I’ve been working up a few scenarios given the primary calendar (which isn’t set in stone, with states like California looking to move up), and really, it would be Obama’s race to lose. ~Kos
We’ve all known that Markos Moulitsas was always a bit odd and excitable, but it is now official: he has gone mad. Even though Kos is only speaking of the nomination, and not the general election, this is probably the most absurd thing he has ever written (and that is saying something). The fun of making bold, outlandish predictions almost two years before the party conventions is that no one takes these predictions seriously and no one will attack you for having made obviously ludicrous predictions. For pundits, it is the best of all worlds: you can make the most outrageous, contrarian or bizarre claims, and no one will fault you for it when you are proven horribly wrong. For the record: Kos will be proven horribly wrong, and we will know it as early as mid-March 2008, if not sooner.
Obama has three things going for him: his charisma, a McCain-like media love-fest and his position on the war. (His happy God-talk will not help him significantly in the primaries, and it is to his party’s primary voters, not to Rick Warren and Sam Brownback, that he needs to make his appeal.) He campaigned against the war when he was running for the Senate, but he was able to avoid having to make the decision that Clinton, Biden, Kerry and the rest had to make in 2002 (would they give Bush the authority to do whatever he wants to Iraq or would they appear “weak” and oppose the resolution?). Every “responsible” Democrat with aspirations to higher office voted for the resolution, while the Senators and House members who knew they were never running for President voted as their constituents and convictions demanded. Obama, running in a safely Democratic-leaning state against Alan Keyes, could oppose the war without fear of significant political fallout. His most admirable policy position is therefore not a testament to his own wisdom or judgement (I suspect one will search in vain to find Obama op-eds against the war dating from 2002 and early 2003), but to his perfectly predictable alignment with the antiwar views of his state party. He happened to be right about Iraq, because antiwar Democrat sentiments put him on the right side of the issue, but his own foreign policy judgement is anything but sound if his rather careless saber-rattling against Pakistan is any indication. Put more simply, besides his political charm, he has all of the “assets” of a McCain and Dean rolled into one! How could he fail to win?
The progressive drooling over Barack Obama (here Arianna Huffington practically covers the junior senator in her copious saliva) tells us just how deeply some progressives hate Hillary Clinton. They desperately want, need, Anyone But Clinton. Hey, I understand why people would loathe herâ€“I grew up with the anti-Clinton conservative culture of the ‘90s, and it was exceedingly easy to regard the then-First Lady with enthusiastic contempt. But that is all that this Obama enthusiasm is. They certainly aren’t drooling over anything that has to do with Obama in matters of substance. He is, as I have said before, an empty vessel into which the ABC forces will pour their dreams and hopes, only to find that he is far from being their dream candidate. (The horror of the Americans for the Separation of Church & State will be powerful: “You mean he actually believes in God? And he talks about it in his campaign? That’s outrageous!”) This is interesting, and it will create problems for Clinton, who has formidable obstacles in her way, but right now she has so many more advantages over Obama that it is almost painful (if it weren’t so funny) to see the vaunted party strategist and would-be Field Marshal Kos making such an astonishingly bad prediction (revealing a host of bizarre assumptions in the process). Progressives, beholdâ€“this myopic Californian is your visionary commander! No wonder you keep losing.
I will say this: Obama has a certain smoothness and ability on the stump that will make him slightly more formidable than John Edwards was in ‘04, but Edwards was fairly smooth and revived the One America shtick while Obama was still running around South Side Chicago. Edwards managed to become the losing VP nominee. He made a strong showing in Iowa and managed to win in both of the Carolina primaries, but never toppled the front-runnerâ€“and he was running against John Kerry! Yet he was allegedly the second coming of Clinton and the much-needed “centrist” Southern Democrat that people routinely look for every four years. A lot of the same oohing and aahing went on then that is going on now about Obama. He’s young! He’s able to speak English fluently! We’re saved! It didn’t matter. The voters had other ideas.
Edwards will run for President in the coming cycle and go nowhere. Edwards’ fate is also Obama’s future if he runs in ‘08. He will probably make a strong challenge, lose and be selected for the VP slot. He doesn’t even have to do that well in many of the primaries; he will be considered a good running mate because of the “enthusiasm” and “energy” he will bring to the ticket. It is not clear who the nominee would be on the ticket with him, but it is fairly clear that he does not have either the executive experience or the experience in campaigning generally that would make him a viable presidential nominee. This might not have mattered if the next election were like 2000 or 1992, but a presidential election that takes place while the Iraq war is still going on or has only just concluded will focus on questions of leadership, management, competence and foreign policy experience. The final outcome, like everything else in the future, is obviously uncertain, but I am betting that the Democratic ticket will probably lose.