Commentary
11:47 am
Wed May 25, 2011

McCotter for President?

There was a fair amount of attention paid yesterday to the news that Thaddeus McCotter, a 45-year-old Congressman from Livonia, is seriously considering running for president. There are certain problems with this. First, outside his district, almost nobody has ever heard of him, even in Michigan.

He hasn’t been a very effective fundraiser, for himself or others, and he has a quirky sense of humor.

He does play a mean guitar - President George W. Bush, who had trouble remembering his name, used to call him, “the rock n’roll dude.” McCotter’s played before the troops in Iraq with a pickup Congressional band called the Second Amendments.

All of which is very nice. But… President? The last House member to be elected President was James Garfield, back in 1880, an era when party bosses picked the nominee.

Several congressmen and women have tried in recent years, and pretty much either sunk without a trace, or hastily pulled out in time to get renominated for Congress.

Just a few days ago, McCotter declined to take on U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow next year, something that would be a much more logical step for a congressman. So - where did this presidential boomlet come from? When I first asked this, people told me there was this great column by S.E. Cupp, touting McCotter for president.

That was even more puzzling, because I had never heard of Cupp. Turns out she is a conservative columnist for the New York Daily News, who saw McCotter in Iowa last month autographing copies of his book, “Seize Freedom! American Truths and Renewal in a Chaotic Age.” Cupp was impressed by a sign McCotter had put up, saying: “Unsigned, twenty dollars. Signed ,fifteen dollars.  No haggling.“  Now you’ve got to admit, that’s cute.

But Presidential?

McCotter himself seems to have put his finger on what’s behind all this. He told a reporter: “I think the majority of the Republican electorate isn’t happy with the choices they’ve got, and want to take a look at new people.”  How McCotter will fare in that process is an open question, but he might be in for a hard time. While his record is generally conservative, it is also quirky.

Four years ago, he was one of only a handful of Republicans who supported a bill making it easier for unions to organize. He is a huge admirer of John Lennon, not exactly a darling of the religious right. McCotter has one issue that is likely to endear him to tens of millions of devoted pet owners. He wants to make the cost of treating their sick pets tax-deductible.

I’m there. Still, it’s hard to imagine his campaign catching on. He’s never been an impressive vote-getter, and is only in Congress today because of Democratic Party ineptitude. Three years ago, McCotter could have been defeated in the Obama landslide. He spent a million dollars and was reelected with only 51 percent, against a candidate who had less than thirty thousand.

My guess is that if he does run, his campaign will end before the autumn leaves. But the thing I do know is that you never know. Five years ago, who imagined a black guy whose middle name was Hussein would be our next president? We do live in interesting times.