The Torricelli Precedent

I must grudgingly concede that even those liberal, pinko wimps over at Paul Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation occasionally propose interesting notions, such as in the latest column by William S. Lind.

Lind raises a fascinating, though extremely speculative point, namely that if the current trajectory in Iraq continues in linear fashion, political certainties may suddenly become considerably less certain.

By the time of the major party conventions this summer, the current presumptive Presidential candidate, today strong in the polls, having many tens of millions in the bank and the locked-down endorsement of pretty much every party member in the country may find it necessary to step aside, just as in the case of Lyndon Johnson in 1968.

Yes, if “Iraq” becomes a true curse word to the voters over the next few months, then Iraq-hawk John F. Kerry may simply be unelectable as President.

Who might the Democratic Party elders replace him with? That would be a deep and complex question, but one slight hint could be that under that scenario the American voters – not to mention Democratic Party activists and delegates – might be in the mood for a very loud and very angry “scream.”

The Republicans would face a different and rather more challenging quandry. Under White House pressure, pretty much every prominent elected Republican in America had already endorsed what might become known as the “Iraq Disaster,” forcing the G.O.P. to dip far, far deeper into its political talent-pool in order to locate someone untainted – perhaps some obscure State Senator or City Councilman from Wisconsin or Alaska – to lead the national ticket.

Another Republican problem is that Bush’s early success in raising hundreds of millions of dollars in funding has allowed the party to already pre-spend much of that money on Bush reelection materials, now stockpiled in warehouses just waiting to be used. Organizing tens of thousands of party volunteers to diligently cross-out the “George Bush” on each and every bumper sticker and instead write in the name “Jeff Gormley” would be a considerable embarrassment.

Fortunately, an obvious and easy Republican solution presents itself. With the “New George Bush” having failed in the political marketplace – despite a massive advertising campaign – what could be easier than to bring back the “Classic George Bush,” a man of unvarnished patriotism and heroic military service, who along with his chief advisors had not only been a strong opponent of the conquest and occupation of Iraq this time but the previous time as well, having so cogently spelled out the clear reasons with short and sure precision in his 1996 book. No need to expensively reprint buttons or direct mail pieces: “Re-Elect George Bush” is a one-size-fits-all slogan that really works.

Even more Republican dollars could be saved if Dan Quayle were drafted from retirement and added to the ticket, allowing any leftover materials from the 1992 race to be completely reused. And these days, the prospect of laying the groundwork for a potential Quayle Presidency would surely thrill Republican intellectuals, currently thirsting for brilliant thoughtfulness in the Oval Office.

Anyway, by some accounts a significant fraction of America’s generally apolitical voters had never even realized that there were actually two different George Bushes in the first place, so would be none the wiser at the quiet late substitution.

April 16, 2004