I’ve just had another vision of John Edwards as president of the United States.
It came soon after I finished watching Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts on NBC’s “Meet the Press” announce plans to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. He is a skilled politician. He had his own money, and married more (the former Mrs. John Heinz, Teresa). He’s a Vietnam War veteran. And he is totally unelectable.
Asked to explain his vote in 1991 against the first Gulf War, Kerry defended it. Asked about his opposition to the death penalty, he repeated it. Asked whether the country is ready to elect a Massachusetts liberal who votes 93 percent of the time with Teddy Kennedy, he welcomed “the challenge” of it.
I can’t imagine a scenario in which Kerry gets the nomination of a Democratic Party that wants to retake the White House. I can’t imagine him winning the office should he get the party nod. Kerry would likely lose every state Gore did, plus states like Iowa, Wisconsin, Washington, and Oregon. His vocal support of gun control and abortion on demand would by themselves cost him key votes in culturally conservative swing states.
According to the latest polls, Kerry is ranked third by Democratic voters. Frontrunner Al Gore is in the process of self-immolation. It’s a ghastly sight. Second-place aspirant Tom Daschle has turned into the 21st century Ross Perot, a paranoid and talk-show fodder. Dick Gephardt did the honorable thing, falling on his sword after the 2002 debacle, and got repaid with oblivion or derision. Joe Lieberman is a serious candidate, but may have returned too far towards his sensible and hawkish past to be able to run the liberal gamut in 2004.
That leaves, way down on the current list of prospects, our own John Edwards. He enjoyed a media boomlet for a while, and now is in the midst of the obligatory “he’s not all he’s cracked up to be” second look from the media (don’t fret, Johnny, it happens to them all). Eventually, given his vague ideology, good looks, Southern accent, and cash, Edwards will return to the forefront of the Democratic chatter. At the very least an obvious VP choice, Edwards will probably try a more coherent and well-funded version of Gore’s 1988 presidential campaign, when the then-Tennessee senator ran as a hard-to-pigeonhole Southern moderate in a field of Northeastern and Midwestern liberals.
It’s no longer unthinkable that Edwards can pull this off. His opposition is embarrassingly lame. President George W. Bush looks unbeatable now, but who know what calamities lie ahead in this dangerous world and uncertain economy.