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.