Musing About ’08: The Men and Women Who Might Be President

This is the first in a series of posts about the next presidential election; I wrote this on June 16, 2006.

I was watching an interview someone or other conducted with Al Gore, and I was struck by A.) how much weight the former VP has gained, B.) how bizarre I find it that he is still babbling on about the environment when there are other seemingly (to me, anyway) far more important matters at hand, and C.) how he tap danced around the repeated question posed by the now-forgotten interviewer: will he be running for President in 2008? He was like that dancing, dodging mayor in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas; all he needed was a top hat and a cane to complete the impression. Now before anyone gets side-tracked by my second (B.) comment; I DO think the environment is important, and I do think we need to take our fossil fuels seriously. I do not, however, think that all else should be shelved in the blinkered pursuit of alternate fuel sources or saving the rainforests. Balance seems needed, and I really got the impression that Gore has lop sided into a nearly paranoid belief that the world will end tomorrow and getting everyone in electric cars is the first and only thing that should be on the Presidential agenda. Unfortunately, current immigration, gay marriage, and abortion rights issues beg us to differ. Significantly, Iran, North Korea, and an array of international and domestic terrorist organizations beg us to differ.

The Constitutional requirements for becoming president of the United States are relatively open-ended. One must be at least 35 years of age, a natural born citizen of this country (or a citizen at the time the Constitution was ratified in 1789), and have been a resident of the United States for 14 years. There is a grass roots campaign to ammend the Constitution regarding the natural born citizen requirement, one that is spear-headed by the Arnold for President group. It’s difficult to take Arnold seriously, so I was totally shocked when he became governor of California. Underestimating him and his politically connected wife (albiet on the “other” side of the political fence) seems to be a mistake that too many people made, and we can all hope, learned from. But with so many Constitutional ammendments being bandied about, this one is likely to get lost in the shuffle. Thankfully.

More realistic Republican contenders for the big race in 2008 are: the current president’s brother and the current governor of Florida, Jeb Bush; former National Security Advisor and current Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice; former mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani; current governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney; and Vietnam war hero and current Senator from Arizona, John McCain. Romney doesn’t yet seem to fit in this list of important Republicans, but he’s another one not to be underestimated and is clearly setting his sights on the White House in ’08. It’s difficult to imagine any of these people as President of the United States, Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces, and “Leader of the Free World”; then again, it was hard to imagine then first term hopeful, the then bumbling, mumbling, confused and apparently illiterate George W. Bush as president, and he made it not once but twice.

The realistic Democratic contenders are: former first lady and current Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton; former Presidential candidate and current Senator for Massachusetts, John Kerry; Kerry’s former VP choice, one-term Senator from North Carolina, and current . . . well, jack of all trades, John Edwards; and as noted, potentially, maybe but we can’t be sure if we can even consider him a potential candidate, former Vice President, and former Presidential candidate and also winner of the popular vote in 2000, Al Gore. In this bunch, I can actually see a President Kerry or a President Gore, and I can wrap my mind around a President Hillary Clinton.

Perhaps none of these potentials will be their parties’ nominee, but it’s an interesting field: not one, but two women, one in each party and one an African American; the son of one former president and the brother of the current president makes for an interesting and historic twist; one former mayor who gained public attention during the first hugely successful terrorist attack to take place on American soil; a couple of “hair” candidates–Mitt and John Edwards have good hair, and for whatever reason, that seems to matter to the voting public; two potential candidates with foreign-born wives; and one (already mentioned) charismatic but essentially nonstarter. Whatever happens, this will be an election to watch, to remember, to participate in.

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