November 12, 2006
Two out of three ain't bad…
Posted by: Chris
Three would-be presidential runs hit brick walls the last few weeks, and good riddance to two of the three casualties, although the third one will be sorely missed.
Republican George Felix Allen expected to coast to re-election as a U.S. senator from Virginia, positioning him for a White House run in two years. Then came his "macaca" moment, his bizarre reaction to learning he has Jewish family heritage, and all those stories about him being a big ole racist.
Even if he'd squeaked by last week, his presidential ambitions were toast. Having lost, the best he's hoping for is perhaps a return to the Virginia gubernatorial mansion. Considering his born-again adherence to an anti-gay line after early Senate years as GOP moderate, he won't be missed. Here's hoping his coterie of gay staffers choose their champion more wisely next time.
John Forbes Kerry, the Democratic nominee in '04, had been making lots of noises about running again in '08, despite his abysmal campaign two years ago in a race he should have won. Then a week before the election, he botched a joke about the president and came off sounding like he was insulting the intelligence of our troops in Iraq. The Republicans had a field day, and although it didn't stick to Democrats generally, it reminded everyone why this velcro candidate isn't electable.
No big loss for gay Americans; although Kerry has a generally strong gay rights record, he completely blew it on marriage. Like the other major Dems, Kerry opposes a federal marriage amendment and backs civil unions rather than marriage, but he went the next step and also backed state constitutional amendments banning gays from marrying in Massachusetts and elsewhere. Two years later, the Democratic National Committee is calling such ballot measures "hate-filled," and yet Kerry hasn't renounced his support for them. Nice work to be on the wrong side of history so fast.
Then today came the sad news that Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold (D) has ruled out a presidential run. A staunch oponent of the Iraq War and the Patriot Act, Feingold was well-positioned to be the go-to progressive candidate in 2008. He is also one of a handful of senators, and the only likely presidential candidate, who backs full marriage equality. But he announced in a letter on his PAC website that with the Dems back in control of the Senate, he wants to concentrate his efforts there.
So where does that leave gays and our supporters for 2008? The likely field of Democrats is much like the one two years ago. Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Evan Bayh, Tom Vilsack and Bill Richardson should all be fairly progressive on basic gay rights issues, though all the money and excitement will likely get lapped up by superstars Barack and Hillary, if they run.
On the Republican side, John McCain's candidacy looks even stronger with the repudiation of the right in last week's election. For a Republican he has been moderate on gay issues, though that says more about his party than it does McCain. His HRC scores over the last four sessions of Congress (17, 14, 25, 33) reflect his opposition to a federal marriage amendment and his office non-discrimination policy. On every other gay and HIV issue charted by HRC, McCain's been on the other side.
Losing Allen from the field means one fewer attempt at faking "compassionate conservativism," and Kerry's ineptitude won't be missed either. But Feingold, who would have pushed the Democrats to be true to their party's principles on a whole host of issues, including marriage, is a real loss. Will a new progressive emerge?
TrackBack URL for this entry:
The comments to this entry are closed.