The former New York Times columnist Russell Baker once called it the great mentioning game. And you have little chance of winning a free lunch at McDonald's if you are not at least mentioned on all of the Sunday morning talk shows, particularly by George Will on a good day. Newt Gingrich also says he might run if things don't change. He had better hope that they do inasmuch as President Obama's latest ABC News poll numbers gives Barack a startling 72 pct. "favorability" rating with Americans. Against congressional Republicans, he leads 61-24.
But the mere fact that Gingrich is now leaving the door open means he will be a regular guest on conservative talk shows to revive his failed "contract with America." Right now, there are doubtless 20 others leaving the door open with a promise of letting in some fresh air. It works wonders with political egos. So if any of them is invited to throw out the first pitch at a baseball game, the announcer is bound to say, "Congressman Smiley is from Arkansas and has left the door open to run for president.
One, however, must be careful not to get too far ahead of the curve. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, made quite a spectacle of himself at a photo-op to declare that Texas might secede if the Feds don't leave him alone with stimulus money and other Big Brotherly incursions. How silly he must look today after he asked the very same Feds for help in combatting the swine flu epidemic. (Sorry, Texas politicians never think they look silly about anything.)
I never left the door open for myself. Happily for me, when I came home from grade school with a report card with two c's on it, my mother sensed my gloom, but came though with a consoling remark by a dear mother who preferred bingo to books. "Don't worry," she said. "You're never gonna be president anyway."
She was right. Mothers usually are.