Monday, December 05, 2005

The Road to the Whitehouse

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Comments: McCain has a considerable lead amongst registered Republicans in the polls, but George Allen has all the momentum, and it's hard for me to believe that McCain will be able to overcome the difficulties he encountered in 2000. Wesley Clark and Joe Biden just fall short on the Dem side. I'm not sure whether Clark will run with Hillary Clinton in the race, considering he will be hoping for a cabinet post if she wins, and it's hard to envision, at this stage, Biden being anything other than what Dick Gephardt was to the 2004 race: a passionate, aggressive voice, without any real substantial appeal.

The point of this post is that I'm interested in what you think. Republican and Democrat, please vote in the poll and let me know your thoughts on the potential candidates in my comments section :).

Who do you want to win the 2008 Presidential Election?
Free polls from
C-Span videos:
Hillary Clinton, Mark Warner, George Allen, Evan Bayh, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Russ Feingold, Newt Gingrich.

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Graham said...

My take:

I'm torn between Evan Bayh and Hillary. Hillary's name recognition, force of personality, and intelligence excite me a great deal, but her recent equivocation on Iraq disappointed me when it appeared that she was bravely staking a consistent hawkish platform. Evan Bayh is my perfect candidate in so far as he is a uniter not a divider, principled, sincere, and moderate... but his personal qualities and oratorical skills are somewhat lacking. Mark Warner expresses a lot of interesting, thoughtful ideas, and actually sounds like a real human being, but his vision of the Democratic Party fails to excite me... My prediction is at this early stage that Russ Feingold will do better than expected in the Dem race, and may provide the most serious, but ultimately fruitless challenge to Hillary. If national security is threatened by another terrorist attack, or turmoil abroad in Iran or Syria, Rudy Giuliani will win the Republican nomination, if not he won't even run because of his positions on abortion and other social issues.

Lisa said...


Graham said...

Ha ha! I hope so too :P.

Lisa said...

But seriously folks...

Hillary is too polarizing. It depends on how well she can disguise what she really thinks, and whether the press will actually ask hard questions about things she has said and done in the past that would be relevant to her candidacy. There's also the question of how much money she will burn in her Senate campaign against Pirro. She's probably the best Dem option as of right now though.

Giuliani's got the war on terror crowd convinced that he's legit. The question becomes, as you have written in the past, whether his views on social issues such as abortion, will keep him from being a serious contender in a party which is generally opposed to abortion. I am convinced on the defense part, not so much on everything else. 9/11 colored a lot of the perception of Giuliani, and rightly so. I'm just not sure that's enough to get him the nomination.

I don't know much about Allen, but some influential pundits have viewed him favorably. He's a wait-and-see candidate, regardless of what the current polling is. Same with Warner, Bayh, and Feingold. I'm not convinced,based on past history, that McCain can run an effective political campaign for the White House. I have the same problems with him that I do with Giuliani. I'm sorry, but...I just don't see Kerry as someone who can win an election. He lacks that empathy and common touch with those in the red states, and you need a few of those red states to win.

Mitt Romney sounds like someone I would consider. I would hope that Frist clears up some of these potential ethics concerns before he makes any decisions about a Presidential run. John Edwards to me is not a credible candidate, and he still lacks quite a bit of experience. He is a pretty face, but you need more than that to get elected President.

I love Gingrich, but as I've said before, there is just too much political baggage there. He's my kind of scary conservative. :P Hopefully whoever the Republican nominee is, that person will adopt some of Gingrich's ideas from his book Winning the Future, because he has some brilliant ideas for this country.

Graham said...

Well first off, you vote for Newt and then say Hillary is too polarizing! And if lacking empathy and the common touch disqualifies Kerry it would probably disqualify every Republican in the field :P.

Kerry is complex because he's an excellent campaigner and proved that in the primaries, and previous in MA with Gov' Weld. He also came within a whisker of winning the Presidency in both Ohio and Florida so you can't just deride his chances. He remains a very credible candidate no matter how much right wing talk radio hosts lay into him. I don't think he'll win though, or even come close this time around.

The best thing I'd recommend to anyone is to check C-Span's series. That way you get to see all the candidates informally and giving speeches. George Allen has strengths and weaknesses, but he has to be the favorite for me for the Republicans. I just don't see how Mitt Romney can win because he can't win New Hampshire. McCain is the NH dream candidate. Whatever happens he'll win that primary and be in the race. You have to remember that Independents can vote in the NH primary. If Romney doesn't win his neighbouring state, then goes south and struggles he's over.

It's not just abortion with Giulliani, he roomed with a gay couple or something like that for a few years and is very supportive of gay rights... I don't see how unless the debate is dominated by national security Giuliani can retain support amongst the Republican base. Even some idiot Democrat running against Lyndsey Graham (I think in your state actually) in 2002 brought that up to attack Graham in the debate because of his links to Giuliani. He said Giuliani didn't embody "South Carolina" values or something like that.

Unlike Democrats though, Republicans have some good Governors to choose from so the field might grow a bit on your side. Unfortunately for us, our governors, NM aside, suck real bad in terms of national appeal.

Lisa said...

Yeah. Ok. Do I need to quote your email to me where you said the same thing to me about Kerry? :P

Do I think Kerry has a shot? Yeah. Two actually. Slim and none. Talk radio hasn't influenced me one bit about Kerry. Maybe some others have been influenced, but I don't speak for them, as you well know. :)

I've changed my mind about Allen if you approve of him. I would like to see Romney succeed, but I'm not at all discounting your theory here. We will have to see what happens there.

I agree about Giuliani. The idiot Democrat was obviously referring to the social stuff, and he was probably right, BTW(which doesn't mean that it was an effective strategy against Graham). SC is a place with many NASCAR fans (which I am not), gun owners, pro-lifers, and other such controversial persons. So I don't think it was a totally irrelevant criticism.

We have many great potential Presidential candidates to pick from in 2008. I agree with that. I'm just not ready to endorse any of them quite yet. Just as long as it's not Jeb Bush, for the simple reason that's he's a Bush, and that's a serious drawback right now.

Graham said...

Holding my hands up: I absolutely make the same criticism of Kerry. But, I don't think it necessarily restricts him from mounting a serious run in the primaries or for President. He really is a good campaigner, it's just usually when his back is up agains the wall that he comes out swinging, like in the first Prez debate when he was outstanding and won by a huge margin on national security issues.

I think Jeb Bush has 100% commited to not running in 2008 so I think you're cool. Same with Condi, which is why I didn't include her. But, yeah, it's a pretty good list of candidates. Only thing is that there isn't really anyone serious from the religious right... Allen and Gingrich are the furthest to the right of all the prospectives thus far.

Lisa said...

(This is slightly OT, but it does include John Kerry)

It's just amazing how far some Democrats are willing to go in criticizing the war in Iraq. Here's Kerry making some interesting allegations about the U.S. military, which is a dumb move for him if he still wants to be President. Then there's Howard Dean, who will never be President, endorsing CodePink, and saying that we can never win in Iraq. If the Dems want to win back the White House, they need a better strategy than this.

Lisa said...

Maybe someone from the religious right will declare themselves as a candidate between now and '08. Again, I'm taking a wait-and-see attitude on just about everyone who has been ID'd so far for '08. Except Hillary, Bayh, Edwards, and Kerry. Don't like any of them. :P

Graham said...

Howard Dean was dumb. No question about that. It's just a long littany of mistakes like that, but Kerry was just reponding to a Red Cross report which said that incidents of US soldiers raiding the houses of average citizens, terrorizing them was getting out of control.

Kerry just explained what the report said and then said it had to stop. How is this attacking the troops? It's totally disingenuine the way that is being portrayed IMO.

Lisa said...

It's rather irresponsible in my view to bring up a report like that without concern for its veracity. It's similar to the stuff he said to the Senate about things he allegedly witnessed during Vietnam. If you are not sure what I'm talking about, I'm sure that there are links to the audio somewhere. The report may be true. My guess is that there's more to it than what Kerry mentioned there. Maybe I'm unusual, but I would certainly verify this information with more than one source before I go to the press with it.

Ok. I'm off to sleep now...some of us actually have to get up in a few hours. :)

Graham said...

Hmmm, I don't agree with that at all, my friend...

Kerry didn't allege anything about Vietnam. There was a group called the "winter..." something... in which men who had served recounted their experiences and the things they had done. The point was that young men had been forced into situations that they weren't prepared to handle and the terrible things that occured needed to be accounted for, taken responsibility for, and dealt with for the future.

It's absolutely disingenuous to say he painted all troops in Vietnam this way, or that the points he raised in Congress were an attack on the troops. Kerry was roundly praised by lawmakers after that speech and it is retrospective history rewriting to suggest that it was inappropriate to tell the truth about the war in Vietnam as someone who served. I thought what he did back then was amazing, and we needed more of that bravery on the issues in the campaign.

Why do you conclude that the report has no veracity? People attacking Kerry now aren't even aware there was a report. They don't even care... it's all politics and smears. I don't think we should hide about the things that are going wrong in Iraq... the things that are perpetuating the reasons why US soldiers are perceived so badly by the native population.

But, I absolutely agree with you about Howard Dean. What he said was really dumb.

M A F said...

Hello Graham,

My choice was that of Feingold. Bayh would be my second choice out of those you have offered. I would seriously consider putting McCain before a few of the other DLC Democrats on your list.

So, with regards to Dean's comments, if we haven't lost, what did we win?

Enjoyed our perspective on the Palestinians.

Graham said...

Hey Mac,

Thanks for the comment. I'm afraid I don't think you'll like Bayh at all... he's very DLC... but, he's DLC in way that is very, very sincere, and kinda transcends what you typically expect from a politician. I don't think you'll catch Bayh flip flopping for instance.

With Dean, personally, I don't have a problem with what he said... but, as the chair of the party I do think it was incredibly naive and reckless. Maybe this is a war that can't be won... but, to come flat out and say all of the efforts of those involved are in vein I think hurts a lot of people, and I can understand that reaction. I can't understand attacking Kerry for quoting a report and saying this kind of reckless activity is part of the reason why we're struggling over there.

M A F said...


Your description of Bayh doesn't sound like he is very DLC. But for the sake of clarity, McCain is preferrable to DLC candidates and I withdraw my previous comment of support.

Should Dean back track or recant his statement, then I would view his comments as being naive and reckless. Dean's greatest problem is knowing that whatever he says will be viewed under a microscope.

I am puzzled by something that you wrote in your last response. If the war cannot be won and people are hurt by this reality, will not a greater ammount of hurt be incurred as long as the facade of winning stands unchalleneged.

As for Kerry being attacked, his image has been defined by the "right" and this allows for him to be attacked when he speaks regardless of what report he cites.

Dean shares the same image problem that Kery has. Their images have been defined by their political enemies.

Graham said...

Hey Mac,

re: Bayh... that's the thing about being moderate. You can be moderate, and passionately believe in moderate ideas, and be very principled about it, which is the case with Bayh, or, by contrast, you can posture yourself as a centrist when you're actually not and get yourself into all types of trouble and come across as very insincere.

I don't know if the war can be won. I don't think it's about winning or losing. But, Dean was saying it was about winning or losing, and he said we had already lost. I just don't think this statement is smart or true.

I think that's a fair thing to say we aren't winning in Iraq and I think that's what a lot of Democrats have been saying, but Dean is our political figurehead and if he's going to express that he has to choose his words carefully, not to be dishonest, but to avoid what you describe, being pilloried and charicatured by his opponents.

To not be defined by your opponent you have to present something that is so appealing that it overrides what is being said about you, and I think while Kerry lacks that, Dean by contrast simply epitomizes the accusations that are levelled against him.

He's said this in the past:

"I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for."

...The contest between Democrats and Republicans is "a struggle of good and evil. And we're the good."

"Republicans are brain dead."

"You think the Republican National Committee could get this many people of color in a single room?... Only if they had hotel staff in here."

To me this just seems like a long line of missteps that undermine the party's credibility. When he was a candidate I didn't care so much. But, as head of the party I think it really damages us. That's just my opinion though and I know a lot of Democrats disagree with me.

Lisa said...

We will have to agree to disagree about Kerry's credibility. My point was that he could have handled that information differently to get the ball rolling on necessary changes in strategy. The troops aren't affected that much by what Kerry says. It's the American people he risks losing. That's all I'm going to say about that. I'm done. Carry on with the discussion. :)

Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

I see Hilary as of late doing a walk to the right of her basic ideology which is what I think the dems would have her do anyway. I think she is already trying to hide her basic rather left of center views and we will see some more of this over the next few months. The democrats are my party of note, they also have been extreme cowards in the past and I fear they will do what they have to do to win as many red states as they need. This backfired last time big time so I don’t suggest it but ,,,we’ll see it is still early.

M A F said...

I think that you have described the problems facing the DNC/DLC when you wrote "you can posture yourself as a centrist when you're actually not and get yourself into all types of trouble and come across as very insincere.

The problem with insincerity is mark on both parties. To the Republican's credit they don't worry about these sorts of problems because they are too busy attacking the Democrats, who in turn worry about the problem and spend too much time trying to defend themselves against a charge that often times evolves with the news cycle.

And as much as I'd like your statement to be true, "To not be defined by your opponent you have to present something that is so appealing that it overrides what is being said about you," it is not. A fine example is that of George Bush. (So would Murtha, Kerry & Michael Schiavo.)

Lacking party affilation I am not as bothered by the statements of Dean. They don't come across as being dishonest. Besides Dean was defined by the "scream." The quotes you cite are just icing on the cake.

Graham said...

Hey Mac,

I totally respect your POV. I actually agree with you a lot... I also think about wanting something real and sincere from the Democrats in 2008.

I also respect people feel differently about Dean, but my problem with those statements, and all the other statements Dean has made is that they perpetuate the hold this Administation has over power... and I really, really, really (etc) don't think this Administration is good for the US or world.

Dean reducing every Republican to being stupid or a racist, which is patently false, (as Lisa, Insane Hippie, and Voice Potential shows in my blog roll) harms our party's ability to reach out. Those statements aren't dishonest, but at the same time they are not the sincere expressions I am looking for from my political leaders. I don't want a man or woman consumed by partisan bickering, I want someone who's going to stand up and speak directly to the American people, above and beyond the verbal sparring, about what's going on in real people's lives with healthcare, the changing economy, and what's going on around the world. I want a Democrat to come out and say "for the first four years I'm going to take the steps necessary to guarantee our future's fiscal integrity, and then if elected again, I'm going to make sure every kid under the age of 16/18 has medical coverage."

The Clinton platform, basically, but the other way around. I think that's the emphasis needed... Dean's emphasis is just always so mean spirited and bitter to me. Can't Democrats aspire to represent something more positive? I think Murtha does that. I think the man is immensley dignified.

I believe my statement is true. You just have to recognize that politics is emotional and appeal to people's hearts as well as their heads. That's why I wrote that piece about "Demcrats needing to appeal to people's hearts." Kerry couldn't fight back against the smear campaign because he was appealing to people's heads, while they appeared to people's fears and emotions. It's emotions that compell people to vote, and that's what Clinton always understood as a politician. Just look at all the dirt they had on him, true or untrue, and yet he made people want to believe in something, and as a result, he could set the agenda for the public discourse. Their attacks were ineffective. I think Murtha did that to a degree. I think the Michael Schiavo case is different because the only thing people really heard was one side of the story.

Hey Alice,

Hillary is tough. She's definately willing to fight... I guess, like you say, it's early days. I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and see what she has to say. I just wish she would have taken more initiative over Iraq, and have been braver with her stand if it's what she believes. Right now the most important thing is she is just honest and really finds herself politically, rather than stake out positions that are convenient and expedient.

Mark Warner has a lot of interesting things to say and is a very likeable guy, if a bit goofy... so I'd recommend checking him out.

Lisa said...

Well, I'm certainly glad to know that you don't think I'm stupid or racist. :P

I think your hope that you will get a real, sincere Democrat as your Presidential candidate is unrealistic. Here's why: All the candidates we are talking about on the Democratic side can't admit what they really think because many of their views are unpopular. The Republicans are also this way to some degree. It's the nature of the beast.

Dean hurts the Democrats. There's no question about that. What is it that you think he's being honest about, the statements on Iraq? There's no JFK in this group of Dems, sorry. Some may be more real and sincere than others, but I don't see anybody that you have mentioned so far, at least on the Democratic side, who fits your description. Fiscal integrity sounds good. I would have to see the details of any medical coverage plan that extensive to sign off on that suggestion.

Howard Dean is a partisan sniper and he does nothing to unite your party by acting like he does and saying the things he says. The difference between Howard Dean and the rest of his party (other than the HuffPosters and Kossacks) is that he DOES believe what he says, and doesn't try to spin his opinion or add nuance or a dose of political correctness to it. This is why he's unelectable, as well as that infamous scream. It's not an act put on to amuse/annoy the Republicans, although we are enjoying the show. ;)

People liked Clinton, and didn't like Kerry. It's as simple as that. I'm not sure that it had much to with issues, per se, as it did with the individual personalities of each guy. I know you adore Clinton, but I can't give him the same credit for making people believe again as I would give to Ronald Reagan. I think Reagan's message was on a slightly higher plane. (But of course I would think that...I'm a Republican and strongly biased in that direction...)

Hillary is absolutely moving to the center. She has to. It's important for her not to be seen as what she is, like Alice said. She may be the most popular candidate right now, but if she wants to be seen as a leader, then she must find a position and strongly stick with it.

M A F said...


I believe that there are members of the DNC that don't fall into the previously mentioned category of not being sincere. Feingold is one such member (he leads in your poll) as is Boxer, (I love the fact that Boxer doesn't shrink when called a liberal) and to mention again that bad-ass-Murtha. I believe that Dean (foibles and all) falls into this category.

From my perspective, Bush's staying power is the work of an effective propaganda machine that relies upon those he calls his "opinion makers" to marshall support and maintain party loyalty. (See Lisa's Dean scream comment.) And let us not forget Machivellian fear.

Here is another Democrat, one John Hall that I find appealing. Hall is co-opting the language of the other party by redefining "national security." I wrote elsewhere, 'This appears to offer the DNC a chance to proclaim themselves strong on national security in ways that will be harder for the Republican's to challenge, or worse easily dismiss.'


Here is a cartoon that I thought went really well with your comments about Hillary "moving to the center."

Lisa said...


I haven't really seen much of Feingold, so I will have to take the word of yourself and Graham on this. I do agree about Boxer (and Dean, as I've said).

Some of the credit for Bush's success should go to Karl Rove and his henchmen. But understand this: Dean is not helping himself by stuff like the scream. We don't have to make anything up there. Whatever bad press Dean gets, he brings on himself. Have we made too much of the scream? I guess, but it's really entertaining video/audio. That's why it won't go away. :) I'm not sure how much fear Bush and co. elicit right now from either side. It's hard to argue that all the Republicans are marching in lockstep with the administration right now, so I will have to disagree on the current effect of the Machiavellian fear.

Thanks for the cartoon. :)

M A F said...


From what I remember of the night of the scream, no one in the crowd heard him. If not for the recording of the microphone, it would have been the scream that no one heard.

And I agree that Rove and his "henchmen" (I am suprised by this discription) do deserve credit. It is no doubt that Rove was the inspiration behind Bush recognizing his "opinion makers" (Bush's words) like Limbaugh, Hannity, Hanson, Ailes, etc.

In mentioning the use of Machivellian fear, I would agree that the effect that it once had is waining. It was central in ramping up for the invasion.

The Republican Party while not in perfect cadence has yet to break party rank in speaking out against Iraq. I do expect this to change in the coming year.

Glad you liked the cartoon.

Lisa said...


I did not know that about Dean. That's interesting (and rather unfortunate for poor Howard). There's more reasons than that to criticize the way Howard Dean is acting as head of the Democratic party, and especially some of the things he's said, which Graham has so helpfully listed. (Where the heck did he run off to???)

I think that we agree on most of the rest of what you said. The Rovian strategy has worked, for the most part anyway, and marketing is always a part of a successful political career/campaign. The Dems could learn something from the success of Rove in marketing his guy. Spin always will have a part in politics, no matter how real or sincere your guy appears to be.

As far as your comments on the Republicans and Iraq, that depends on which Republicans you're talking about. If you're referring to Congressmen/Senators, then I would have to agree. Many of them agree with the President on the effects of immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, but I'm not sure how much Karl Rove had to do with that assessment. Many Republicans have expressed reservations about the war in Iraq, but not anyone in a position to do anything about it. I hope that those who have a strong position on Iraq will, if they change that position, do it because they see evidence that the situation has gotten worse in Iraq and not base their position on the latest polling data. We shall see how likely that is to happen.