Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Becoming more indifferent

While I am waiting for a couple of short novels to print from this set of work projects that have me buried, I'll be able to stick my head up for a quick breath of fresh air and write before I disapear for the rest of the week. I have long been reasonably happily indifferent with the Democratic presidential field. I am reading the 2008 race in the same way that I read the 2006 Pennsylvania Senate race --- a warm dishtowel with no discovered live-boys/dead girls history with a D next to their name should be able to win the race assuming a minimally competent campaign. So the question to me is how to get the best possible future outcome from that assumption.

I want to give Obama a chance as he is a very interesting speaker, and plenty of people whom I respect have been in a year long swoon for him. I like the transformational rhetoric but I have been waiting for substance. I am still happily indifferent with him as I can see a fairly clear path towards victory; the Gore/Kerry states, pick-off Florida, Ohio and at least one state in the Mountain West and reclaim Iowa for a decent margin of victory. My biggest worry about an Obama presidency has been that he has not taken significant leadership on any large scale policy outcome and he likes to avoid hard choices, so when he has to choose non-Pareto outcomes, I don't know whom he'll choose to screw.

John Edwards is someone whose demographics I like as an electability argument, and whose policy positions are probably the strongest and most progressive in the top tier. I have seen an ability to reassess his opinions when new information comes in and to change his opinion. I like that. However I am seeing a harder and harder time for him to win the nomination despite doing a very good job of building a strong operation in Iowa and an adequate one in New Hampshire. I am worried about his decision to accept public financing in the primaries as he'll be forced to go dark and work with non-coordinated spending as his stop gap.

I have been skeptical about Hillary Clinton --- not on the fact that I don't think that she could win the general election, as I think she has a very clear and clean path forward, but on the fact that I have had some serious reservations about her judgement. My read has been that when push comes to shove, she'll screw over liberals and progressives first. However, the combination of the positive rhetoric that Looseheadprop picked up concerning Iraq and Iran, as well as the post by Eriposte at The Left Coaster, has done a good job of blunting my criticism. She is no worse than the other two leading Democrats on foreign policy and her decision criteria and processes when faced with non-Pareto choices and she understands how to operate in a hostile media environment.

Three months ago if I was forced to rank and weigh my preferences, I would have gone with a top pair of Edwards, Obama, with Clinton slightly behind, and then Richardson significantly behind Clinton but above everyone else. Now I am slightly leaning towards Clinton, with Obama three inches off her heels, and Edwards slightly further back from him. Richardson, Biden and Dodd are several miles off the pace.

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