Democrats & Liberals Archives

Sizing up the Survivors, Part II

Tomorrow the meat grinder grinds on. Here is how the allegedly serious candidates look right now:

Wesley Clark is… odd. I choose that word carefully. “Weird” is too strong”, “quirky” too weak. It took me a long time to reach this conclusion. Clark has an impressive resume and does not show any obvious signs of insanity. But when you take into account his blank (sometimes Quaylesque) expression, his rapid-fire flip-flops about the Iraq war, his inappropriate rank-pulling, and his other various quirks, you get the feeling he is not totally connected to the world that most of us are living in. Don’t get me wrong — I would choose him over Bush in a nanosecond. But comparing him to the rest of the Democratic candidates, I have to say, “No thanks.” Must-win state: I know Oklahoma. I’ve worked with Oklahoma. If a general from Arkansas can’t win in Oklahoma, then he’s doomed.

How did John Kerry go from dud to stud? Political scientists will no doubt analyze his rapid change of fortune for decades to come. As near as I can tell, the key event was the capture of Saddam Hussein. This event, coupled with some striking gaffes, made Dean supporters (myself included) start to question whether Ho Ho could win. Why did these Dean supporters go to Kerry, you ask? I think it was largely a process of elimination: Lieberman has the wrong position on Iraq, and is too conservative overall. Gephardt is a nice guy, but espoused stale political ideas and had too long a track record of failure. Edwards has too little experience. Clark is… odd. Must-win state: None in particular.

Joe Lieberman is a zombie. (A nice one, though, not the brain-sucking kind.) This passage from a Washington Post article (Jan. 28) made me feel sorry not only for Lieberman, but also for the Jewish people and the state of Connecticut:

Earning votes [in NH] was hard work. Lieberman had a nearly 10-minute telephone conversation with an undecided voter named Karen, who seemed to grill him about taxes and college tuition assistance. Hanging up the phone, Lieberman announced, "I got her!" and the room full of supporters erupted in applause.

If that doesn’t sound bad enough, consider that Karen may have been fibbing. Must-win state: For the sake of argument, Delaware.

Of all the candidates, John Edwards is the most difficult to get a fix on. Edwards is quite talented and allegedly handsome, but it is not obvious to me why he is running for president. I get the feeling that the answer is, “Because I can.” His paramount problem, as noted above, is inexperience. Back in 2000, a lot of people thought that six years as the governor of Texas was enough preparation for the US presidency. In 2004, six years in the Senate won’t cut it. Must-win state: By his own admission, South Carolina.

The pundits have been completely wrong about Howard Dean at least twice. When he first started running they didn’t take him seriously. Then they decided that Dean was almost invincible. Now it looks like he is doomed. Nevertheless, only a tiny percentage of the delegates are actually locked up. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Must-win state: Dean has already acknowledged that he probably won’t win anywhere tomorrow. In a weird way, the fact that Dean lost New Hampshire inoculates him against having a must-win state tomorrow. He already lost his must-win state.

Posted by Woody Mena at February 2, 2004 11:40 PM