It's now official—Hillary’s entered the horserace. Just like Obama, who didn't come off particularly presidential, with his hemming and hawing about his own announcement, the senator from New York has kept us waiting longer than was necessary.
Both Senators Clinton and Obama contend that they are still in the exploratory stages of whether to run or not, having each formed perfunctory “presidential exploratory committees,” which has now become commonplace in our media-driven, candidate-handled, image-focused world of politics, making a run for president look more like The Truman Show, every four years.
People who get paid big bucks to handicap the circus, have guaranteed us plenty of early Clinton/Obama drama on the Democratic side. While no fan of the GOP myself, I’d have to say at this stage, the Republican field brings plenty of intrigue and interest to their own bid to crown a contender, particularly in light of President Bush’s dreadful poll ratings, the war in Iraq and candidates like Chuck Hagel, who incredibly is running as an anti-war Republican, of all things.
Senator Sam Brownback, who makes our current president seem like a progressive cut from LaFollette’s cloth, has thrown his hat in the ring and will curry much favor with the far right Christian, Left Behind crowd, hoping to get their annointed one to Pennsylvania Avenue before the rapture.
Intent to take issues of morality and run with them, Brownback could prove an interesting opponent for the likes of Giuliani, McCain and Romney, although it appears that McCain, the former “maverick” has suddenly become a born-again conservative, trying to run right of the rest of the most rabid right-wing contingent of contenders.
There is no doubt that Obama’s entry into the mix threw an unexpected wrinkle into Clinton’s bid for the presidency and forced her hand earlier than I think she intended to announce. Still, her online announcement was well done and humanized her, which is something that will be imperative for her to be successful in gaining the Democratic nomination and more important, having a legitimate chance at the presidency. Team Clinton brings a team of seasoned political operatives, including her former ex-president husband, as well as an expected war chest that will probably raise $100 million in 2007, alone, making her a formidable opponent, regardless of her tendency to be one of the most polarizing figures in post-modern American politics. The fact that she supported the war could also cause her problems, as it will for much of the pack of contenders and presidential wannabes.
In addition to Clinton and Obama, former Kerry running mate, John Edwards, as well as New Mexico governor Bill Richardson will be nipping at the heels of the appointed leaders of the pack, waiting for some scandal, or some other X-factor to allow them their window of opportunity.
Russ Feingold, who has said he won't run, could bring some progressive values to the race and force fellow Democrats to face, rather than dodge real issues—plus, he'd be a legitimate anti-war Democrat. Speaking of issues, here's a short list of things that Democrats better be talking about—things like the spending on the war (now topping $360 billion), healthcare, education and particularly the American workforce’s inability to compete with much of the industrialized world, as evidenced by several recent reports. Additionally, finding an alternative to oil needs to be put on the front burner, as American cannot continue to depend on fossil fuel to power our cars, heat our homes and prop up our system of commerce.
It’s still early, but for those of us who follow the race, there is plenty of interest already. And since its only the first lap of the race, those of us who follow these things know that anything can and probably will happen.