Democratic Ticket 08: An Embarrassment of Riches

Crossposted on DailyKos

Jonathan Singer posted an article the other day called The Sorry Slate of Republican Presidential Candidates in which he opines that the GOP's crop of 2008 candidates is perhaps the slimmest pickings for either party in the last 100 years.  

But you know what?  Here's what really floats my boat:  I'm not even thinking about how crappy their slate is - I'm thinking about how great our slate is!

Sure, we can all find flaws in candidates who aren't our favorites, we can all prognosticate about "electability." Of course we can - we're all political junkies and it's our nature to be rather cynical and jaded.

But just for a moment, put your cynicism on a shelf.  Our 2008 field of potential candidates really is an embarrassment of riches.   Just to name a few...

John Edwards - on humanitarian, moral leadership issues, he is riveting
Al Gore - on the subject of protecting our environment and the costs if we don't, he has no equal
Wes Clark - a tried and true expert on defense policy
Barack Obama - one of our country's finest orators
Hillary Rodham Clinton - just considering the intellectual heftiness of a second Clinton presidency, after the unbearable lightness of a second Bush presidency - the Universe itself would be grateful for the restoration of cosmic balance.

Indeed, our roster is full of brainy wonks, each of whom is well able to speak knowledgably on complex domestic and foreign policy issues, each of whom would return intellectual credibility to the White House.   I suspect being "brainy" will not be sneered at so much in '08 the way it was in '00 and '04.  The 2006 election suggests that the electorate has finally begun to tire of ideologues who think with their intestines instead of their heads and who pull policy out of their behinds instead of listening to experts and viewing empirical evidence with an unbiased eye.

I hope that having such a high-quality field won't, perversely, lead to a greater-than-normal number of gratuitous potshots being taken by Democratic bloggers and diarists who can't stand to see attention being paid to someone who isn't their top choice, like this recent attack on Al Gore. I know politics "ain't beanball" and "if you can't take the heat" etc.  But our candidates will receive more than enough unconstructive criticism from the GOPers and the media.

It doesn't take much effort to write a snotty post about why some Democrat, who isn't your favorite, shouldn't be anyone's favorite.

But here's my request (while I have you here with your jadedness sitting on that shelf):  in the coming months, try to refrain from unconstructive criticism of potential Democratic presidential candidates.  You can put your critical eye to so much better use by making the effort to offer criticism in a constructive way, with the goal being to help our candidates to become better candidates.

A great example of this are two articles by blogger Mik Moore on Barack Obama. In the first article, he writes very pointedly about what he finds wrong with Obama's famous speech about faith and politics, and in the second article he writes about what he finds right about the speech.  And here's another good example (if I do say so myself) of constructive criticism.

OK, sermon over!  I hadn't intended to write a diary about criticism.

I just wanted to yell CHEERS for our 2008 crop of potential Democratic presidential candidates.   Because our slate is most excellent!!!

Tags: 2008 Presidential Campaign (all tags)




To all our candidates!

(Oh, and please don't tell me how oh-so-scared we should be of the pillsbury doughboy from Arizona.)

by Rob in Vermont 2006-11-27 03:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Ticket 08: An Embarrassment

OK, I'll try to be positive.  We have a tremendous group of Vice Presidential candidates!

by NorCalJim 2006-11-27 06:02AM | 0 recs
I'd add in James Webb

Webb doesn't have the history in Congress or at the state level but he has a varied bio as lawyer, novelist, journalist, and consultant and has excelled at each.  

He is articulate and fearless about bringing up real issues.  If you haven't seen his post-election op ed at the WSJ, it's an important article. I suspect it will have signaled a welcome turn-around in the national discussion of class issues. feature.html?id=110009246

Billmon tells us that Webb used to be a reactionary.

That took me a while to get my head around.  But, that also means he may be the best person around to pull in some of that group of Republicans who have voted against their own interests.  I suspect he can talk their language.

by lynnallen 2006-11-27 06:08AM | 0 recs
Re: I'd add in James Webb

Da best of them all in my book - and not because he would get Republican votes but because he is the best.

Lengthy experience in the Senate is preposterous as a qualification for the presidency.  Has mostly been a handicap.

Webb won't be running by the way and is hardly the ideal candidate by that kind of measure.  Introverts are not known for their - ummm - electability.

But why not dream?

Best,  Terry

by terryhallinan 2006-11-28 11:39PM | 0 recs
Re: I'd add in James Webb

So why do you think he won't be running?

by lynnallen 2006-11-29 04:23AM | 0 recs
Re: I'd add in James Webb

So why do you think he won't be running?

Understand it would be an absolute delight to me if Webb did choose to run for president.

I just think Webb is too new to elective office, is a reflective introvert in a sea of faceless extroverts, would find the whole endeavor less than a pure joy.  For now the old sailor is just getting his sea legs, so to speak.

Altogether too much to hope for I think.

Best,  Terry

by terryhallinan 2006-11-29 05:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Ticket 08: An Embarrassment of Rich

This is pretty much what I want to see out of 2008.  A large cast each arguing a distinct philosophy.

HRC and Obama havent put forth anything distinct yet, but the rest have.  

Now I think that someone like Webb would be great to add to the mix, and Bill Richardson would be pretty great too.

The important thing here I think is that each should be representing part of the democratic party.  When everyone feels that someone is representing them things will improve in my opinion.

I personally don't have a top choice yet, but I think the important thing is the idea of conveying  sincere belief in something.

The only thing in addition to that I would like to see are some wedge issues aimed at radical republicans.  (Like say a ballot measure in every state affirming that when a woman's life is in danger she can abort.)  Whether republicans stand for or against that they lose someone in my opinion.

by sterra 2006-11-27 06:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Ticket 08

I don't really see it.

I divide the Democratic politicians into 4 groups: (from 'left' to 'right') 1.quasi socialists, 2.reformist liberals, 3.establishment liberals/establishment conservatives, 4.reformist conservatives. There are probably a handful of semi Republicans left as well, but most are long long gone.

1.Quasi socialists are strongest in the urban centers of big cities.  I'm not sure how many of them there are.  They haven't done very well in Democratic Presidential Primaries, the best being Jessie Jackson in 1988.  Dennis Kucinich showed how weak this group is at the national Presidential level in 2004.

2.Reformist liberals are Democrats who strongly believe in things like campaign reform and open government.  It isn't just a campaign issue for them.  Russ Feingold was obviously the leading reformist liberal, and he chose not to run.  Reformist liberals are interesting in that many of them are as suspicious of 'big government', whether it be old style welfare programs or spying on citizens.  In this way, there tends to be a fair bit of crossover with 'reformist conservative' Democrats and it also explains the appeal of John McCain to many reformist liberals.

3.Establishment liberals are liberals on most issues, but they are moreso believers in 'going along to get along' they don't believe in 'rocking the boat' (sorry for the cliches).  So, although they support social issues like gay rights and the like, you won't see them leading fights for it.  They also won't complain about things like illegal wiretaps untill they see polls showing which way the people are on the issues.  Establishment conservatives are basically the same as establishment liberals, they just have somewhat more conservative voting records, especially on social issues.  My guess would be that they are most strongly backed by blue collar conservative Democrats.

4.Reformist conservatives are people like Mark Warner in Virginia.  They are largely southerners with some midwesterners. Like I said, they are similar to reformist liberals: suspicious of 'big government'... but mainly have southern accents.  The similarities between reformist liberals and reformist conservatives probably explained why a liberal like our Jerome was so eager to work with Mark Warner. It also explains how several people who were working on the Mark Warner Presidential campaign switched over so quickly to Barack Obama.

5.Quasi Republican conservatives.  There are probably a few left in Congress, but I cant' think of any that have run for President since probably 1984.

There are 11 Democratic candidates most often mentioned for running for the Presidency (excluding Al Gore, who I don't think will run), as my list shows, I consider nearly all of them to be establishment liberals.

reformist liberals
1.Barack Obama
2.Wesley Clark
3.John Edwards

Without being too cyncical, I don't think it's a surprise that most of the reformers are those who spent the least time in elective office.  I personally consider myself a reformist liberal, but I don't deny that some reformist ideas just aren't entirely practical.

Establishment liberals
1.Chris Dodd
2.Joe Biden
3.Tom Vilsack
4.John Kerry
5.Hillary Rodham Clinton
6.Bill Richardson
7.Tom Daschle

Establishment conservative
1.Evan Bayh

by Adam T 2006-11-27 07:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Ticket 08

Speaking as a reformist liberal, and given that we have a system where the winner is whoever receives the most votes, as opposed to one where a lucky winner is drawn out of a hat, I don't see a problem with having so many establishment liberals--let them split that vote.  And given how (thank God) the voting takes place over a number of months, Evan Bayh won't win with a 20% plurality.

by Go Vegetarian 2006-11-27 12:34PM | 0 recs
Interesting analysis.

And I actually agree..
co-incidentally the reformist liberals you mentioned are the 3 who, at this point in the game, I think can run away with it.


by neutron 2006-11-28 11:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Interesting analysis.

Well yeah but Barack Obama hardly belongs with the "reformist liberals" - who are in reality simply liberals.  For now he is extremely difficult to really pin down.

The remainder are mostly routine conservatives to rightwingers.

Best,  Terry

by terryhallinan 2006-11-28 11:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Ticket 08: An Embarrassment of Rich

No single candidate (anymore) that's for fair trade and against the death penalty?

Two of the top three candidates supported building the Mexico fence?

I'm not embarassed by the riches yet.

by hoose 2006-11-27 07:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Ticket 08: An Embarrassment of Rich

Man, your expectations are way too low.

But here's my request (while I have you here with your jadedness sitting on that shelf):  in the coming months, try to refrain from unconstructive criticism of potential Democratic presidential candidates.  You can put your critical eye to so much better use by making the effort to offer criticism in a constructive way, with the goal being to help our candidates to become better candidates.

Talk about insanity. If the netroots only offer constructive criticism of the DLC candidates, and the DLC hatchetmen throw everything they have against the good Democratic candidate, who do you think will win?

by Bob Brigham 2006-11-27 08:49AM | 0 recs

Who said that it would be helpful to offer constructive criticism only toward "DLC" candidates?  That's certainly not how I intended anyone to interpret my post.  Whoever is your first choice, that is a person who, I would bet, would benefit from constructive criticism, and would not benefit from unconstructive sniping like the Gore-bashing post I linked to.

I'm making a really elementary point here. Nothing profound.

by Rob in Vermont 2006-11-27 09:13AM | 0 recs
Re: what?

You are suggesting the netroots unilaterally disarm in the battle against the DLC for the future of our party.

by Bob Brigham 2006-11-27 09:22AM | 0 recs
Re: what?

You are someone who really needs to work on you reading comprehension skills.  That is NOT what he suggested or said at all.  

by yitbos96bb 2006-11-27 11:08AM | 0 recs
Re: what?

That is the result of what he is calling for. If one side is in it to win, and the other side is focused on a "good game" -- who do you think is going to win?

by Bob Brigham 2006-11-27 11:26AM | 0 recs

On re-reading your comment, I see the point you are making: HRC's powerful friends at the DLC will surely tear to shreds all the truly good candidates, so we'd surely better tear HRC to shreds. Mutually Assured Destruction. OK, call me insane, but I don't think that's a really great plan.

by Rob in Vermont 2006-11-27 09:24AM | 0 recs

So we should let them win and let them use superdelegates to the DNC to have enough votes to destroy "reform" the 50 state strategy (moving the Democratic Party back a generation) all because you don't like to fight hard enough to win?

Yes, that is insane. We tried that -- again and again -- and it didn't work. But the take-no-prisoners approach we took to the DNC Chair race did work. By savaging each and every candidate the establishment pushed while passionately offering a vision for the future the grassroots carried the day.

by Bob Brigham 2006-11-27 09:46AM | 0 recs

I think Edwards, for one, is "passionately offering a [progressive] vision for the future."  I think it makes sense to suggest that people who prefer, for example, Gore, do not savage Edwards, and vice versa.  Now, I don't know what you think of Edwards or Gore, but I infer that you think Hillary Rodham Clinton is incapable of passionately offering a progressive vision.  So you think savaging her is necessary - guerrilla warfare against the mighty DLC is the only way to get a candidate who advocates the vision you prefer.  Has the netroots, by the way, agreed on a particular vision? I thought we weren't actually monolithic in our thinking, and that was one of our strengths.

I would argue that the netroots, today, is actually much more powerful and relevant than the DLC. Savagery doesn't have to be a first resort.  The thing about guerrilla warfare is that, after a while, for some fighters it becomes a way of life, a philosophy unto itself, more important even than their original goals.  Beware of that mindset, blogswarm.

by Rob in Vermont 2006-11-27 12:15PM | 0 recs
A Very Strong Bench

Clinton, Gore, and Kerry enjoy nearly 100% name recognition. Bill Clinton, who can't run, is the strongest surrogate in either party.

Because the 2008 election is ours to lose, we should be risk-averse and stick to proven candidates.

Gore and Kerry both ran extremely strong campaigns, so we have candidates who not only have national campaign experience--rare in itself--but very successful experience.

Of course it is possible to say--without evidence--that someone else would have done better than Gore in 2000 or Kerry in 2004. Moreover it is possible to speculate that candidate X,although unproven, will do very well.

But Gore got a majority of the popular vote and Kerry came very damn close. Compare his performance to others who challenged two-term presidents and you will find names like Dole, Mondale, McGovern, and Goldwater.

Voters in 2008 will be ready for a change, and all the Democrats have to do is reassure them that the change won't be for the worse. The best way to do that is to run candidates whose names they already know.

The dichotomy between DLC and Netroots is a false because neither the DLC nor the Netroots is monolithic. John Kerry who, even though Bush said it, really is the most liberal member of the Senate; Lieberman and Bayh are quite some distance from him.

Moreover, I'm a member of the Netroots (unless somebody revoked my union card), and I like Gore, Kerry, and Clinton in just about that order.

I welcome the primaries. If these veterans are as good as I think they are, they will do quite nicely; if someone else can beat them on the issues, then we'll have a different nominee.

The trick, I believe, is a firm and binding agreement on the part of every candidate to campaign without stint for the eventual winner.
The netroots can play a role here by urging a public declaration of support for the nominee on the part of all candidates, liberal, conservative or in-between.

Good luck to all.

by stevehigh 2006-11-27 06:46PM | 0 recs
Edwards, maybe

Clark, maybe

Obama - NO, frequently embarrassing by his ill-advised positions (e.g. Condi Rice support)

Hillary - NO NO NO, pro-war

Gore - NO, effective as party elder statesman, but should not run again

Best would be if Russ Feingold reconsidered, but not likely to happen

by pascal1947 2006-11-28 03:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Ticket 08: An Embarrassment of Rich

My list would ordinarily be:

Jim Webb

Al Gore

John Dean (maybe, except for the Woody thing)

But we need to face reality. By 2008, the US will be in the throws of a depression that will make 1929 look like a Garden of Eden. Most nations will suddenly have nuclear weapons, and several will have used them. The US will be isolated and bankrupt. China will have Taiwan. Bird flu will kill the rest of us.

Hillary Clinton will be totally discredited for supporting the Middle East Fiasco.

So we desperately need such a conniving SOB as to make Machiavelli look like a boy scout. I would go with General Wesley Clark.

by blues 2006-11-28 11:28AM | 0 recs
The Case for Hillary

First, if you don't like my case, you should make your won. You probably won't beat her in the primaries, and you'll need to make peace with her and yourself unless you can pull Ralph Nader off life support and get him to run, which he probably would if six or seven people asked him. Hillary has a huge fundraising advantage and a lead in all the polls.

The race is not always to the strong nor victory to the swift, but that's the way to bet.

Hillary will be hard to smear. There are very few people who don't have an opinion. Granted, many are very negative but by election day that will also be true of anyone else whom we nominate.

Hillary knows how to smear other people and has ample reason to want to get a little payback. If she wins the general, it will because she was able to drive up the negatives of the Rep nominee.

Hillary will energize the grass-roots base of the party as you have never seen, drawing women in big numbers into party activism. Her tepid reception by Daily Kos, etc. is due in part to her gender which is not well-represented here. Everyone concedes that an African-American candidate would energize voters in that community, but ignores the Pied-Piper power of the "first-woman-ever." president among women--the biggest demographic.

Bill Clinton, the most popular surrogate in the country, will be all over this campaign. Needless to say. Moreover, he will be back in the White House if he wins, a welcome prospect to many.

Hillary has a substantive Senatorial track record, more so than Edwards, and much more so, of course, than Webb.

Hillary's original pro-war stance hardly has any relevance except for people who hold grudges. Both Reagan and BushSr were pro-choice once, and it didn't seem to hurt them with the abortion crazies.

Choice will emerge as a major issue once more when the Court, as I believe it may, overturns or vitiates Roe v. Wade. This was a net vote-getter in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004 for Democrats. Every focus group needle swayed our way during the presidential debates whenever the topic was mentioned. Hillary will be able to bring this issue to the fore as no male candidate ever has.

"Stand by your man" will resonate with voters who know little about Hillary other than her loyalty to her family. This is a major reason why Gallup consistently finds her to be the most admired woman, not only in the United States, but the world.

by stevehigh 2006-11-29 07:12AM | 0 recs
Thanks for your post

It is good to see something good and positive. Thank you for that.

Now, the real meat of the issue.

John Edwards for 2008.

by dk2 2006-11-29 10:12AM | 0 recs


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