The Moose puts on his political analyst antlers and reflects on the anti-war vacuum.
Most of the potential '08 Democratic contenders either supported the decision to go to war in Iraq or oppose an early withdrawal. However, it is clear that many in the liberal base of the party favor an early pull out. Nature and politics abhor a vacuum, and an explicit anti-war candidate is likely to emerge.
Besides Senator Feingold, General Clark is the only other likely candidate who explicitly opposed the war. With his military credentials, he could be the ideal "dovish" contender.
However, one major player is rarely mentioned in the 2008 Democratic sweepstakes - Al Gore. That might be explained by the fact that the former veep has generally indicated that he will not run. But, surely no Shermanesque statement has passed his lips.
Since the 2000 campaign, Gore has generally identified with the left. He has used the vehicle of MoveOn to deliver several blistering attacks on the Bush Administration. Gore came out early against the Iraq intervention. He has voiced the criticisms of the left against the Patriot Act. No potential candidate can match his credentials as someone who has both served as Vice President and actually won the popular vote for President.
It is quite likely that a President Gore would have come to blows with Saddam in the aftermath of 9/11. In the past, Gore was a strong supporter of the use of American power whether it was in the first Gulf War or Kosovo. As a Congressman, Senator and Vice President, Gore was always identified with the hawkish wing of the party.
But times have changed as has the former Veep. Gore must now see this vacuum on the left and view it as inviting. Nixon waited eight years for his comeback. After two terms of Bush, might Gore think his time has come?
Ultimately, the Moose is skeptical that an explicitly anti-war candidate can win the Presidency. Regardless of the growing unpopularity of the war, the American people have never selected a dove over a hawk in modern political history. While there is always a first time, it seems unlikely that a dovish candidate can win because of the continuing war on terror - which the American people support whatever their views on Iraq. However, Gore would likely be a strong candidate within the Democratic primaries.
Could there be both a Clinton and a Gore in the '08 field? Stay tuned. --