The 2008 Democratic presidential primary season has gotten off to a good start . . . for the Republicans. While political professionals of both parties see the 2008 election as very hopeful for the Democrats, there is no such thing as a lay down hand in presidential politics. Both parties start off with a minimum level of support of 45 percent. The battle will be for the remaining 10 percent of voters who are probably moderate and less attentive to the daily news.
Unfolding events will, of course, be critical; and it is in this area that professionals, expecting continued deterioration of our position in Iraq, see the Democrats' justified reason for optimism for their 2008 ticket.
But the presidential elections of 1948 (Truman/Dewey/Thurmond/Henry Wallace), 1960 (Kennedy/Nixon) and 2004 (Bush/Kerry) all demonstrate that the positioning and performance of the candidates can provide victory to the shrewder and better performing candidate, even if he or she faces an adverse national and world events topography.
As the Democratic Party presidential aspirants finished their speeches last week to the Democratic Party winter meeting, the early big political fact is the dangerous populist and anti-war pull that the candidates feel. This is particularly dangerous for Sen. Hillary Clinton as she ratchets up, almost weekly, her anti-war Iraqi rhetoric and policy.
She has shrewdly understood, at least since she entered the Senate in 2001, that the Achilles' heel of every Democratic Party presidential candidate since George McGovern in 1972 has been the appearance of weakness regarding American national defense and national security. Only Jimmy Carter after the Watergate scandal and her husband after the fall of the Soviet Union got a pass from the American electorate on their national security shortcomings.
That is why she chose to serve on the Armed Services Committee when she entered the Senate. That is doubtlessly why she voted to authorize the Iraq War in 2002. And that is why she has, until very recently, broadly supported the president in the war, carefully not calling for troop reductions or timetables. Of course, she has harshly criticized Bush's conduct of the war -- but so have many of us who both support the war and are his natural partisan supporters.
But the magnitude of the Democrats' victory in the 2006 elections, the continued ugly images and bad news coming out of Iraq, the inflamed "get-out-now" passions of the Democratic Party activists, and the unexpected threat of the Barack Obama candidacy seem to have unnerved the Clinton camp into abandoning their strategic plan to position her as a steady military hardliner and centrist.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.