Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Monday | December 16, 2002

Cattle Call 2004: 11/16

Well, well. Things sure did change in a hurry. Now that Gore is out of the picture (hopefully off to head the DNC), things are about to get a hell of a lot messier. His absence is sure to embolden more Democrats to jump into the fray, creating that much more chaos. That is, until the first fundraising reports are released sometime next year.

Last week's rankings: 1. Gore; 2. Kerry; 3. Daschle; 4. Dean; 5. Edwards; misc. others.

1. John Kerry
First the bad news: Kerry, like all of his Senate colleagues, was slow to denounce Lott. As a "front-runner", this was a blunder, even if he was eventually the first senator to call for Lott's resignation. And while one might be compell to chalk this one up to "better late than never", I won't be so charitable. Of course, no one probably noticed, and it shouldn't affect Kerry materially. But still, it pissed me off.

On the other hand, Kerry was a huge beneficiary of the Gore withdrawl. He won't compete in Iowa, but that's no big deal. His big moment will come in NH, where he is now the prohibitive favorite (despite Dean's candidacy). Of course, the stakes are now much higher for Kerry -- if he falters in NH, he is finished.

2. John Edwards
This was a difficult decision to make, but it seems to me that Edwards, as the only southerner left in the current field, is the biggest winner this week. South Carolina, staging its primary only a week after NH, is his to lose. The rest of the south should be strong territory for Edwards.

I'm not one of those who believes the Dem ticket needs a southerner to win. If the dems win all the states Gore won, they only need one more state to win the election. That state can come from AZ, NH, the mountain West, OH or MO. A southerner probably won't help the Dems take any of those states.

But that's not relevant to this discussion. Edwards' challenge is to move beyond the "empty suit" image he has somehow cultivated. He has shown repeatedly that he is green, prone to gaffes, and could use some additional seasoning before vying for the top spot (a bruising reelection fight, a la Landrieu, would do the trick).

3. Howard Dean
After the top two, the list thins out quite a bit. Consider, Trent Lott is in deep water, and no one bothers to ask Dean what he thinks about it. No one cares what Dean thinks about it. That's not very encouraging for his nascent campaign.

To have a prayer of winning, Dean will have to pull off a NH victory or a strong 2nd place showing in Iowa. At this point, it doesn't look like either is likely. But as the field's only governor, I still think he has a chance to make a splash -- if he can raise the cash.

4. Gephardt
With Gore gone, the labor vote and muscle is Gephardt's for the taking. Iowa is strong territory for Gephardt, and he would be the expected victor there. However, I can't seem to find a scenario that would give Gephardt the nomination.

5. Joe Lieberman
Goddamit I hate to see him on this list, but he undoubtedly was a big beneficiary of the Gore withdrawl. If nothing else, it freed him from his pledge to stay out if Gore ran.

There's no way Lieberman can compete. He is to the right of many Republicans, and presidential primaries belong to the party's left-leaning activist base. Still, we'll have to listen to more of his tiresome moralizing. And can we forget that Lieberman single-handedly gave the GOP political cover during the Enron, WorldCom and other fiascos? And Lieberman is still providing cover to his accountant friends that brought us those fiascos.

6. Tom Daschle
If nothing else, this week showed that Daschle cannot both lead his party in the Senate and run for president. Not only did Daschle give Lott a free pass, but apologized for him! I trust Daschle enough to believe there were reasons for his tame reaction. He was probably squeezing concessions out of Lott in their Senate reorganization negotiations. Never underestimate Daschle's prowess.

Still, it looked horrible to the world and the party base. And I kept asking myself -- after Lott's efforts to demonize Daschle post-Jeffords switch, why didn't Daschle use the scandal to exact some payback? The short answer is because he probably is too classy. A great trait to have as minority leader, but as a presidential contender? It's a no-go.

Still, he does have the best campaign strategists, and don't understimate them. They are the best in the nation, Republican or Democrat. And Iowa is in his backyard -- he could expect some "home field" advantage in the state.

Others to watch: Biden, Clark, Durbin, Gore, Graham, Hart, McCain, Sharpton, and Vilsack. (Yeah, I'm keeping Gore on that list for a while.)

Hey, this chart is great fun (from Uggabugga).

Posted December 16, 2002 06:21 PM | Comments (56)


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