There is an excitement in the air over the race for the White House that is much different than those of the past. I do not recall in my lifetime the intensity and frantic nature that seems to grip these campaigns. While there has always been plenty of hyper-activity on all sides every four years in these races, this year things are notched up higher. Partly this is due to the open race for both political parties. There is no clear heir for either the Republicans or the Democrats. Add the fact that the first woman, black, or Mormon has a chance to be nominated in a very early and condensed nominating cycle, and one can understand the hectic nature of the closing weeks of 2007.
I am watching daily to see how the maneuvering and positioning of the various candidates stack up, knowing that all are mindful that January 3rd is approaching quickly. So here is what I think of the candidates and races as of the time I write this post. A day is a lifetime in politics, goes the saying. Now an hour is a lifetime for the candidates.
I find Barack Obama a very intelligent and hopeful candidate. I think he has really grown as a speaker and White House hopeful. But I think he will face what so many ‘dream candidates’ eventually confront. The youthful faces that talk of new beginnings in Washington have too few voters that slog through the snow to get to a caucus, or take time to vote in a primary. The college faces that seem eager today find many things more important to do on primary day. And I fear that there is an ugly underlying layer of bigotry that will show itself sooner or later in the nominating process. Let us not forget the hopeful polls of Tennessee U.S. Senate candidate Harold Ford, Jr in 2006, and then the victory of his Republican opponent. There is still much work to do in bridging the relations between the races in America.
Hillary Clinton has constructed a campaign that is mighty impressive. From staffing to funds she is set for a national race. She can place second in Iowa, and even do so again in New Hampshire (though I am not predicting that) and still win the nomination for all practical purposes on February 5th. Though some of her campaign tactics are childlike and rather undignified (such as the kindergarten remark and drug charge remarks) she is placing herself in the middle of the national dialogue on the big issues that will suit her well should she win the nomination. And I think she will ultimately prevail and be the nominee. From here to November the biggest issue for her will be what to do about Bill Clinton. I admire the man for his intelligence, but his ego needs an island to stay on for the next year. I love to hear him talk on a typical day, but for Hillary’s sake would someone shut the man up! His Charlie Rose interview was perplexing to say the least!
John Edwards has my vote and support. He speaks what my heart says about our foreign policy, and the role of government in shaping a society that works for the greater good, as opposed to serving the rich and well to do. I admire politicians who admit mistakes, and the vote he cast in favor of the Iraq War was a dreadful one. But over the years he has addressed to my satisfaction his regret over the vote, and outlined a path to restoring a sound international policy. While I think it possible Edwards can actually win in Iowa with the strong support of union members, I think he will do less well in New Hampshire at the hands of the independent voters. Sadly, I do not think his campaign will last longer than the South Carolina primary.
Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are locked in a GOP duel that is bringing out the worst in both campaigns. I find their races for president to be more a contest between who is the most religious, and closer to God. That lack of respect for the separation of church and state troubles me. And I strongly suspect that I am not alone. It is because of this that Fred Thompson in Iowa has a fighting chance to make headlines on January 3rd. Though he is a lackluster campaigner, the voters may want a mature face to counter the antics of the self-righteous ones.
John McCain has one shot to reclaim his position in the GOP. That is in New Hampshire. If he can win a convincing number of voters to his campaign he can march onwards and still be the nominee in 2008. I still think he has the greatest chance with the independents of New Hampshire even though they are very anti-war. They may hate the Iraq War, but I suspect they hate the religious war that some wage for the White House even more. (However if Obama wins in Iowa the independents of the Granite State may wish to play a role in the Democratic contest, and that will hurt McCain’s chances in my estimation.)
When the story is written on Rudy Giuliani I think many will marvel at how he turned so many voters against him after having so many national advantages when he first announced for the White House. He made some very serious errors in judgment, and failed to own up to them. That lack of honesty with the voters will be seen as one of his major blunders.
And then there is Alan Keyes……..what a little twig.