The Fringe, Part 5
Presidential candidates you've never heard of.
Updated Friday, Oct. 26, 2007, at 6:05 PM
Tom Koos gets it. He knows that a 41-year old facilities manager from California isn't going to win the Democratic nomination. He understands it's unlikely he'll even earn a delegate in New Hampshire, where he'll only campaign for a week before the primary. But he's not running for president to become president. He's running so he can figure out who to vote for.
Koos has wanted to become president since he was 7. He looked up at the calendar and realized that he'd be 35 by 2000, which meant that in 28 short years, he could be taking the oath of office. So, in 2000, he threw his name in the ring. Nineteen people voted for him—one more than the Fringe's last subject, Michael Skok.
Considering Koos finished 76,881 New Hampshire votes behind Al Gore in 2000, what is there to gain by running again? Koos told me he wanted to get a better sense of what his own opinions were on the election's major issues so he would know which candidate to endorse.
As a result, Koos' platform is essentially a composite of his opponents' stances. Like Joe Biden, he wants a soft-partitioned Iraq. Like Hillary Clinton, he supports a national-service academy. And like Dennis Kucinich, he advocates a universal, single-payer health-care system. He's the Voltron of presidential candidates.
Does this mean Koos is once again embarking on a selfish, self-indulgent pursuit? Perhaps. But he said he's also running to try and convince his friends and family to pay attention to the elections. When he tells people he's running for president, he gets to discuss current events and politics with relative strangers. Plus, he said, running for president is "an awful lot of fun." Some might call it a midlife crisis, but Koos thinks of it as a boyhood dream.
Rudy's Sinker: Politics is about compromise. Voters know this, and politicians know they know it. That's why they'll often bend their position to accommodate a new situation without paying a political price.
Sports, however, is not about compromise. It's not about sacrificing now so you can win later. It's about winning now, later, and always. It's starkly Manichaean—the one arena where you can say, "You're with us or against us," and no one will accuse you of being overly dramatic.
Rudy Giuliani, of all people, should understand this. But by announcing in Boston yesterday that he would be rooting for the Red Sox in the World Series, he joins Hillary Clinton in the league of athletic opportunists he so roundly criticized last month. "Don't you respect me for telling you the truth that I'm a Yankees fan?" he asked a crowd in Chicago after Clinton said that she'd "alternate" sides in a Yankees-Cubs match-up. Well, whatever respect he commanded then, he has squandered now. The New York tabs are calling him a "Red Coat" and a "Traitor" for abandoning his home team. And believe it or not, it still doesn't look like he'll be carrying Massacusetts.
Giuliani's rationalization only made the offense worse: "I'm an American League fan, and my tradition has been to root for the American League team, particularly if it's a team that beats the Yankees. And in this case, you won the division and we lost. Somehow it makes me feel better if the team that was ahead of the Yankees wins the World Series, because then I feel like, well, we're not that bad."
Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.
Photographs of: Cap Fendig courtesy Cap Fendig; screenshot of The Huffington Post.