Thursday, December 11, 2003

Clinton/Gore Schism: I'm confused by all the political analyses that say Gore endorsed Dean simply as a way to steal the party back from the Clintons. Some people argue that this sets Gore up for a run for president in 2008. I don't see how that would work.

Gore's big chance to run for the presidency was the 2004 election. A rematch against a president who lost the popular vote makes sense. In each of the three other instances in U.S. history when someone won the presidency even though he lost the popular vote, that person was not re-elected. And for two of those times, the person who unseated him was the same guy who actually won the popular vote the first time.

So Gore missed out. But endorsing a lefty like Dean won't bring Gore back into the action. Because if Dean wins the presidency, Gore won't be able to make a run for the nomination for another eight years -- a lifetime in politics.

If Dean loses to Bush, then Gore will be in the unfortunate position of blowing his candidacy in 2000 then backing a loser in 2004 -- both campaigns being characterized as ultra-liberal. That easily paves the way for Sen. Hillary Clinton and her pseudo-hawkish stance to, again, redefine the Democratic Party back to the center. (Call me cynical, but despite Hillary's calls for Bush to put more troops in Iraq for a longer stay, I doubt she would ever be supportive if Bush were already doing that.)

Which brings up another issue. Assuming Bush wins re-election, I don't see how the Republicans plan on winning in 2008 without replacing the vice president with somebody other than Dick Cheney.

Cheney could never be elected president, considering his health problems and his shady demeanor. So the Republicans would have to nominate somebody else instead. Powell chose not to run before, so I doubt he'll choose to run later. Some people are trying to get Bush to choose National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice as his running mate to set her up for the nomination. That might work.

Right now, Hillary is acting like a hawk to position herself for 2008. If her popularity grows, she may be able to shake off the perception that Democrats are weak on national security. Then she'd be quite a force in 2008. The Republicans are going to need someone of heavy caliber to fight her. That position would best be served as a vice president, instead of a lesser Republican. But I don't think Cheney has the heart for the job.


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