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Friday, November 14, 2003

"He knows where he is"

If you're like me, and you're taking an interest in the Democratic Party's Presidential nomination catfight, you ought to check out The New York Times series on the Demo contenders. They kicked it off yesterday with Richard Gephardt.

I like Gephardt, and would gladly vote for him for President. As I've stated here earlier, however, I think the voting population will see him as having already had his shot. In a way, he's like Dole was against Clinton -- too many years on Capitol Hill, too often mentioned as a Presidential hopeful with nothing to show for it.

As many hits as Gephardt would take for being a Washington "insider," none would come from me. I think he's done a pretty good job on behalf of the party over the years. He's a decent fellow, who keeps coming back for more and more abuse even when the outcomes aren't going his way. (Compare Bill Bradley, an outside shooter who never could take too many hard fouls.) Gephardt isn't rich, but he doesn't overplay the "poor boy" speech. He's done a great job handling public disclosure of his daughter's sexual orientation, and he supported the war in Iraq, at least initially, a position to which I can relate. He's actually got a health care plan -- with a specificity that I admire.

And from a pragmatist's standpoint, I really like the fact that he is an accomplished, experienced political campaigner who wouldn't fumble the ball in a race against Bush:

David Dreyer, who worked for Mr. Gephardt from 1989 to 1993 and is now a corporate communications consultant, said of Mr. Gephardt: "Say what you will about Dick he's 'too old,' 'too Washington' but he does know how to do this. He knows how to run a long campaign. He knows that what he says today could come back and haunt him tomorrow. When he wakes up in a hotel room in the morning, he knows where he is. He knows who he's supposed to call."
Something tells me Dick Gephardt's not going to be our next President, but we could do a lot worse.

Indeed, I can't remember ever doing any better.

Hey, you hard-core lefties out there: If it comes down to Bush vs. Gephardt vs. Nader, don't be stupid.

Comments (9)

"I really like the fact that he is an accomplished, experienced political campaigner who wouldn't fumble the ball in a race against Bush."

Could have said that about Gore, no? I'm afraid Gephardt has a "Gore problem." Too wonky; too bland; won't get people excited. Sure he'd make a great president. Gore would have, too.

Gephardt's got one big problem as regards his position on issues: free trade. He's against it, which plays to his protectionist-loving constituents but is a bad economic choice for the nation as a whole. It's just too hard to explain to a typical midwesterner why free trade helps the entire nation's economy when all he or she sees is high paying blue collar jobs going away. But it's true nonetheless. For all the illegal Mexicans coming to the U.S. now, imagine how many more there would be if NAFTA (which Gephardt opposed) hadn't passed.

But Bush, in his pandering to the steel industry, has succumbed to protectionist disease too.

I'm not trying to pick a fight, but not all "typical midwesterners" are obsessed with blue-collar jobs to the exclusion of knowing anything about policy. That's a pretty unfortunate stereotype.

Uh, living here in Indiana (having moved from Oregon), I can easily see that people *love* their factory jobs. I can't imagine (maybe from a lack of imagination) ever wanting a job on an assembly line, but people here think that's a great thing. Protectionism has a lot of fans here.

"Not all" is what I said. Generalizing is hazardous and not really necessary, is what I said. I would maintain that both are true.

My sense is that a perceived (accurately or inaccurately) lack of respect for life away from New York and Washington is part of how the Democrats lost the blue-collar vote in the first place. Any politician shrugs midwestern factory workers off as ignorant plebeians at his peril, is my point.

Alli, I'm sorry if I offended your Midwestern sensibilities. Much of the Midwest benefits from free trade, even perhaps some of the factory workers who might be working for a foreign multi-national or working in the import-export business. But Gephardt doesn't side with those Midwesterners, he sides with the ones who are for protectionism. And, even if it is a politically popular choice in some places, in the long run it is disastrous for this country, economically.

...which all has me a little foggy-headed. i was recently over at the LIUNA page and they're backing Gephardt. LIUNA is the "scraper" laborer's labor union. Construction workers, pipeline workers, tank farm cleaning crews, etc. Well, their jobs aren't going anywhere, i guess.

Yeah, no, I get it. Like I said, I wasn't trying to pick a fight. It's a pet peeve, I freely admit.

I like Gephardt as well, but I share the sentiments of the original poster. The fact of the matter is that Gephardt has done an awful job of rallying for Democratic support in the House. Where as Gingrich was able to further the cause of the GOP and gain influence, Gephardt has captained a sinking ship. He lacks personality and can be painted as too leftist. He is 100X better than Bush, but that does not mean he will beat him (he won't). I still see the Democrats dream ticket as Edwards/Clark. That one will have the GOP running for the hills.

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