As promised - and as tempting as it is to poke fun at how unbelievably inept Nancy Pelosi's power play was yesterday - today we will examine some of the GOP frontrunners for President.
Remember our General Theory: Both parties will have to decide whether they want to win, or are willing to lose on the point of an ideological sword.
Here's a quick look at the Republicans: Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Condoleezza Rice, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney
Giuliani and McCain are just about tied in the recent post-election poll by the Pew Center at 27% and 26% respectively.
Rudy Giuliani is the most liberal Republican in the race and his personal history reads like a Jim Webb (R-VA) novel. Nevertheless, because he has not held public office at any time during the Bush Administration, he is frozen in time as the strong leader in New York following the attacks of 9/11.
If there was a Republican campaign in American which did not want Giuliani to come in, raise money, and gin up the troops, I didn't hear about it. Counter that with the fully-reported episode of Republican the candidate for Governor, Charlie Christ, finding a reason to be in … Guam … when George W. came a-calling a few days before the election and you begin to see Giuliani's attraction across the spectrum.
Biggest plus: Has executive experience as Mayor of New York. Biggest minus: Slightly to the left of Gov. Schwarzenegger on social issues.
John McCain is no longer the underdog-outsider whom the press corps fawns over. He is amongst the best known of the early contenders. He is not high on some Conservatives' list because of campaign finance reform and his position on taxes.
Nevertheless, McCain holds an 80% rating from the American Conservative Union (compared to EIGHT percent for that other favorite Republican Senator, Joe Lieberman)
McCain has the enormous advantage of having been through this before and his people have been sweeping up talent - either by actually hiring them or by telling them not to take any other jobs until they hear from the McCain campaign.
Biggest plus: Being John McCain. Biggest Minus: The press won't give him a free pass this time: Any misstatements will be fully reported.
Condoleezza Rice is the favorite of 20% of Republicans in the Pew post-election poll. She has an amazing personal story even before she became the first Black, Woman Secretary of State in the history of the Republic and, if she were a Liberal Democrat, would already have statues erected to her glory in cities and towns throughout America.
My personal favorite story is the one where, when Harry Belafonte called Rice and then-Secretary of State Colin Powell "house slaves" she said, "I don't need Harry Belafonte to tell me what it has been like to grow up as a Black woman in America." Or words to that effect.
There has been absolutely nothing in the public or Washington-gossip record which would indicate Dr. Rice has any interest in running for President, but if she gave a signal, the money would come rolling in by the dump-truck-full.
Biggest plus: It is impossible to find anything not to like about her. Biggest minus: Zero experience running for public office.
Newt Gingrich is my former boss so you have to use that as a filter.
Gingrich is still the GOP's rock star. No matter where he goes and not matter where he is, Republicans want to shake his hand and have their picture taken with him.
He has the most powerful intellect in American politics today and will stay in the race as long as possible so as to "frame the debate."
Biggest plus: He as more big ideas before breakfast than most politicians have in their entire lives. Biggest minus: As divisive a political figure as Hillary Clinton.
Mitt Romney and Gingrich were about tied with 7% of Republicans naming them as their favorites. His bio (going backwards in time) includes being the outgoing Governor of Massachusetts, the savior of the Salt Lake City Olympics, and having made a gajillion dollars at Bain Capital - a private equity fund.
Romney has been running for President since he announced he would not run for re-election as Governor and has attracted (if not hired) about as much talent as McCain to put the operation together.
He is the most physically attractive candidate on either side and has demonstrated a capacity to wow even skeptical audiences when giving a political speech.
Biggest plus: Can write a very large check to get things rolling. Biggest minus: Is a Mormon which, for most Americans, is a mystery.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the Pew poll and some others which show the relative strength of GOP candidates; one of those Mullfotos of the sun rising over the Potomac River which I really love; and a Catchy Caption of the Day.