The Note: Brutal Honesty

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15

About ten percent of the Gang of 500 is made up of political journalists.

The biggest challenge for anyone who is president or who wants to be president is figuring out how to get this group of roughly 50 people to change their collective mind, since it is almost always the case that the group believes that every politician is doomed to failure.

The Note has only two obligations: to be brutally honest about what those 50 people are thinking at any given time, and to plead with the group to be willing to think anew about everyone.

With that -- and reinforcing that the following are the views of the Gang of 50, rather than those of The Note -- here is the state of play for at least the next 45 minutes. All of this was gleaned on a Valentine's Day triple date last night at Galileo with Judy, Al, Carl, and Susan:

George W. Bush -- He is out of touch, out of time, out of luck, and out to invade Iran.

Al Gore -- He's definitely running, which he will announce in September after collecting an Oscar, a Nobel Prize, and lots of publicity; he's definitely not running.

Hillary Clinton -- Can't win unless she says "I made a mistake," at which point she will look weak and indecisive, making it impossible for her to win; too burdened by Clinton Fatigue; a woman can't get elected (at least not THIS woman).

John McCain -- Too old, too temperamental, too anxious to appease the Right, and too damaged by Iraq.

Barack Obama -- Not enough specifics, but, let's face it, we all want to believe again; an African-American can't get elected (well maybe THIS African-American can).

Mitt Romney -- Flip-flopping (Mormon); ruthless (Mormon); opportunistic (Mormon); slick (Mormon); a Mormon can't get elected (not ANY Mormon).

John Edwards -- Ruthless, opportunistic, slick; he needs to sell his big house; and he is really, really ahead in Iowa.

Rudy Giuliani -- That Gallup poll number is eye popping; we'll let him build some more strength before we help him self-destruct; when is he going to answer real questions?

Chris Dodd -- Banking money and DNC ties could make him the last man standing if the Big 3 fall.

Newt Gingrich -- Crazy like a fox, but if Dick Morris is for him, we have to reconsider the whole thing.

Tom Vilsack -- He must win Iowa, at which point, winning Iowa will be adjudged meaningless.

Mike Huckabee -- At some point, a candidate has to turn down certain cable interview requests, or we begin to wonder about the stature question.

Bill Richardson -- Clinton Fatigue and "eye of the tiger" questions are big problems that can only be overcome if he comes in fourth in the first quarter money derby.

Sam Brownback -- Break through on something -- money, an issue, a poll -- and we'll reconsider.

Joe Biden -- No chance to win, but we vote to keep him around for sport; the partition plan might get him the Deputy Secretary slot under Holbrooke.

Jim Gilmore -- We aren't certain we can pick him out of a line-up.

Wes Clark -- Wake us up if he is really in the race, and then we'll go back to sleep.

Tom Tancredo -- Please let him in the debates.

Dennis Kucinich -- Please don't let him in the debates.

Duncan Hunter -- We aren't certain we can pick him out of a line-up.

Mike Gravel -- Please don't let him in the debates.

Chuck Hagel -- Anoint him by consensus now and call off the election.

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