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Posted by on Jan 22, 2007 in Politics | 14 comments

More on Richardson

From WaPo, here’s some of what Richardson told supporters in his announcement e-mail: “I am taking this step because we have to repair the damage that’s been done to our country over the last six years. Our reputation in the world is diminished, our economy has languished, and civility and common decency in government has perished.”

Fair enough. I don’t find anything with which to disagree there, although I’m far less concerned about the state of “civility and common decency” in Washington, the fixation of David Broder and his nostalgia-spun ilk, than I am with the actual aspects and consequences of the Bush presidency. Richardson ought to have mentioned Bush’s anti-environmentalism, extremism on social issues like abortion and stem-cell research, nominations of activist conservative judges to the federal benches and the Supreme Court, support for social security privatization, etc. But I’m sure we’ll hear more from him on these and other topics.

I have nothing against Richardson — indeed, I admire his experience, particularly with respect to foreign affairs — but I just don’t see how he can stand out in a field that includes celebrities like Clinton, Obama, and Edwards. Except that he is Hispanic, which should help, but I worry that media attention will focus on the identities of these candidates as opposed to their ideas. Edwards aside, for he is not a visible minority, we have a woman, an African-American, and a Hispanic-American. America has come a long way, to be sure, and this reflects the admirable diversity of the Democratic Party, but what should be important to Democrats is that America elect a Democrat in ’08, not, say, a Hispanic-American Democrat. It’s all about emphasis.

Still, to the extent that Richardson, popular governor of a border state, will give voice to Hispanic-Americans and to such issues as immigration, he is a welcome addition to the race. And, too, I must add, his experience in government trumps the comparatively limited experience of both the three frontrunners and of other major candidates like Wesley Clark. That means a lot.


On another note, see this post by Steve Clemons at The Washington Note. He wishes Richardson “would remain the globe-spanning international problem fixer that he has been for many years” and then asks a question that, it seems, the governor would do well to answer. Let’s just say there’s a “perceived problem in his political portfolio” that involves women.


Here’s the reaction from one of the smartest bloggers of the right, Ed Morrissey: “This should be the candidate that really worries the Republicans in 2008. Hillary sucks up most of the oxygen, and Barack Obama gets most of the headlines, and John Edwards keeps gathering the crumbs left behind. Bill Richardson has more credibility and better credentials than all three put together, and has managed to stay below the radar of the more bitter partisan fights of the last fourteen years.”

I disagree with Ed’s dismissive assessment of Edwards as a crumb-gatherer, but otherwise he’s right that Richardson has “an incredible amount of applicable experience for the Presidency”. He’s also right, I fear, that “Richardson will get as lost in the shuffle as his announcement did”.


Finally, over at The Reaction, Heraclitus mentioned Gore-Richardson. How about Edwards-Richardson?

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  • “Here’s the reaction from one of the smartest bloggers of the right, Ed Morrissey: “This should be the candidate that really worries the Republicans in 2008.”

    Uh huh. So Richardson is really the candidate thatworries the Republicans in 2008 least. Primary voters, beware!

  • Kim Ritter

    This may sound a little cynical, but unless Ricardson’s problems with women involve breaking the law, I don’t care. Many entering politics involve themselves in extramarital affairs, and it only seems to become our business when they run for the presidency. If Richardson can restore our reputation, bring decency back to Washington, and actually win the general election and not just the nomination, he might be worth the personal scandals.

  • Aine

    When Ed Morrissey has surveys that ask participants to identify how far right they see themselves he always includes a ‘I’m a Democrat troll’ option also. Well, imho, only a Republican troll would promote either Gore OR Edwards as Democratic presidential candidates! Why would you put a competent politician as second fiddle to unelectable and not conspicuously competent has-beens?

    And yes, Richardson almost certainly has something about him that will keep him from sainthood, that vexes his mother and perhaps makes him tough to live with. When are we going to accept that it is more important to have a competent politician than to have somebody whose personal life we would like to share? When are we going to grow up and stop looking for a president who will fulfill all of our daddy fantasies? Can’t we accept that it is possible to be a competent politician and a generally decent human being and still have things in us that are not admirable? I don’t know if I would support Richardson for president or not, but he shows up for work (anybody looked at Edwards record?) and manages to get things done. That’s a good enough reason to take a closer look.

  • Kevin H

    I worry that media attention will focus on the identities of these candidates as opposed to their ideas.

    We in the US are certainly a celebrity/identity obsessed culture. You might as well worry that American Idol will be the #1 show again. They are both gonna happen.

    Maybe, just maybe this could work in Richardson’s favor. Hillary already has a well established, highly liberal identity, which pushes her image away from her ideals and generates a lot of unreasonable hatred towards her. Edwards could be seen as having already lost one National Election, and America doesn’t get excited about loosers (again, quite unfairly). That leaves Richardson and Obama ahead on the image game, which are better odds than most think that Richardson has.

  • MSS

    Interesting point on the “identity” question. In Obama’s case, identity is pretty much all he has going for him. It certainly is not his experience!

    Richardson, on the other hand, has both a distinct identity and long experience (governor, congress, national executive, and foreign policy). However, he has no distinctive positions of which I am aware. And, if the commencement address he gave at our School several years ago is anything to go by, he is an absolutely terrible speaker. Maybe he has learned something in the interim. We’ll see.

  • jim b

    mss, I think you might want to go to Obamas website before claiming he has no experience. He has a law degree, has taught constitutional law, Served in the Illinois Senate for 7 yrs, and is in his first term as US Senator. So I count about 9 years in public office. A law degree he both earned and used. Our current President by comparison, was the Gov of Tx for 5 years and was a C student at Yale and pretty much failed at all the businesses he had given to him. Having someone that hasn’t been in or around politics all their adult life seems like a good thing to me right now.

    Experience is only good if you know how to use it. Picking good people to serve with you is a better quality.

    obamas site:

  • “Well, imho, only a Republican troll would promote either Gore OR Edwards as Democratic presidential candidates!”

    Wow! I’m a Republican troll! Who would have thought? 😀

  • Jason Shapiro

    Aine said “…but he shows up for work and manages to get things done.”

    In point of fact, Richardson has spent more time traveling outside of NM than any governor in recent memory. Of course, his handlers with either claim it’s “state business,” or “because of security we can’t tell you where he is or on whose private plane he flew” (sound familiar). So basically, he doesn’t always show up for work, and as far as “getting things done” I haven’t seen much. Just what exactly has he done? I don’t see NM as being appreciably better for the average New Mexican after Richardson’s first term and now that he is running for president full time, I expect to see even less get done.

    As for the “women issues,” many of you are willing to overlook them and so, just for the sake of argument, let’s assume they are all true. Clearly they do not necessarily disqualify one from public office, nor do they necessarily impinge on one’s ability to govern wisely. On the other hand, they represent a fundamental lack of respect for both the people and the offices to which this man was elected. Unlike Clinton’s “private affairs with consenting adults” Richardson’s advances are described as generally crude, unwelcome, and amazingly public. We have seen where the lack of judgment and common sense has gotten us; it seems to me that we need something better.

  • Huh. I like Gore and Edwards. I must be a double Republican troll. Take that all you TMV readers who think I’m too liberal!

  • Kim Ritter

    I also like Gore and Edwards, but am willing to keep an open mind towards Richardson and Obama, until I know more about them. Jason, did you vote for the Republican that ran against him? Do you have some agenda against Richardson? I’ve never seen him attacked so vehemently anywhere else. BTW- Didn’t he use his influence in the ME recently to rescue an imprisoned American journalist? That’s not too shabby in my book.

  • Jason Shapiro

    Kim, actually I have always voted for Democrats. I voted for Richardson in 2002 (my bad) and did not cast a vote in the 2006 gubernatorial race (I voted for democratic candidates in other state & federal races). Like I said on another posting, I think Richardson would be OK as SOS or some other similar ministerial position; I just don’t fancy him using (and misusing) executive powers. I find him akin to a snake oil salesman with no agenda other than himself (and a few cronies). His style of governance in NM is uncannily like that of Bush (OK, RIchardson is much smarter and slicker than Bush) in terms of his need for absolute control, secrecy, and complete and total subservience by underlings. I guess I’m not into authoritarian bullshit irrespective of how it’s packaged.

  • uncle joe mccarthy

    at least the dem primaries will be interesting….cant say the same for te republican candidates who are all going out of their way to court the very right of their base.

    richardson is a very good candidate…i like his chances

  • Paul Silver

    It seems to me that the way to become, and stay, an inside player in National politic is to demonstrate that you can raise large amounts of money.

    Many of the candidates for President are using that as an excuse to demonstrate their ability to mobilize donors and motivate voters. This is the way to get a ticket to the insiders club in DC. A one important criteria for the VP slot.

    In many ways money is a way to measure how persuasive and tenacious you are.

  • Jack

    I left the Republican party last year and will vote for any Democratic nominee except for Richardson. His bungling of the Los Alamos scandal and the way he blamed Wen Ho Lee for his own stupidity makes him lose my vote.

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