Sometimes things really do happen in threes. In the space of 24 hours a presidential candidate has quit the race, a possible candidate has decided not to run, and the incumbent mayor of Sacramento announced he won't seek re-election. The reasons for the decisions are as disparate as the men who made them.
First there is former Virginia Senator, Jim Webb. He announced he was dropping out of the democratic race for the presidential nomination. He might as well--no one was going to vote for him anyway. Any slim chance of that quickly dissolved during the Las Vegas debate when he spent much of his limited time allotment complaining about his limited time allotment. While others were trying to score points, he came across as nothing more than a bitchy Ben Carson on steroids.
That pares the field down to three, because no one in their right mind actually considers Lincoln Chafee either a democrat, or a real candidate. The two highlights of Chafee's performance in Vegas were getting bitch slapped by Hillary Clinton and a whiney defense of a vote he made in the Senate which had all the gravitas of a high school kid telling his teacher the dog ate his homework.
Then we come to Joe Biden, the current Vice President of these United States. For months people had been urging him to climb into the race as a serious alternative to Hillary Clinton. The cable media, in an effort to add to the drama of the campaign, kept reporting a Biden decision would come at any moment. Those reports droned on for weeks.
Today an announcement finally came. Mr. Biden won't run.
During an appearance with the president, among other things, he said the reason was, "Unfortunately I believe we're out of time." Well you have to say something don't you.
The more cold blooded among us can think of another reason, or two. First, Secretary Clinton kicked ass on the Las Vegas stage and by doing so re-energized her campaign. Second, just a couple of days ago, Biden seemed to say he had whole heartedly supported the raid which took out Osama bin Laden. The press jumped all over it because it is well known that, at the time, Biden had advised Obama to delay the attack.
A gross public gaffe at the beginning of a run, which was woefully late to start in the first place, certainly didn't bode well. Especially since Hillary Clinton was there in person when Biden expressed his lack of daring.
Ultimately, however, the real truth, when it comes to Biden's decision, may lay elsewhere. Joe Biden has had to endure two crushing tragedies in his life. He has lived to see a wife and baby daughter die in a terrible accident, then years later a son pass away to an incurable disease. He has admitted he still suffers through moments of intense grief. None of us who have been fortunate enough not to go through what he has can ever imagine the pain he feels.
To run for president of this country a serious candidate must possess an icy singleness of purpose, not to mention the disposition of a rogue, man eating, lion. To have any sort of pause is fatal. Indeed, there is precious little room for real human emotion until the brutal and expensive marathon is over. In short, if you can't be all in with every fiber of your being, it's best to stay out.
The odds are, Joe Biden simply no longer has the killer instinct, or the stomach needed for such a ride. Who can blame him?
Finally we get to Kevin Johnson, the two term incumbent Mayor of Sacramento, CA.
Johnson, a former NBA star, has been plagued for years by rumors of sexual misconduct involving underage girls. Early this month Deadspin writer, Dave McKenna got his hands on a video tape of a Phoenix police interview with Mandi Koba. The tape was shot in 1996 when she was 17 years old and Johnson was playing for the Phoenix Suns. During the course of the tape she alleges Johnson molested her over a two year period when she was 15 and 16.
Mr. Johnson was never charged. According to McKenna, Koba claims she was paid over $230,000 not to tell anyone about the deviant behavior, but now at age 36 she feels she isn't bound by the agreement between her and Johnson.
It isn't clear if Koba was offered the money before, or after the police interview. Nor is it clear why, as of last week, despite her willingness to speak with McKenna, she was refusing to return phone calls, or emails made to her by the Sacramento Bee newspaper.
After Deadspin ran with the story the head of the local democratic party immediately began calling for Johnson's resignation. That shouldn't be a surprise since he has been persona non grata with the local democratic leadership since 2003. That's when a foundation he controlled got a Sacramento public high school turned into a charter school which went out and hired non-union teachers. Mr. Johnson, who is a democrat, ran twice for his seat and won both times without any help from the democratic establishment.
Today Kevin Johnson announced he would not run for a third term. In the press release he did not bring up Mandi Koba, or the Deadspin story. Neither did he touch on allegations raised by republicans he attempted to pay off another young lady sometime between 2007 and 2009. No charges were filed in that case either.
At this point there is no telling if Mayor Johnson is being shook down, attacked solely for political reasons, or, in actuality, is a low rent Bill Cosby. All we know for sure is Kevin Johnson won't be running for political office again. Whether someone--anyone--pursues criminal charges, or civil action against him after he is out of office is a matter of speculation, although, to be honest, it seems doubtful. Once he is out of sight, he will quickly be out of everyone's mind.
Meanwhile, as you can guess--the bar is open.