Byline: Daniel Gallington, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Newt Gingrich said the odds are "80-20" in the Democrat's favor for 2008. Nevertheless, the Republican candidates - except for Mitt Romney - don't yet see the need to make a clean break with President George Bush (43).
In fact - and as also suggested by Mr. Gingrich - no Republican candidate can be a serious contender in '08 unless he or she casts off all the Washington political baggage of the last 20 years, Republican and Democrat. Traditional Republicans shouldn't think of this as disloyalty: They simply have to find a "new direction" for their party if they want a chance to win in 2008.
While Hillary Clinton clearly represents a continuation of the post-Ronald Reagan, 20-year Bush-Clinton dynasty, the Democrats have their own set of internal ideological struggles:
(1) John Edwards is this spooky, Jimmy Carteresque character. Listen to him and you'll hear the same kind of clueless, feel-good stuff Mr. Carter still says. An Edwards presidency, like the Carter administration, would suffer from an obsession with micromanaged "social justice programs" - an introspective, but sharp turn to the left with which very few will be comfortable. Like Mr. Carter, Mr. Edwards would be a one-term president, remembered as a pleasant, but helpless lightweight who got elected only because Americans were sick of Washington altogether. Mainstream Democrats and Republicans alike should hope this doesn't recur.
(2) For the Democrats, the only fresh ideological break from the last 20 years is represented by Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. But is seems as if Mr. Obama will be sucked into the Clinton camp as the vice-presidential candidate - and thereby be reduced to zero influence (a modern-day John Nance Garner) as all of the important and/or substantive matters of state will be in the new, "ambassador at large" portfolio of presidential hubby Bill Clinton.
And, like the Reagan administration that marginalized Vice President George H.W. Bush (41), we can bet a Hillary Clinton administration will marginalize a Vice President Obama - but for far different reasons: Mr. Bush was marginalized because conservatives regarded him as a national security and tax policy accommodator. Mr. Obama will be marginalized because the Clintons' super-sized egos won't tolerate the camera competition he represents. In short, Bill already hates him.
Can anybody take the Republicans in a new direction? …