Bill Cosby for President in 2008?

The Editors of Washington Monthly–the magazine, not Kevin Drum’s blog–have a simultaneously provocative and cutesy piece entitled, “Cosby in 2008?” They argue that the Democrats need to look beyond the usual suspects to find a presidential candidate who will appeal to Americans outside the Blue States.

If they are to confront a Republican Party now eyeing a constitutional amendment to make their favorite Austrian-born-movie-beefcake-turned-GOP governor eligible for the White House, Democrats must start thinking audaciously. Instead of bellyaching about the supposedly shallow 2008 bench, why not consider the following list of people, who probably no one—including those on the list—have yet pictured duking it out in New Hampshire? Some of them may have a real chance of winning the nomination, while others are longshots who nonetheless represent the type of candidate who might make a run for the White House. Some are larger-than-life personalities; some have been wildly successful in business; some are already household names; and some are all of the above. Most importantly—with apologies to the governor of Iowa—each can make a more exciting candidate than Tom Vilsack.

Among their non-politician choices: Tom Brokaw, Tom Hanks, General Anthony Zinni, Ted Turner, Lance Armstrong and, oddly, Queen Noor.

And, as one might glean from the title, America’s favorite pitchman:

Bill Cosby

Bio: Comedian; actor; Ph.D. in education.
Case for Candidacy: America’s favorite dad is also a master of reframing; Cosby consciously structured his top-rated “Cosby Show†to emphasize the importance of education and knock down stereotypes of black families. He has since drawn upon his beloved-icon status and personal fortune to stump for early-reading initiatives and endow college scholarships; now, he’s putting his popularity on the line to criticize the lax parenting and low academic standards he sees in black America today. These recent remarks, that drew defensive fire, proved the former Jello spokesman has guts and thrust Cosby back onto the national stage. A successful, much-loved black man touting education and family-values—what’s not to love?
Surprising Edge: Great one-liners.
Possible Disqualifier: Has admitted cheating on his wife.
Odds of surviving Iowa Caucus: 50-50

Actually, it’s an Ed.D. But, yes, Cosby would have strong appeal if he threw his hat into the ring. He’s got excellent name recognition, is eloquent, charismatic, and accomplished. Of course, as Oliver Willis notes, Oprah Winfrey is similarly qualified.

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Mark says:

    Reagan had his jelly beans, so I guess it would be OK for a President Cosby to have his Jello Pudding Pops!

  2. Eric says:

    Another possible disqualifier: Leonard Part VI.

  3. Kappiy says:

    Washington Monthly must have been hijacked by Republican PsyOps. To suggest that any of these people are remotely qualified is absurd. Tom Hanks? A mediocre actor–at least our other mediocre actor president had experience as a union boss and governor.

    Tom Browkaw? A guy who reads the news?–although that would be one characteristic not shared by the current White House occupant.

    Lance Armstrong? Someone who makes his living riding a child’s toy? Sure.

    This has got to be some ruse to get the Dems to continue down their path of utter irrelevance.

    The funny (and troubling) thing about it is that the Dems are stupid enough to likely to pursue such an idiotic strategy!

  4. raisin says:

    A man whose inspiring triumph over cancer, strength of character and sheer determination resulted in a huge increase in cancer awareness, and adoring fans wearing little yellow bracelets across the world.

    Ah yes, idiotic, unlike say, running the lead in Bedtime for Bonzo.

  5. I don’t think anyone or anything can stop Senator McCain. Bush will hand it to him.

  6. Jay says:

    McCain will be 72 years old in ’08, 76 in ’12. He won’t run. Bushco will ‘hand it’ to Jeb. IF they can pull it off. Otherwise, Guiliani/Frist or Guiliani/Rice are strong possibilities. On the Democratic side, it’s wide open right now. But it won’t be Hillary, Kerry or Edwards.