I’ll second what Amy Sullivan says here, namely “Subvert the Dominant Paradigm!”
Because the current dominant paradigm is that the feckless Democrats are a bunch of bumbling idiots who suffer from too many presidential candidates, none of whom have a chance of winning anyway and they should probably just pack it in now to save themselves the embarrassment of a good whomping in November, 2004. (This paradigm brought to you by the Republican National Committee, with the help of the national press corps.) Howard Kurtz’s latest column is a particularly snarky assessment of the Democratic field, arguing among other things that there are too many contenders, that no one is paying attention to them, and, furthermore, that they’re not worth paying attention to anyway. It’s hard for a Democrat to read the piece and not despair.
But let’s step back and examine the situation ourselves for a moment. Is the Democratic field too crowded? There are currently nine candidates in different stages of running for the nomination, with Wes Clark and Joe Biden possible contenders. (I’ll address the Clark question in a moment; Joe — read What It Takes, don’t run again. And when you’re done with the book, pass it along to Dick Gephardt, please.) In 2000, the Republican field consisted of Bush, McCain, Forbes, Hatch, Keyes and Bauer, with perennial candidates Alexander and Buchanan flitting around the edges. And I could be wrong, but I don’t remember any commentary proclaiming the Republicans doomed and the Democrats impressively disciplined for keeping their race narrowed to Gore and Bradley. Funny, that.
So when you hear someone talk about feckless Democrats and garbled messages, say “Of course the Dems don’t have a unified message yet. That’s why we’re having a primary! Talk to me in March after we’ve shopped around and picked out the best messenger.”
Sullivan goes on to make a case for Wes Clark, based on the theory that “successful presidential candidates tend to come from executive ranks”. Not to out myself as favoring one candidate over another just yet, but that description does also fit another candidate, one who’s actually committed to running. I’m just saying.