With so many eyes, especially Democrat eyes, turning toward 2008, possibly the most important thing to remember is that it is only 2006, and in Double Jeopardy, values double and the scores can really change.
Without a crystal ball, we cannot know what plans have been laid on the satiny tables of Washington’s most secure conference rooms with regard to fighting the war on terror in the homeland.

A comment from Bush in a ramblebleat yesterday may have been a hint; when asked about the duration of US occupation of Iraq he replied that that would be decided by future American presidents.

So from that we can make the admittedly large assumption that some sort of “election” activities will be permitted in 2008, but how the dynamic of those activities will be affected by events in the intervening two years, we can only guess.

The primary advantage the Democrats have in 2006 is that an increasing number of Americans do not like Bush. He is not appealing, neither telegenic nor charismatic, even those who voted for him do not find his persona pleasing.

Yet in 2008, whichever candidate wins, he will enjoy the distinct and certain advantage of not being Bush.

Unless the parties have, by 2008, merged by general agreement, there will also be a Republican candidate, who will, as previously noted, not be Bush. An unpleasant truth – that will be all that many voters will ask for.

This is something Democrats must prepare for. The “beat Bush” meme has become so ingrained in the last several years that it is easy to forget that in 2008, there will be no Bush to beat. Unless Jeb is placed in some sort of in-house training facility for the next two years, and emerges from it with sufficient polish to persuade Republican strategists that he can look Presidential if they are really obsessive with lighting and somebody in Japan can come up with a more effective and undetectable earpiece strategy than his brother had.

That’s just the beginning of the reality a 2008 Democratic candidate will face.

Not questions of whether the crusade should be expanded to Iran, but the reality of the full bloom of US occupation of Iran, as well as Iraq and Afghanistan, and likely other theatres as well.

Shall that candidate, whoever he or she might be, run on a promise to “bring all the troops home” as McGovern did in 1972, with a younger, feistier electorate? Even with anti-war sentiment at high numbers inthe polls, McGovern lost by a landslide to Richard Nixon, who ended up ending the invasion of VietNam and resigned as a result of backlash from campaign dirty tricks.

But that was then and this is now. Today, it is acceptable for a sitting president to decree that it is a crime to even suggest that he may have committed a crime. It must be hard for younger folks to imagine a political climate in which something as trivial as breaking into the opposing candidate’s office would result in a president resigning. However, to be fair, today it would not be necessary to break in to an office. Thanks to advances in technology, any information desired can be obtained through other means.

The 2008 candidate will need to appeal to a very different voting class. Older, for the most part, more affluent, as domestic economic policies, developed over decades, and across party lines, successfully swell the ranks of the poor and solidify their political disenfranchisement. And a bit fractious and not a little schizophrenic, being quick to criticize how the crusades are won, but loathe to end them, much less to cease aggression and disarm.

In 2008 then, to his economically winnowed-down, aging potential voters, shall he pledge to run the various crusades more efficiently, to “get the job done,” the job being doing whatever is necessary to bring the surviving  populations of the occupied nations firmly to heel, to expedite resource extraction, and to that end, increase troop strength and provide better equipment and newer, more powerful weapons for those defending America’s way of life in this very different kind of war?

On the domestic scene, it is likely that by 2008, even the majority of the US voting class who consider themselves Democrats will list as their greatest concern increased security in the homeland, as rapidly expanding hordes of poor make daily life in America’s most beautiful cities a thing of peril, both aesthetic and otherwise.

Shall the Democratic candidate promise a Living Wage? a Right to Housing? Medical treatment for all regardless of ability to pay?

Or shall he pledge additional funds to states for increased law enforcement and prison construction? And “affordable health care,” perhaps up to a thousand dollars savings on insurance premiums for some families?

So far, the increase in the number of families downshifting from the middle class to poverty does not seem to have had the effect of causing those remaining in the discretionary resource classes to become noticeably more compassionate toward the poor. Will this trend continue, or could it reverse?

Iran has an air force. It is almost certain that initial air bombardment will result in US “casualties,” including the shooting down of American planes, an event so unthinkable to mainstream Americans and fraught with such emotional impact that even helicopters shot down in Iraq are said by the Pentagon to have suffered “mechanical failure.” On at least one occasion, such an incident in Afghanistan was blamed on “rough terrain.” Presentation strategies of this kind may not be feasible in the context of Iran during those early stages.

Pulling the string of the talking Mahmoud doll has also been very effective in strengthening support for expansion of the crusade to Iran.

And there is always the dark possibility of another Unity Operation, in the unlikely event that support for the war on terror itself may at some point appear to be waning.

With so many unknown unknowns, it is impossible even for professional strategists to predict with certain accuracy what political landscape the Democratic candidate will survey from his podium.

We can say with confidence that he will have a lot of presentin’ to do!

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