Saturday, April 22, 2006
Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who is also chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), makes no bones about it: he passionately supports the 2008 presidential candidacy of New York's Sen. Hillary Clinton and thinks she can and will win. Emanuel, who served as a top White House advisor to President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1998, is widely regarded as one of the party's most tenacious, aggressive and highly calculating operatives. Many in the party refer to him as their junkyard dog; the go-to-guy who will do whatever it takes to get the Democrats back in power. His unrelenting support of Hillary therefore stands out as either an uncharacteristic political anomaly in his fiery, focused career, or he may actually be quite prescient. Given his fairly steady, successful track-record, his backing of his former boss's wife is worth consideration.
We've all heard the endless talk about Hillary Clinton's unelectability. That she's a Northeastern liberal and one of the most polarizing figures in Washington. I must admit I am in that chat club. But I also must admit there are days where I furrow my brow, put fingers to chin and go, "hmmmm, maybe the old girl does have the chops and a fighting chance." But then reality returns, and I usually realize I'm either fantasizing of having Bill back in the White House, or of the very cool notion of having a woman president. I still struggle with the prospect of Hillary succeeding beyond the primary.
But the conventional wisdom of the bean-counters is that all Hillary needs to do to get elected is carry former presidential hopeful John Kerry's blue states, and pick up just Ohio or Florida. Candidates must receive a majority of 270 out of 538 electoral votes to become President. Kerry's electoral tally was 252. With Ohio's 20 votes, or Florida's 27, Clinton would become the first woman president in history. Looking at the numbers this way, and realizing how precipitously the nation's fortunes have dropped since 2004, it's not such a stretch that she could actually pull it off.
The landscape may actually be quite ripe for Hillary. There have been several political scandals that have rocked Ohio, chiefly the criminal indictment of Gov. Bob Taft and the imminent indictment of Rep. Bob Ney. And over in Florida, thanks to term limits, outgoing Gov. Jeb Bush will not have a chokehold on Florida's election process in '08. Throw in mounting voter anger and frustration over stagnate wages and astronomical gas and oil prices, Ohio and Florida may be within easy reach of the former First Lady.
Let's get one thing straight: I'm still an Al Gore guy, and I'm hopeful he'll enter the race. But let's just say I'm startin' to percolate a little over Hillary's real chances. Maybe, just maybe, Emanuel's onto something. Hmmmm....