October 16, 2005

From the overheated brain of Dick Morris: "Condi vs Hillary."

The Guardian has a long excerpt. A taste:
Hillary Clinton does not want any other woman to take what she regards as her just place in history. Yet, ironically, it is Hillary's candidacy that makes Condi's necessary and, therefore, likely. The first woman nominated by the Democrats can only be defeated by the first woman nominated by the Republicans....

Can Rice be nominated? The vacuum in the Republican 2008 field makes it quite possible that she can.There is no heir apparent. Dick Cheney's health isn't strong enough, and nobody else from the cabinet stands out. Rudy Giuliani and John McCain are the early front-runners, gathering together more than four out of every five decided votes in the polls. But Rudy is too liberal to win the nomination. And McCain showed his limited appeal to GOP primary voters in 2000, when he won the votes of Independents but lost the vast majority of registered Republicans to Bush.

As meritorious as these two men are, they aren't going to win the Republican nomination. Their likely demise will leave an enormous vacuum. There will be a search for a real candidate, someone of stature, someone charismatic who can beat Hillary. And the party faithful will turn to Condi Rice.

Morris's gimmick is to speak with certainty about the future. He already knows it will be Clinton against Rice. Why doesn't he just tell us who's going to win too? It would be interesting to know.


Robert said...

Well, I don't think much of Morris as a prognosticator, but his analysis seems pretty accurate. Neither Giuliani nor McCain can get the nomination. They both appeal very widely to a large set of people who have no voice in the primaries :)

EddieP said...

Morris is, to quote an old line, "often wrong but never in doubt". He's an entertaining figure, so take it for what it's worth. It's fun to speculate about what might happen three years from now.

Steve Donohue said...

Someone has to win the GOP nomination. It's easy to talk about how no one is the ideal candidate, but that's just something that they're going to have to live with.

Morris's analysis reminds me of a conversation I had recently with a friend about this football season. The friend proceeded to explain to me how just about every team expected to contend this year "sucks", even the teams that are doing well. Someone has to win, don't they? It doesn't matter that they have some imperfections. And right now a Guiliani or McCain nomination seems a lot more plausible than a Rice nomination.

But then again, if he came out and said that, he wouldn't have an article, now would he?

Gerry said...

I wish he'd tell us too. My schtickt is to hear what Morris says will happen, then predict the opposite.

Sadly, this means that he gets rich while I get to be right more often.

me said...

Morris had talent until he went down in his hookergate episode...

Since then he has gone overboard on the Clintons, even if they deserve it...

I don't think Rice will be nominated...

I hope that people wise up and do not nominate Hilary either. Although the loaded primaries favor Hilary.

Jimmy said...

I'd vote for Condi or McCain over Hillary. But I don't think Condi will run. And McCain could easily lose the primary to one the dozen conservative Republican governors' eyeing the White House.

Steven said...

Yes, certainly, somebody has to win. And that somebody will be neither Giuliani nor McCain. Look at the current crop of Republican governors. Owens, Daniels, Romney . . .

XWL said...

Dick Morris isn't anti-Clinton he's anti-Hillary.

He has always spoken well of President Clinton politically (and chastised him for his personal pecadillos even while acknowledging his own) and Dick takes credit for pushing Bill away from the liberals and getting him to govern effectively from the right-center (from the stand point of actual legislation passed Pres. Clinton was one of the most effective CONSERVATIVE presidents ever, domestically, his horrible failures internationally are what will prevent him from high regard in posterity).

However he has had a long running feud with Hillary that dates back to the White House and he even claims to have been the recipient of verbal and physical abuse at her hands.

And Hillary is extremely vulnerable on her left flank within the Democratic party, and I wouldn't be surprised if some anti-war activist with deep pockets funds or runs against her in the primary for her Senate seat in 06.

(which could actually help her in 08 as she can differentiate herself from the fringe even more)

Charlie (Colorado) said...

Every time I hear Morris predict that Hilary will be nominated, I remember that I've nver, never ever actually seen him predict something that turned out to be correct.

PatCA said...

"However he has had a long running feud with Hillary that dates back to the White House and he even claims to have been the recipient of verbal and physical abuse at her hands."

I wondered what his deal was. He's sort of playing Salieri to her Mozart?

erp said...

Democrats need a third party to win no matter who the candidate may be. That's why this splintering of the Republican party over the Miers nomination is so dangerous.

Hecla Ma said...

I can't remember the last time Dick Morris has been right about anything.

I mean, really...I can't.

Sometimes I think he's still working for the Clintons by trying to mess with conservative heads.

Then I listen to that Liberace-esque voice for a moment and realize - nah - he's just all-ego looking for some face/microphone time.

Adam Shpeen said...

Dick Morris is very intelligent - I don't think anyone can doubt that. But I really hate hypotheticals, especially ones as unlikely as a Condi-Hillary matchup. The farther away the election is the more unrealistic Morris' analysis can be - from our vantage point right now, it appears as if any scenario is possible. Wait a year, see where things are, then a real assessment of the field can be made. I don't think McCain can be discounted as easily as Morris is discounting him. But I could be wrong. Who knows? We'll just have to be patient.


Wade_Garrett said...

During the 2000 primary campaign, the major selling point for Bush wasn't that he appealed to the conservative base, but rather that he had so many millions of dollars in his warchest and that his fund-raising and connections made him more likely to win an election than any of his competitors. The appeal to the base came only later, once Bush had the primary sewn up.

I believe that, if polls continue to show McCain and Giuliani well ahead of their more conservative challengers, then their electability will win out, I think. I think the base would rather support McCain than see a Democrat elected.

I'm a Democrat, and I for one think that either McCain or Giuliani would make a better president than all but a very small number of Democrats.

vbspurs said...

Adam wrote:

Dick Morris is very intelligent - I don't think anyone can doubt that.

Intelligent? Come on. He's savvy. Charles Krauthammer is intelligent.

But Dick Morris served his candidate back in the 90's well, before they fell out.

As everyone knows, he's the man who invented the importance of frequent polling of the public -- which has had a deathgrip in MSM's imagination ever since.

You can't move for all the polls they conduct every day, gauging public response to this that or the other.

And we all know how accurate polls are, don't we...

Terence wrote:

I believe that, if polls continue to show McCain and Giuliani well ahead of their more conservative challengers, then their electability will win out, I think. I think the base would rather support McCain than see a Democrat elected.

This "base talk" has got to end.

Not you, Terrence, I mean in general. :)

As I recently said in a post about the Republican Party, President Bush is that rarest of men -- he reunited all kinds of "bases" in his person. Even more so than Reagan did.

He's an one off candidate that way.

Apart from that, there are too many strains of Conservatives within the modern Republican Party (and some which are merely transients), for it to have just one base.

(Which of course, always has the social-conservative implication)

This might be the single worst analysis of modern politics by Democrats I know.

And by continuing this thought, they will continue to misjudge their opponents for years to come.

I am anti-Statist, free-market traditionalist, and I'd happily vote for Rudi in 2008, with his pro-Life, pro-Affirmative Action stances and all.

When I told my British friends (most centre-right) that most Repubs I know would vote for Rudi, they were aghast.

But he's not a "Christian Conservative!", they said.

It's an obsession with the religious right that has seized hold of people's minds.

P.S.: I'd vote for Condi too, and though I adore her as a person, I'm not too sold on her Presidential abilities. In that respect, Senator Clinton is more accomplished. Not that I'd ever vote for her even for dogcatcher.


vbspurs said...

Erm, that should read "centre-left".

I have few real friends who are not lefties...


Bruce Hayden said...

I did read Morris' book on Hillary, and it was both the scariest and probably the best. I do think that this is somewhat personel for him, and that he still likes her husband. Interestingly, it was a love/hate relationship between Morris and Hillary. It was she who brought him back in when the two men were stuck on their male egos (after Clinton had dumped Morris).

Morris paints Hillary as a very shrewd politician who has a couple of major personality flaws - the most notable being having a paranoia verging on Nixon's (esp. humorous given her Watergate role).

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that one reason that Morris believes that Hillary will be the Democratic nominee is that he doesn't think anyone else is ruthless enough to overcome her. Rather, she is the ruthless one, willing to do whatever it takes to get where she wants to be.

Morris points out in his book that if a Clinton scandal involved sex, it was Bill's, but if it involved money or abuse of power, it was hers. Always. Besides all the monetary scandals from before the Clintons entered the White House, it was her people who pulled all those FBI files on Republicans and who sic'ed the IRS on their political enemies. It was also she who hired the PIs to control the Bimbo Eruptions, and who apparently picked whom to give presidential pardens to as her husband was leaving office (making her brothers rich and her a Senator).

aidan maconachy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mark Daniels said...

You're right that speaking with certainty is Morris' bag. But nobody is that prescient.

My feeling is that Rice has a less than 10% chance of winning the GOP nomination and that Clinton has about a 25% chance of being the Democratic standard bearer. The first is no pol and it's difficult for a Secretary of State to win, as I've written to you about ad nauseum in the past. Clinton is too polarizing a figure, even within the Democratic Party.

Although I don't possess anything like Dick Morris' certainty, I'm guessing that in the Democratic Party, a fresh face like Mark Warner could get the nod. Things are far less clear to me in the Republican Party.

Mark Daniels

vbspurs said...

My feeling is that Rice has a less than 10% chance of winning the GOP nomination and that Clinton has about a 25% chance of being the Democratic standard bearer. The first is no pol and it's difficult for a Secretary of State to win, as I've written to you about ad nauseum in the past. Clinton is too polarizing a figure, even within the Democratic Party.

I like your commentaries, Mark. Crisp, clear, vigourous syntax.

Although I don't possess anything like Dick Morris' certainty, I'm guessing that in the Democratic Party, a fresh face like Mark Warner could get the nod. Things are far less clear to me in the Republican Party.

The Republican Party chatter outside of the popular triumverate of Rudi, McCain, Condi (or if you wish, Romney, and Jeb Bush) has a few names, but this is the one which, when I heard it, gave me pause to look it up:

Senator George Allen (R-Va)

He's a self-described Jeffersonian Republican, serious, and with a weighty Senatorial record.

My sense is that we should get used to hearing his name after 2006.


PatCA said...

I think Morris keeps writing about Hillary because he knows that the more people talk about her and speculate about her, the less chance she has of winning. Nobody can take this kind of scrutiny for four years! In the end, I think the Clintons are just over, in terms of the presidency. He was a centrist who came out of nowhere to win; I predict (I hate to sound like Morris) someone else will do the same. Fiscally conservative, strong on defense--he/she will get elected handily.

Mark Daniels said...

Thanks for your affirming words.

It would be interesting if two Virginians ended up with the nominations of their respective parties in the 2008 presidential race.

The last time I think that happened was 1920 when two Ohioans, Warren Harding and James Cox, were the Republican and Democratic nominees, respectively.

That's doubly interesting because Ohio and Virginia both claim to have had the most presidents come from their states. A new Virginian would break the tie.

In the past, Virginia was a natural breeding ground for presidents. Joseph Ellis points out that in the early years of the country's history, "Virginia contained one-fifth of the nation's total population and generated one-third of its commerce" [Founding Brothers, p.79]. Virginia was to the early United States what California is to the US of today. [California is so populace that it has 55 of the 435 seats in the US House of Representatives. Were it spun off as a separate country, it would have the sixth largest economy in the world, is to our country today.]

Virginia is not nearly so important or imposing today, of course. But because it combines both the old South and the liberal proneness of the highly government-dependent DC suburbs in the north, it's possible that it could produce nominees for both parties.


aidan maconachy said...

When it comes to Condoleezza's chances, you also I think have to weigh "the Bush factor".

She has been one of his closest confidantes and his poll numbers have been steadily eroding. She may suffer by association, because unless there is some remarkable turn around I would be amazed if Bush's numbers improve substantially before the end of his term.

That said ... I am prepared to wager a large sum that Ms Rice won't in fact run at all. So much of this may be purely hypothetical.

Victoria's right ... George Allen is a man to watch. He's only in his early fifties and has a strong track record. You can check his voting record here ...


*Sorry - can't get my hyperlink to work on this one

aidan maconachy said...

I tried that George Allan link and it doesn't work.

If you're interested ... simply search "George Allan" on Google and then go to the listing entitled "George Allan:on the Issues" and you will find his voting record in there.

Jonathan said...

Morris is at his best when he is analyzing tactical politics. However, he has a tin ear for ideology, which means that he misses some of the bigger context of US current events, and his predictions tend to be more dramatic than accurate.

Making predictions three years out from a presidential election is a fool's game. Most of what any individual is now predicting is bound to be way off. The best publicly available predictions are probably the ones generated by bookmakers such as Intrade.

I would certainly vote for Condi over Hillary, but Condi may be a weak candidate. She has never stood for elective office, and we don't know her positions on more than a few issues. I agree that Allen looks like one of the better Republican options, but it's much too early to tell. It will be interesting to see if any attractive new Democrats come out of the woodwork between now and 2008. The Party's fundraising structure makes such an outcome less likely than it should be.

Hamsun56 said...

Here's a joker event that could plausibly occur and reshape the race. Cheney, for health reasons, retires as VP midterm. Bush then gets to appoint a VP to continue his legacy. That could very well be Condi.

Eli Blake said...


If you went by who was SUPPOSED to win the nomination two years out, then the Democrats would have nominated Lyndon Johnson (for his second term) in 1968, Hubert Humphrey in 1972, George Wallace in 1976, Gary Hart in 1988, no one in 1992 (that was back when Bush Sr. had a 90% approval rating and everyone figured he had it in the bag), and Al Gore in 2004. The Republicans would have nominated Nelson Rockefeller in 1968, John Conally in 1980, and Bob Dole in 1988.

Personally, as a Democratic activist, I don't see Hillary winning the nomination. There are a lot of other good candidates out there, and Hillary's record in the Senate has bent too far toward the right.

Myself, I have followed Bill Richardson for over twenty years (when he was my congressman) and I think he wins for a number of reasons:

1) the initiatives he has been able to put forward as Governor of New Mexico, such as increasing funding for at risk kids, and when he shamed the Bush administration into paying for life insurance for our troops in Iraq by paying $250,000 to the families of members of the New Mexico national guard who died while on duty. While other states were facing budget crises, Richardson was able to get rid of the tax on groceries AND raise spending on a number of vital programs (in fact, he got an award from the arch-conservative Cato institute for his tax cuts). Hillary, as a member of the minority party in the Senate has no such initiatives.

2) A look at the resume. Richardson has been involved with everything from being a member of Congress to energy to foreign policy prior to being a Governor. True, a resume can be a two edged sword, because it also carries with it a record, but I think that Americans are by now (and I can certainly speak to Democrats, especially primary voters) sick of the thin resumes that Bush and people like Michael Brown (and dare I say Miers) brought to the job and expect to learn 'on the job.' In a year full of angst, Richardson's experience with almost everything will be a plus.

3. The real trump card. I've listened to both of them speak and campaign. Hillary can give a decent speech when she is on, but no one would mistake her campaign style for her husband's. The charisma just isn't there. Richardson, in contrast, can fire up a room better than anyone I have seen in years (including Bill Clinton). He actually is in the Guiness book for breaking a record set by Teddy Roosevelt for shaking hands, and I can tell you from personal experience that when Bill Richardson is working a crowd, there is a degree of electricity that is very rare with politicians (and I've been in crowds with a lot of politicians).

As for Condi, she has never run for office before. Her biggest accomplishment was to push successfully for us to get into Iraq (and INTO isn't the direction most Americans think we should be going there, or for that matter should have gone there). She may be OK on TV, but she has not had to work crowds or run a day to day campaign. My guess is that if the race is between Condi and Bill Richardson, he would eat her alive.

Eli Blake said...

erp (5:59):

How are your figuring that it is the Democrats who need a third party to win? In 2000, sans Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, it is certain that Al Gore would have won both New Hampshire and Florida, and the Presidency.

Republicans like to recall the Clinton-Bush-Perot race of 1992 and the Clinton-Dole-Perot race of 1996 (although Nader again in 1996 held the difference between the Democrat and an outright majority), but when arguing your point, they conveniently skip over the 2000 race.

If you are going to make the argument, then you can't conveniently ignore a data set that runs contrary to your theory.

aidan maconachy said...

"Personally, as a Democratic activist, I don't see Hillary winning the nomination. There are a lot of other good candidates out there, and Hillary's record in the Senate has bent too far toward the right." - Eli Blake

Eli - Surely her move to the center has helped WIDEN her base of support. Considering Hitchens' statements about the rush of Democrats to the center, won't that help her cause? I even know one or two soft Republicans who say they would consider voting for her, depending on how she positions on certain key issues.

It was late last night when I posted, and I made a typo on George Allen's name. It is of course George AllEn - with an "e" :)

jult52 said...

Doesn't Bill Richardson have "lifestyle problems" of the Clintonian type? I thought it was an open secret -- and I am in no way a Washington "insider".

Eli Blake said...


It may have helped her with a few Republicans, but they don't vote in Democratic primaries. Neither do, for the most part, independent leaning Democrats. The Democratic primaries are the purview of Liberal activists, unions and party loyalists. It is these groups who are not very happy with her record in the Senate. And it has gone on long enough by now, that a lot of us have reached the conclusion (especially in light of Bill's DLC slant) that centrism isn't just something she is doing to posture herself, it is actually how she THINKS. My guess is she loses in the primary, just like Joe Lieberman did this last time around, and for the same reasons.


I hadn't heard any specifics on that, but even if it is true, you can see how much that has affected politicians from Clinton to Schwarzeneggar who sucked it up and kept going. The reason it killed Gary Hart wasn't because he had an affair, but because of the other character flaws (essentially being a flake) that the affair helped expose. People aren't looking for a saint, they are looking for a competent leader who can get the job done.

And like I said, I have been watching Richardson for twenty years and there has been no such story that has come out (and he has had plenty of enemies who would love to leak it) so my guess is that it is just rumors. But if it isn't, probably the only people who would be moved by that would be those who wouldn't vote for him anyway.

XWL said...

The desire to win in November, and the rush of southern states early during the primary season should conspire to help a moderate Democrat (of course to Dems Sen. Kerry looked moderate) and temper the activist base (but by all means, Dems go ahead and listen to the Eli Blakes within your party).

I will watch with glee as open warfare breaks out between Dean's DNC and Hillary's DLC.

Someone glib, southern, and populist/centrist could steal the nomination given deep enough pockets.

(sounds like there might be a Nominee John Edwards in the future his recent skein of talk show appearances suggests that he wants to stay in the public eye for the next few years and without a Senate seat he has the luxury of not voting)

Frank_D said...

None of you mentioned the not -so - small, but growing every day, "Draft Condi" movement led by AmericansforRice.com, with Blogs for Condi holding up the Blogosphere end.

Crystal Dueker, from "AFR" is currently in Iowa, firing up the caucus for Condi.
Drafting Condi, à la Eisenhower, is possible.
See here, and here.

aidan maconachy said...

Interesting Eli - ty

aidan maconachy said...

Yes, but even a draft Condi movement has to operate within the realm of numerical possibilities. I don't think she will be able to generate the numbers she needs.

Frankly, although I am a fan of Ms Rice and think she has acquitted herself admirably in the course of her mecurial ascent, I'm far from convinced she is Presidential material.

Ann Althouse said...

Aidan: I have never been convinced that anyone is presidential material.

XWL said...

Prof. Althouse, what about Atticus Finch?

(what do you mean fictional characters as portrayed by Gregory Peck don't count)

aidan maconachy said...

Well yes Ann, it's true that it doesn't come in a package. You are correct.

To be more precise, I'm referring to a human quality that carries enormous conviction. Roosevelt had gravitas and a sense of "calling" if you will; the man-of-destiny aura.

Kennedy had a special photogenic magic about him that was almost classical and he was great in repose - magisterial yet casual, calm yet authoritative. He drew people and the camera to him.

Despite all of Clinton's back-scene shenanigans, he also brought tremendous personal charisma and self-belief to bear in all of his dealings with public, press and foreign dignatories.

Now I don't think G.W. has this type of grand aura at all. He has something different; a certain down-home conviviality and charm, matter-of-fact qualities. He also a dad who was President and so the grand tradition comes ready wrapped as it were. He is fortunate enough to have a wife with her own special brand of charisma, and two glamorous daughters. In G.W.'s case the sheen is less his, than acquired via association with women like Condoleezza and other White House staffers.

With the intense media scrutiny these days, the successful candidate next time around will have to be able to impress on a variety of levels. Getting the nod from your own partisans is one thing ... generating a surge of national enthusiasm is quite another.

My sense is that after this long period of polarization, the greater American public will be looking for a uniter; someone who can project an aura of unity; someone moreover without baggage, capable of signaling a fresh direction and renewal (national healing?).

Never has America faced stakes as high as those it will be facing in the next decade. The next President will have to be someone capable of rising to this challenge in a grand fashion. A truly inspirational figure.

History and destiny is calling for this. It's going to be fascinating to see how it plays out.

whit said...

Agreed: Both Hillary and Giuliani will be too centrist.

re: Richardson. He was involved in Clinton Whitehouse scandal. May have been financial and Indian Affairs relted. This could make him too vulnerable.
re: Dick Morris and the Clintons. Remember that old song, (paraphrasing "He's got a ticket to ride and he don't care."

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that a couple of posters have good ideas above about Morris. On the one hand, one thing he does know a lot about is Hillary. A lot more than most of those writing about her, so might as well make some money on it, esp. as there appears to be no love lost between the two of them.

Secondly, he may also figure that if the spotlight stays on her and her failings, that it reduces her chances at the nomination (and presidency).

But I am not sure if that later will work. The reason that she didn't run in 2004 (IMHO) is that the public was still too aware of these failings. She was in the middle of a make-over, and eight years is much better than four for the public to just figure that all that stuff is old, old, news.

Indeed, by 2008, a lot of her transgressions would be in the 15-30 year range, with the most recent at 8 years - almost a decade. That is a long time for people to stay fired up against her.

But what does appear to be happening is that that she thought that she had a pass with the liberals. They knew that she was one of them, so she could move to the center, on, for example, Iraq, and retain their allegance. But most recently, this looks like it is no longer working, as evidenced by some of the posters above.