Well, here it is, 2007, and quite a few people have thrown their hats into the ring for the 2008 presidential race. Several more are seriously considering it.
Problem is, all of them are unelectable.
At least that's what the scribblers and chatterers of the national media have to say. Mention any candidate, Democratic or Republican, and someone -- either Democratic or Republican -- has smirked "Him? (or "Her?") They'll never win. They're UNELECTABLE!" Some examples of these declarations, which your Humble Columnist reports but does not necessarily endorse:
- John McCain: Unelectable! He still backs a troop escalation in Iraq. He's reported to still have mental issues from Vietnam (note that the people spouting this line don't claim he's actually nuts; they just say "some people think" he's nuts). He's too liberal. He's too conservative.
- John Edwards: Unelectable! He doesn't have enough experience. He's all smile and no substance. He's too liberal. He's not liberal enough for the Democratic base. He's a trial lawyer. He's too rich. (This last one really baffles me. But I've heard several sneering references to "millionaire" John Edwards, as if George Dubbya Bush went to the White House straight from living in a cardboard box in the street."
- Rudolph Giuliani: Unelectable! He went through an ugly divorce, and his ex will crucify him in the media. He's too liberal. He's pro-choice (meaning the Religious Right will destroy him in the primaries). He has gay friends (ditto).
- Sam Brownback: Unelectable! He's too tied to the Religious Right. (Contrast with Rudy Giuliani above.)
- Barack Obama: Unelectable! He's got a funny name that sounds too much like Osama. His middle name is even worse: Hussein. Everyone will think he's a Muslim (even though he's a member of the United Church of Christ). He's too liberal. He's not liberal enough. No one knows where he stands on the issues. Plus, he's, you know, b-l-a-c-k. Note, of course, that the people who bring this last one up are quick to assert that they're not racist. Oh, no. It's everybody else who'll vote against Obama because he's, you know, b-l-a-c-k.
- Hillary Clinton: Unelectable! She's too polarizing. No one likes her. (No one seems to be able to articulate how both of these can be true. If she's "polarizing," at least someone likes her, no?) She's too liberal. She's too middle of the road. She's a Republican in Democrat's clothing. She's too ambitious (which is kind of a bizarre criticism of a candidate for Leader of the Free World. Ambition would seem to be a defining characteristic of a presidential candidate). Oh, and she's a woman. Of course, none of the people bringing this up would refuse to vote for her just because she's a woman. See "Barack Obama" above.
- Tom Vilsack: Unelectable! He has a funny name that can too easily be turned into a childish insult. He's too liberal. He's too moderate. No one knows him outside the Midwest.
- Al Gore: Unelectable (despite winning the popular vote in 2000)! He's too stiff. He's too wild-eyed and crazy. He's a "serial exaggerator" (even though most of his purported exaggerations, such as "I invented the Internet" have proven to be deliberate misquotations by the press). He keeps talking about global warming, which nobody believes in, outside of every scientist in the world who's not on an oil company payroll.
- Wesley Clark: Unelectable! Not enough charisma. Michael Moore likes him, so he's obviously too liberal. He used to be a Republican, so liberals don't trust him because he's obviously too conservative. He's a war criminal (I still don't know where this comes from, but I've seen it from both the Far Right and the Far Left).
- Joe Biden: Unelectable! He's a blowhard. He keeps putting his foot in his mouth. He's too liberal. He's too much in bed with big corporations.
- Mitt Romney: Unelectable! He's a Mormon. People are scared of Mormons. He's too conservative. He's flip-flopped on abortion and gay marriage. He's from Massachusetts.
- John Kerry: OK, I'll give you this one.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind, though. At first, all the wise and far-seeing pundits thought Jimmy Carter was unelectable (remember "Jimmy Who?")
The same group of self-appointed prophets declared Bill Clinton unelectable (remember "Bimbo eruptions"?) The late and now lionized Gerald R. Ford once declared Ronald Reagan "unelectable" because Reagan was too far to the right.
Heck, do a Google search on the word "unelectable" and see whose name pops up first.
But they all got elected. And sometime in 2008, one of the "unelectable" people listed above will also be elected. Think about that the next time you hear a candidate described as "unelectable."