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MindLikeAParachute Donating Member (71 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-06-06 09:29 PM
Original message
Depends what the definition of "formidible" is...
So George Bush thinks Hillary is a formidable candidate.

Folks, the 2008 Presidential campaign manuevering has begun.

Its amazing what you can do with the media at your command.

You may think that we (the Democrats) elect our candidate at the primaries, but I submit to you that we dont. After the initial shake-up, we go with the perceived front-runner. Normally this would be acceptable front-runners are front-runners for a reason theyve passed the tests and are still in the game and everyone else seem to think theyre the most qualified, if not to hold the office, at least to win the general election. Your fellow voters have done the due diligence for you, and theyve vetted the candidate, and to paraphrase Genesis, they Saw That It Was Good.

Herein lies the problem. The danger in all this is the assumption that front-runnership was as a result of the process working. I remember an interview of Jon Stewart (perhaps by Dave Letterman?) where he was asked if John Kerry was the best the Democrats had to offer. Jons response was, and I think intentionally diplomatically, according to the process.

And this is true, and it would be fine, except the process is flawed. The weak point or, rather, the crucial factor is the media. And the Republicans know this all too well.

If you look back on the 2004 elections, was Kerry the best candidate we had? I think not. He found his voice at the end, but I regret it was too late. I know the Kerrys often follow threads here at Democratic Underground, and though I appreciate all you did for us, I think you were set up, John.

If you want to win at chess, short of doing a surprise checkmate move, you slowly pick your opponents pieces off one by one until they have little of value to work with. The most dangerous pieces, e.g.: the Queen, you get rid of at the first opportunity.

I may not care for current Republican politics, but I have to concede that they are very calculating and deliberate in how they approach their political manuevering, and campaigning. They take a long-term view of things and, coupled with a lack of a moral compass, they have gone far. You may not respect them, but you shouldnt underestimate them.

The major candidates in the 2004 election (in no specific order) were Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, John Edwards, and John Kerry. Other candidates, such as Dick Gephart, Al Sharpton, Carol Moseley Braun, and Dennis Kucinich washed out early and, with the possible exception of Gephart, werent generally considered to have much of a chance anyway. Ralph Nader was considered a spoiler, but not a credible candidate on his own.

Now, a good campaign strategist, faced with a slate of opposition candidates, will attempt to figure out the campaign each will run and will make an effort to out-guess and counter the oppositions campaign.

A great campaign strategist, on the other hand, in true Machiavellian fashion, will attempt to identify the candidate they think they have the best shot at defeating, and then move that candidate into front position, having already removed the more dangerous opposition at the first opportunity, just like in chess.

We saw this in the 2004 Campaign. I believe the two most formidable candidates (in the true sense, not in the Bush sense) were Howard Dean and Wesley Clark, followed by John Kerry and John Edwards.

Although Wesley Clark was late to the campaign (which was a strategic error, but then he had never run for office before), I submit he was the most qualified. A Rhodes Scholar, no one could accuse him of not being smart enough. A four-star general and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, no one could accuse him of being soft on defense. Having led the military negotiations that led to the Bosnian Peace Accords, no one could accuse him of not being capable of diplomacy, and he spoke multiple languages and had advanced academic degrees and held a slew of honors ranging from the Silver Star to the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Clearly, Wesley Clark would have to go.

And go he did, despite many endorsements and an enthusiastic following, his campaign died, suffocated by a lack of the one thing he couldnt survive without media attention. Starved of media attention, Wesley Clark went.

Thats not to say that Clarks campaign was flawless. It wasnt. He came into the game too late, and initially unprepared. That said, because of his qualifications, he still deserved more attention than he was able to garner.

Dangerous candidate number two was Howard Dean. The early front-runner, Dean took everyone by surprise with the unexpected success of his grassroots campaign. With the help of Joe Trippi, and, he built unprecedented support, particularly among young people, and amassed a significant war chest built mainly of small dollar donations. As Governor of Vermont, he had actually lowered taxes and balanced the budget many times, and had generally managed to live a scandal-free life. On top of that, he had a brash, in-your-face, tell-it-like-it-is, I-aint-afraid-of-no-one attitude. This appealed to a lot of people.

Clearly, Howard Dean would have to go.

This, however, wasnt quite as easy to achieve as suffocating Wesley Clark with a lack of media attention. To the contrary, media attention was exactly what ultimately brought Howard Dean down. At a rally for his campaign volunteers at his concession speech in Iowa, his directional microphone just caught his voice and not that of the roaring crowd, and his rally cry was caught (unknowingly) on videotape, which was immediately placed into the media echo chamber and played and replayed until death, specifically the death of the Dean campaign, accompanied by right wing pundits speculating that Dean was too unstable to be President.

And so it was done. So, who were we left with?

John Edwards, I thought, having heard his interview (along with Kerrys, Clarks, Deans, and Kucinichs) was perhaps the best candidate, except for his perceived inexperience. That would be hard to overcome. John Kerry, although a war hero, and married to a wife who would make an incredible first lady, had a few critical drawbacks. First, he was a bit too senatorial, not accustomed to keeping his public speech accessible to generic blue-collar Americans. As some would say, too many ten-dollar words. He fixed that at the end, but it was too late to make a difference.

Second, although he served honorably in Vietnam, with Purple Hearts and both Bronze and Silver stars (unlike a certain Republican candidate in the same race), he also protested the Vietnam war upon his return. Back then, Vietnam protesters were painted by the right wing as communists and anti-American. Further, he had the advantage (from the Republican viewpoint) of being very wealthy married to an heiress and growing up in the privileged section of Boston, not that George Bush wasnt privileged either and being a senator from gay marriage Massachusetts, whose other senator is the right wings other favorite target (besides Bill Clinton), notably Ted Kennedy.

It didnt take long, with Clark and Dean out of the way, to push Kerry to the forefront whereupon, having secured the nomination, he was brought down by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and his own inability to articulate a message and/or image of his own making, some of which was his own failure, and some of which demonstrated the difficulty of swimming upstream against a media that is against you.

I think the Republican strategists foresaw that very well. They saw weak points they could exploit in Kerry. They could make him out to be a flip-flopping liberal out-of-touch-with-the-mainstream from gay Massachusetts, and pretty much sink him. Fair or not, they saw in him a vulnerability they could not find in Wesley Clark or Howard Dean, and so I believe they pushed him to the forefront so they could destroy him once he was the candidate of choice, by virtue of being the last one standing.

And so it happens with Hillary. Now Hillary and Bill may be a leap ahead of the Republicans, serving as a lightning rod while the real candidates prepare, but we dont know that yet. Regardless of whether this is true or not, already the GOP is starting to position itself, by attempting to position their preferred opposition candidate as formidable and presumably, eventually, a front-runner. Hillary may well make a fine President, but her candidacy comes rife with problems, not the least of which is feeding immediately off the rights hatred for her husband Bill. Hillary is also a well known and extensively researched quantity, and the Republicans have years of Clinton-bashing innuendo invested already it would serve them well to find Hillary as a candidate. Thus, Bush touting her as a formidable candidate is actually, in a backward way, daring her to go for it. Theyll do their best to get her into the nomination, and then let loose with their best smear tactics. Regrettably, Hillary has not helped her case any with her position on the Iraq war, and the Republicans know it. If the Democrats are divided about whether or not Hillary deserves to run, you can bet the Republicans are just itching to see her run.

So who will run? 2008 is still a ways away, but certainly I would not be surprised to find Barak Obama on the radar screen. Hes very powerful and compelling. As such, expect him to be marginalized or forced out early on. Clark, Gore, and Edwards too have made footsteps in that direction. I dont know who else will run, although many have made noises. Whoever it is, though, I think that the candidates most vilified (or ignored) by the mainstream media might well be our best candidates, while those propelled by the media and/or spoken of by Republicans with fear and respect in their voice might well be our most vulnerable.

Its a different world now. The old rules dont apply.
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FrenchieCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-06-06 09:38 PM
Response to Original message
1. Shit.....I could have written that.....
But I didn't!

You did, and so I thank you, coz that's exactly how it went.....and so it will go!

Welcome to DU! :hi:

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lyonn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-07-06 02:41 PM
Response to Reply #1
6. My thoughts too Frenchie Cat,
Except I couldn't have written it!! You do pretty good yourself.
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zeemike Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-06-06 09:47 PM
Response to Original message
2. Well I predicted at the time
That Wesley Clark entered the race that the Democrats would louse the election and caught a lot of flack for it and accused of being a defeatist. But unfortunately my instincts were right.
Clark was a ringer that had only one porpoise (from the Repug standpoint) and that was to make military man the subject. Clark was unknown to most democrats and had no real chance of winning.
And when we chose Kerry as our military man they were ready for him with a swift boat campaign.
In every way and at every step they controlled the agenda because they control the media, and until we learn that we will continue to make these mistakes and wind up wondering what happened.
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lyonn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-07-06 12:51 AM
Response to Original message
3. Hi and welcome, liked your post
Yes, I believe they are playing a Hillary game. They want her to run since they believe they can beat her with all the ammo they have to use against her. Clark could be our candidate this time, due to the issue of "we are at war" per bush. I really like Feingold but do hear rumblings about 2 marriages, jewish, well that's about all. There are some that are speaking out about the horrors of this administration and that must be their No. 1 attribute.

The repubs seem to have a real problem with a believable candidate. McCain I don't feel is a threat, no matter what the polls say.

If we can get at least one House in Congress this year I believe that would set-up a positive momentum. How we doing on the paperless trail voting issue?
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MindLikeAParachute Donating Member (71 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-07-06 02:20 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Thanks, and I'm afraid the paperless voting issue
keeps getting tossed into the "conspiracy issue" bucket. And yet, as someone (Lenin, Stalin ?) said, it's not your vote that counts, it's who counts the votes. (I'm mangling it, but you get the idea).

Whoever they put up, though, they're going to try to manuever us into supporting who we are led to believe is our strongest candidate, and yet they'll be our most vulnerable, since they've managed to sideline the really dangerous ones.

I'd like to see Wes Clark go for it again. He'll have a better idea of how to go about it, and the DNC can better support him this time around.
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lyonn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-07-06 02:38 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Damn, I like your way of thinking
Hope you stick around on this site with your outlook. ".....supporting who we are led to believe is our strongest caindidate..." type analogy is spot on.
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