Nothing focuses the mind like sweeping an election and then contemplating how all those gains could be largely (or even partly) taken away from us in the very next election cycle, all because the Democrats might run A Disaster in the all-important presidential year looming ahead of us.
So much of what Democrats achieved in red-state counties like Watauga could be taken back in 2008 if the Democrats nominate the wrong person.
After mulling this conundrum obsessively for nine hours on the road to & from grandmother's house this weekend, we arrive at an inescapably logical conclusion, which is therefore full of holes and subject to derision ... that Al Gore is the best possible presidential candidate (of the available possibilities).
Hillary Clinton? She would offer the shortest route between a defeated and dispirited Republican Party and a reenergized opposition with a holy crusade to save America from the lesbo-pinko-fatal-fetal Libruls. We shudder at the thought.
John Edwards? No way.
Barack Obama? No way in hell.
Joe Biden, Evan Bayh, John Kerry, or any of the other four-and-twenty blackbirds baked in the Senate pie ... no, no, no, a dozen times NO. In fact, no U.S. senator, on EITHER side, brings anything more than way too much baggage to the race. Hear that, Mr. Straight Talk Express? (And see Allen, Sen. George and Frist, Sen. Bill for early examples of how senators don't fly.)
Governors? Remains to be seen. But certainly not Bill Richardson, not Mike Easley, obviously not Mark Warner, not Tom Vilsack ...
Incidentally, here's a simple Electability Touchstone (other than NO SENATORS NOT EVER!). To wit, how will the prospective president's name look on a yard sign, and how will that yard sign play in the South and in rural America generally? "Vilsack for President"? Ain't gonna happen.
By a process of elimination, we're left with Al Gore (and that's a little how we feel in reaching this conclusion ... slightly bereft). He's one ex-presidential candidate who's actually grown in stature since he ran. He's "clean" on the war; he's never had to tack, make excuses, or change his position. He's a leader on "green" issues, and those are only going to grow like a phosphate plume in the next couple of years. He's credible on foreign affairs, with tons of experience. He's smart, and maybe the country will think it's time in 2008 to make the long trek back from dumbsville. He could win the South. He could carry North Carolina. He would not be a drag in Watauga County.
Who else can we say all of that about, and with confidence?