We can take for granted that the Cheney Whitehouse will grab every scrap of power and money it can before it is ignomiously ousted in two years, destroy all evidence of its malfeasance, and try very hard to ruin everything it touches to make it almost impossible for the next administration to get anything done. The only countervailing force we have within the WH itself is the extremely self-interested lackeys of Bush pere, who are trying to keep Junior from ruining up Carlyle Group's long term Middle east prospects.
That means whomever walks in to the Oval Office in January 2009 had better be able to work with a Democratic Congress to do unheard of amounts of work repairing America's reputation abroad and its security within. We cannot take a breather on building the local connections - better staffed and funded party offices, more outreach to community groups and local political elites, and lots of new candidate recruitment. For example, San Diego has exactly shit for a viable local Democratic operation and Califonia as a whole frantically needs good candidates who are not part of the usual Sacramento gang. The gains we made on Tuesday have to be held and expanded in 2008.
Then comes our presidential candidate. My heart belongs to Al Gore because he is simply the most qualified person on the face of the planet to take on the wasteland Cheney & Co. will leave behind. But I have also sadly realized that he will not subject himself to the idiocy of another presidential try. (If you change your mind, Al, you have my vote). So, who's left?
I like Hillary Clinton, not having any axe to grind with one of the finest public servants in the country and more than happy to mark the ballot for her, but I think the extremists within the democratic party are out to get her. Besides, I like the idea of Hillary becoming President of the Senate and getting her health care reform through. Kerry? A good man, better than his detractors would have you think, but he had his chance. John Edwards? I still don't know what he stands for and have yet to see him perform for the party the way others have. Barak Obama? I am not subject to the racist and anti-religious fevor that stalks Eschaton, FDL and DKos, but I don't think he is ready yet. Vilsack? Don't make me laugh. Biden? Eewww, I think I just threw up a little. I honestly can't think of another name to add to that list. I'm just as glad that old Chicklet Teeth (aka, Mark Warner) dropped out before wasting our time with nebbishy "policy" mumbo jumbo. We already have John Edwards for that. Maybe Warner can go retake a Virginia Senate seat and do some good.
We need a candidate who is not mired in DC beltway shenanigans, who can speak authoritatively about national security on a number of levels, and who is absolutely a powerhouse asset to the party as an organization. We need international experience, someone who is already well received in Washington, a dedicated and proven "party animal" who will be unstinting in lending his coattails to local candidates, and who can present a progressive policy mix under a clear and compelling rubric - national security.
I was impressed by this post election statement:
It is a mistake for Democrats to celebrate rather than understand the meaning of yesterday's election. America is looking for leadership right away, and Democrats should push forward a 3-point plan to address the crisis in Iraq and refocus our national security efforts:A lot of virtual ink is spilled in the blogosphere about trying to convince America that Democrats are to be trusted with natioanl security. Take a page out of Clark's book and simply start stating that this is so. Then put your money where your mouth is and show that you know what you're talking about. Here is the candidate that has already staked out the winning position.
- Change the course in Iraq. Democrats must pressure George W. Bush to listen to the generals on the ground and the whole range of experts -- not just the GOP -- on how to change the course in Iraq. We must work with regional powers, promote gradual transformation and stability, and regain the 'strategic consent' for the long-term U.S. influence in the region. We must use the situation in Iraq to propel us toward this larger goal, and in doing so, we will also find the right way to wind down our deployment there.
- Rebuilding alliances to address the real national security threats. We must bring our allies into the reconstruction of Iraq to ensure shared responsibility for the ongoing stability of Iraq itself and the region as a whole. We must provide real oversight on government contracts in Iraq; we cannot continue to allow no-bid contracts to Halliburton. And by bringing our allies together, we can finish the job in Afghanistan, and more effectively hunt down Osama Bin Laden and contain Iran and North Korea.
- Address energy independence and global warming as national security issues. We must put a policy in place to lead us to energy independence and away from the volatile and conflict-ridden regions where, today, the "geostrategic risk premium" is adding billions of dollars to the costs imposed on the American people. Our reliance on oil also impacts global climate change. As I have stated before, global warming has serious national security risks: stretching our military resources to deal with catastrophes (like Katrina) and increasing the potential for conflicts due to the displacement of people, competition for scarce resources, and adverse effects on agriculture.
I liked him in 2004 and like him even better now.