Rochester’s Mayoral Race: Why do Strong Personality Types Make Us Crazy?

There are two major parties in Rochester: the Democrats and the Republicans. No other party has won a mayor’s race here that I know of. At least, not in my lifetime. And really, its just the Democratic Party if we’re being honest. Republicans don’t seem to have run very good candidates and they’ve failed pretty miserably.

So, when into the confusion left in the wake of Mayor Duffy walks former Mayor Johnson, the outcome should be simple: split the party, even if he gets the nomination, and the Republican wins. Hell, there might even be a shot for an entirely different party to win. But that’s probably not going to happen: with Mayor Johnson’s strong personality and connection to his constituency, he’s very likely going to win.

And that just makes me wonder about personality types in politics in general, how they affect the voters and how they affect the opposition parties. And by “strong personality,” I don’t mean “good candidate” or “good at the job given,” though we can fairly say Mayor Johnson was both of those. I mean that whether we’re talking about Bush vs. Clinton, Bush vs. Gore, Bush vs. Kerry, Lazio vs. Spitzer or I am sure many other examples, it seems like not only does the electorate respond favorably to a personality that leaves them with a strong opinion – even a negative one – but the opposition party always seems to react to that personality, ending up with sort of a Bizzaro Candidate that leaves the voters flat.

In the case of the opposition party, I think maybe they feel the need to run a candidate who answers the questions Type A Candidate raises. If Type A spends too much, Candidate B talks about fiscal responsibility. If Type A has rough sex with hookers, Candidate B has to raise a moral flag. That is, of course, in reference to Spitzer, who didn’t run for reelection. But the Republican candidate Paladino was I think more of a response to Spitzer than to Patterson.

What about the electorate? Political parties make decisions based on political tactics, even if they’re losing ones. But what drives us to vote for someone we distrust over someone who, I presume, seems a little flat? Bill Clinton’s sexual appetite was already pretty established by 1992 and we didn’t care. It was still an issue – though the Lewinsky thing hadn’t broken yet – in 1996 and we still didn’t care. His poll numbers remained relatively high even after the scandal, while his personal approval rating dipped.

I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts on this. Is it just calculation? Was it really just the economy (“stupid”) that buoyed Clinton, or something else?


Another Second-Tier Foreign Policy Goal

Middle East peace is always the last item on the agenda of our presidents. It’s one of those “legacy builders,” where they get to say, “. . . and he worked tirelessly at the end of his second term in the hopes of building a lasting peace in the Middle East.” Bill Clinton did this. George Bush is doing this. The next president, if he’s lucky to serve two terms, will also doubtless do this.

And now it looks as though we can add yet another foreign policy goal to the list: settling the Somali problem. First, it was Blackhawk Down. Now with this president, he just lobs a bunch of bombs at the problem:

BBC NEWS | Africa | Air raid kills Somali militants

A US military spokesman told the BBC that it had attacked what he
called a known al-Qaeda target in Somalia, but refused to give further

Al-Shabab, considered a terrorist group by the US, is the
military wing of the Somali Sharia courts movement, the Union of
Islamic Courts (UIC), until Ethiopian troops ousted them in 2006.

The group has since regrouped and is in effect in control of large parts of central and southern Somalia.


Bill, dude. STFU

When this is all said and done, Bill Clinton will go down in history as the man who absolutely ruined his wife’s campaign. Not that she didn’t do a fair job of it; not that her advisers haven’t done a fair job of it; not that she deserved it. But he’ll go down as the man who could have single-handedly won her the presidency and didn’t, simply because his old ego won’t allow him to not spar directly with the press:

Crooks and Liars » Bill Clinton accuses the Obama campaign of playing the race card

Bill Clinton is still upset about what happened during the South Carolina primary. The victimization used in this campaign has been tiring. From the WHYY blog

Unfortunately, scarce does not include the original video of Bill Clinton’s remarks in South Carolina, so here’s that clip for the full context. Note that in every case, it is unquestionable that his insistence on going round and round with the media – rising to the “bait” of the South Carolina dude, arguing with the WHYY chick, pretending to be disinterested in the last dude – is what gets him into trouble every stinkin’ time. Don’t tell me you can’t see the “oh, shit,” in his eyes on the Jesse Jackson comment. Don’t tell me you can’t see him backtracking. It’s all right there, the stupid clod.

Bill, shut the fuck up, already.


Bill, Bill, Bill

What can I say?  Today is just not a good day for the Clintons.  Bill says, “If you elect me, I’ll reform the energy bill!”

It’s spankin’ time at El Rancho Clintono.


We Presume this Was Done With a Straight Face?

Hillary Clinton – from whose camp the “shuck and jive” comment originated, whose camp brought up Obama’s childhood drug dalliances (at least twice), who has had to fire at least four people for sleazy tactics like planting questioners and hitting below the belt, whose husband called Obama’s candidacy a “fairy tale,” whose husband said an Obama presidency would be a “roll of the dice,” and who has insisted on misconstruing Obama’s comments on Reagan for political benefit, and the list goes on – claims that (poor Hillary!) she needs to respond to the attacks the Obama camp has made.

Um.  Ok.

Clinton says she must counterattack – Yahoo! News

“I took a lot of incoming fire for many, many months and I was happy to absorb it because obviously, you know, I felt that was part of my responsibility. But toward the end of a campaign you have to set the record straight,” the New York senator said.


In Praise of Ronald Reagan

Gracing a dead man with any kind of praise or speaking of him in any positive light – however oblique – is clearly the work of a Rightie.  Just look at all the praise Republicans have for Jesus.  Thus it should surprise none to note that, of all the Democrats who stand thus accused, the Clintons did it more.  This and more at’s wrapup of the Democratic primary in South Carolina.


Presidential Politics

Does it seem at all unethical to anyone else that Bill Clinton is campaigning for Hillary?  Is there some precedent of former presidents actively involved in the candidacies of new ones?  Not endorsement, active campaigning.