"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you”


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Could the Democrats Lose the White House (again) in 2008?

Conventional wisdom predicts a Democratic jaunt to the White House next year. With a disastrous war and incompetent administration, the GOP brand is in disarray. The Democratic base is energized. Democratic primary voters tell pollsters they are satisfied with the talented and diverse field of candidates currently competing for the party nomination.

Why then, is Camille Paglia writing in her Salon.com column "Don't run, Al. Don't!" about what she sees "as Republican momentum toward next year's national election?" (Yup, it looks like she's been back at Salon since Valentine's Day. I'm surprised it took me that long to notice. Perhaps the Salon editors were looking for something to counterbalance the rational, thoughtful and insightful musings of Glenn Greenwald.)

I have to admit to a morbid fascination with Paglia's commentary. She plays the part of agent provocateur perfectly: a pseudo-feminist, democratic libertarian, martial hedonist who relishes her ability to stir things up, never endearing herself to the left or the right. Her style is one I would never choose for myself. More often than not, I do not agree with her. But I have to admit, I'm almost always entertained and challenged.

I saw the headline and clicked, wondering, "What's Camille got to say about Al?"

Apparently, a lot. But, she's got even more to say about Hillary. It turns out the story is not primarily about whether or not Gore should launch a bid. It's actually about what the "Draft Al" movement reveals about the Democratic nomination battle. She uses the "Draft Al" movement as evidence the Democratic base is NOT satisfied with current choices, stating "the Gore boomlet betrays subterranean tremors of doubt."

Oh, so that's it. We're going to read about the dismal state of the Democratic Party nomination battle. Well, at least I'm going to be challenged this time. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be entertained.

Although Paglia certainly tries. She launches into her typical commentary, jumping disjointedly from one thought to the next. Not surprisingly, she holds no punches. The current crop of candidates has failed to impress her in the opening debates. "Wait, I wonder, is she now arguing there's a place for Gore in this campaign?" I check the headline again. Hmmm...

She savages Hillary (and makes sure to hit Bill, too, for old times sake). She belittles Edwards and Obama. With the possible exception of Kucinich, the Democrats are a bunch of "girly-men." OK, she doesn't use the governator's term, but she's essentially delivering the same message. She observes:

After two major televised debates by both parties, only a Pollyanna on helium would believe that any of the top-tier Democrats will definitely be able to defeat a leading Republican like Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani.
I think it's far too early in the campaign to draw conclusions regarding general election matchups. I do, however, recognize there are quite a few Pollyannas running around these days, particularly among the denizens of the progressive blogosphere. "Too many Democrats seem to believe that their party will simply sail into the White House in 2008," Paglia writes. On this point, I couldn't agree more. This overconfidence is worrisome. I'm not sure there is much we can do about it, but we all need to understand that winning the White House in 2008 is not a done deal.

But, does the "Draft Al" movement reveal a sense of dissatisfaction within the Democratic Party? I'm not so sure. Paglia simply throws the comment out with "shudders of deja vu." She provides little else to support her claim. She ignores the vast amounts of money the leading Democrats raised in the first quarter. She conveniently overlooks the vastly larger audiences watching the Democratic debates. All of this must be unimportant.

She expends quite a bit of energy beating up the leading candidates - while offering minimal advice to the current candidates and failing to offer any viable alternatives.

Paglia fails to entertain AND challenge this time.

I have my opinion about Gore's 20008 plans and chances. He should run IF he wants to, the odds for him winning the White House are better than anyone else out there, BUT he needs to be in the race before the end of September. I would consider supporting him, but I lean towards John Edwards. I myself believe a diverse primary contest strengthens the eventual nominee, in most cases. I state these opinions simply to let the reader know where I stand; I believe they are irrelevant to this post's central topics.

I'm wondering two things:

1) Is the Democratic Party overconfident going into 2008?
2) Does the "Draft Al" movement reveal dissatisfaction in the Democratic ranks?

Cross posted at My Left Wing.

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