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by Sean Kosofsky
No, I don’t intend to dress up powerful political figures and teach them etiquette, even though some of them need it. It is time, though, to start weighing in on the 2008 presidential race. With no heir apparent, let’s look at what’s brewing so far.
In the Republican corner no-name hopeful, Governor Mike Huckabee and right wing wacko Senator Sam Brownback are the most visible candidates for the evangelical crowd. No one thinks they have a chance, but they certainly make James Dobson and Gary Glenn smile.
Then there’s Mitt Romney, who used to be a moderate. He was pro-choice and even sought an endorsement from the Log Cabin Republicans. The one-term former Governor from Massachusetts took a dramatic shift to the right, however, when his state legalized marriage equality for same-sex couples. In recent years he has become the single, most recognizable political opponent to gay and lesbian marriage equality. Due to his flip-flopping, though, no one trusts him at all; the blogosphere is filled with conservatives calling Romney a fraud. In addition, Romney has a lot of money but little name recognition outside of Massachusetts and Michigan.
John McCain has fashioned himself as a moderate and “independent,” yet he has also moved hard to the right by speaking at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. Yes, the same Falwell McCain dismissed a few years ago as an, “agent of intolerance.” McCain is probably going to be the Republican nominee. This is another situation where the fundies are not happy. They all believe Romney and McCain are faux conservatives trying to play to both sides of the aisle.
Rudy Giuliani hasn’t even announced his bid for president yet, and already he’s twenty points ahead of McCain. America fell in love with him during 9/11, but many in New York thought he was a poor mayor and manager until that day. The religious right hates him. He had an affair, got a divorce and even dressed in drag at public events. He is the least conservative candidate, the least popular among evangelicals but the most popular among the majority of Americans. What to do…What to do?
For Democrats 2008 is a nightmare. Many pollsters think the election is bound to go to a Democrat, especially after the troop surge in Iraq fails this spring. Every prominent Republican candidate has endorsed the flawed Iraq surge strategy that just cost them Congress. Despite having these things on their side, Democrats cannot find a consensus candidate.
Hilary Clinton is Hilary Clinton. Enough said. She is attractive, smart, strategic, popular and would make a fine president. Her hubby has been pressing the flesh around the country trying to tie up the nomination for her, even to the point of bullying key fundraisers and likely Democratic delegates. The country seems to be in a love-hate relationship with Hilary Clinton. She is liked and despised by about the same number of people. She voted for the war, but if she were president she never would have taken us to war. She doesn’t support gay marriage, but she probably doesn’t care.
Illinois Senator Barack Obama peed in Hillary’s Cheerios when he announced he would seek the nomination as well. Barack is another rising star. He would make an amazing president, but I fear that he represents the shiny thing in the room right now. Not to discount him, but the main reason this newbie has any traction at all is that he is not Hilary Clinton. Many political observers fear that America is too racist to elect an African American to the presidency, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. He might just be the person to make it possible.
John Edwards is just wonderful and I am warming up to him more and more every day. He seems to really have a handle on what will move America in the right direction. He is handsome, well-spoken and wants all Americans to have health insurance. But Edwards doesn’t fit neatly into any category, which could help or hurt him.
Finally, there’s Al Gore. I have to admit that if he threw his hat into the ring the entire political establishment would come to a screeching halt. The actual winner in 2000, Oscar-winner (and possibly a Nobel Peace Prize winner) has me thinking about the old days. You know, when the person with the most votes actually won.
As it stands now, not one of the Republican contenders has a record on LGBT issues that would put them ahead of any of the Democrats. Expect it to stay that way.