Who will be the Democratic nominee?

Who will the Democratic Party run against President Bush this Novembers? If the true believers speak for all, it is critical to them to rid the White House of President Bush. The party’s Powers-That-Be must then be looking beyond JF Kerry. Kerry cannot win, and they have to know this.

Kerry's base, if you can call it truly his, is the Anybody But Bush crowd; it is fairly sizable, with some estimates putting it at 43-percent of Americans. Kerry cannot win with them alone, however; he needs to have some Kerry supporters. To have Kerry supporters, he needs to present something for them to support. But what?

Kerry purports to favor remaining in Iraq, but he favors relinquishing authority to international bodies. Kerry says that he favors tax cuts, but smaller ones and for fewer people. His bellowing about outsourcing has been turned on its side. His gripes about the price of oil have been marginalized. Less Bush that Bush.

He's running on his four valorous months in Vietnam, but that doesn't amount to a call for votes, especially when he threw/did not throw his/someone else's medals/ribbons over the fence/onto the stairs upon his return. Especially when he asserted, in the recently recalled distant past, that he and his Band of Brothers were constantly doing some pretty nasty stuff.

But there can be arguments about those things. What is clear is that Kerry is not clear. He is not anything. There is not reason for anyone to support him other than that he is not George W. Bush, and the Democrats need more than this in a candidate. Anyone else is not George W. Bush, but someone else might have something to recommend him or her.

Remember, the President's base is excited about George W. Bush; it is not merely a ragtag group joined as Anybody But Kerry. President Ronald Reagan had this following tenfold, and the senior President Bush borrowed from that for his first election.

Bill Clinton developed his following -- 43% -- in 1992, but the quixotic candidacy of H. Ross Perot ensured that this was enough. For his reelection bid in 1996, he had built his following to nearly half of all voters. (The nation, under Clinton, was split down the middle to that extent.)

Okay, let's look at what the Dems must do if they want to pull this off. First, Bob Shrum and Mary Beth Cahill, both Kennedy advisors, are running the Kerry campaign, in theme and day-to-day respectively. They have make Kerry into something he's not: a centrist. The problem is that while Shrum is good at what he does well; what he doesn't do well is painting liberals as centrists. Shrum knows only how to run progressive/populist candidates: Ed Muskie, George McGovern, Teddy Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Dick Gephardt, Al Gore. (He had nothing to do with Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign.)

The Democratic Party PTB have to look through their bylaws and find a way to throw the convention open. If not just retaking the White House, but defeating President Bush in and of itself, is vital to them, they must find someone else. But whom?

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) - It would be a good story, but her personal negatives are far higher than President Bush's, and Democrats think she is a wonderful Senator. Period.

Senator John Edwards (D-North Carolina) -"Two Americas" would still work, despite the thriving economy. The line could be: "It's working only for half of us." Inexperience during wartime is a negative, but he could do what Bush did in 2000: select gravitas as his running mate. Bob Graham, notebooks and all, should suffice in that role, or Joe Biden, if they could get him.

Al Gore.- A Democrat friend with whom I had been talking about this threw his name into the mix if only because he was the candidate in 2000 and won the popular vote. But he was running against a tax-cutting governor of Texas, not the Commander in Chief. Plus, Gore's lost several of his marbles in the Democrats' interregnum.

Really, I can think of no one else who might appeal to voters outside the ABB group. If they do not come up with a willing candidate soon, they will lose the election. With Kerry, the ABB crowd will probably prevent a landslide, but the Democrats will lose.

Posted by at April 30, 2004 7:23 PM