be a facilitator, someone trusted by all. In past experiences, the facilitator does not come from outside but is one of the three. And of course the one all can trust is the man who by his very presence certifies he has much to gain by its success in the future: Bill Clinton.
Why would Bill Clinton be so duplicitous to the triumvirate and himself and his wife whom he sorely wants to be president so as to justify himself mislead them and cause the election of Barack Obama? What do the Clintons have to gain with an Obama presidency?
Why should George W. Bush whose father has become almost preternaturally close to Bill Clinton not trust him in these negotiations given that Clinton and his wife have so much to gain with the election of John McCain?
Why should not McCain trust Bill Clinton when the clearest reasoning shows that everyone in the triumvirate agrees there must be a McCain presidency in 2008 with everything to happen later postponed and off the table? Obvious.
Since the indissoluble rational for a triumvirate exists, we turn to process.
What would be the nature of the bargaining? First, it would have to involve national security policy, obviously. No domestic policy would be worth the candle.
Second, it would have to involve the risk of war with the nation going to the polls at a very dangerous time. Look back to the frozen attention the nation has always had when war threatens which it decides re quires no changein 1864, 1916, 1940. Nineteen sixty-eight when two non-incumbents were running, Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey, favored Nixon. It was accomplished by a triumvirate of which I have some personal knowledge: John Mitchell, Anna Chennault and Thomas Corcoran, an FDR Democrat. In the triumvirate Chennault, wealthy and powerful a Chinese supporter of Taiwan and firm anti-communist, widow of Gen. Claire Chennault of Flying Tigers fame, convinced South Vietnam that its interest lie in boycotting the LBJ-sponsored peace conference between the North, the South and the Viet Cong, she assuring the South that it was in its interest to avoid the conference and await the possible election of Nixon.
The South torpedoed the conference, the peace effort failed and the nation went to the polls with the Vietnam war dragging on interminably.
Nixon was elected by a tiny margin43.4%, Humphrey, 42.7% and George Wallace, 13.5%.
How could the triumvirate work? This next time.