Every election cycle we see candidates enter the fray who know their odds of winning are about the same as the likelihood that Paris Hilton will ever complete a New York Times crossword puzzle.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Why do they get in when they know theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not going anywhere?Ã¢â‚¬Â I sometimes hear people say.
The answer is, of course, a simple one: So they can forever have the label Ã¢â‚¬Å“former presidential candidateÃ¢â‚¬Â appear under their names on any of the hundreds of news programs on which theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll subsequently appear to, ironically, serve as an expert on what it takes to win a presidential election.
Consider a few of these who have thrown their hats into ring for the 2008 nominations. ConnecticutÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Chris Dodd Ã¢â‚¬â€œ better known as the top slice of a waitress sandwich at the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ewww!Ã¢â‚¬Â deli Ã¢â‚¬â€ is polling at only 8 percent in his home state. Will he drop out? Only after having spent the requisite amount of time as a candidate so as to have it stick to his resume.
Dennis Kucinich, who is slowly becoming the heir apparent to Pat Paulson in comedic runs for the White House (countered on the right by Alan Keyes), has a better chance of having a menstrual cycle this year than of finding himself in the top tier of candidates. Kucinich has called for a Ã¢â‚¬Å“Department of PeaceÃ¢â‚¬Â to counter the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Department of Defense.Ã¢â‚¬Â In that battle, my moneyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s on the Department of Defense. Howitzer trumps Birkenstock, time after time.
As for Republicans, Duncan Hunter, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Sam Brownback, Tommy Thompson and Tom Tancredo are all polling at around 1 percent Ã¢â‚¬â€ but theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re polling 100% at the odds that theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll soon have Ã¢â‚¬Å“former presidential candidateÃ¢â‚¬Â appearing after their names.
DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get me wrong though, not every candidate enters the fray knowing they have no chance of winning simply for the resume padding. Lower tier candidates often get involved and keep the debate focused and intense, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a good thing Ã¢â‚¬â€ unless youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re Ralph Nader, at which point the debate falls asleep.
The problem for those few who enter the race on principle is that the Wizards canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have curtain-pullers around, so the major parties smack their hands and theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re soon gone, and all the top dogs go back to chasing their own tails, and ours, with empty rhetoric.
But there are plenty of politicians Ã¢â‚¬â€ probably more than we think Ã¢â‚¬â€œ who enter the fray not for their country or to engage in a battle of ideas, but to get some face time and to add the Ã¢â‚¬Å“former presidential candidateÃ¢â‚¬Â line to the top of their resumes. If the politician entered the race only for this reason, no matter how you slice it, that line translates as nothing more than Ã¢â‚¬Âloser.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Since we have such a law-happy government, how about one that says you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t use a Ã¢â‚¬Å“former presidential candidateÃ¢â‚¬Â label, or have it applied to you, unless you polled at a certain number for a certain length of time? This sounds like a job for McCain/Feingold! We might cut down on the number resume padding boneheads entering the fray simply for face time on news shows.