Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Dog Days and Democratic Daydreams


Talk about the political blogging doldrums -- everywhere I turn, it's Hurricane Katrina this and John Roberts that. I've pretty much had my say on them (Katrina is indeed a FUBAR situation, but then what the hell else would you expect?; Roberts will be confirmed and the Democrats are best off getting their perfunctory pokes in, rolling over and waiting for a fight they can win).

Normally when the nation's political focus narrows and I'm done weighing in on the main events, I turn all philosophical. Unfortunately, the topic I'm interested in right now (dialectics) is deep enough, and my thoughts on it shallow enough, that I feel like I'd seriously damage my own credibility by going there (I'm about to freak everyone out anyway, but on politics, not deep philosophical stuff).

I guess that means it's time to punt, so let's start talking about the next presidential contest -- Election 2008. Who's going to run? Who would you like to see run? Who do you think can win?

Here are my gut feelings:

- Hillary would be a poor choice for the Democratic nomination, for a number of reasons. She's a Senator, and they don't do well (no sitting US Senator has been elected president since 1960 and it wasn't a frequent occurrrence before that). She's a Clinton, which carries high negatives along with its high positives. She's worked hard to be a centrist in the Senate, which looks contrived and isn't especially energizing to the Democratic base or to independent voters. And so on, and so forth. Kerry has pretty much the same negatives except for the name.

- The Republicans don't really have anyone standing out yet. Schwarzenegger isn't eligible. Giuliani won't make it past Iowa if he's stupid enough to throw in -- as soon as the campaign heats up, his record and his personal past won't just bite him in the ass, they will devour him whole. Mitt Romney's only distinguishing characteristic is that he really, really wants to be president. Apart from that, he is the tapioca pudding of politics -- bland, lumpy and not very appetizing. Matt Blunt doesn't have the horsepower yet, and may never have it (he's in his first term as governor of Missouri, and the wheels are already threatening to come off his car and dad's, too). The only two interesting names I've heard are Condoleezza Rice and Newt Gingrich. Rice says she's not interested and I'm inclined to believe her; Gingrich is too serious a guy to be taken, um, seriously.

I don't have a "dream ticket" for the Democrats, but I do have a suggestion that I think would be workable:

Gore/Feingold.

No, really.

Al Gore will only be 60 years old in 2008, by no means too long in the tooth for another go. He damn near won in 2000 -- as you'll recall, a lot of people think he did win in 2000 -- and he's been working the Democratic speaking circuit, writing books, playing entrepeneur and saving Hurricane Katrina victims ever since. He's tanned, rested and ready and, as far as I can tell, he is not unloved in his party. The meme? Let's just say that the John Lennon song "(Just Like) Starting Over" would make a good theme song for a Gore campaign.

As a libertarian working in the Democratic Party, I naturally want to see that party move in a pro-freedom direction. While Russ Feingold certainly has a mixed record, he's been moving in the right direction for some years on issues like gun rights, and he is the only US Senator who voted against the Patriot Act. He'd be of definite help to the ticket in key midwestern states like Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and of course his own home state of Wisconsin. Feingold has been fairly openly exploring a bid for the 2008 presidential nomination. I don't think he can get that far that fast (and again, sitting Senators don't make good presidential candidates), but second chair ... why not?

Of course, Bill Richardson and Janet Napolitano are possibilities for either spot on the ticket as well, and a western governor still strikes me as a good idea. But let's just play with this Gore/Feingold 2008 idea a bit. It's worth some consideration. Rome wasn't built in a day, nor will the Democratic Party wake up on the Rothbardian side of the bed on any foreseeable near-future morning. A ticket with Feingold, Richardson or Napolitano on it would be a huge step in the right direction, though ... and I think that Gore is one of the stronger Democratic contenders for president if he can be prevailed upon to run.

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