Oh, sorry, that’s Condistas, the Condi Rice fan club and presidential draft supporters of the Secretary of State. Well, silly names lend themselves to parody, I suppose. But even worse than the Condinistas was this bit of “analysis” by Greg Haas, an “Ohio-based Democratic strategist,” who represents everything about the Ohio Democratic Party that seems all but certain to assure their self-inflicted defeat this year. This is the state party, remember, that drove the popular antiwar candidate Paul Hackett out of the Senate race to make way for Sherrod Brown and give Mike “Why Worry About Executive Lawbreaking?” DeWine a fighting chance at re-election. Here is Haas’ bit of “insight”:
Haas said that before Republicans would run a black woman for president, however, they will want to see how two black gubernatorial candidates – Secretary of State Ken Blackwell of Ohio and former NFL star Lynn Swann in Pennsylvania – fare against Democrats this November. And, in Maryland, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele is seeking to become the Republicans’ first black senator since Edward Brooke from Massachusetts served from 1967 to 1979.
“If Lynn Swann and Ken Blackwell would get obliterated in the election, it might raise questions about Condoleezza Rice’s viability in ’08,” Haas said. “That’s what makes them perfect stalking horses for her candidacy. If they do run strong, it’s going to say a lot about her potential for winning.”
I am not going to write one of those lame stock conservative responses where I express my shock and dismay that a Democrat has just classified someone entirely and solely by race. It doesn’t really shock or dismay me, since this is the sort of shallow approach to politics that has dictated Democratic strategy, so called, for decades. It is not irrelevant to Secretary Rice’s rise to prominence that she is a black woman, but it would be fairly irrelevant to her electoral prospects that she happens to be of the same race as Ken Blackwell and Lynn Swann, who resemble each other mainly in party affiliation and, oh yes, race and not in much else.
What does strike me as rather shocking is how bad of a political analyst you have to be to say something like this. Ken Blackwell is, so far as I can tell, a serious, principled conservative in a state party dominated by graft, corruption and the general degeneration afflicting the GOP as a whole, so I wish him well and I recognise that his electoral success will have no direct relationship to whether or not Americans would be willing to vote for Rice, were she to run (which she insists that she isn’t going to do). Blackwell has what they like to call a “record of public service” and performed, so far as I know, creditably in his role as Secretary of State of Ohio, whereas Lynn Swann has many successful years as a professional wide receiver to his credit. Where Blackwell is, I believe, conservative across the board, Swann is one of those predictable “moderates” on social issues.
All this drives home that Mr. Swann has very little in common with Mr. Blackwell and will probably lose badly to Rendell by the same measure that Blackwell may still manage to win (if he can get the albatross of epidemic GOP corruption in Ohio off of his neck). Swann seems to have the reflexive anti-Rendell vote in western Pennsylvania, and Rendell has done plenty to alienate voters, but probably not enough to cause enough people to vote for a political novice from what is nationally and statewide still the more unpopular party (Rendell may be governor, but the GOP still controls the legislature–for now). Secretary Rice, were she to run for president, would have some of the liabilities of Swann (electoral novice, social “moderate”), none of the conservative credit among primary voters that Blackwell can count on and, oh yes, a record as one of the worst National Security Advisors in history before taking over at State, where she has so far managed not to start any wars (yet).
But there is another problem with the Blackwell/Swann bellwether test: Ohio and Pennsylvania are very bad states for the GOP this year and we will probably see both candidates do worse than they would have done two or four years ago during one of the Khaki Elections. This election cycle Ohio and Pennsylvania are mine-fields for the GOP; they will be lucky to retain DeWine’s seat, and Santorum’s is almost certainly lost already. What sort of political dunce would you have to be to consider these races in these states as good indicators for the ’08 presidential election for any Republican candidate?