The Breakfast Table

Front-Runners Among Non-Candidates

“What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?” Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura asked a group of businessmen at a lunch in Tokyo on Thursday. The erstwhile pro wrestler wasn’t showing off his excellent grasp of the English language–no, he was executing a rhetorical flourish to underscore his commitment to not running for the U.S. presidency. “I am not a candidate for president,” he said. “I do not want the job.” Indeed, Ventura, who recently admitted he wanted to be reincarnated as a bra, told his lunch mates that he could never be president because the job is simply too restrictive. “The president is the leader of the free world, but he probably has the least freedom of anyone in the country,” Ventura said. “I’ve lost my freedom a great deal being governor.” Jeez, he’s never going to be happy as a brassiere with that kind of thinking. Boxer shorts, perhaps.

While I’d rather be discussing your superb piece in this morning’s Times on the limits of online grocery shopping (so that’s why we didn’t have lamb shanks for dinner …), I can imagine the flames and charges of nepotism and conflict of interest. So instead, I’d like to discuss all the people who aren’t running for president–a list, I might point out, that’s always far more interesting than the jokers and sad sacks who are running for the highest office in the land. Remember how exciting it was when Mario Cuomo wasn’t running for president? Now, that was a non-race. Or that lovely general, Colin Powell, is he not running again this year? I haven’t heard that he’s not running, so I suppose I have to assume he isn’t not running, which would be a shame since he was such a great non-candidate …

Here’s my current favorite: Warren Beatty. He’s been doing a fabulous job of not throwing his hat in the ring yet. CNN ran a clip of him this morning, in fact, speaking at Harvard (last night I believe), in which he says that if he were really running, he’d be a lot more organized, but he’s not. He said all he’s doing, in fact, is reminding people of bedrock liberal positions that seem to have been forgotten along the way. Is Donald Trump still not running? Who cares? Remember how Teddy Kennedy always used to not run? Kind of sad that he no longer doesn’t. One thing I’m looking forward to: more computer guys getting into the whole non-candidacy thing. Don’t you think that our old friend Jim Barksdale would make a spectacular non-presidential hopeful?