Thursday, November 24, 2005

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: A GARGANTUAN EGO

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
November 24, 2005


According to national political commentator Chuck Todd, Governor Bill Richardson has a “gargantuan ego,” an “incredible ambition that borders on overdrive,” lacks a “soft side” that appeals to female voters, “carpetbagged” a Congressional seat and “bullied his way to the top of New Mexico politics.”


And, according to Todd, Richardson might be doomed in the 2008 presidential race because of a “whisper campaign” by those who say he’s not presidential material.

Still, Chuck Todd, who recently interviewed Richardson on CSPAN2, sounds like a Richardson fan.

Todd, a columnist for the Washington, D.C.-based National Journal and editor of that magazine’s political blog The Hotline, recently complained in his blog that Richardson wasn’t included in Time magazine’s recent Top Five Governors list. (Time also erred by omitting Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Todd wrote.)

And in a column last week, Todd wrote of the governor of New Mexico, “Apart from his gargantuan ego, we came away more impressed with his credentials as a major presidential candidate even while having doubts about whether 2008 will be his year.”

Todd went on to say, “If a Democratic consultant were trying to create the ideal presidential candidate, Richardson would be the model.”

He goes on to state the usual litany we’ve read a million times in national Richardson coverage: western governor blah blah blah, experience in foreign affairs blah blah blah “Latino in appearance with a gringo last name who speaks fluent Spanish” etc. etc.

Todd writes admiringly of Richardson’s ambitions: “just look at how he carpetbagged his way into New Mexico’s congressional delegation in a mere four years of taking up residency.”

But he added, “The only thing the lab would add that Richardson’s missing is a stable full of kids, military experience (he got out of Vietnam thanks to a deviated septum) and, shall we say, a svelter physique.”

Whispers and skeletons: But, Todd noted, for some reason, Richardson isn’t viewed “in the national Democratic salons that we believe still matter (particularly for fundraising),” as a top-tier Democratic candidate for 2008.

“We attribute Richardson’s struggles in the national Democratic circuit to a whisper campaign that contends he’s a bit reckless and ‘unpresidential’ (whatever that means),” Todd wrote. “This is a reputation that’s likely been earned by the fact that he’s got a coarse, or blunt, way of speaking to folks in private or semi-private situations. If you didn’t know him, you could even come away offended.”

Richardson, Todd says, "wants the presidency as badly as any candidate we've seen in a long time.”

“Candidate Richardson has some flaws, but barring some skeleton he’s failed to reveal, they are flaws he can overcome,” Todd concludes. “Dismiss his chances in 2008 at your own peril.”

This last paragraph inspired Albuquerque political blogger Joe Monahan to quip, “Thanks Chuck. Should we start the ‘Skeleton Watch?’ ”

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