Tuesday, July 24, 2007

2008 Democratic Analysis

While fatigue and frustration resulting from the seemingly endless election cycle we’ve been in since about 2005 have dissuaded me from following the 2008 developments too closely, I figured I’d at least give my early view of the Democratic field since I did catch a bit of last night’s “YouTube” debate. I enjoyed the format, and hope we move closer and closer to real people asking questions and holding the candidates accountable for their typically evasive answers. Now, on to the list, starting with front-runners….

Jane Doe” – a shoe-in – she worked in the executive branch for 8 years and knows the ins and outs of White House politics. She’s a second-term Senator who has garnered support from members of the opposite party in a non-native state. Politically savvy and tough, she has a strong yet amicable personality that endears more and more voters who meet her. But wait – her name isn’t Jane Doe, its Hillary Clinton – and as a result, talk turns to “electability” instead of “inevitability.” Suppose it’s too late in her life for a name change?

Barack Obama – speaking of too late in life for a name change, the man whose name is one letter off from “Osama” is doing remarkably well given his inexperience. That said, he’s a fresh face with a resume eerily similar to Abraham Lincoln, who turned out to be a remarkable president in a time of crisis. He’s got good ideas, charisma, and the common touch that a lot of politicians lack. He’s forcing this nation to reopen the dialogue about race, an issue that still touches nerves on so many levels. Win or lose, he’s not going away and the weight on his shoulders is much more than that of most other presidential candidates, for better or worse.

John Edwards – Still has the common touch, but running for president for six years straight does not count as experience. If he’d held off in 2004 and won reelection to his Senate seat, he’d be a serious threat. The failure of Kerry-Edwards will hurt him in the long run, and the slew of stronger, more experienced candidates will keep him from breaking through. Name recognition alone is keeping him going at this point.

Joe Biden – The opposite end of the spectrum from Edwards. Probably the most knowledgeable guy in the field and he actually comes across as a straight talker in spite of spending over half his life in the Senate. He may have been the nominee in 2004, but the 2008 field is strong and crowded. Biden would be well served to play nice and prepare to be the next Secretary of State; he would be a sound choice for a President from either party.

Bill Richards – Another would-be nominee from 2004, his résumé is tremendous and he’s more than qualified for the spot. His personality is keeping him out of the top tier, and the debates aren’t helping. Another great cabinet member for any future president.

Dennis Kucinich – An important candidate, not because he will win the nomination but because he forces the field to reconcile with the liberal base of the party, all the while standing on pure ideological principle. His courage is to be admired, even if some of his views are “fringe.”

Mike Gravel – A less chipper version of Kucinich, he still brings some interesting insights to the debates.

Chris Dodd – good ideas, lots of experience, but it doesn’t seem that this is the year for old, white men in the Democratic Party. Maybe he should run as a Republican – they like them exclusively and seem to be more and more open to “moderates”…

Al Gore? – would be top-tier if he joined, but he seems to be enjoying his retirement, writing books and making movies in order to irritate Republicans and force the Democrats to focus on environmental issues. However, he’s still young; if the Dems fail in 2008, watch out for them to turn to their favorite martyr in 2012.

For the record, I’m still “undecided,” in part because it seems like the people of Iowa and New Hampshire get to decide for me. Something needs to change in the primary system. That said, I think the Democrats have a strong field overall, and suspect that the Vice-Presidential candidate will again come from within the existing field. Things should get much more interesting as fall turns into winter.


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