Skip to comments.Andrew Sullivan - Dream-Tickets: Dean-Clark vs. Bush-Rice?
Posted on 10/20/2003 12:55:19 PM PDT by Pokey78
Here's a scenario that will likely frighten the White House. Two words: Dean-Clark.
It is, of course, way too early to start talk about potential tickets for 2004. But it is not too early to recognize a couple of obvious facts about the Democratic race. Howard Dean is both the easy front-runner, the only man to have galvanized the base, the only candidate to have raised really serious money, and to have provided a simple, clear message: get rid of Bush and move to the center, while coopting the left. At the same time, it's also pretty clear that he's going to have a hell of a job winning over the country as a whole in 2004. He's way too Northeastern for the South and West; he is way too dovish for an electorate concerned about post-9/11 national security; and he's far too prickly to endear himself to anyone but ideological firebrands. And no, he can't take solace from California. To see the Schwarzenegger victory as the harbinger of a populist revolt against all incumbents, including the White House, is a bit of a stretch. It's hard to argue that a 62 percent Republican vote in California presages a Democratic surge and a Dean victory nationwide.
And you can see how the White House will portray Dean: the mayor of Vermont, with no foreign policy experience, a man who would have left Saddam in power, would raise your taxes and delegate American diplomacy to Paris. Ouch. At the same time, the White House doesn't seem too worried about General Wesley Clark. He may have leapt to the front of the national polls, but he'll have to win a few front-loaded primaries next year to become the nominee. He's moribund in Iowa, struggling in New Hampshire, and a long shot in South Carolina - the key early battlegrounds. He's also barely a Democrat and has so far developed far more rapport with floating middle class voters than with the party activist base. His campaign has been shambolic so far - losing a campaign manager only ten days ago. His debate performances have been decent, but they certainly haven't been stellar; and he has recently endured a battering from his fellow Dems. Unless Dean stumbles badly or the dynamic of the race changes dramatically, I'd say the odds are against him.
But he has a critical element that the Democrats desperately need: some national security credibility and a Southern background. After all, that's why he gained traction at all. So isn't the ideal combination a Dean-Clark ticket with Clark as the vice-president? He'd be Howard Dean's Dick Cheney, the father-figure who reassures nervous centrists that they aren't just electing a crunchy, liberal space-cadet as president in a dangerous, terror-ridden world. Before Clark entered the race, Dean observed that he would make a great running mate. And, from the Democrats' point of view, it's a dream combination: you'd run on conciliating allies, focusing on nation-building in Iraq (which Clark did in the Balkans), cutting the deficit, and providing healthcare to America's children. In an electorate exhausted by the traumas of the Bush presidency, it might be quite appealing.
How would Bush respond? He might stick, as he often does, with his familiar team and familiar strategy. And this wouldn't be reckless. Despite the spin about his sinking popularity, he's still the clear favorite next year. He's at 56 percent in the polls - which is higher than Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton at this point in their first term, and both of them won re-election in a landslide. The economy is growing at a faster rate - projected to grow between 3 and 4 percent next year. Jobless claims are now falling; inflation is negligible; his base is committed. He has amassed a huge war-chest in campaign cash and, unlike his father, will have no contested primaries. Scwarzenegger's victory has helped neutralize a big advantage for the Democrats - taking California for granted. As for Iraq, you just have to watch the money. The U.S. is pouring cash into that country - eight times as much per capita in real terms as it did in post-war Germany. There are still plenty of things that can go wrong. But with a new U.N. mandate, more money, slowly improving security and the likely capture of Saddam at some point in the future, the chances are still that Iraq will look better in a year's time than it does today.
But it's still iffy. Disaster could still strike abroad. The country is still evenly divided. The raw feelings of the third of the country that is partisan and Democrat are intense. These Michael-Moore reading activists have real energy to get rid of Bush; and, in elections, intensity matters. There may, in the next year, be a bitter cultural fight over a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage or any marriage-like benefits to gay couples in the U.S. - a fight that could polarize the country still further and push Bush into the arms of his religious right base. The deficits are huge and growing and some voters will be asking why we can spend $20 billion on Iraqi reconstruction, while the states are going bankrupt.
If I were Bush, that would be the time to ask Condi Rice to be his running mate. Dick Cheney's role in the first term - teaching Bush how to handle the Washington bureaucracy - has been accomplished. Cheney is not a natural campaigner in an election that will require a ferocious, barn-storming effort. He is in poor health, giving him an easy out. The odds are that Bush will still want him. The Beltway scuttlebutt is that Rice is being groomed to be secretary of state in a second term.
But the advantages of Rice are still striking. She is already, in some ways, vice-president. She is the president's closest confidant, best friend and soul-mate. Her role has been to listen in meetings and then talk to the president afterwards about her views and advice. She has had a rocky tenure at the National Security Council, having to juggle the competing egos of Rumsfeld and Powell. But she is admired and trusted.
To the country and world at large, she would also be a striking symbol. A black woman a heart-beat away from the presidency would be a cultural breakthrough. The inclusive message it would send not just to African-Americans, but to other minorities would help move the Republicans in the Schwarzenegger direction, where the future lies. Her strong ties to California would be a boon. Across the world, she would become an emblem of an America that is truly democratic, open-minded but also hard-headed in foreign policy and national defence. It would be a fusion of neoconservatism and Arnold conservatism.
It would also make for a fascinating race: Dean-Clark versus Bush-Rice. An evenly matched contest of argument, culture, and personality. You may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one.
Clinton's re-election was hardly a landslide.
Well, of COURSE it was! He's a Democrat, silly! For the Left, 47% of the vote is a mandate, a landslide, and a majority.
Now, when a Republican gets 49% of the vote, on the other hand, then they were "selected, not elected", they have no mandate or even leadership presence, and they are not popular, in every sens of the term.
The First Lady might be surprised to hear this.
... He'd be Howard Dean's Dick Cheney, the father-figure who reassures nervous centrists that they aren't just electing a crunchy, liberal space-cadet as president in a dangerous, terror-ridden world ...Sullivan's right. We're doomed. '04 belongs to the Democrats. I say we get our passports in order and make way for ... well, where should we go, precisely? How about Iraq? At least Iraq now has a prayer thanks to the soon-to-be-ousted Bush team.
Rather, it's going to be THESE two stellar performers (NOTE: The size is proportional to their power in a victorious election):
I suspect voters will prefer the security of a known quantity (Bush-Cheney) over a highly unknown quantity (Dean-Clark). Dean-Clark may indeed be the Democrats best ticket, but it's still a pretty weak one. They each have many vulnerabilities.
Rice's time will come in 2008. That's when the Republicans will need someone out-of-the-ordinary to counter Hillary, so that's when Republicans will be strongly tempted to go with a black female for their Presidential candidate.
Whether Condi Rice get the Republican 2008 nomination is entirely up to Bush. At any time prior to 2008 he can arrange for Cheney to resign from the Vice-Presidency "for health reasons". Then Bush appoints Condi as his new VP. With those credentials she'd take the Republican nomination in a cakewalk, and probably win the general election as well.
Look at how involved Clintonistas are with the Clark campaign, ready to accelerate or pull the plug on orders from Chappaqua. Clark is controlled, and won't be permitted to backslide or surge too far ahead.
Also, the evidence for Her run is mounting. Examine all the exposure: speeches on the Senate floor; the Iowa speeches; the involvement in campaign minutae; the "listening tour" book signings; and the divisiveness of the Nine.
All setting the stage for Her triumphant revelation at the Boston convention, as the Marxist Messiah who will lead the Left back to power.
Because ... ?
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