By Jim Castagnera
Attorney at Large
Next year could potentially be a political black hole. The 2006 mid-term elections are behind us. The 2008 presidential election is almost two years away.
Political junkies, fear not! A trio of presidential wanna-be’s will keep us well entertained.
First into the media-circus tent is Hilary Rodham Clinton. Senator Clinton is smart, gutsy and accomplished. Her name has landed among Forbes Magazine’s most powerful people and Time Magazine’s top 100. Never mind all that, though. Senator Clinton is unelectable… even if a majority of Americans are ready to send a woman into the oval office. Yahoo recently asked “Would you like to see Hilary Rodham Clinton as the next president of the USA?” The web-provider chose this as the best answer posted:
“I would consider myself a leftie and I think it would be a horrible choice if she ran for a number of reasons.
1. We already know who will vote for her (the same people who voted for Kerry) and we know that Kerry lost.
2. She won’t gain any support from the Republicans.
3. We need someone who pleases BOTH sides of the party, not just the one (that) will vote for (her).
4. We need someone from the south, who will appeal to them, not another ‘Yankee’.”
I can’t say it any plainer.
Then there’s Senator Barack Obama… another bright, capable candidate. He’s equally unelectable. Assuming Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice kicked open the doors of America’s corridors of power, and that therefore a majority of Americans are ready to send an African-American into the oval office… Obama is still a neophyte, where national politics are concerned. Two years in the U.S. Senate does not a statesman make. True, he’s about the same age as JFK was when the latter entered the White House in the year Obama was born. The big difference is that Kennedy had 13 years of Congressional service under his belt when he ran for the presidency.
Obama is being compared to a rock star. If I were he, I’d be a bit nervous about that. The Beatles and the Stones had staying power, but one-hit wonders are infinitely more common. My prediction: Obama-fatigue will set in by mid-’07.
The third performer in this three-ring circus is Congressman Dennis Kucinich. Back in the 1970s, when I lived in Cleveland, Kucinich was a one-term wonder in the mayor’s office. The wonder was that he survived his two-year term. At 31 he was the youngest mayor of a major U.S. city. His youth showed. He added a second strike to his count by appointing aides and advisors even younger and less experienced than himself. Kucinich’s ‘children’s crusade’ went south so fast that, one year into his term, angry voters failed to oust him in a recall election by a margin of only 236 votes. Kucinich served out his second year and then was voted out of office. This was in 1979.
A few years later, Kucinich moved to New Mexico, where in his words he was “on a quest for meaning.” He returned to politics from these ‘wilderness years’ in 1994 and has been in the U.S. Congress for the past decade. In 2003 Ralph Nader called him “a genuine progressive.” So much for his presidential chances.
While Clinton, Obama and Kucinich keep us all entertained during the year ahead, the Democratic Party power brokers presumably will be sorting out the serious contenders for the 2008 presidential sweepstakes. Meanwhile, my advice is to sit back and enjoy the show.
By Jim Castagnera