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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Mookie Stink said...

You left out so many candidates--another clark run, feingold, warner, richardson, etc. I honestly don't think Hillary will win the nomination, nor do I think Biden will. Biden has dirt from his 88 run. I don't know a lot about Bayh, so I will not comment on his candidacy.

Graham said...

IMO these are the only credible candidates currently out there that I'm aware of. I don't think Feingold or Richardson have the requisite cache or moderate constitution to cross the cultural and partisan divide in the U.S. and ultimately that was what my post was about.

If Biden runs I think he'll be a tough competitor for anybody in the race.

Thanks for your comment mookie :)

Eban Crawford said...

You and I will probably never agree on Hillary, lol.

Truth is, both parties will be hard pressed in the candidate pool next election. People are getting a bit tired of the status quo. There could be some serious dark horse challengers as the election comes up.

Being libertarian, and not wanting to have my vote not count, I must admit, as bad as an admition that it is, that I usually vote the lesser of two evils. Third parties just don't have a shot these days, except as an occasional spoiler such as Perot or Nader.

In the future, Barack Obama could be a serious leader for the Dems. He speaks with an air beyond his years and usually steers clear of the party-line retoric.

A Knight Without Shining Armor said...

I volunteered and canvassed for Kerry last time around. it's pretty clear he is positioning himself as the front runner for the next election (I continue to get his campaign emails).

Personally, I'd like to see a Kerry/Clinton ticket. I support the Clintons (despite their evident flaws), but America is probably not ready for a Woman President. It's possible a woman VP would be acceptable.

Jami said...

nice analysis. regarding hillary, the bush administration was warned about 9/11. i like it that she stood up and said so.

my main problem with her is her vote to let neocon puppet bush do whatever he wanted in iraq. that was a huge mistake, and i think most americans will know it by 2008.

Graham said...

Hey Eban,

Truth is... I kind'a have a crush on Hillary :). But, I do seriously question her candidacy.

Kerry will probably run again. I was a huge, huge, huge Kerry supporter. From 2002 I had him pegged, but in the final weeks of the campaign he really disappointed me. There were so many opportunities to speak from his heart and gut and connect with people, and raise the political discourse... with the elequence of his youth... and he just didn't rise to the occasion.

Obama is wonderful, but I think 08 is a little too soon for him. I think he can only grow from the many years ahead for him in public service.

I'm sure many new faces will arrive on the scene before 08.

Eban Crawford said...

Just remember, if you ever get the chance to act on your crush, be sure to get video as it would make you a fortune! That vid would make more than Pam and Tommy plus One Night in Paris combined. But watch out, the Clintons may have you killed or something. Oh, and don't wear anything blue that could be stained, that would be cliche. :)

Hope your weekend went well!

Graham said...

If I ever get the opportunity to act upon my crush I will probably probably end it all right there. It doesn't really get any better than Mrs Clinton does it?

Okay... enough of my sordid, disturbing fantasies :)

Hope you had a great weekend too, Eban.

InsaneHippie said...

Hillary is too overhyped, she doesn't have a chance anywhere outside of New York, and the North. If she gets into a Dem primary she will be seen as yet another North East Liberal like Kerry, Dukakkis, and will sink faster than anything.

John Edwards (Silky Pony), is a trial laywer. I don't know how that gives him any credibility for the office of President. He wasn't even liked in his own state of North Carolina after his first term. The words "humanity" and "trial laywer" should never be put in the same sentence.

No one knows who Joe Biden is.

Evan Bayh probally has the best shot from that list because he's not your typical Northeast Democrat from a big city.

Most likely the Dem leadership will push Hillary and the state and local leaders will most likely follow since the Democrat Party system is top down.

Matt Hurley said...

Re. Biden, Graham said: "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."

Biden wouldn't want to be Minority Leader and have all those opportunities to make a fool of himself like Daschle and Reid. Especially if he is serious about a run at the presidency...

Graham said...

Hey IH,

I do think Hillary's appeal is potentially wider than you think. As far as Kerry, he was no Dukakis. You seem to forget the guy was about as competitive as you could get in the Election and came within in a whisker in Ohio and Florida of winning the Presidency. It's fair to assert that if he'd applied more sincerity and conviction in his platform, and a little more emotion and soul in his ideas he could have easily won. An awful lot of people, including O'Reilly of all people think Hillary could be a genuine contender(RE: EARLIER COLUMN, YES, YES, I GAVE IN AND AM NOW WATCHING O'REILLY & FOX AGAIN... I LASTED ABOUT A WEEK).

I don't think that's fair on Edwards. I think he is a genuinely caring person.. and very connected to your average person's struggles. His profession, no matter how cynical, doesn't negate the possibility that he is human.

About Joe Biden... anyone who sees enough of him gets to know him pretty quickly. He's a very compelling, charismatic chracter IMO. I just think ultimately he lacks the bigger qualities required to win an election.

I've been watching some stuff on C-Span with Evan Bayh. For anyone who's interested I'd highly recommend checking out the Road to the Whitehouse episode with him. He makes some really beautiful subtle points... he also makes some howlers in his speech. As an orator he has a way to go. But, at this point he's still my personal fave.

Right now, it's hard to know where the Dem Leadership will be at in 08. Hopefully, Dean will be ousted before long. A lot of it also depends upon where the Republican party is at... If there's no Giulliani, then it's likely that the nation get to watch the Republican party reject John McCain in their primaries, which will give the Democrats an awesome opportunity to claim the center ground.

Hey Matt,

Yes, I can understand if he has designs on the Whitehouse, but if not... people like him really should be at the fore of the Democratic Party in Congress. Every time I see Nancy Pelosi I am embarrassed... especially that response to the State of the Union her and Daschle gave a couple of years ago. Urgghhh.

Thanks for all the responses :)

Matt Hurley said...

Pelosi's (and Daschle's too, now that I think about it) performance that year (2003, I think it was) was pretty awful.

Getting back to the point, though... Biden, like all politicians - especially senators - want the White House. If he were to accept the senior leadership (especially a minority leadership) he would be tagged with it time and time again (especially for every loss). This is also why I don't take Frist's ambitions all that seriously.