I’ve been a bit despondent as of late.
Why, you ask? Because the past few months have confirmed what I’ve long believed about the Democratic candidates running for president: They each have glaring flaws that make George W. Bush’s reelection frighteningly likely in 2004.
The script, I think, has largely been written. John Kerry is perhaps the worst candidate — a stiff, aloof, overpositioning, overcoached, insulated aristocrat who will have plain folk everywhere opting again for the guy who speaks their own language. More insecure than even Al Gore, Kerry is the hold-your-nose candidate who may win the nomination but will inspire precious few working-class voters in the general election.
Richard Gephardt, like Dole, is a tired old has-been who would scrap his way to the nomination only to leave the party coasting warily toward an Election Day train wreck.
Joe Lieberman would send droves of liberals running to Ralph Nader. Game over. (And Lieberman, with his just-happy-to-be-here persona, would probably go down smiling.)
Edwards is the only candidate to marry a cogent indictment of Bush with thoughtful proposals on crucial issues. Yet he is still a virtual unknown and, being to the right of Joe Lieberman, and having little experience and few accomplishments, he has zero chance of winning the nomination.
And as for Howard Dean, well, where do I start? For reasons I’ve described already (and will continue to point out), Dean cedes the South, women, military types, journalists and pretty much any other group outside of the party’s core base.
I’ll admit that perhaps I’m being a little too pessimistic. After all, the Bush administration is so deceptive and extreme, the economy so stagnant, the casualties in Iraq so wrenching, that each of the major candidates has a chance at retaking the White House.
But let’s not kid ourselves: With the current crop, Campaign 2004 is largely a faith-based initiative, more likely to result in four more years in the wilderness than a 1994-like tide that puts the Democrats back in the driver’s seat.
Yet hope remains for proud moderates like myself — Tony Blair Democrats who wish to be inspired by a positive and uplifting vision rather than raw partisan fervor.
For many of us, the hope is that Wesley Clark will join the race for president. We have spent tens to hundreds of hours, from furtive mousing at work to coordinating Meetups in the field, to build the necessary campaign groundwork should the general decide to run.
In fact, such has been the investment that the slightest insinuendo, casts a pall over one’s afternoon. As the imminence of his decision increases, so to does our excitement as we search for some sign that the general is ready to answer the call.
And beneath it all, I think, there is also a bit of fear that Clark may not run — fear arising from the knowledge that, with the current field, the future is looking rather bleak, indeed.
Don’t despair, yet, my friend. I wouldn’t worry too much about Kos’ comment. Last time I looked he had not responded to your request for a source. Unsubstantiated gossip, most likely. Kos’ position on Clark has changed as much as the Bush Administration’s rationale for the Iraq war. He even had a Draft Clark link months ago before going to work for Dean. You’ve seen the General. Trust your instincts.
If he doesn’t run that will be disappointing, to say the least. I think he will. I think its wise to wait as long as he has. Still, as bad as it looks now, I haven’t totally given up on Edwards. He just started running ads and has cash on hand. He was a virtual unknown before, as was Clinton. People haven’t focused yet, but that idiot Chris Mathews aside, the man has substance. If primary voters decide to tune in like in ’92, he’ll look better. I’m not saying I’m willing to bet even my meager inheritance (probably just some Perry Como albums) on him winning the nomination, but I haven’t written him off yet. Maybe that’s just the difference in an INTP and an INTJ. You’re probably right about Edwards, but I still see possibilities for success.
Plus, I still trust the Moron’s capacity for implosion. I also think to some extent the public’s news fatigue will become Bush fatigue. Keep plugging.
Hey, it was 2:30AM when I wrote that. I’m lucky it makes any sense at all. :-)
I wasn’t bothered (that much) by the Kos comment. And yes, I know Clark will run. But there’s always the possibility…
Dean cedes women? Ridiculous (see Joan Walsh’s piece on salon.com, in which she describes him as “sexy”). Anyway, wasn’t the male vote supposed to be the Democrats’ biggest problem?
Dean cedes journalists? Ridiculous, they love him for not kissing their asses. His press has been great.
Dean cedes military types and the South? Could be, but not more so than Gore.
Give Dean credit for getting the base fired up. As per George Will’s most recent analysis, that could be an even more important component of winning than attracting the swing vote (which I happen to think Dean will also do a good job of).
The man’s got thousands of supporters thronging to see him in Texas, Philly, Seattle, Oklahoma…. just try to suspend your doubts and enjoy the ride for a little while! If Clark gets in, you can happily back him… and if he doesn’t, then start rallying support for Dean and turning your despondence into positive action.
One thing that ought to be noted about Dean is that he is very much a phony, as many of his former constituents in Vermont have noted. That is to say, he’s a talented politician. He is very ambitious and has quite an ego-he’s not in this to protest. He wants to win. Prior to running in earnest, he sized up the political landscape and noticed a considerable niche for a candidate who was unafraid to stick it to Bush in no uncertain terms and went for it. If he wins the nomination you can be sure he’ll transform himself once again to expand beyond the base. Then Rove will have to decide between somehow transforming Bush into a moderate once again, or risk polarizing the swing states as a raging conservative. Remember, the Democrats are still the people’s party. If they can pick up the north and west they are in the clear.
BTW-love the artwork, not to mention Elliot Smith.
His press has been great.
“Destiny or Disaster?”
1994…year of the so-called Republican Revolution.
As a suggestion, I think that you ought to take a page from Kos and denote your strong affiliation with the Draft Clark campaign somewhere on your site. It makes your condemnation of Dean a little less disingenuous.
1) I wrote my diatribe on Dean way before getting involved with Clark.
2) When Clark announces, I’ll absolutely put a logo or gif of some sort on my page indicating my support. I’m not willing to endorse him until that happens.
3) In any case, my blog is totally separate from my help with the Clark petition. When I criticize Dean, it’s because I believe my criticisms are rational, not because I wish to subvert his campaign in some way. And when I criticize Clark, I won’t have anybody at Draft Clark telling me to mince words, either.