Can we name that tune with one note?
In 2004, it took two notes for me to call the general election. Of course that one might have appeared to be a bit easier because the Republican opponent was predefined. I mourned after the New Hampshire primary because it meant that the race was over. GWB would be around for another four years.
The ‘08 election has always been the Democrats to lose. The GOP has done little more than look for this year’s Dole. A candidate that won’t embarrass the Party too much. Won’t turn off the GOP base too much that they’ll disappear for a few election cycles. It’s not clear that the GOP can accomplish even that little this time around. Romney, Guiliani and McCain are unacceptable to the evangelical base. Huckabee may appall the others in that big red tent. My guess is that they’ll take their time in settling on the nominee because that is the only way that the Party can continue to command attention in the news for something other than more GOP/GWB stench wafting out of the White House.
If, or as soon as, the MSM stops giving Huckabee the gee whiz, "he’s such a nice guy," GWB style treatment , he’ll be gone. The only thing Romney has going for him is that his campaign wouldn’t have to go dark after securing the nomination. On the other hand, McCain may be less objectionable and damaging for the long term prospects of the Party. It might be mildly entertaining to watch the machinations of the GOP in the selection of their sacrificial lamb.
We could get all systematic and handicap the next few primaries to project the next President. Consider all the possible permutations and combinations. Engage in more money chase exercises. Easier would be simply to listen to the post Iowa caucus speeches by the front running candidates. Each of them accented a single word that characterizes his/her campaign. Forget "change." That’s like so yesterday now that it spews out of the mouths of all the candidates. (Not to mention the objective fact that change is inherent in the election of a new President.)
A glance at the loser side of the aisle is worth a moment for comparison and amusement.
Rudy’s word, no surprise, is 9/11. His noun and verb were extraneous.
Romney’s is "them." He did better in Iowa than "them." The "them" that didn’t appear in Iowa like McCain and Rudy. The Thompson that may or may not have been seen. The Paul that excited internet nerds. ("Them is a dual function word for Romney's campaign because it's also code for "them" those illegal immigrants.)
Huckabee’s is "we." "We" the Huckabee family. "We" the evangelicals in Iowa that supported him. His "we" is like the synthesis of the worst of Bill Clinton and GWB.
It’s as if GWB has split and divided into three separate parts and McCain has scooped up the waste products in the process. The businessman, the preacher and the 9/11 war hawk. Good gracious, compared to these three, GWB is positively complex and multidimensional.
So which Democrat will be the next President?
Edwards’ word is "me/us." "Me/us" the Edwards: the beloved dead grandparents, the parents, the sick and injured that don’t have health insurance as Elizabeth Edwards does. (Is it appropriate is it to give a standard stump speech after a primary contest, thrilling though it may be to ones’ supporters? Does this man ever give a speech or make an appearance without using "son of a mill worker" any more than Rudy cannot mention 9/11?)
Hillary’s is "I." I am so ready, willing, able; I, I, I. ("I" for institutional. "I" for Iowa. Enough for a win in ‘04 but only third place in ‘08. Can we now put to rest the notion that Bill Clinton on the stump would have helped Gore in 2000?) Her word has been reinforced in New Hampshire. The campaign is "personal" for her. Her team is letting it be known that if the voters don’t nominate her that will not stop her. And they can’t understand why a large chunk of her assumed natural constituency, women, have been balking at her candidacy. Hint: a lot of women don’t like to have anything or anyone shoved down their throats
Obama’s is "you." (Two observations. First, he doesn’t focus on his personal story, and yet is completely open about it. Were it not so unique (more challenging/difficult/compelling than Edwards’ story and Obama passed on quickly turning his Harvard law degree into big bucks), his self-presentation style would mean nothing. As it is, it wordlessly communicates that he’s forward looking/thinking and perhaps optimistic. Second, his performance in Iowa says something important about his managerial skills. No name, no money and no organization in Iowa a year ago and he went up against a man that has been camped out in Iowa for five years and a woman with 100% name recognition, a big pot of seed money and the backing of the institutional Democratic Party and he beat both of them.)
For 2008, Obama has the hottest word. And he uses it effectively. Plus, he has the coolest logo.
The saddest and ugliest element to emerge in the past few days is people to the left side of the aisle playing the race card. Those doing this are demonstrating that they are just as vile and sleazy as every Republican that has engaged in election race baiting for the past fifty years. And I don’t think this is spontaneous. It’s being organized and pushed within certain Democratic camps.
Can we now move on to VP speculations? Plenty of good candidates for it. One at the top of my list is Bill Bradley.