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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Elbow room

Welcome, Bill Richardson. Good to see ya, Hillary. What's new Barack? John Edwards, I presume you know Tom Vilsack? Chris Dodd, is that really you? Has anyone here seen John Kerry?

The Democratic field is getting a little crowded here -- and there remains the specter of an eighth potential candidate to really shake up the proceedings: Albert Arnold Gore Jr.

Hillary Clinton's announcement that she formed an exploratory committee is resounding non-news. In fact, it's hardly a surprise she chose yesterday, the sixth anniversary of her move from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Nor is it surprising that she starts with a significant lead. Name recognition rules the day at this stage of the game -- witness Rudy Giuliani holding an edge over John McCain with Mitt Romney far behind.

But is Hillary the savior who will lead the Democrats back to the White House? Um, er, not exactly.

The legion of Clinton haters remains strong and ready to respond (even in blog posts about Romney!) A Clinton-topped ticket will prompt as much time spent reflecting on the '90s as it will on the Bush years. Questions about familial dynasties will be louder than those about what the United States must do in the years ahead,

Obama? An interesting candidate with no appreciable record but an encouraging message of hope. Sort of a national version of Deval Patrick. The question of experience may or not be overblown, given the history of "experienced" presidents like George Bush.

In fact, he could represent the true test of the alleged Bush model of CEO with managerial skills who appoints the right people to carry out his vision.

Edwards has some experience around the track and his "Two Americas" still sticks with me -- even more so after another two years of Bush. Cynics will quickly note he shares a major trait with Mitt Romney, good hair, but after that...

Richardson, Dodd and Vilsack each bring different qualities into the field but face a major uphill climb. Kerry? Stranger things have happened.

Which brings us to everyone's favorite Joe Palooka punching bag, the man who really did win before he lost -- Al Gore. As the Globe's Scot Lehigh pointed out last week, why not?

After 20 years on the national scene, Gore is a known quantity: warm earth tones, stiff demeanor and penchant for overstating his real accomplishments.

While he didn't invent the Internet, he saw it's value before many climbed on the bandwagon. Global warming? Hey, even W. seems to be seeing the melting of the ice floes. Iraq?

Experience? Eight years in the White House as an engaged No. 2 (without the Darth Vader streak of the current occupant). Prior to that a long history of service in the House, Senate and even in the military. He certainly knows what it's like to take the punches on the trail and it's hard to believe everything hasn't been brought out into the open.

Democrats have long had the bad habit of eating their young candidates. Gore is one of the few who tried a second time -- and he did get more popular votes than Bush. Kerry's arguments work better for Gore than for himself.

Lehigh is probably right that it comes down to Gore's vision for his epitaph: does he want to be remembered as the guy who won in 2000, or the Harold Stassen of his time.

The Clinton years without the Clinton personal baggage? Interesting thought.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hillary had to announce before sources of funds got diverted to her opponents. She would have preferred to wait for as long as possible -- she is not a candidate who will wear well, and her people know that.

I think this Clinton will bring out a different group of Clinton-haters. He was personally likeable. She is not. He might have had strong political motivations, but they were moderated by that likability. You could not spend five minutes with the guy without be drawn in at a gut level. She does not have that gift, that warmth, that feeling that she cares about you personally.

January 21, 2007 12:05 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

I've always respected Hillary for her willingness to speak her mind, even if it caused her grief (I could have stayed home baking cookies...)

But I have also felt for a long time she cannot win. The Hillary haters will join forces with the Bill haters (sort of like a vast right-wing conspiracy :-)) Your point about broader likability is spot on.

Al Gore is looking more and more like a comfy sweater, you know where the holes are but it keeps you warm.

So what it takes 20 years for him to grow on you....

January 21, 2007 5:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not a Hillary fan, but I think the point about people hating her is a bit ridiculous. Bush has a lot of people who hate him, too, but it's irrelevant because those people were never going to vote for him anyway. Clinton's haters were pathological, yet he seemed to do all right. It seems more sensible to make political calculations based on how your actual potential voters feel rather than how your opponents feel.

As far as Bill being involved and reminding people of the 90's...that's bad?

January 22, 2007 4:33 PM  

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