Barack’s news yesterday that he outraised all other presidential candidates in the primary (Hillary raised a bit more, but her number includes money raised for the general, which she can’t use unless and until she gets the nomination) is a remarkable turn of events. While I’m mostly thrilled, on a very personal note, I think this means that it’s very unlikely that he’ll ever step foot in my house again. :)
On a more serious note, I think this changes the dynamics of the 2008 race in some very fundamental ways. I’ve been saying for a long time that I think the biggest thing Barack has going for him is not that he energizes a tremendous number of Democrats – though the fact that he had more contributors than Edwards and Clinton combined is rather stunning. The biggest thing he has going for him is that there are so many people from across the spectrum who see him as a candidate they could support. It’s not that they support his positions 100% of the time – in some cases, they may not support many of his positions at all – but in him they see a man who’s smart, articulate, curious, and perhaps most importantly, a man whose judgment they will trust.
As the guys over at RedState point out, there’s more of a narrative to Barack’s candidacy, and that narrative is something that many, many people are getting excited about.
I think Barack is going to change things for the Republicans, too. Assuming that Barack gets the nomination, they’ll have to contend not only with his fundraising prowess (which, compared with the 8 years that Hillary’s had to build up her infrastructure, is especially impressive) but with his strong cross-over appeal. On the theory that you’ve got to counter strength with strength, I think the Republicans have to go with a charismatic, strong, likable individual who can motivate tens of thousands of individuals to donate money and time. If Rudy’s comments on publicly-funded abortions (he’s in favor of them) don’t sink his campaign, then his positions on gay rights will, or his personal relationship with about-to-be-indicted Bernie Kerik will (let’s not forget that Rudy personally recommended him for Secretary of Homeland Security!). Or his messy divorces (that’s plural) and fractured relationship with his kids will. You get the idea. I think McCain’s already cooked (if you can’t raise money after spending 8 years waiting to run for office again, you’re incapable of putting the right team together and won’t get a chance to survive the primaries), and I think Romney’s shifting positions on key conservative positions will leave the motivated primary voters feeling lukewarm (at best) about him.
Which leaves the Republican I most want to see get the nomination, Fred Thompson. He’s not yet in the race, but I can’t imagine he goes another 3 months without formally announcing. His conservative bona fides are strong, he held elected office (8 years in the Senate), and is universally known thanks to his role on the 24×7 Law & Order franchise (where he played the DA). Why do I want him to be the nominee? Because I think he’s an individual who would very clearly articulate the Republican platform. I think he’d attract more people to the process (I don’t care that it would be because of his Hollywood fame – I just want more people involved). And I think many people would feel good with him in office, even if they didn’t vote for him.
After the last 6 years, finding two candidates – either of which would make us feel good about the person sitting in the Oval Office – would be a huge step forward.
Oh – and if you want to see a small gesture that I think says a lot about who Fred Thompson is as a person, I thought this anecdote was priceless. (And yes, for those keeping score at home, I just linked to RedState twice. In the same post.)