Monday, January 8, 2007

Handicapping '08, Part 1: The Democrats

I'm starting with the democrats because John Edwards was the last link in my stream of consciousness that led here. I also happen to think they are "easier" right now because they have several candidates I can actually picture winning their nomination (so far I haven't got that feeling about anyone in the GOP yet... their bench is shorter than a 7th-grader's attention span). But fear not, I'll come back and flay both sides with equal abandon.

Let's start with the obvious: Hillary Clinton. She has the best name recognition, has raised the most money, and she is the "one to beat" in almost everyone's analysis. I don't know, though. I can't think of anyone who would come in with more negatives. For me at least, it would be nice to have a president for the first time in 16 years who half the country didn't HATE with a passion. The only good news is that she would firmly establish a new dynastic principle of American democracy: Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton. All we need is Jeb Bush to run in 2012 or 2016, and by then Chelsea will be old enough....

Next, Barak Obama. He really intrigues me, for a variety of reasons. Not even a full term in the senate, and that by winning a race over a substitute candidate (Alan Keyes) who stepped in after the other guy had some sex scandal with an alien from Star Trek. (don't believe me? Look it up!) But rather than seeing him as an empty suit, he comes across as a blank slate. The lack of a record could be great for him (long voting records tend to kill senator candidates). And his bio is amazing. He could win. As a conservative, I would hope that his (admittedly short) 100% liberal record so far would give way to a more balanced stance in the oval office. But I'd have to see a lot more to get on board--it's early yet.

Then come John Edwards. Larry James (the poverty blogger I mentioned in my last post) says he has met Edwards, and believes that his passion for the poor is genuine. Since I haven't met either one of them, I'm in no position to say. If his plan were to include such things as encouraging marriage before children, I might even get on board. And he does have a nice head of hair. But I (and apparently many others) thought he didn't have the experience to be president last time, which is why he couldn't beat John Kerry (who I thought was a pretty woeful candidate) for the nomination. Since he hasn't gained any other experience since then (besides that of running, I guess), I don't see him beating a stronger field. If the dems choose a guy with no resume, I'll bet it's Obama.

What about Kerry himself? I just don't see the democrats rushing to re-nominate a guy who couldn't beat George W. Bush when there are fresh faces out there.

Then, finally, there's Al Gore. He's the wild card, I think. He did, after all, get the most popular votes in 2000, and he has been a senator and 8-year VP, so he wins the experience race hands-down. He was in my top tier of picks for the dems back in 88-92, when he was still a "moderate." But it seems like he is so very angry and extreme now. Maybe nobody else gets that same vibe from him, I don't know. Still, he's formidable.

So, I see it shaping up on the left like this: It will be Hillary vs. the "un-Hillary," who has yet to emerge from the pack. I'd like to think that the un-Hillary would be picked, as the candidate with the best chance in the general election. But of course, that pre-supposes that the folks who vote in primaries think that far ahead (remember Bob Dole? The base can do that on both sides). My best guess for the un-Hillary right now: Obama, if he plays his cards right, with Gore in the wings, ready to swoop in if he doesn't.

Whattaya think?

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