By Lucky Cambridge
Even before he entered the race, the Fourth Estate and the faithful swooned. As events unfolded he commented on the prospects of running. At first, the most he would say was that he was “leaving the door open.” He also clearly laid out his intention: if he ran, he wasn’t interested in a “second position.”
In an instant, support groups led by sycophant leaders established grassroots draft campaigns for the guy who, in their opinion, could save the day.
As time moved forward newspapers reported the trials and tribulations of financing a campaign in the face of potential opponents and their surrogate forces that, funded to the teeth and out for blood, would be arrayed against him. He continued to hedge at an outright announcement saying, in that dulcet tone we have all become so familiar with, he had no desire in simply holding the title or office.
Early polls showing him at or near the top were touted far and wide. Article upon article was written detailing the delight and destiny that enveloped him. Finally—amid speculation gone wild—he announced that, yes, the Savior of All Things Sane, would run.
Angus King for Senate?
Nope. Fred Thompson for President.
Of course, we know the rest of the story. Thompson announced his intentions to run for President of the United States in September of 2007. Immediately embarking on a victory tour of five early primary states, the erstwhile actor and former senator from Tennessee became the darling of the media and the undeclared instant winner of the 2008 nomination.
So confident and self-assured was Thompson that he skipped a debate or two. Perhaps he took to heart the glowing articles making their way around the print media or, quite possibly, he listened a little too long to what amounted to a Thompson love-fest on talk radio.
Early on the candidate recoiled at the suggestion he take a position on the political hot button issues of the day. How dare anyone question the forgone conclusion of his Saviorness? He was, after all, pre-ordained.
But then things began to change; maybe it was the hubris that replaced hard work; or, as voters began to feel violated at the notion of a media-anointed outcome, this knight in shining armor began to slip from his once-steady steed. Whatever the reason, the certainty of a Thompson coronation quickly began to wear thin.
Within weeks, the once sure bet of a Thompson triumph whimpered to an after-thought withdrawal from the race. At the end of the day—his best day—was the day before announcement day.
And it could happen here.
Literally before the ink dried on Senator Snowe’s press release announcing she would not seek a fourth term, Angus King shot to the head of nearly everyone’s list. Yes, he had—and still has—favorability ratings only surpassed by the rare air of Snowe and Collins; yes, he had presided over a period in time when Maine (and the rest of the country) saw nearly unprecedented economic growth with boo-coo revenues to the state treasury spurred on by the dot com bubble; and, yes, much like Fred Thompson, he looks like the Savior.
And like Thompson, King has already begun to show hubris. When asked if he would caucus with Democrats or Republicans, King refused to answer. Even when he announced his endorsement of President Obama in the upcoming election, King had to remind the great unwashed he had also endorsed Dubya in 2000 (he forgets to tell the folks he went on to pillory the President when the winds of change blew cold for 43). He even lays a little down home lingo on us with “I calls ’em as I sees ’em.”
One can almost hear him asking if he can get him a huntin’ license here.
King defines himself as the prettiest one at the prom. He has staked out one strong position; he’ll quit if it looks like he can’t win. Bill Nemitz thinks King will take the high road; from King’s own mouth one could imagine him taking the first exit on that journey if that road gets bumpy.
We’re talking about the Unites States Senate here. Each state only gets two—it is said to be the most exclusive club on the face of the planet—and this guy can’t even commit to hanging in there until November, much less toughing it out for six long years.
Sounds a little like Fred Thompson, who thought that entering debates or little things like primary contests was, well, just a bit beneath him.
And like Thompson in 2007, King is the sweetheart of the print media. Since he announced, no fewer than 11 articles have led with King’s name in the headline over at the Maine Today Media webpage. In late 2007 Thompson was King with political reporters. Question is, will King remain King with the Maine media or will Angus’s shining armor begin to weigh heavy under the scrutiny of an inquiring press and an expectant electorate?
Will the press ask the hard questions or can the voters expect the coronation to continue on until November? We’ve all heard ad nauseam how popular a politician Angus is. Serving in the U.S. Senate is much different than being the Governor of the Pine Tree State. Candidates will need to flesh out where they are on important issues.
Some things even Angus can’t charm himself around.
Where is King on ObamaCare? Will he support letting the Bush tax cuts expire? Will he let Car Test reemerge? What Senate committee does he wish to serve on and how will that decision help Mainers? Is Brownie Carson still on his speed dial? Ginger or Mary Ann? Reid or McConnell?
Will anyone dare ask for an explanation as to why—amidst an economic boom made robust by the ending of the Cold War—King left Maine’s fiscal coffers in collapse? Why no East/West highway? (If Brownie still has his cell, a redundant question for sure). Or will the patronizing press laud his leadership, citing King’s arduous decision in choosing Microsoft over Macintosh?
Inquiring minds want to know.
Fred Thompson fizzled fast under only moderate scrutiny; now he collects royalties for “Law and Order” while he shills for reverse mortgages. Hell, every time I turn on the movie channel he’s still hunting for Red October.
Like Thompson, King looks great on paper. Lurking just beneath the veneer, however, is the real Angus; a guy who caught the wave at its apex in the 1990s and, just before the tide went out, made good his get-a-way.
Angus should answer some questions. And so should the reader:
Will you buy the hype?
Lucky Cambridge lives in Southern Maine and writes about politics. As the weather warms however, his thoughts turn to the first hatch.