The economy may be drifting into recession, but at least one profession is experiencing an unparalleled boom: political consulting!
If you have even the slightest expertise in politics, or economics, or polling, or direct mail or Internet marketing, this is your time in the sun.
No more Ramen noodles and Pabst Blue Ribbon for you. Nope, from now on it’s Sonoma Cutrer and Maine lobster!
In the past, political junkies were lucky if there were half a dozen reasonably credible presidential candidates at this point in the election cycle — pretty slim pickings at best.
But now, there are no less than 16 at least somewhat credible candidates scampering around, looking forlornly for votes. And best of all, they’ve all raised enough money to pay armies of consultants, aides, advisers, hangers-on and old-fashioned freeloaders.
I suspect that most Americans haven’t paid much attention to this particular traveling circus.
But in the interest of helping to create an informed public, here are some verbatim statements from the Web sites of all 16 candidates.
Read ’em and weep.
Joe Biden: Last night at a house party in Ames, IA, Sen. Joe Biden received the endorsement of Iowa State Senator Herman C. Quirmbach. Senator Quirmbach becomes the twelfth Iowa State Legislator to endorse Senator Biden.
Rudy Giuliani: I will end illegal immigration, secure our borders and identify every non-citizen in our nation.
Hillary Clinton: Tell your friends and family about the 10 best reasons to support Hillary Clinton for president. Fill out the form below to send them the 10 reasons.
Mike Huckabee: Mike Huckabee addressed almost 300 supporters at Browns Lobster Pound at a Chowderfest co-hosted by the Hampton and Seabrook Town GOP committees — it was the largest crowd for a political event since a Barbara Bush visit!
Christopher Dodd: If we can get the immunity provision stripped there, it will have to be offered as an amendment to the overall FISA bill where it will be a lot easier to get 41 votes against retroactive immunity than 41 to sustain my filibuster …
Duncan Hunter: Do you agree with Congressman Hunter’s commitment to complete the border fence between the U.S. and Mexico within 6 months?
John Edwards: All across this country, tens of thousands of Americans are joining John Edwards in fighting for One America. That’s why we’re building a “mosaic” of faces from around America. We hope you will add your face to this mosaic of real and regular Americans who are asking John Edwards to end the D.C. money game.
John McCain: John McCain believes that a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” must remain ever faithful to that noble charge.
Mike Gravel: The most important thing you can do for my campaign is join me by entering your e-mail now. The second is donate what you can. I will e-mail you with more information on me and the campaign weekly. Thank you.
Ron Paul: So called free trade deals and world governmental organizations like the International Criminal Court (ICC), NAFTA, GATT, WTO and CAFTA are a threat to our independence as a nation.
Dennis Kucinich: Dennis Kucinich will end America’s participation in NAFTA and the WTO. Huge, multi-national corporations ship American jobs overseas, turn a blind eye to human rights abuses and hide behind their lobbyists in Washington.
Barack Obama: So there are some things that are worth fighting for. And if people disagree and we can’t persuade them, then we’ve just got to beat them — and that’s what we got to do in the next election.
Tom Tancredo: With decisions on abortion, gay rights, religion, sexual mores and illegal immigration, activist judges have ripped democracy from the hands of the people on the issues they most want their voices heard.
Bill Richardson: Earlier this year Governor Richardson called the New Mexico Legislature back into a special session to address this important issue (domestic partnerships). Unfortunately, it lost by one vote in the regular session.
Fred Thompson: Anyone who has heard me speak knows my firm commitment to what I call “First Principles.” These grow out of the documents of our Nation’s founding and the wisdom of the ages.
So there you have it — the aggregated work product of thousands of political worker bees, each trying to burnish the image of their candidate/employer as she/he grasps for the gold ring.
Plodding from Web site to Web site, reading turgid statement after turgid statement, I nevertheless came up with my two favorites, the dream ticket of dream tickets, the two most articulate, most intelligent and most interesting candidates.
Based on their Web sites, I’m sending $25 to Barack Obama and Ron Paul, and encouraging them to team up for the good of the country.
Think that’s nuts?
Maybe. It’s a long shot, but if the Obama/Paul alliance becomes reality, I’d be sitting pretty. Forget all those professional political consultants — there’d be a new kingmaker in Washington, shaking down corporations for major lobbyist fees … government reform, here we come!
John Hazlehurst can be reached at John.Hazlehurst@csbj.com or 227-5861.