Monday, April 17, 2006

2008: Which lamb to the slaughter?

(this was originally intended as a diary elsewhere, but since this poor blog has been neglected for a while now, I thought I'd blow away the cobwebs and cross-post).

Like everyone else, I look across the gamut of potential candidates for 2008 and wonder who can possibly stand a real chance at election victory. I don't buy (and never have) the Hillary-as-Front-Runner thing, believing it instead to be primarily a RWM creation. I heard Biden on Bill Maher copping to his intent to run and responded with only a yawn. I see people like Markos nodding at Warner, but honestly, I've not done my homework enough to comment, or even react meaningfully.

I've generally been quite intrigued by Obama, but have been decidedly unhappy with his reponse to the censure resolution, so while I still have a belly-full of that particular Kool-Aid, it's lately given me a bit of heartburn.

I understand that Gore has a strong following, but I also see him denying the intent to run at every opportunity. Perhaps I'm being nothing other than stubborn, but I'm still pissed about Tipper and the PMRC, so I have yet to hop on that bandwagon as of today.

I'd vote for Feingold in a heartbeat, since he appears to be the only member of Congress that actually HAS testicles. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, however, but so far, there's nothing but wishful thinking from some corners of the blogs to suggest that he's considering a run.

So, while I peruse the actual and imaginary field of candidates, I have to wonder: Who will be our Golden Boy? My instinctive reaction is that there is no Golden Boy coming in 2008. Instead, what we're apt to get (assuming the GOP is defeated) is a Sacrificial Lamb. Let me explain...

I've come to believe, as I suspect many of you have, that the damage done by this administration cannot possibly be undone in the course of a single administration. BushCo's brand of destruction is so far reaching as to require, in my humble estimation, at least 2, if not 3, administrations to recompense. That it can be done at all assumes a great deal about the Democrats regaining control of Congress, but that offshoot is a whole other What-If diary better suited for more strategically savvy writers than I. Suffice to say, if we can pull it off, there's hope.

Regardless, though, even IF the Dems pull the majority this fall, whomever wins in '08 is looking at nothing but uphill, bloody, relentless struggles no matter what. Should the GOP be rendered back to opposition status, we better believe they'll put their every shred of time, money and energy into being exactly that, making every legislative proposal a truly Sisyphean task. They'll be bitter, they'll be resentful, they'll be spiteful. To expect anything less would be dangerously naieve. And that's if they LOSE the majority. Imagine if they retain it. We think they're arrogant now? HA! We may not be able to imagine the recklessness to come if they retain control of Congress. And that picture is just as bloody, of course. A Democratic president with a GOP majority Congress? Please. Talk about a ceremonial statehead.

These things being likely (and I'm open to alternative scenarios -- please, in fact, give 'em to me, this is a depressing line of thought and I could use some optimism), then if the Democrats are able to get one of their guys in the CiC seat, who do we offer up to such a meat grinder?

'Cause you know how he'll be painted by the vengeful GOP and the chronically unsatisfied Centrists: He'll be blamed, in part, for every fetid pile of crap left behind by Bush that can't be fixed in a single term. He'll be the focal point for Congressional deadlocks, he'll be the one that didn't find the Middle East Magic Wand, the Health Care Magic Wand, the Defecit Magic Wand, etc ad naseum. It doesn't matter how good he is, how great his ideas are, how much support he garners from the grassroots, the netroots, the disenfranchised, and the fence-sitters. Because the GOP is going to be frothing at the mouth, and they'll want payback. Scorched-earth, dangling entrails kind of payback.

Imagining this, I very much don't want our best and brightest to have that unfortunate role. Any legislative vision he might have, any great prowess of leadership he might possess, any bold ideas he might offer will surely get devoured like so much red meat in the aftermath of these next two election cycles. It would be a near-Shakespearean tragedy to witness what might otherwise be the Great American Healer being desended upon by the wolves currently stalking about DC, don't you think? When our Golden Boy does get elected (and he surely will, goddamnit), I want him to enjoy two full, productive, transformative terms. I want him to enjoy a Congress populated by steadfast, intelligent, active support and reasonable, pragmatic opposition. You know, I want him to GET SHIT DONE, and if he has to compromise, I want it to be based on contructive proposals from the opposition, not nasty, back-biting partisanship.

On the other hand, it can be argued that ONLY the best and brightest can ever survive such a role. That the only feasible choice for what's likely to be a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't administration is the candidate that really IS in the game because it's NOT a game to him. One that doesn't care about the power, the acclaim, or the "legacy".

Of course, that's not the only problem we face. Because come '08, we're going to be looking for the presidential equivalent of the Rebound Boyfriend. You know, the one who's the antithesis of the guy you just broke up with. The one who's everything your last lover wasn't. Hell, that's WHY he's attractive. Because he's everything you thought you didn't get the last time. Except he's almost never the guy that's actually the right choice in the long run, now is he? Sooner or later, you roll over one morning, listen to that cacaphonous snore, trip over the dirty socks on the way to the bathroom, discover the toilet's unflushed, the cap's off the toothpaste, the goddamn TV's been on all night, and while you pour your first cup of coffee, you can't stop wondering WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING??? It's nearly inevitable when the last lover was such a ratfink, isn't it? Well, we have President Ratfink right now. Rebound Boy is almost a fait accompli.

So, we not only have to find someone who's capable of just doing the job itself (a tall order all on its own), but we have to get past our hangups and resentments and rage over Bush in order to make an intelligent choice for his successor. One who's actually good for the country, who's not simply Not-Bush. One who will take one for the team, one who's willing to dive headfirst into the snakepit, knowing full well that he won't accomplish even half of what he could under better circumstances. We have to send a lamb to slaughter, and the lamb has to volunteer.

I don't know if we've even heard from him. Have we? Is there anyone out there willing to be such a political martyr? Can our political system even produce such a candidate anymore?

I don't know. Do you?