Campaign ’08 begins

Surprising absolutely no one, John Edwards announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President today.  I think he’s a good candidate, and I’m just thrilled that he’s talking about poverty and inequality as major issues in America today. 

It’s somewhat bizarre to realize that the guy who was the party’s nominee for Vice President the last time around is considered an underdog this time, and is positioning himself as the outsider.  But Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are so hogging the political spotlight that everyone else is left on the outside. That said, there’s over a year to go until the first primary, so a lot can happen between now and then.  (The NY Times pointed out earlier this week how early the announcements are happening this cycle; I think one of the effects of this is that it makes Bush seem like even more of a lame duck than he would otherwise.)

The conventional wisdom in recent years seems to be against competitive primary seasons, arguing that candidates do better when they don’t have to move away from the center, and can keep their money for the general election.  I’m not convinced by that.  It’s certainly true that the media will pay a lot more attention to a competitive race than to one that seems to be locked up. And I think a candidate gains stature by defeating people of stature and that passion reinforces itself rather than being a limited resource.

I’m honestly not sure who I’d vote for if the primary were today.  And for once it’s because there’s multiple (potential) candidates who I’d like to see President, not because I’m so depressed about the choices.  That’s a nice feeling.

I’ll be interested to see how all the candidates interact with the blogosphere over the next few years.  I think Edwards gets it, or at least has hired someone who does.  His website has a special section for bloggers with the lure for those who sign up of being featured on their blogroll.  And John and Elizabeth both made appearances on Kos today.

7 Responses to “Campaign ’08 begins”

  1. dave s Says:

    Edwards had one low-accomplishment term as a Senator, and he’s a trial lawyer. You couldn’t put a nicer bow on the package for the Reeps unless you nominated Kucinich. I think the Dems will have a whole lot better chance of actually winning if they nominate Vilsack or Bredesen. And by the way, how does the Dem decision not to jump on the Arnold Excitement three-four years ago and amend the Constitution to let long-naturalized citizens run look now, since Granholm is out of reach?

  2. Elizabeth Says:

    Ok, who is Bredesen?

  3. Scrivener Says:

    I’m in agreement with you on this point: “I’m honestly not sure who I’d vote for if the primary were today. And for once it’s because there’s multiple (potential) candidates who I’d like to see President, not because I’m so depressed about the choices.”
    Vilsack or Bredesen? What?

  4. dave s Says:

    Bredesen has been Gov of Tennessee, done a decent job. The Dems succeed, often, when they nominate governors – Carter, Clinton. Roosevelt. The last Senator they elected was JFK – Kennedy. Senators not elected: Mondale. Kerry. Obviously, you can lose with a governor – Dukakis. The Reeps do well when they nominate governors – Bush, Reagan.

  5. dave s Says:

    The Dems have a lot of candidates with problems – as the campaign goes on, you will see a lot of this quote from Brad DeLong, who worked in the Clinton White House and, though he doesnt have quite Krugman’s level of spittle-flecked hatred for the Reeps, has very little nice to say about any Reep ever:
    “..My two cents’ worth–and I think it is the two cents’ worth of everybody who worked for the Clinton Administration health care reform effort of 1993-1994–is that Hillary Rodham Clinton needs to be kept very far away from the White House for the rest of her life. Heading up health-care reform was the only major administrative job she has ever tried to do. And she was a complete flop at it. She had neither the grasp of policy substance, the managerial skills, nor the political smarts to do the job she was then given. And she wasn’t smart enough to realize that she was in over her head and had to get out of the Health Care Czar role quickly.
    So when senior members of the economic team said that key senators like Daniel Patrick Moynihan would have this-and-that objection, she told them they were disloyal. When junior members of the economic team told her that the Congressional Budget Office would say such-and-such, she told them (wrongly) that her conversations with CBO head Robert Reischauer had already fixed that. When long-time senior hill staffers told her that she was making a dreadful mistake by fighting with rather than reaching out to John Breaux and Jim Cooper, she told them that they did not understand the wave of popular political support the bill would generate. And when substantive objections were raised to the plan by analysts calculating the moral hazard and adverse selection pressures it would put on the nation’s health-care system…
    Hillary Rodham Clinton has already flopped as a senior administrative official in the executive branch–the equivalent of an Undersecretary. Perhaps she will make a good senator. But there is no reason to think that she would be anything but an abysmal president..”
    Maybe Barack Obama can keep going and not have a “Poland is free” type moment, but everybody else among the identified front runners seems to me to have big weaknesses which would get magnified in the general campaign. On the other hand, the Reeps have big troubles – Frist has proven incompetent, McCain is old-old-old and has a hell of a temper, Giuliani would be their strongest general campaign candidate, but it’s hard to see how he can be nominated, Gingrich is maybe their smartest, but has been dreadful to his wives and made a fool of himself over protocol with Clinton.

  6. Elizabeth Says:

    Dave, if you’ve got the link for the full DeLong quote, I’d love to read it. I think he’s usually right on target. I’m not sure I’d say the health care debacle totally disqualifies Hillary, but I’d be a lot happier if I had ever heard her say anything about what she thinks she did wrong in that whole mess. I think we’d be a lot closer to universal health care right now if everyone didn’t feel so burned by the 1994 attempt.

  7. dave s Says:

    http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/
    June 07, 2003
    Time to Pound My Head Against the Wall Once Again
    The Economist’s Lexington correpondent devotes a full page to Hillary Rodham Clinton (with a time out for slams at Sidney Blumenthal for being a “brown-noser” and Paul Krugman for being “shrill”):
    … wronged woman… staggering revelations… Clintonia… that bitchy, chaotic house party…. Since September 11th, the United States has had more important things to think about…. Mrs Clinton’s past… future… an incredibly potent force… a heroine… a hate-figure… the most likely next Democratic president… “Draft Hillary”… conservative… capacity to elicit frenzied support from her core constituency… money… volunteers… Mrs Clinton’s credibility with the left has also allowed her to move further to the centre… she does not have to buy the left’s support… self-discipline… Senate campaign in 2000… impressively tank-like… broadening her experience… constituency work… Democratic givers… successful senator from a large and rich state… name recognition… support of many women… embodies the Democratic America that won the popular vote in 2000….
    Read the column–it’s a long column. Reflect upon several facts. First, almost all of the column is “inside political baseball” of little use to anyone who is not a serious political junkie. Second, “Lexington” doesn’t like Hillary Rodham Clinton or Bill Clinton or Paul Krugman or Sid Blumenthal–but doesn’t bother to say why. Third, there is nothing in the column to give the reader any information about whether Hillary Rodham Clinton would make a good president, or about whether “Lexington” thinks Hillary Rodham Clinton would make a good president. Is there anything else that readers–most of whom are Americans, most of whom vote–more need to learn than whether Hillary Rodham Clinton would make a good president? No, there isn’t. So why does “Lexington” spend so much time on insider political baseball and trying to settel scores? Why doesn’t he do something useful with his space–like tell us whether he thinks Hillary Rodham Clinton would make a better president than George W. Bush (almost surely) or would make a good president (almost surely not)?
    We really do need a better press corps. We need one very badly. “Lexington” spends more time watching Hillary Rodham Clinton than almost every single one of his readers: almost all of his readers would value–and badly need to know–his judgment about whether she would make a good president. But this is the one thing “Lexington” does not talk about.
    My two cents’ worth–and I think it is the two cents’ worth of everybody who worked for the Clinton Administration health care reform effort of 1993-1994–is that Hillary Rodham Clinton needs to be kept very far away from the White House for the rest of her life. Heading up health-care reform was the only major administrative job she has ever tried to do. And she was a complete flop at it. She had neither the grasp of policy substance, the managerial skills, nor the political smarts to do the job she was then given. And she wasn’t smart enough to realize that she was in over her head and had to get out of the Health Care Czar role quickly.
    So when senior members of the economic team said that key senators like Daniel Patrick Moynihan would have this-and-that objection, she told them they were disloyal. When junior members of the economic team told her that the Congressional Budget Office would say such-and-such, she told them (wrongly) that her conversations with CBO head Robert Reischauer had already fixed that. When long-time senior hill staffers told her that she was making a dreadful mistake by fighting with rather than reaching out to John Breaux and Jim Cooper, she told them that they did not understand the wave of popular political support the bill would generate. And when substantive objections were raised to the plan by analysts calculating the moral hazard and adverse selection pressures it would put on the nation’s health-care system…
    Hillary Rodham Clinton has already flopped as a senior administrative official in the executive branch–the equivalent of an Undersecretary. Perhaps she will make a good senator. But there is no reason to think that she would be anything but an abysmal president.
    Posted by DeLong at June 7, 2003 10:15 PM | TrackBack

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