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Chris Kelly

Chris Kelly

Posted: November 10, 2007 08:14 PM

The Late Norman Mailer for President


Read more tributes to Norman Mailer on HuffPost here.

Norman Mailer ran for mayor of New York City in 1969. Well, sort of ran for sort of mayor. He was going to share it, somehow, with Jimmy Breslin, or something, like a cab from Costello's to the Lion's Head, and they never made it past the Democratic primary.

But think about this: What if Norman Mailer had won?

(Wait, first think about this: In 1969, the highest office the non-politician with the biggest ego in the United States could aspire to was mayor. Running for president? That was something you either did seriously - something for generals or scions of dynasties, or by working your way over a lifetime up from ward healer - or something you did as a joke - if you were Pat Paulson or Pogo.)

(Now anyone can run for president. If you're a Republican, all you need is hostility and a suit. Have you seen them debate? The gravitas on that stage could be dispersed with Febreze.)

Where was I? Oh, right, in 1969 - the year another American walked on the fugging moon -- Norman Mailer - the White Negro, the founder of the Village Voice, the glorious doofus who called his penis "Avenger," the guy who wrote The Naked and the Dead -- just wanted to be mayor.

Was he high? (Well of course he was.) But what was he thinking? It was uncharacteristically modest, for a man who'd already called a collection of ephemera The Presidential Papers.

Did he imagine it was a stepping-stone to the White House? Hadn't he heard about what happened to Dewitt Clinton? (Probably not. I know I haven't.)

Or what if he was just ahead of his time? What if he saw, in some degraded age to come, in a field of Fred Thompsons and Mitt Romneys, that we'd be so desperate for national leadership that the Mayor of New York would start looking pretty good?

If Mailer had become Mayor, why not President? A decorated veteran, pro-life, loved by his children and a plurality of ex-wives (not one of them a cousin), wealthy - some of it from public speaking -- wary of homosexuals, not a cross-dresser, not a Mormon, old and vaguely familiar from TV.

Would it go over in the South? He could go for the NASCAR dads by playing up the domestic abuse.

Think of him as Ron Paul on acid. Except Ron Paul is kind of like Ron Paul on acid.

Right now, Rudy Giuliani, a cancerous cackling hunchback, is a leading contender for his party's nomination, because he was Mayor of New York during a disaster. (And therefore has no more World Trade Centers to lose.)

Right now, Michael Bloomberg, a kind of creeping nonentity, the sort of moneyed nobody who would traditionally buy himself the ambassadorship to the Virgin Islands, endow an ugly building at a safety school, and die of a heart attack raping his niece at the Waldorf, is on the cover of Newsweek as the race's "Billion Dollar Wild Card."

Based on what? Because he's a mayor, and he hasn't lost a building yet? Neither has Mayor McCheese.

What would Mailer's negatives be? That he's dangerous? That he's crazy? You mean as opposed to John McCain?

That he's dead? You mean as opposed to Fred Thompson?

Viable? If he could keep his mouth shut, he'd be the Republican frontrunner.

But then again, so would Pogo.

Read more tributes to Norman Mailer on HuffPost here.