Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The type of presidency you can expect...

After watching nearly all the Democratic Presidential debates to this point, I've begun to project forward to January 2009 and wonder what kind of presidency each of the candidates would have. Here's my thoughts, with the candidates in alphabetical order.

Biden - The Hawk - He's the most hawkish of the candidates and the only one who won't declare a withdrawal of Iraq. One can assume he'll continue to use American military as a tool. On international issues, Biden has always been hawkish and would probably commit American troops to foreign problems and issues. On the domestic side, we don't know as much, but his recent debate performance has shown that he is the least likely to be an agent of change. His common refrain is "tell the people the truth" whenever anyone suggests that DC politics can be done differently.

Clinton - The Centrist? or The Liberal? - Clinton has been given a virtual free pass by her opponents on issues of substance, so she has been able to position herself as a centrist. She refuses to rule out a complete withdrawal from Iraq. She voted in favor of declaring parts of the Iranian army a terrorist group. She put forward a moderately liberal health care plan. Her energy policy is also quite liberal, but she hasn't articulated much in the debates. She has slipped up once in the debates and the most was made of it. I'm not sure the answer was deadly, but it does play into her "cold and calculating" politician stereotype. I'm still unsure if Hillary would be a Liberal or a Centrist.

Dodd - ???? - Not sure exactly what a Dodd administration would look like. He's been average in the debates and hasn't had a chance to define himself or his policy positions.

Edwards - The Populist - John Edwards is a changed man for 2004. His common refrain is the "corrupt system of Washington" and he bangs on against unfair trade treaties, low minimum wage, lack of health care and the high cost of college tuition. Edwards says he will remove all combat troops from Iraq (leaving non-combat troops, apparently). He has become a "man of the people" even as some of his spending habits have shown him to not live that way. He's been campaigning since November 2004 and has a strong following, especially among those that demand real change in Washington. Certainly his policies are the most populist of them all.

Kucinich - Complete Craziness - Who cares? His ideas are so nuts, he can't even get 5% of the Democratic Party to support them. He'll never have an administration. If he ever was in contention, his admission to seeing UFOs knocked him from seriousness to sillyness.

Obama - Sloppy Liberalism - Obama's relative newness to the nation stage has been obvious on several occasions. Over the summer, when articulating a very sensible policy, talking with every nation, and then in the same week, again articulating a very sensible policy, attacking Osama Bin Laden, even if he was in Pakistan, he was hit with the label of "talk to our enemies and bomb our friends." Last week he said his most important foreign policy experience was when he lived overseas from the age of 6-10. He has a solid point, that he is a citizen of the world, but he articulated it so poorly that it just looked silly. Obama's policies aren't all that different from Hillary Clinton's. He's a little more liberal on his policies toward fighting poverty and dealing with social security. He's won't commit to an end date in Iraq. He's a little more conservative on his health care system and the role of faith in politics. I think that Obama is the most intelligent of the candidates. He has positioned himself as an agent of change and that has worked in his favor. However, his policies aren't all that radical from someone else. My concern is that he'll win an overwhelming victory, but squander his political capital with (a) sloppy statement(s) that undermines his solid progress policy ideas.

Richardson - The Pragmatist - As you know, I'm a Richardson supporter. However, this is the easiest one for me. Because Richardson is a 2-term governor, it is not as difficult to imagine what his administration would look like. First, he doesn't come in with the eloquence handcuffs like Obama does. Richardson's misspeaks are part of his Western charm. Obama's are examples of his inexperience. Richardson has been a pragmatist in New Mexico. He's been willing to build coalitions and work with all sides. His administration would probably be more of the same. He's signature issues are getting out of Iraq within the first 8 months of being in office and pushing America toward a carbon-free energy solution. As he has shown in New Mexico, he'll push hard on his signature issues to make them happen. In foreign affairs, Richardson has been willing to talk to all sides and negotiate win-win solutions when possible. His administration wouldn't be without problems. Because he is more pragmatic, then partisan, he will make enemies within the Democratic Party for not sticking it to the Republicans as revenge for the last 8 years. Additionally, he's a fiscal conservative that believes in balancing budgets and cutting taxes to spur growth. Members of his own party won't like that.

I'd do a breakdown of Republican candidates, but no one, besides Ron Paul, has suggested they would be much different from the disastrous Bush administration. If that is how they are going to campaign, they'll have no chance of winning the White House in November of 2008.