Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Eight Paths to the Presidential Nomination

Eight Paths to the Presidential Nomination
By Jerome Grossman

1) Control the party apparatus. This virtually guarantees nomination to incumbent presidents or to candidates like Walter Mondale, whose supporters were in key positions in 1984 to help him repel Gary Hart’s challenge.
2) Gain the allegiance of a personal national constituency. Building up such cadres over the years was the key to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s success in 1932 and Ronald Reagan’s in 1980.
3) Ride the crest of an overwhelming issue. The Vietnam War dominated national consciousness when George McGovern won nomination in 1972 by adopting a peace platform.
4) Engage in a permanent campaign. This requires lots of free time and plenty of early money. John F. Kennedy waged a perpetual campaign from 1956 to1960, as did Jimmy Carter between 1974 and 1976.
5) Run as a national hero. Hero credentials propelled Dwight Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt, Ulysses S. Grant, William Henry Harrison, and George Washington to the presidency. Do we have any national heroes?
6) Win Americans’ hearts with charismatic oratory. In U.S. political life, politics and entertainment have always been intertwined. Fiery orator William Jennings Bryan was a three-time nominee. Everyone acknowledges Ronald Reagan’s communications skills.
7) Become indispensable to party victory by representing a key region or constituency. Ticket balancing caters to regionalism and the craving for victory at any ideological price. Lyndon Johnson was supposed to bring the South and Southwest to Kennedy as John Nance Garner did for Roosevelt in 1932. In 1980 Reagan asked George Bush to be his running mate to satisfy moderate Republicans, then still a force in the party.
8) Be struck by lightning. Occasionally it happens. Wendell Willkie came out of nowhere in 1940, as did Gary Hart in 1984. The media are usually the lightning, striking the candidate whom they think is salable, who represents the American ideal. This typically means a man who is tall, handsome, of athletic appearance, not too old, with a full head of hair. Lightning doesn’t strike just anyone.

It’s important to keep in mind that there are two presidential contests – for the nomination and for the election. Each has a different electorate. For the nomination, party activists and issue-oriented ideologues tend to dominate. For the general election, personality is much more important.
People run for president for all sorts of reasons – to achieve national visibility, to be considered for vice president, to prepare for the next national election, to become a celebrity, etc. One recent candidate even ran to forestall federal indictment. A potential candidate who is only interested in winning ought to engage in self-examination to see if he or she qualifies for a trip down one of the historic eight paths to glory.

Monday, May 14, 2007

U.S. Threat Helped Inspire North Korean Nuclear Urge

U.S. Threat Helped Inspire North Korean Nuclear Urge
In his May 7 editorial-page commentary "Blame America First," Stephen Rademaker writes that North Korea's "pursuit of nuclear weapons appears to stem from Kim Jong Il's hunger for prestige and power. He claims that their reasons have nothing to do with Washington's nuclear policy, but in fact they do, and the roots go back more than 50 years. During the Korean War (1950-1953) the U.S. threatened several times to use nuclear weapons against the North. After the armistice, U.S. military forces remained and in 1958 began deploying many types of nuclear weapons to its army and air forces bases in South Korea. The U.S. nuclear arsenal in South Korea reached a peak of almost 1,000 warheads in 1967. Additional warheads were never far away on aircraft carrier battle groups patrolling the North Pacific. The number dropped to about 150 in the mid-1980s and in the fall of 1991 President George H.W. Bush ordered the removal of all of the remaining weapons.
The fact that North Korea was threatened with nuclear weapons during the Korean War, and that for decades afterwards U.S. weapons were deployed in the South with war plans to use them may have had something to do with why Kim Il Sung launched a nuclear weapons program of his own. With Soviet, Chinese and Pakistani help they eventually built the bomb.
As for the U.S. commitment to Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the latest plans out of the Bush administration call for keeping thousands of nuclear warheads for decades to come. While the U.S. does not deserve all the blame for eroding the NPT, it does deserve some and should be doing more to strengthen it. Some concrete steps were outlined by Messrs. Shultz, Perry, Kissinger, and Nunn in these pages on Jan. 4.
Robert S. Norris, Ph.D.Senior Research AssociateNatural Resources Defense CouncilWashington
Excerpted from Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2007- Letters to the editor


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