2008 has begun - even before 2006 has ended.

And already Hillary is in a very weak 4th place in the latest Iowa poll - and barely leading in New Hampshire.

A total newbie - Barack Obama - is ahead or tied in both states!

And John McCain is trailing Rudy Giuliani in New Hampshire, which he won in 2000.

How can this happen? And why is it happening?

Here is a theory: until the advent of the Internet, Talk Radio and cable news, a ‘news cycle’ was one 24-hour period. So, when something happened at 8 AM we saw it on the 7 PM news.

One ‘news cycle’ per day. Period.

So, if you were a politician, you hoped - prayed, actually - to get into that news cycle; it was the only way to get ‘known.’ Free coverage was - and is- the goal of all political candidates.

But with the advent of all this high-speed ‘New Media,’ there are actually 24 news cycles per day. One per hour. So if something now happens at 8 AM, it is on the news right away - and everyone knows about it within an hour or so. No longer do you have to wait until the evening news (this is the real reason the three network newscasts have declining audiences) to see the news.

How does this impact politics?

Simple: because of so many compressed news cycles, the best-known politicians - i.e. Hillary, McCain, Gore, the Bushes - are seen all the time. And thus they suffer from a new phenomenon - one that most politicians could never have thought of having: over-exposure.

Simply stated: the voters are sick and tired of the most-seen politicians.

And, conversely, the voters love the newest politicians because they are like a breath of fresh air.

Obama is new, the people aren’t sick of him (yet) and thus he zooms to the top in the polls.

The well-known and been-around-a-long time candidates such as Hillary, McCain, Gore and the Bushes have simply worn out their welcome.

Under the ‘old’ one-news-cycle-per-day system, a candidate like Richard Nixon could be a national figure in the 1940's, 1950's, 1960's and 1970's - and be on the national GOP ticket five times!

And in his last race - 1972 - he won the largest majority in American history up to that point.

So he had not been ‘over-exposed.’

But today those four decades’ worth of free publicity would be compressed into 5-10 years.

Hillary Clinton, for example, has been in the news non-stop since late 1991 when her husband announced for President. That is 15 years of constant coverage. No wonder she has such a high name ID - and such a low rating in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The people are simply tired of her - and want someone new.

The same with McCain; he’s been in the news a lot for a decade and has also worn out his welcome.

Using this ‘Short Political Shelf Life’ theory, here is an intriguing question: one year from today - a mere few weeks from the 2008 Iowa Caucuses - will Barack Obama have already worn out his welcome? Will voters already be looking for yet another ‘fresh new face’? Will all the free publicity and coverage have already made Obama ‘old news’?

Similarly, who will be the new face that GOP voters are clearly searching for? They, too, want someone new.

It is heresy in politics to even think there can be too much free publicity; candidates will die to get coverage.

But the New Media has changed all the rules. And rather than cherishing ‘experience’ and ‘knowledge,’ maybe the American electorate now wants the latest and spiffiest new product.

We will soon see.


Now it is becoming clear: President Bush postponed his pre-Christmas Iraq policy speech to the nation for one reason: he has decided to increase - or ‘surge’ - the number of American troops in Iraq and didn’t want to deliver this unpopular news to the American people during the holiday season.

OK. Sometime after New Year’s we will hear his ‘New Way Forward.’ It will include an increase of somewhere between 20,000 and 35,000 US troops.

What will then happen?

1) Many Americans will listen to the President and give him the benefit of the doubt . They will wait - a little longer - for the tide to change in Iraq.

2) A majority of Americans however will disagree with Mr. Bush - and their already-hot anger will boil over. They will see the new troop deployments as an ‘escalation’ of a war they now view as a mistake based on lies and regret ever supporting it.

3) In Washington most elected politicians do not want to run in 2008 with Iraq as the dominant issue. Bush’s troop surge will send ripples of panic through both parties. (The whole premise of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group was to figure a way to get Iraq over with before the 2008 election cycle got under way.)

4) The only pol running for office in 2008 who will be happy over the surge will be John McCain because it is his plan. But, in fact, he willalso be un-happy because he’d rather sound hawkish to the GOP base rather than risk the failure of the Bush policy - which is about to be the Bush-McCain policy. In other words, if the surge plan fails to calm Iraq down, then McCain’s White House hopes are seriously wounded.

5) The Democrats will not cut off funds for the war or the troops - out of fear of being seen as anti-soldier as they were for a generation at the end of the Vietnam War. Instead, they will run a series of the most aggressive, probing, dirt-digging investigations of an administration we have ever seen. Everything will be probed: pre-war intelligence, Haliburton, Cheney’s energy dealings, the conduct of the war itself, the failed hunt for Osama Bin Laden, the holding and treatment of ‘detainees,’ and other still un-expected things.

The power of the subpoena is what the Democrats won on November 7th. And with their anti-war base furious over Bush’s escalation Surge Plan, the Democrats will have to ‘even the playing field’ by tearing Bush and Cheney limb from limb.

6) What role will the now-in-the-minority Republicans play? Will they “go to the mattresses” to defend Bush & Company? Prediction: No, they will do little to defend this now-lame duck Bush Administration.

The remaining Republicans in the House and Senate are furious at Bush’s arrogance - and Rove’s inept 2006 strategy. They blame the handling of the Iraq War for their new-found minority status. And they are profoundly worried about 2008; their own fates are so linked to Bush and Iraq that you will see more and more of them try to separate themselves from a sinking ship.

7) How does this all impact the nominations for 2008? Well, the two present-day front-runners - McCain and Hillary - were both huge war advocates back in 2002. McCain is the leading hawk today of them all; and Hillary has not pulled an Edwards, Biden and Kerry “I wouldn’t have voted for the war if I knew then what I know now.” Yes, Hillary has critiqued the conduct of the war but not the original decision to invade a country which had not attacked us.

The rise of Obama is in great part the anti-war left of the Democrat Party - and majority of that party, in fact - searching for someone who is ‘pure’ on the war. ‘Pure’ is defined as “against the war from the beginning.”

The Left is wary of Hillary - and the more the war drags on, the more unpopular it gets. And the more they want a ‘pure’ anti-war candidate. And at the moment, their only such candidate is Obama.

The GOP nomination is equally depressing. McCain and Rudy have the name ID - but not the love of the base. Romney lately seems to be seen as a flip-flopping panderer. The GOP wants its own Obama: a new face who brings some refreshing new energy, ideas and spunk to the race.

8) All of this makes the long-predicted-in-this-space idea of an outsider - an Independent Third Candidate - all the more possible. As things sour in the country - and both parties are more and more seen as equally corrupt and complicit in so many things - Iraq, illegal immigration, out-of-control spending - and outsider riding in to fix things becomes more and more attractive.

Don’t rule it out.


Last week on KABC radio’s excellent Al Rantel Show, I questioned the apparent ‘denial’ of reality by President Bush when it comes to the situation in Iraq.

Just that morning a traveling British reporter, accompanying Prime Minister Tony Blair to the White House, had indeed asked the President if he was “in denial” about the situation in Iraq.

‘Denial’ is a character flaw we all engage in on topics sensitive to us; yes, we all do it.

I then questioned whether the President is - in the vernacular of alcoholics and recovery - what is known as a ‘dry drunk’ - one who has given up drinking (as Mr. Bush did in 1986) but has not undergone proper rehabilitation in Alcoholics Anonymous, including the famous twelve step program.

The point of AA is more than just the abstention from the alcohol; it is to change one’s overall behavior - totally. Merely stopping the drinking isn’t enough; one needs to change the ‘alcoholic behavior’ itself.

Thus, some of the behavior changes include learning to admit your past misdeeds and mistakes - and then going to those you hurt and honestly asking for their forgiveness.

GW Bush never went to AA; in fact his father cavalierly denied once that his son even had a drinking problem. Yet GW Bush was arrested in Maine for DUI back in the 1970's - and by his own admission in his autobiography his drinking was so bad that by 1986 Laura threatened to leave him if he had one more drink. To his credit, he stopped cold turkey after a drunken night at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. And he soon thereafter became a Born Again Christian and threw himself into Bible Study.

But he never addressed his ‘alcoholic behavior’ - and he never changed.

His denial and refusal ever to admit a mistake are fundamental bedrocks of his un-treated alcoholic behavior.

Do you recall the 2004 debate with John Kerry when an audience member asked the President if he could name “one mistake you have made during your presidency?” His response was shocking, “I can’t think of one right now.”

Now, with respect to Iraq, he is yet again being accused of living in denial about the deteriorating situation there. It was like pulling teeth last week for the British journalist to get the President to state, “Things are bad in Iraq.” Then the President laughed and asked, “Now, are you satisfied?”

With all the political world in an uproar over our stagnant policy in Iraq, it is only one man - GW Bush - who seems in denial about the “grave and deteriorating” situation in Iraq.

Some have tried to draw an analogy between GW Bush today and Winston Churchill in 1937; that is of course ridiculous as Churchill was out of power and was commenting on the appeasement of Hitler by the Chamberlain government. Bush is the one here who miscalculated the results of his invasion of Iraq - and systematically misled the American people as he went along.

Bush’s “State of Denial” is not confined to himself alone; it has infected the So-Called Conservatives - especially in Talk Radio and the Internet.

For example, after the KABC Rantel show, another KABC host - Larry Elder - took the tape and re-ran it on his nationally-syndicated show. He mocked Rantel and me - and our unhappiness with Bush and Karl Rove’s despicable policy happily allowing millions of illegals to swarm into our country.

Did Mr. Elder ever call me and ask me to come on his show and defend myself? No!

Of course not. Because he is part of a (dwindling) group of phony, fake conservatives who have radio shows around this country. They are frauds; they are not conservatives at all. They use conservatism as a base from which to write books (or have them written for them as these guys couldn’t write a coherent sentence if they had to) and to jack up their already-astronomical speaking fees.

These So-Called Conservatives have aided and abetted this policy of allowing 15-30 million illegals into our country. And they have ‘enabled’ a war in Iraq that is a total disaster for our country, our soldiers and our military.

These So-Called Conservatives have also misled their loyal audiences about this administration. However, when they listened to their own listeners - on Dubai Ports World, for example - these hosts were able to reverse the White House’s idiotic policy of having an Arab Government run our ports.

But on too many issues they chose to drink the Kool Aid - to insure their own access to power - such as an Oval Office invitation and picture suitable for a book jacket promotion - or a radio interview.

These So-Called Conservatives have sold out their own listeners and the conservative movement. They have ‘enabled’ the very Big Government expansion they should have decried.

What a shame that the self-delusion and denial that characterize GW Bush has now spread to so many radio hosts; their listeners deserve better.


I have not yet had the time to read the full Iraq Study Group Report - which is available later today. But as we hear about the salient points from the Executive Summary - and the ongoing press appearances throughout the day - we as Americans are learning several things:

1) The situation in Iraq is “deteriorating.” No one disagrees with this anymore. No more “Oh, you are ignoring all the good things that are happening in Iraq!” We aren’t hearing that claptrap from apologists for this war or for this Administration any longer.

2) Our political establishment - both Republican and Democrat - are equally complicit in getting our country into this mess. With 2008 looming, the Hillary Clintons and other Democrats who voted for this war are desperately trying to distance themselves from their 2002 enthusiasm for this pre-emptive invasion against a country which did not attack us.

3) The Baker- Hamilton - ISG - report is a vehicle for all of the establishment to climb aboard - with one key exception: GW Bush himself. Despite his boilerplate statements this praising the ten-member commission, the President is in total denial about what he has wrought.

4) The President’s father - when he broke down on Monday at a ceremony for his son, Jeb, the outgoing governor of Florida - was actually releasing years of pent-up emotion about his oldest son’s massive failure in Iraq. Bush 41 is no fool: he knows that his obstinate son has severely damaged America and American interests worldwide for years to come. (Not to mention the Bush brand is greatly devalued, too.) All this emotion came tumbling out. Yes, he loves his son - but he also knows what an embarrassment W has become. It repeats a life-long pattern: given everything by Mom and Dad, the oldest son repeatedly screws up - but never pays a price for these mistakes. He ‘fails up the ladder’ - all the way to the Oval Office. There he sets out to prove he is at least as competent on foreign affairs - if not better - than his Dad, a noted foreign policy expert.

5) GW Bush’s conduct of foreign policy is a diametric opposite of his father: unilateral, arrogant, bullying, cocky, ignorant - and wrong-headed.

And the result is this “grave and deteriorating” Iraq situation.

6) Or, as incoming Defense Secretary Gates admitted yesterday, “We are losing” in Iraq.

7) The Baker ISG report wants to give amnesty to the insurgent killers in Iraq. Hmmm....

8) It wants to address all Middle Eastern conflicts - including the Israel-Palestinian problem. Hmmmmm...

9) It also says that there are so “silver bullets” on Iraq. It calls for more 'training' of Iraqi troops. Puhleeeze!!! You can't train these so-called soldiers because they are two-faced, duplicitous people who take our money by day and don militia uniforms at night and rape, mutilate, torture and murder by night.

10) This report has many good ideas - but only one set of eyes and ears matter; GW Bush. And he isn’t buying it! He will persist all the way until January 20, 2009 - with virtually no changes in his Iraq plan.

11) Unless, of course, things so deteriorate on the ground in Iraq that even the president can no longer deny the disaster he - and the entire establishment - has burdened America with.


On Wednesday, the much hyped Iraq Study Group (ISG) - aka the Baker Commission - presents its recommendations to the President in the morning and then releases it to the public in the afternoon. The meat of the report has been already carefully leaked by the Leaker-In- Chief - Jim Baker himself. (Baker has been a master of the self-serving leak for 30 years.)

The truth behind this ISG report is simple: GW Bush is not going to allow one of his ‘Dad’s’ pals to ride in and ‘rescue’ him from the mess he has made in Iraq.

GW sees Baker as an agent for his father and the first Bush Foreign Policy Team (Scowcroft, Baker, Eagleburger etc.) which always opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq. President Bush and his father never talk about Iraq - and the former President has let it be known that he views his son’s Iraq Policy as a total disaster.

National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley went on Meet the Press Sunday to shoot down the Baker Report in advance. He minimalized its importance by mentioning that other reports are also due soon - from State and Defense.

Understand what it going on here: GW Bush is taking on all comers - the Democrats, the remaining Republicans after the November election debacle, the media, the American people -and most of all his father - on the signature issue of his Presidency: Iraq.

This was presaged weeks ago when h said, “We’re staying in Iraq - I am determined to do so - even if only Laura and Barney are with me.”

This “us against the world” mentality is no way to lead a country.

No wonder only 30% of the American people now support the way Mr. Bush is conducting his Iraq policy.

Prediction: Despite the entire political world wanting a major change in Iraq policy to lead to a draw down of troops, Bush isn’t going to do it. Period. He will ride it out - unless and until a cataclysmic event on the ground forces US policy to change.

2) In the week since my last piece on the murder of Aleksandr Litvinenko, the arrows are now pointing even more directly at Moscow. Radioactivity on planes that flew to and from Moscow, more people coming forward, and British intelligence tracing the Polonium 210 to a nuclear reactor in Russia all must be making President Putin squirm just a little bit.

The revelation that months earlier Putin had asked British Prime Minister Tony Blair to stop Litvinenko from speaking out is yet another nail in Putin’s ‘deniability coffin.’

He has shown his skin to be incredibly thin - and his patience short. During his presidency, 18 anti-Putin reporters have been murdered. None of these cases has been solved.

His behavior makes his guilt in this matter all the more plausible.

The British investigation appears to moving at lightning speed; look for a big break in this case this week.

Putin will try to continue to deny his involvement - but new evidence will surface this week pointing at him.

His defense - that he is being framed - seems more dubious as each day passes.


Obama-mania is an easily explained phenomenon - and it has little to do with him.

The seeming national love affair with a complete unknown is a total rejection of the two parties and the establishment candidates running for president. Hillary, McCain, the Bushes, and all the others who have been around for a while are seen as ‘old’ - and right now a cynical, sour and tired-of-the-same-old-same-old American public is having a delightful time fantasizing about a total blank slate with no record.

Obama is everyone’s ‘presidential fantasy’ right now; they project onto him what they want in a president.

Like all fantasies, this one won’t last long. Team Hillary is already plotting their usual savage, underhanded attacks - and Obama will be lucky if his ratings last for six months.

Politics is tough business - and Obama so far has been given a free ride. If he chooses to run, things will change for him - and fast.

However, his meteoric rise proves a point made here two years ago: the public wants a totally new face, one not tied to the establishment - and independent.

Obama is a liberal Democrat and will soon be seen as one; his star will inevitably fade.

But the thirst will remain for that Independent Third Candidate - who is a Reagan conservative - who can take on the political establishment and defeat it.