As a man who did not vote in November 2000 and 2004 (or in any U.S. election since 1992 for that matter), I was able to consider the U.S. Presidential candidates, George W Bush and John F. Kerry, without a great deal of passion. And, though I know that John Kerry lost in 2004, I am not inclined to rule him out in the future as had a few of his supporters (who dropped criticism on the guy like he was a bad scene in one of the earlier Star Wars prequels).
So what does Kerry and his party have going for them at this point?
First off, Sen. Kerry is going to roll in to 2008 as one of the few recognizable presidential candidates, other than perhaps Sen. Hillary Clinton. Who are the Republicans going to field? Who knows, but it’s not going to be Vice President Cheney. Also, you’re likely not going to see a Republican governor emerge as a successful presidential candidate who fights the “powers that be” like Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter did against long periods of Republican White House control (such a Republican candidate is part of the “powers that be” to begin with). As for Republican candidates from the Congress , the U.S. military or a previous administration’s cabinet, I have to ask, “who do know who has something to fight for?” …Yeah, see my point. Any Republican is going to be forced to stand by the 2000-2008 U.S. Administration’s image to field themselves successfully as a Republican candidate. So Republicans are going to end up going with a relatively little known presidential candidate for 2008 and that candidate is going to be weighed down by being forced to take an inherently defensive position (Republican presidential candidate: …no really, I’m not joking, the Bush administration executed perfectly for the last eight years). So, I am giving the advantage to the Democrats in 2008.
Then we have the Democratic field: basically, Senator John Kerry, Senator Hillary Clinton and her spouse and various lesser known Democratic politicians. In that pool of candidates, I give it to Kerry. Kerry has already been through the presidential campaign ringer once and he did extremely well versus a sitting president who was in charge of a fearful country that had been attacked by a foreign entity. Kerry has lost other political races before, such as a congressional race in the 1970s; but, he came back from this defeat and won a Senate seat. So, Kerry has shown that he can rebound in to a stronger position. Kerry has already been vetted by the press, both inside and out; he’s not perfect: a “summer” (three months) in Vietnam does not a tour make. But, nevertheless, everything appears to be legit. People say Kerry quit in 2004; I disagree. Kerry knew that he would lose, despite months of recounts and investigations of technicalities, etc. and he wisely chose to surrender and fight another day rather than politically bleed out in some kind of last stand that would have surely alienated him even from members of his own party (Remember, this is an institutionalized political contest in a civilized Democratic Republic we are talking about, not Battle Royale).
I know Kerry was not successful his first go around at the presidency. But, I have personally seen people who were not successful on a first attempt at a life-defining event succeed on their second attempt. One of the reasons for this follow up success is that the people (the voters in Kerry’s case) who control the achievement of success actually “respect” (a word Kerry used a few times in 2004) a person who keeps coming back for more after losses (think John Elway). In some cases, I have even seen people who were not allies actually begin to extend grudging favors to people on a come-back trail; this all has to do with their respect for the will it takes to pursue the same thing again after a defeat. Kerry will, this time, demonstrate that he is somebody who is running for president because he really has the “will” to run for president; he won’t be doing it to “try something new” (as far as the rush and exhaustion of life on the presidential campaign trail or media attention that would steamroll most kings, Kerry has already been there and done that).
Ok. But, what about Senator Hillary Clinton running for president? Hey, if I ran a political party I’d support “Wilma Flintstone” to run for president if it looked like she could find a way to coalesce enough U.S. voters to win; cartoon characters or otherwise, women could have made fine presidents since the first U.S. presidential election more than 200 years ago. But, it’s my vague speculation that Sen. Clinton’s life represents one side of the 1960s and 1970s that has already controlled the White House through her husband. Kerry presents another side of the 1960s and 1970s that has yet to control the White House, someone who has at least done some service in Vietnam. And, I suspect that Kerry is going to be a little more palatable to the country post-President George W. Bush and the needs of the returning thousands of dead or injured veterans from Iraq.
(I know that a new show with Geena Davis playing the U.S. president is coming out called Commander in Chief. What’s ironic is that Ms. Davis might make a good “real” presidential candidate before too long; I suspect that this show is going to be very popular with the targeted demographic and will show a female president managing the world’s current superpower with confidence; I also think that a show about a female president will also strengthen a broad range of female leaders, young and old. But, I don’t think that Sen. Clinton’s likely run will benefit from Commander in Chief, which is likely what political strategists in the Democratic party (Ms. Davis included) on both sides of the country intend. However, it is an interesting way to begin Ms. Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign early. I also know that there are a lot of political issues I haven’t covered in this post, such as an Edwards candidacy, so change my mind about this matter as you see fit.