I’ve been taken to task by some posters over the past few days for being tough on the GOP presidential candidates while saying nothing about the Dems. Is it because I’m trying subtly to create negative impressions about the Republicans?
Not reallyâI just don’t think that the GOP has a strong group of candidates for 2008.
But…the Dems have their own problems as well.
The National Journal’s Chuck Todd outlines some of the potential problems with a Hillary Clinton campaign here. They include the fact that allegedly she doesn’t have a base of passionate fansâI’m not so sure about this, actually, that Todd is a man blinds him to the fact that some women really do love herâthe fact that she’s no Bill Clinton (yup), her hawkish position on Iraq (not good in the primary), and her gender (Iowa doesn’t like to vote for women).
Todd’s talking about the Democratic primary, so he doesn’t get into the biggest problem with a national HC campaign: So many people hate her. As Andrew Sullivan points out, she’s the one person who could unite the Republicans. Andrew pleads with her not to run. Don’t waste your time, Andrew. She’s running. She’s never believed what her critics said about her in the past, she’s not about to start now.
That leaves Barack Obama, John Edwards, Tom Vilsack, and possibly Al Gore. Hmmm. This is not a crowd without its negatives either.
For Barack, it’s inexperience, and not just thatâit’s ambivalence. Every time I read something about Obama, he emphasizes how it’s almost accidental that he’s in politics, and his wife hates it, and if she wanted him to he would quit tomorrow. If this is genuine at all, it strongly conflicts with his obvious ambition. (Obama cooperated with a profile for Elle magazine lately; politicians don’t talk to Elle unless they’re running for something.)
I have a general rule about people trying to be president: They have to really, really want it. Bill Clinton, the Bushes, Reagan, Carter, Nixonâthese men were burning with ambition. Ambivalence may play well in the press, but ultimately the voters want someone who wants the job. They don’t want someone who talks about how he could quit tomorrow.
Then there’s Edwards, who I like very much, but I think he hasn’t helped himself in the past four years. Tough enough to run for president from the Senate, which is not, in modern times, a very successful launching pad. (Not since 1960.) But where has Edwards been the past four years? Well, he wrote a book which is so cheesy he has to be running for president. And, on the one hand, he directed a center for the study of poverty, but he also joined the Fortress Investment Group, a massive and secretive hedge fund with about $26 billion in assets.
As you know, I think candidates for higher office and hedge funds just don’t mix. (That means you, Chelsea Clinton.) A trial lawyer who works for a hedge fund? That’s a double whammy. You think Bobby Kennedy would ever have gone to work for a hedge fund?
Tom Vilsack. Who? Well, he’s the governor of Iowa, but yes, exactly. (I do like that he has a v-blog, though. Not to mention videos on You-Tube and pages on Facebook and MySpace.)
That leaves…Al Gore. In my opinion, Gore could win this thing. He’s got gravitas, he’s been useful since 2000 leading a campaign to raise awareness about the most important problem in the world, and he’s a much less partisan figure than Hillary. He’s never been a great campaigner, but from all I hear, he’s been terrific over the past years when speaking to audiences about global warming. I think Hillary Clinton is impressive and underrated, but Gore would be a far more viable candidate than she.
The only problem is, Gore really hasn’t shown many signs that he wants to run. Democrats should hope that he does.