Sunday, May 07, 2006

Lots of talk going around lately about potential Presidential picks for 2008. I hadn't wanted to talk about it so early but I just can't resist today. So here's a roundup of some of my thoughts - curious about yours.

The very idea that Sam Brownback, or Bill Frist, or George Allen have even the slightest hope of getting the Republican nomination seems ludicrous to me. These are small men with demonstrable flaws and little to no stage presence. Brownback and Frist especially, a fanatic and a criminal, will be trounced, and early. And since I don't regard Allen as much of a political heavyweight, I didn't care much that it turns out he's something of a racist. But that doesn't help him either.

My money's still on Giuliani. I see him as virtually unbeatable, and think the people who say he's not conservative enough are missing the big picture. Though McCain still shows promise, and is sucking up to the right crowds. If I had to wager, I'd say a Giuilani-Powell ticket looks pretty solid. (Now Powell is a guy who probably couldn't get the nomination but would beat either guy in a general election). I'm not even sure why they should go to all the trouble of a big field. Let's just put Giuliani and McCain in a race and see what happens. I look forward to being able to point back to this post someday and see just how completely wrong I was.

[random GOP question: is Dan Quayle still alive?]

Your guess is as good as mine. Edwards and Clark will both make another charge, and it's hard to see how either will do any better than last time. Kerry will no doubt suit up again but I can't see him doing too well.

That leaves a couple of options: 1) an establishment candidate in Hillary Clinton. Markos of Daily Kos fame has an op-ed in the Washington Post detailing his current opposition to her candidacy--I think he's a bit too hard on her, and I think he over-estimates the influence of the netroots, as much as I hate to say it, but I agree with the thrust of his complaint. How can she criticize the war effort she essentially still supports? I just have to believe, with Markos, that third-way politics may have gotten her husband elected, but at the expense of health of the Democratic Party.

or 2) an insurgent candidate, like anti-war, anti-wiretapping Senator Russ Feingold, or little-known Virginia Governor Mark Warner. As for Warner, I know him only by reputation. In fact, being little-known may be his greatest asset at this point. Obviously, that's not in itself a winning campaign strategy; he'll have to become known, and impress, eventually. As for Feingold, I'll believe it when I see it. He'll likely gain an early boost from anti-war protesters, but like Dean and McGovern before him, I don't see it lasting, or translating into broad support.

Ok. So as far as I'm concerned that would leave the Democratic Party open for one Al Gore. I've been against it, and anyway believed him that he just isn't going to do it. But, the more I think of it, the more I think he just might waltz to the nomination if he decided he wanted it. He's spent the last 4 years developing all the grassroots and liberal wing bonafides of Feingold or Dean, and he spent the 12 years before that developing all the establishment, inside the beltway qualifications anyone could want. And he's got this summer to become a movie star and connect with the growing concern over the environment. The problem, of course, is what happens after the nomination.

At the Huffington Post, Robert Elisburg asks an important question, after reminding us that Gore received more votes than did Bush in 2000: who would have voted *for* Gore in 2000 that would now vote against him? Haven't the last 6 years only vindicated Gore's policies and his predictions of Bush's? Doesn't Gore already come into the race with all those votes, plus most of Nader's, just for starters? It's an interesting way of looking at it, but I suspect that if Gore believed that for one minute, he would run in a heartbeat. So, what is the argument that a former Gore supporter would use now to oppose him? What is Elisburg's flaw?

Will be interesting to see if Gore's movie is well-received and acclaimed as something beyond partisanship or if the GOP/Fox News can Michael Moore him. If the summer makes an issue-based star of him, and legitimately raises concern over the environment, how could he not think of parlaying that into one more run?

Constitution Party?
One other potential factor in the news these days, with the immigration debate in full swing, is a Constitution Party run from one of those build-a-wall minutemen guys. If he's a decent candidate at all, he could seriously pull some far-right votes from the GOP over dissatisfaction with their Party... big if.

Best I can tell, the 2008 race will come down to Clinton v. Giuliani - still my prediction, with Giuliani winning. But I can also see Clinton v. McCain, Gore v. Giuliani or Gore v. McCain happening. With the wild card being Warner. Of those, which would the Democrats have the best chance of winning? What is wrong with my analysis in general? Who am I missing?

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