The missing GOP candidates, farewell to Cold War warriors, and other observations…

By Jefferson Flanders
With a tip of the hat to New York’s man-about-town columnist Jimmy Cannon, nobody asked me, but…

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER AND JEB BUSH WOULD BE LIKELY REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES TODAY, and probable frontrunners, but for two factors: the U.S. Constitution, which legally bars the California Governator from running because of his foreign birth; and Bush clan fatigue, which effectively bars the President’s younger brother and former Florida governor from pursuing the Oval Office. It would have been a different primary season with either of these “missing candidates” on the ballot.

On paper, at least, Schwarzenegger would have been formidable, especially in a general election. Consider: Schwarzenegger offers a rags-to-riches life story; he has instant national name recognition as a famous movie star; he married into America’s most prominent Democratic political family; and he is chief executive of our largest state, and, from all accounts, a leader who is mastering the art of political compromise. Not only that, Schwarzenegger’s eclectic political beliefs track fairly closely to those of many Americans: the action-hero governor espouses free market economics, environmentalism, moderate immigration policies, and libertarian views on social issues.

Sure, Schwarzenegger has his political liabilities and personal flaws—sordid behavior towards women during his Hollywood days; some ethical questions about his business ventures; possibly some lingering health issues from his heart bypass; and, reportedly, a fascination with political power for power’s sake—but none more damaging than those of, say, Rudy Giuliani.

California’s 55 Electoral College votes, which haven’t been in play for a long, long time, would have made Arnie’s bid irresistable for conservative Republicans (who might otherwise have looked askance at the former bodybuilder’s candidacy).

Speaking of Golden State electoral votes, some California Republicans are pushing a June 2008 ballot initiative that would allocate them by congressional district, rather than the current winner-take-all system. If the initiative passes (which is very unlikely), it would mean any GOP candidate could count on an additional 15-20 electoral votes, enough to guarantee a national victory.

SOME KEY FIGURES IN COLD WAR HISTORY DEPARTED THE SCENE in the last month or so. Among them: Soviet spy Alexander Feklisov, who claimed to have overseen the espionage of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg; Kremlin hawk Vladimir Kryuchkov, one of the last heads of the KGB; Victor Rabinowitz, American lawyer (and Communist Party member) whose clients included Paul Robeson and Alger Hiss; John Noble, an American who survived some nine years in Russia’s gulag; and Milo Radulovich, a casualty of McCarthyism, fired from the Air Force Reserve as a security risk, whose cause was championed by Edward R. Murrow.

WASN’T NEIL DIAMOND’S REVELATION THAT HE WAS INSPIRED by JFK’s daughter Caroline Kennedy in writing the hit song “Sweet Caroline” touching? Or am I going soft?

WILL THAT WIND FARM IN NANTUCKET SOUND EVER BE BUILT? The Cape Cod Commission recently denied a permit for local transmission lines for the project; it seeks to generate clean power through some 130 wind turbines sited six miles off the Massachusetts coast. The wind farm developer, Cape Wind Associates, began the regulatory process in 2001 and has faced stiff opposition from local NIMBY (“Not in My Backyard”) activists. Cape Wind now seeks regulatory relief from the state’s energy facilities siting board, but it looks like timely approval for this much-needed alternative to fossil fuel generation will remain a long shot.

REALCLEAR POLITICS’ BLAKE DVORAK’S TOUGH CRITIQUE OF THE CNN/YouTube debates includes this memorable line: “With the fare presented ranging from the inventive to the ridiculous, the experiment was certainly a nice reminder for why the Founders cherished individual freedom but dreaded direct democracy.”

ROSIE O’DONNELL MAY HAVE LOST A SHOT AT A TALK-SHOW ON MSNBC, but, based on her blog entry announcing that news, she may have a future as a haiku poet. Think any MSNBC executive would cop to the “Rosie Show” as his or her idea today?

KNUTE ROCKNE, Notre Dame’s legendary football coach, provides this month’s quotation (one that might resonate with the embattled current Fighting Irish coach Charlie Weis): “I’ve found that prayers work best when you have big players.”

Reprinted from Neither Red nor Blue 

Copyright © 2007 Jefferson Flanders

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