« Health Spending In Different Countries | Main | Family Values (Apparently, We Have Them) »

December 30, 2005


For all you horseracers terribly excited by the fact that 2008 is only two years away, the WaPo's Chris Cillizza has big ol' sugar cube waiting for ya, a comprehensive rundown of how good and/or bad each potential candidate did this year. As always, normal disclaimers about it being too goddamn early apply, but nevertheless, here are a few thoughts:

  • He forgot Clark.
  • The Warner love strikes me as misplaced. The guy propelled Kaine to an impressive win, to be sure, but that doesn't make him charismatic, highly experienced, or highly accomplished. If Warner thinks a straight appeal for bipartisanship and moderation will win him the election, he's going to finish up in Joementum territory. As it is, an obsessive focus on his tech background might feed into a powerful narrative about global competitiveness, but I've not seen him even toeing those waters.
  • George Allen simply isn't ready for the prime time.
  • Mitt Romney is, particularly if he passes this massive health reform plan in MA. That's the sort of problem-solving, compassionate conservative stuff the punditocracy swoons over.
  • While I like many of the Democrats (Edwards, Clark, Feingold, etc.), the only one I really see a clear path to the presidency for is Gore. I'm not going to get too deep into this now, but it's easy to sketch out a scenario where the primaries are looming, support for Hillary is lackluster but none of the other contenders are attracting real attention, a robust draft movement emerges, and Gore enters with an elder statesmen, party unifier message. He'll have no trouble raising money, no trouble uniting the base, no trouble attracting cameras, and no trouble achieving threshold credibility. He's been consistently against the war, has the loyalty of both Deaniacs and MoveOn members, has endorsed single payer, and has already been second-in-command of the country.
  • John Edwards, if he's going to gain traction, needs to go big. Making poverty the center of his campaign is awesome, but unless he's going to propose huge solutions, it's simply not going to cut through the more "pressing" issues of the day. If I were his advisors, I'd be whispering about a revival of Big Government liberalism, a veritable New Deal of major social programs meant to solve health care, explode asset ownership, strengthen the safety net, and ensure security for American workers so they can better navigate the choppy waters of the globalized economy.
  • Man, that Huckabee buzz has sure died down, didn't it?
  • Question for comments: who are the dark horses?

December 30, 2005 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference 2008:


Phil Bredesen, governor of Tennessee.

Posted by: Jon Parker | Dec 30, 2005 11:07:49 AM

As to your comments on Mark Warner, specifically - "an obsessive focus on his tech background might feed into a powerful narrative about global competitiveness, but I've not seen him even toeing those waters" - I have seen him do that (at the Jefferson/Jackson day dinner in Charleston, WV last year), and he was very, very good. That speech could use some smoothing, but it's only 2005. He's got a resume and record that's very appealing, and talking about that tech stuff, and education, well, to me he came across as somewhat similar to John Edwards, but broader, and with a definite ability to reach average people on economic and domestic issues (and the foreign policy issues connected to him). Throw in his fundraising and he's looking very strong to me. Hiring Monica Dixon is debateable (every Dem operative/staffer I know loathes her), but otherwise I think he's clearly had the strongest year among the Democrats.

It's harder for me to read the Republicans (aside from also realizing that Bill Frist more or less destroyed himself this year). I'd been thinking the governor of Mississippi was the likely eventual nominee - but given all the corruption scandals, I don't think someone with his background is doable now, which leaves the Republicans ... where? I still have trouble seeing McCain as the candidate. I think Hagel is far and away the most impressive and would likely be the best president (from a conservative's perspective), but I don't see how he can get the nomination. Maybe it will end up being McCain just b/c there are no other plausible options.

Posted by: Armand | Dec 30, 2005 11:42:15 AM

Ah, Bredesen. To that, I offer a hearty fuuuuuck him!

Posted by: Ezra | Dec 30, 2005 11:45:57 AM

I agree, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him make a strong run for the nomination.

Posted by: Jon Parker | Dec 30, 2005 11:53:48 AM

STEVE CIESLEWICZ, soon to be law student in Chicago. Liberally inclined intellectual with Midwestern values and charisma. Plus, Ezra Klein will write about Steve on his blog, thus creating a Howard Deanesque movement, only I'll win. I'm only 23 but just because the Constitution says my age prohibits my running doesn't mean a thing...just ask Bush, doesn't seem to stop him. Dave Weinfeld will be my running mate which might be another violation of the Constitution because he is Canadian. But you'll like him, he's from Harvard and loves baseball. Once I'm in power, Ezra Keon will become my top policy advisor, perhaps my only policy advisor. As further compensation I will provide Ezra with a date with Natalie Portman, but only after I have dated her for at least several weeks. However, he'll be on his own after that because after all we live in a free country and I can't exactly force Natalie's sexual pleasuring onto Ezra (though I can facilitate it). Besides, once she's been with me for a few weeks she'll love me so passionately, and for her this passion will be unhealthy and dehabilitating, that she'll do anything to please me. The first order being: Give my boy Ezra a chance.

Posted by: steve c | Dec 30, 2005 12:02:50 PM

Gore did win once, maybe he can do it again.

Posted by: merlallen | Dec 30, 2005 12:13:36 PM

Re-elect Gore!

Posted by: C.J.Colucci | Dec 30, 2005 12:18:05 PM

If Al Gore had any intention of running in 08, he wouldn't have just purchased that multimillion dollar condo at the St. Regis highrise in San Francisco complete with 24-hour room service, butler service, a fitness center, spa, lap pool, even a world class restaurant.

That's not the kind of thing to endear you to Middle America.

Posted by: TexasDemocrat | Dec 30, 2005 1:00:23 PM

My guess is Haley Barbour for the Republicans:

-He can straddle the business interests and the Religious Right, so that both groups can say "He's one of us".

-He's got a certain brand of machismo going. Not quite Dubya-style, more college-football coach. But still very appealing to the Republican base and the punditocracy.

-He's a part of the Washington inner circle, so the Republican establishment would be comfortable with him, but by virtue of his being a governor, he can run away from all the problems of the Bush years. He's basically the perfect combo, an establishment candidate who can run as an outsider.

-While being governor of the worst state on pretty much every public policy measure is usually not a resume builder, he was lucky to be the governor who presided over Katrina, and fairly or not, the Katrina narrative seems to be that Mississippi was the state that got it right. So he can take credit for Katrina. Plus it gave him a national profile, an enviable position not enjoyed by any other potential governor (aside from Jeb Bush, who doesn't seem interested, and Schwarzenegger, who's not eligible).

Posted by: Greg | Dec 30, 2005 1:22:28 PM

A Romney nomination could be a big plus for the Democrats. A LOT of those evangelicals, especially in the South, would rather stay home than vote for a Mormon.

Posted by: gswift | Dec 30, 2005 1:30:15 PM

I guess I don't agree with either you or Mr. Cilizza. Clearly, he forgot Clark. I do think Warner is a rising star, but clearly, we don't need another candidate that is a straddler. However, as a governor, he has executive experience. I think Huckabee has a good chance, as well as Barbour. I don't know if Barbour would appeal to the country as a whole. I also think Hillary's star is dimming a bit, she waited too long to take a stand (either way) on the Iraq war. I also think Edwards has a great chance for the nomination. He clearly has that "it" factor that people like, he has very little bad press. He really wasn't in the Senate long enough to have a long voting record against him, plus he's taken a stand against the Iraq war. I don't think Romney has a chance because he's a Mormon and he's the Massachusetts governor.

Posted by: Unstable Isotope | Dec 30, 2005 1:36:53 PM

I'm surprised that Jeb Bush isn't near the top of the Rethug list, or Condie Not-Nice.

I like Al Gore, but.

300 million 'murkins and we have this crap list of possibilities.

I guess Warner would be ok. He's proved he can get elected and govern in a red/blue split state. I really don't want to contemplate the hate fest if Hillary is the Dem. candidate.

I'm so tired of the imperial presidency that maybe the right solution a very modest man with very modest progressive ideas. Brian Schweitzer?

Posted by: JimPortandOR | Dec 30, 2005 1:44:25 PM

On Barbour, I think the guy is too regionally specific. A tobacco lobbyist? That drawl? It's like nominating the inverse of a barefooted, long-haired, drum circle leaders from Santa Cruz.

Posted by: Ezra | Dec 30, 2005 1:53:35 PM

For what it's worth, I refused to take Feingold seriously until that Patriot Act reauthorization thing. Seriously, that was a big deal. I think Feingold's anti-Congressional pay raise thing is annoying and he's too reflexively dovish for my taste. But he's shown he's a savvy player who can push his priorities to the fore in a hostile senate. And he does have remarkable guts for a politician -- he doesn't pander to the right and he doesn't pander to his base. It's hard not to be impressed.

I also agree that the possible dark horse is Phil Bredesen. It's superficial I know, but he has this strikingly kind face. He paints and skeet-shoots. He could easily be a punditocracy darling, a slightly less right-wing Chuck Robb without the cocaine problem.

Posted by: Laura | Dec 30, 2005 2:15:25 PM

George Allan is going to be the nominee on the other side. He too has the (fake!!!) southern drawl (he's actually from southern California), the football/NASCAR credentials, the right religion. Jeb's Catholic and the last name is a little bruised. Barbour is a neanderthal and he's got health problems. McCain is old and loathed by the far right. Frist and Lil' Ricky are toast. George Allan is an idiot with the IQ of a doorknob, but that's not a drawback for a Republican.

On our side I despair. I'm sure that we'll find some highly competent Dukakis/Gore/Kerry stiff who the MSM will manage to portray as even stiffer than they really are. Clark will fall nicely into that category. Hillary hasn't been to NH since her husband last ran and she isn't going to run despite what that bloated, pill-popping, hearing-impaired monkey says. Schweitzer might be a success, but he isn't going to run. Ditto Freudenthal. Gary Hart is a little old, but he at least has the loose zipper which keeps him from looking like a total stiff, plus he has that luscious Evangelical background and he can do the same religious talk that the Big Dog can. The Joes will provide entertainment for us during the primary season. I like Russ Feingold a bunch which makes it highly unlikely that he'll go anywhere.

Posted by: J Bean | Dec 30, 2005 2:26:55 PM

If I'm Gore's prospective campaign manager (I'm keeping my fingers crossed,) I'd have him move out of the country now and run on a "president-in-exile" platform. The teeming masses eat that stuff up.

Posted by: Rex Kramer, Danger Seeker | Dec 30, 2005 2:39:06 PM

I only care about the GOP at this point - it seems to me the only Dem question is Hillary or the anti-Hillary, whoever he is.

Romney has a weird Mormon problem that I knew nothing about until it cropped up this past month in conservative circles - I think he's now toast; if not, even if he overcomes that, his Mass record is a mixed bag and the notion that the original Red Staters would accept even a GOP man from the ultimate Blue State seems unlikely.

Allen's got a lot of 'splainin to do about Mark Warner's unstoppability before he can prove that he can carry VA.

Haley Barbour does seem like someone they'd pick... and boy would that be fun.

Boy, did Bill Frist manage to implode or what?

Has everyone just ruled Jeb out completely? Has he ruled himself out completely?

Like any Dem, I think if they really wanted to mess with Dem minds, they would pick McCain. But that's rather like a Republican saying "I don't know why you people dfismiss Joe Lieberman." There's reasons why they don't take him seriously, and we have to respect, or at least acknowledge, that.

Posted by: weboy | Dec 30, 2005 2:53:44 PM

I forgot Evan Bayh and Bill Richardson. How could I have done that? Between the two of them they create nearly as much excitement as Lieberman. On the other hand, they may be both competent and stiff enough to win the nomination.

Posted by: J Bean | Dec 30, 2005 2:56:51 PM

I see several of your other commenters have already beat me to this, but Romney can't possibly get the GOP nomination. The Christian right has already made it clear that an LDS candidate is unacceptable to them. Given their power in the party, I think that's just too big a hurdle for him to overcome. That group won't care in the slightest about his health care reform proposals, and they won't care what the pundits say about them, either. I also agree with some of the previous comments that Gore won't run. My money's on Warner, Edwards or Clark (if he can overcome his problems in the last campaign).

Posted by: Rebecca Allen, RN, PhD | Dec 30, 2005 3:10:01 PM

Dark horses: on the Republican side, I'll say Newt Gingrich. He could be a compromise candidate. On the Democratic side I'll say Russ Feingold and Gary Hart.

Posted by: Unstable Isotope | Dec 30, 2005 3:17:25 PM

Al Gore? nope, unless he gets a charisma transplant, and personally gives head to all the political reporters that cover these things, he has no chance.

Hillary? She is the 2nd term Bill without his personality, which means she is a triangulating mess.

Feingold? Too bad he is going through his second divorce, because his stands on certain issues makes him look good, and he does have charisma.

Clark? Wes is nice and all, but he lacks that certain spark, and as we move further away from 9/11, and as the Iraq War draws down, we will not be looking for a military person.

Warner? I have no idea, I haven't seen him speak.

As for my dark horse, Barack Obama, as the article a month or so ago said, "Why not now"?

Barack has the charisma, and charm to win. He has the love of the Democratic base, and the press loves him. I think he should take his shot now.

The Republicans will nominate McCain, his age and his not getting the love from some of the Republican base can be overcome, especially if he takes New Hampshire, and has the early momentum. I don’t see a George W Bush emerging in 08, and the Karl Rove/Bush political team will be in McCain’s corner.

The Democrats need to fear McCain, and need to figure out how to beat him. McCain has been brilliant, he goes on Leno, Letterman, and the Daily Show, and he comes across as a nice guy, he gets introduced as a maverick and that’s all the average person sees and hears about McCain.

An Obama vs. McCain match up is a winner for the Dems, maybe a McCain vs. Feingold match up, but I have my doubts that a two time Jewish divorcee has a chance to be President.

Posted by: jbou | Dec 30, 2005 3:37:22 PM

I agree with the folks above on the Christian right. They're not going to give up just because their boys, Frist and Dubya, ain't doing so hot. And they really, really, don't like McCain.

Somehow Hillary seems like Kerry all over again. Both would have been great presidents, 30 years ago (when they were activists with principles).

What we have today is a serious case of machine politics. The party machinery picks the candidate, and the primary process is just about validation. That's what we saw with Dubya in 2000. That's what we saw with Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004. The last arguably non-machine candidate was Bill Clinton in 1992.

Frankly the results of the current system have been less than edifying.

Posted by: Darius the Lesser | Dec 30, 2005 4:13:34 PM

Geez Ezra, you started this and then you make fun of us for responding? As they say in Tennessee and Texas; fool me once shame on you.

Posted by: J Bean | Dec 30, 2005 4:29:15 PM

I was very disheartened to see a substantial chunk of dKos write off Feingold because he's Jewish.

Posted by: fiat lux | Dec 30, 2005 5:22:54 PM

I'm a Snyder man.

Posted by: Minipundit | Dec 30, 2005 6:03:59 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.