Glenn Reynolds links to some of the predictable concerns about 2008; at 20 months or so, it's perhaps the longest presidential campaign in history.
Barack Obama's current misspeakages notwithstanding, and who knows, he might be absolved of them by the time the first primary vote is cast---Americans have notoriously short memories---what I hope the process proves is that absolutely nobody these days is qualified to be President of the United States, so perhaps we'll get off the next president's back a little, whoever she may be.
The only presidents to get their grist through the mill in the 20th century were the Roosevelts (although Teddy was a bit crackers before and after, although not during), Ike, and Ronald Reagan. Harry Truman is bouncing back a little, mostly through Democrat-leaning historical revisionism, and Bush41 and Bill Clinton had rather tame times that were immune to any major screwups. Jack Kennedy's star sinks the more we learn about him, and praise for his presidency these days rests mostly on eyewitness testimonials on what he would have done had he lived, like pull us out of Vietnam or actually lift a finger about civil rights.
Our current president---at the mention of whose name many Americans descend into a certain derangement---could not be said to have been a stellar candidate in 2000. He was a six-year governor of a large state, but one whose top job was constitutionally weak. Neither could he be accused of a mastery of the rhetorical arts or a history of elegant self-authored position papers.
But he knew how to handle himself, which his opponents Al Gore and John Kerry did not. Gore lost an unloseable peace-and-prosperity election by mookiness alone, and George W. Bush (there, I said it), for all his verbal clumsiness, never said anything as foolish as "I voted for it before I voted against it," which alone lost Kerry his chance to become JFK44.
And speaking of losers, it's difficult to make the case that Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis or Bob Dole never becoming president was a great tragedy for the republic.
But they sure look good to me about right freaking now:
The most qualified for the job in 2008 could very well be Joe Biden and Newt Gingrich. Each has a creditable intelligence, insight and vision. Each has an alarming lack of self-control and statesmanship. Dang. It's a fact that if you can't be trusted to handle yourself, we cannot trust you to handle what is now an impossible job.
My quick takes on the rest---
His Rudiness: The ultimate metrosexual---agnostic on social issues, agnostic on them in his personal life, too. The most glib and able rhetorician since Clinton42, and Reagan and JFK before that. Seems to like tax cuts and is a bear (bull?) on national defense, and even his, um, nuanced position on it will wipe the floor with any Democrat hem-and-hawer on illegal immigration. Can win any given election on the quality of his BS alone, and if nobody else shows up at the post, conservatives will have to take 2/3 of a loaf, and mebbe get a skosh more around the seams.
Clinton44: Likewise for leftists, about 2/3 of a loaf. Not as dovish or as socially progressive as they'd like, and a bit of a free-trader to boot. Still, she hates tax cuts, which are a moral obscenity to the cosmic justice crowd, and that goes a long way. And although I've seen her turn in some lousy performances on the stump as only a six-year elected official, she's also put in a lot of excellent ones. She's still learning, and unlike Obama and the late great John Kerry, has never put her foot in it, and neither do I expect she will.
Mitt the Last---the odds being prohibitively against there ever ever ever being a second president named Mitt: Leave out the Mormon thing, which would hit the fan on both left and right bigtime. (Wait until you hear about the Mormon underwear: if the press is forced to use it to down the GOP candidate, they certainly will. They've been polite so far, but if Mitt gets anywhere near the danger zone, rest assured that the article is already written up, like Chuckles' obituary.)
No, the problem is not just being a mere former one-term governor (four years, Connecticut)---Mitt says weird things, like his sons are serving the nation by working on his campaign instead of volunteering for Iraq. And that thing about putting his dog carrier (with dog inside) on the roof of the family car on a vacation trip, and then saying he enjoyed it, the poopoo jetting down the car windows as proof to the contrary.
This is never going to wash in a presidential election. Even Al Gore was never that much of a mook.
Barack Obama: Man, I'd love to have a black president. It would be good for the country, it'd be good for the world. Just not this one. He's a follow-the-dots lefty, and on those rare occasions when he actually thinks for himself and departs from orthodoxy, trouble follows.
John Himself McCain: His departures from orthodoxy have become orthodox for him. If Reagan's model of leadership was finding a parade and standing in front of it, McCain's is building his own drum, pounding on it, and then marching to it. We all love and respect the guy, but he never perfected the technique of making new friends without losing the ones he's already made.
John Edwards: Parlaying the millions he scored as a trial lawyer into a Senate seat, all on the strength of his BS (and great looks) alone, he (and the lovely missus) somehow got the impression that works in the real world, too. Sorry, our standards are much lower for the legislature (see Kennedy, Ted) than the executive. Much, much lower.
By all outward metrics, he's the perfect candidate and will get the Martian and turnip truck vote, but that's about it.
Bill Richardson: Ace credentials, but punting his interview with the American people farther and farther as you read this, making us all wonder why anyone ever took him seriously in the first place. Mook.
Mike Huckabee: I like him. But although creationists don't have an official underwear, if 1960 was a referendum on JFK and Roman Catholicism (and there was a dry run with another loser, Al Smith, in 1928), Mormonism and creationism haven't even put on their uniforms yet, regardless of what might lie underneath. I mean, creationism can't even carry the Roman Catholic vote, which has trended toward the GOP since Reagan. It's weird, even by Roman Catholic standards.) Mook.
Did we forget anyone? Oh yeah, Fred Dalton Thompson. We'll soon see if he has the right stuff to justify putting him in the Big Chair, but he's the only one among them who's taken his own time about this president thing, and didn't let anxiety dictate when he should show up to lead the parade. First you've got to let it gather, and showing up too early to lead it is gauche, excuse my French.