Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Richardson Must Get Some Rest


Syndicated Columnist

      SANTA FE -- Gov. Bill Richardson must slow down a little. Fast-forward Bill has always had the energy of a 20-year-old. He can  put in 18-hour days without stopping to catch his breath.

   He's notorious for wearing out staff members  who can't keep up with him. The past two years have been a blessing for them because he had both an office staff and a campaign staff to wear out.

      But even those who know him only from the television screen are noticing a difference. He no longer looks like a bundle of energy. He's more like a tired, old man.

      Some of his apparent fatigue could be due to the fact that he will turn 60 in November. The years finally may be catching up. Running New Mexico and a presidential campaign also has to be a drag.

   He managed to stay on his game while running the state and a gubernatorial campaign last year but he was a prohibitive favorite then, and now he's an underdog.

   Our current president didn't have any trouble running for president while running Texas seven years ago. But his personality was such that he could allow others to do the work and he'd just show up. Bill Richardson wants to do all the work, too.

   And it's killing him -- or his presidential chances, at least. He looked tired and haggard and even distracted in the South Carolina debate. Then he turned in a mediocre performance on Meet the Press last Sunday.

   Gov. Richardson usually shines in a one-on-one situation like that. Admittedly, he was jousting with Tim Russert, the political world's most incisive interrogator. You don't get away with anything when you're talking to Russert.

   But Richardson has handled such situations before. His quick mind usually comes up with a rejoinder and if it doesn't, he'll charm you with that big smile of his. But a quick mind and big smile both were missing almost entirely on Sunday morning.

   From those who admire candor in politicians, Richardson may have picked up some votes.  He admitted he's made mistakes, something Hillary Clinton has suffered for not doing on her Iraq war authorization vote.

   He also said he's not perfect when asked why he initially gave Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a pass on his conflicting Senate testimony. But to most viewers, those admissions likely appeared defensive rather than straight talk.

   Richardson's answers to many questions could have been sharper. He reminded me of some sports stars who think all they need do is show up for the game and leave the practicing to others. He may have to spend more time on game simulations and less time shaking hands in the local diner.

   He has done a good job staking out some unique positions. At the debate in Nevada two months ago, Richardson proposed that all Democrat presidential candidates sign a pledge not to bad mouth each other. It wasn't something that is going to happen, but voters like the sound of it.

   Richardson has proposed that we get all troops out of Iraq by the end of the year. That is what polls say 60 percent of Americans want. All other candidates are willing to give President Bush until various times next year.

   This appears to be in concert with what I see as the national Democratic strategy of allowing the president to extend the fighting until the 2008 elections when voters will decide the only way to get out of Iraq is to elect a Democrat president and large Democrat majorities in Congress.

   On energy and immigration, Richardson's background has  enabled him to develop more comprehensive positions than his opponents. He's also unique in that he is the only Democratic candidate to receive an endorsement from the National Rifle Association.

   But Richardson has to leave himself enough time for rest so that he can effectively articulate his positions and keep the smile and sense of humor that has vaulted him into fourth place in the polls.

FRI, 6-01-07


JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505

(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



Post a Comment

<< Home