I refuse to become as emotionally invested in the presidential race this time around, largely because none of the candidates speak to me as strongly as Kucinich did back in 2004 when he represented an admittedly longshot at legitimate change. Between him and Sharpton, there were issues put on the table that couldn’t easily be swept away by the “leading” candidates, and if not for the distraction of the opportunistic Howard Dean, the Democrats might have nominated someone with an actual chance to beat Bush instead of a clueless John Kerry.
I have been keeping one eye on both parties candidates, though, akin to having the playoffs on in the background even though your team isn’t playing, just in case something interesting happens, and have some initial thoughts about some of the front-runners, each of whom I’m only now starting to explore further.
Hilary Clinton: No thanks. She’s too polarizing, too calculating and way too political, and if the Republicans find a decent candidate to rally around, she’ll lose another close general election. If nominated, I think her candidacy would be actually end up being a major setback for both the Democratic Party and for the chances of a woman ever being President in my lifetime.
Barack Obama: In some uncomfortable ways, he’s Howard Dean redux, though I’m starting to think he’s a bit more sincere than Dean ever was and actually has a pretty good shot at both derailing Clinton and fracturing the Democratic Party, in a good way. I like the idea of him, but I’m still not clear on the reality. If he gets the nomination, his VP pick will be more crucial than usual, especially in the post-Cheney age of the position.
John Edwards: Of the three front-runners, I like Edwards the most by a slim margin over Obama, and still remember Kucinich throwing his weight behind him in Iowa back in 2004. Kerry picking him for VP last time is a bit of a double-edged sword, though, as without it I think he’d be even more in the background than he is right now, but their loss comes with its own baggage that voters worried about “electability” will surely factor in.
Bill Richardson: Is he even still running? I haven’t seen his name mentioned much at all recently and have always felt like his candidacy was more of a “raising my national profile” effort than a legitimate run. Unlike Kucinich, I’m not even aware of him having a signature issue.
Rudy Giuliani: Way more than I despised Bush in 2004, I despise Giuliani to his rotten core. As the national media starts to pay more attention to him and the dirty laundry from his tenure as Mayor of New York City is aired out, I don’t think he has a prayer of coming close to getting the nomination. If he does pull it off, though, and the Democrats go with Clinton, it’s going to be an ugly battle of the lesser of two evils and the best opportunity a strong third-party candidate will have ever had. If he wins, I’ll be moving far away from New York because the ever-present bullseye that rests over our fair city will only get larger and redder.
John McCain: This train left the station years ago and simply isn’t coming back. His best bet would have been to team up with Kerry back in 2004, standing behind his principles instead of his party.
Mitt Romney: Who? I don’t care that he’s a Mormon (that is him, right?) anymore than I care that everyone else is a Christian, so I don’t see why it should be an issue at all. Other than that, I don’t really know anything about the guy.
Mike Huckabee: He’s been getting some positive press lately and seems to be surging at the right moment, but I don’t know much about him other than he’s apparently a pretty traditional conservative which, of course, means I’d never vote for him.
Fred Thompson: Ha hahahahaa! Seriously, dude? I’m thinking he saw the writer’s strike coming and decided he needed something to keep him busy when it hit.
Michael Bloomberg: He’s not running, yet, but depending on the two major nominees, I can see him jumping into the fray in March or April and turning the race completely on its head. More than Giuliani, he can point to his track record as Mayor here, imperfect as it may be, noting that he took over for a polarizing predecessor in the wake of a major crisis and did some great work, and not come off as an opportunistic liar. With his personal fortune funding an unprecedented media blitz and a savvy VP pick of a respected female and/or minority with a national presence, he could most certainly win the general election as both parties core faithful are greatly outnumbered by their combined fringes and those who have no allegiances and rarely bother to vote. He’d definitely be the front-runner for my vote.