Three-Way Tie (For Last)

Microsoft’s “geek blogger” Robert Scoble (coauthor of a new book on business blogging, Naked Conversations) writes about “hanging out with Joe Trippi,” the now-disgruntled architect of Howard Dean’s explosively successful 2004 Web strategy. Trippi’s Democratic Party passions did not begin with Howard Dean, although that’s how he became well-known. I recall hearing Trippi’s name bandied about as a creative strategist as far back as 1988’s Michael Dukakis campaign.

According to Scoble, Trippi has sworn off presidential politics in favor of consulting with politicians overseas and multinational corporations. No wonder, when you hear what he foresees for 2008:

In the 2008 election he expects that Hillary Clinton will be a lockin for the Democrats. He doesn’t see anyone who can challenge her from the Democratic side. On the right side he’s expecting a far more conservative (candidate) than even George Bush is. Why? His reasoning is that the powerbase that put George Bush in power is mad that they haven’t gotten things done, for instance, repealing of abortion and other conservative issues. He doesn’t think that a moderate Republican has any chance in getting nominated at all. If that weren’t bad enough, he theorized that a Democrat would split ranks and run as an independent. He isn’t sure how this would play out, but it probably wouldn’t be good for Hillary, who’ll have a tough time getting elected anyway.

Gosh, this is exactly what I think will happen, too. And I’m equally stumped as to who would emerge victorious in such a scenario. A three-way tie for last looms as an entirely plausible result.

Clinton is the centrist who everyone thinks is a leftist. Everyone, that is, except the left itself, which disavows her and probably would do as Trippi suggests: Coalesce around a “netroots” candidate who will galvanize our nation’s latent socialist/pacifist majority. (Right.) Clinton’s other major disadvantage is that she is not even close to having the persuasive skills required to win the presidency. She’s just not a performer on that level.

I’ve long felt that a true-blue religious-right conservative like Sam Brownback will move to the inside track to the 2008 GOP nomination, a process where there is no current favorite, most of the candidates are unknowns, and for many obvious reasons, the incumbent VP won’t be able to capitalize on his position. Passion will count for a lot, and only the religious right has it. These activists would rather lose than nominate a sure winner like McCain whose sympathies they don’t trust.

A lot depends, of course, on the war’s status two years from now. Not just the one in Iraq, but the jihad against which we are defending ourselves and our (sometimes) feckless allies.

I’d be curious to see others’ 2008 presidential scenarios. If you feel so inclined, put ’em right here.


5 thoughts on “Three-Way Tie (For Last)

  1. But then again, maybe this all is a good thing. Maybe this type of 3 way race might presage a more fundamental realignment of our politics more along the real battle lines that are forming in the public. Perhaps it’s frustrating for people to have two parties at such loggerheads in their views, dominated by their extreme wings, but ultimately overlapping on many issues — and with neither party really intellectually equipped to address the key issues facing 21st Century America, namely (1) how we respond to and equip our people to compete in the technologically ever changing and rapidly integrating global economy; and (2) how we navigate a dangerous and unstable world where our relative military and economic power vis-a-vis other great powers and transnational forces is declining, traditional alliances and international organizations are evolving and/or dysfunctional, and WMD technology is proliferating.

    Think about the California governor’s race this year. Arnold’s at 40% in the polls, hasn’t been particularly effective, and seems vulnerable. But then again, if you’re a reformist voter, who do you support? Do you support the Democrats, even though their dominant wing opposes most efforts to reform California government? Or do you support Arnold, knowing that he’s brought in Bush advisors and must shore up his base of disgruntled conservative Republicans?

    So, ultimately maybe a 3 way race would be a good thing — with the only thing better really being a 4 way race and political chaos for a while, while things re-sort themselves.

  2. Oh, also . . . great reference to the Minutemen album and, now with the untimely death of John Entwistle, the greatest bass player on Earth (Mike Watt).

  3. What Trippi seems to be perceiving is a complete disaggregation of political ties such as party affliliation. The result might not be three parties or four, but 25. Or no effective parties at all, just a bunch of incredibly effective networks formed rapidly around specific issues or in service of an independent political hero of the moment. That’s how Arnold Schwarzenegger got elected governor. That episode is probably a preview of coming attractions.

  4. I disagree with the analysis on both sides although I am clearly in a minority.

    On the Dem side I think too many people are desperate for a win that there will be a huge push for a moderate and Iowa and New Hampshire where the process starts are small enough that even without a significant fundraising base, the best of the moderate candidates will be able to coalesce that support in and then probably beat Clinton head to head.

    I am not however counting Clinton out. I think she is a better campaigner than you give her credit for and she is much better campaigning for herself when she doesn’t feel like she is in her husbands shadow. Most of all, I think the bar has been set incredibly low in terms of expectations and that will help her a lot. Most people think of her as simply the expresidents wife and the truth is that she had a long record of accomplishment before she met Clinton. She has also been regarded by most observers as an effective Senator. So as she starts to get a reputation for what she has done on her own as opposed ot what her husband did, I think her numbers will shoot up, but I still don’t think that will be enough to stop the push for a Southern candidate. JMO!

    As for the Republicans, they are more leadership dominated as a party and I think self interest will trump ideology. But I also don’t think the margin between moderates and conservatives in numbers is as great as the media portrays it. Many years ago in a strategy memo for the George Bush campaign, Lee Atwater said that he believed that a moderate with a well thought out strategy could capture the nomination (My source is the book “Whose Broad Stripes and Bright Stars”) and predicted that if it didn’t happen that year, it would happen soon. Obviously he was wrong and the media makes it seem like things are moving the other way, but if you watch primary election returns, you see a lot of results that seem to show moderates gaining strength in many parts of the party, i.e. Pete McCloskey running a credible race against Richard Pombo or Arnold Schwarzenegger uniting Republicans in the special election. I think conservatives don’t have a candidate that could seriously be considered for the Presidency and I think they know it and so I think conservative leaders will unite around the candidate they can most do business with and take the Vice Presidency with one of those candidates. Whether that candidate is Giuliani because of his prestige, McCain who is clearly the most willing to deal for support or Elizabeth Dole who I have heard mentioned as a possible dark horse and who is perhaps more conservative than the others, I don’t know, but I think in the end, they will back a moderate to keep the White House and more importantly (and I am sure they will cut a deal on this) to secure the Supreme Court for the rest of our lifetimes. Even though conservatives seem like such crazy “never compromise” types, I think they hated what they perceive as the immorality of the Clinton Administration so much that they will make any deal they have to in order to stop that from happening again and if I were to take my guess, I think that means they nominate Rudy Guiliani. Again, JMO!

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