This is a bit off-topic, but one way to fulfill my addiction to politics without feeling suicidal is focus on American, instead of Israeli, My prediction? The next president of the United States will be Mike Bloomberg. He’s got everything it takes to get elected – conservative finances, reasonably liberal social policies (he’s not going to move to outlaw abortion or take a strong stand against gay marriage), and the money to finance a campaign.
More important, he’s more impressive to hear than anybody else currently in the race on either side, and he has waited to the right moment to get in the game. If you look at the recent history of US presidential elections, the folks who were assumed to be headed for their party nomination a year in advance were nowhere to be seen on Election Day. Remember Paul Tsongas, presumed to be the Democratic nominee in 1992? How about 2004 Democratic presumptive Howard Dean? Outside Arkansas, who’d ever heard of Bill Clinton in December, 1991? Bloomberg is poised to throw his hat in the ring and to gain momentum as the election campaign heats up, not to peak 18 months before the big day.
Both Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton fit nicely into this rule and they are exceptions to it. Unless John Edwards pulls a massive surprise on Super Tuesday, it Obama and Hilary are going to go to the wire for the Democratic nomination despite having been in the race for well over half a year (and having been widely assumed to be in the 2008 race since Bush was re-elected in 2004). But my guess is that Barack peaked last summer, and it’s been hard to discern a real peak for Hilary at all. While one of them appears headed for the nomination in August, there are big question marks surrounding either’s ability to lead the charge towards November.
More substantively, I don’t believe either is an electable option outside hard-liberal states like Massachussetts and New York, in addition to Obama’s home state of Illinois. While Barack’s ideas (tax fairness for the middle class, support for small business, ending US participation in Iraq so the military can concentrate on Afghanistan) may be relevant for many Americans in all regions of the country, his recent mudslinging with Clinton leaves one with the feeling that despite the talk of change, he’s just one more politician. That’s not going to fly for a candidate preaching the gospel of change.
As for Hilary… well, she’s just Hilary. She was an unpopular First Lady and was the subject of derisive opinion page cartoons soon after her husband became president in 1992. Her political career since leaving the White House has appeared to be little more than a stepping stone to the Oval Office rather than a deep sense of service to the people of New York. Above all, and in contrast to her husband, Hilary Clinton – at least the image she portrays in the media – is just not likeable, and therefore probably not electable.
All of this by way of analysis, not opinion. My opinion is that US public opinion of the Republicans is at such a low tide at the moment that the Dems would take the White House in a landslide, if only they could come up with a formidable candidate. George Bush has driven both the economy and the country’s foreign standing to dramatic lows, and my sense (albeit from afar) is that no one’s happy with him, except maybe long-time supporters of the Bush family circle who have walked away with cushy jobs during the last 7 years. But I just don’t see the Dems even talking about anyone serious; the same is true for the Republicans (the sole exception being John McCain).
That’s why my money’s on Mike B.