Assessing the Democratic Presidential Field

Before getting to the meat of this post, let’s first stipulate that the Democrats have a good chance of winning the 2016 presidential election, no matter whom they nominate. Don’t get me wrong: as far as I know the GOP will not only win the election, but will win in a landslide. However, as we should have learned by now, a sure win should not by any means be taken for granted, no matter how weak and defective the Democratic nominee may appear. [1]

The Democrats have only nominated two presidential candidates since 1980 who were even remotely plausible as presidents: Walter Mondale and Al Gore. [2] However, during that same period two implausible Democratic nominees in fact became president, and the greatest fraud of the lot, John Kerry, actually got 48.3% of the vote in 2004. [3] [4]

So, the Dems could nominate Crusty the Clown as their candidate in 2016, and still win. And anyone who pretends otherwise is living in a fantasy land.

Hillary as GodzillaThis means that Hillary Clinton has a serious chance of becoming POTUS.

But she has to get through the Democratic primaries first, and this is by no means a done deal. Recall that in 2008, everyone thought that she was unassailable in the primaries, but she still lost to Barack Obama due to a combination of being uncharismatic and wooden (i.e., “likeable enough”), having a flawed campaign strategy, carrying a whole lot of baggage, and seeming too much like yesterday’s news.

Thus far, Hillary Clinton has shown little or no improvement on the stump, her baggage has only multiplied, and her topical freshness rating is somewhere behind that of the newspaper that people use to line the insides of a bird cage.

To be sure, she has enlisted some of the same minions that brought us Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and she has Michelle Kwan in her corner, so she should run a much better campaign than she did in 2008. However, her Twitter stream is high on astroturf and low on authentic support, and every Democrat I have heard from stresses the point that in their eyes she is so right-wing that she should run as a Republican. Unless she is able to generate some enthusiasm for her candidacy, she will see some upsets in the early primaries. And if she does, it could well be a repeat of 2008.

But if Hillary does stumble, who will the Democrats turn to?

jim_webb_salutingJim Webb was Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan, and worked with some of the editors at the National Review before he ran for the senate. It was logical to think, before his senate run, that he was actually a moderate Republican. And though he went left on many positions when he served in the senate, he is still to the right of some GOP presidential candidates on some issues. Unfortunately for Webb, rank and file Democrats know this, so he does not have any chance at all in the Democratic primaries. Further, Webb has burned too many bridges with the GOP and conservatives to run as a Republican. He should go back to writing novels.

Martin O'MalleyMartin O’Malley is the former governor of Maryland and former mayor of Baltimore. As with Hillary Clinton, no one can remember anything he has ever accomplished. His primary claims to fame as mayor of Baltimore were his policies to reduce crime and to upgrade the Baltimore school system. Both of these policy initiatives were miserable failures. As governor, he raised taxes, installed speed cameras, gave instate tuition to illegal aliens, helped institute same-sex marriage, and got rid of the death penalty, in an unimaginative attempt to check all the boxes to prove that he is a good liberal. O’Malley’s main selling point appears to be that he would serve as a fairly good Chippendale’s dancer. He should seriously consider wearing cuffs and a bow tie.

Bernie-SandersWhich leaves us with Bernie Sanders. Sanders is a self-avowed socialist who has caucused with the Democrats since joining the senate in 2006. Though he is not officially a Democrat, he has received numerous Democratic committee assignments in the senate, along with the support of the Democratic Party in his senate bids. As a socialist, his policy views are easily to the left of the Democrats running for president, and of Obama himself. One would be tempted to count Sanders out as a flake, except for the fact that of all senators, he ranks as the third most popular senator in his own home state; and, his accomplishments in office are quite substantive by any measure. He may be a loon and he would be a disaster as president, but compared to many other candidates (including some in the current GOP crop) he is a serious politician. Further, unlike Clinton, Sanders appears to be receiving genuine grassroots support and enthusiasm.

It may be that Clinton will indeed steamroll the other candidates, and that none of them stand a chance against her. On the other hand, I would not be surprised at all if Sanders were to win or come a close second in Iowa and New Hampshire, and if that happens it is an open race.

Of course, Hillary Clinton has the best negative-campaigner in the business at her beck and call–Bill Clinton. He was neutered (at least as a political force) in 2008 by charges of racism. Fortunately for Hillary, Sanders is not African-American (though he may self-identify at any moment), so the race card is not on the table this time around. If Hillary begins to stumble, things will get quite nasty as Hillary and Bernie start flinging mud in a desperate attempt to see who can go farther to the left.

It will get ugly, and it is anyone’s guess as to who will win.


[1] The fact that Mitt Romney did take victory for granted in 2012 should belie the more recent claims made by his surrogates that somehow he is a genius when compared to Barack Obama. It may indeed be true that Barack Obama is a fool–but he still beat Romney.
[2] By “plausible”, I do not at all mean that they would have been good presidents, only that based upon experience, accomplishments, and integrity they reached the lowest standard of what should ever be considered acceptable in a presidential candidate.
[3] That he is now considered a wizened sage by the Democratic Party, and is in fact the Secretary of State, says a great deal about the people running our country.
[4] Yes, Kerry is objectively a bigger fraud than Bill Clinton and Barack Obama: 1) He claimed three Purple Hearts in Vietnam without showing any discernible injuries; 2) He got a Silver Start for shooting a man in the back; 3) After serving four months in a war zone, he returned home a war hero, and then went on to malign those who had actually served heroically and honorably; 4) He married a ketchup heiress and used her money to finance a senate bid. He has no other achievements to his credit. His resume is thin of honest accomplishments even by Barack Obama’s low standard.

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