Friday, August 19, 2005

The Republican 2008 Quandary...

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I've already elaborated upon the huge undertaking ahead for the Democratic Party leading up to the 2008 election. And yet I believe it will be the Republican's who face the most challenging task in sustaining their centrist, mainstream pretensions to the American people... in the shadow of President Bush's pending departure.

While many Democratic activists, scorned by Kerry's nomination, and failed Presidential campaign, are currently entertaining some staunchly partisan, potential candidates, as evidenced by Senator Feingold's rising popularity in a poll on the Daily Kos, I remain hopeful that the lessons of 2000, and 2004 will be learned, and a candidate of substance, sincerity, and moderation will emerge as the Democratic nominee. As I've stated, thus far, my favorite is Senator Evan Bayh.

But in this Primary battle... in this battle against partisanship, a battle against the likes of Howard Dean slurring all Republican's as racists, a battle against the kind of protectionist insanity that would see us re-negotiating vital trade agreements, a battle against the extreme and FOR a relevant, moderate, electorally viable platform and the political initiative... Democrats will not be alone.

Bill Frist, a man whose political ambitions were highlighted a couple of days ago by Trent Lott, has had an interesting few weeks to say the least. To be clear, in my opinion, Bill Frist will not be the Republican nominee. Governator Schwarzenegger has about as much chance as Bill Frist (i.e. none). But it's interesting to study Frist's recent political maneuverings as a general reference for the challenges that lie ahead for the Republican Party.

Firstly, on July 29th, Frist gave a speech highlighting his support for Stem Cell Research, in what was perceived by many to be a courageous move in opposition to the President's stated policy. Frist declared aspirationally ;), "A Cure today may be just a theory, a hope, a dream. But the promise is powerful enough that I believe this research deserves our increased energy and focus. Embryonic stem cell research must be supported. It’s time for a modified policy -- the right policy for this moment in time."

The more cynical amongst us recognize the application of political triangulation when we see it. Frist was asserting his own moderate credentials to set out his stall as a viable Presidential candidate, capable of appealing to both Democrats and Republicans. But, in demonstrating this tactic of moderation, Frist was clobbered with an instantaneous response from the Evangelical right, the cornerstone of the Republican Party base:


So, after this very public dressing down, it came as no surprise yesterday, when Frist passionately came out in favor of "Intelligent Design," and its teaching in the classroom alongside the theory of Evolution. A policy that is wildly popular with the religious right. The transparency of Frist's contrived positioning may been poor electioneering on his part, but, to be fair, that doesn't necessarily reflect, exclusively, upon the Senate Majority Leader. There is a basic expectation in the Party, quite understandably, that there is no need to drift towards the center when Bush has won two successive elections on a socially conservative platform.

But there in lies the rub for Democrats... the success of this Administration has not been, regardless of what many would like to think, the result its socially conservative policies. The success of this Administration has been the responsibility of one man... a supreme political heavyweight, whether you like it or not...George W.

Successive election victories clearly underline Dubya's qualities. His greatest strength is his ability to transcend policy discussion, the nuance of debate, the rationale, and logic, and simply appeal, in a very human way, to people's gut. He represents a right wing platform but appeals to the nation as a moderate, sincere and trustworthy Commander in Chief. There is a vacuum of electability that his departure creates. This will be exacerbated, of course, if John McCain... a man with more crossover appeal than any other politician currently in office... chooses to run again... because he will inevitably lose, and further entrench the notion that the Republican's have abdicated the center ground. The only man that I can see who can possibly bridge the divide between Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and electoral success as well as George W. Bush is Rudy Giuliani, ironically a social liberal... and that is purely down to his unquestionable reputation earned in the aftermath of September 11th. And yet, it is highly unlikely that Giuliani will run.

Many names have been put forward already... Bob Woodward is convinced that five heart attacks a day won't stop Dick Cheney from running... there's Mitt Romney from Massachusetts... but, its early days yet, and an unknown face could soon emerge. Irrespective I contend the battle against the respective extremes in either party during the primary campaign will be where the next election is won. And even though Republican's might not care to recognize it, it’s a lot easier to earn the respect of the Democratic base from the center than it is to codify the Religious right and win their support.

Interesting times ahead leading up to 2008 on both sides of the political spectrum... and plenty of reason to believe this election will be just as close as in 2000 and 2004.

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NYgirl said...

Graham, how could you forget my girl Condi?

NYgirl said...

Pressed publish too fast. How's the ciggy situation?

Graham said...

Starting out all over again NYGirl. A little bit stressed as a result, lol. Will get there.

"Condi," lol, is very impressive, but whether she can charismatically reach out as a political candidate I am not so sure. Does she have a political history? Has she ever run for office before?

Hope you are doing good :).

NYgirl said...

I'm doing well thanks :)

Try not to succumb to the stress. Maybe you could take a little vacation, might help you to unwind & get your mind off the cigs or fags, as you say in Britspeak. Have you gotten the patch? I've heard it's very effective.

As for Condi, Hillary won a Senate seat with a lot less(official) political experience than Condi. Of course the question remains, will she run?

Take care & just say no ;)

Graham said...

Hillary was a hardened political veteran from running with her husband in Arkansas, in addition to the Presidential campaigns. If you watch some of the old video files on C-Span American Presidents you can watch her metamorphosis from a radical and far more attractive, opinionated young woman, into the image expected of her from the electorate. I don't think she could have had more experience.

Her senate campaign was also in a heavily Democratic state, against an unpolished Rick Lazio...

Condi might be a more viable VP choice, I don't know. I do think she would be an excellent figure for the Republican's and I know, Dick Morris, repeatedly mentions her as the future of the party.

I will just say no, sweetie :). Thanks for all the encouragement. The patch is a little redundant for me. It's not nicotene I'm addicted to, it's smoke coursing down my throat and perforating my lungs. Such a pleasant thought :).

A break sounds like much fun. Thanks again for writing on a blog that you disagree with so frequently :). I appreciate it.

Eban said...

Hey bro, can you believe this? I just took one of those online personality tests that I claim to hate so much. It was a leadership test to show what leader you are. I am, ready for this, Bill Clinton! I just about laughed my a** off. I wonder if this means that I get a shot at your Hillary dream? hmmmmm. Luckily it was personality type and a political type test, lol.

I just thought you would get a kick out of that.

Graham said...

LOL, Eban! That did crack me up. My Hillary dream, yes... my secret crush on Hillary and it seems you and she were meant to be. Shucks.

I can only imagine the look on your face when Bill came up. But, if I remember rightly you like Bill a lot more, or dislike him a lot less, than Hillary.

I think she's dreamy, lol. Well she certainly was back in the day. But, I do usually like the older gals. OK, enuff of my HIllary crush exposed for all the world to see!

NYgirl said...

I like writing at blogs as I disagree with, if the host doesn't mind it. Thank-you for being so welcoming, while I might disagree with you at times, you do write beautifully & make excellent points.

I must say, I never suspected you had a crush on Hillary. And you're right, she knows what she'd doing. And there is a chance that she might find her-self moving into the White House again.

Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

I disagree on many points but the most fervent being I feel the Democrats are the ones that have to get it together.
The whole debacle which is Iraq, and I do believe it is a great debacle of the Bush administration, not withstanding.

Condi is not a candidate on any level this time, she made some gross errors in judgement these past two years and look at where we are. A yes man is what she has been to Bush despite her obvious intelligence.

It will be interesting but instead of looking ahead I wish the oarites would actually try to fix the mess we are already in. That is what is so frustrating, it's all about who will win and so often not at all about w the result.

Graham said...

Hey NY Girl,

I'm not so sure about Hillary's potential prospects. I don't think she possesses the intuitive political head her husband does, and she often makes errors trying to score points. She's also too much of an ideologue at heart, she sincerely hates her opponents, while Bill always was more in tune, and interested in the electorate, predisposed by their problems, and the required solutions.

+ I'm getting there with the cigarettes :). Thanks for staying on my case.

Hey Alice,

I don't state that the Democrats do not need to get it together. In fact I've rambled ad nauseum in three or four posts prior to this one about what I believe the Democrats need to do. I think the actual issues facing the American electorate don't simply revolve around the nation's foriegn policy... and it's important from a politcal perspective to recognize this, as much as the current situation in Iraq angers you.

Also, in terms of speculating about the players involved, that is ultimately what the election will come down to, that is what will really matter to the problems that we care about: a Democrat in the white house. The moderate platform, sincerity, and politcal skills of the Democratic nominee, and how he/she represents the party will ultimately determine whether or not that happens.

But, the point of my post was to say, it's not as if the three years ahead for the Republican party will be plain sailing by comparison to the Democrat's struggle to become electable. They have some very difficult choices ahead of them, and their party base, which can't be seen to define the party in the eyes of the public at large (because then they abdicate the center ground) are much more volatile than the party base of the Democratic Party.

In terms of fixing the problems that we confront, I'm afraid Alice, IMO, it all comes down to 2008. Because, the problems we confront internationally aren't really considered priorities or problems by this administration, and this administration has done so much to obstruct multilateralism, and the influence of the world community acting together. That's why 2004 hurt so much. That's why 2008 will be so important.

This is a political battle, for the sake of those problems you care about, this is a battle for the right candidate, the right image, the right message, and a victory in Nov 2008. Because that's the only way anything is going to change.