If I were a Democrat, I’d been gnashing my teeth right now. Just months ago, it seemed all but certain that the party of FDR would recapture the White House this fall. Now, the smart money is on a man who, less than a year ago, looked dead in the water. If John McCainÂ doesn’t get too cockyand wages a smart campaign (by respond quickly and effectively to MSM & Democratic attacks and putting forward an upbeat conservative agenda), he should keep the presidency in Republican hands.
It’s that the two remaining Democratic presidential contenders don’t seem very presidential. Tenacious, intelligent and disciplined though she may be, Hillary Clinton doesn’t come across as an optimistic and confident leader. Plus she seems to want to fit the past into the record she needs to appeal to whatever audience she addresses in the present.
Her opponent, on the other hand, has the gifts of presence and passion she lacks, but has her husband’s skill of answering tough questions with fancy (and often inspiring) rhetoric.
Had the Democrats picked a candidate who could unite their party while appearing to moderate and other independent voters, we might be looking at a Republican wipeout that would make 1932 look like a cliffhanger. That is why, until New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s meltdown, I most most fear his nomination. He can argue with Republicans, criticizing their points without engaging in name-calling or appearing condescending.
He has governed effectively in a “purple” state without raising taxes. A man with a record of leadership who shows respect for his political adversaries could lead a divided nation.
I wonder if Richardson now regrets tacking left during his presidential campaign. Then, he sought to appeal to the party’s angry base. But, had he run from the center-left, the place where he stood when in the Clinton Administration and where he governed as the chief executive of his state, he might have succeeded in his party as did John McCain in the GOP, by winning large enough pluralities to catapult himself to frontrunner status. Disgruntled Democrats might have turned to him as a consensus choice who could win in November.
Richardson isn’t the only Democratic governor who would have made a compelling nominee. Yesterday, Glenn Reynolds mentioned his governor Phil Bredesen, a Democrat who addressed Tennessee’s budget woes with “9% across-the-board spending cuts” and who, like his New Mexico counterpart, held the line on taxes.
Democrats who cut spending and hold the line on taxes? Sounds like men who could appeal to voters who favor the fiscal conservatism Republicans ostensibly espouse.Â
Many indicators favor the Democrats this year. Polls show a generic Democrat easily beating a generic Republican in the presidential contest. But, generic human beings don’t run for office in real elections. And neither of the real Democrats left standing appears particularly presidential. One wonders how different things would be if the Democrats had put forward a sensible governor with a record of leadership and accomplishment.
Their failure to do so has given Republicans a chance that, given the party’s record these past few years, many believe we should be denied.