Friday, October 13, 2006


The Moose considers the post-Warner field.

There are likely two separate contests within the Democratic '08 Presidential sweepstakes. Hillary is the frontrunner and she will be challenged from the center and the left. The Moose is skeptical, however, that there is much room in the middle for a successful opponent to Hillary. At this moment, Hillary has been careful to claim the center. Most notably, she has refused to disavow her support for the Congressional resolution that brought us to war.

Bayh, Richardson, Biden and Vilsak are all candidates of the center. But, with the departure of Warner, there is no longer a Southern centrist in the race.

There is a profound problem for the would-be centrists. A good deal of the energy in the party is on the left. And that is the space where a serious challenger to Hillary would likely emerge. And the acid test of the left is full-throated opposition to the Iraq war and a diplomacy- centric approach to Iran and other threats.

The contest for the left includes Edwards, Feingold, Dodd and maybe Gore. The Moose has speculated that Gore has been studying Nixon's out of the wilderness '68 comeback to power. But the hour will soon be getting late for a Gore entry.

Meanwhile, Edwards has clearly been emulating the '68 Bobby Kennedy example. He has flipped his position on an unpopular war. He has discovered poverty. He has the Bobby "look" with a nice drawl - Southern Fried Bobby.

But, unlike Bobby, Edwards has yet to surprise. By that the Moose means that Edwards has yet to question the liberal orthodoxy as Bobby did. Although it is often overlooked by the left, Bobby courageously came to question some of the liberal conventional wisdom of the sixties. He argued for accountability in public programs. He advocated civic responsibility as well as entitlement. He favored private sector solutions to poverty.

Indeed, it can be argued that Bobby was the first New Democrat. Are any Democratic wannabees willing to challenge any of the conventional wisdom in the Democratic Party - on entitlements, school choice or national security? So far, they are all fairly predictable. Do any of the candidates have the capacity to surprise?

Who will truly represent Bobby's legacy in '08?
-- Posted at 8:05 AM | Link to this post | Email this post