Feature

Democrats

The 'anti-Hillary' drops out.

Hillary Clinton's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination is gaining an aura of 'œinevitability,' said Peter Brown in Realclearpolitics.com. When former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner announced last week that he was dropping out of the race for his party's 2008 nod, Democrats lost their leading 'œanti-Hillary.' An entrepreneur who made a fortune in cell phones, Warner was elected in 2001 'œin one of the nation's reddest states,' challenging Democratic orthodoxy on everything from guns to abortion. He was primed to make a serious run at Hillary'”until his surprise withdrawal, supposedly for personal reasons. Warner said he's decided he wants 'œa real life' with his wife and three daughters. Naturally, nobody in Washington believes him, said Walter Shapiro in Salon.com. Instead, everyone figures Warner took a hard look at Hillary's poll numbers and her massive war chest and reckoned there was just no stopping 'œthe Clinton juggernaut.'

This does not bode well for the Democrats, said Michael Barone in USnews.com. With Warner gone, Democrats are essentially left with 'œHillary vs. various retreads''”namely, Al Gore, John Kerry, and John Edwards. With the possible exception of Edwards, all are polarizing figures who, in a general election, would be hard-pressed to win many votes outside the liberal base. Republicans, meanwhile, are choosing from the likes of John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Mitt Romney'”appealing centrists who could draw votes from across the ideological divide. Democrats, once again, are painting themselves into a little blue corner.

Many think there's only one way out, said Joe Klein in Time. And his name is Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. I recently traveled with Obama as he plugged his new book, and rarely have I seen a politician inspire such 'œawe and ecstasy.' It's understandable. Obama combines the candor of McCain, the empathy of Clinton (Bill, that is), and the cross-racial appeal of Colin Powell. The son of a black Kenyan father and a white Kansan mother, he is presenting himself as somebody who can bring the nation together the way John F. Kennedy or Franklin Roosevelt once did. Still, this first-term senator is very green and untested, and is extremely cautious when it comes to taking political risks or offering specific ideas about problems such as our oil dependence or the health-insurance crisis. Should Obama run for president, as he's now hinting he might, he will no longer coast along on charm alone. 'œThe raising and dashing of expectations is at the heart of almost every great political drama. In Obama's case, the expectations are ridiculous.'

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