Thoughts on 2008

Was talking with a friend the other night, and on the off chance that any of these ideas come to pass, I get to point back to this and show off how smart I was. And if none of it plays out, you’ll all graciously forget I ever said it.

  • “Experience” is not a deal-breaker for newcomers. Gov. Vilsack had the perfect answer on this issue in an NPR interview last week: he pointed out that we had tons of experience in the current administration, and it led to Iraq. And ill-advised tax cuts. And any number of other bad ideas. Establish that you have good judgment, can articulate what’s important, and make decisions, and voters will listen. Right or wrong, candidates will point to Bush as an example of when an experienced administration can go disastrously awry.
  • Look for everyone on both sides of the aisle to ask rhetorically whether we want to keep the Presidency in the family. As in, “since 1988, we’ve had two families control the Presidency: Bush and Clinton. Do you want to give those families another 8 years in charge?” (It’s pretty amazing, when you think about it: if Hillary were to win, that would mean that two families controlled the White House for 28 consecutive years.) I think that’s a surprisingly powerful argument against Hillary, regardless of how you feel about her, her politics, or her suitability for the office.
  • I think conditions are very ripe for the GOP to see a Dean-like candidate rise from nowhere. What I mean by that is that there’s considerable dissatisfaction within the rank and file. The leadership appears to be out of touch: the party of small government has radically grown the government. The party of fiscal discipline has plunged the country into record deficits. Right now the smart money is on McCain (whose ‘straight talk’ image is suffering of late, as he’s tacked to the right to try to win over movement conservatives and shore up the Republican base), but other oft-mentioned candidates are Giuliani, Romney and Gingrich. Giuliani’s infidelity and 3 divorces, coupled with his spotty record in NYC pre-9/11 I think rule him out almost entirely; Romney’s difficulty establishing his conservative bona fides (he was for gay rights before he was against them; the endless videos appearing on YouTube showing how moderate he was in the 90s in Massachusetts) will make it hard to win primaries. These conditions – multiple apparent front-runners, lots of consternation from the base, lack of clear leadership at the top of the party – all contributed to an environment in which Dean went from no-name to front-runner in a matter of months. Could Gingrich be the insurgent to ride a wave? Maybe. Or maybe there’s another little-known national figure in the GOP who will appeal to fiscal and social conservatives who are eager to see new blood in the party leadership.
  • I think Barack is a formidable candidate in both the primary and the general, for different reasons. I’ll spell those out in more detail in a later post.

What do you think? What’s going to surprise us about the 2008 race?

Update: Check out what Bill Tancer has to say over on the Hitwise blog in comparing traffic to Barack’s and Hillary’s sites. Very, very interesting.