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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Explaining Eugene

Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post actually has some pretty good insights into the current presidential race today. Usually I don't agree with him, but I do today on almost everything he says.

However, he never actually gets to the point in "Losing Focus"; why candidates for an election that is 18 months away are being fuzzy about where they stand. The reason is easy, the election is 18 months away.

You see, as a candidate you can't back yourself into an ideological corner too quickly, with election season starting so early. It only hurts you in primary elections where your own party's members will beat you for not being a good party member (Read comments on Rudy G. or Joe Lieberman around the blogosphere).

Then, if you survive the onslaught of 9 members of your own group and win the nomination, you've given 12 months of sound bites to be turned into accusations of flip flopping on issues during the summer and fall.

So, with a few exceptions, most candidates find easy, non-committal answers to tough questions, hoping they get just enough substance in them to make it look like they have a plan. McCain has taken a different route on Iraq, and it could cost him. Romney has already got the flipper label due to his stances on abortion and gays that seem to change depending on what office he's running for.

On the left Barack Obama has become the poster child for soundbites without substance. Today he'll give another snippet view of his health care plan, but with no real details, just a sound bite about making employers take care of employees.

Hillary Clinton and John Edwards are committed to a few causes each, poverty and health care, but neither of them has given a plan that is either concrete, or workable on either case. Instead they are murky looks at what will supposedly be a better future.... As long as you don't want a lot of details.

You can pretty well bet that none of the candidates on either side, or at least any with much of a chance, will be putting big plans out with details and diagrams until late November, at the earliest. Otherwise they might actually get asked questions that need answers that they don't want to give.

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