I’ve been trying to hold off commenting that much on the 2008 presidential campaign, considering how ridicuously early it seems for the wall-to-wall coverage it’s been getting already. Bill Clinton announced his candidacy on October 3, 1991. George W. Bush announced his candidacy on June 12, 1999. Now we’re seeing announcements in January and February, a full year before the primaries begin.
Having the process start earlier every time around is a negative development for our democracy, I fear. We end up getting more horse race coverage in the media and less of substance can happen in government when half the senate is busy raising money. But considering I don’t exactly have the platform to initiate an overhaul of the American electoral system on my own here, I am going to go ahead and discuss the race now, despite my misgivings, because it is taking shape. Hence the inauguration of my “2008” category for the blog.
Early timing aside, I can’t say I blame the various candidates for getting as much publicity out of their respective entrances into the 2008 presidential race as possible. I do wonder why some of the non-announcement announcements generate so much media attention though–is there no other news to cover? Someone wake me when these people make an official decision. Of late all the expected entrants have said they’re running with the exception of Kerry, so it’s not like there’s really much suspense.
Sewell Chan’s NYT piece on Giuliani betrays a touch of frustration with being strung along by the former mayor’s refusal to say he’s running once and for all.
Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, took two steps closer to a presidential run on Monday, and yet stopped short, once again, of unequivocally throwing himself in the ring.
Aides to Mr. Giuliani yesterday dismissed the notion that he was equivocating. “The response across the country has been extremely encouraging, and Rudy has made clear he is moving toward making an official announcement,” said Katie Levinson, a spokeswoman for Mr. Giuliani’s not-yet-official campaign.
The article notes rumors that he may actually decide not to run, but that’s hard to see as credible when people are saying he’s the Republican front-runner.
This isn’t a Republicans-only phenomenon either. John Kerry memorably restarted his 2004 campaign with another “announcement” of his candidacy in a speech from South Carolina in September 2003, after months of heavy campaigning. Barack Obama is playing the same game as Giuliani right now, as the NYT noted yesterday in a fashion similar to today’s Giuliani coverage.
It’s a frequent conundrum of presidential politics: hopefuls who insist on being coy about their plans to officially announce their candidacies, even when it’s perfectly obvious that they will do so.
The latest example comes from Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who — unless he is pulling one of the great feints in recent American politics — will announce at a rally in his home state’s capital of Springfield, scheduled for 2 p.m. central time Saturday, that he’s definitely joining the crowded field for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
Be sure to tune in to C-SPAN Saturday for the outcome of this cliffhanger. Once that’s over, Obama and the others will face the challenge of manufacturing more non-events to keep themselves in the news for another year until someone actually votes.