A lot of people have been asking me lately about who I think will be the front-runners for the 2008 presidential election, and what will happen in Congress. This is all very confusing to me. After all, who am I that people would care?
Still, this is an interesting game that we play every four years, and since we’ll be hearing a lot about it for a while, I might as well jump in and drop a few thoughts on this.
OK. First off, it’s way too early to know how this is all going to shake out. A lot will have to do with the economy, how the president and Congress cooperate, and a myriad of global issues from the atomization of North Korea and Iran, to the re-KGB-fying of Russia under Putin and his cronies, to the mother nature crisis of the month, to so many other intangibles. Even so, there is some political movement now that the mid-term elections are resolved.
So, 2008. Let’s start with the easy one: if Colin Powell runs, he wins hands down. It doesn’t matter if he runs as Republican, Democrat, or Independent. If he runs, he wins. If there is consensus about anything, there is consensus about that. The man oozes integrity, conviction, and vision. It would be brilliant if either the RNC or DNC opted for some back-room shenanigans and tried a draft Powell coup at their convention.
With that out of the way, lets look at some early rumors. Senator John McCain has certainly positioned himself as a strong contender. True, he loses some from the far wings of both parties, but a centrist approach might be generally appealing in a couple of years.
The front-runner on the opposing ticket has long been Senator Hillary Clinton…and some are still shocked that she didn’t try a bid in 2004. Despite her political pedigree, and the muscle that comes with the FOB political machine, she probably isn’t the shoe-in that some thing. I’ve spoken to family-values Democrats and Independents (and even some Republicans) who have said that they are willing to vote for a Democrat, but they won’t vote for a woman because they don’t think it’s a woman’s place to lead. Being a life-long feminist, statements like this always take me aback. Though I might disagree, the fact is that it seems there is a significant portion of the voting public that won’t vote for Clinton because she’s a woman. I think that will cancel out the numbers who will vote for her BECAUSE she’s a woman. When we factor in the people of both parties who think she’s too liberal, I can’t help but wonder if even winning the Democratic nomination will be tougher than some pundits suggest.
One name that pops up is Obama. I think he will be a surprise contender. Why? Solely because the press talks about him. I don’t think the general public knows much about him, and at present, I don’t think they care. This is exactly the sort of surprise that makes a surprising run during the primaries.
I’m having a tough time picking a Republican (other than McCain) to be a true front-runner. The post-9/11 voting records of so many Representatives and Sentators make them damaged goods in the eyes of a lot of the public. I also think that governors will have a tough go of it as the mood of the public is siding more with a maverick insider with experience that extends beyond the boundaries of a candidate’s little state.
Following this thread, Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM) is often mentioned as a potential candidate. Honestly, he doesn’t impress me as someone with the vision necessary to lead others (I live in his state). As a Vice-presidential candidate, maybe, but not for the head of the ticket.
Evan Baye has recently started looking like he will run. Because of his father, he has some name-recognition going into the race. He might even have some good ideas, but for now I think he’ll have the most trouble with organization and money.
And what about John Kerry? Sorry. You only get to have one solid running as a party’s nominee these days (unless, maybe, you can wait out a few election cycles, like Nixon did). Damaged goods.
Then there’s the Condolezza Rice wild card. Like HRC, a lot of people won’t vote for her because she’s a woman. She has the Bush administration taint wafting around her like a skunk. And yet people still talk about her. That could be formidable. Don’t discounter her just because she’s part of an unpopular administration. Do *I* think she has a hope in winning? No. But then I never thought the American people would elect Bush, either (twice).
So, in the end, what do I see happening in 2008? I think there’s a less than 50-50 change that HRC will find her way onto the Democratic ticket. Who’ll make it? Maybe a surprise. For now, since the field hasn’t filled out yet, I’ll say the ticket is HRC and either John Edwards or Bill Richardson. For the Republicans… got to say that I think this is McCain’s chance. He’ll lead the ticket and if Condi isn’t VP, then it’ll be a surprise to solidify the family-value Republicans.
Who wins? It depends on Congress and the intangibles. Way too early to call.
For those who don’t know me: I’m a non-aligned moderate. I’ll vote for who I think will represent me best (to date, I’ve voted about 49/49/2% rep/dem/other in elections). I don’t have to agree with them, I don’t have to agree with their party, but I do need to respect them. Otherwise it’s just a vote against the candidate I trust and respect least. It’s that simple.