Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Cue The Themes

Last week at the DNC meetings, the potential Democratic nominees tried out their themes for the assembled. The top three could best be described as:
Back To The Future
Time For a Change
Gimme That Old Time Religion

Hillary Clinton – “Back To The Future” is clearly Hillary’s theme. Remember the 90’s when we had the White House and I was there? Good times. I was part of the team that won it, I know how to beat the Republicans, I have a team ready to take them on, so I’m the obvious choice here. Make no mistake, a Clintonian restoration has a strong pull for many Democrats and that is what she is counting on. It’s clear that her “theme” is more about answering the electability question, rather than the “why me?” question. Almost everything she says and does is calculated not just for the primaries but for the general election and her absurd Iraq policy is just the latest attempt to dance around whatever issue she finds out there. She may get the nomination, but there will be an astonishingly large number of Democrats unhappy if it happens.

Barack Obama – “Time For a Change” is his basic theme and no one could represent that more than him. Of course, the elements of this change, less partisanship, charting a course between the parties, bringing people together, and just getting things done without political dogmatism isn’t new at all. In fact, his campaign could be Back To The Future II, since it’s taken directly from Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign – remember the Third Way and the end to the “brain-dead politics of Washington”? His Iraq policy seems to have evolved into the Iraq Study Group’s position of withdrawal plus talk with the neighbors.

John Edwards – “Gimme That Old Time Religion” – if Hillary and Obama harkened back to the ‘90’s, Edwards went back further, to FDR, Truman, and JFK. Or at least Howard Dean’s “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party”. His terrific speech talked about the workers of America, their struggles, the power for good of unions, the need to help the poor and struggling middle-class – and was greeted by repeated standing ovations. His Iraq policy – get the hell out – certainly spoke to the hearts of the faithful in no uncertain terms. If he can galvanize union support (and workers) and raise enough money, he could surprise a lot of people focusing on the top two. Speaking of themes, the use of John Mellencamp’s “Our Country” as his campaign song is the stupidest idea I have ever seen (short of Hillary’s Iraq policy) – don’t pick music people associate with a car commercial and millions hate.

A word about Chris Dodd: he has pretty much been dismissed as a candidate, but he raised more money in the fourth quarter than anyone else and has positions which could be very attractive to many party activists – wants to amend the pernicious Defense of the Family Act to allow for and recognize civil unions, wants to repeal the pro-torture policy, seems to have aligned himself with Russ Feingold on Iraq – and could make more noise than anyone expects. Here’s a quote from his speech:

“Bipartisanship to me does not mean getting Democrats to agree with Republican principles; it means getting Republicans to agree with Democratic principles. That's what bipartisanship is.”

Amen, brother.


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