I've been meaning to say something about Chuck Todd's list of reasons Hillary Clinton might have trouble in the '08 primaries. I'm not saying that Hillary's inevitably going to coast, but I just don't buy Todd's reasoning, particularly his first point:
Passion: Who loves her? How big is this group of voters?
Now ask yourself, who loves Illinois Sen. Barack Obama (D)? Who loves former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (D)? Or even Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) or former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R)? And of course, who loves former President Bill Clinton? ...
But the primary-season winner is almost invariably not the candidate voters feel passion for. Think Clinton beating Jerry Brown and Paul Tsongas in '92, Poppy Bush beating Buchanan in 92, Dukakis beating Jesse Jackson in '88, Mondale beating Gary Hart in '84, Ford beating Ronald Reagan in '76. Think of the Dean implosion in '04. Maybe this isn't a hard-and-fast rule, but it holds more often than not: strong support and money with less passion beats more passion and less money. If no deep-pocketed superstars run again Hillary, I think it'll hold again.
(I actually thought, before he dropped out, that Russ Feingold would be the last candidate standing against Hillary in '08, following the pattern of the races I've listed, though he'd never really get close.)
Todd also thinks Hillary could struggle in the Midwest because she's a woman. (Where? In Michigan, which has a female governor and senator? In Kansas, which also has a female governor? In Illinois, whose biggest city elected a female mayor decades ago?)
On Iraq, Todd says:
She's been far more critical of the war recently, but fundamentally she's still a hawk, and the Democratic primary electorate (especially in Iowa) is full of doves. Can her semi-pro-intervention argument on Iraq withstand an onslaught of criticism from each one of her opponents? She's no Sen. Joe Lieberman, I/D-Conn., but could she end up accumulating Lieberman-like hatred in the blogosphere because of Iraq? It's possible.
If it's possible, why didn't it happen in 2006? There was no netroots agitation for a challenge to her, even as a protest vote, despite the fact that she had an anti-war challenger in the Democratic primary and a Green challenger in the general election. Besides, she's more critical of Bush's Iraq policy the worse things get. Which way do you think things will go in the next two years?
Todd thinks we might be sick of dynasties -- that we might want to avoid the cycle of Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton. But voters all over the country regularly vote for members of dynasties -- Kennedys, Bayhs, Landrieus, Murkowskis, Udalls. It would be ironic if the Democrats rejected Hillary for this reason while the Republicans nominated Mitt Romney.
Also, don't underestimate the polarization fatigue.
True -- although, given the modern GOP, is there even the slightest chance we can avoid that? (Actually, there is: if we nominate Lieberman.)*
I'm not saying she's a lock. I'm saying she's holding a very, very strong hand.
*Naaah -- on second thought, that wouldn't even work. He'd be turned back into Sore Loserman, and denounced as an evil social liberal and military ballot foe. So, maybe Zell Miller? With Ben Nevers as a running mate? I think you'd have to go that far -- i.e., nominate two wingnuts -- before you could have the even-tempered campaign all the Broderesque pundits want.