Status Report


Romney and Hillary Clinton win in Michigan. . .
However, the efforts by all — on both sides of the political aisle — to achieve political definitiveness are being firmly rejected by Americans. Republicans and Democrats are not sure what they want in their leader — and this is going to be a fascinating, stressful, long term process.
I’m watching the Democrats debate issues in Nevada tonight, and I have to admit that I’m impressed by the format. I sort of like how cordial everyone is — in fact, it was practically a love fest at the beginning. But it’s a thoughtful way to have a serious discussion with candidates. One thing though — I was disappointed in all of them on the economic issues, including John Edwards — which surprises me, given how sharp his economic team is.
Tomorrow, I’ll be MC’ing an evening for Jacob Heilbrunn who just wrote a book that must be read by those who want to understand the history and impact of neoconservative thinking on America’s national security policy. Adam Bellow, son of Saul Bellow who is featured as well in the Heilbrunn book, will be representing Doubleday at this evening gathering.
And then after that, I’ll be helping to moderate a salon discussion with former Shin Bet Chief Ami Ayalon — who is a dynamic member of Israel’s Labor Party — and a Minister of State in the Israeli government with responsibilities for security.
It’s going to be a busy day tomorrow — but thought I’d share what’s up.
Thanks to all for emailing. Can’t answer it all — though I try. Just a hint. Shorter emails are helpful — because I get hundreds each day. And thanks to those of you clicking PayPal. I owe many a serous debt of gratitude — and after I get done with some Iran incident digging, you’ll hear from me.
For those friending on FaceBook, I love it — very cool template for exchanging stuff.
On the campaigns, it’s going to be a marathon — not a sprint. On the Dem side, I see Hillary and Obama fighting for a long time ahead, even after February 5th — unless a surprise or scandal emerges. I’ll be writing on this more soon — but I’m not sure that the Democratic Party can compete well in the general election without a fusion of effort and interests of them both. That may be bad news for Wes Clark, Ted Strickland, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, and others. . .more on that later.
And yes, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius will be one of two offering responses after President Bush’s State of the Union address.
More tomorrow.

— Steve Clemons


12 comments on “Status Report

  1. Tramadol says:

    There really are not that significant policy differences among the Democratic front runners. At least the Democrats have a party message to offer a real choice, but the Republicans are in even more disarray. And the Democrats should seize that stragegic advantage.


  2. leemortimer says:

    When you say “fusion,” that’s usually interpreted as an effort between parties, not just candidates. And since your list of VP aspirants who would have to be disappointed did not include Chuck Hagel, I assume you consider an Obama-Hagel ticket still a live option.


  3. p.lukasiak says:

    If Obama was smart, he’d accept an offer to be Edward’s VP. (He’d be overshadowed in a Hillary administration, but a superstar under Edwards). That way, he gets a chance to pick up the one thing that he lacks — experience in how power is exercised in DC, and how to get things accomplished in those treacherous waters. And they’d make a great team — Edward’s “stick” to Obama’s “carrot.”
    I’ve always believed that neither Obama nor Huckabee didn’t enter this campaign with the goal of becoming president this year, but to do respectably, and become a highly credible candidate in the future. (much like Edwards did in 2004). But the media wanted an anti-Hillary that they could focus on, and Obama — with his enormous star-power/charisma, got cast in that role. (Obama pulled a similar move in 2000 — running against a popular, entrenched Democratic House member in the primary — in conventional terms, it was a blowout, but he did get 1/3 of the vote — and he got the kind of name recognition throughout Cook County that made him a viable Senate candidate in 2004).
    Huckabee looked at the GOP field, realized that there were all of these “superstars” running but no one who could appeal to the evangelical base, and assumed that he could run gain enough stature through a series of 2nd and 3rd place finishes to be considered credible in 2012/2016. With this looking more and more like a brokered convention on the GOP side, and Huckabee could wind up with the nomination — if for no other reason than the fact that the party establishment realizes that the deck is stacked against the GOP this year, and if someone has to lose, the Party will be better off with a big Huckabee loss in 2008 than an energized evangelical base going all out for Huckabee in 2012. If Huckabee is smart, he’ll stay in the race as long as possible, and then throw his support to which-ever candidate will give him the VP slot. That would be the best of both worlds for Huckabee — even if that slate loses, he’s still viable in 2012…and if it wins, he’s the heir apparent in 2016.


  4. Kathleen says:

    Just because the office of VEEP has heretofore been relatively insignificant, doesn’t mean it needs to remain so.
    A VEEP with vision might choose to focus on his dual role as President of the Senate and preside every day, not just when there is a tie vote.
    My first choice for that kind of VEEP is Senator Russ Feingold. He would get things done fairly and squarely and is one of the few in government who still enjoys some public trust.
    Sandy, glad to have a kindred sister.


  5. Sandy says:

    Love (and agree with) your posts, Kathleen. 🙂


  6. Kathleen says:

    I’m feeling so sarcastic and politically incorrect today, perhaps I should keep my trap shut, but to show you how unprejudiced I am, I just might vote for the Southern White Guy, even though I have drawl fatigue, becauee I like his focus on the inequity of our tax code. Before the war, that was my pet peeve. It still is, but while people are being blown to bits, I have to make the war and any potential war my focus.
    I don’t think it was a co-incidence that the skirmish in the Straits of Hormuz occured on the day of the New Hampshire primary. With shipbuilding and Naval faciloities in New Hampshire, in a failing economy, loss of defense contracts is a factor. All of which brings me back to Kyl-Lieberman and why that is my litmus test. Hillary voted yes, Obama skipped it.
    What good is experience if you learned nothing from it? What good is opposing a war when you don’t have a vote, and skipping the vote when you can? When it comes to opposing war, Hillary and Obama are just two shades of chocolate, but not as sweet.
    Just like the Swifboaters are back, apparantly the same clowns that brought us the “Yellowcake from Niger” fiasco are busy faking skirmishes in the Straits of Hormuz, which incidcentally has no international waters. Oooops.


  7. Carroll says:

    I thought Obama did the least well last night…every time I hear him I get the impression that he thinks as prez he could “compromise” his way out of all our problems.
    I still think the best cleaner-uper would be Edwards..but Hillary made a case for herself.


  8. Opportunity says:

    Doe anybody else hunger for the sort of leadership that would take this country to a new level? I’m sick of watching candidates twist and turn like worms in their special-interest-straitjackets. I’d prefer to see them lead and not follow.
    If Hillary and Obama mean what they say when they join Edwards in acknowledging that the key to meaningful change is reducing the power of the special interests that are busy taking down the middle class…
    well, what’s to stop all three from coming together to lead a movement to reduce the power of special interests? These three could from a powerful group that would surely attract any great leaders left in Congress. They’d have a center of power no status quo Republican could touch. They could then mobilize a majority of Americans to really do something meaningful for the country.
    It’s a win-win-win because regardless of who got what office, each would have greater influence than any one would ever have in a status quo oval office so constrained by special interests.
    I’m betting a show of visionary leadership like this would draw in so many Independents (and also some Republicans) that it would ensure a Democrat wins the presidency.
    No risk is the biggest risk and just means more backslide till an inevitable fall.
    WHEN will some American candidates muster up some courage and show a little respect for the founders who risked having their necks in a noose to create something better for us?


  9. Linda says:

    The top three Democrats need to totally unite for the sake of the country. If I were Howard Dean, I’d be calling them and their spouses and campaign strategists in for a meeting/conference call and insist that they all start including in their stump speeches that each will support the party’s nominee and campaign enthusiastically for him/her. That will help a lot.
    Bottom line is that regardless of our individual choices, it is extremely important that Democrats win in November. There really are not that significant policy differences among the Democratic front runners. At least the Democrats have a party message to offer a real choice, but the Republicans are in even more disarray. And the Democrats should seize that stragegic advantage.
    As for VP choices, they are easiest for Obama as someone with more experience and older would be obvious–Richardson, Biden, Dodd, Wesley Clark, and many more. It’s much harder for Hillary because everybody knows that Bill will be between Hillary and the VP–perhaps a younger male governor like Mark Warner.


  10. Bill R. says:

    I agree it’s a stretch to believe that Hillary would accept a VP slot. I still believe her rightful calling is not the presidency but as Senate Majority leader. I think Obama might accept VP if he were convinced he would could really be an administration voice domestically and in the world to bring his unifying voice. That’s his thing.
    However, women and African Americans are the biggest part of the Dem. base. If you don’t motivate them to vote, you lose. The Clintons have trashed their relationship with the African Americans. They need Obama now to bring them out if she wins the nomination.


  11. Dan Kervick says:

    I don’t think there is going to be Clinton-Obama ticket. Surely Hillary Clinton is never going to be happy as a relatively powerless second fiddle when she could remain a powerful Senator from one of the country’s most important states. And tucking Obama away in the Vice Presidency is a huge waste of his talents. Except in the case where the President is an incompetent boob around whom a megalomaniacal VP can run circles – i.e. a case like Bush and Cheney – the Vice Presidency is a relatively meaningless job. Whoever loses this thing is needed in the Senate where they can actually do some important government business.


  12. Bill R. says:

    You may be right, Steve. More and more I’m thinking the party will want both of them on the ticket, whether they like it or not. Together they can unite the important constituencies. If one is left off, it could mean a divided and fractured campaign that ultimately loses.


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