Saturday, April 26, 2003

Here' s a well-researched piece from the National Review from a couple of days ago. It explains why George Bush is going to get reelected in 2004. Bush, obviously, will be the candidate of the Republican Party in November 2004. His running mate will probably be Cheney, who's apparently done a good job as one of the President's top advisors; there's no good reason to change veeps unless 1) Cheney wants to do something else or b) we get all concerned about Cheney's health. In that case, Powell or Rice would be electable, as would Bill Frist or Hank Thompson.

The Democrats have a wide-open field with eight months to go before the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries. John Kerry, the favorite, currently senator from Massachusetts, if there can be said to be a favorite--he's sort of good-looking, but not too smart and never did much in the Senate, and he reminds a lot of people much too much of Bill Clinton--has raised about $7 million in the last three months, according to the article by Jim Geraghty. John Edwards, another blow-dried airhead who's a senator from North Carolina, is the other Clinton clone in this election, and he's also raised a $7 million war chest in the last trimester. Dick Gephardt is the solid, dull candidate he's always been; he's the House Minority Leader, a representative from St. Louis, Missouri, and in the unions' pocket. Gep is always the union man. At least he stands for something, though. Howard Dean also stands for something; he's the ex-governor of Vermont and is running way off to the left, and he's got $2.6 million, pretty good for an obscure regional politician from a joke state. He's reminiscent of Martin Sheen on The West Wing--charismatic guy. Watch out for him. Dennis Kucinich, a representative from Cleveland, Ohio, who would be the nerdiest presidential candidate since Michael Dukakis, is also running way out to the left; we don't have figures on how much he's raised, but I bet not much. No figures either on Carol Moseley-Braun, ex-senator from Illinois; she's unelectable not so much because she's a black woman but because she's so notorious for playing the double victim card, for alleged financial corruption, and for her extreme left-wing views. Her goal is likely to be unifying the black Democratic vote, probably 20% of the Dems who vote in the primaries, in order to wield it decisively at the convention.

One of the great things is that the article links to the official websites of all the candidates mentioned here, plus Al Sharpton, whose link isn't working. Kerry's and Edwards's are both completely vacuous of thought, except that Edwards's tries to appeal to the lawyers and jumps all over the Social Security bandwagon; he's going for the trial lawyers' and the old folks' interest groups, both of which are powerful and spend a lot of money. Moseley-Braun's is equally dim-witted. Howard Dean is blatantly establishing himself as a lefty, and Dennis Kucinich is doing the same but in a really dorky sort of way. Gep's includes a lot of typical policy wonk wank about his alleged enviro plan, which he believes in about as much as I believe my cat can fly, and the most recent union to give him their support. God only knows what Al Sharpton's site might contain.

OK. Either Kerry or Edwards will run very well early but they're appealing to the Clintonites among the Dems and I just don't think there are that many Clintonites any more. Whichever makes it through has a very good chance of winning the whole thing, though, more likely Kerry, who's been in the Senate for years, than Edwards, who just got elected for the first time two years ago. One of the two will likely bomb out very early since they're both appealing to the same audience. Gep will be second or third in every non-Southern state and will be one of the guys who drops out midway unless no one has cleaned up the South. If Kerry and Edwards should split their vote and the Midwest becomes decisive, Gep could do well. If not, not. He may be looking for the vice-presidential nomination. Carol Moseley-Braun will get a big piece of the black vote and will stay in the race all the way to June. She'd like a cabinet post, I imagine. Denny the K will get stomped by Dean for the NPR vote; Kucinich will be the first candidate to drop out of the race. He might do something wacky like run with Nader. Dean is likely to do well in New England, and there'll be a boomlet for him early on in the race. If both Kerry and Edwards cancel one another out for the blow-dried airhead vote in the South, Dean may do very well when things get to the industrial states.

As for any other candidates, Hillary Rodham Clinton is apparently not going to run. She just made it to the Senate and she knows as well as anyone else she needs some experience in her own name to be viable for the Presidency. She won't run in 2004 unless the party gets so desperate they draft her, among other things because she promised not to run for President in this upcoming election. She will run in 2008 or 2012.

And, of course, there is not-officially-in-the-race-yet former Vice President Al Gore. Here's his--well, some "grassroots supporters" of his--website. Al's site is putting it about that he'd be running first in New Hampshire if he were running. If this is still semi-true in a couple of months and Al can pick up some big, greasy contributions, something he's always been good at, Al will run in 2004 and will win the Democrat nomination for President.

Should Al not run--if he loses again, he'll never get a third chance, and he might want to wait for 2008--it's Kerry, Dean, or Edwards for the Democrat nomination, in that order of probability.

This is wonderful news. If you're a Republican.

Bush can mop the floor with any of those guys, and we all know it, unless there's a stock-market crash or a nuclear war between now or then. Both are pretty unlikely, much more unlikely than a year ago. Bush knows there's only one Democrat with the national prominence, the willingness to run, the generally moderate record, and the solid pro-war position that will all appeal to the swing voters whose support means victory in every election. And, just maybe, give him some real trouble.

That somebody is Joe Lieberman, Senator from Connecticut.

But Joe will probably not make it through the Democrat primaries. He's only fifth in fundraising, with some $3 million, behind (presumably) Gore, Kerry, Edwards, and Gep, and he's not much ahead of Howard Dean. If the Gore campaign is telling the truth, Joe is in fourth place behind (presumably) Gore, Kerry, and Dean in the New Hampshire primary.

Things don't look good for Joe. Gore, Kerry, and Dean split the early primaries. Kooch drops, and maybe Edwards too. Then Gore sweeps the South, with Moseley-Braun second. Everyone else drops out but Dean, and maybe Joe. Gore gets at least half of the vote in the Midwest and that puts him over to win at the convention on the first ballot. Joe comes in second or third or fourth overall. We could even see a replay of the Al-and-Joe ticket in 2004.

That's fine with me. Bush and Cheney or Powell or Rice or Thompson will whomp Al and Joe, or Al and whoever else, 54-44 at best, with 2% for Nader or Kooch, come November 2004.

What I'd hate to see is an Joe-and-Hillary ticket. Hillary didn't promise not to run for vice-president. That combination would give Bush a tough race. And if Joe and Hillary lose, they both stay in the Senate with Hillary as the Democrat front-runner for 2008. But the odds against a Joe-and-Hillary ticket are at least a couple of hundred to one.

Which means that y'all kin start gittin' ready fer four more years o' writin' "Here I sit, cheeks a-flexin', just squeezed out another Texan" on bathroom walls all 'round this here world in order to work out all y'all's frustrations 'bout them Tixas politicians.

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