Sunday, September 21, 2003

Still not committed

I'm still not committed to any of the Democratic candidates at this point. While that would not be surprising for an average American at this point, it seems to be highly unusual for a denizen of the political blogosphere.
In past elections I've seen candidates I liked drop out long before I ever had an opportunity to vote for them in the primary, so I have a tendency to want to hold back and see how things shake out first.

My initial response to the Democratic lineup was to lean ever so slightly towards Sen. John Kerry. He is a mainstream liberal with lots of experience and his military background makes for a striking contrast with Bush. However, I have also been intrigued by Howard Dean's candidacy, especially as it began to catch fire on the Internet. One of my best friends lives up in Burlington, Vermont and is now a big Dean supporter and that has encouraged me to take him more seriously, in fact, you could say that the idealistic part of me is already on board with the Dean camp. But the pragmatic side of me still has fears dating back to the 1988 Dukakis campaign when I first witnessed the Republican slime machine in full force. I still remember Bush Sr.'s smug references to the "L" word, his visits to the flag factory, and the creepy visage of Willie Horton that hovered over the campaign.
The thing that is different about Dean, however, is that he has generated this level of interest so early in the race. Dukakis really did not stand out until he wound up on top of the heap after the primary voting had begun.

As for the other candidates, I think Gephardt should have stayed in the House rather than throwing in the towel on trying to win back a Democratic majority there. Edwards ticked me off by deciding to give up his Senate seat in South Carolina. Lieberman is a tad too conservative for my taste. Graham would be a great candidate if he could get traction, but that will probably only happen if several other folks stumble badly (i.e. Gary Hart). Kucinich, Mosely Braun and Sharpton are not serious candidates.

Wesley Clark's entry into the race adds another level of intrigue for me. The biggest drawback here is his lack of political experience. E.J. Dionne has an excellent article in the WashPo today discussing that topic. I have to be fair in admitting that if Clark had announced that he was a Republican, his lack of experience is one of the first things I would have jumped on. So I would need to rectify that in some way before I could fully commit to his candidacy. That being said, however, I would support almost any one of these candidates in a general election matchup with Bush.

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