Wednesday, August 24, 2005
The reason Democrats must worry today is that the anti-war movement taking shape is virulently anti-Bush; it is lodged, by and large, inside their party; it is passionate and intolerant; it has given new life to the Howard Deaniacs who went missing after the Iowa caucuses; and it will turn on any leader who does not voice its convictions.
Consider Hillary's predicament. She is saying she supports the war and the troops, but the war has been mismanaged and America needs new leadership. No risk there. Hillary's problem is she is three years away from 2008, the anti-war movement increasingly looks on her as a collaborator in "Bush's War," and Democrats like Feingold are going to give anti-war militants the rhetoric and stances they demand. Hillary's most rabid followers will depart if she does not leave Bush's side -- to lead them.
The Democrats' dilemma is hellish. If this war ends successfully, Republicans get the credit. If it ends badly, Bush will be gone, but anti-war Democrats will be blamed for having cut and run, for losing the war and for the disastrous consequences in the Persian Gulf and Arab world.
It has been conventional wisdom for some time that Hillary will be the Democratic nominee in 2008. Perhaps my senses are warped by the torrent of anti-war coverage, but at this point in time it is hard to imagine the anti-war segments of the Democratic party (and their supporters in the media) even listening to a candidate who "supports" the war, let alone voting for them. And can the nomination be won without them? It is difficult to know at this point, because their megaphone is so much larger than the quiet supporters of the war, and there are still so many potential turns this conflict could take (not to mention the potential changes in Clintonian strategy).
Hillary can't win the general election even if she gets the nomination, so if the Dems want to self immolate again they should go right ahead.
Personally I am very confused about all this talk of Hillary being a front runner. She is probably popular as an item of press speculation since she makes good copy. But making good copy doesn't necessarily mean you get the nomination. Look at Dean the last time around. What you have to look for is where the corporate support is lining up. Last time around it was Kerry, who popped up out of nowhere to win Iowa.
Hillary has all of the backbone that her husband is missing but unfortunately none of his charm. I just can't see her even lining up the corporate support, much less winning the general election.
I still think the place to monitor the pulse of the country on Iraq is within the Republican party. If a Republican can get traction on this issue then the Dems will have to watch out.
I'm a Hillary agnostic... I'll wait and see. But my political side tells me that, she's one of the few transcendent figures (larger than life) in current politics. She can manage to placate both wings of her party and unite it, much as Reagan did in the 80s and Clinton did in the 90s. How she performs in the general election is a completely different question. My opinion is limited to the primaries and nomination process.