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June 2, 2008

Democrats Self-Destruct in ‘Healthy’ Nomination Process


The Republicans could not have possibly wished for anything better. Although those who insist that the upcoming presidential election is “made” for the Democratic nominee go too far, it is nonetheless a decent year for the Democrats, and becomes more so as congressional Republicans blunder on a near-daily basis.


Yet despite the good news going for them, the Democrats have still managed to bungle their nomination process and their shot at the presidency. Despite what the Democratic Party’s mouthpieces might insist, the party’s contest has absolutely not, under any circumstances, been “healthy.”


Due to John McCain’s appeal to the independent electorate and his simultaneous embrace of some of the most essential conservative principles, as well as the successes in the Iraq War effort brought about by the policies he advocated, the Arizona senator is the favorite to win.


That said, by playing their cards right, the Democrats could have given him a serious challenge by selecting a well-balanced candidate who would capitalize on President Bush’s low approval ratings and the sleaziness of many congressional Republicans (which is merely cute compared to congressional Democrats’ behavior, but it’s not like elements of the mainstream media are battling to be the first to report on, say, Rep. John Murtha’s crooked earmarks).


If the Democrats had nominated John Edwards, they would have given McCain significant obstacles on his way to the presidency. The same goes for Joe Biden. Bill Richardson would have presented a formidable challenge, and perhaps even created an upset in November. Indeed, the absolute best scenario the Republicans could have wished for on Christmas was the nomination of either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama – the Democrats’ two least electable candidates.


If the Republicans had been exceptionally well-behaved that year, Santa Claus would have even granted them a Democratic contest that ran as late as Super Duper Tuesday in early February, an entire month after the Iowa caucuses.


Well, Santa delivered for the Republicans, and when he was done, higher powers jumped in on the action to give even more.


It had been 16 years since anything more than the first few voting states mattered in a primary contest. And for good reason, most expected that Hillary would wrap up the nomination early and proceed with her pre-designed general election plans. But it is June, and we still don’t have a presumptive Democratic nominee.


Even if one of the two candidates is definitively selected today, the nomination process will still have eaten up four valuable months of general election campaigning for the Democrats. McCain might not have been able to capitalize on this situation, at least financially, as much as Republicans have hoped. But it does not mean that the disparity in general election campaigning will not have hurt the Democrats by the time November comes around.


Indeed, the situation has far surpassed what would have been considered ideal by Republicans at the beginning of the year. The Democrats still have two candidates fighting it out in June, and they happen to be the two worst candidates from the pool fielded by the Democrats this year (the likes of Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel being excluded, of course). Regardless of who gets the nomination, the Democratic candidate will lose, possibly taking congressional Democratic candidates down as well.


Obama’s nomination would likely result in easy victories for McCain in the southwest and in Florida, as Hispanics turn out in droves both against Obama and for McCain, one of the most Hispanic-friendly Republicans they know. This is not to mention the lack of enthusiastic support for Obama among otherwise Democratic senior and Jewish constituencies in Florida. Ohio and Pennsylvania, despite generating extraordinary urban support for Obama, will likely see every rural white voter that voted for Bush and many of those that recently supported Hillary Clinton to fall in McCain’s camp.


If a presidential candidate fails to win any two of the three biggies (Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida), he cannot win in November. Obama would be extraordinarily lucky to win even one of these states.


Clinton would, under normal circumstances, perform better in Ohio and Pennsylvania by playing on the susceptibilities of blue collar workers who are led to believe that some of the policies that in reality hurt them the most (i.e. protectionism) actually help their lot. But it has always been and will continue to be incredibly difficult for such a divisive figure to earn a majority of the electoral votes this country has to offer.


Clinton is also at least as much a Washington insider as McCain is, which eliminates the powerful argument that has handed the presidency to former governors repeatedly in recent history. Besides, and perhaps unreasonably, Americans are tired of family succession, irrelevant of the candidates’ credentials – and the Clinton last name does not help.


We also cannot be blind to the fact that those who are simply not ready to hand the presidency to a woman, however few, might cast enough votes in November to impact the results. But most importantly, nominee Clinton will have suffered the loss of many young and black voters disaffected with the manner in which she snatched the nomination away from Obama. It would not be a pretty sight (or perhaps it would be).


This would leave us with some combination of Clinton and Obama as a ticket which, despite eliminating some of the weaknesses of the individual candidates, is more likely to combine their Achilles’ heels and leave the Democrats with no good foot to stand on. Now that would certainly not be healthy.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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