I love that the campaigning has started already. Apparently, it started earlier this year with multiple pandering by hopefuls in New Hampshire, where likely the first primary will be held (at least they insist they be first), and Iowa, where a caucus of party activists will be held even earlier. A commercial begging Obama to jump in will shortly hit the airwaves in D.C. and New Hampshire.
I wanted to jump into the fray with my predictions for the 2008 election, way ahead of anyone else. Here’s a list of the early hopefuls and their respective chances at to be nominated and win the brass ring, in no particular order.
Tom Vilsack. Two term governor of Iowa until January, 2007. Since nobody, and I mean nobody, outside of Iowa, or who is not a political junky has ever heard of him, he is apparently counting on his popularity in Iowa to help him win there, jump starting him to the nomination. He was the first Democratic governor in the State in 30 years, which is impressive, as it is still a very Republican State. He was the first candidate to officially announce. Don’t give too much hope to Tom. I give him NO CHANCE UNLESS EVERYONE ELSE DIES. In a poll earlier this year he came in fourth behind Clinton, Edwards and, GREAT SCOTT, even John Kerry. When you lose to Kerry in your own state, you should be thinking twice about running. Of course, when this poll was taken nobody was going nuts about Barack Obama yet, and he obviously would have beat Vilsack. Then, again, after Kerry's flub before the 2006 elections made him radioactive, he couldn't beat Dukakis in a run off, so maybe Vilsack would still be fourth. No matter. Good luck on your next career, Tom, and stop wasting your supporters’ money.
Evan Bayh. A senator from Indiana, another Democrat in a red state, and son of a former presidential candidate, Senator Birch Bayh, he was sort of thought of as the anti-Hillary for a while. He’s got that presidential look about him, but doesn’t have a real national following. His name recognition is really his father's name recognition. He does not have any committee chairmanships in the Senate, and even the committees he’s on don’t get a lot of recognition. However, he is seen as a moderate in his party. He called for Rumsfeld’s resignation very early, now a popular move even among Republicans, and has called for tough measures against Iran. He may get some votes in the Iowa caucus from his state’s proximity, but don’t count on it. If he enters, he will wind up fifth or worse there, and will fold. I give him NO CHANCE UNLESS EVERYONE ELSE DIES. If I were him I would go back to my real name, which is really Birch Evan Bayh, III. His father still has better name recognition than he does.
Joe Biden. United States Senator from Delaware. Sometimes I like this intelligent Senator, or at least some of his ideas. But his self-aggrandizement and whining during the Senatorial hearings for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was just embarrassing. I wish I had had a rock to crawl under when he cried to the Chairman, “But, he’s not answering the questions. Wah, wah, waaaah”. One of his questions was so long it ate up most of his time to inquire, before Roberts even got a chance to answer. He actually makes a better chairman than he does an opposition member. I agree with Biden that we should let Iraq split up into 3 separate sectors (I’ve been for that since we invaded) and often find he has intriguing ideas, but the great majority of Americans will find him pompous and BOOOOORIIIINNGGG. The last time he ran for president was in 1988. He was humiliated by being caught plagiarizing a British politician’s speech. The really weird part was that Biden told part of the British pol's life story as if it were his own. Now, that’s just strange. To be fair, on past occasions he had given credit to Neil Kinnock, the Brit, for the story, but for some reason didn't in Iowa. Somehow I think that is coming up again, and again, if he ends up running. Should by some miracle he win, then we are going to have to impeach him immediately, or we may all have to shoot ourselves in the head, to get his endless talking out of our minds. But, he also gets a NO CHANCE UNLESS EVERYONE ELSE DIES. Did I mention his middle name is Robinette? That’s worse than Milhouse, for crying out loud.
Hillary Clinton. United States Senator from New York and former First Lady. Is she even the front runner anymore, now that Obama has publicly stated he may throw his hat in? Some have suggested a Clinton/Obama ticket, but that is just asking for trouble. A woman president and a black vice president all at the same time. If they were the right ones, I’d say the country was ready. But they are not, and we are not. Hillary’s big problem is that she is the most polarizing force in the country. Personally, I always liked her husband and never understood the impulsive dislike of him and her by conservatives. On the other hand, I have never voted for her in either election. She has fought hard to remodel herself as a tough moderate. Since a Senator, she has gained a lot of fans, some even from the Republican side of the aisle. Nevertheless, she will energize the conservative base in this country like not even Christ could do if he came down out of the cloud’s with Vote for Jesus buttons and Judgment Day t-shirts. She will not make Gore’s mistake and run away from the still popular Bill Clinton (how could she). Bill, who will revel in his potential first husband status, will be a huge plus for her. The Republicans never understood, or could stand, that most Americans liked him. Hillary, is no Bill, and makes an awful speech, like fingers on a blackboard. My advice to her is don’t ever even try and get the crowd going. You sound like an angry duck. But, then again, have you ever heard the present President speak? Not so good. I give her A BETTER CHANCE THAN ANYONE ELSE RIGHT NOW to win the nomination. But I give her only a slight chance to win a general election for president.
Barack ObamaThe first term U.S. Senator from Illinois with a bullet. Who the hell knows. Right now he is being lauded as savior, sex symbol and rock star. What does he stand for? I guess we will all learn when his oppthe other Democratic candidates paint him as too inexperienced and too far left (Rush Limbaugh has already described his voting in the Illinois State Senate as Marxist). If he wins, the Republicans will pick up on that and defend the name calling by reminding everyone that other Democrats did it first. Obama seems to understand the whole religious angle, which is something he has over Hillary (Bill was good at that part, but she has not shown herself to have that ability). The atheist writer, Sam Harris wrote in his book The End of Faith:
“[W] live in a country in which a person cannot get elected president if he openly doubts the existence of heaven and hell. . . In our next presidential election, an actor who reads his Bible would almost certainly defeat a rocket scientist who does not”.
Barack can fill this role better than any potential candidate in either party. Although I give him only THE BEST CHANCE TO BEAT HILLARY I believe his social skills, religious base, and yes, his dark skin and Caucasian features, will give a better chance than her to win the general election, no matter what his political beliefs are, unless there is some scandal waiting out there to do him in. Put a gun to my head, I say he won’t beat Hillary in the primaries. One of those unknowns will do him in.
Sam Brownback. The Senator from Kansas who replaced Bob Dole when he ran for President. Sam, sit down. Don’t even go there, really. You are just too conservative. That’s all there is to it. No matter what you run on, what issues you raise, what speeches you make, you cannot get past the fact that you are more religious than all but a minority of Americans wants in a leader. Being in favor of teaching intelligent design and calling abortions the holocaust will not go over well with any but the really, really, really, conservative. Despite the fact that primaries are often won by catering to the activists in your party, I can’t believe the Republicans would be so foolish as to throw the general election because of it. It would be like running Goldwater again. I give him NO CHANCE UNLESS EVERYONE ELSE DIES.
Newt Gingrich. Former U.S. House Speaker from Georgia. If only he wasn’t so partisan when he was Speaker of the House, laying the groundwork for his own demise, and ratcheting up the “poisonous” atmosphere in Washington, I might vote for this fascinating, far thinking and articulate candidate. I can think of no other candidate who is as knowledgeable, and far seeing. He is well aware of his weaknesses and kids himself about his many visits to Iowa. But, he is who he is and remains unapologetic about his tactics while in power. I would not vote for him for any office unless he becomes born again in terms of his political attitudes. No matter. This country isn’t looking for interesting or even brilliant leaders. Newt does not have a personality which would succeed on a national level. Most people don't really want some on that smart running things. He also has to generate his own news, as he does not hold an elected office now. Although a frequent guest on cable and Sunday morning news shows, its not enough. I give him NO CHANCE UNLESS THE ENTIRE WORLD CHANGES AND WONKS BECOMES SEXY.
Rudy Giuliani. The former New York City Mayor and hero (what passes for in our day and age) of 9/11. Let me start by saying he’s not for me. No doubt, many feel he did a lot for New York City, was strong in the 9/11 aftermath, and he claims he has softened his rough edges since his bout with cancer. I don’t care. Like with Newt, he would have to convince me that he has really changed. While a prosecutor, he was often ruthless. While Mayor, he beat his opponents into submission. He was especially dictatorial in free speech issues. I just don’t think he believes very strongly in the first amendment. When his term was up, he tried to bully the new mayoral candidates into illegally extending his term, using the trauma of 9/11 as an excuse. I suggest that those who are curious about Guliani read Mayor Koch’s Nasty Man, a book on Giuliani written before Koch became a fan after 9/11. Is the country ready to elect a Giuliani as opposed to a Bush or a Clinton? Maybe. He regularly beats everyone in the polls. Is the Republican party ready to choose Rudy with all his socially unacceptable positions (pro-gay, pro-choice). Probably not. However, he has developed a relaxed and natural speaking style that people seem to like, despite his lisp. I give him THE BEST CHANCE OUT OF ANY REPUBLICAN EXCEPT MCCAIN.
Mike Huckabee. Soon to be former governor from Arkansas. Didn’t a former Arkansas governor win once before? Oh, that’s right. I like Huckabee, which would be a great button. I have seen him speak in New Hampshire (thank you C-Span). He is very folksy and seems to have common sense. It does not seem like he has a lot of weight right now, but he has been working it. He seems a very compassionate guy, particularly during the Hurricane Katrina crisis. He is very conservative, probably as much as Brownback, but seems to keep it more out of sight. Nevertheless, it would be a big issue in any general election. He may also have a Clintonian knack for scandal, although not in the woman department. I know that Clinton and Carter were unknown Southern governors who made it, but there was not the same set of strong contenders at that time like there is here. I don’t know why for sure, but I give him a LONG SHOT BUT ONLY IF MCCAIN AND GIULIANI SELF DESTRUCT.
George Pataki. New York Governor until January, 2007. Listen George, you became governor of New York because New Yorkers were tired of Cuomo and Howard Stern threw you his support. You are the fifth best known New York politician, after Guliani, Clinton, Schumer and Spitzer. I think it has forever galled Pataki that Giuliani kicked his ass in the post 9/11 popularity contest. Although, Guliani is twice the politician that Pataki is. I give him NO CHANCE EVEN IF EVERYONE ELSE DIES. Socially, he is not conservative enough to win a Republican nomination and has none of Giuliani’s positives to counter it. Retire, become a lobbyist. Don’t do this, George. It will hurt.
John McCain. Long time Arizona Senator. I am a little biased here. He has been my personal favorite since the last 90s. McCain is a genuine war hero. In the modern world, you often just need to sign up or show up for hero status, but McCain survived years of POW torture, and refused to go home ahead of others who were there before him, which he could have due to his privileged position as an admiral’s son. Sounds pretty heroic to me. I like McCain for his moderation, his willingness to buck his own party, his willingness to admit mistakes. He is a formidable speaker, strong on defense, and appears to me, at least, to put country Many conservatives dislike him for the same reasons I like him. Naturally, I don’t like everything he does either. Some of his supposedly benevolent positions like the campaign reform law he sponsored and his attempts to censor certain commercial activities in order to protect children, cross over first amendment boundaries in my opinion. I watched a hearing where he grilled now convicted Enron executive, Jeffrey Skilling, and showed a lack of understanding of basic economics. However, most of his comrades seemed equally clueless. He has already disappointed me by wisely asking the forgiveness of the same religious groups he castigated in 2000 by going to Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and speaking there. Still, he knows what he needs to do to win. I give him THE BEST CHANCE TO WIN THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION DESPITE GIULIANI'S GENERAL POPULARITY.
Mitt Romney. Soon to be ex-governor of Massachusetts. A Republican governor in one of the strongest Democratic bastions. He comes off as a very serious man, and has been making himself more and more a conservative. Frankly, he comes off a bit pompous and phony to me (how unusual for a politician). He impresses Democrats and Republicans alike, and might just have a dark horse's chance of winning. A Harvard Business School alumni, he was CEO of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games. The games were an economic success. He has shown himself to be a very strong governor. Massachusetts comprehensive health care initiative is an intriguing experiment. If it appears to be succeeding, he will gain great credit for it. He has also sponsored scholarships for many top Massachusetts’ students. He has been given strong economic powers which he has used to balance Massachusetts’ budget problems. I did mention he is a conservative, and while initially seeming at times a friend to the gay community and pro-choice, he is pro-life and anti-gay marriage. Some commentators think he is a stronger candidate than McCain. I think lack of name recognition overwhelms whatever favortism social conservatives might give him. Overall, I DON’T RULE HIM OUT.
I have left out a few potential candidates like Republican Congressman from Colorado, Tom Tancredo, who is a one trick immigration pony, and Democratic Senator from Connecticut, Christopher Dodd, who I just can’t see figuring in this at all. Don’t worry about them. They are not going anywhere. Will there be any surprises? You never know. Both parties are capable of being collective dunderheads, of course. There has not been a president this unpopular since Herbert Hoover, but Congress is even less popular. What happens in the next two years will determine many things yet unforeseen (I am not sure if I am channeling Yoda or Gandalf here).
THE GENERAL ELECTION
I am going out on a limb here and will suggest that, health providing (he will be 72 if elected) John McCain will be our next president, beating out anyone that the Democrats throw at him. Have you noticed that nobody calls him by his first name like we all do with Hillary and Rudy. I think that means something. Had he run as an independent, I believe he would have been President six years ago. Don't mistake my picking him as being a result of liking him best. I rarely think who I like will win. Usually, no one I like is even running.
If Rudy gets the nomination, I believe he will win also, and I am not a fan of his. Its not that I believe Hillary Clinton is a light weight. She will be a much better campaigner than Gore or Kerry and there would be more people whou would vote for her just because she is a woman, who will not for the same reason. I just think she is so polarizing that a society tired of bickering and personal attacks will not want to dangle so much red meat in front of the adverse party. If Barack wins, his inexperience will do him in at the end of the day. Other young Presidents like Teddy Roosevelt and John Kennedy were war heroes, and Teddy was president before he had to win it in an election due to McKinley's assassination. Clinton, also very young, was a governor.
If the Democrats want to win the big one they will need a Scoop Jackson type with name recognition. Lieberman isn't it. No one they have seems like he fits the bill. A number of Republican candidates seem like more reasonable, more intelligent versions of Bush, who after all, won two elections before Iraq did him in.
Picking McCain is not a way out prediction as he has been in the public eye and one of the favorites for many years. So, I will go a little further. His Vice Presidential nominee will be Michael Steele, who lost out on Maryland's Senate seat this election. I think I am going to write McCain and suggest it. Steele, a very likeable man, would be the first black vice president of the United States.
Feel free to completely disagree.
Postnote (11/16/2006) The power of this blog is astonishing. Within a couple of days of posting, Evan Bayh has indicated that he will not be running because there is too much to overcome. Is there any doubt that reading my analysis, he has given up? Since t.v. pundits to love to take credit for everything that happens, why can't I? Thanks for listening, Senator. Let's see if Tom Vilsack takes the hint too, or if he thinks that leaves him the only viable mid-western Democratic candidate. I'm betting he hangs in there until after Iowa.
- I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .