Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Ranking the Field

I've been scant on original content here, just passing stuff along. So I did a quick and simple ranking of the presidential field.

It's odd but I'm finding myself more involved in local campaigns than in the caucuses. The presidential campaigns are a lot like what is called, in Dilbert-speak, "seagull manager": Flies in out of nowhere, makes a lot of noise, shits all over everything and then leaves.

The presidential choice is as much about direction and feeling as it is about specific issues. It's about what it means to be a Democrat. So with that in mind, here we go.

1. Dean.
I'm official for Howard at this point, as much for dynamic as for specifics. The small dollor donors, the Internet buzz, the Dean Corps volunteerism - this is the guy who could win back a big chunk of the Nader vote (like me).

The goofy thing is I'm less upset with people who are for other candidates now who were for Bradley in 2000 than I am with people who are Dean now but were for Gore in 2000.

2. Kerry.
Frankly, Dean would never have had a chance if John Kerry had voted No on the war. On just about everything else Kerry is a solid liberal. But he's trying to have it both ways on the war; his right to be critical is compromised by his Yes vote. And the "I was a peacenik in `71" schtick is a negative; the John Lennon picture is just too blatant.

3. Kucinich.
Good on almost every issue, but I just don't trust him on choice. The guy was a "right to lifer" (sic) his whole political life - unil he decides to run for president?!? Plus the personality is a bit strident. Dean's anger seems righteous while Dennis just looks petulant. The commitment to the contest is iffy, he's also running for re-election to the House.

4. Gephardt.
Past his shelf life. How can he get elected president when he can't get elected speaker? In the UK he would have been prime minister. In the Republican Party he would have gotten a Bob Dole style "it's his turn" nomination. Still his record is mostly good except on the war (not only voted yes but enthusiastically supported.)

5. Edwards.
I reject the conventional Southern strategy argument of "we need Bubba back." I prefer this Southern strategy: black running mate, massive get out the vote drive in African American community.

That said, Edwards does economic populist just a tad better than Gephardt. He's got the fire in the belly commitment to the race, having stepped out of the Senate. But I just want a president who doesn't use the phrase "didn't hurt me a lick."

6. Sharpton
7. Mosely-Braun

I have to rank them somewhere even though it's clear neither will be nominated. Sharpton is running to be the new Jesse Jackson. Mosely-Braun is running - just barely - for historic vindication, to get out from under the ethics cloud of her Senate term. I give Sharpton the edge on motive.

8. Clark.
I just don't trust a general. And the political ineptitude is showing. The candidacy can be summed up in one word: gravitas. But that only matters to elites.

9. Uncommitted. I could see supporting any of the above eight as the nominee.

10. Candidate not currently in the race other than Gore.

11. One of my cats.

12. My other cat.

13 - 38. Any present member of the Chicago Cubs.

39 - 46,102: Anyone with a seat in Wrigley Field.

46,103 - 3,975,443: Anyone within 25 miles of Wrigley Field.

3,975,444: Lieberman. His main strategic error was filing as a Democrat.

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