March 24, 2006

Think About the Future

I've tried to resist the urge to start with the 2008 presidential speculation. I honestly was trying to hold out till at least the end of the year. But stuff happens and I can't help myself. So here goes my first speculation for 2008. A couple of things first. One, 2008 will be a wide open contest on both sides. No incumbent President or Vice-President will be running. This means that right now it's a lot like Spring Training - everyone thinks that their guy (or girl) will win it all. But the press, the donors, the activists, and the voters all hate a wide open contest with lots of candidates. It’s complicated, hard to cover, hard to decide who to vote for and who to give money to.

So the Presidential primaries are a brutal Darwinian process where something like 8 serious contenders on each side will be narrowed down to one candidate each, who get to do the big battle in November 2008. Without trotting out too much of my old Poli Sci degree, the mechanics of these races usually result in a dramatic primary race showdown between two likely candidates. These showdowns are where the true action is, and it’s these showdowns that I will try and predict.

For the GOP, the race will become a showdown between a moderate and a conservative. The moderate will be one of the a-typical GOP types who have broad popular appeal because they break with conservatives on issues. The smart money on this category is John McCain, but don't rule out Rudy Giuliani. Moon-shot speculation could include Condi Rice in this category. The moderate will go head-to-head with a conservative, an ideological true believer who will scare the crap out of most Craigorian Chant readers. Someone like Sam Brownback, who you can read about in Rolling Stone. Scary. Of course we here at the Chant will be pulling for the conservative on account that he will scare the crap out of voters and lead to an easy election of the Democrat.

On the Democratic side, it will come down to Hillary and Not-Hillary. If Hillary Clinton runs, she will be the instant front-runner for a host of reason layed out in this Salon piece. Hillary may be tough, but there are a lot of Dems out there with some real doubts about her, including me. This post is too long already to get into why I think Hillary is a bad idea, but lots of people will be looking for an alternative. Lots of people will be trying to be the Not-Hillary. John Warner, Joe Biden, John Edwards, Feingold and so on. The most interesting Non-Hillary is a reborn Al Gore. Check out this Ezra Klein piece on what Al Gore has been up to. If Gore gets in, he could really shake things up, but who knows? So it comes down to Hillary vs. Not Hillary and I will be rooting for the Not Hillary.

So that is the shape of things to come. Stay tuned.

3 comments:

Laura said...

We need someone who is not Hillary, not Kerry and not Al Gore. We need someone that doesn't scare the moderates and conservatives too badly, and someone who hasn't already been in the targets of the GOP. Kerry is universally known as a flip-flopper and Gore is the idiot who invented the internet and can't spell potato and we all know what they say about Hillary.

Personally, I love Hillary. I would love to see her in the White House. But it's not going to happen. And it's foolish to put her in the running, we need to find someone who has a chance in hell of winning. Possibly a relative unknown in national politics, much the way Bill Clinton was before his first election. Although finding someone like that with Bill's charisma is going to be pretty challenging.

And while I agree that we don't want another Republican in the White House, if we must have one, I'd rather it be John McCain than someone even more frightening. If someone more frightening wins the GOP nomination and we put Kerry or Gore or Hillary against them, we're in for it, because while the country may be veering away from the ultra scary republicans for the moment, they aren't headed towards those three. They can't even be a consideration.

Tyler said...

Not only will Hilary Clinton not be the next President, she won't even be the Dems nominee.

To me its pretty simple. The country isn't ready for a woman President. Too many old people (baby boomers and older) who won't vote for her just because she's a woman. You'll have to wait for those generations to die out before we get a woman President.

The other thing about her is she really comes of as kind of nasty and mean spirited at times which doesn't help her cause because it makes her look like a... (you know, starts with a "b" and ends with an "itch"). Whereas if a man acted like that it may not be such a deterant for voting for him. Yeah, its a double standard, but its reality. Hillary can't win. Maybe if she had a personality like Elizabeth Dole?

larry said...

This is a great topic, Chanter. No need to apologize for bringing it up.

I think both Tyler and Laura are right about Hillary, but I think it is more about her individually than the difficulty Americans have with voting for a woman as President (though I agree with that analysis). If we think Kerry was an easy target for the right, just think what they will do to Hillary. As smart as she is, I think she would be on the defensive for the whole campaign (her "right-wing conspiracy" remark, although accurate, will come back to haunt her big time).

I think Hillary could even lose to Sam Brownback.

Do you remember that during the 2004 primaries, every time that Kerry won one, the press said that Democratic voters were going for "electability" because Kerry was perceived as someone who could beat Bush. Of course, as soon as Karry was nominated, the press changed its tune on Rove's orders. But I think the press had a point.

Voters look for personality, for charisma. How else are we to explain Clinton beating Dole? I think 2000 was a bit of an aberration because people believed Bush's BS about who he was. By 2004, it was clear who and what Bush was, but I think many people just could not stomach voting for Kerry. He just personally turned them off.

On that score, I'm pulling for John Edwards. I think if he didn't make any major campaign gaffes, he could walk away with the election. And I think even the new Al Gore would have a shot, although it would be a lot tougher for him.

The other way that the Dems could take it is with someone like Wes Clark, who has the national security angle all sewn up. Without that trump card, the Repubs are sunk.

Condi Rice - if America is not ready for a woman, it certainly isn't ready for an African-American. Would Strom Thurmond vote for her if he were around? Would Trent Lott? I really hope she declares her candidacy and runs in some primaries. I'd like to see if Southern Repubs would really vote for her.

McCain - he's really not much better than Bush, but he hides it well. As such, he's dangerous. Very dangerous. I'd really worry if he got the nomination because, like Bush 2000, he's a real wolf in sheep's clothing.