Politics

Open mouth, insert foot

Say what? The 2008 presidential campaign theme could be “Oops! What I meant was …”

Just about every Republican and Democrat has flubbed an answer to a question or made a borderline inappropriate comment — some so uncomfortable they make you cringe — only to take back the remarks or seek to clarify them later when under fire.

Thompson: Nothing wrong in lobbying

On the verge of joining the presidential race, Republican Fred Thompson on Friday unapologetically defended his career as a Washington lobbyist paid to influence the government on behalf of an abortion-rights group, a leftist Haitian leader and other special interests.

“Don’t confuse the lawyer with the client,” Thompson told The Associated Press.

Long on talk, short on specifics

Republicans rushing to embrace Fred Thompson’s would-be presidential candidacy might have trouble figuring out what he would do if he actually won the White House.

On most public policy issues, the former Tennessee senator and “Law & Order” actor has offered few, if any, specifics. Even on the dominant issue of the 2008 campaign — the war in Iraq — Thompson has carefully stopped short of wading into what he would do about the conflict should he inherit it, although he has generally backed President Bush.

Gonna be a long, boring campaign

I don’t know about you, but even I– who has spent much of my adult life concerned with politics at one level or another– have become utterly disenchanted in the current, almost stultifying presidential campaign despite the fact it may produce the first woman or the first black chief executive in history.

Bush’s prying eyes in the sky

The Bush administration plans to give state and local law-enforcement and other domestic agencies access to intelligence from military spy satellites and airborne sensors.

Looked at one way, the program makes a certain amount of sense. We’ve paid for this information, a limited number of federal agencies already have it in hand, so we might as well put it to good use.

The eye-in-the-sky intelligence presumably would be used in combating terrorism, smuggling and illegal immigration and tracking assorted natural disasters like floods, wildfires and hurricanes.

The myth of Mitt Romney

With his confident style and crowd-pleasing smile, Ames, Iowa, straw-poll winner Willard Mitt Romney looks like a formidable contender for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. If he’s lucky, he can leave voters so dazzled that they ignore his record.

Rather than see stars, Andrew Sum and Joseph McLaughlin of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Boston’s Northeastern University placed Romney’s rule as Massachusetts governor beneath their statistical microscope. Let’s hope what they discovered is not contagious.

Working the labor vote

Peel back the label of all the top Democratic presidential contenders, and they want you to see two words in big, bold letters: “Union made.”

The candidates weren’t soft-pedaling their support for organized labor at the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO convention in Waterloo on Wednesday.

They bragged about marching in picket lines. They each touted the labor movement as the thing that won American workers better wages, shorter work weeks, better working conditions and the like.

The Iowa free food poll

And the Iowa Republican straw poll proves exactly what? That in politics money talks? But we knew that already.

Mitt Romney, who The Washington Post reckons spent $817 per vote, won with 31.5 percent of the vote. This is something less than a mandate, considering that only 14,300 showed up despite the candidates’ blandishments of transportation, free food and live music.

But it was not the decisive, clear-cut victory Romney had been hoping for, especially considering the millions he spent leading up to this highly artificial event.

Dealing with inevitability

History keeps hope alive for former Sen. John Edwards.

He is on the campaign bus again this week, rolling down some of the same Iowa highways he has been traversing for years now.

But when a reporter brought up the aura of “inevitability” surrounding the national front-runners, Edwards leaned forward and offered a flashback to 2003.

It was around this time that summer, when he was driving down these Iowa highways still trying to get recognized, that former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean looked like the Democrat’s likely nominee.

Moving at breakneck speed

Late-night conference calls, Sundays spent in the office and a diet served in takeout bags are the hallmarks of the final weeks of a presidential primary campaign.

They’re already the norm in the early voting states of New Hampshire and Iowa — and it’s only August.

“We think it’s nonstop now?” says Mike Dennehy, Sen. John McCain’s national political director. “Once we hit Labor Day, it’s going to be blazing fast.”