'PRESIDENT BILL RICHARDSON' HAS A NICE RING TO IT
by Mark Scheinbaum
American Reporter Correspondent
Boca Raton, Fla.
BOCA RATON, Fla., Sept. 5, 2003 -- The Democratic Party could nominate New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, and go on to beat President George Bush the next time around, but that will never happen.
Allowing yours truly to unload his entire cliche cabinet, Richardson is the latest in the presidential pantheon of political losers offered to the American people by the party which actually produced winners such as FDR, JFK, LBJ, and yes, even Bill Clinton.
If devout Moslems head for Mecca, baseball junkies flock to Cooperstown, and Boca wives gravitate to The Mall, then the political world beats a path to Santa Fe, his state's capitol.
Think about it: Richardson was a wildly popular New Mexico Congressman and congressional power broker; U.S. Energy Secretary; U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (also with Cabinet rank), and special envoy/mediator to hotspots such as North and South Korea.
It's no coincidence that the network camera crews actually have to ignore their affiliates and "stringers" in Albuquerque and send real, high-paid news crews to sleepy, picturesque and historic Santa Fe, time and time again.
A blackout and crisis in electric power: Richardson interviews.
Oil prices, strategic reserves, Mideast oil: Richardson. Nuclear threats from North Korea and war talk: Get Richardson on the show tonight.
France, Germany, and Russia badmouth the U.S. at the United Nations Security Council: live tonight, an exclusive interview with Bill Richardson.
U.S. governors cut jobs, educational funding, and search for prescription and health care solutions: let's book Richardson for Sunday's show.
The boyish first-term New Mexico governor, from a Hispanic-American family, with a passion for baseball and people, has some negative political "baggage" to be sure, but when lined up against the current10 (including Gen. Wesley Clarke) members of the Democratic Rolling Vaudeville Show and Circus, he shines.
Oh, disclosure time: in print and on the airwaves, I was a relentless critic of Richardson's role in l'affaire Lewinsky. At a time of critical Mideast votes at the UN, he rushed to Washington from New York for a sudden career guidance session with a young intern who was, well, to put it kindly, well placed and well-connected. Of course, Richardson was not alone. The Clinton sleazefest saw Vice President Al Gore staring at his shoes and disappearing on a series of silent vacations, and Cabinet members--save Labor Sec. Robert Reich, who finally packed it in--who clucked their tongues, shook their heads, and did the Brooks Brothers shuffle in lock step to a White House script.
I'm prepared to put that sordid episode aside, simply because in his first year as New Mexico governor he has assembled a team of qualified professionals; delegated responsibilities to a dynamic Lt. Gov; walked a sage line between environmental, Native American "pueblo", and business interests, and taken a leadership role among groups of other state governors.
Part of the Richardson luster is his accessibility to media time, at any time, but much of his attraction is a refreshing candor which comes through on the tube, and apparently in person, according to people who have known him for many years.
Even though Charles Bronson died this week, the Democratic National Committee insists on adopting his famous film series "Death Wish" as their mantra.
Adlai Stevenson was the right guy for the wrong time. A bright guy for the wrong time. A guy thrown at the most popular WWII leader, Gen. Dwight David Eisenhower.
Former N.Y. Gov. Mario Cuomo, considered the most eloquent and moving speaker of his time, never pushed for a presidential nomination because the year was wrong or the opponents didn't seem right.
When Rhodes Scholar and former NBA star, Sen. Bill Bradley passed up three elections because the party felt the time was "wrong" it left the N.J. senator hanging around, ready to lose to a well-funded and sometimes dirty, primary season won by Al Gore.
If Howard Dean carries the Democratic banner this time around, it will focus on Iraq, militarism, body bags, Bush family oligarchy, and true humanitarian government helping the poorest among us.
It will also add Dean's name to the roll call of failure, right alongside names such as McGovern, Mondale, Bradley, Cuomo, Ferraro, Gore, Lieberman, and on and on. I almost forgot: looking for a true contrarian, a bold statement of philosophy? Let's not forget that New York Rep. Shirley Chisholm - never touched by scandal - fought in Democratic primaries as a black woman 30 years ago, long before Carol Mosley Braun, Al Sharpton, or Jesse Jackson became political forces.
If the Democrats wanted to nominate a loser who made a statement about the best America has to offer voters, Mrs. Chisholm would have been my personal choice.
I have heard zero suggestions that Bill Richardson throw his hat in the ring. I have heard no comment from him showing any interest.
Remember, you heard it first: if the subject is raised, Richardson will say "The time isn't right; I have a commitment to the people of New Mexico." In four years everyone knows it will be Hillary Rodham's turn at bat. If she loses to a Republican, the party would probably give her another shot in 2012.
By then Bill Richardson will be playing pinochle or bocci on sunny afternoons with Cuomo and Bradley.
Mark Scheinbaum, taught political science at the University of Florida and University of South Florida and spent five years as a newsman for United Press International. He is chief investment strategist for Kaplan & Co. Securities, BSE, NASD, SIPC.