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.