Next time -- Part one
By Leo K. O'Drudy, III
Let's take stock of what's happening in the presidential race.
The 2004 presidential race, that is.
Yes, I can hear you groaning. But if you're a marketing executive or a decision-maker in the retail sector, consider this my revenge for having seen Christmas decorations in stores since October. Anyway, here's the lineup as I see it if Gore wins, er, steals the 2000 election.
Al Gore. Deep, deep trouble. As National Review has pointed out, Gore is precisely the type of president who starts recessions. Unlike Clinton, who was willing to eventually compromise on tax cuts, spending limits, and the like, Gore has a rigidly self-righteous streak driving his desire for greater government entanglement in the economy, and the slowdown we are experiencing at the mere prospect of his presidency will become a full-scale crash. Also, after four years of lifestyle liberalism being forced from Washington (open homosexuals in the Boy Scouts and military, and God knows what else), and the continuing cloud over his having stolen the election, the GOP rage and desire to win will be fanatical. A devastating loss in Congress in 2002 may set the stage for a Democrat primary challenge as well.
Hillary! Rodham Clinton. Always a possibility. Sure, she's promised to serve out her Senate term, which expires in 2006. Need we be reminded what a Clinton's promise is worth? If so, note that Bill Clinton made a similar promise to the voters of Arkansas in 1990. We may see another "listening tour" of New York and the nation in which the common people tug their forelocks and beg her to run, never mind her previous "intention", which was under such different circumstances. Her race will be embraced by the adoring media as an opportunity for healthy debate and an exercise of the democratic process, and Democrats concerned about a split in their ranks weakening President Gore will be accused of sexists trying to preserve a good ol' boys club. Campaign issues can be discovered and manufactured as desired (remember Hillary!'s suddenly revealed concern for the upstate New York economy). While it might be wiser to bide her time and wait for 2008, it may be more likely that burning ambition will win out over prudence.
Joe Lieberman. Unlikely but intriguing. Although early America had a rich history of President vs. Veep feuds and intrigue, the 12th Amendment's requirement that Presidents and Vice Presidents be elected together on a ticket to prevent them from being from different parties has much diminished that. Still, they have not always seen eye to eye (see Jackson and Calhoun, Harrison and Tyler, Lincoln and Johnson, and late in '68, Johnson and Humphrey). And Joe Lieberman has changed his spots before. Remember when he was a cultural conservative and a self-proclaimed Orthodox Jew? Now he's Politically Correct and calls himself merely "observant."
Gray Davis. Strong possibility. Davis dislikes Gore (well yes, everybody does, but Davis does so especially strongly). He will be re-elected in 2002 and will have the nation's largest state, and all its fundraising potential and grassroots muscle, firmly under his grasp. With a pro-death penalty, pro-business centrist image, a willingness to buck his home state's teacher unions, and a credible Vietnam war record, he can challenge Gore from the center/right.
John McCain. Unknown. Mr. Campaign Finance Reform will still be Senate Commerce Committee chairman for years to come, and will be able to raise a king's ransom in campaign funds as a result. Gore's stolen victory may give McCain an opening to talk about "reform", and McCain's age means it's 2004 or never. His decision may depend on how united the GOP remains behind Bush throughout the Gore years. If there are anonymously leaked remarks from "senior GOP elected officials" criticizing Bush, McCain may be trying to move things along himself.
Ralph Nader. Mixed bag. Nader's 2000 showing may disappoint many leftists. His crusade against free enterprise, which had inspired many radicals, eventually turned into a plea for 5% of the vote so the Green Party could get tax dollars. However, the miserable Gore economy will be blamed by the media and the left on capitalism, giving the Greens an opening.
Pat Buchanan. With the drastic economic downturn, his populist economic message just may gain some serious traction. It will be interesting to see if the determination many social conservatives felt not to be tempted by Pat's siren song in 2000 will hold for 2004. Much may depend on whether Bush and the GOP leadership blame the closeness of the 2000 election on swing voters being leery of the social right. If so, Buchanan (or Buchananism) may rise stronger than ever from the ashes of its embarrassing loss in 2000.
George W. Bush. Looking good. Losers often poll well years after their loss. Goldwater, McGovern, Ford, and Carter were far less controversial and more popular after their defeats. Polls had Bush the Elder trouncing Bill Clinton in 1996 and 2000 (assuming a rematch was possible). Moreover, Gore would endure sustained hostility and outcry from the GOP accusing him of having stolen the election. Ironically, Bush would continue his theme of easygoing bipartisanship, shaking his head over the continued gridlock in Washington. With the near-certainty of economic misery and further cultural meltdown under Gore, and the significant possibility of a disaster such as a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, a ballistic missile strike on the US, or a terrorist weapon of mass destruction in a US city, Bush will look better and better.
Next time, I'll look at the 2004 lineup if President-elect Bush becomes the President.
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