July 14, 2004
What seems like a better option for the GOP right now is to stage a Ryan return--Ryan emerges from the ashes of his own demise--which after the Ditka circus would seem like a reasonable and refreshing option for a lot of GOP voters. From his tv appearances Ryan's already harvested some sympathy from his situation, so maybe compared to the prospect of drafting a football coach his stock will further increase. Of course, he would still have to gain forgiveness from GOP leaders for all this to be an option, something that seems less and less likely.
In the meantime, Obama is waiting in the weeds hoping that all this attention of the GOP doesn't take too much momentum from his campaign.
Of course no matter who emerges as the GOP candidate faces a real up hill battle against Obama. Four months is a lifetime in politics and even Ditka's schtick would wear thin after a while. I predict that by late September, or whenever the first debate will be, if Ditka's the guy people will tire of his bafoonery and realize that while he was a great coach a good senator he would not make. Some GOPers agree that his candidacy would mostly be about trying to charm his way into office:
"I don't know if Ditka would play [for voters] over the long term," said one prominent Republican.
"But in a condensed process, if you don't put him on until August, all of his crazy Ditka-isms could work."
I think late late August is a better option, or maybe late October. In any case, all this is just so sad. More or less every GOP official I've heard commenting on the possible Ditka run has said something like, "At first I thought it was a joke, but then I thought what else do we have to lose." Such desperation can't instill much confidence for those down the ticket that's for sure.
All partisanship aside though, if I were a friend of Ditka's I'd advise him to keep his money, dignity and endorsements and respectfully decline to run. If it were any other year, he may have a chance but facing off against a rather strong opponent like Obama will be very tough thing to overcome. I have a feeling that what may be really motivating Ditka is that like many former athletes he just misses being in the spotlight. Here's what Ditka has to say about charges that he has no political experience:
Indeed, in an interview on WGN-TV, Ditka said that despite never seeking public office, he could "be a better senator then Ted Kennedy," the veteran Democrat from Massachusetts. "I didn't have any experience of head coaching when I took over the Bears, either, so that's bull," he said.
Yes, but you did play football and presumably were gaining coaching experience while observing coaches for all those years playing ball. Having fuzzy ideological positions doesn't count for political experience and the press will hammer you about this. Stick to your analyst jobs and e.d. commercials. Not all spotlights are worth being in.