The Good: She a black woman running for president (as she reminds us in every speech). The precedent is good.
The Bad: She’s a black woman running for president. But more importantly, her thin political resume is plagued with scandal after scandal, making her presidential bid a joke.
Fox News hilariously pans over all the rows of empty seats when covering her press conferences.
The Verdict: She won’t win. Duh. But that’s really not important. See, Moseley-Braun knows she has no chance, but she’s running for two reasons. First, she’ll act as a check on Al Sharpton so he doesn’t become a kingmaker of sorts for the black vote. (Since the stodgy old white men can’t attack Sharpton themselves, they’ll be grateful.) Second, she regains some credibility and stature rather than remaining a one-term political has-been.
If she holds out for a few more months, she’ll achieve both goals and be rewarded with either a prominent ambassadorship or a cabinet position in a democratic white house. That, for her, makes it worth it.
The Odds: 1000-1
Not only is he a straight talker, but he’s also the only outwardly, genuinely passionate candidate in the race. This will help him maverick-friendly New Hampshire. Also, his unassailable health care credentials and strident anti-Bush rhetoric will do well for him in Iowa, where most democrats were against the war.
The Bad: Dean is a fiesty character, but his continued sniping at other candidates is starting to rub media observers and democrat insiders the wrong way. As other candidates turn to serious issues and train their fire on the Bush administration, Dean has started to sound less and less presidential and more like an obnoxious gadfly.
Dean’s biggest problem is that he has failed to articulate an positive overarching vision for the country, instead allowing himself to be defined by what he’s against (“Dean criticizes Bush / Kerry / Edwards…”). Unless he finds something better to talk about than other people’s shortcomings, he will peak early and, assuming WMDs are found in Iraq, fade as a top-tier candidate well before next year’s primary.
The Verdict: Clearly, the key to Dean’s candidacy is an insurgent campaign that topples Kerry in New Hampshire and carries that momentum forward into other states. If Dean can finish higher than Kerry in Iowa, he can then win New Hampshire and put Kerry into a must-win situation on Super Tuesday. On that day, he must win at least two states, and then take Michigan on Feb. 7. Anything less, and he loses.
The Odds: 6-1.
The Good: Edwards is bright and telegenic, with a Clintonian gift for connecting with crowds and simplifying issues. He runs on his life story of being “the son of a mill worker” and “fighting for working people” throughout his career. And he’s a southerner, though that doesn’t help him much in the primaries beyond South Carolina. At last tally, he leads in fundraising (but not for long).
The Bad: It’s pretty audacious of him to run with only four years of public service under his belt. Edwards is running on his bio because that’s pretty much all he has going for him. He lacks the credibility of John Kerry on war matters, Joe Lieberman on foreign policy, Bob Graham on homeland security, Howard Dean on health care or Dick Gephardt on labor issues and trade.
Light on policy, Edwards is trying to gain momentum by stridently criticizing Bush while filling out his campaign with ambitious proposals. There are only so many times you can hear “Mr. President, BRING-IT-ON!” before it gets annoying.
The Verdict: Edwards is Rick Lazio with a brain. That is, he’s bright, but ultimately a pretty boy who’s dismissible unless a bigger boy stumbles and creates an opening — much like Giuliani’s dropping out of the Senate race allowed Lazio to step in.
Edwards only has a chance if Kerry loses his frontrunner status. But if Kerry loses New Hampshire and Edwards wins South Carolina, then watch out.
The Odds: 8-1.
Go to Democrat Derby #2…