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Monday, November 3, 2003

The only guy who can win

As a long-time registered Democrat, I would like to see this nation kick Little Lord Fauntlebush out of his current playpen. Unlike many of the true believer idealists on the left, however, I'm not interested in revolutionizing politics or making a bold, new statement about what the Democratic Party stands for. I just want to get rid of Bush and Cheney.

I want a Presidential challenger who can win. Nothing else matters.

I remember back in '88, when Jon Lovitz did his hysterical sendup of Michael Dukakis on Saturday Night Live. He was in debate against Bush Sr., played by Dana Carvey. Bush was showing his dumb and prissy sides, but it was clear that he was going to win the White House. "I can't believe I'm losin' to this guy," moaned Lovitz's Dukakis.

If the Democrats aren't very careful, we'll be saying the very same thing next October. When I read on the 'net comments that "the jig is up for Bush," "people are fed up," "growing chorus of resentment," "his days are numbered," I shake my head. The President has an enormous advantage, and unless and until the opposition coalesces around one or two credible candidates, he's an odds-on favorite for re-election.

So I'm looking for a winner, and like any handicapper, I go to the list we're picking from:


Who's electable out of this bunch? Heck if I know, but at the risk of being labeled a racist, I'm going to cross Sharpton and Braun off right away. Between their race and their individual baggage, they're not electable. I'm not saying that's right or just, but it's reality.

So that leaves the Seven Dwarfs.

I'm going to toss Gephardt, even though he was all over The New York Times last week. This guy's been running for President for what seems like 15 or 20 years. He's never even made it close to the nomination, has he? Not a winner. Gone.

Lieberman? Lost in the last election. Trying now to sound like the brave, honest politician who's willing to do unpopular things when they're necessary. But hey, he's doing unpopular things! Plus, he's owned by the insurance companies, which is going to make his health care platform smell a little funny. And again, rightly or wrongly, I note that he is Jewish, which would make him a first for our great nation. Unfortunately, on that score, to quote Lloyd Bentsen, he's no Jack Kennedy. President Lieberman? Nah.

Dean? Great campaign so far, but he's not electable. Let's take the Democratic Party way back over to the left, he says. He's entirely too honest. It's refreshing, but so was Nader. Dean's a Dukakis waiting to happen.

So who's still standing? Kerry, Edwards, Kucinich, and Clark.

Kerry's got a problem in that he looks as shady as a Kennedy, but without the sex appeal. He's a rich boy Democrat who'd be running against the rich boy Republican. That's going to be a hard image to sell. He can't out-Yale a Bush.

Kucinich doesn't have a very trustworthy image, either. He's born again on abortion rights, but he was pro-life for years. He's way more anti-war than the average Joe. When they find out he's a dove and a vegan, middle America will say no.

So: Edwards or Clark? The general's going to fade, just as McCain did last time. We admire him, we respect him, but we aren't going to make him king. Maybe Vice King.

That leaves Edwards. Rich but self-made. Young daddy, JFK-style. Enemy of the insurance companies. Almost as slick as Bill Clinton. Just hawkish enough.

I'm tellin' ya, the one who can win is Edwards.

Comments (22)

I agree , but it seems like everyone loves Dean so much , even though he has vies that seem a bit more radical than the rest.

nice website , by the way

I agree with your analysis that Edwards is good enough to win against Bush, but of course, he won't win the nomination from the Democrats.

This is what he needs to do: he needs to finish out his term as senator, return home and run for governor. He needs to get re-elected as governor and then run in 2008 and he will be absolutely unbeatable. (He'll even destroy Sen. Clinton.)

I disagree with your assessments on race and Moseley-Braun, Sharpton and Lieberman. The problem here is that there is *no* compelling biography and no real administrative experience. Americans would love to elect a black person as president -- it's just that they haven't been offered a qualified one yet. (Can anyone name the black dude who almost ran in 1992 who would have, by today's standards, the qualifications necessary?)


Note that on Sharpton and Moseley-Braun, I attribute their unelectability (is there such a word?) in part to their "individual baggage" as well as their being African-American. I agree with you that on their records, neither could beat Bush, even if they were WASPs from Kennebunkport.

It's definitely the sprouts. :-)

A close examination of Dean's fiscal policy will reveal an old fashioned conservatism (as opposed to the neocon "eat the seed corn plan"). Dean is practicing campaign finance reform by attracting the majority of his campaign contributions from the now somewhat lower middle class.

Dean is the first candidate in my lifetime that I will actually voted FOR, rather than against the other guy. I knew Michael Dukakis, and Sir, Dean is no Dukakis.

According to a mathematical algorithm created by an astronomer and doctor, Dean has the best chance to win. Your man fares poorly by this system.

More here.

To Stash: I don't care about practicing do-it-yourself campaign finance reform. I care about beating Bush. I don't care if the Demo candidate takes money from hell. It's the lesser of two of evils.

Your Edwards link is to Clark's campaign. A message, or a mistake?

Kris: Thanks for pointing that out! It was a mistake, not a clever message on my part. Although as the Greens will tell you, there's no difference between Clark and Edwards. Or between either of them and Bush.

Boy, you were so close to running the table... but I'll have to disagree with you on your last comment. I think as the election approaches and IF things do not improve in Iraq, the General will be viewed as the only candidate who can beat Bush AND guide us through this "long hard slog." Admittedly, I think Edwards is great, but I don't see him being even close to competitive with Bush on foreign policy.

I guess it really depends on what one thinks the major issue of the election will be. If its "Terism", Clark has the best chance. If its the economy stupid, Dean or Edwards are more likely to get the nod.

I must disagree.

Nader has never been refreshing in the world of presidential politics. Dean and Nader are nothing alike. Dean seems aware that our nation has a "budget" and all new program proposals will cost "money" which comes from "tax payers." (I used quotes for the lost souls who read the blog and think Bush is a conservative and Dean a new age liberal.) Nader was shocked to find out that he'd have the power of nominating Supreme Court justices and other federal bench members.

Dean ain't left on the things people vote on -- money. Bush keeps forgetting that. I doubt the voters will.

And Edwards has as much of a chance of winning a Presidential election as Bush does being honored by NARAL. Though he's from the South he's never been governor -- that's usually the Southern ticket into the Big Show. You Yankees always get confused and think a Southern boy can charge the White House because he lives below the Mason-Dixon line. Southerners hate the people they sent to Washington because those people are in Washington. Southern governors stay at home with the good ol' boys and are given much more slack in what they actually do as politicians. Edwards is also getting despirately whiney at this stage in the race pulling out the poor good ol' boy card whenever given the chance -- he ain't smooth enough. If you want to schmooze like Clinton don't spend 90% of your time pointing out to everyone how much like Clinton you are. Edwards doesn't have the maturity now, in his career or as a politician, to win.

K, you may be right. In which case it's four more years. Because Dean can't win.

Noting this down to revisit in a year:

"In which case it's four more years. Because Dean can't win." JB

The "Dean can't win" meme frankly baffles me. In some sense, I think it's related to another issue. I continue to believe that the early rumblings out of the Bush camp that they wanted Dean to be the candidate because they were sure they could beat him was reverse psychology. The rationale of the GOP being the following: "If we say we want Dean, the Democrats will try to bury him." And thus the "Dean can't win" meme amongst Democrats was born.

But think of it. Close your eyes and imagine each of the Democratic candidates in a one-on-one debate with Bush. Which one do you really see the GOP shitting their pants over?

I'm not sure what a "meme" is, but I base my opinion of Dean on personal observation.

For one thing, the average American is very conflicted about the Patriot Act and the war. Dean isn't. To him (and to most of the Deanies who read blogs), they're both wrong, period.

That is a 100% sure loser in the general election.

Go ahead, vote your lofty principles -- and enjoy another four years of Bush.

Of course, my vote is hardly likely going to determine the candidate who gets the Democratic nomination. When it comes to the general election, it's not like I'll be voting for Dean if he's not actually the Democratic candidate on the ballot. Actually, the only Democrat in the race I could never being myself to vote for is Lieberman.

Why not make Clark king? McCain faded in 2000 only b/c Bush's name, kajillion dollar campaign warchest, and Karl Rove combined to make him unstoppable; no current Dem has anything like Bush's 2000 advantages. Plus, World War III (or IV or whatever) has begun since then. Clark's impeccable military credentials would make for a delicious contrast with the current AWOL male-cheerleader-in-chief. Since Bush has incompetently invaded two countries and declared us at permanent "war" with "terror", it makes sense to now make a real warrior president. We did it with Washington, Eisenhower, and some others too probably. Plus, Clark looks like Woodrow Wilson.

Care to wager a brewski on your prediction blogman?

Those McMenniman hippies could set us up when sanity is returned to this great nation. Conversely, if the plutocrats buy heir screwloose four more years, we could down a fifth and cry in the gutter with the rest of the former middle class.

Like I say, Stash, I just want to win. I'll vote for whoever the D's put up -- I could never vote for the Bush -- but I want to win. If I had to rank 'em in order of electability, most electable first, I'd put it like this:

"Weird" Al Yankovic

What's Gephardt doing up there?

With twenty-some years of legislative votes, any competent political staffer could come up with ten votes that Gephardt cast that could be twisted into his ardent support for the Soviet Union, Satan and Al Qaeda. They could probably find someway to tie him to Newt Gingrich, even.

I tend to agree with Jack. On pretty much all counts.

I don't believe that more than about forty percent of the country would ever vote for Dean if he were running against Bush. I think he would absolutely top off at about that point. Even if he ran a perfect campaign, even if he were able to perfectly communicate his positions and provide top-flight information to the public, I believe that on his principles, he's only got about forty percent of the country who would pull the lever for him. And that's not going to do it. (Note that this has nothing to do with my personal evaluation of him; I'm being purely analytical/pragmatic.)

The whole Jesse Ventura/Arnold Schwarzenegger phenomenon isn't just about celebrity, to me -- it's about an intensely anti-government sentiment that currently overrides just about every other policy concern for a very substantial slice of the voting population. Unless you're willing to stand up and promise to slash their taxes, there is a big chunk of people who will not vote for you, irrespective of anything else you say. Again, I'm not endorsing or condemning this, I just think it's fact. I think between the number of people who would never vote for Dean on issues like abortion and civil unions and those who would never vote for him because he doesn't see taxes as an inherent evil to be battled, he wouldn't ever get over that forty percent mark, even assuming a perfect campaign.

That being said? I could easily be wrong. I would like to be wrong. Not so much because I dig Dean personally, but because I'd like to see a more issue-oriented campaign than we've seen in a while.

Interesting post; I never would have picked Edwards myself, but you make some good arguments for him. One minus you didn't mention (I wonder why?) is that he is a tort lawyer, not the most popular breed of a sometimes unpopular profession.

Dean is interesting, but unelectable. Getting the Nader vote back isn't the Democrats' problem. And in fact Ralph and the Greens will run again anyway; if they have any chance to become one of the two major parties in our first-past-the-post electoral system, they have to destroy the Democrats, not the Republicans.

I think you've underestimated Lieberman big time. He's the one who can answer Bush best on the foreign issues, and domestically he is pretty moderate. I really don't think Jewishness will stop significant numbers of people from voting for him who would vote for any other of the Democratic candidates. He is pretty uninspiring on the stump; his best line is that he knows he can beat Bush because he already did it once.

You're right on re: Braun and Sharpton. When an African-American politician (or a woman for that matter) with real credentials runs, it will be an interesting situation. These two don't fit the bill.

By the way, Kucinich is a complete loony. Your original post was way too kind.

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