by Jonathan Singer, Mon Aug 20, 2007 at 07:13:38 AM EDT
With Mike Bloomberg reportedly ending his flirtations with a run for the Presidency (and I stress reportedly), it's apparently time for a new vanity candidate, another former Democrat, to let on that he's thinking about running for the White House this cycle. Jim Galloway has the story for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"It's a possibility, not a probability," said [former Georgia Democratic Senator Sam] Nunn, now the head of a nonprofit organization out to reduce the threat posed by nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry. "My own thinking is, it may be a time for the country to say, 'Timeout. The two-party system has served us well, historically, but it's not serving us now.'"
The 68-year-old former senator, still considered one of the foremost experts on national security, confirmed that he's discussed a presidential run as part of several conversations with Michael Bloomberg, the New York mayor.
More important, Nunn said he's been in touch with Unity '08, a group with a goal of fielding a bipartisan or independent ticket for president. Initial talks began with Hamilton Jordan, a co-founder of Unity '08 and former chief of staff to President Jimmy Carter.
From the AJC report it's not entirely clear whether Nunn, who flirted with a presidential bid back in 1992, is actually serious about trying to win a bid for the White House -- or even run one -- or to, instead, raise the profile of some of the issues important to him, first and foremost nuclear non-proliferation. Chuck Todd and the folks over at MSNBC's First Read write today about exactly that issue: "Nunn's interest raises this question: Why haven't other political has-beens expressed more interest in a possible 2008 candidacy? What better way to get back in the news to push a pet issue? In Nunn's case, the pet issue is a big one: nukes."
I don't have a terribly large problem with someone flirting with a run to increase the public's attention about a particular issue. On one hand I think it debases the system to an extent -- running for the Presidency should be about... running for the Presidency -- and having an excess of candidates who aren't really running to win doesn't exactly do much to limit cynicism about the system. That said, if a campaign isn't the place to raise issues, I don't know what venue is.
But the time really isn't now for a former Democrat to work to make it more difficult for a Democrat to win the White House next fall. The last six and a half years have unfortunately done much to dispel the notion that there is no difference between the Republican and Democratic Parties (I think few would argue we'd be in the same situation had the Supreme Court not coronated George W. Bush President and rather the process in Florida had played out with Al Gore securing his rightful position as President). What's more, though the notion of bipartisanship as exemplified by folks like Sam Nunn and Unity08 may sound laudable, as I've written at length before the bipartisanship of the 1970s and 1980s was a byproduct of the changing partisan leanings of the electorate coupled with decades-long Democratic dominance on the congressional level, two conditions we do not see today.
So while folks like Hamilton Jordan and Doug Bailey, who thrived under the system of looser partisanship in the late-1970s, might like a return to that era, and thus are pushing candidacies like that (potentially) of Sam Nunn or others under the banner of Unity08, I truly believe that it would be to the detriment of the country to forward the candidacy of someone -- particularly a former Democrat -- who could potentially make it more difficult for the Democrats to win back the Presidency and begin to right the wrong course charted for the last six and a half years by George W. Bush and the Republican Party.