Another Republican, this time Dick Armey, came out this week and painted a rosy picture for Hillary Clinton. Armey joins a growing list of Republicans and conservatives who say Hillary winning the Presidency is a fait accompli. But, I have to wonder if these people are seeing the whole picture. The Democrats are in a weakened state, one that the Republicans can exploit if they're smart enough.
Here are the problems that plague the Democrats right now.
1) Hillary as a front runner is too polarizing. There are very few undecided folks when it comes to Hillary Clinton. Most people love her or hate her. And she's had over a decade on the national scene to reach as many people as possible. Judging by her negatives nationwide, she's not going to be able to pull off a stunt like she did in 1992 by going from strong, independent woman to cover girl for Good Housekeeping. People know who she is...and many people don't like her.
2) The Democrats will fight...themselves? You read that right. The Democrats are in a state of disarray right now, and not just because of the candidates running for President. The party is splintering for a number of reasons: ending the war, impeaching President Bush and Vice President Cheney, the direction of the country and the party, and so on. And when you have people whose egos are so invested in their politics as the modern left's are, that's going to lead to lost votes.
3) The likability factor. Look up and down the list of Democrat candidates and you'll find a nearly universal trait: they don't appeal to people. Aside from Barack Obama, the Democrats don't really have anyone that people like. Hillary? John Edwards? Too slick. Bill Richardson? Joe Biden? Not exciting enough. Mike Gravel? Too rocky sounding. And the rest of the candidates aren't much better. In politics, a likable candidate can beat a qualified candidate. That's what happened with Al Gore in 2000 and look how he turned out.
4) The blogosphere strikes back! Although the modern left is starting to come around to the power of the online community, it's still dominated by conservatives. That puts any Democrat running for office in a difficult position, as whenever they say or do something the bloggers may not agree with or like, up it goes. And with the blogosphere being the way it is, one story can have legs well beyond what a newspaper or TV news show might. Unless the Democrats can counteract the blogosphere, they're in big trouble.
5) They haven't shown they can lead yet. It's hard to find a leader these days, and within Democrat ranks, it's even more difficult. This is the devastating effect that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid's failures will have on the 2008 election because they're the ones trying to man the fort while some of their big stars are out stumping for votes. With an approval rating anywhere from 11-24%, they need to show they're relevant in 2007 and 2008, and the only way to do that is to lead and let people see that leadership in action.
6) Overconfidence can lead to under-preparing. Since before Election 2006, Democrats have been predicting the GOP's downfall, and for once their predictions came true. Instead of looking at how they won, they started planning the victory party for 2008. Ah, but pride can cometh before a fall, as we saw with Hillary's recent MSNBC debate performance. If the Democrats arent' careful, they might be looking at a defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.
There may be other factors involved, but the point is the same. Democrats aren't nearly as strong as we're being lead to believe they are, and as long as Republicans are afraid to test this outh, we'll see more pieces like the one Armey wrote.