November 4th, 2008 | Uncategorized

Kleeb: ‘Hipster’, ‘Fantastic’ or Just Anti-Comatose?

By Andrew Mangino

OMAHA, Neb., 12:47 p.m. — Ryan the Angry Midget put it bluntly in his prediction post: “Democrat Scott Kleeb gets clubbed by Mike Johanns.”

Just travel several miles west in the blogosphere and you’ll encounter Booman of the Booman Tribune. In his words, Kleeb is a “fantastic and attractive” candidate. “I don’t have any recent polling,” he writes, “but I can’t rule out a Kleeb stunner.”

But another blog — “Leavenworth Street – The Talk of Nebraska Politics” — wasn’t as kind. In exploring who will succeed Chuck Hagel, “Street Sweeper” put Mike Johanns’ odds at 1:150 — and Kleeb’s at, well, 150:1. “The Kleeb camp is crowing right now that they have internal polling that shows them neck-and-neck with Johanns,” he writes, “Riiiiiiiight.”

It’s the chorus of blogosphere predictions — a new staple of democracy in America. And this morning, I spent some time — frankly, I’m not sure why — finding the gems. Indeed, there are some. Some.

Street Sweeper, for instance, goes onto commentate harshly: “The pure lack of any campaign theme by Kleeb has been mystifying. It is as if he has figured all along that he is going to get blown out, and thus just wants to leave voters with some happy face of his.”

The comments in response are particularly telling. Here are a few:

*From a Johanns supporter: “Kleeb’s run is certainly mystifying and encouraging. If this is the new strategy for the Nebraska Democrat party, to run hipster doofuses with no experience and who refuse to be clear about the issues that matter to Nebraskans, then I say, ‘Awesome!’ “

*From a Kleeb-er: “What good does it do to go negative? Plenty of things were brought out about Iron Mike, but only a couple of media groups made it public. Talk about a biased, conservative press. I’ve always wanted to say this to the Leavenworth Kids, ‘So keep on drinking the Kool Aid.’ “

*And my favorite: “Though Kleeb tried very hard to out Nebraska Johanns by being even more boring than Johanns, it didn’t work. He would have had to go into a coma to appeal to Nebraskans love of stiffs.”

Kleeb, needless to say, does not find himself a coma today. His schedule is jam-packed from 6 a.m. through the party tonight, which the News will of course attend. (If you have questions for the candidate, post comments here before 8 p.m.)

As for my predictions, I’ll keep them to myself for now. But the fact is that victory is unlikely for the Eli who earned his masters and doctorate in history from Yale’s graduate school. For what it’s worth, though, I have to admit that after watching Kleeb in dozens of conversations — in Applebee’s, in Dairy Queen’s, in parking lots (see the News today) — he usually manages to persuade the voter to his side. Then again, though it’s population ranking is 38th in the union — 1.75 million — Nebraska is an enormous state (the 16th largest) and speaking to everyone would take, well, a lot of time. And just the other day, Kleeb told me that it’s “more time” he wishes he had more than anything else.

For now, to speak to a few Nebraskans myself, I’m onto one tiny corner of the Corhusker State… Wahoo! (No, I didn’t mean to say, “wahoo!” I’m talking about Wahoo, Nebraska of Late Show pseudo-fame.) Come on now.