December 16, 2006

One bland, sandy-haired Senator out, another bland, sandy-haired Senator in.

Bayh, Edwards... what's the difference?


Anonymous said...

The main difference between the two is Sen. Edwards populist "Two Americas" blather (and lest you think that was only 2004 Election pandering, he re-pandered in the wake of Katrina)

Sen. Bayh seemed like he was going to be the Democrat running to the right of Sen. Clinton, now it would appear all her Primary challengers will be to her left (Sen. Obama is hard to classify as he hasn't really done anything, though the press would seem intent on trying to convince us he's a moderate, and super-duper popular).

Unchecked economic populism would be disastrous domestically. If Edwards were to govern in a manner similar to his rhetoric, he'd be a disaster of Carter like proportions.

Mark Daniels said...

In addition to what XWL says above, I would add that Bayh, unlike Edwarrds, actually has substantive experience commending him for consideration for the presidency. Not only has he served in the Senate for a longer period than Edawards who was there for one term, he also served as governor of Indiana.


dick said...

Bayh might have actually done something while in the senate. Edwards spent 6 years there and did nothing. Main claim to fame is channeling an child in court. Nice if you like ventriloquism but not so good when it comes to running the country. But --- he has nice hair!!

Eli Blake said...

What do you call a Presidential candidate debate?

-- A Senate committee hearing.

Note that though Senators of both parties often develop a severe case of Presidentitis, it is very difficult for them to actually make it there. That is because 1) Senators often have a long record of voting on literally millions of lines of legislation, so it is not hard to look through it and find where they voted for or against whatever you want them to have voted for or against (or both, if you want to claim they flip-flop.); and 2) Senators have a reputation (which they have earned, honestly) for sitting around in the Senate and giving grand speeches and accomplishing very little. Governors, in contrast, are in an executive position where they only have to sign/veto whole bills (people understand that better) and tend to appear more decisive (even if it is only by having signing ceremonies, calling out the guard when there is a local emergency, signing death warrants, etc.)

Which is why four of the past five Presidents have been governors.

And there are two Democratic governors likely to be running (one of whom has pretty much only been a governor, while the other has been a Congressman, U.N. ambassador and Energy Secretary before becoming Governor). So whether people are looking for a new face or an experienced one, either way I suspect that Hillary and Obama will lose to a Governor.

Zeb Quinn said...

Maybe Bill Richardson is the dark horse Democrat candidate. He's a governor and has much other experience. He also has the Hispanic thing going for him. On paper he looks like a good candidate in most ways.

Unknown said...

Yes, this is a net loser. We'd all (except Bayh and his family) be better off if Bayh were in, and Edwards were out.

It's a pity for us, but probably best for Bayh and his family. The Hillary! gang probably made it clear to him a run wouldn't be appreciated, and would provoke uncomfortable reactions.

Expect more to drop out before long - starting with Vilsac (sp?). It will be interesting to see how Hillary! peels the trial lawyers away from Edwards.

Unknown said...

"Maybe Bill Richardson is the dark horse Democrat candidate."

Sure, why not?

He fits the dark horse candidate profile - especially that compelling part of his bio where he was drafted by the Kansas City A's of the American League. Very few professional baseball players have ever been serious candidates for President.

Zeb Quinn said...

especially that compelling part of his bio where he was drafted by the Kansas City A's of the American League.

I don't believe he'll be leading with that particular credential, inasmuch as it turns out to be untrue, a figment of Richardson's fertile imagination.

Eli Blake said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
reader_iam said...

Expect more to drop out before long - starting with Vilsac (sp?).

Hm. It's Vilsack to answer your question. I've written before, certainly elsewhere and I think maybe in a comment somewhere here, that I'm dubious about his prospects, specifically his viability as a national candidate.

But he has a quiet determination, a certain stubborness, that somewhat makes me doubt he'll drop out real quickly. And his background, his backhistory,suggests a certain fortitude.

OF COURSE, I could be wrong; I can and have been (often). However, I sort of expect him to hang in there for a while. I don't know where he is in terms of fundraising--haven't checked in a while--which certainly would be a critical factor. But the sense I get of the man is that once he decided to throw his hat in the ring--a longshot action to begin with--he's not going to withdraw it any earlier than he feels he has to.

FWIW, here's an excerpt from something I wrote once, regarding Vilsack:

Part of it may be the tone set by Vilsack, a smart and very nice man who's one of the handful of politicians I've run across IRL who, in person, appears to look at everyday people with actual sincere interest. Unfortunately, even regrettably, that's no substitute, in national politics, for that je ne sais quois which can kickstart the juices flowing in body politic, much less appeal to the already slavering activist camp.

By "run across," I don't mean just in the context of a public rally or anything like that. I don't "know" him, but in one instance, I did get to meet and talk with him during a visit to a nonprofit organization (not political at all) with which I'm involved.

Again, FWIW.

Eli Blake said...

zeb quinn:

Actually, the Albuquerque Journal article that broke the story indicated that he did have and showed them a copy of a (then mistaken) program insert from the 1960's indicating that in fact he had been so drafted. So at worst he wrote something in his bio without confirming it.

However, given the time that Richardson has served in public office of one sort or another, if that is the biggest wart you can find then he becomes a very dangerous challenger to people like Hillary Clinton or John McCain who have a ton of political warts.

Eli Blake said...


I corresponded some online with Vilsack last year via his blog,

You're right, he is happy to talk to or correspond with anybody, and his comfort doing so could be his strong point. He's definitely not arrogant or thinks he has a 'right' to anything, in any way. Again, a strong contrast to Hillary and McCain.

reader_iam said...

And for one reason or another having to do with my personal history, I've met a number of politicians over time. So I do have some sort of reference point.

Unknown said...

National campaigns require funding beyond Vilsack's demonstrated abilities. Nutroots? Probably split between Obama Hussein Barak and Hillary!, which is a net plus for Hillary! His best chance is to win (or maybe even come in second, closely, to Hillary!, ahead of OHB) in Iowa. His primary advantage is it's his home state, so he doesn't need much money. Win in Iowa, dent the USS Hillary! below the waterline, and see if the money flows in to sustain a national campaign. Fail in Iowa (or post dismal poll numbers in advance of the primary) and its game over. I'm not entirely sure cosmopolitan urban blue voters (which comprise 80% or better of Democrats in the US) are looking toward a nice, small agrarian state governor to be their candidate. I've been wrong before - but don't think I will be on this one. Same with Richardson - I'm not sure how much currency he has either - unless a majority of the party swings behind an "Anyone but Hillary!" candidate, in which case all bets are off.

Jacob said...

On paper Richardson is an awesome candidate. A governor with foreign policy experience who also could be a "first" (i.e. 'first Hispanic')

Plus, he has the world record for a politician shaking hands, fun ads and does space stuff.

But... apperently he's not all that his résumé cracks him up to be. There's some problems with his term as Energy Secretary I believe...

Unknown said...

Bayh doesn't have an annoying Southern accent.

Eli Blake said...


I'm a member of the 'netroots,' thank you.

And most progressives (who will dominate the primaries) consider Hillary a disappointment in the Senate-- too conservative in terms of her voting record. Especially on Iraq, where she is still refusing to admit she made a mistake by voting for the war. Obama, also has towed too far to the right. Ditto for Joe Biden, incidentally.

True, Richardson and Vilsack are not exactly liberals, both being moderate governors of purple states, but I think you will see Democratic primary voters looking for someone other than Hillary or Obama. Vilsack has done a good job especially with education in his state and has some good proposals in the area. He also was working on health care when last I corresponded with him and approaches issues like this thoughtfully. And right now, a lot of voters would likely go for a President who takes the time to sit down and think about things.

Richardson appeals to many on the left because of his past work as a free-lance ambassador (which helped him get the U.N. job). He is a good negotiator and has managed to get some hostages back from some pretty tough customers, even when he was only there as a congressman on his own time and had nothing really to offer. More to the point, he is committed to diplomacy and would not start a war against another country (i.e. Iran) until all diplomatic options were exhausted.

Further, both Vilsack and Richardson have a wild card. Vilsack is from Iowa, as you point out, but as a midwesterner is from the most competitive region of the country. There are still a lot of agrarian registered Democrats in southern states too, and many of them are rural. Richardson is, despite his name, Hispanic(like 15% of Democratic primary voters), and with the large Hispanic population in Nevada, which is also a western state, Richardson also has a very good chance to win an early contest. He also is more charismatic than either Hillary or Obama. I've been at an event he had and he can really fire up a room, and in fact has been known to shake thousands of hands in a day without tiring. In that way he is much like Bill Clinton, another little known small state governor who made it to the White House.

Eli Blake said...


The Los Alamos scandal broke during his term as energy secretary (though it had been going on for many, many years.) The fuel standards he pushed for on autos would, had they been enacted, greatly reduced the scope of the petroleum problem we have today.

The biggest problem he had in regard to his term as Energy Secretary had to do with his insistence on pressing the case forward against Wen Ho Lee even when it turned out that there was little or no evidence against Lee.

And that is a cause for concern, and will be used by his Democratic primary opponents no doubt, but conservatives would have a tough time making any mileage out of it, given the things they have said in defending the conduct of the Padilla case among others.

reader_iam said...

National campaigns require funding beyond Vilsack's demonstrated abilities.

Tim, that's true. And I alluded to that. But that doesn't mean there will necessarily be an early drop-out. That was the point I was making.

We've been in a weird time in politics. That, I think, is going to continue. Thus, it's even more "too early to tell what's going to happen" than would be typically true at this point in the election run-up calendar.

Let's learn from the process as it unfolds.

reader_iam said...

Also, "demonstrated" is necessarily modified by "so far." While you--and I --may be dubious as to whether the trajectory of that aspect of "a Vilsack" can be altered quickly and deeply enough, that doesn't mean the fat lady has sung. At least not in the way she could have been assumed to have done in times past, but not long ago.

We do not yet know whose banner is going to be taken up definitively, and by whom. We do know that, compared to just a decade ago, or less, that the universe of potentially influential banner-carriers, if you will, is larger and more varied.

It's not wild-card candidates that will be most interesting to follow in the upcoming election season and process; rather it will be (what would have formerly been seen as) "wild-card" influentials, constituencies, and new- and cross-media fluencies.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Richardson is not charismatic on television on in debates, and he's part of the reason North Korea has nukes. He's the one who gutted the verification regime. He's also suggested giving Iran nuclear reactors for civilian use without verification, if I recall correctly. He also doesn't seem to fire up the Hispanic base -- so apparently he is not perceive as one of the gente. I would say he has no chance.

Vilsack has zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Unknown said...

Reader Iam and Eli,

The success of alternative candidates hinges entirely upon the development of an "Anyone But Hillary!" movement. Kos's Children of the Corn may hate Hillary! intensely, but she's got the most money, the best talent, the highest name ID, and, most importantly, females disproportionately comprise the ranks of Democrat primary voters; females will determine who the Democrats nominate for president. Unions, the largest organized Democrat constituency, matter too, and for now unions are blowing the dog whistle for Hillary!

And even if Hillary! should stumble, right now OHB would be the lead beneficiary of an ABH movement; others, like Vilsack or Richardson could benefit if OHB missteps or is discovered to be an inexperienced, unaccomplished U.S. Senator of four short years.

As for Clinton's '92 experience, one should remember that the expected Democrat heavyweights for president bowed out of the race early, leaving Clinton to fend off the ever-so-awesome campaigns of Jerry Brown and Jesse Jackson. And the not-so-inconsequential campaign of Ross Perot provided an assist in the General Election too.