Sunday, April 22, 2007

2008 Part Two

First, in the department of "Who's in charge here?", we have the following: President Bush, in a never ending quest to politicize everything while accusing the Democrats of doing it, commented that NOT providing his latest demand for war funding might result in military hardships such as having to extend tours of duty to 15 from 12 months. The NEXT DAY, the Secretary of Defense announced that tours of Iraq duty would, effective immediately, be extended to 15 months, and that funding from Congress wasn't a factor in the decision. My question is: To whom should we look for a clarification?

This is the 2nd part of a very early look at the next presidential election. This week it's the Democrats who get examined. If there's a leader, it's Senator Hillary Clinton, doomed to be referred to as simply "Hillary" by the good 'ole boys of the media. She's the leader in money, anyway, and that's a start. It can't hurt (or can it?) to have Bill C. in your camp, at least from the standpoint of someone on board who knows the political landscape like both sides of the family mattress. The former first lady has been a surprisingly wonkish and successful senator, but as John Kerry could tell you, that's not nearly enough to get elected president. And there's the little matter that a good number of people hate the senator for reasons too complicated to even start to understand. Could the VRWC (Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy) be pulled into action once again to trash the senator's whole life? Don't think it wouldn't be tried, or that the money couldn't be found. But that only comes into play, one thinks, if she's nominated, and that's not knowable for about 12 months yet.
The best options seem to also come from the Senate. There's Barack Obama, the Illinoisan with the funny name but likable manner whose campaign has started well despite his newness to the main political stage. Since he never seems to wear a necktie, the haberdashery industry (if there is still such a thing) won't sign on as followers, but he seems so non-threatening that almost no one could be blamed for giving his candidacy a second look. The right has left him alone except for the claim that he attended a Muslim madrassah in Indonesia as a child. They then blamed the accusation itself on the Clinton camp. Both accusations were untrue. So they're stuck with attacking his middle name - Hussein. Breath easy, folks. He's a Christian.
John Edwards has already withstood attacks of a particularly nasty kind in his 2004 run with Kerry. The "Breck Girl", they sneer at the former senator whose misfortune it is to look younger than his 50-some years. The Right's pinup girl, Ann Coulter, called him a "faggot", using Cheney's favorite source, none. His message of "Two Americas" has found good traction with the Democratic base, and folks like it that Edwards repudiated his pro-Iraq war vote, something Clinton refuses to do. The wild card could be the cancer his wife suffers from, but most people understand that it's their decision to keep campaigning if possible. I think Republicans hate that he became rich in the Republican way (litigating), making some of them losers in the process.
Some other candidates start the race with a more uphill fight. Senators Biden and Dodd have both been around long enough to add weight to any ticket, but neither has a big base just because of geography. Biden's from Delaware, and Dodd is from Connecticut. Bill Richardson has lots of experience in big assignments, but too many Americans think you need a passport to get to New Mexico, where he's the governor. Still, he got a nice mention this past week in a national column by Cokie and Steve Roberts, who note that he's the Hispanic in the race.
Democrats this time around have some real momentum for which they can thank the stumbling Bush administration. It's not a lock like 1964, but the nominee won't have to carry baggage that the GOP candidate will have to tote. Hey, it's long way to the end of '08, but today you have to like the Democratic chances.


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