HANDICAPPING THE DEMS
Howard Fineman isn’t exactly making bold predictions just yet, saying the Democratic nomination remains up for grabs.
HERE WE ARE, 100 days or so from the start of voting in what will be a rapid-fire and rapidly decisive series of caucuses and primaries, and no one has one achieved true, slam-dunkable frontrunner status. Just the opposite: There are no fewer than six contenders with scenarios for victory realistic enough that they still must be taken seriously, try as some might to dismiss them.
As in the horserace, so on the issues. Hanging out together in interminable non-debate debates, the nine Democratic contenders seem at times to have congealed into a glutinous, undifferentiated mass, each sounding more and more like the other as the days pass. Now they’re all, at a minimum, for abolishing most of the Bush tax cuts; now they’re all complaining, with ever-growing fury, about Iraq. Rep. Dennis Kucinich remains the only Vegan, but give the others time. The result is the political equivalent of entropy.
That means it’s taken the Democrats nearly a year of crisscrossing the country and huffing and puffing on the campaign trail to reach one firm and seemingly final conclusion: Sen. Bob Graham isn’t ready for prime time. I’m glad we got that settled.
Amusing. Reminds me of the late, great Lewis Grizzard’s old line about the NBA: They play the entire regular season just so they can eliminate Sacramento.
So, Fineman’s only willing to write off “newcomer” Dennis Kucinich (who just “announced” this week), Carol Mosely-Braun, and Al Sharpton. I’m also willing to toss out Edwards and Kerry, neither of whom are getting any traction among their most likely constituency and both of whom are being outgunned by more plausible candidates in Lieberman and Dean, respectively. That leaves Dean, Clark, Lieberman, and Gephardt in OTB’s “they could still win” camp.
(Hat tip: Stephen Green)