DNC Winter Meeting Speeches and Random Primary Thoughts
I caught the 3 important candidate speeches given at the DNC winter meeting on a CSpan rerun. The initial strategies of each was pretty clear. Here are my short-versions of their speeches:
Obama: This is too serious a time to be playing political games. We have to inspire the electorate to overcome a growing cynicism about Washington.
Edwards (whose speech text is the only one I've found online): This is a time for bold action and progressive ideals, i.e., end the war, enact universal health coverage, do what governnment's supposed to do--take care of those who need it.
Clinton: I know how to win. I've been through battles with Republicans and defeated them (in 1992 and 1996). I know how they think. I know how to counter them.
So, Obama is making a dangerous general election argument - reaching out to independents and those fed up with party politics - dangerous because this is a primary (this didn't work for McCain 8 years ago, remember). Edwards is going right after the Democratic base, appealing to liberal ideals. Clinton is making a practical argument: which Democrats know how to win? Clintons. But she's pushing for the woman vote along the way.
I don't know which will work, but I'm torn between Edwards and Obama and ultimately will probably end up supporting the one I think has the best chance to head off the Hillary steam-roller. Here's another fly in the ointment, potentially. It appears that Nader is preparing to run *if* Hillary is nominated. That's something for Democrats to think about. If he would make that threat very plain - if she wins, I run; if she doesn't, I'll stay out - it could have an impact I would think. Alot of liberals don't want to vote for Mrs. Clinton. I think Nader would do even better in 2008 if she's the nominee than he did in 2000 when he cost Al Gore the presidency.
One other thing is clear: there are too many candidates. Maybe one of the others will jump up and seriously challenge these main 3. But mostly I fear debates that have Kucinich, Gravel, Richardson, Clark, Vilsack, Biden, Dodd, keeping us from really hearing the main candidates go at it.
Another sign that Gore's not running: he shut down his PACs.
And here's a primary tactics question - obviously 1 year early: Vilsack will get plenty of votes in Iowa. But remember the way the caucus works: each precinct has a winner after many rounds of voting. Who will Vilsack's supporters choose second? Clinton? And if so, will Obama/Edwards/etc. supporters add up to more than Vilsack/Clinton?
Last random thought: if African-Americans really go for Hillary over Obama (as they poll now) because of some sense that he's not authentically in that community..it will be a tragedy.
No matter what any of the answer are, it's completely stupid that I'm giving it so much thought so far away from the primaries. But I think of the Winter Meeting as being the beginning of the process. It's the meeting in 2003 that I first saw Howard Dean on TV and almost immediately signed on as a volunteer. What that experience taught me is that things won't really happen to determine the winner until well after Labor Day. But things can happen before then to propel some candidates (Richardson?) into contention, and others (Biden?) into oblivion.