Sunday, July 31, 2005

Why a draft candidate?

The most common comment we get at Schweitzer for President goes something like this: "Why draft a candidate who doesn't want to run, who has no record yet, who isn't experienced, when there are so many good candidates to choose from?" For me, the answer is simple: not only do I not like any of the candidates that are likely to run, I don't think a single one of them can win in 2008.

Well, okay, I lied. I do like Russ Feingold; if he runs and Schweitzer doesn't, I'll support him enthusiastically. And I don't think the poor guy's divorce has a thing to do with his viability as a Presidential candidate. On the other hand, I think Feingold's reputation as a political loner, as Mr. 99-1 in the Senate, will play exceedingly poorly in a country that elected a guy because he said he was "a uniter, not a divider." I think Feingold would be a wonderful standard-bearer for the Democratic brand, and I think he'd go down to tremendous defeat in 2008.

I also like Wes Clark, sort of. I like the way he frames Democratic issues and talks tough to the Bush administration. However, he still has NO political experience (worse than Schweitzer, no?) and, if we are to judge by his disastrous 2004 campaign, the political sense of an amoeba. Also, the military top-down method of command strikes me as unsuited for civilian leadership, as evidenced by the mealy Eisenhower administration. Again, as with Feingold, I'm open to being convinced here -- but as of now, I just don't see Clark as being viable.

John Kerry -- what more need be said. The guy's lack of spine and conviction cost America much in 2004, and I'm not about to let him get another chance in 2008. John Edwards is somewhat better, but all I can think of when I hear him speak is oily, slick, slimy. Even if it's not true, he EXUDES it, and this will hurt him. Joe Biden plagiarized a speech and is beholden to credit-card companies and has publicly attacked the leader of his party. Evan Bayh, Bill Richardson, Tom Vilsack, Phil Bredesen, and Mark Warner are DLC hacks and do not believe in reclaiming the Democratic Party for the American people.

The others on Tynan's list -- like Rod Blagojevich, Mike Easley, Jennifer Granholm, Kathleen Sebelius, Ed Rendell, Bob Kerrey, Howard Dean, and Al Gore -- as well as others he doesn't mention -- Dave Freudenthal, Janet Napolitano, Dick Gephardt, Ted Kulongoski -- aren't running.

Which leaves Hillary, whom Kevin has discussed better than I ever could here. But I would go farther than Kevin and state unequivocally that Hillary has no political principles, no spine, and no character, and that like her friends at the DLC (Bayh, Richardson, Vilsack, Bredesen, and Warner) she is unfit for the office of President of the United States.

So we're left with a draft candidate. But why Schweitzer, of all possible candidates? Because there are several important movements that form the future of the Democratic Party, and they all intersect in Brian Schweitzer. There's the Western Democrat ideal of the straight-talking, no-nonsense Dem with spurs and a cowboy hat; the Democracy for America notion of the party with guts and spine, unafraid to stand up for what it believes; and the Daily Kos concept of the empowered foot-soldiers using the Internet to take back America. Schweitzer fits all three of those molds perfectly; I challenge you to find any other Democratic politician who does.

So we're drafting Schweitzer, frankly, because we need him. And there IS precedent for a Democratic Party, bereft of any experienced leaders with ability, to draft a newly-minted governor into the Presidential race. The Democrats did it in 1912. The result? President Woodrow Wilson.


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