LA: Can Democrats Win?

I was gonna shorten this article with a synopsis, but it is an excellent piece and it has much to consider and makes some very good points.



Gregory Hudson: Democrats should be very afraid

I am now convinced that Democrats haven’t learned how to win presidential elections. Sure it’s only May, and the general election is six months away. I like both candidates. In fact, I respect all three remaining candidates. Even though George W. Bush has the highest disapproval ratings of any president in the modern era, and despite the Republicans’ presumptive nominee’s disagreements with his party’s conservative base, Democrats should be afraid. Very afraid.

Recent polling shows that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are statistically tied with John McCain in hypothetical general election matchups. In fact, Clinton fares slightly better than Obama. Obama, however, is leading Clinton in the delegate count and mathematically speaking is the likely Democratic nominee.

But, both candidates face an uphill battle in November. Al Gore was easily more experienced than George W. Bush, but he managed to lose. He allowed himself to be characterized as “stiff” and “phony.” John Kerry should have been able to prevent a second Bush term, but he was able to be defined as a “flip-flopper” — whatever that is.

Neither Gore nor Kerry fought hard enough against the onslaught of attacks hurled at them. Trying to remain above the fray didn’t work in either case. It won’t work this time either. And these two candidates, Clinton and Obama, will be framed so negatively by November that McCain is likely to become the next occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Where did the Democrats go wrong? And where did the Republicans go right? The truth is the Republicans are determined to keep control of the White House at all costs. To Republicans, party loyalty is preeminent. No one actually believed nominating John McCain would result in millions of disaffected conservatives on the sidelines come election day. At least, I hope not.

The very right-wing opinion leaders who claim to despise McCain truly loathe Democrats far more. A nonvote for McCain equaled a vote for Obama or Clinton and conservatives are far too disciplined to make such a mistake. Partisanship trumps so-called principle in this matter. So, McCain was never in jeopardy of losing the base.

The Democrats are not so determined it seems. At least, from my vantage point. That is evidenced by the candidates still standing. Both Clinton and Obama are fascinating political stories. Both are inspirational. Both would make history, but I’m not certain America is in the mood for making history. As they crisscross the country, their faithful seems energized.

But neither, however, has been embraced fully by the American people, and by dragging out the nomination process, they are allowing the Republicans time to heal whatever their wounds are.

I’ve listened to both candidates’ speeches lately and Clinton now seems to have her swagger back, but it’s too late. Even her husband hasn’t been able to steer her campaign. In fact, in some instances he has become a liability on the campaign trail. After all, he was supposed to become a liability after she won.

Obama has been reeling since the unfortunate Rev. Jeremiah Wright distraction became the story of the campaign. It’s difficult to throw one’s pastor under the bus after a 20-year relationship, but I’m afraid Jeremiah Wright reminded many skeptics that although Barack Obama may not be Muslim, he is black. Reverend Wright will be the 2008 version of Willie Horton and there’s little Obama can do to counter that.

Some suggest that the salvation would be to have a Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton ticket in the fall. I don’t think that would work. Both have invested too much in fighting for the top of the ticket that the vice-presidency would seem like a consolation prize. Of course, if the party elders had listened to me they would have drafted Evan Bayh of Indiana.

Gregory Hudson of Shreveport is a local minister. Write him in care of The Times, P.O. Box 30222, Shreveport, LA 71130-0222. E-mail to shreveportopinion@gannett.com.

Coast Mass Transit

Improved public transportation and more “walkable” communities are critical to solving some future problems for South Mississippi, but a light rail system is likely out of reach for many years, planners said Monday.

At a summit on smart growth, Kevin Coggin, executive director of the Coast Transit Authority, said plans call for a trolley system that would run along the beach. Itwould be easy, as the government already owns the beach, he said.

But a light rail system, an idea that came out of the post-Katrina charrettes, is still not cost-effective for a market the size of South Mississippi. It takes a high passenger load to support light rail and the Coast could still be about 30 years from that. But Coggin said officials are pursuing a bus that functions much like a light rail system, with a higher passenger load than a traditional bus.

The shame is that most residents are so addicted to their $ gallon to the mile SUVs that this will not be a reality in my lifetime. Sad.