This past weekend, the first onset of winter temperatures saw the convening of what I like to call the Unofficial Southwestern Connecticut Caucus & Cocktail Hour: a gathering of politically minded Nutmeggers who meet all too frequently over adult beverages and tobacco to discuss the upcoming presidential primary season. This elite conclave included representatives from the conservative wing (all three of us) as well as those on the Democratic side.
After settling in on our barstools, we proceeded to a discussion of who would support what candidate, and why. On the Republican side there were predictable results, with a slight disagreement over whether a non-vote for Rudy Giuliani would constitute a vote for Hillary Clinton, and whether that matters much in a blue state like ours. But the most interesting comments came from our Democratic friends.
As I've said before, Connecticut, like many northeastern states, sends mostly Democrats to Washington, yet usually elects Republicans to the governor's mansion. In other words, while they favor the federal nanny state, most still trust daddy-types to handle executive decisions. Which was why I wasn't surprised that none of the Democrats we tippled with expressed any real support for Mrs. Clinton.
So herewith I will make my case that Hillary will not win the Democratic nod and that the winner of the Donkey Derby will likely be...John Edwards. Yes, I know that this is a long-shot prognostication and one that will perhaps end up with me consuming much crow in the next few months, but stay with me for a minute.
Recent polls suggest that Mrs. Clinton's negative poll numbers are holding firm at nearly 50%; a big problem for any candidate. And while it's true that her husband never garnered a majority of the votes, the real fear is that she will attract great numbers of "broken glass" Republicans -- those who would gladly crawl to the polls over shattered shards in order to defeat the "world's smartest woman" -- who would presumably vote across the board against any and all Democrats who might otherwise stand a chance, should Hillary be defeated in the coming months.
Add to this her vulnerability on national defense which has polarized the considerable anti-war wing of her party as well as their perception that she's got her finger in the air: We all know the worst-case scenario:
The GOP gets its dream of Hillary being the candidate. She gets beat like they and some of us Democrats expect, and we get stuck with another ruinous Republican president....When the supposed "leader" of the Democrats, Hillary, blows with whatever wind she thinks will get her elected, then we have no leadership.
The leftists who are smart enough to know that Hillary's candidacy is in trouble were dealt another blow on Monday when carbon credit king and venture capitalist Al Gore again said that he will not be running for the presidency. Apparently Mr. Gore has decided that his role as global savior is, shall we say, just a bit more rewarding. And so the far left base of the Democratic Party must look elsewhere for their prince; and it's not Hillary. But who is it, and how to deal with Mrs. Clinton?
It's not news that the mainstream media play no small role in national elections. In fact, with the limiting of non-media free speech due to McCain-Feingold campaign "reform," their power to influence the vote has only increased. Now it's no secret that they, like all liberals, have learned that merely gaining a slight majority in the Congress is not enough to accomplish their goals. Recent override-proof vetoes by President Bush have only increased their urgency to retake the White House and their apprehension that Hillary may not win it.
Fueling this fear is Mrs. Clinton's reaction to one of the only "gotcha" questions she has faced out on the campaign trail -- as if addressing the important issue of illegal immigration in her own home state is somehow too "tough." Her response is an indication that, should some prudent members of the media wise up and begin to question her as they would any Republican, the inevitability of her divisive candidacy can be avoided.
And that is what I believe will happen. Don't forget, Hill is not Bill. She has none of the charisma so often attributed to her better half, although she might still have all of the FBI files. Unless there is an outbreak of SADS (Sudden Arkansas Death Syndrome) among the press, look for the media to start "swift-boating" New York's junior senator, while pumping up a certain Southerner who has properly atoned for his Iraq War sins in a way that Mrs. Clinton has not.
When this happens, look then for the magnanimous John Edwards to offer her his unctuous hand and the vice-presidential slot. Whether she would accept it, or return to a lifelong Senate seat, is anybody's guess. After all, that choice would determine whether she has a future as the next Ted Kennedy or the next Geraldine Ferraro.
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