It's not too early for the primary politicking, since Iowa and New Hampshire now schedule their primaries to start approximately 53 seconds after the DJ's iPod finishes playing Auld Lang Syne. The politicos have to get their licks in early and often. (Kind of like the votes of dead people, particularly in Chicago.)
The Republican side of the fence is not shaping up quite yet. Giuliani is the odds-on favorite but the Reagan Republicans (self included) would rather see
But the Democrat side of the fence is looking pretty interesting.
The front runners are both US Senators--a second-term harridan and a first-termer, neither of whom has any real-world executive experience at all, either in politics or business.
Hillary Clinton carries a lot of baggage. Her husband was President #42, and his was one of the most scandal-plagued administrations in US history. Hillary herself has been involved in many situations that raised questions about her honesty, at least among people who didn't worship the very ground she trod upon.
But Barack Obama has his own problems. He's a newbie at federal politics; he doesn't even have Hillary Clinton's limited experience with the executive branch. He's a fair-haired boy (so to speak) but that's only because he has no history--no "gravitas", to borrow a term from the 2000 election cycle.
The interesting part comes from the fact that Obama is actually polling better than Clinton is. That's not surprising, since Clinton has all that baggage and Obama, by definition, does not; but the most interesting thing about it is that--from here and now--Obama appears to have a real chance of taking the nomination.
Now, at this time in 2003, Howard Dean was the odds-on favorite to be the Democrat nomination. He had the grass roots, he had the fundraising, he had the press. And when Guy Lombardo finished singing Auld Lang Syne in 2004, the Iowa Caucuses fired up and...it was John Kerry, and Dean did the now-famous "Dean Scream" that pretty much ended his Presidential aspirations.
Voting for the guy who looked like he could win did them in, IMHO. John Kerry equivocated too much; he tried too hard to be on both sides of all issues. But Dean wouldn't have won, either, because he was too much of a leftist. But if the Democrat party had suffered a resounding loss, rather than a loss they could rationalize away as "Republican dirty tricks", they might have gotten their act together enough to utterly slam the midterm elections.
Or might not--this is the same party which still runs on the New Deal.
But I mention all this because things can very easily change in the next several months, and we all may get a big surprise come the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire primaries.
I say that Obama has a real chance at taking the nomination; that would be an unassailable opinion if it were not for the fact that Hillary Clinton is his biggest competitor.
But Hillary Clinton has power that Obama does not. She has friends in the Democrat Party, high up, where Obama has only aspirations. Hillary Clinton has had her eyes on the Oval Office since January 20, 1993; I do not think I am going too far out on a limb to say that Obama could easily find himself on the outs, particularly if he has the audacity to do well in the earliest primaries of the 2008 election cycle.
He's already in trouble. He's taking the black vote from her; and she needs that. The black vote can't be brought into line unless the race pimps (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, et al) sign on...and they've all signed on to Obama.
To anyone who thinks that Hillary Clinton would even hesitate to destroy Barack Obama, should he get in their way, I am happy to announce that I have several bridges in Brooklyn which are for sale....
The recent flap over Bush's non-issue firing of 8 AGs shows how it can work. There need not even be an actual law broken; all that is needed is for the press to beat the drum the right way, and the press adores the Clintons.
Barack Obama's election to US Senator was aided by the press. The press sued to have the divorce records of Obama's opponent, Jack Ryan, unsealed...and when they were, the scandal ruined Ryan's candidacy, making Obama's run for the office a cakewalk. Obama is a fool if he thinks that a crystal-clear past is any impediment to a smear machine...and we have already seen that his past is not, in fact, crystal-clear: for one thing, there is the question of his religious upbringing; did he attend a madrassah when he was younger? If he did, what effect would that fact have on his candidacy?
If he wins the nomination, a lot suddenly depends on how badly Hillary Clinton wants to be President of the United States starting in 2009. She is not the kind of person I trust to fight fairly, and if she was to end up being his VP nominee, what would happen then?
I am not saying that Hillary Clinton would have him killed, nor am I saying that she would do anything underhanded to "get rid" of Barack Obama. But there are other people--people utterly unconnected with her or her campaign--who might. And if I were Barack Obama, I would be very, very careful indeed, because there is no way to tell who might do what.
Ideally, the campaign will play out according to the rules, and in November of 2008 two candidates who have been fairly selected by their respective parties will square off. To be honest I don't care if the Democrat nominee for President is Hillary, Obama, Edwards, Kerry, Gore, or "fill in the blank". I vote Republican.
But a certain small part of me wonders what America would be like under "President Rodham"; and if she actually gets elected, I think we'll deserve whatever we end up with. And I don't think it'll be pretty, either.