Thursday, July 14, 2005

Democratic Candidates for 2008

I've been thinking a great deal about the extreme partisanship currently surrounding Karl Rove. Liberals (like me) want him tried for treachery, while Conservatives think the rationale behind his involvement is just delusional, wishful reasoning of sparse, and ambiguous facts.

When combined with two consecutive U.S. elections where the popular vote has been so evenly divided across the nation... you recognize the huge weight that will fall upon the shoulders of both the Republican and Democratic nominee for President in 2008... to bridge the vast partisan divide, and the broad churches that exist within their own parties. Regardless of what any Conservative or Liberal might tell you, no one particular value system will have an electoral advantage come 2008.

So, in the wake of Hillary's bid being so widely discussed in the mainstream media outlets, I wanted to quickly explore some of the current potential candidates for the Democratic Party:

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Hillary's strength is that she will possess in her team the best political strategist in the Democratic Party... her husband. She has sincere principles, an enigmatic voice... she's capable of grappling with policy issues with intelligence and ingenuity... and has been referred to as a forceful galvanizing presence in the Senate ever since her arrival. She also has the advantage and disadvantage of her comparatively high profile, having been First Lady.

But there are many things that concern me about Hillary. I see strange parallels between her and Kerry. Her political judgment has, on occasion, proven to be very poor. Kerry's mindless decision to repeatedly mention Dick Cheney's gay daughter was symptomatic of insincerities that dogged his campaign... cringe worthy acts that remind me of Hillary, and her audacity to hold up a copy of a NY tabloid during a press conference which said "THEY KNEW," regarding September 11th and speculative reports of intelligence the WH had about terrorists using planes to blow up buildings.

Hillary has also been about as warm, fuzzy, and emotionally accessible as a refrigerated dung beetle ever since the Lewinski affair... her Vulcanesque debates in the NY senate race in 2000 were incredibly tedious and boring...

...much like with Kerry, we need to see the heart and guile of the old Hillary, without the radicalism... the woman who made you take notice, or compelled your attention... she needs to believe in what she wants to do to improve the country... she has to connect to her soul if she is going reach beyond the narrow love/hate relationship she currently has with the American people.

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One of the least discussed parts of the last campaign was the complete non-existence of a Kerry running mate. The 04 ticket was Bush/Cheney Vs Kerry and everyone could see it. If Kerry out muscled Bush in the first debate, Dick Cheney out schooled and outclassed Edwards in the VP debate. Edwards' impact resided only in a wonderful stump speech, which on occasion, particularly in the aftermath of Iowa primary, he delivered very, very well.

Like no other potential candidate he possesses a real empathy and compassion for those he encounters... the man really cares. He also has his moments... the best of which was heroically standing up to another example of Howard Dean lunacy as the former Vermont Governor rambled on, patronizingly, about the confederate flag... that, along with Dean's mental breakdown in Iowa, was arguably the most compelling moment of the Democratic primary campaign.

Edwards' strength: his heart and humanity, as essential ingredients as they are... unfortunately, get negated by his lack of stature and his lack of gravitas. In the VP debate Edwards' limitations... boyish charm embarrassingly contrasted with an earnest statesman like Cheney... were there for all to see.

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Biden, to use a cricketing analogy, is an all rounder. He does everything very, very, very well... but nothing extra-ordinarily well. He's a good orator, but not great... he's got substance, but, he doesn't really powerfully connect with your gut... he's a serious, intelligent man... but, his ideas and perceptions tend to be unremarkable...

For the life of me I can't figure out why he is not the Senate Minority Leader... if there is a reason for this that I am unaware of please feel free to explain it to me. He's an immense asset for the party, who adeptly elevates himself above partisan bickering.

And, the reality is, that if he runs, I think he has to be in the top two or three candidates to win the Democratic nomination, because he will consistently out perform the field...

...but, again like Kerry, whether he really has what it takes to uplift millions and millions of people, I doubt very highly. Might be more viable as a VP pick.

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The dark horse and thus far, my favorite. The challenge facing Hillary is to re-package her particular belief system into a broader image of a passionate, principled, strong American woman. Evan Bayh, by contrast, is quite obviously a man of principle, and quite conservative principles at that. Whether those principles come from his heart, and they can bridge the concepts of social justice, and improving the lives of the poor and disadvantaged, etc, in a coherent platform is yet to be seen. I've seen him out fox Hannity cleverly by his positioning on policies like Gay marriage, and he unquestionably possesses the look and stature that prosaically will put him at the top of the pile.

The problem with Bayh is that I've never detected his ability to project himself to a larger audience, which was Clark's problem in 04. Clark was by far the most impressive candidate in intimate, small town hall gatherings... one on one he could informally discuss issues very impressively, but he crackled, and grasped when addressing larger sentiments to a broader scope of people. I think it is yet to be seen whether Bayh has an ability to become something larger than himself... which is vital... to spearhead a political movement for change, etc... And, of course, coming from Indiana, he naturally has the potential for greater resonance in the south than any of the other candidates.

It's early days, and I guess time will answer my questions.

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