Thursday, July 10, 2003
You know, I like Condee as much as the next guy, but I don't see why Bush would replace Cheney with her, as this article suggests.
First, Hillary is not planning to run this time around. Bush is still clearly the odds-on favorite for 2004, and Hillary wants to win. The Dems don't renominate losers anymore. In 2008, more likely than not the Democrat will be favored. Bill ran in 1992 expecting to lose the nomination to Mario Cuomo, then run again in 1996 and win the nomination and the Presidency. But he saw his opportunity and he took it. Hillary is positioning herself to run in 2008, and to jump in at the last minute in 2004 if Bush looks especially vulnerable and the Democrat field especially weak (the latter condition being already satisfied). I still think Kerry is the most likely nominee in 2004, for the same reason Dole was the GOP nominee in 1996, and Mondale the Democrat nominee in 1984. Kerry is acceptable to every major Democrat interest group, has an established record, the right biography, a lot of support from party mandarins, etc. etc. He's an obvious loser, and the press hates him, but none of the alternatives are obvious winners, and they each have more fatal flaws than he does: Lieberman is too right-wing and is running a terrible organization; Dean is too left-wing and has no real support among blacks or unions; Gephardt is old, tired and a proven loser; Edwards is too blow-dried, knows nothing and is in danger of losing his home state; Graham is, well, Graham, a strange man getting stranger by the day. Dean's current surge actually makes Kerry more plausible as the nominee, just as Tsongas' surge made Clinton more plausible. In 1992, Clinton assumed he'd be running as the right-winger against Cuomo as the left-winger. With Cuomo out, Bob Kerry flailing, and the obviously unelectable Tsongas surging from the (fiscally conservative) right, Clinton could grab the center and the nomination in spite of the bimbo eruptions. Going into this election, Kerry was probably worried about getting tagged as the liberal against the likes of Lieberman, Edwards and (on the war at least) Gephardt. But with Dean surging, Kerry becomes the acceptable centrist - certainly liberal enough to win the nomination, but enough of a centrist alternative to Dean to be more palatable in the general election. If this were 1968 for the Democrats, and the party looked like it was spinning out of control, I could imagine Hillary swooping in like Bobby Kennedy did. But politics have changed, the Democratic Party has changed, and I just don't see it happening. This is 1988 and Kerry is Michael Dukakis. He even has a nutty wife like the Duke did. My money is still on him.
Second, Condee is completely untested electorally. And there's no particular evidence that she'd be good at campaigning. Now, Cheney is not exactly a powerhouse on the campaign trail either, but Rice has a brittle, controlled (and controlling) quality that, I suspect, won't play well in Peoria. Of course, running against Hillary it's no contest who's more normal. But I still think she's a risk. And I don't think she'll pull in much of the black vote. Colin Powell might - might - because he's perceived as his own man. Rice is perceived as a creature of Bush, a "house Negro" in impolite language, and I don't think her nomination would have much impact. But anyhow, I don't think blacks will be as angry in 2004 as they were in 2000, and depending on who the Democrat nominee is, and how the Democrats handle Sharpton, 2004 could see a relatively quiescent - or sulky - black vote anyhow.
Third, if Condee wants to get into electoral politics, there are tempting targets in her home state - Barbara Boxer's Senate seat, potentially Diane Feinstein's Senate seat if she runs for Governor, potentially Governor is Feinstein doesn't run - that would be enormously valuable to the GOP.
Fourth, and finally, I am not sure Condee can pass the social conservative litmus test for GOP nominees to national office. She is at least moderately pro-choice, for example. And Bush has been very careful not to challenge this part of his base directly. Christian conservatives would be very upset about a pro-abortion VP nominee. They wouldn't want to have to fight with Bush, and certainly not over someone as obviously appealing as Rice, but that would only make them madder if he nominated her.
Not that I have anything against Bush nominating qualified black candidates to office in part to make a point. I think he should nominate Clarence Thomas Chief Justice and that he should seriously consider nominating Roger Ferguson to head the Fed, should either opportunity arise. And I'd be thrilled to have Condoleeza Rice as Veep. But I don't think it makes political sense. And I don't think it's going to happen.
Ok, back to work.