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Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Jesse versus the Big He-Part 1A-The Making of President Tsongas- Davie D takes apart my multiversal look at a Clintonless world here. I've decided to spend a bit more time looking at the dynamics of the 1992 race and its aftermath, thus a part 1A. I think 1992 it would have been a Bush-Tsongas race in the absence of Bill Clinton. Gephardt had trouble appealing outside of a labor base, and Tsongas was a bit more reliably liberal on social issues than Kerrey while both of them had neoliberal economic streaks. Next, the question becomes who Tsongas’ running mate would be, for his then-in-remission cancer killed him in 1997. One question that comes to mind is whether the extra rush of being president would have helped his immune system and helped keep the cancer in remission. If not, a feeble President Tsongas might have had to hand the reigns over to his VP in 1996. Davie D suggests Al Gore as a running mate, rerunning history. However, a pair of stiff technosavvy Senators might not have been the perfect combo. Tsongas would likely have looked to the south to offset the Massachusetts liberal label. Ann Richards might have been an interesting pick, a southern woman with some spunk to offset his dry persona and a more-traditional liberal streak to keep the natives from getting restless. However, Dukakis did the Austin-Boston thing four years before, making Richards a no-go. Sam Nunn would have been a good VP, but that ticket would have an overload of gravitas. A young Zell Miller might have been a sleeper pick, looking more like a liberal populist rather than a centrist populist a decade ago. However, having run four years before, Gore would have been a solid pick for Tsongas. How would the general election have gone? Ross Perot would have been the wild card, but would have been trumped by Tsongas on balancing the budget, taking away one of the two big guns in Perot’s holster. The Little General wouldn’t have gotten the chance to say “If your wife can’t trust you, why should I” about Tsongas. The goo-goo centrists that Perot got would have been more likely to gravitate towards Tsongas. That could actually been good for Bush, for once it became clear Perot couldn’t win and he was getting most of his traction from the paleoconservative vote, Perot would have dissolved down to a 4-5% candidate. The real 92 election was 43 Clinton-38 Bush-19 Perot. I’d posit that the Clintonless universe would have gone 49 Tsongas, 46 Bush and 5 Perot. The tax increase in 1993 would have been smaller and some incremental health insurance reform introduced, more along the lines of individual tax credits for insurance. The Republicans win back the Senate in ’94 but fail to take back the House. That shifts the politics from a center-left coalition needed to get things passed in 1993 and 1994 to a center-right coalition of Republicans and DLCers. Part 2 coming up-the 1996 primary season.

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