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October 23, 2006
The Depth Of The Democratic Bench

Yesterday's big political news came from Meet the Press, where Senator Barack Obama raised a few eyebrows with an admission of presidential ambitions. Obama, a first-term member of the upper chamber, contradicted earlier statements that indicated that he would not run in 2008 for the Democratic Party nomination:

Sen. Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat who won instant celebrity after his keynote address to the 2004 Democratic national convention, said Sunday he might run for president in 2008.

"I don't want to be coy about this," Obama said on NBC's Meet the Press. "Given the responses that I've been getting over the last several months, I have thought about the possibility." After initially ruling it out, he said, the door has opened "a bit."

The 2008 presidential race is wide open, and Obama has been urged by many Democrats, such as fellow Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, to run this time rather than wait to gain more political experience. He said Sunday he has listened to those entreaties. ...

Obama's candidacy would shake up the field of prospective Democratic candidates, dominated by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and recently abandoned by former Virginia governor Mark Warner. By keeping the option open, he could freeze the flow of money to other Democrats.

Perhaps it might, but that seems rather overwrought. After all, a number of Democrats have publicly flirted with a run in 2008, and the money still seems wide open. Few have explicitly withdrawn, and Obama's entry will not likely encourage any of the others to leave.

In fact, that may be the big problem for the Democrats. After all, their slate of presumed candidates have a very thin record in politics. Hillary Clinton has served one term in office anywhere, and she is widely considered the front-runner for the nomination. John Edwards served two-thirds of a term before launching his presidential campaign for 2004, eschewing re-election in 2006 to avoid having his constituents retire him involuntarily. Barack Obama has served all of two years of his first term in national office anywhere -- and he won that seat practically unopposed. Alan Keyes carpetbagged into Illinois to oppose him in one of the dumbest GOP decisions of 2004, and got outvoted 3-1.

That's the front line of the Democratic contingent. Following these rookies, we have John Kerry and Al Gore, both of whom lost elections that they should have had no trouble winning. Both of them think that 2008 is their year for a comeback, and the only evidence anyone can find to support that is that neither of them will have to face George Bush again. Kerry, at least, won his home state, but that will not motivate Democrats into endorsing a major case of deja vu in the next presidential election. Russ Feingold wants to transform a Senate career on the fringe into a national unity campaign. Mark Warner at least ran Virginia successfully, providing executive experience completely lacking in any of these candidates, and he's quit.

The Democratic bench looks mighty thin, and if Obama enters the race and dries up the cash, it won't get any better. The primaries will almost exclusively feature political lightweights, bureaucrats, and proven losers, without a serious statesman in the bunch. In the middle of a war, American voters will find little credibility in the candidates we have seen thus far on the stump.

Obama could develop into a serious contender later, after serving more than two years in office. He's intelligent, works well across the aisle, and plays well on television. He joined Tom Coburn to fight against pork, which will gain him some respect from fiscal conservatives. However, the Democrats may ruin him by pressing him into a race for which he has not properly prepared.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 23, 2006 5:06 AM

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» Obama interested in 2008 run from Bill's Bites
Obama interested in 2008 run Ian Schwartz Because writing a book, appearing on the cover of a top news magazine, and several television appearances did not make his interest clear:Sen. Barack Obama acknowledged Sunday he was considering a run for [Read More]

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Tracked on October 23, 2006 5:41 PM


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