Mark Curtis's blog

“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- June 7, 2015


(Providence, Rhode Island) – I’m in the business of analyzing political data and making educated guesses (okay, predictions) on what an outcome might be. Many times I hit the target, and other times I miss my mark. Over all, though, my batting average is pretty good since I began doing this in 1978. After watching more Presidential candidates jump into the race last week, my prediction is this: "Lincoln Chafee will not be the next U.S. President." Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Timing Is Everything” – The premise of former Governor Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) wanting to be President rests in his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which then-Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) supported. “We must deliberately and carefully extricate ourselves from expensive wars,” Chafee said. The oddity is that the Iraq war is over, with just a smattering of U.S. military advisors left there; and the force in Afghanistan is substantially reduced. The price tags are nowhere near what they were ten years ago. Chafee – in essence – is running against George W. Bush, who left office a long time ago. Chafee's Presidential bid would be like Bill Clinton running in 1992 against the record of President Ford. Tactically speaking, it’s just not a winning strategy.

“Take Me to Your Liter!” -- The U.S. and many other countries are facing threats from ISIS terrorists; many economies are still struggling from the world recession of 2008; and there are several global health concerns. This nation is looking for bold and broad new leadership, to which Chafee offered, “Let’s be bold. Here’s a bold embrace of internationalism: Let’s join the rest of the world and go metric.” He pointed out that Myanmar, Liberia and the United States are the only three nations in the world which don’t use the metric system. President Jimmy Carter was the last U.S. leader to pitch for metric, and that effort died with a giant thud.

“It’s All About the Base” – That’s a play on words about the recent hit song, “It’s All About the Bass.” But in politics, your “base” is critical to getting elected to everything from the city council to the White House. Your base is made up of your core supporters. Chafee was a long time Republican who angered his party and left. He then was elected Governor as an independent, only to turn his back on the independents and become a Democrat in his final 18 months in office. He was so unpopular he didn’t even seek his new party’s nomination for reelection. So after angering a wide swath of Republicans, independents and Democrats, who is his base? I submit he doesn’t have one.

“Old ‘What’s Her Name?’” – In his 13-minute campaign announcement and the ensuing 30 minutes of Q&A with students, the name "Hillary Clinton" never passed his lips. This was the closest he came: “As President, I would institute a ban on ambassadorships for sale. That means no more of these posts going to big political donors. I want the best-trained people doing this important work. And it is critical that the integrity of the office of Secretary of State never be questioned.” Folks, he’s an underdog at best, polling only one-percent of the vote right now. Any candidate has to come out swinging, because you just can’t “nice” talk your way into the White House. No one ever has, nor ever will.

“Oh, Boston, You’re My Home” – Chafee made a pitch for the United States to abolish the death penalty, but even liberal New England is not sympathetic these days. The vast majority of people here felt that convicted Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be put to death, and the jury agreed. In Rhode Island, Chafee fought the federal death penalty against convicted bank murderer Jason Pleau. Chafee’s side prevailed, even though public opinion was clearly against him. Trying to repeal the death penalty is hardly a populist stance, especially after Massachusetts and Rhode Island were the center of another terrorism plot this week. Chafee is likely losing votes, not gaining them with his opposition to the death penalty.

“Location, Location, Location!” – Chafee chose to kick off his campaign at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, a stone’s throw from the White House. While he did serve eight years in the U.S. Senate, he was most recently the Governor of the Ocean State, so why not make the announcement in Rhode Island? Plain and simple, he was elected Governor with only 36 percent of the vote; and what popularity he had plummeted from there. There’s an old Congressional political bromide: If you make a mistake in DC, apologize at home; and if you make a mistake at home, apologize in DC. The idea is to distance yourself from the negative, which is probably why Chafee was far away from the Rhode Island State House.

“The Theater of Politics” – Linc Chafee’s foray into the Presidential race is not all negative. With former Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also in the race – along with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – we are hoping to see some feisty, entertaining debates. Chafee is likely to be the one who goes on the attack against Mrs. Clinton. She’s still the odds-on-favorite to win the Democratic nomination, but she’ll have to earn it without a free pass.

Who is your choice for the Democratic nomination for President? Click the comment but at and let us know!

© 2015, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- May 31, 2015


(Providence, Rhode Island) – It seems as if everyone is now running for President. As I predicted, former Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD) is now in, with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and former Governor Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) on the way. To me, one of the best parts of campaign season is enjoying all of the political jokes and cartoons. The potential of another Bush v. Clinton matchup has cartoonists such as Chris Bok all dialed in (See cartoon above). Let’s “brunch” on political comedy this week:

“The Clown Car” – As some of you may know, I used to do stand-up comedy in the 1970s and 80s, and I worked alongside a comic in Milwaukee by the name of Will Durst. Oddly enough, we later reconnected in San Francisco, where I was a political reporter-anchor and he was a full-fledged professional comedian,

With a now crowded GOP field, Will posted this gem: “On Monday, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is expected to bring the GOP that much closer to achieving its apparent goal of matching each voter with his or her own individual candidate.”

“Dirt Poor!” – Hillary Clinton made headlines when she talked about the sad state of her family finances. Comedians had a field day: "In an interview, Hillary Clinton said that she and her husband were dead broke when they left the White House. Hillary said things were so bad, the two of them needed to share a bedroom." –Conan O'Brien

“The Gay 90s” – One issue about which many candidates in both parties have flip-flopped is same-sex marriage. The Clintons used to oppose it, but now support it: "Hillary Clinton has temporarily changed her campaign logo to rainbow colors in support of marriage equality. Of course, her idea of marriage equality is both of you should get to be President." –Seth Meyers

“Fuzzy Math” – Even former Presidents are being picked on. No one is safe in the world of political comedy: "Both President Obama and former President George W. Bush were interviewed on 'Face the Nation' over the weekend. President Bush said there's a 50 percent chance his brother Jeb will run for president in 2016. Then he said, 'But there's an 80 percent chance he won't'." –Jimmy Fallon

“The Independent Streak” – All politicians know the keys to the White House rest in the hands of independent voters. These days there are not enough registered Republicans or Democrats to bring either party to victory. They must search for independents, and even for folks who are Libertarian-minded. “Rand Paul calls himself 'Libertarianish'. And we all know what a Libertarian is. That’s a Republican who smokes pot, or a Democrat who owns a gun.” –Will Durst

“Bush League” – The prospect of a third Bush presidency has comedians wisecracking. One comic got in one last punch line before he retired. "Jeb Bush may run for President. Bush Presidencies are like 'Caddyshack' movies. They should have stopped with one." –David Letterman

“Dodgeball!” – Hillary Clinton took seemingly forever to announce her candidacy. Comics loved poking fun at the obvious: "Hillary Clinton said she wants to travel this year, and won't make any announcements about her plans to run for President until 2015. When asked where she'll travel, she said, 'New Hampshire, Iowa, and maybe spend a few months in Florida'." –Jimmy Fallon

“Three’s a Crowd” – A Clinton-Bush rematch of 1992? But there’s only one person missing: “This promises to be a fabulous development for comedians everywhere, precipitating the resurrection of all our 1992 Bush/Clinton material. It’s the green thing to do. Recycling meets nostalgia. Together again for the very first time. A rematch by proxy. Now, if only we could coax Ross Perot back into the fray!” –Will Durst

Editor's Note: An earlier edition of this blog posted Saturday afternoon included a joke about Vice President Joe Biden, hours before the death of his son Beau was announced. Out of respect to the Biden family, we have removed the item. Our prayers are with them, as is our deepest respect for Beau's public and military service. May God bless his soul.

You can find many more jokes at

What are your thoughts on political humor? Share your funny lines by clicking the comment button at

Cartoon credit: Chris Bok at

© 2015, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

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